Every day across America businesses open and close and failure rates are extremely high. The Small Business Administration says that nearly 70% of all businesses will fail within the first five years. Out of that 70%, nearly 60% will fail within two years.
The lifeblood of any business is cash flow. It doesn’t matter how great your business model is or how spectacular your product or service is if you don’t have enough money coming in the bank account on a consistent basis.
Why do most businesses fail?
In my experience, both personally and by watching others, it’s because they don’t understand marketing and they certainly don’t understand the relationship between marketing and sales.
You cannot just create a website, blog, social media accounts and start posting away with the expectation that people will flock to you and give you their money. It won’t work anymore than standing on a street corner with a sign that says hire me.
I’m going to add a thought about marketing that many don’t discuss or haven’t thought about…
Marketing is not just about attracting new customers; it’s about winning minds!
You see, too many people attempting marketing in their businesses are not trained to build, run, and grow successful businesses. They have been taught one skill to benefit a company where the owner(s) has learned over time how to build their business.
As business owners, the truth is that we are all participating in OJT (on the job training).
Let’s think about it for a moment. How many small business owners:
- Went to school to learn how to be a business owner versus getting a job for a business owner or corporation?
- Have no training in marketing, messaging, branding, niching, networking or sales?
- Regularly read about psychology and its importance to marketing and sales?
- Have spent time learning about business? I would say as a general rule that successful business owners are created through the learning and experiences that shape and form a company.
- Have developed the necessary people skills to work with employees, vendors, prospects and customers?
- Have sought out experienced mentors in their field that have been there and done that?
- Think because they own the business they know it all, about EVERYTHING!
- Lie to themselves and fall into the trap of believing they will be successful by staying the course?
- Have egos bigger than the Freedom Tower in NYC but haven’t built anything lasting yet?
Yet, week after week, month after month and year after year we wonder why our business is not achieving what it is capable of and as great as we are the money is just not there.
You have a website, your search engine optimization vendor says your doing great with traffic from Google, your social media has a lot of followers and your email list is growing.
But where is the cash? You’re in business to make money. You’re not a charity. Yet, it feels like you’re giving away the farm and getting little or nothing in return for your hard work and efforts. In fact, you may be paying instead of making money by the time you factor out all of your expenses.
Why is your businesses cash flow struggling?
Because you have not thought all the way through your business and you don’t have as a result a marketing strategy.
The fact is that rich people make money by knowing their business and cash flow.
Marketing Comes Before Sales
I know to some that makes sense. But to most business owners, marketers and sales people it is very confusing thanks to all of the marketing and sales trainers out there conflicting with one another so that you will buy from them and they stay relevant.
Marketing and sales are very separate things. Here is the simple truth about what each one is what each one does:
- Marketing is about the sharing of ideas that lead to building competency and trust. Marketing is the foundation for sales and if done right make sales easy. It offers the why and is the persuasion behind sales.
- A sale is the ability to allow people to buy through their experience with you. It’s the physical process of receiving cash.
The work is done in marketing. Yet, many business owners and sales people are still marketing in their sales meetings, calls and on their websites. You know you’re marketing in a sales meeting, call or email when you have to convince someone why they ought to buy. Remember, the why is answered in your marketing. If you’re still dealing with “why” issues in your sales processes then your marketing is not working.
Once people have been influenced and believe your product or service is for them, you are no longer marketing you are now selling. You’re just allowing people the opportunity to buy from you through the experience you create for them.
When we confuse marketing and sales and blend them, it causes chaos and anarchy in the minds of our prospects and guess what they do not do?
Exactly… they don’t buy.
I’ll save the sales discussion for another article because I know that sales will not happen if you don’t get your marketing right.
Getting Your Marketing Right – What Do People Really Want?
If marketing is an idea and a tool to persuade, then how do we persuade people that we can do something for them if we don’t understand them?
This is the heart of context marketing. If you don’t understand people then writing content that just educates without explaining why it’s important is meaningless.
If we stop and think about it, that means we have to take the focus off of us and put it on our audience.
- What might be in their minds and hearts?
- What issues in their lives might appeal to them to buy from you?
- What event is happening locally or nationally that has their attention?
People are attracted to your business for only a few reasons and you have to determine which one it is:
- They have a physical need or want
- They have an emotional need or want
In marketing, every decision to pursue a thought by a consumer that might lead to a sale is an emotional choice that is dependent upon if they feel secure. In other words, is it a good idea to give my money for something and what will I get for it?
The more complex the choice or the higher the cost and the more that is at stake, the better your marketing must be!
This is why content marketing with a context is so important! (Read last week’s article titled “The Decline of Content Blogging in a Context Age”) Context marketing offers you the ability to demonstrate that you know what you’re talking about and that you’re competent. If you can add video then you can add more reassurance because your competency will not just be read but also seen and heard.
People want to know that if they spend their money it was a wise choice.
It’s all about security!
This is why some will pay more money for brand name products or services over generic ones.
This is why some will pay more for one consultant over another.
Great marketing when connected well to your businesses purpose and your prospects and customers will solve your cash flow problems.
In his book “It’s Not What You Sell, It’s What You Stand For… Why Every Extraordinary Business is Driven By Purpose” Roy Spence shares:
“You have to first identify and articulate the purpose of the organization to have a meaningful starting point to build a brand.”
How Do I Build A Marketing Strategy?
You build a marketing strategy by first starting on your business and its relationship to your prospects and customers.
You have to ask some very basic questions that pull out very profound answers. Please keep in mind that you will not be able to do this by yourself. The questions are (in order):
- What business do I think I’m in?
- What Business am I “really” in? (i.e. how do my prospects and customers perceive me?)
- What problems do I “really” solve or what needs to I “really” meet? (from your prospects and customers point of view)
- Who do I “specifically” solve the problems for or meet needs of? (be careful here, it’s not just the obvious)
- How do my products and services play a role in solving problems or meeting needs?
It could take months to answer these five questions. When you are done, there ought to be a lot of information, data, and ideas to start crafting specific marketing strategies.
If you don’t take the time to learn your business and how your business is experienced by your prospects and customers then your marketing becomes nothing more than gambling. It’s like sitting at the black jack table just playing the odds, and those odds are always stacked against you.
Context Marketing Tells Your Story
I don’t mean it tells the story of how your company came to be and your history. Odds are that right now no one cares yet. If you help enough people then society will become interested in your story.
In the mean time, telling your story means that you have to create an experience through your brand.
Let’s think a moment of how a few big companies market in context and create experiences:
Google – when someone does a search and finds what they are looking for.
Starbucks – morning sip of two-pump, extra-hot, no-whip Mocha.
John Deere – green and yellow tractors on the horizon of farm fields OR someone mowing the lawn.
Kohler – every time one of their designers transforms an everyday commodity item into an inspired work of art.
Southwest Airlines – when an employee tells a joke, offers a fun time when every plane leaves on time, every time someone takes a flight they might not have because they can afford it, and when one can redeem their rewards without a hassle.
When you have done the work in your business and understand your market, you too can create a message and content that is full of context.
That’s the game changer and that’s why the overwhelming majority of small businesses are struggling. They don’t know who they are and how to relate to their prospects and customers. That doesn’t mean they aren’t great at what they do it just means they stink at creating contextual marketing experiences that mean something to those who could buy from them.
How do you wrap context around your marketing if you don’t know yourself and how the world perceives you?
Many companies still operate under the delusion that they can just create short, meaningless snippets about themselves and how great they are on their websites, blogs and social media, and just hope that people will come to them and spend their cash.
Unfortunately it no longer works that way. The consumers have gotten savvier and more experienced and don’t like being spoken to. They want to have an experience that offers them security and a reason to buy.
As I said in my previous article titled “The Decline of Content Blogging in a Context Age”; “Everything you do in your marketing requires a set of strategies, goals and objectives (i.e. executable tasks). If you don’t have those with your context then you merely have content that no one cares about.”
Let’s Look at a Few Great Examples from the Blogosphere of Successful Online Marketers
I read a lot of blogs during an average week and here are a few articles I’ve read that really get to the point of good online marketing:
Entrepreneur Business Coaching – It is in the Doing That Your Being Becomes – Deborah Tutnauer
5 Ways to Use Engagement to Boost Online Sales – Stuart Davidson
Blogging Fears: I Can’t Write – Sarah Arrow
3 BAD reasons why your business Stinks and Sinks! – Enstine Muki
2 Quick Steps to Get Your Business Noticed Now – Nathan Ambrose
What is Smart Strategic Content Marketing? – Sylviane Nuccio
The Perfect Blend to Grow Your Business – Donna Merrill
Your Business Potential Is Limited Without Marketing
Marketing is the driver of your business! It’s what makes everything else go. When you really dig in and understand your business it changes everything!!!!
You will never see your business the same way again.
When you learn your business and execute great marketing will enjoy your life and the opportunities that come your way.
The opportunities are endless and the possibilities only get better and better as your cash flow stabilizes and grows.
The hard truth is that if you don’t do good marketing that turns into sales you will never grow your business. It is all predicated on marketing that drives sales. Like I said earlier, if you do your marketing right and it has a context that allows people to understand what you do for them you will never have to worry about sales and money.
You cannot differentiate yourself from you competition if you are not being uniquely you and connecting with people. Instead, you will be forced into the HARSH world of advertising. In today’s world that is a major long shot to success.
Your business is built upon people connecting with you in their context, not your context. The faster we all learn that the better our websites, blogs, social media, email campaigns, direct mail pieces, billboard ads, TV and radio commercials connect and resonate the easier it will be to generate sustained cash flow that allows us to make investments in our businesses and fulfill our dreams.
The simple fact of the matter is: Great brands and spectacular context marketing are born out of great leaders who have created great organizations that create something that actually matters to people and makes a difference.
Is your marketing making a difference? Is your messaging relevant to your prospects and customers? It’s not enough for them to see your logo everywhere? They have to experience you!
If you have a thought, idea or want to contribute to the conversation, please do so in the comments section below. I look forward to chatting with you there!