Are you wasting time researching, learning and trying to build your online marketing presence for your business?
There are some amazing resources out there to help you and most of them are fabulous! From SocialMediaExaminer.com if you want detailed “how to” articles about social media to Website Magazine for ideas on how to use your website or email.
There are countless blogs with ideas, strategies and tips.
But it may all be a complete waste of your time!
Personally, I love to learn and learning is wired deeply into my DNA. So much so that I scour the web every week looking for new ideas, strategies and concepts that can help both my business and my clients businesses.
Last week I had a unique opportunity to meet with a local business owner who connected with me through the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce. I will call him Joe.
Joe is like most business owners. He needs more prospects that he can convert into clients so that his business can grow and make more money. More on Joe a bit later.
Several years ago I did a very informal study and asked over two hundred business owners how they look for online marketing products or services (web design, SEO, social media) to help them grow their businesses online and if they were satisfied with the results.
Nearly ninety percent had sought out one or more service providers to help them with their online marketing.
The staggering number was nearly seventy-five percent of them were deeply disappointed. Not a little disappointed, DEEPLY disappointed.
There could be a lot of reasons for their deep disappointment. In the rush to get sales some in web design, SEO and social media businesses have a tendency to over promise and under deliver; thereby leaving the business with less cash and less promise of meeting their goals and needs.
On the other hand, many businesses have unrealistic expectations and no matter how well a vendor tries to get them aligned properly and in the end they are still upset and disappointed.
So, let’s stick to the facts I’m really after. My next question for them was how much time had they spent really learning what business they are “really” in?
- Did they know the specific problems they solved for their customers?
- Did they know who they solved each “specific” problem for?
- Other than the obvious, could they uniquely share how “a” solution could improve or change their prospects world positively because of their product or service?
I suppose you would like to know the answer since your still reading? LOL…
Not a single ONE had done this foundational work.
Did you know that one of the things corporations spend a lot of money on is learning, maintaining and strengthening their foundation? They spend millions upon millions of dollars every year just working through these core principles so that they stay in tune with their audience and the needs of their audience.
Yet, most of us as small businesses don’t do a thing and we wonder why we struggle.
Have you ever said any of the following to yourself?
- I hear what she is saying, but I don’t really value what she’s offering when I can just do it myself.
- I have no idea what he’s talking about, but it sounds good so let’s spend the money and hope they are right because it sounds so compelling.
- If I only had four more customers today? Let’s hope someone walks through that door with deep pockets and spends their money.
- I don’t need a thousand readers on my blog; I just need that one who will spend some money today.
- I only need $1,000 dollars to make the lease this month?
- I spent $3,000 on a website that is delivering what for my business?
- That guy wants me to spend $2,000 a month on social media and I can’t even afford this cup of coffee? Is he serious? I mean, it’s social media… how hard can it be?
If you have ever said anything close in your head to one or more of the above, you are headed down a road you may not want to go down. You will likely get trapped into a belief that you can do everything yourself and then ultimately fail.
There is no way you can know it all nor is there the time when you’re trying to grow a business.
But isn’t that what some of us are doing? We are spending too much time learning something we don’t understand without the right framework to build what we don’t understand upon.
Is it any wonder why “how to” articles are a waste of your time in your business right now?
Why are “How To” Articles a Waste of Your Time?
Everything in life is built on a foundation. Just imagine for a moment that you started building a house on sand and all you did was lay the flooring down on top of the shifting surface. It made sense to you in the moment. Just level the sand, pack it down, and start building on top of it.
You will likely never get the house built because the sand will continue moving the foundation as you begin building on top of it. How frustrating would it be to put up three walls only to find when you do the fourth wall the whole foundation is no longer level and nothing fits together as it should?
Of course you would never allow a builder to do this would you?
Yet this is what many businesses are doing right now as they build their marketing foundations online.
How do I know that?
Because most small businesses will go out of business within two years of launching it and the number one reason is cash flow:
“According to Dun & Bradstreet reports, “Businesses with fewer than 20 employees have only a 37% chance of surviving four years (of business) and only a 9% chance of surviving 10 years.” Restaurants only have a 20% chance of surviving 2 years. Of these failed business, only 10% of them close involuntarily due to bankruptcy and the remaining 90% close because the business was not successful, did not provide the level of income desired or was too much work for their efforts. The old adage, “People don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan” certainly holds true when it comes to small business success. The failure rate for new businesses seems to be around 70% to 80% in the first year and only about half of those who survive the first year will remain in business the next five years.”
The Challenge of Every Small Business
The overwhelming majority of businesses in the United States are small businesses. We do the majority of hiring and economic growth in this country.
As the quote above explained very well, the biggest struggle appears to be cash flow.
But is that the real problem or is it the symptom?
I suggest to you that it is the symptom of the real problem.
Where most businesses make a critical mistake in their marketing is they assume people understand them and their product and the consumer knows why they should buy from them over the competitor.
They fail to properly plan and therefore the business ultimately fails.
The truth is that the consumer doesn’t know why they need to buy from us and we shouldn’t assume they do. It’s our job to be relevant, inspiring, compelling and offer them a reason to check us out and buy from us.
Content marketing can be powerful but only when it’s applied properly and connects the dots between the needs of consumer and the specific solutions that our products and services offer them.
When we don’t have the foundation laid what ends up happening is the business ends up trying to create content that they think will appeal to the consumer without really knowing the true potential of the product to make a difference for the consumer from his or her own point of view.
Why Joe Knows He’s Struggling in Marketing But Won’t Do Anything About It
Let’s go back to my new friend Joe.
Joe owns a local painting company that is a franchise. When we first started talking he expressed a deep frustration that his online marketing wasn’t working and his franchise wasn’t doing much to help him.
He had hired a local SEO and social media company to help him expand his business and each one encouraged him to create blog content.
So he immediately began a Google search on blogging for business. He immediately found two “how to” articles that step-by-step on how to build a popular blog.
He followed the advice and six months later he has a whopping 25 visitors, no calls and no emails.
What was the root of the problem?
He knows people are online looking for painters.
It was very simple.
Joe had no foundation and no idea who is looking, how they are looking and what they are looking for.
In just a few minutes I helped him discover that people are looking for decorative ideas, not painting ideas. Painting is just one aspect of décor and a massive one at that. Everything ties into the color, texture and style of a wall. The décor of a room is built around it and if the color, texture and style is off then the paintings, mirrors, furniture, etc., will all be out of place and the room will be very unappealing.
He also didn’t have a full handle on who would hire a painter versus the do it yourself crowd.
His articles were talking to and about DIY people.
In the end he didn’t realize the real problems he solves. People might hire him because:
- They don’t have the time to do it themselves.
- They don’t have the desire to do it themselves.
- They spend more money cleaning up the messes they create.
- They only do half or three-quarters of the project before they are distracted and forget about it.
- They hate painting.
- They will have a massive disturbance in their calendar that will require a whole weekend for three weeks or more.
- They don’t know how to pick out the right colors and are afraid they will waste their time, energy and money on something they will hate.
- Little Johnny will be in the paint, touching the walls, smearing it in the carpet or on the furniture.
His primary audience is women between 30 – 50 who have active families with a family income of $75,000 per year or more.
Guess who he had been writing for?
DIY males who were taking on weekend projects that took him away from what he really wants to do. He can’t afford a painter and his wife is driving him crazy about the last botched paint job that looks horrible.
Joe was chasing strategies through “how to” articles that he simply wasn’t ready for. He was reading great articles but his business was not clear and therefore the “how to” article made things worse for him.
Was the problem the “how to” article?
No… the problem was he was building a house on sand and the foundation could not support the structure.
The truth is Joe left our meeting understanding that something is deeply wrong, but he isn’t going to do anything about it.
I’m not sure. Maybe he feels intimidated? Maybe he thinks he can do it by himself? Maybe he doesn’t have the money and he’s afraid to speak up and ask for help? Maybe he’s comfortable and he doesn’t want to do something different outside of his comfort zone to achieve a different result?
Regardless of the reason, Joe’s marketing results online will continue to struggle.
He will continue to treat the symptom instead of the real problem.
How the Internet Works
Before I share how the internet works for businesses let me share how it does not work!
It is not a mass marketing tool. This is why I wrote my book titled “The Shift” – it teaches in depth how we need to retrain our minds to think more specifically about whom we are talking to and why we are talking to them.
Great content is created when we learn our business so well that we can create content about one problem for one person.
Great content niches, it does not generalize.
Yet, many of us simply don’t understand how to do it and many feel overwhelmed and intimidated to learn one more thing that we simply don’t understand.
That’s why I’m here… to try to take the confusion and uncertainty out of how to create content that is original, interesting and compelling for your business.
My audience is not the DIY business owner or the person who is unwilling to spend the money to learn how to do things right.
The simple formula for business marketing success is:
Clarity + Focus = Execution
Clarity happens when you have a solid foundation.
Focus happens when you create strategies and goals.
Execution happens when you implement and execute.
There are no shortcuts. Gaining clarity is hard work But if you want your content to connect, resonate and inspire people to visit your site, share your content, engage with you on social media and call or fill out the forms… you have to get clarity right.
Clarity is your foundation.
What are the benefits of gaining clarity?
- Discover what business you’re “really” in from the world’s perspective.
- Get you outside of your box to see a whole world of opportunities.
- Discover who your customers are from who they are not.
- Discover the real difference you make in the world.
- Discover how you can communicate any product or service with inspiration and passion.
- Discover how it can be a new beginning for your business that will set the stage for growth.
- So much more…
If you want to learn more, I want to encourage you to check out my “Begin Here” page. I will share with you in detail how all of this works together and at the end of it will be a list of products and services that can help you.
Don’t get caught in the trap that 95% of us get caught up in and then we are led down the road to closing the doors in 18 – 60 months because the cash flow is not there to support the needs of the business or your life.
Begin Here and learn how you can take control of your foundation so that the next time you read a “How To” article you can decide if that is really worth your time and makes sense for your business.
Do you have a comment or thought you would like to add? If so, please share with me in the comments section below. I would love to have a conversation with you.