1. DIY what it makes sense to DIY
New businesses tend to have more time than money. Within your online marketing campaign, there are many components that it makes sense to do yourself, or at least contribute to. Writing your own website copy, for example, can often make sense because it alleviates the need to pay a professional copywriter, and as your business grows and changes you can amend your text as necessary.
What doesn’t make sense is taking on tasks that can either be done very cheaply, or that you can’t do to an acceptable level. Two examples:
Getting stuck in the small stuff
A common mistake amongst entrepreneurs is trying to do everything themselves to avoid having to ‘waste’ even a penny. Believe it or not, we’ve caught business owners doing their own directory listings, syndicating their own videos or learning to code so they can build their websites from scratch.
The bad news here is that your time should be too valuable for you to spend doing menial tasks. If you spend all your time doing £7/hour work, how much are you likely to earn? Sure, in the early days your budget might be tight but the worst mistake you can make is to assume that your time is free. If your business is to grow, set a target hourly rate for yourself and delegate everything that can be bought for less.
Blagging the important stuff
Just as dangerous is trying to take on the specialist tasks yourself. A key example is graphic design. When you can hire a professional designer to create a world class logo, brand and identity for your business, deciding to try your first graphic design project on the business that you want to be your livelihood is a fantastically poor decision. Designers have an ‘eye’ that we mere mortals just don’t, and no matter how long we spend designing our logo or website, a pro designer (like our very own Benz, Jen or Christian) will walk in and within a matter of minutes create something that elevates the business’s appearance immediately.
Think of it like a car or house: you might change your own oil or paint a wall, but you probably wouldn’t take on replacing the head gasket or roof. The results are too important.
Likewise, when it comes to areas like design, PPC management and SEO strategy, there is absolutely no sense in a DIY approach if the result is genuinely important to you.
2. Think Short-Term
The number one struggle for new businesses is typically cash flow. Particularly in the very early days, getting that cash in the bank has to take priority over everything else because that’s what makes tomorrow possible.
This short-term focus should be reflected in your online marketing. Make sure that your site has an immediate flow of qualified leads (typically from Pay Per Click advertising) so that you can start making sales TODAY, and funding your growth. Waiting 3-4 months for your marketing to start to build is not an option – you need to know how you’ll get your customers NEXT WEEK, TOMORROW and THIS AFTERNOON if you’re going to buy the time to put in supports to make next month bigger and better.
3. Think Long-Term
At the same time, keep half an eye on the long term. SEO results, for example, take a while to build. So the sooner you start the sooner you’ll have the search visibility that you need to take your business to the next level. Remaining reliant on instant paid traffic can become costly over the lifetime of the business, so while it’s important as part of your marketing mix, ensure that you have some long term strategies in place too.
If you know that you’ll have seasonal swings in popularity, how do you plan to counteract this? How will you evolve the business and the marketing? What if your initial campaign voice doesn’t appeal, do you have a Plan B?
4. Find a team mate
For startups, their online marketing partner is one of the most important relationships determining the future success of the business. A good marketing company as your team mate will give you the exposure you need to survive and grow, whilst a poor choice in this area can all but destroy a business. Ineffective marketing that chews through your budget can suffocate the business and cut off that all important cash flow. Talk to a number of companies and hear their suggestions for your business. Trust your gut and don’t fall victim to scare mongering – remember that it’s easy for shady operations to sell against other companies, and rationalise how their strategy is terrible and makes no sense. Just ask them “so what do you plan to do?” and listen for specific strategy ideas that make sense to you.
And if it doesn’t feel right, run a mile. The cost is too high to get this wrong and there are plenty of genuinely great companies out there who can help you grow your business.
5. Be Realistic
If it was easy, everyone would be successful.
If a new website was all it took to be the next Facebook or Apple, these companies would lose their throne a lot more often than they do.
The truth is that as entrepreneurs, our ambition often exceeds what is possible in the real world with the resources we have and the annoying rules of reality. That doesn’t mean we can’t aim and set goals, but it does mean that we need to be patient and have plans to follow should things not go the way we expect immediately. What if the business’s message doesn’t resonate as strongly as I had hoped? What happens if the website your brother’s girlfriend’s neighbour built for $700 only converts at 0.2%?
Realism is also crucial when it comes to budgeting. Quality costs money, and if you want your website to be the next eBay, paying £2,000 is going to leave you disappointed. Be realistic about the time, expertise and strategy required to build truly great marketing, and prepare to make a suitable investment for something that will generate a good ROI for many years to come.
Never has the phrase “you get what you pay for” been more true that in this industry.
So there you have it. Our 5 steps to successfully marketing your business. There is a 6th step, and that’s to fill in a Website Marketing Review form so that one of our Marketing Ninjas can analyse and give you feedback on your online marketing.