2015 Marketers Guide For Those Who Don’t Have Marketing Departments – Budgeting

marketing, budget, cutting

Don’t cut your marketing budget

2015 is nearly upon us, and you don’t have a budget to market your fantastic product or service. Too bad, 2015 is going to be a terrible year for you, and I don’t need a crystal ball to forecast that. “But, I have social media, and it’s free,” you say “But, I know a VP of Marketing at this HUGE company, and they’re going to help me out,” you say. I wish I had a big WRONG button.

#1) Social Media isn’t free – you already missed the train where social media was actually a social media. It’s now overrun by marketing people who puke messages out constantly that don’t resonate whatsoever with consumers (Have you seen my updates?). Social media used to be a two-way conversation. Now it’s not (although some brands are way better at the two-way conversation than others). Plus, think about the time you need to put in in order for Social Media to work for you. How much money is your time worth?

#2) Your VP of Marketing friend is useless to you as a small business owner. The VP is used to having HUGE budgets, relying on ad agencies, and having a team of well-trained “Yes!” donkeys on their side. How do I know? I used to be one of those donkeys. Not to mention your VP is probably too swamped to actively focus on you, and YOUR needs. Plus, they’re probably old (45+ or getting there), and are SOOOOO out of touch with consumers, especially the younger generations.

So, what do you do?

First – find a damn budget. I elaborate more on this here (it’s one of my most popular posts from this past year, so the majority of you probably read it, right?). Once you find a budget, find something you can own whether it’s a street, apartment complex, community or city. Just find it, and OWN it repeatedly. Ever notice the same Realtors on bus benches in certain communities? In the Real Estate world this is known as ‘farming’ a neighbourhood. Figure out your neighbourhood, and farm it. You need to make money in 2015, don’t forget that.

Second – after you found your budget, start cultivating your existing clientèle. Ensure the people who are coming through your doors, continue to do so, and they bring friends. I HATE incentives for new customers. Eff that. You should have incentives for REPEAT customers, and I don’t mean a loyalty card. Once you start seeing the same people repeatedly, encourage them to come back for private functions, and “Hey, bring a couple friends with you.” Or even have an event for your repeat customers or give them stuff for free or give them a hug. Whatever you do, ensure these people keep on coming back or at least refer people to you. Make these people your FANS! Fans = a continuous flow of money, and you need to make money in 2015.

Third – market your product or service. And stick to one thing in your marketing message, and steer clear of mentioning your ‘great customer service.’ So many people mention this, and trust me…you are not exceptional. As a consumer, I expect great customer service every time I walk through your door or come into contact with you. Don’t tell me how you have it. PROVE IT!

Fourth – understand that you need to market your product or service. I don’t care if you are too busy or your product is sooo good that you can rely on referrals. My dad fell into the same trap, and now he’s hurting a bit. Every time I hear that people are too busy or they don’t need to market I think about starting a competing business in their category because I know I can crush them (funny enough, I’ve already started).

How do I know?

Marketing trumps a better product or service. Even if you do have a better product or service, the guys who market their inferior product or service more than you will always win. They will make more money, they will have more fans, and they will gladly give you a few hundred bucks to wipe your tears while you mope in the corner in denial still relying on the fact that you have the BEST product or service. I don’t care about your product or service, if I don’t know it exists. I’m going to spend my money with the people who I know exist whether or not their product or service is inferior to yours. You need to market.

To my last point – please keep in mind you can’t market a shitty product or service. All the marketing in the world will only help you for so long until consumers catch on and realize you’re an idiot, and shouldn’t be in business.

Next up – I’ll relay a few points on authenticity. In this day, and age your company needs to be authentic, and relatable. If it’s not, the interwebs, and word-of-mouth will crush you into a little pulp.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

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Happy Holidays and all that jazz

Christmas, sales, holidays

Hooray for discounts!

Tis’ the season for discounts, one day sales, and all that other garbage to get you to BUY, BUY, BUY! As a small business owner, you may get caught in the trap of drastically reducing your prices to compete with the big guys. Or worse – stray away from your values, and start wishing everyone ‘Happy Holidays’ when you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah. Don’t be afraid of who you are, and don’t be afraid to stand for something.

As an owner myself, I used to be worried about how I was perceived by others. I was being a vanilla version of myself, when I’m actually quite salty, fiery, and sarcastic (imagine that as an ice cream flavour). I was trying to be too much to too many people. After awhile it became exhausting, and the real me started to show. Funny enough, when I started to become my authentic self – I started making more sales, and stronger connections. Yes, I turned off some people, but I found out that’s okay. You’re not going to please everyone. It’s better to lose a sale in the short term for longer term gain.

I recently was speaking with a Realtor, and he REGULARLY turns people down who are looking for his services. He has an initial meeting with them, he asks a few qualifying questions (hammers down their values, expectations, etc…) to see if he’d be a good fit. If he doesn’t feel there’s a connection, he says he’s not interested in working with them. While it could be easy money for him, he has come to realize the people he doesn’t connect with right-off-the-bat are generally a pain in the ass for him down the road. He passes on the short term gain to keep HIS values in check.

So how does this relate to the holidays?

Everyone is having sales, everyone is devaluing their product, and everyone is focusing on short term gain during the holidays. However, you’re a constant reader of my blog, and you’re different right, RIGHT? Here are some quick holiday tips for your small business:

1) Don’t have a sale. Everyone else is, but you’re not because you believe in your product or service, and you believe in the value of it. Even worse, don’t mark up your product, just so you can say you’re having a sale while keeping your margins in line.

2) Say, Merry Christmas if that’s your thing or Happy Hanukkah if that’s your thing or Happy Kwanzaa if that’s your thing. Don’t be afraid of who you are, especially during the holidays. I happen to observe both Hanukkah, and Christmas. Why? Because my wife likes gifts, and I have a very large nose.

3) Throw people out of your store who ask you if you have a sale on. I recently picked up a few shifts at a large retailer because I LOVE retail this time of year. Plus, it helps me gauge where the retail industry is at seeing as I coach a few retailers. I can’t tell you how many people approach me asking about sales. These people are not loyal to you or your business, they’re only looking for the cheapest deal. I would rather have 10 people pay full price for my product / service than 100 people who are interested in getting a deal on my product / service. Those 10 people are fans of mine, while the other 100 will come and go. I’m more concerned about my fans.

Funny anecdote (well, I think it’s funny) – I had tea (yes, tea as I don’t drink coffee) with a renovator just over a week ago, and he was telling me about a recent client of his. Like the Realtor above he asked a few qualifying questions to see if this guy would be a good fit for him, and his business. He picked up on a few things (the area where he lived, his car, and his meticulously organized home), so he knew this guy was going to be quite demanding. My reno friend didn’t mind as he actually enjoys working with demanding clients, as he expects the best from his team, and he knows he’ll be able to deliver a quality product / service. So knowing this soon to be client was going to be extra demanding he flat our said, “Having heard what you’ve said – I know you’re going to be a bit of a pain in the ass to work with, but that’s okay. I’ve handled, and exceeded the expectations of clients like you in the past. Knowing you’re going to be a pain, I’m going to charge you $5000 more for my teams time.”

$5000 MORE FOR BEING A PAIN IN THE ASS!

Guess what, the guy agreed he was going to be a pain, and was happy to pay the extra $5000. Turns out the client was a bit of a pain, and very meticulous when it came to the renovation, but the client appreciated the upfront honesty, and now he’s happy to refer people to my reno friend.

All in all, here’s my Santa-ly advice to you this holiday season: DON’T discount your product, BELIEVE in your product or service, and BELIEVE in yourself, and your values. You may lose some customers in the short term, but you will create LOYAL fans in the long run. Trust me, I’ve done it, I’ve seen other people do it, and I know you can too.

Love you (and Merry Christmas, and Happy Hanukkah!)

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

Ps. If you throw someone out of your store who is asking for a discount – please send me a picture of you doing it. And don’t forget to post it where ever you can, to prove you, and your product are as valuable as the price tag.