An ex-boss once said to me that when he was founding his business, he wanted the name of his company to start with the letter ‘A’, so that the name would appear at the beginning of the Yellow Pages. No, I am not kidding at all! Back then, people looked for businesses on Yellow Pages!
Would you agree with me if I said that owning a business in our era is more difficult than 40 – 50 years ago? Back then, you had the local newspaper, the Yellow Pages, your door-to-door sales guy, or your cold-calling sales guy (or you were your own sales guy), maybe your local business network group… and that’s it! If you were good enough, people would talk about you, and your business would grow naturally and organically. No big fuss.
Nowadays? Let’s see…
You have to have amazing SEO, kick-butt content marketing; you need to be posting continuously and engaging even more on social media; you must have lead magnets and lead funnels; you should also have a PPC strategy, as well as social media advertising, and do some webinars, and referral partnerships and email marketing. Oh, don’t forget word-of-mouth marketing and go to five networking meetings per week. Poop, I almost forgot the speaking gigs and spilling out your emotional state on whatever live channel you have… and, if you could also add some nice creative print stuff, and a bit of PR it would be perfect! And when you do all that, you might have one second left to say ‘hi’ to your actual customers.
Although it seems like I am exaggerating, the reality is not too far behind… Therefore, microbusinesses and solopreneurs always feel like they are behind; they are not doing enough, or they simply feel overwhelmed with all the things that we, as business owners, must be doing. Let’s start by accepting the reality: if you do not have a marketing team, or a team of associates with the relevant expertise, there is no way that you can do all the activities listed above. So, what do you do?
This blog is to provide some useful landmarks so that you can choose your marketing channels wisely to create an efficient and ROI-heavy lead generation plan.
Here are the three basic rules of choosing the most efficient marketing channels for your business:
1. Take the lead of your customer
At the risk of repeating myself, if you understand your customer, then you have a clear idea about their pain points and their buying behaviours. You will know where they spend their time and what channels they use most before making their purchase decisions.
Let’s take the example of my husband’s business: City Paws Club, a dog day care facility. His clients are dog owners living in South West London, working mostly in the City, who basically have no time to exercise their dogs during the week. Here is my question? Where do you think he can reach a large pool of his potential clients available to listen to his message? A) with Instagram advertising B) E-mail lists or C) Local Parks?
We’ve been in business for 8 years and there is not one lead generation method that we haven’t tried including TV! Guess what works the best? Our Sunday family stroll with our dog Flea, combined with flyering and meeting local dog owners at local parks. Why? Because, our clients are doing the same: having a lovely family walk with their dogs, when they are available and open to listen to us and enjoying meeting other dog owners.
Whenever we do that activity, our monthly growth spikes up to +60/70%. This method has always been the cheapest, easiest and most fun way of growing the business. Yes, he does have Instagram and other channels and he does fairly regular e-mail marketing, but our growth horse is simple flyering. Who would have thought? Do you know what yours is?
2. Keep an eye on your competitors
Competition mindset is one way of looking at your competitors. There are other ways of looking at them. As potential partners, sources of inspiration, potential growth channels… I never see competitors as competitors, even when they want to play that game. With that optic in mind, think about your competition as another source of creativity. They may have experience in different aspects of the business and might have tried some channels that you haven’t tried. Keeping an eye on their marketing activities will give you new ideas and inspiration, but will also indicate what could work for you (or not). I have a few business coach friends (or competitors, if you wish) with whom I am in constant contact. Not only do we share ideas, but also, we share results about what type of activity worked and what was a total flop. Imagine how much time, energy and money we all are saving by supporting each other in this way.
3. Track and Measure
First of all, let me admit one thing: This is definitely easier said than done. In the chaos of the solopreneurship, or microbusiness ownership, implementing systems to track your efforts and measure their efficiency is not easy. You need to be organised, meticulous, detailed and set up tools like Google Analytics or CRM systems and examine them regularly. So, I get it, it is a headache and it is difficult.
However, in failing to do so, you risk continuing a marketing activity that does not work, which means that it costs you, in one way or another. Marketing should not be a cost to your business. Every single marketing activity has to be seen as an investment. You should always get back more than what you put in, otherwise you need to stop it.
I also agree that calculating the cost of any activity is not as straightforward when you are a solopreneur or microbusiness owner. Why? Because you tend to spend more time than money, so it is not as obvious, you do not see it and therefore measure it. Well, isn’t our time the most valuable asset we have? So, I suggest we make sure that we get it back in some way or form.
One of our Empower Tribe members, a social media manager, had a consultation with me once. She has been a real networking butterfly and most of her marketing activities were around networking. It was an activity that she particularly loved and because it didn’t cost her business a lot of cash (visibly), she always thought the few clients that she was gaining from her networking activities were actually paying for the fees of the different networks.
One thing that she was forgetting was to calculate the cost of her time. She was doing approximately two networking activities per week. Including her travel, this was totalling around five hours of unbillable work per week; 20 hours per month. This is the equivalent of 34 days of unpaid work per year, which actually cost her around 14K of potential revenue!!!!! Who would have guessed? When I asked, did you bring in 14K worth of client work with your networking activities? The answer was “no”. The next thing we did was to check all the different networking activities in which she was participating, analyse which ones were the most efficient in terms of ROI and we streamlined her network marketing to three times per month. She gained around 2.5 working days per month back to spend on more efficient growth activities, or maybe even time for herself to enjoy some “me time”. This is what tracking and measuring allows you to do. So, my humble suggestion is to ride through the pain to set-up your initial metrics and measuring systems. This is how your business will become streamlined and give you more freedom than ever 😉
Ladies, I am sorry I have no magical formula or a list of channels that you should be focusing on for your business. There are zillions of options out there and I believe each business is different, so there is no one size fit all answer. The guidelines above are here to customise the answer for you, but I am afraid you need to work on it.
Now as usual, we are here to guide you through this work. Our module dedicated to defining the most relevant channels for your business has now been released on our Training platform and you are more than welcome to join our Growth Hacker online workshop on the 26th of August. This workshop is open to FREE members who would like to use their one FREE webinar access.
I look forward to seeing you there. In the meantime, wear your mask, take care, enjoy the sun and have fun with your business!