Beware the Marketing Firm

It scares me how many small business owners and entrepreneurs listen to these social media marketing “gurus” out there. These days, everyone is an expert, but who are these people? And this includes me too!

Really though, I can’t tell you how many marketing firms pop up these days boasting pretty photos and fancy websites, charging thousands and taking advantage of small business owners. Then there’s the promise of social media posting and branding, but what do they know about you or your business? YOU are the expert in your field and they are “experts” in theirs. Why would they be the right ones to do social media for you?

Get real. Marketing is not difficult, but it does require planning, work, and time. They key is knowing what to do and how to do it the right way so you’re not wasting hours.

So now, why should you listen to me? I may know more about this stuff than many others might, particularly since I’ve been in the industry since 2001, have a degree in the topic, and have continuously been learning and redeveloping my knowledge in the online marketing realm. I know things, likely more than you, sure, but I don’t know everything. Plus, marketing is constantly evolving these days, so a firm that tells you they know it all is lying. For me, I’ve been working with small businesses for 20 years, so I know my market and I know the right mix of tactics to use that makes it effective. Which is where I tell my clients to start. Knowing yourself and your market is crucial to knowing how to to reach them, even if you’re not sure how to take that next step to actually get to that market.

Understanding your market gives you the leg up over everyone else. Would you sell sunscreen to a mine worker? How about alcohol to a pregnant woman? No way! So who do you want to sell to? (if you say everyone, then we need to have a serious chat.) If you’re selling a product, service, are a non profit, or have an event to promote, take a minute to understand who will be interested and why in what you’re offering. Just because you think you have a great idea for an event in your town, that doesn’t mean people will be interested in it. Do your research, listen to the public, and make a conscious effort to understand your market before you start spilling your message.

Once you know who you’re talking to, create a few goals. Define these goals (no more than 3 to avoid overwhelm) and make them tangible using SMART goals. Once your goals are ironed out, turn those babies into strategies, with a list of action items to arm you for a successful approach. You can do this, and you know its important, so put the time in to make sure you’re doing it right.

If you decide you need help, then ask for it, but educate and prepare yourself first. Don’t hire a fancy firm you can’t afford without knowing what their approach is, how they are going to reach your market and satisfy your business goals, and particularly approach YOUR marketing strategies using your brand and your voice.

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