I was speaking to a business owner at an event the other day who owns a successful retail store and she was explaining to me her frustrations with online marketing. She said she had dedicated the last 6 months to learning everything she could about online marketing and she still can't seem to get anything to work. She's at the point where she is almost paralyzed as she is afraid to spend more money for little to no results.
She has been following top marketing sites like Hubspot, Moz and Quick Sprout where she has learned a ton about online marketing, but still can't seem to get anything she has tried to work.
Just like in sports, there is a huge difference between learning how to play a game and understanding how to play it.
It's like basketball. You may learn lots of tips, drills, and tactics, but you still don't really understand how to play basketball and how to think strategically about it. Or karate, do you think the movie The Karate Kid (the original) would have turned out the same way if Daniel had learned some karate tips from a magazine than from Mr. Miyagi? I think not, so don't expect similar results by watching Youtube videos or reading blog posts full of marketing tips.
That's not to say watching marketing videos or reading marketing blogs aren't helpful, they are super helpful and you can learn a lot. I'm a self-taught marketer going on 12 years now and I read and watch marketing content daily. But if you lack the foundation of really understanding marketing and how it works, then you'll most likely end up more confused at the end of the day. It's like learning advanced drills and tips on becoming a great soccer player but you haven't really learned how to play soccer yet. Helpful, but not practical.
If you want to become a good marketer, you have to understand marketing. More importantly, you need to understand how your business works and how to create a marketing strategy for your specific business. What works for one business won't work for another.
To be successful at marketing your business, you need to have a solid understanding of 3 things:
Who your ideal customer is. If you don't know who you are marketing to, then save your money and just stop. The foundation of marketing is understanding who your ideal customer is, what their challenges are, why they buy and how your product or service will make their life better. Without this information, you are doomed to creating generic marketing campaigns that appeal to no one.
How people buy from you. What do your marketing and sales funnel look like? What does their decision process look like? What information do they need before they will consider buying from you? You need to understand how people buy from you and why, so you can make sure you give them everything they need in order to make a purchase. This sort of quantitative analysis is crucial in forming a marketing strategy that works.
Where to find your ideal customer. Once you understand who you want to reach and how/why they buy from you, you need to find out how to reach them online. Is it through blogging (inbound marketing), Google Adwords, Facebooks Ads, social media,…..once you know who you want to reach it becomes clearer how to find and engage with them.
Video: Learn the elements needed to create a simple, but effective online marketing funnel for your small business
Once you have figured out all of the above, it will become clearer to you what your marketing strategy should look like. You're not going to waste time and money on Instagram (despite everyone telling you to) because you understand now that is not where your ideal customer hangs out online. Once you know these 3 things like that back of your hand, all of those marketing videos and blog posts will start to make more sense and you can pick and choose which ones are useful to you.
You need to develop an understanding of marketing and how it applies to your specific business. You can either learn this yourself or work with a mentor or marketing consultant to help you figure out what your marketing strategy should look like. If you skip this step and jump straight into tactics, you'll forever be like a ship sailing without a captain, drifting from place to place without a clear destination.
Most small business owners spend money on advertising or hire marketing companies without having a marketing strategy in place. They assume (or hope) the company will develop it for them. Most marketing companies are tactical in nature, they will run a Facebook Ad campaign for you but not knowing if you should be doing this in the first place. Hiring a marketing company to do tactical things for you like run a Google Adwords campaign or do content marketing for your site is much different than working with a marketing company or consultant to help you develop a strategy tailored to your business.
Do you need to hire someone to figure this out? Not at all if you are willing to spend the time to really understand how marketing should work for your business. If you are not willing to spend the time to understand all of this, then working with someone who has the experience is your next best bet. There are lots of potential mentors out there accomplishing exactly what you want to accomplish.
The worst thing you can do is nothing and continue to waste time and money on marketing tactics that won't work for your business. You need a plan, a clear strategy, and system that will take turn potential customers into customers for your business over and over again.
You need to understand how to play the sport of marketing before you can excel at it.