4 Myths and Mistakes in Marketing During a Crisis

First, we wish everyone health and safety during through this COVID crisis. I will outline 4 myths and mistakes in marketing during a crisis. And stick around until the end, I’ll share 3 takeaways you could implement right away. Given our new paradigm, I’ll put a positive spin on the 4 myths and mistakes in marketing that i’ve seen.  Not all businesses are suffering financially, but all businesses have changed in some way whether it’s a process or protocol of doing business to ensure safety. People are looking for new ways to connect including efficient ways to do conduct their business. It’s more important than ever to stay in touch with people whether it’s email, a text or direct messenger in a social media platform. The number one priority is reaching out to all of your clients to see how they are doing and a polite nudge to remind them that you’re available if they have any questions about anything during this overwhelming time. We can call it marketing or we can call it staying connected in a meaningful, purposeful way.  If you are looking to do more than just survive in your business, it’s more important now than ever to either level up your marketing or at the very least, START marketing if you’ve been putting it off or getting by with minimal efforts.  If people don’t hear from you now when they need you the most, they will find another resource they feel can rely on. I’ve heard more than a few times, “I don’t hear from you all year and now you show up. It’s too late.” The best part is that because we’re in the digital age, the currency is time. You don’t need to invest in big advertising budgets like the Mad Men days. No magazines print ads, no billboards, no Super Bowl ads.  Here are four myths and mistakes people make when it comes to marketing. Myth #1 – I don’t know what to say. There’s more to what you do every day than you realize that people would be interested to know. You know a lot more than someone who isn’t in your business but doesn’t business with you. Delivering value of what you can offer someone will help to show that you’re present in your business and available when they need you. For people to know, like & trust you, it’s ok to show your personal side. I like to work in my yard so i’ll post projects in and around the house. It helps to show that you’re human. It will also help to show how people can relate to you. YOU are a brand whether you own a business or work for a business. You do not need to sell your product or service every time you’re marketing.  Myth #2 – I don’t have time. Some people may not think they have the time because they may not have seen results worthy of scheduling the time for this task. If you carved out 10-30 minutes every day or every other day dedicated to intentional and meaningful engagement, you would see results in how people pay attention to you.  The more you spend engaging on a platform, the more you get noticed even if you don’t think the metrics are displaying a lot views.  Business is about relationships. People have to know how to relate to you but if you don’t exist online, then they won’t know how to find you or know how you can help them. Myth #3 – I don’t have an audience. If you didn’t have an audience you wouldn’t be in business. You have people all around you, but perhaps you didn’t think of them as an audience. With the INFLUENCER movement, if you don’t have a million followers or get a million views on a post, people think they’re doing it wrong or that it’s a waste of time because they’re not getting those results. The flaw in this mentality is that we have to appreciate that for any number of views we get online is less time we have to be in our car driving to a meeting with just one person. Don’t look at the views or the metrics if you’re just starting out. Focus on the practice of developing a new habit of scheduling time to devote to marketing. If you aren’t creating content, then curate quality content that you trust and that you find relevant to your business. Myth #4 –There are too many platforms. Who doesn’t like having choices? To be able to pick from Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, Pinterest, YouTube or any other platform you are familiar with means you get to enjoy however you feel most comfortable when delivering your content.
  • Maybe you want to practice with video so you may utilize Facebook Live because you’ve been on that platform longer or you save your videos to your Youtube playlist.
  • Maybe you want to be more business-like while extolling the virtues of your products and services, so you go to Linkedin. 
  • Maybe you like snapping photos and want to include a meaningful, inspiring message, so you go to Instagram or Pinterest.
  • Or the newest darling, maybe you want to bust a move or deliver a message with curated music in the background, you go to TikTok.
There are so many tools these days to help develop content. It’s a matter of EXECUTING. And that is where people fail. Even if it means that you are going to pick one goal, but you’re not sure how to go about it, the RESEARCH is a form of execution.  Research is learning and learning gives us more confidence with something new. I think a formula for success can be described as follows: Schedule + Research = (a higher probability of) Execution. Here are 3 takeaways to ponder: 1. Cultivate your email list. it’s the only digital asset you own. The platforms own your content once you publish it on their site. 2. Do video. If you’re shy or you hate how you look on video, I will tell you from experience, no one is analyzing you the way you think they are. Video is so valuable and helps to deliver your message in such a powerful way. The statistics of how people connect with you is undeniable. Practice with one minute videos. It’s a great, safe start. 3. Repurpose your content. What do I mean by that? If you write a blog, do a one minute video on the topic of the blog you recently published. If you did a video about something important about your business, write a blog even if it’s only 200 words. Then, put the video on your website with the blog. Then grab a section of the blog and draft a post to Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, etc. about your blog and video. Check out our Be GRAM-Tastic Instagram course. If you want to find out more about it, Schedule a call with us by clicking on our online calendar here.

Kick Overwhelm To The Curb

Do you ever have to prompt your kids to eat something, wear something, do something or go somewhere?

They resist; you persist because you want the best for them.

You’re selling, but you’re able to do that because ultimately you believe it’s best for them because you love them. You are delivering value by showing something that’s good for them.

Your kids are like the general public at large and your business is the parent that is trying to show them something of value.

I’ve been marketing since about the mid 1980’s. But I didn’t know I was marketing. 

My favorite course in college was marketing. We reviewed businesses that excelled because they applied business fundamentals that introduced their products and services to consumers.

Then when I joined my father’s insurance agency.
My first thought was “I don’t want him to be the best kept secret.”
My other thought was “this could take a while. People need to get to know me.”
My mantra became “there’s no immediate gratification in a long term strategy.”

I networked and joined business organizations to meet other business owners. I created events to engage the community.
I grew revenue 800%. He was able to retire when I bought him out and then I sold my shares to my sister six years later.

It was all from marketing. 

This was inspired by a conversation with a few of the Board members of an IDS Chapter in CT who brought me in to do a presentation. I asked, “what do you want me to talk about?” 

I wanted to do something different from what may be expected.
I didn’t want to beat a dead horse with the obvious platitudes about marketing. 

Nor debate about which is better:
Facebook vs. Linkedin
Posting in the morning or afternoon
Writing a Blog or recording a Vlog.

You don’t need me to tell you to post on social media.
It’s been trending for the past decade or more. Being an early adopter has left the station.

They said, We’re overwhelmed. Many of us are Solopreneurs and doing everything ourselves.”

FEELING OVERWHELMED

Do you ever feel overwhelmed with marketing? I have good news and bad news.

I believe being overwhelmed is an opportunity to learn how to grow in some capacity.
Your business could be at the precipice of growing to the next level.

Being overwhelmed, to me, is the difference between doing the things we want to do and doing the things we think we should be doing. It’s an internal conflict. It’s why we procrastinate and make excuses instead of delegating.

A side effect of being overwhelmed is complacency.

I don’t want to steal my therapist’s thunder, but most of the time, many of us, in general, have the same doubts and fears. 

People aren’t paying attention to us as much as we think they are. They’re too worried about their own stuff.

I’ve listened to hours of marketing podcasts where professionals share how they got started and invariably it begins with some fear and doubt as they stumble to figure things out.

Is there anyone here that DOESN’T want to grow to the next level?

Anything I share with you today is nothing i’ve not been through already.
I’ve worried. I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’ve doubted. And I’ve succeeded.

Marketing is not an event. It’s a process.
And when it comes to process, we don’t seek perfection, we strive for progress.

Who has a purpose they are trying to accomplish?

Marketing is about understanding our purpose and the goals we set to achieve the fulfillment of our purpose along with the good we want to put out into the world.

Sometimes it feels like marketing it’s not always practical or executable.
It’s too much, we’re too busy. We can always find an excuse. I know I do.

If we’re following our purpose, it’s practical.
If we’ve not achieved all of our goals yet, we must make it executable.

i can talk to you about tactics and techniques, but it’s boring, and you know it already.
You can google everything and anything for FREE.  You know more than you know.

It’s the motivation, inspiration and creativity that we seek sometimes.

I’ve been saying for years:
You have to start somewhere in order to celebrate progress.
It’s basic benchmarking.

Rachel Hollis said it better,
“You can’t get to great if you aren’t putting “good enough” out in the world.”

Rachel Hollis also wrote a book about the lies she told herself and how she overcame them. 

I’m going to share the lies I told myself when I started social media in 2009:

  1. I have nothing to say.
  2. No one is listening to me.
  3. I don’t have an audience.
  4. There is so much noise, no one is finding my stuff.

This is ego hijacking our brains. 

Because the truth is:

  1. I was most talkative in high school. So, Duh!
  2. I’ve been hired so people are listening.
  3. I’ve built an audience.
  4. I started with my inner circle & circle of influences to let them know what I’m doing out here in the world.

CONNECTION
Remember when we discussed purpose? There’s a reason I didn’t say passion or profit first.

Who doesn’t love financial gain? With profit, sometimes we let our money junk get in the way. Sometimes we charge too little or too much or we procrastinate because we don’t know what to charge or how to charge.

With passion, we keep ourselves mired in minutia because it’s an art or it’s too important and it has to be perfect and we don’t let go.

Purpose allows us to dig deep within ourselves to reveal and share our values. And values have impact.
Impact will tempt people to pause and perhaps notice you. And the more they notice you, the more likely they will remember you. When they remember you, they will buy from you when they need your products and/or services.

Your marketing strategy should include your story. People don’t want to feel alone. They want to connect.
We’re biologically wired to connect as humans.

Sharing your story, your struggle to make it in this business causes connection. People can relate.

No one cares what you post unless they know that you care. Thank you Theodore Roosevelt.

Let’s talk about the “Judgey Judge Judys” in the world. If anyone judges your content and proclaims it as a failure, thank them. It’s a gift. It’s called feedback. Feedback directs us on how to improve.  It’s not about perfection, it’s about progress.

Y’all still with me?

CONTENT
Content is king; consistency is key.
It doesn’t have to be all business all the time. The best marketing is when people don’t pontificate all the time with all that they know.

No matter your industry, build in visuals. I don’t want to invite you to my pity party, but I used to post about insurance.
Now, with my new business, I post about Business Credit Financing. It’s not very exciting content.

Find the emotion. You’re bringing your product or service to life.

Here are some things you can do to stockpile content for your business.

  1. Photographically document your process, parts of the process, pieces of the process.
  2. Train your clients to know you’ll be wanting their feedback along the process. Ask how they are feeling and why they are feeling that way. Bring them into the process.

Why is this beneficial?

You want to know what they are feeling at all times because this provides relatable events with what other people are feeling. This provides direction on your how your content will reach people who may need you in the future.

Document and/or develop “case studies” to capture a keyword library for you to enrich your content though your clients’ experience.

  • What is their Pain
  • What are their Problems
  • What are your Solutions
  • What is their Satisfaction

Lewis Howes, renowned podcaster of the School of Greatness said “Create what you would want to listen to if you were stuck, starting out or striving.”

People are paying you for your perspective. They have a problem. You have a solution.
Your job is to find more problems so you can help them solve it.

You are doing a disservice by not sharing your solutions and your creativity.

In my previous business, I amassed 13,000 Twitter followers. When I first started using Twitter, I politely stalked my competition & strategic alliances to see what they were posting and how their content was relevant to a similar audience I was trying to develop. 

Let’s go back to feeling and/or being overwhelmed.

Who feels that sometimes, somedays maybe they squander 30 minutes here and there?

Maybe you’re binge watching Netflix.
Maybe you’re aimlessly scrolling Facebook or Instagram.

Did you know that 30 minutes per day is 182.5 hours which is almost 23 days lost which is more than 3 weeks potentially squandered vs. being productive. 

How will you start taking that time back?

Spice Up Your Marketing

Whether you are ready to stick a fork in your marketing plan or you’re cooking with gas, you may want to let this marinade for a bit.

I don’t ever brag about my cooking. Recipes terrify me because they are so precise. And well, one false move, will it be edible?

You can experiment with so many different flavors. What about an Indian dish with a flare of curry or an Italian dish with a pinch of oregano. Maybe you like a hot bowl of chili, extra cayenne please.

The possibilities are endless. However, if you don’t want to risk your guests’ taste buds to your creativity (or lack thereof), you may want to prepare ahead of time to test taste the dish. 

When you decide what cuisine you would like to serve and you’ve picked a recipe, you browse your pantry for the ingredients you need and may already have. If you are missing an ingredient, you must take a trip to the grocery store to purchase the rest.

Click here for your marketing shopping list.

You then assemble your ingredients on the counter so it’s all readily available as you maneuver in the kitchen between the refrigerator, counter, sink and stove. You’re utilizing all the tools (appliances) you have in order to prepare the dish.

With marketing, the possibilities are also endless with how you build your brand and execute your story. Similar to deciding on your meal, you have to decide how you’ll execute your marketing strategy.

Whether you are beating, chopping, mixing or grinding, there’s a process and each step of the recipe contributes to the ultimate goal which is a delicious meal you’re proud to serve.

Marketing is similar to this. The recipe to marketing is having a strategy.

The ingredients are the various outlets that will build your brand and build your business.

  • Are you blogging?
  • Branding your website so people “know” you before even meeting you?
  • Posting on social media? 
  • Hosting/speaking at an event?

This activity will help to sell more of your products and services to new and existing clients.

If you prefer not to be the head chef in your marketing kitchen, consider hiring a sous-chef so you can do what you do best and delegate the rest. If you think your marketing is a bit bland for your taste, please give us a call and tell us how we can help you spice things up.

“A recipe has no soul. You, as the cook, must bring soul to the recipe.” – Thomas Keller

Easy, Breezy, Pleasy

When you think of what is most important to prospects and clients, many would probably guess “price” and that’s not wrong. Price is typically high on the list.

PUN INTENDED!

Most prospects get right to it with questions such as:

  • What do you charge?
  • What are your rates?
  • How much will it cost?

However, did you know that one of the Top 5 Values to customers is EASE OF USE? According to Ian Golding’s article, “What do customers really want? The top five most important things revealed”, ease of use is actually #5; on a list of 5…which is actually LAST. 

Hold the phone, so what’s the big deal then?! 

The answer is to make it easy for a client to engage. And if we don’t, they will quickly turn to another option.

What does “easy” mean anyway?

It depends. Comfort for both the seller and the prospect warrants understanding the expectations of the potential client.

Let’s make this easy. What are some things you can do?

Over-Inform

Let’s start with a simple scenario gone awry. If a client is coming to your office, do you prepare them for every possible eventuality, such as:

  • Do you prepare them for where to park?
  • Is it metered parking?
  • Is there a landmark next door?

It seems to ridiculous doesn’t it? People have GPS for goodness sake! 

Here’s what I mean. I invited a woman to an event I hosted. I gave her the address thinking that would be sufficient. However, she couldn’t find the location and ended up frustrated driving around and gave up. I could have, and should have, indicated that it was next door to a well known hotel and conference center.

Over-Phone

If there are more than 3 emails about a simple question that isn’t being answered, pick up the phone. All too often, there’s too much opportunity to feed our brain’s need to multi-task because emailing seems easier. But, email can delay a simple task from being completed while we wait for an answer and get distracted with another task.

Over-Prepare

Do you prepare the client with an on-boarding process so they understand what they should expect from us for next steps?

When I used to write insurance for a new client, I would outline what they should expect after purchasing the insurance. It’s a comprehensive checklist summarized in these 3 basic topics. 

  • Documents procedure
  • Billing procedure
  • Communication procedure

Let’s go back to the concept of managing expectations. It seems like a lot of work, however, if you create a process with templates, it will be set you up for each client when they hire you.

These days, the pundits are pontificating about the customer experience and the customer journey.
And it’s no small feat to achieve customer satisfaction. 

If you have multiple product lines, you can’t be just “ONE AND DONE”. You have to train clients to keep you top of mind for any of their future inquiries. Do the tough steps first and the easy stuff follows.

Prospecting: TR(Y)AL & (T)ERROR

I’m a broken record when it comes to new business development.

Unless your business never (and I mean never ever) has clients that retire, relocate, downsize or die, you must consider new business development strategies, aka PROSPECTING.

What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word “prospecting”?

Networking, maybe?

Cold calling? Did you just shudder and break out in a sweat? I don’t blame you. 

Did you know that dictionary.com defines prospecting as:

    • to search or explore (a region), as for gold.
    • to work (a mine or claim) experimentally in order to test its value.

That’s pretty cool even though I know that they are not distinguishing the word in a sales capacity.

Sales & Marketing gets a bad wrap, and prospecting, to me, is the gritty way to say new business development. 

Most people DO NOT have the same reaction (shudder and sweat) when you discuss customer service. Some people think it’s “safe”. We get to respond to clients who are looking for us to help them. Makes sense.

I don’t want to be a party pooper, but customer service involves its own form of prospecting. Every interaction with a client is an opportunity to demonstrate your expertise, solve a problem and….wait for it…remind them why they do business with us. 

Not so fast. That’s the easy part. 

The hard part is not letting them off the hook (literally and figuratively) once you managed the task at hand. Taking a few minutes to ask them for feedback on how you’re doing and reminding them what else you do in your business, gives them a reason to think about why else they need to hire you.

It’s harder than it sounds. In the insurance world, we call that “account rounding” and “cross-selling”.

Without getting too dense, if you’re not getting uncomfortable with how to find new clients, you are not growing. It may not seem like it now, but there will come a time when a shift will happen. The key is, either doing it voluntarily and proactively or reacting to circumstances beyond your control out of desperation. 

Reflections through the Drive-Thru Car Wash

SPRING is finally here, sort of! This past week marked my regularly-scheduled, yet overdue, visit to the car wash to rinse the winter grit and grime from my car, especially since the four recent and overwhelming Nor’easters delayed a much needed bath.

I drove to the drive-thru car wash, although a more thorough cleaning was necessary; this was a decent option in he meantime given how my visit was grossly overdue.

I put the car in neutral and onto the rails we went. i had a few minutes of quiet time to myself as we floated into the tunnel. This is where I decided that marketing could be a bit like a drive-thru car wash due to the different stations and variety of wash methods Sally and I were about to go through.

On average, a typical car wash facility has multiple stations:

• Pre-soak
• Mitter curtain
• Rinse arch
• Foam applicator
• Scrubbers
• High-pressure washer
• Undercarriage wash applicator
• Rinse arch
• Wax applicator
• Mitter curtain
• Scrubbers
• Rinse arch
• Dryer

As you can see, a couple of the stations repeat themselves. This isn’t surprising is it? This is no different for marketing.

There are various marketing activities that help with your efforts to achieve fruitful business development results depending on your budget, time and tools. Yes, it can be overwhelming, but you know there is light at the end of the “tunnel”. Let’s take a look at my quick journey through the wash tunnel and how it relates to marketing.

Car Wash:
First, a couple of guys doused Sally’s exterior with a power wash blast to prepare for the pre-soak phase. While the bay and various machines were about to swallow Sally whole, there were still humans tending to Sally’s curves and contours to ensure stubborn debris would be managed.

Marketing:
This is similar to initially hiring a marketing consultant who prepares you and your business with a “down and dirty” approach to produce a polished marketing strategy that suits the goals of your business.

Car Wash:
Then, you enter the mitter curtain. These sud-soaked fettuccine strips jounced the front hood and windshield with a head-on lather. The lengthy sponges slowly made it’s way to the top of the car and proceeded it’s rhythmic cleansing towards the back of the car.

Marketing:
This reminded me of the strategy soaked discussions a business-owner would entertain with an overall review of the myriad of marketing techniques and tactics available.

What are these myriad of marketing efforts?
• Referrals
• Existing clients – cross-selling, up-selling, account rounding
• Cold calling – yup, everyone hates it, but it’s on the list because it works.
• Strategic alliances – who compliments your business that needs your services for their clients?
• In-person Networking
• Social media
• Email Marketing
• Content marketing (webinars, podcasts, press releases)
• Internet marketing (Search engine Optimization – SEO)
• Community service (Volunteering, Boards of Directors)
• Direct mail
• Advertising

Back to the Car Wash:
Next, the scrubbers. These tall, rotating brushes glossed over the sides of Sally to remove loose debris and film from the power washing.

Marketing:
This is where you scrub what activities you think work best for you and for your business. You also want consider what activities you should handle and what could you delegate to another member of the team.

Car Wash:
The rinse arch followed. The spraying showers washed away the soapy suds.

Marketing:
It’s a time to “come clean” with focusing on what works and more importantly what doesn’t. This is your moment of reflection to understand what marketing activities you could be doing and perhaps have fun while doing it.
Finally, I enjoyed the high-powered heating vents that finished the cleaning process by blow drying Sally to remove blotches from soapy residue and streaks from spraying water.

This is the time to celebrate. Who doesn’t enjoy the refreshing feel of success when recommendations have been considered from a trusted marketing consultant. While this car wash journey was a mere five minutes of my time, it’s a start and a little bit of motivation to remember how she shines in the sun.

Cleaning any vehicle is a process and requires maintenance. So does marketing.

Start the process, embrace the progress. You know you need to do it, and you know a positive outcome is likely.

Your business is an adventure. Enjoy the ride…even if it’s for a five minutes of quiet through the car wash.