There is a lot of literature on the internet aimed at startups and small businesses. Even when you look beyond the guides promising you a way to earn thousands a month just by sitting at home there are still a lot of snake oil salesmen. The truth of the matter is there aren’t any get rich quick schemes. Unless you’re the 1 lucky business in 100,000 that has the perfect product, at the perfect time, in the perfect place, it’s just not going to happen.

That shouldn’t discourage you. Startups and small businesses survive and thrive in all industries, we work with dozens of them ourselves. Equally there are many that sadly fail to find a business model that can produce returns on a regular basis.

Two of the biggest stumbling blocks we see in SMEs and Startups centre around marketing. To keep it simple, either there’s too much of it or not enough of it!

Not too long ago we had a young man in the office on a work experience placement and he asked us a question that seemed so obvious, and yet none of us had answered it before.

‘Could I afford marketing?’

It certainly took me by surprise. Everyone can do marketing, there are such a vast number of ways to go about it. Many people have the conception of marketing as a whole department or something similar.

You’ve got Sales, they don’t like Marketing, Marketing over there don’t like Sales. Down the hall is Human Resources, no one goes there unless they have to. Board room is at the top of the hall where you’ve got your CEO, CFO, CMO, CDO, COO.

In reality if you’re a Startup or Small Business those departments don’t exist, or they’re just a single person. There’s a good chance you’ve got a few employees wearing a lot of hats.

This means there are 3 options when it comes to Marketing. You can either create a Marketing department, if you have the resources. You can outsource to an agency, a good agency will bring you ROI but it can be difficult to give someone else responsibility for the brand and product you’ve created. Finally you can make Marketing the responsibility of everyone in your business. If you are a 3 man Startup then this final option could be a winner, however as you grow this method becomes messy and wasteful.

Marketing encompasses so many different activities in the Digital Age. SEO, PPC, Social Media Management, Content Marketing. It can be easy to think it’s all too much. Here is where we see a lot of businesses making their big mistake.

They decide ‘Go Big or Go Home.’

More than once we’ve seen a truly promising small business devote huge time and resources to their marketing, to their brand growth. Really give it an all or nothing approach. They didn’t get it at all. Pushing a huge portion of their resources into market development, advertising and promotion before they had a solid basis on which to deliver their product. Employee numbers double as projected revenue quadruples but nothing is really happening. Throwing more and more money into marketing only works if your business has a foundation to work from.

Taking a risk is no bad thing, but as many Startups have been killed by premature scaling as they have been by anything else.

On the flipside we also deal with businesses that have plodded along doing the same business for years. No bad thing if that’s the aim. Once a niche is found and business is ‘good enough’ business owners are averse to taking a risk. We hear how they’ll take on another employee if business picks up. But they never do anything to help business pick up!

Marketing can be as simple as writing a blog and posting on your Social Media every day. It can be as complex as running 20 different e-commerce campaigns in tandem with text marketing and direct mail. Marketing can take almost any form you want and can fit any budget.

The key to marketing success is to have a plan that fits your business. Never trust a marketer that promises you everything! Would you trust a used salesman that has the ‘perfect’ car for you before he knows more than your name?

If you properly utilise Inbound Marketing techniques and are properly maintaining your digital presence then you are already marketing! You can do that for free with a bit of time and know-how. You can manage a Paid Advertising campaign for yourself.

There is no one that doesn’t need marketing!

There is no one that can’t afford marketing!

We spoke to someone recently at an event who said they hadn’t bothered with marketing in 20 years, they thought they didn’t need it. A recent downturn in the price of oil, the loss of one their clients and suddenly they have a revenue deficit they’re scrambling to fill. They had to start from scratch. No Social Media, no online presence.

We have a large collection of free resources available to help you with your Digital Marketing and if you’ve got any questions we can help with please contact us.

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