Use small and slow solutions

When you think about marketing for your business, does your mind automatically go to all of the things you ‘should’ be doing?

When you think of creating a marketing plan, does your body immediately tighten at the thought of spending hours working on a highly detailed plan that, let’s face it, you’re never going to stick to?

Do you have a Facebook page, an Instagram profile, a Linked In company page, a blog, a Youtube account? Are you simply everywhere? And when someone follows you, you get all bashful because your last post was in January 2017? Have you dabbled in webinars, podcasts, Facebook live or Instagram stories, perhaps for a month or two before getting too busy and letting them fall away?

You know, there is another way.

You could simply pick one thing. Choose just one activity, preferably something you love to do then commit to doing it regularly for three months. After three months, you will probably be starting to feel pretty good at your one thing. It probably won’t feel so scary to add another thing. The trick is, not to drop the first thing. To integrate. One activity supporting the other.

One of the 12 principles of permaculture is to:

“…use small and slow solutions: small and slow systems are easier to maintain than big ones, making better use of local resources and producing more sustainable outcomes.”

And this principle just sums up for me what marketing needs to look like for small business.

Good marketing is...

  1. Good marketing solves problems.

    Start with creating a service people actually need. To do this, you will need to look at what problem people have, how they currently solve this problem and what new problems they create by attempting to solve their original problem.

  2. Good marketing is sustainable.

    It’s not all about flashy campaigns. At the core of your marketing plan should be the activities you plan to repeat over and over again. If it’s not repeatable, it’s not worth it. Small and slow solutions are easier to maintain than large, complex systems.

  3. Good marketing is holistic.

    You must be able to demonstrate a direct link between any marketing activity and your biggest, most important goals. Before you act, ask yourself how will this help me get from point A to point B - not just in my business but in my life?

  4. Good marketing begins with people.

    Ask who will this help? What benefits does this create? Does this create any new problems for my clients? How else can I help?

  5. Good marketing is honest.

    Click baiting, keyword stuffing, opt-out emailing and other bait-and-switch tactics will only ever get you so far and damage your reputation in the process. If by eliminating these tactics, you are left with no plan at all, see point 2.

  6. Good marketing is as little marketing as possible.

    Keep it clear. Keep it concise. Keep it targeted.

Stop and observe

When clients first come to us with their ideas and challenges, it’s usually easy for us to see what we think they need.

They need a plan, they need goals, they need fresh ideas, new strategies. We tell ourselves they need to take action and be strategic about it. They need our formula for growth, our tested process, to get with our program.

What would it look like if we slowed down and took the time to observe our clients before we made recommendations? If we look to answer not what they need but who they are. Behind the external goals, the missions and visions, what do they fear, where are their blocks?

Our interaction with them becomes about taking them from who they are now to who they want to become. After each action we help them take, what if we simply stopped to observe and asked ourselves is this taking them one step closer to who they want to become?

Marketing strategy vs. marketing tactics and why you need both.

One of the most common areas of confusion I see among my clients is the difference between strategy and tactics.

“Should I make a brochure?”

“Should I update my business cards?”

“Should I be making videos? A podcast? A blog?”

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Part 2: You are the marketer you need

So what kind of marketing am I supposed to be doing then?

That all depends. Maybe it’s blogging, maybe it’s podcasting maybe it’s telling Instagram Stories. Maybe it’s all of these things. Maybe it's something else entirely.

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Part 1: You are the marketer you need

Marketing can seem so overwhelming. After all, it’s everywhere we turn. It’s the water we swim in. And it has a way of triggering in us a feeling that we’re not doing enough. Especially when we’re doing everything it takes to keep a small business afloat.

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Marketing as meditation

Marketing is like meditation, When you start out, you believe it’s something you will become good at.

Over time, you hope it will transform you. Make you a better person.

You don’t know when, possibly next week or next month, but soon your life will look very different.

But in fact, after doing the same thing every day for a few months, your world doesn’t look much different at all. You thought it should at least be getting easier by now, that you would be a ‘better’ meditator.

But most mornings your mind still wanders. Some mornings you don’t notice a single breath. Still, you persist. It’s become a habit. You’ve let go of your attachment to the outcome.

The thing about rewiring your brain is, it takes time and the shifts are not at all dramatic.

After a few years of doing the same thing over and over, you may not be able to perceive the change, but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening.

What is marketing?

Try using marketing’ in a sentence.

‘I have trouble marketing my business.’

‘I don’t need marketing for my business because I already have enough clients.’

‘I think distributing a catalogue with all my products to potential customers it the best marketing strategy for my business.’

Do you view what you do and why you do it from the inside out or from the outside in? That is, do you think of what your customers can do for your business or what your business can do for your customers?

Marketing is both. And other things too.

Marketing is why you do what you do. Marketing is what you do. Marketing is how you do it.

If you believe you don’t know the best way to market your business, then what is it that you really believe?

Perhaps you aren’t sure if what you do truly matters to your target audience.

Or perhaps you don’t know if you’re charging the right price.

Or perhaps, when people ask you what you do, you don’t know what to tell them. Or that when you tell them, you lose them.

Finding answers to all of these questions is marketing.

Building a machine

A marketing campaign is like a machine. And not a machine you buy off the shelf or even a machine you build yourself with numbered instructions to follow step-by-step.

Marketing campaigns are like brand new, complex inventions with hundreds of moving parts. And when you take it out for its maiden voyage, things are likely to go wrong.

You may discover that some of the parts you used create unexpected friction with other parts. Or perhaps that cheap part you used was cheap for a reason. Of that when you started cutting corners because you were running out of time, those actions had bigger consequences than you anticipated.

Obviously, you will find no shortage advice online about how to run a successful marketing campaign. Everything from how to write the best headline, to how to segment your audiences, how to structure a Facebook live event. Not to mention the benchmarks for email open rates, how many clicks to expect, how much to invest per conversion.

But none of these benchmarks relate exactly to your business with your unique proposition and your niche audience.

When you are disappointed by the results of your first campaign, you might think the entire thing was a failure. An activity to be avoided in the future lest it cost you more money.

What many entrepreneurs don’t see is that the only difference between the campaign that generates thousand of dollars in sales and the failed campaign they ran yesterday is the number of times they did it.

Working with what's known

Much of what we do as marketers is to work from what we know.

When we begin, much of what we have is merely hypothesis. A series of questions we pose for our audiences to then answer.

We need to take each question, hold it up to the light, test it in a range of conditions until we can gather enough information to derive some level of truth. We start to expand what is known.

Sometimes we forget this. When we view them in isolation, our marketing campaigns can seem like nothing more than failed experiments.

It’s only when you view them side by side, in relationship to one another and how each informs the next, that you can start to see your strategic trajectory take form.

Sometimes we all need a reminder of just how far we’ve come.