Let me tell you the very real story about Stanley Save-a-buck , the CEO of a small company that produced some fabulous new “cutting edge” products. His newest invention was the “Blue Suede Unisex LED Flashlight Slipper”.
How often have you had to get up in the middle of the night to use the washroom, grab a snack or let the dog out and you haven’t wanted to wake up the rest of the household by turning on lights everywhere?
Stanley was thrifty, which in itself is not a bad quality, but in business can spell disaster. The biggest problem is in making budget cuts to the wrong areas, especially things like advertising and marketing.
Stanley had dabbled with advertising and marketing before with some of his previous inventions like “Edible Socks” and the “Electric Fork”. They had some limited success but Stanley clearly didn’t like marketing and had no background or education to support it. He also thought marketing agencies were out of his price range so he never really explored the options there. He was wrong…
As it so happened, Stanley’s nephew, Donald, had just finished a 4-week online course in marketing from the University of Make-a-Buck (University name changed, but you know these pseudo schools exist). Donald had received an award for perfect online attendance so it seemed a no-brainer for Donald to be named the Marketing Manager. It came with free coffee, an employee discount, and a corner cubicle.
Any of this sounding familiar? Most marketing mistakes are made with the intention of saving money but they really ending up costing more. Here is where Stanley and many other well intentioned but misinformed entrepreneurs have gone wrong.
1. You think that YOU are the marketing expert. The reality is that very few really understand marketing when it comes to an overall strategy that will create a predictable cash flow. Putting money into the wrong short-term promotional vehicles and without a long-term plan is going to cost big bucks with very little return. If the thinking behind this is that an employee can be trained and is going to be a cost savings, think again. Marketing agencies have experts in social media, on and offline advertising, website creation, graphic design, and the list goes on and on. These are experts after all who don’t need to be trained so your time to market is much faster and mush less expensive then training internally for all those different marketing functions. An agency also doesn’t require your office space or benefits and can leverage existing relationships to save you money on printing and other direct go-to-market purchases.
2. You are really just guessing when it comes to spending your marketing dollars. From an online media assessment source (Capgemini), 90% of companies surveyed felt their lack of digital marketing skills was costing them big money. Over 50% were planning to invest much more in digital marketing help in the near future. A marketing budget that takes into consideration your market size, your future growth plans, and a host of other business decisions is essential. The SBA says that you should spend about 8% of your revenue on marketing and advertising. A good marketing company is going to help you put a short-term plan together. A great marketing agency is going to invest in your long-term growth and success, and plan accordingly. If you’re not keeping up with your competition, then where does that leave you?
3. You are just now catching on to last year’s marketing trends. The latest technology and industry trending knowledge is likely the most difficult thing for most businesses to get their head around. Just when you think you’ve got a finger on it, BAM! it all changes overnight. It used to be fairly simple - buy some newspaper ads, get listed in the Yellow Pages or maybe take out a billboard or two, you know, like that show MADMEN. That’s 1960’s thinking. The Internet changed all that. Today you need to be clickable and mobile friendly. You can’t be expected to keep up with the changes in technology and industry trends. It’s virtually impossible unless you’re a full time marketing agency with extensive resources and the people to make it happen.
Don’t be a Donald. Worse yet, don’t be a Stanley that hires a Donald. Do your homework and see where the real value is. Invest in experience. Call a marketing consultant.