Ask any small business owners “What’s the most important resource in your business?” and the most common answer is “My people”.
You can even elevate it to a more spiritual level: Christian business coach Wez Hone phrases it â€śthe currency of Heaven is peopleâ€ť.
Now change the question to “What’s the most important resource in getting business?” and it becomes a lot harder to answer, and you get a variety of responses.
So let’s think about how you get customers. No doubt marketing plays a significant role, and the extent and effectiveness of your marketing is driven by two resources: money and time.
Regardless of the budget you allocate to marketing, you’ll get a far better return if you also invest time.
Love at first sight rarely happens in business-consumer relationships, so you need to woo people to win them over.
How do you woo?
Yes, marketing is probably a little like dating. Actually, maybe a lot like dating!
A certain sort of customer will jump straight into bed with you as soon as they see what you’ve got to offer, but you’ll probably never see them again.
They’re also unlikely to add a great deal to your reputation.
Customers worth having, on the other hand, need a bit of wining and dining, perhaps some flowers and chocolates, and – most importantly – some time getting to know you, before they commit.
The amount of time will vary, because different people respond to different cues, but those discerning customers aren’t easy.
Some might not realise that they’re unhappy in an existing relationship until they find they have a better connection with you.
In the end, consumers value a relationship as much as you do, but they hold all the power, because they’re the ones who decide whether it’s worth entering into one with you.
So be confident in how you present yourself and don’t shy away from exposing the real you, because the people who connect with that will be genuine too.
Be sensible, don’t overreach
As I discussed in my earlier blog, Why you need to see clearly before your customers can, the starting point to getting your message across is clarity.
Once you have that, don’t throw it away by sending mixed messages.
Plan well, communicate clearly, and be consistent, with the style, content, methods, volume and frequency of your marketing messages.
Don’t even think about beginning your marketing, particularly online and via social media, until you have a message you can deliver clearly and consistently.
Then commit to it as strongly as you can, being practical and not overambitious.
It’s very easy to start anything, your digital marketing included, with a great deal of enthusiasm but – as most of us who’ve ever joined a gym know – life often gets in the way and the best of intentions can easily fall by the wayside.
Formulate a realistic plan that you know you can stick to, and be as disciplined as you are in your many other business commitments (even more if that’s possible).
Don’t waste the initial energy and effort that builds a certain expectation on the part of your audience by pulling the rug out from under them when you can’t maintain your momentum.
That’s like a broken promise. If you let people down with something as basic as marketing, they won’t even stop to wonder whether they can rely on you at all, because they’ll already have found someone else to fill the void you left.
Planning trumps creativity
As personal branding guru Chris Duckerâ€™s recent post on Instagram noted “If it doesn’t get scheduled it doesn’t get done”.
The message here is that you need to be strategic and only commit to something you know you can deliver consistently. Not for one week or even four, but on an indefinite, ongoing basis.
Don’t be in such a hurry to get something out there into the marketplace that you start before you’re ready. The more time you spend planning, the easier it will be to carry out the plan.
Then, once you have your marketing in place, stick with it. Tweak it according to feedback, by all means, but don’t just give up on it.
Especially don’t come up with what you suddenly decide is a better idea and replace it after only a short period.
If you’ve come up with another great idea and what you’ve planned still has a couple of months to run, that just gives you that time to plan how you’re going to step it up with the next campaign based on this new message or approach.
It’s easy to “lose” someone that you’ve started to nurture a relationship with through a misstep, something that they find jarring or unfamiliar.
Remember, the aim is for them to get to know you, and if you suddenly change your appearance, they’ll be confused and might not even recognise you anymore.
While it’s great to be creative – and I’ll never discourage creativity – it’s better to be organised.
That’s often devalued, but you can easily tell the difference between an individual or business that has its act together and one that doesn’t.
Why consistency matters
Your ultimate aim is conversion, turning a tyre-kicker into a buyer. Some people take a little bit of convincing, others a lot, and of course some will decide to “go in a different direction”.
By allowing your audience to become familiar with who you are, what you do, how well you do it, and what that means to them, they become comfortable having you around.
Once they become comfortable, after a little more time (again, this is impossible to quantify because it varies greatly from person to person) they will decide whether to engage.
Engagement leads to the relationship you were aiming for all along: conversion.
Look at it this way: you could spend $5,000 or $6,000 making an impressive three-minute video, but if that’s your only asset and there’s no further information or follow up, you’re asking people to go through all the stages at once.
Even if people love it, it’s still only making them aware. It takes more to make them comfortable, more again to get some engagement, and more again to consummate the relationship.
Instead, you could spend about the same time and money scripting, planning, shooting and editing, but create a consistent output of, say, ten 30-second videos.
Consistency is about building a warm audience, so you have to apply heat gently over time.
Consistent messaging equals steady, scalable business
I can’t dispute that it’s possible for a “one-off” can be the best thing you ever put out there, but the problem is that you can’t rely on that to be a steady funnel.
However, if you do something consistently, you can see how people react and connect.
You have something you planned and are therefore able to monitor and analyse, which gives you a solid foundation on which to build ((I discuss collecting, analysing and leveraging data in the fourth part of this series).
You also don’t need to come up with a new idea every week.
Gary Vaynerchuk puts out fresh content every day, and it’s always interesting, but his underlying message never changes. He preaches hustle.
Because his content clearly illustrates that he actually practises what he preaches, he is more relatable and more trustworthy.
So invest time. Don’t panic. Don’t chop and change. Don’t lose interest.
Having lots of ideas is great but they don’t get traction without patience.
Start a project with us