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Small Business Marketing Success Faces Its Greatest Peril From… Squirrels?

Small business owners shouldn't be distracted in marketing efforts

How often has this happened to you? You’re focused on a specific plan when something grabs your attention. You try and fight it, but it happens so suddenly. Your whole plan gets tossed aside for something different. Something newer. A cute, distracting animal with a furry tail. A squirrel. Just like in the Pixar movie, UP, the squirrels can shatter your focus.

For example, your business needs to work on its marketing. You don’t have the capital to hire someone, and the different freelancers who’ve worked on your website or your brochure are too specialized to assemble a global, comprehensive plan. You’ve read some articles on search engine optimization and a little bit about blogging. The local chamber had a presentation about email marketing and your neighbor is talking non-stop about social media. You think you can put something together. A plan. It will all come together when… SQUIRREL!

Don't be fooled by excessive promises
I wish every distraction would be this easy to spot. Image © Sony

[cue infomercial music] You just sat through a 30-minute webinar on mobile apps. Apps are where it’s at. Apps are on everyone’s phones, tablets, and computers. Apps will solve everything. That app developer knows how to get YOUR business on this bandwagon in a big, Big, BIG way!

You write the check and get your app developed. You make sure everyone knows you have an app. After months of work, getting approval from the Apple App store, and piles of cash a whopping twenty people have downloaded your app. Four more emails have come in asking when it will be available on Google Play and Windows Store. Someone who didn’t even download the app just left a two star review.

A few months go by and just as you’re reaching for that marketing folder… SQUIRREL! [cue infomercial music] You have just realized pay per click advertising is a massive untapped market segment.

[infomercial music] QR CODED SQUIRRELS! [music screeches to halt] Stop. Just stop. Say QR codes again and I will sick Scott Stratten on you.

How To Identify and Defeat Your Marketing Squirrels

Business warning poster for small woodland creaturesSquirrels. These seemingly harmless, distracting creatures prevent more small business owners from effective marketing than anything else. While some ideas or programs may be sound or even effective for you; identifying, understanding, and researching these options should be your first action. So, how does a busy business owner not get carried away by the hype?

How to identify marketing squirrels:

  • Did you first hear of the marketing effort through an email solicitation, unsolicited phone call, or at an event? (For example, Sign up now—we’re only offering this to the first 20 to sign up after this speech!)
  • When you signed up, was there a research period prior to any promises of performance? (Have you heard the one, We’ll get your business to the top spot on Google!)
  • Do you know how much of your community is already using the new wonder platform or communication medium? (Be cautious of the $499 per month for the XTool and get connected to this untapped marketplace!)
  • Are there testimonials from other users in your industry? Can relevant references be provided?
  • Where’s the beef? Are there metrics built into the platform that track your progress or success? Make sure you’re not being billed extra just to see how you’re doing.

Taking a deep breath and not jumping into the hype sometimes is a big challenge. “It just feels like it will work” or trusting your gut isn’t always the best course of action. However, there are real marketing opportunities out there that could really help your business.

How do you keep your marketing from being “distracted” by the next Squirrel?

There are times when an opportunity comes along a squirrel path. How can you spot the difference between a great idea and just another distracting rodent? Research, test, measure, and repeat. Some things to consider:

  • The time honored statement: If it sounds too good to be true, it is.
  • If someone comes to you versus you going to someone, there should be a warning flag. I’m not saying never trust a sales associate, but getting a couple quotes is always a good idea.
  • Set aside a small budget for “experimental” marketing or trying something “out there.”
  • Keep your ear to the ground within your industry (as well as similar industries). Being first to the party isn’t as important as being the best—first adopters are rarely the long term success stories. Look at what others do and build on it.
  • Make decisions based on solid data and not intuition, endorsement, or tea leaves. Just because a big name marketer or successful entrepreneur says it works doesn’t mean it works for your business community.

Beware of those business squirrels that pull your focus off your plan. Those little furry forest creatures can lead your marketing efforts astray. Don’t buy the hype and always look towards your consumer community. They will be your real determination of success. By basing your marketing actions on data, evidence, and bottom line results, you’ll find your marketing efforts delivering the goods.

Do you need help assessing your business marketing? Have you caught yourself chasing those marketing squirrels? Don’t panic. Give Signalfire a call. We’ll review your efforts, dig into your metrics, and ultimately develop a marketing plan that will make a difference. Hold Signalfire to the test and talk with the clients we’ve helped. [cue infomercial music] For a limited time only!