Yellow boots

What does marketing have to do with shoes?

I was “talking marketing” with a new-born-business-owner the other day, and somehow, mid-way through our conversation, all of a sudden I am talking about shoes… My winter boots, to be exact, and how some lady told me that she loved my boots, and I was like: “oh these? really?” … The moral of the (boots) story was that I stopped noticing that my boots were awesome, and when someone else mentioned that they were awesome, I stopped for a moment, and acknowledged that. And guess what? All of a sudden I did not “need” another pair of boots… I was perfectly happy with what I had. They kept me warm, and were carrying me through the city just brilliantly.

Now, how the heck did my “marketing conversation” ended up with talking about boots? You see, when we are new at something – whether you are running a startup company, or you are growing your business and taking on the new heights – there are always so many opportunities lingering around us, so it gets harder and harder to focus. The issue with marketing and branding is; it’s not going to work, unless a) it’s consistent, b) it’s strategic and c) it’s contributing to your main business goals. If one of these components are not met, your marketing budget, and your time are both going to be wasted. The energy that your could have used on building your business will be wasted on looking for solutions, instead of focusing on what’s already working, and utilizing what you already have in your marketing mix.

At Cucumber, we have two groups of clients; fruits (the startups, that are in their first three to five years of business growth), and vegetables (those that are in their prime, and are ready to take their business to the next level). It is fascinating to see how these two groups run their days, and the things they focus on in their marketing. One thing, however, unifies those who are destined to succeed:

 …they are clear on what matters the most, and they ignore what matters the least.

When you are in your first 5 years of business growth, you really have to watch your marketing budget, and be wise as to where you are investing your marketing dollars. So if you are on a tight marketing budget today, here are a few quick questions for you to ask yourself, to see perhaps your marketing boots, are just fine. Perhaps, you already have everything you need in order to succeed.

Run an inventory of your marketing supplies

Thinking of your next marketing move? It’s always either time or money. What do you (realistically) have more? What do you have, and what are you doing with your existing marketing channels? Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest? Website, blog, email subscribers? Networking, public speaking, lead generation? Have you been using all these channels to their fullest capacity? So, before you move on to your next marketing spend – see what you’ve already got, and perhaps, there’s still some room for finding new business in the existing arena? The bottom line is; before you say that you need a new website (and please do not tell anyone I told you not to create a new website), if you don’t have the budget for it, it might not be the best marketing decision to do so. Perhaps your marketing budget should be spent elsewhere?

Make a plan of attack

'It's not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It's what we do consistently.' Anthony Robbins Click To Tweet

Once you know what you’ve got, now would be a great time to create a plan of attack, and design a consistent plan of your marketing activities.

Firstly, lay out a 12 month priority calendar – outline your main focus goals, service promos, milestones. Then for each month, break down your marketing by channels; social media, networking, partnerships, sponsorships, public appearances, promos, PR, blog, newsletter, online advertising, etc. Each month might have its focus, and you don’t have to hit every single deliverable in this chain, but you do have to run your marketing consistently, in order to see the results of your marketing efforts.

Review your marketing plan and allocate your marketing budget

In the last month, I have been asked this questions more times than I can count – what marketing budget should I allocate for my business? How do I know how much I should spend on marketing every month? And since marketing must be a consistent activity,  the budget must be set for the year, not as a one-time thing. Once you know the inventory of your energy, time and willingness (perhaps you enjoy writing, then you should be writing articles / blogging on your website). Not a big fan of Twitter? Naturally, you should not be spending your time there – outsource.

Stay consistent, focus on what’s already working, keep your marketing mix fresh, yet do not re-invest the wheel. Because marketing is just like shoes – they are all awesome, and there’s always going to be a new style available come spring. You can’t have them all, but you can enjoy the ones that are within your budget, and have the job done.