If you own a local business and you’re aching to close more sales but puzzled as to which marketing strategy will do the trick, you might be looking in the wrong place. In fact, you might be killing your business by marketing too much and by focusing too little on the thing which you probably do better than anything else. (More on what that is in a second.)
Have you noticed that almost every article or book on business growth talks about marketing and sales? So why aren’t there more businesses growing by applying the tips in these books? Less than one percent of the small businesses in this country ever grow past a few hundred thousand dollars a year in revenue.
Do you think it’s possible that what the majority of people are teaching about business growth is wrong? You bet it is. And if you want to know why this is, maybe it’s time to stop listening to the business growth experts and start listening to the people who write your paycheck. I’m talking about your customers.
You’re Not the Boss of Me!
Do consumers like marketers and marketing messages? Do they jump up out of bed ready to check their email, excited about how many marketing messages they might have in their inbox? Have you ever been on the phone with a friend or family member and had them say: “Oh, I’ve got to go, that’s a telemarketer on the other line!”? Maybe in some crazy alternate universe, but in the real world, consumers hate marketing. They even regard perfectly innocent, and sometimes very expensive and well-designed, marketing messages as spam. How DARE they!
Yet, have you noticed how much consumer debt we have in the United States? Have you noticed how many toys your friends, family members and neighbors have? People LOVE to spend money. They love to shop and to buy things. So why do they hate marketing so much?
Because they want to make their buying decisions on their own terms, and today they can. They don’t have to wait and see what’s advertised on TV or hear what’s on the radio or read about it in a magazine ad. Heck, most of today’s consumers don’t even watch commercials anymore. They have TIVO, Netflix and Hulu.
If people are tuning out marketing messages, how are they making their buying decisions? They’re making them based on good old word-of-mouth and peer reviews. Depending on who you ask, somewhere between seven to nine out of ten consumers are reading reviews before they make buying decisions.
This means that TV commercial you spent thousands of dollars on isn’t the final word your customers will hear on your product or service. So what will they hear? If you want to find out, just do a quick Google search of your company or product name and add the word “reviews” after it. What comes up? That’s exactly what your customers are seeing when they decide how to spend their money.
Now, do the same search, only this time use your competitor’s name. Do this with your primary three competitors and ask yourself who is doing a better job at connecting with the modern consumer. Which of you will gain more market share as our world becomes more social media oriented? If this experiment gets you anxious to change your marketing strategy, here’s the good news…
Tone Down the Marketing & Do What You Do Best
If you’re awesome at customer service, you’re in a great place to grow your profits and your business. You just have to refocus your energy from marketing to being remarkable. Isn’t the customer service experience the most important thing for YOU as a consumer?
Yet, when we start marketing, it’s like we forget what’s important to us as consumers. We slip into another world where fancy graphics, expensive web designers and slick copywriting are considered “good marketing.”
Take off the marketer goggles and take an honest look at your marketing from the perspective of a consumer. If you suspect that you’re leaning too much on marketing and not enough on service, you’re probably right – and it’s probably time for a change.
And if you are going to spend more money on marketing and would like to get a better return on your investment, here’s a hint for you: People care a lot more about what your customers are saying than what your copywriters are saying.
In future articles I’ll talk more about how to use reviews in your marketing. Until then, Stop Marketing and Be Remarkable!