“Do as I Say, Not as I Do”  

My deskIf I had a dime for every time I heard that phrase growing up, I’d be a rich woman sipping fruity drinks under the shade of a palm tree by now.

Despite this, I have to admit that as a self-employed marketing pro, I’m guilty of neglecting my own marketing while coaching my clients to improve theirs (you know the old adage “Cobblers’ kids are the last to get new shoes” (with all due respect to Jim at Daub’s Cobbler Shop who tells me his kids’ shoes are not neglected). Luckily for me, business has taken care of itself. However, all businesses, mine included, have occasional lulls and that’s when I fall into the same faulty thinking I advise my clients against, “What can I do today to drum up new business now?. The answer, aside from sales calls, is nothing.

You see, marketing is a slow process. No one thing on one day is going to bring you an immediate influx of sales . I often hear, “I ran an ad and got no response”. One ad? Really? And you didn’t have a line at the door? Color me shocked!

Marketing is not sales (please read that aloud at least three times). Marketing is like networking (which I realize is a form of marketing, but that’s a topic for another day). When you attend a networking event, you don’t expect to seal a deal with a new client on the spot, but instead, to introduce yourself to as many new people as possible, getting to know enough about each one to appraise their need (or lack thereof) for your product or service, and briefly make them aware of what you have to offer professionally. To keep from boring them and making them want to run and hide the next time they spot you in a crowd, you include a helpful industry tip or relevant small talk to exhibit your professional expertise (keep it short, no one likes an opportunist) and a willingness to share your wisdom without expectation of anything in return. They may not have a need for your service or product right away, but when they do (or when a friend requests the name of a reputable company in that industry) your name will be the one that comes to mind first.  In marketing this is called “top of the brain”.

Again, it’s not fast, not a magic pill to be swallowed for immediate results. Because of this, there is no good or bad time to market your business. People often say “I don’t need to promote my business now, this is my busy season”. But then they come to me when things get slow and money is tight asking for fast, inexpensive results. That’s.not.how. this.works. The best time to market your business is every day. Build the awareness of your business, your brand, your differentiators while business is good, and funds are available for those out of pocket costs (such as professional help-check out my site and give me a call!) and your slow periods will be fewer and less desperate.

Now excuse me, I’m off to take my own advice. I don’t get the same high from it as I do marketing other people’s businesses, but I, like you, need to tend to it more.Hey, what can I say; I never claimed to be perfect.

Hiring Professional Help- A Valuable Reminder

We’ve all surely heard some variation of the expression, “The Cobbler’s children have no shoes”. Well, I admit, I’m guilty. I can market everyone else’s business without a problem, I actually enjoy it, but I fail when it comes to my own.

worn out pink shoes 2Well, after an embarrassingly long delay, I finally put the necessary time into completing the redesign of my own website and have to tell you what a relief it is to be done. Truth be told, the experience was agonizing. I hated writing my own content, breaking down what I do in a way that answered the questions I get asked most, yet I knew my horribly amateur old website (thrown together with no professional help years ago) was hurting my image, probably discouraging prospective clients from working with me in some cases. I knew it had to be done ASAP, and yet it took over a year to complete, because I kept putting it aside.

On the other hand, it was a great reminder to me, of why I do what I do. As a marketing professional I find that the majority of business owners are too close to the subject to affectively market their own service or product. It often takes a fresh set of eyes to see it objectively. To quote another well-known expression, we “can’t see the forest through the trees”.  They too let subpar marketing languish too long, tying to go it alone, or perhaps procrastinating to the point that they do nothing at all.

We business owners know what we want to tell everyone, but often that’s not the thing that people need or want to know. We also fail to understand how those outside our industry perceive it. The things we find most basic may not be basic to them at all. Our opinion of our trade may not match that of the general public.

Someone on the outside sees our business from the perspective of the average person, the good, the bad and the ugly. We are too close to it, too biased, to see it as others do and we know too much about the industry to realize how little others understand it.

This is what I do every day and yet I struggled with my own. For those who don’t work in marketing, I know it is even more of a challenge. It’s ok to seek professional outside help in any trade. The results are much better and take a fraction of the time to complete. Please, learn from my experience. You don’t cut your own hair, why try to do your own marketing?