When you start your own small business, marketing your services and products can be a bit daunting. But before you get frustrated waiting for orders to come in, you should know one thing: good marketing takes time.
It’s as simple as that. And it doesn’t just apply to creating and placing your marketing campaigns. It means that marketing takes time to deliver results. There’s no magic wand – strategy aside, marketing is all about patience and consistency.
Touchpoints are the various interactions your customer has with you and your business, from social media and online ads to networking events. These interactions build throughout the customer journey to build brand recognition, interest and, especially, trust. None of this, however, happens overnight.
So, let’s find out why and what that means for your small business marketing.
A scenario we all know
To explain why good marketing takes time, let’s imagine the following scenario:
You’re at a local networking event (on- or offline!) and make a new contact. There’s small talk, you ask about his business and tell him about yours in turn.
Before you move on, you exchange business cards. And you make sure to connect on LinkedIn after the event.
Over the course of this event, you do the same with a number of people and catch up with a few existing contacts as well. So far, so good.
Read more about lessons I’ve learned in 5 years of networking.
3 weeks later
Now, assuming you have an average memory, you might remember some of the people you met, but most likely not all. That is due to the sheer number of people we talk to every day! And often because we never hear from them, let alone see them, again.
And that’s part of why good marketing takes time. But for now, let’s imagine that a few weeks later your business partner talks about a guy he met. And you remember him as the same guy you met earlier this month.
Turns out they met through a shared contact. And he’s really impressed with this guy’s business idea.
A while after that
A few more weeks have passed (starting to see how good marketing takes time?!)…
You’ve signed up for a workshop and it turns out, the new contact you made is the speaker. And he’s a good speaker!
He’s funny, informative and, most of all, talks about stuff that is really relevant to you. So you catch up with him after the talk.
You ask him how his business is doing and mention the shared connection with your business partner.
During the talk, he mentioned his Twitter account and blog. So you follow him on Twitter and sign up for the RSS feed of his weekly blog.
After months of sporadically seeing his tweets and reading his blog posts, you stumble on an advert of his in a local magazine.
You’ve seen his logo often enough now to immediately recognise it (and it has quite a memorable slogan to boot).
When you check your emails, you notice that you got an email from your contact. He’s offering his most valued followers a special discount. Motivated by that, you and your business partner decide to give his product a try.
Why good marketing takes time
Now, there are many theories about how many of these points of contact you need to convert a contact into a customer and/or referrer.
But if you think about our scenario here and about your own experiences, we know that it takes a while to get to know someone. And it takes even more time to trust his or her expertise enough to buy from them.
But that is what we need to make our marketing work. Good marketing takes time to turn potential clients into paying ones. And it takes time to turn random contacts into referrers or collaborators.
You never know. They might become a customer or a mentor. Or they might be looking for a new job exactly when you need their skill set to grow your small business. And they might know just the accountant to help you with your taxes.
What that means for your small business
Now if you’re planning to grow your small business, keep the following in mind: Relationships like this are not created by working away in your office.
You don’t generate new business by barely maintaining your website, let alone updating your SEO. And being too busy to go to networking events is definitely not helping your cause either. These days, with virtual networking becoming all the more popular, you don’t even have to leave the house to do it! So schedule it in as a non-negotiable.
It is also not achieved by simply investing into just one marketing strategy. To increase brand awareness and trust in your expertise, you have to choose a wider range of marketing channels.
This will help you get as many touchpoints as possible with your target audience. Like the guy in our scenario who used networking, public speaking, social media, blogging, email marketing and advertising.
Now, you don’t have to get started with all of these at once, but make sure to be visible. And to be so consistently. Don’t go out and be busy marketing yourself when business is slow. Be out there when you’re busy, too.
This is one of the most common marketing mistakes I’ve seen. It’s hard to invest time and money in marketing your small business when you’re run off your feet! But it’s the only way to make sure you’re not suddenly running out of clients when all your current projects are finished.
And people’s memories are short – if you’re out of the loop for even just a few months, you’ll have to start all over again! So, repeat after me – good marketing takes time. Stay consistent and you’ll see that it was all worthwhile.
If you are interested in reading more about this topic, have a look at these:
5 Small Business Marketing Truths You Need to Know About
The Best (Online) Networking Events & Clubs to Join in Edinburgh
What to Do When Your Small Business Goes Quiet
How to Market Your Small Business When You’re Busy