Over the years I’ve noticed a common thread in the appearance of marketing on a business owner’s priority list. It coincides with the sales team maxing out their ability to produce enough leads through personal contacts and networking. This is true even if the “sales team” is the business owner alone.
From this perspective, it’s easy to recognize the need for marketing. Sales people are complaining, the pipeline is shrinking and people are beginning to panic.
But waiting for these symptoms to become apparent is waiting too long.
I think the best answer to the question “when do I need to start marketing” is this:
You need to start marketing now.
No matter what search marketing gurus may tell you, marketing takes some time to ramp. It’s not an ON-OFF switch you can throw whenever you need more leads.
Usually when business owners come to us saying “I need more leads NOW”, it’s too late to solve the problem elegantly or even painlessly. If you’re in that position, I don’t mean to make you panic. I mean to get you moving. The sooner you start, the faster the pain goes away.
The same is true of business owners who technically have a marketing program but haven’t been paying much – if any – attention to it. The time to focus is now.
Marketing has never been more important for a business than it is today. It’s never been trickier either. Buyers – not sellers – control the buying process. Marketing messages bombard our prospects everywhere they turn. Purchase decisions are more complex and require more thoughts. Buyers won’t talk to sales people until later in the process.
We need to pay attention.
Waiting for Godot
Some years ago, I ran the marketing communications efforts for a company that was being acquired by Lucent Technologies. In my mind that put everything on hold. My boss disagreed – rightly so in this case. He referred (endlessly) to Waiting for Godot.
In case you, like me, need a refresher on this classic Samuel Beckett play / book / movie, it is the story of two homeless guys who are unable to do anything else while waiting on the arrival of some mysterious person named Gadot. Gadot, of course, never shows up.
The point of that story – and this article – is that timing will never be perfect. No buzzer is going to go off saying “time to start marketing”. If you wait until you desperately feel the need for marketing, you’ll waste a lot of valuable time and you’ll find marketing costs more when you’re scrambling.
So, how do you get started – or where do you focus?
The answer to that question depends on whether or not you already have a marketing program running. I’ll break it into two articles and post them over the next few days.
Meanwhile, have you gotten yourself jumpstarted? If so, how?