By Bryan Orr

Skeptical of marketing? Worried that the money you spend on those newspaper ads, radio minutes, TV spots, billboards, and direct mailings will be wasted like so much of the marketing money you have spent before? Marketing our businesses can be a discouraging and difficult process.

You may finally decide to invest in some marketing after long and thought out deliberation. Or, if you’re like me, you throw caution to the wind in a moment of frustration and make a knee jerk decision. Once the decision is made and the money is spent we consider the massive impact it will have. Sure, last time it didn’t work, but *this* time your masterfully crafted bit of advertising will land successfully, and your phone and email inbox will be flooded with customers seeking what you have to sell.

You wait and once again (almost) nothing happens. It’s a terrible feeling, a feeling I have felt one too many times. Here are some reasons why your marketing activities may be failing.

1. No One Cares About You

This may sound harsh, but you just have to remember that when you’re marketing your business, people don’t want to read all about YOU, they want to read about specific needs that you will fulfill for THEM.

2. “Brand” Marketing Is Elusive

We don’t want to hear this, but our brand’s name recognition is not something to focus on in the beginning with billboards or TV ads. Branding takes time and scale, which are two things that small businesses generally do not have.

3. Your Message Is Untested

What sounds amazing and perfect to you may not ring a bell with anyone. You’ve taken your message and mulled it in your head a thousand times and feel it is worth reading and hearing. That doesn’t mean that it will grab attention. Your message is untested with your market and until you’ve tested it, you’re not going to know if it rings true with others. A quick tip is to create a Facebook ad with several versions and spend $5 on each. The one that does the best there will also likely do the best in other places.

4. You Only Did It Once

You thought putting something out there once was going to be all it took to gain more traffic. Reality sets in. You just spent X amount of dollars, and you’ve got nothing to show for it. There is almost no form of marketing that works great the first time, and it takes weeks or months of beating that same drum before it will start to stick in someone’s mind.

But there is good news!

While there isn’t a foolproof approach that works across the board, I’ve finally come across a couple of marketing tactics that have brought about more traffic. Here are a two tips that are worth investing in:

  • Direct Leads – You want direct communication with a customer, but direct snail mail is expensive and mostly impersonal. If you have a business website and/or a Facebook business page, start using these platforms to collect email addresses so you can start direct communication. Consider offering a tip guide or free download for whatever service is your specialty. If they sign up for this free guide with their email, you’ve locked in a potential/current customer.
  • Local Relationships – Fostering relationships with people in your local community lends credibility to you as a business owner; people generally want to share with others about businesses that they’ve personally connected with. Organize some time out of your week to attend local functions that are free and available to you. This generates a healthy word-of-mouth cycle, and builds relationships in a lasting and genuine way.

What do you do to give your marketing activities a better chance of succeeding?