Scott asked me this very valid question on Facebook yesterday:
Given I’m too busy to market my business, this means I don’t NEED to market my business right?
My response was this:
No. Because if there comes a time when you’re NOT busy, that’s a bad time to start trying to market your business.
I wasn’t being flip – I was speaking from experience. Late last year, our phone flat out stopped ringing for three weeks. Worse, this three week period coincided with:
- Us putting a new staff member on (ironically because we were so busy we felt our service levels had started to slip)
- A few of our clients suddenly losing important funding due to all the WA Government cutbacks so had much less money to spend with us.
- The mining boom officially ending here in WA.
Three weeks may not sound like a lot but:
- This had never ever happened to us before; and
- We didn’t know how long it was going to last.
We couldn’t just sit on our hands and pray that the phones would start ringing again. But the other thing we couldn’t do was suddenly start marketing ourselves to our existing client base either.
Why? For a couple of reasons:
- Unless they’d recently been in contact with us re a job, they hadn’t heard from us in months, even years. It’s pretty bad form to go, hat in hand, to people who’ve not heard from you in ages just because you suddenly need something from them (work!)
- All marketing efforts have lead times – we needed to generate business straight away.
In the end the phones did start ringing again but it took us months to recover from that period where they weren’t. And ironically, the thing that saved us was this little blog of ours. Even though, at the time, I hadn’t written a blog post in months, the blog posts I’d written over the previous three years had built up considerable cachet with Google. When the phone started ringing again, all the enquiries were from people who found us on the first page of Google for ‘web design perth’ and ‘graphic design perth’. It almost makes me wonder whether we disappeared from Google for three weeks (strangely, it never occurred to me to check this at the time. Clearly I was too busy panicking.)
Anyway, fast forward to now and it’s a really big concern for us that all our new enquiries come from Google because, what happens if, via some random glitch, we do disappear from the rankings? What then? We’ve got no marketing backup at all.
We need to diversify our marketing to ensure we’re never entirely reliant on one avenue of marketing again. And we need to be cognizant of the fact that in 2014 ‘marketing’ is all about relationships. It’s about creating a community who knows, likes and trusts you and will be advocates for you. This can’t be achieved by dipping in and out of marketing and only doing it when you have time.
It needs to be a consistent, ongoing thing.