Small Business Marketing Tips You Can Use Today
You want to make the right decisions when it comes to your website, your email newsletter, and the copy you’re going to use on the packaging for your new product. You want your marketing to shine because, after all, it’s a reflection of your company. In essence, you want things to be perfect—or, at least, you’d like to strive for perfection.
However, somewhere between “we need to get this done” and the pursuit of perfection, things fall apart. You start questioning whether your tagline is strong enough. You start wondering if you should change your website from three columns to two. You start tinkering with the copy for the new product packaging, changing a word here and there, a sentence or two, and then throwing it out and starting all over again. Sound familiar? It happens. So how do you know when you’re being productive or when you’ve reached the point of “overthinking”? Here are 5 signs.
1. Your marketing has completely stalled. This is the biggest red flag that you’re overthinking things. If you’ve gotten to a point where you’re overwhelmed by everything marketing related and/or you’re unsure of what to do next, even when it comes to basic decisions, you’re likely overthinking things.
What to do about it: There’s a good chance you’re either too close to your marketing or that you’ve taken on too many of the marketing responsibilities. When you’re too close to your marketing, it’s easy to forget about the big picture and, instead, to obsess over and sweat the small stuff. For example, if you’re questioning something like the font style in an email newsletter, stop and ask yourself if the font is going to affect sales. The answer is “probably not.” Is the font readable? Is it a standard font that most people can read on their computers and devices? Then it’s good enough for now. Don’t obsess. Hit send. If you allow enough of these situations to build up, suddenly your marketing will stall.
If you’ve taken on too many of the marketing responsibilities, you have two choices: outsource some of the work (e.g. hire a copywriter to write your newsletter) and/or delegate some of the responsibilities to your team. Yes, sometimes it’s hard to “let go” and, yes, your employees or freelancers might approach certain tasks in a different way than you would have. Unless their methods are in conflict with your brand or what you represent, allow them the autonomy to do it their way. The goal here is to get things done. You can always have a post-mortem discussion after, say, a newsletter goes out and give pointers on how you want it done next month.
2. You’ve had certain marketing projects in the works for more than a year. For small-to-medium-sized businesses, there are few types of marketing projects that require more than 12 months to complete, including a complete website re-launch or a complete company rebranding project, both of which—when done right—could be completed in as few as four to six months. If a project is taking upwards of a year, and it’s not your vendor’s fault (e.g. a web developer), then it’s likely that you are the bottleneck and you’re overthinking things.
What to do about it: We live in a digital age. So much of our marketing happens in the online realms of websites, banner ads, blog posts, and social media. In other words, these are all areas that can easily be changed or updated. Get the project to a place where it’s in good shape. Stop obsessing with the concept of perfection, because it doesn’t exist. Instead, give yourself permission to pull the trigger and go live, knowing you can make changes, if necessary, in real time.
If print pieces are holding you up, then invest time in creating a stronger checks and balances system so you feel confident in signing off on the project. For example, if you’re publishing a multi-page brochure or booklet and you’re paranoid about typos, then budget for two rounds of proofreaders: one for the final file before it goes to the printer and one to proofread the galley/proof from the printer before the final run is completed.
3. You bring up the same concerns over and over, no matter what the marketing campaign is, and, as a result, everything stalls. This typically indicates fear on your part. You might be trying to find reasons—and these reasons might even be subconscious—of not launching a campaign because you’re afraid of one of two things: failure or success.
What to do about it: This is when it might be a good idea to talk to someone, like a business mentor or coach. Fear of failure and fear of success are battles many business owners deal with, and both battles are manageable. If mentoring and coaching aren’t options, the thing to work on is reminding yourself that some marketing will fail and some will be a success. Plan for both: create a post-launch plan BEFORE you launch. This plan should anticipate issues, like negative press (and protocol for responding) or a ton of web traffic (which would indicate success, but also a potential failure if the servers don’t hold up). In other words, figure out all the issues around failure and success (go ahead and brainstorm a list if you have to) and create a plan for dealing with each scenario. Going through this exercise will likely put your mind at ease (and, let’s face it: it’s those silly little doubt monkeys in our brain that wreak havoc, right?).
4. You hate marketing, and you always come up with a dozen reasons why you don’t need to do certain marketing tasks. Yes, this is a form of overthinking; it’s a type of rationalization. You hate doing marketing, so you’re going to find every bit of evidence to reinforce why your feelings are right. This is a waste of time and a detriment to your business.
What to do about it: Marketing is necessary for 99.9 % of businesses out there. It’s unlikely yours is the exception to this rule. If you hate it, outsource it to a reputable marketing firm and let them handle things, soup to nuts (but be prepared to provide some input or to identify someone in your company who can provide input and sign off on things). Read our post on what to ask when hiring a marketing consultant.
5. You’re never satisfied with the “proof.” When you’re investing in a certain marketing program, such as Facebook advertising, it’s understandable that you’ll want to be able to justify the expense, so you may ask your marketing team (be it in-house or outsourced) to provide evidence as to why you should make the investment. That’s fine, and smart. But if you’re one of those folks who is never satisfied with the evidence because for each success story, you can find one that failed, well, you’re probably overthinking things.
What to do about it: It would be great if all of our marketing efforts delivered a high ROI. But that’s not the case. Some campaigns will deliver. Some won’t. But that’s how your marketing evolves and grows. Sometimes, especially today, you need to experiment with different programs and strategies until you find the winning recipe for your business. But you’ll never find that formula if you don’t test all the ingredients. Now, this doesn’t mean you have to do every marketing idea that crosses your desk. But if your team has a solid plan, good evidence, and it makes sense to try, then try it. Finding reasons not to try something is a waste of time (because you’ll always be able to find those reasons).
Can you think of any other signs that people are overthinking their marketing? Have you ever fallen victim to the doubt monkeys we mention in point #3? How’d you overcome them? Share in the comments.