Quiz: is your business ready for a marketing campaign?

Contrary to popular belief, not everyone is at the right place to get the most out of a marketing campaign.

In our experience, most small businesses think that good marketing is essential to their business.

But is it always?

Gasp! We’re a marketing company, and we’re asking this? (You should know by now that we try to be a different type of marketing company, but enough about us). The reality is that not all businesses, especially very small or very new businesses, are ready to get the most out of a marketing campaign. And there’s nothing more frustrating for a business owner — or, frankly for a marketing consultant — than when a company spends money that is a stretch for them and doesn’t get the results they want.

To prevent this sort of thing, here’s a quick quiz to see if you’re really ready to spread your marketing campaign wings:

1. Do you have a product or service that people want?

  • Yes: go on to the next question
  • No, or you don’t know: pause here and do some interviews with potential customers. Get honest feedback, from people you trust to give you real feedback. Is your product/service good quality for the price? Do people need it? Don’t just listen to your friends and family (who love you and support you no matter what); get the hard truth from people who don’t care about you. This may be a painful process, but it’s a lot more painful to invest in a lot of marketing and find out that people don’t want what you’re selling.

Why this matters: this is pretty self-explanatory. If people don’t want what you’re offering, no amount of marketing lipstick will help the pig. The reason we bring it up at all is because people can often become so invested in an idea (or the dream of being an entrepreneur) that they don’t do a develop and research it properly before they spend money on it.

2. Are you priced right?

  • Yes: go on to the next question
  • No, or you don’t know: see above; do some focus groups and/or play with your pricing until you get to that sweet spot

Why this matters: pricepoint is a huge part of any brand, and a large part of how customers perceive you. Your brand needs to reflect your price point, and your price point needs to appeal to the people you are targeting. If you miss on these fronts, you’ll learn an expensive lesson by driving people to a product or service they won’t buy — or worse, won’t buy and will complain all over social media how pricey you are.

 3. Do you have a website that you know works to convert customers?

  • Yes: go on to the next question
  • No: build one and test it thoroughly (note, this is a really good time to involve experienced marketing help in order to achieve results)

Why this matters: if your website doesn’t work, you won’t sell anything, no matter how many people you convince to visit. This is especially true for extremely competitive industries; you’ll lose every time if people are comparing you to others in your field, and your site isn’t great. Of course, if you’re a brick and mortar company you may say this doesn’t matter as much — and, true, it doesn’t matter as much, but in this day and age, it still matters. Don’t kid yourself.

4. Do you have a track record of sales?

  • Yes: go on to the next question
  • No: proceed with caution to the next question

Why this matters: a sales track record shows that your funnel works. It shows that people want your product, think the price is reasonable, find your site or store compelling, and will ultimately purchase. In other words, it’s a proof-of-concept for your company. It means that starting a marketing campaign to drive more people to your business is highly likely to be effective (assuming the campaign is built right and targeted correctly). That said, if you’re a new company, the fact that you don’t have a track record of sales doesn’t mean that a marketing campaign won’t work; it just means that you don’t know, yet, and should test the waters with caution. Of course, if you have been in business for a while and have never really managed to sell all that much, you may want to take a good hard look at the rest of the questions in this quiz.

5. Is there something, like a lot of bad reviews or other reputational issues, that may stop people from buying your product/service?

  • No: go on to the next question
  • Yes: pause a bit and work into repairing your reputation, or fixing the issue that causes problems. Do you know you have trouble fulfilling orders on time? Fix that problem. Bad reviews? Do everything you can to get a lot of really great reviews to balance out the bad ones

Why this matters: Marketing delivers potential customers, but it can’t make them buy. If people are researching your company or your product and read a lot of bad reviews, or hear from their neighbors or Facebook friends about a poor experience, they’ll go elsewhere. You don’t want to spend money driving customers to you only to have them flee in fear.

6. Is now a good time to advertise to your audience?

  • Yes: it seems all systems are go! Go ahead and launch your marketing campaign!
  • No: hold off until the timing is better.

Why this matters: there is nothing that will kill a great marketing campaign faster than launching something when people aren’t buying it. Most businesses have a sales cycle of ups and downs throughout the year (think of painters, for instance; nobody is thinking of having the exterior of their house painted in November). Or there may be larger issues at play, from a recession to a global pandemic. Don’t spend money trying to attract customers when customers don’t want to buy.

This may all sound pretty obvious, but unfortunately, it still needs to be said. Too many small businesses make the mistake of thinking that marketing might be able to “fix” their business when things aren’t going the way they’d hope. Unfortunately, marketing isn’t a magic bullet.

In fact, there’s an old saying in the industry that nothing shows up a broken business like great marketing. The best marketing can do — even the very best marketing — is to attract lots of people who are likely to buy your product and service.  It doesn’t make up for bad service, poor reviews, a product or service nobody wants, slow ship times, or a myriad of other blemishes. Don’t expect it to.

To recap then, marketing is an absolutely essential part of a thriving business ecosystem. You’re only very rarely going to be able to grow and expand without it. But it isn’t a fairy godmother that will wave it’s wand and get you sales without any other effort. 

Our advice? Get your business house in order, THEN spring for the marketing campaign. That will ensure you get the most bang from your marketing buck.

Happy small business marketing,

Katie & Theron

At Urban Sherpa Marketing Co. we offer marketing advisory, strategic planning, and marketing services for small businesses and startups. Our goal is to make high-quality marketing — from search marketing and social media marketing to website strategy and direct mail marketing — possible for every business, no matter the size. Think of us as your outsourced marketing department, strategic marketing adviser, or even your phone-a-friend marketing lifeline.

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