Is your marketing message dancing in the spotlight, or cowering by the punch table?
Take this quiz to find out.
1. Overall, you would describe your marketing as:
A. Going strong. You consistently get lots of good leads and sales from your marketing efforts.
B. Getting better. You’re seeing some positive results, but you’re always looking for ways to improve.
C. Flat. Your sales are neither growing nor shrinking.
D. Don’t ask.
E. You don’t do much—or any—marketing. Customers pretty much find you.
2. Your last marketing campaign was:
A. A huge success, exceeding your expectations.
B. No complaints. You’re pleased with your results.
C. Not sure. You didn’t notice much change in your sales.
D. A waste of good money.
E. You can’t remember your last campaign. In fact, you may not have ever had one.
3. At the last Chamber of Commerce meeting, you bumped into a woman who you felt would be your ideal customer. Her response after you introduced yourself was:
A. “I’m so glad I ran into you. I’d love to talk with you in more detail about how your business can help me out.”
B. “Oh, I think I remember hearing about you before. Tell me more about what you do.”
C. “Sorry. What did you say you do again?”
D. “Who are you?”
E. “Excuse me. I need to refill my drink.”
4. While working out at your health club, you find yourself exercising next to your sister’s new boyfriend. Even though you know he has no interest in your business, he starts quizzing you about what you do. After you tell him, he says:
A. “Oh, that’s interesting.” And changes the subject.
B. “Yes, I think I’ve heard about your business.” And changes the subject.
C. “Yes, I think I saw one of your ads in the paper last week.” And changes the subject.
D. “Oh course. I’ve been seeing your ads all over the place.” And changes the subject.
E. Changes the subject.
5. You run into one of your customers at a restaurant. He’s sitting with a large group of people, but still jumps up to greet you. When he turns to introduce you to the rest of the group, he:
A. Describes your business perfectly.
B. Gets it mostly right.
C. Manages to describe one aspect fairly well, but got a couple major points wrong.
D. Described someone else’s business completely. (At least, that’s what you think he was doing. He certainly wasn’t talking about yours.)
E. Didn’t quite get your business’ name right. For that matter, he didn’t pronounce your name correctly, either.
6. You feel like you’re getting your money’s and/or time’s worth from your marketing efforts:
A. Most definitely.
C. Not sure.
D. Don’t want to talk about it.
E. You’re getting a great return—after all, you spend hardly any time or money marketing, so ANY return is huge.
7. Overall, how would you rate your marketing in terms of meeting your overall goals for your business?
A. Exactly on track.
B. Doing pretty well. For the most part, your marketing is helping you meet your goals.
C. You’re still in business, so something must be working (you’re just not exactly sure what).
D. Business isn’t so hot.
E. What goals?
Is your marketing message the belle of the ball or hiding behind the punch bowl? Take this quiz and find out!
Your marketing message is definitely the life of the party. It’s getting in front of your ideal clients and they’re responding to it. Better yet, you aren’t wasting your efforts reaching people who have no interest in what your business does! Great job.
The only word of caution I offer is to not allow yourself to be lulled into a false sense of security. Things change. Markets shift. Don’t let your current success blind you to a new competitor or product or a changing marketing landscape. History is littered with companies who allowed themselves to lose market share or even be toppled by a shift in the marketplace.
Your marketing message may not be the star of the show, but it’s certainly turning heads. While you could be getting more from your marketing efforts, you’ve definitely accomplished a good deal. Your ideal client is both getting the message and acting on it. You’re seeing a slow and steady growth in your business.
While everyone would love to be the next “overnight” success, truthfully, that’s not terribly realistic. Marketing is about slow and steady growth despite occasional (and inevitable) setbacks. While incredible marketing success is great as a goal, you should be very pleased with what you’ve accomplished.
Your marketing message has about half its dance card filled. Your business is flat—likely as flat as your marketing. It’s certainly not growing and may even be slowly declining.
While there’s nothing wrong with holding the status quo, you’re still in a precarious place. If you’re not careful, you could find your business sliding into the “business-not-so-good” category.
I would suggest taking a hard look at your marketing message. Maybe you’re not reaching your ideal client at all. Maybe you’re wasting your marketing efforts by getting your message in front of people who will never buy your products or services. Or, maybe you are finding your ideal client, but your marketing message isn’t persuading him or her to do business with you. Maybe the marketplace, or your ideal client, is changing. Maybe it’s a combination of all these things.
Your marketing message is hiding in the bathroom and has been there for a while. This is not a good place to be, but you already know this. If it isn’t too late, I suggest a complete revamp of your entire marketing plan. Maybe your ideal client isn’t right. Maybe you’re competing on price (never a wise selling point). Maybe you’re not differentiating yourself enough from your competition. Maybe you’re not describing your product correctly. Or, maybe it’s something even deeper—a major problem with your product or business.
Don’t lose heart! It’s still very possible to turn things around. Remember, all successful people suffered setbacks (and downright failures) at some point in their careers. You can make a comeback.
Your marketing message is still outside looking for a place to park. Many service-based, single-person businesses find themselves in this category—for instance, consultants, coaches, graphic designers, and (ahem) copywriters. You never really take the time to put together a marketing plan or market yourself in any orderly manner. When work falls into your lap, you happily snatch it up. When it doesn’t, you find yourself wringing your hands. A lot.
Yes, I too was once in this category. When I first started my business, I didn’t write down my goals, and promoting myself was haphazard at best. Believe it or not, I was actually pretty successful for several years in this “model.” I was lucky. I had good, loyal clients who I could count on for repeat projects.
However, even with good clients, you still end up in the dreaded “feast-or-famine” business model. When work rains from the heavens, you hole yourself up in your office and focus on (what else?) getting the work done. You’re so busy with paying work, you stop promoting yourself. When you finish the work, you pick up your head, look around, and discover there’s nothing new waiting for you. So you rush out, start networking and contacting people, and pretty soon, the work is raining down again. And you stop promoting yourself because you’re busy and…you get the picture.
The problem is, you aren’t really growing your business. You don’t have time. You’re either doing billable work or looking for billable work. Even if you hire outside help during the busy times, the busy times don’t last, so you can’t build your business.
Speaking from someone who’s been there, I would strongly, strongly urge you to take a hard look at your business, your goals, and your marketing model. A regular, sustained marketing campaign can lead to regular, predictable work. Your cash flow will even out, and you can start outsourcing certain tasks on a regular basis, so you can actually start growing your business.
(A note on Question 4, just in case you thought I had the answers reversed. The point of this question is to find out if you’ve picked marketing vehicles that are reaching your ideal clients, or if your marketing is so scattered that it’s reaching people who have no interest in purchasing your products and services. Don’t waste your time and money driving just anyone to your business—target people who have the interest and the means to purchase your products and services.)