Successful marketing takes either cash or a “cash equivalent.” A “cash equivalent” is what you use instead of cash. That could be time that you barter, but more often than not, it’s old-fashioned elbow grease. Marketing requires time, and it also requires some money. If you have more time, you can save money. If you have less time, you can get the same work done by hiring help. One way or another, good marketing is going to cost you.
I’ve heard business owners say that they had such a great location or product that they could “do business by accident.” And I’ve driven past their location when it went up for sale after they went out of business. Success happens because of hard work, strategy and yes, a little “optimized luck.” It doesn’t happen by accident.
What do I mean by “optimized luck?” “Optimized luck” is what happens when you’ve done your homework, worked as hard as you can, and a great opportunity opens up in front of you. If you hadn’t prepared yourself, you wouldn’t be ready to make the most of the opportunity, or you might not even notice it. But you also didn’t just get lucky. You prepared and trained so that you’d recognize luck when it showed up and so you would be ready to maximize your big break. It’s definitely not “doing business by accident.”
Make a list of your prioritized goals/target audiences/current marketing actions. If you’ve made a table, add another column for “cost.” Write down what you think your current marketing actions are costing you to reach that target audience and achieve that goal is costing you. The cost could be in time, or it could be in real money. It could be the cost of hiring someone to update your web site or design your brochure, or it could include printing, postage, advertising or other fees. You could include membership dues for the groups you’ve joined to mingle with your target audience. Make the best estimates you can and then look at the results.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- How much are you currently spending for each goal?
- Are you spending the most to achieve your top goal?
- Is what you’re spending worth the potential new revenue that goal could provide?
- Could you spend more if it would achieve your goal faster?
You may see some opportunities to make a few course corrections. If you are spending more to achieve your third priority than you are for your top priority, you’ve got a problem. If you’re spending more to achieve a goal with smaller revenue potential than for a goal with larger revenue potential, it’s time to reconsider. If you’re not spending anything, hoping to “do business by accident,” then you’re on thin ice.
Social media is “free” in terms of not costing money to sign up for sites like Facebook and Twitter, but it’s certainly not “free” in terms of the time it takes to put a social media marketing strategy into action. You won’t “do business by accident” just because you slap together a Facebook page or set up a Twitter account. If you don’t have time, you’ll need the cash to hire someone who can put the time into it for you. And if you have the time to put your social media marketing strategy into action, you’ll still need some cash to bring all the pieces of your marketing plan together so that your marketing works harder than ever to achieve your goals.