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April 24, 2014

Stop making excuses about your [lack of] marketing & sales, Part 2

man-with-no-money-in-his-pockets-1Last week we started a 3-part series on the excuses business owners and managers use to “explain away” their lack of marketing & sales activity (and success). In it, we addressed the most common excuse for not embracing marketing & sales in an organization – “no time.”

Following closely on the heels of that is “no money!”


“I don’t have the money!” is really code for one of the real excuses:

  • “We’re too small to spend anything on marketing & sales.”
  • “Business is bad/declining and we really don’t have any money to spend on business development.”
  • “I might spend some money… but I don’t know what works and what doesn’t.”
  • “All marketing is expensive, isn’t it?”

We’re too small.

Fair enough. Small shops don’t have a lot of money, but they still need to do marketing & sales. And to make it happen, they need to be smart and a little creative. First, make sure the basics are well-covered: excellent website (nothing homemade), sharp capabilities presentation, buttoned-up proposal package. Then get a little creative… blog regularly, get engaged in online conversations, be an aggressive social media marketer. You can do it… it just requires a commitment and some of your time.

Business is bad right now.

Without a doubt, every business goes through hard times. It is simply the nature of business. But declining revenue and the lack of available dollars to spend on business development are NOT excuses to stop trying to grow your business. In fact, you could make the case that it’s the most important time to invest!

Additionally, if you invest in marketing & sales when everyone’s business is off (think 2008-2010), it’s likely yours will be the only voice heard in the marketplace as most firms stop their marketing during the slow times.

I don’t know what works.

This is an easy one… and a difficult one. The easy answer as to what works and what doesn’t boils down to one thing – measurement. The difficult thing is actually doing the measurement. You can measure ‘til your eyes cross… down to levels of minutiae that really don’t matter. To stop that from happening, just start with a few key elements and add more later.

Your marketing measurement might start with website analytics, social media activity, email metrics and online ad effectiveness. For sales, it might include daily/weekly sales activity, pipeline counts, lead gen tracking and, of course, revenue.

All marketing is expensive.

The fact is, some marketing & sales investments can be pretty large – print ads, exhibiting at conferences, etc. But it’s not just a cost issue… it’s also related to value.

Every year, all of the conferences you attend have full exhibit halls. And many of those exhibitors are “repeat offenders,” coming back year after year. That’s quite a commitment. But here’s the thing… they wouldn’t be doing it (and keep doing it) if it wasn’t working – so yes, measurement is involved here, too. Is your investment generating new sales leads, causing the phone to ring, driving people to your website, enhancing brand awareness and perception, generating additional bid opportunities, etc.?

Before you walk away from the ‘expensive’ marketing… make a commitment to testing it to see what sort of response you get. You might find that the ROI on your paid marketing is even better than on your ‘free’ marketing.

The takeaway…

From a purely business perspective, marketing & sales are a necessary part of running your business. Like other aspects of your business, they require an investment… you buy new computers to make your staff more productive… you provide 401k benefits as a way to attract and retain good employees… you hire a CFO to improve the financial health and stability of your business. And you have to invest in marketing & sales to help drive revenue to the top line.

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