Marketing

You’re a busy business owner, you’re up to your ears in scheduling, bookkeeping, and managing people. Do you really have to handle every aspect of marketing, too? Here’s the blunt truth: No one you hire will ever care as much about your business as you do. Period. You can’t clone yourself, but you can put your time and energy where it counts. Here’s why, and how, to delegate your marketing:

Yes, You Do Have to Take the Lead in Marketing

  • It’s your company. You care the most about it.
  • You know it best.
  • You are the most motivated to sell.
  • You got into your business because you are good at marketing and selling your offering.
  • Customers want to connect with you, the owner.

No, You Don’t Have to Be a Marketing Martyr

  • It gets to the point where it’s too much for you to handle—plus do customer work.
  • Doing all the marketing tasks is not the best use of your time.
  • You may not be the best sales person in your company.
  • Parts of the marketing are easy to hand off to others.
  • You don’t have the expertise to handle all the parts.

There Are Some Things Only You Can Do:

  • Set the mission, vision, strategies, goals
  • Build strategic relationships.
  • Choose good people to help you market and sell.
  • Make sure they do what you want.
  • Approve your marketing and promotions.
  • Insist on results, not just effort.
  • Tweak your direction and offering; develop new things.

You Should Never Do Things That . . .

  • You are not good at. You can find better people to do them
  • You can easily hire and delegate to other people.
  • Get in the way of you doing what brings the greatest value to your company

Do this . . .

  1. Make a list of the Marketing tasks you’re good at, and that bring the most value.
  2. Then make a list of the tasks you’re eager to get off your plate.
  3. As you hire people – contractors and in-house, be clear about the tasks you want them to take over, and what you will continue to do.

Your Marketing Job

  • Define your pathway—your overall strategy to reach your vision.
  • Build your marketing team of skilled people who can help you execute your strategy.
  • Orchestrate your team; oversee team performance.
  • Review results, tweak, refine, and change direction when needed.

As the owner, it’s up to you to set the overall vision and define what success looks like. From there on, empower people to make it happen.

Does All This Pertain to a One-Person Business?

As a solopreneur, unless work just falls into your lap, you have to spend a good portion of your time drumming up new business. Plus doing the work. Plus all the admin stuff. How many hours a day do you want to work? (Clue: the max is 24!)

If you have a viable business, you soon discover that it’s worthwhile to hand off pieces to others: website design and maintenance, social media, copywriting, maintaining your marketing database. You notice that you depend on all these others, even though they aren’t your employees. You’re no longer a one-person business.

The option is to stay tiny and run yourself ragged.

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Do you price too low?

Many small businesses under-price. They should raise their prices. Pricing too low has several negative consequences:

You drive away your preferred customers. Sometimes larger companies expect to pay a certain level, and if you charge less, their judgment is that you’re not qualified to provide what they want.

You attract undesirable clients and customers. Those you attract are smaller jobs, clients that are on tighter budgets, the nickel & dimers, those who are shopping for low price over high quality.

You are not very profitable. This makes your business vulnerable. You’re not building up enough reserves to weather hard times. You can’t afford to pay yourself well, to upgrade your marketing presentation, to pay your people as well as they should be paid.

You can’t afford the strategic thinking and marketing you need to boost your company to the next level.

You can’t afford to hire top-level people, so that more of the work falls on your shoulders when they aren’t up to it.

You are leaving money on the table. Ask yourself, “If this client hires somebody else besides my company, how much will they have to pay?” If you answer, “They’ll probably pay more to a larger vendor, and the quality might be lower,” then it’s time to raise your prices.

How is pricing a marketing issue?

Pricing is part of your message to your prospective customers. If you set prices too high—or too low—it sends the wrong message, and they won’t do business with you.

Prices are set according to several criteria:

1) Profitability. Making sure all costs are covered with enough left over to give the desired profit margin.

2) Competition. Prices are constrained by your competition.

3) Image. Do your prices fit your image? Will they attract your preferred customers?

Why do you price too low?

Timidity. You’re afraid if you raise your prices, you’ll drive away your customers. You may indeed drive away your marginal customers, giving you more time to focus on your better, more profitable ones.

You don’t know what all your costs are, so you systematically underprice. Costs that are often neglected when setting prices:

Marketing and selling. The cost of getting your customers

Owner’s time, both sold and unsold

Owner’s profit, i.e.. return on your investment of time and money

Cost of glitches, mistakes, slippage, theft

Recouping the cost of developing the products or services

You price based on hours spent or cost of goods sold, rather than on the value you provide to your customers. (See our post “Sell Value, Not Time.”)

What if you can’t raise prices?

If you feel this way, it’s time to ask yourself, are you in a viable business, or not?

Perhaps this pertains to just one part of your business. What do you sell that can or cannot bear a price increase?

Redesign your product or service so that you can sell it for the prevailing market price and retain your target margin.

If you can’t raise prices, control your costs.

  • Cost of labor. Set a maximum labor ratio (sales revenue divided by cost of labor including labor overhead). Watch that number like a hawk. Many small businesses have real trouble tracking this number, because they can’t get their employees (and themselves!) to keep track of how much time they spend on different tasks.
  • Inventory control. Make sure you aren’t holding too much expensive merchandise. Get rid of stale merchandise. Improve your controls of theft, waste, and returns

Focus on profit, not just revenue

When you’re setting your prices, focus on your bottom line—your profit percentage—not just the amount of sales. Know what your profit margin needs to be, then set prices (and control costs) to give you that.

This is a tough lesson for many marketing whizzes. Only the ones with thriving businesses.

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