Growing a business of any kind follows a similar series of events and priorities. These include hirings, launches, partnerships, and a whole lot of other decisions and investments. Growing a business is also time-consuming. Heck, prioritizing where you’ll be spending your dollars can feel like a full-time job in itself.
We get it. As entrepreneurs, we've started a lot of businesses and have been exactly where you are today.
Usually, you focus first on the basics.
You need customers and people to do the work. Hardware and software to deliver the product or service. Contracts to make everything legal. And you need to pay people to grow this idea into a viable business.
Once you have the basics covered and you start to see some early success, things start to grow. And they get a bit more complicated. You start looking for business advisory, HR advisory and support, and IT support. You realize you don’t have the capacity to do everything yourself to save money.
This growth period consumes your time and can be the make-or-break period for a lot of businesses. If you don't realize you can't do it all, you burn out trying. You start to operate beyond your capacity. Certain areas of your business don't get enough focus or get neglected. This impacts your ability to survive the first five years.
You’ve built this great product or service and had some early success.
Usually, you've done it through word of mouth. Then, the plateau occurs. It’s that challenging period of growth where you start to panic because that early success is drying up. “If we don’t have revenue, I won’t be able to pay my people.” “If we don’t have growth, no one will invest in us.” Maybe, you try gimmicks like lowering your pricing to try and increase revenue. But your margins are razor-thin. You start wondering if the added stress and impact on your family is worth it. You start wondering why you're sacrificing your happiness.
This is usually when our phone rings. We hear stories exactly like this almost every day. At that point, everyone is looking for that silver bullet that is going to fix everything. Many entrepreneurs start spending as a solution to the problem. But engaging a marketing company and expecting a silver bullet is unrealistic. It can carry a high cost as you throw money at "easy wins" to fix the plateau and get your phone ringing again.
The truth is, there are no easy wins.
A lot of entrepreneurs come to us with stories of astronomical spending and little to show for it. This kind of decision-making usually happens when you’re marketing out of fear. Instead, you should be marketing from a place of inspiration and information.
Someone once told us they thought of marketing as “voodoo.” It’s not.
Effective marketing aligns with your business strategy and supports your goals and priorities. If you have clarity on the direction of your business, you're set up for success.
Say you're launching a new service offering. That's a perfect opportunity for marketing to support. Focus on marketing when planning your investment into these strategic business initiatives. Ensuring effectiveness requires clarity around what’s needed and in what order. But it's worth the effort.
For example, you want to launch a campaign to promote this new service. There are some essential questions that need answers for a successful campaign. Who is your audience? What do they value? What inspires them to take action? Which action do you want them to take? Is your website set up to promote the new service? Is it set up to capture leads? Do you have your channels set up, and is there an audience for the campaign? And that's all before you even launch your campaign. Add those to about a hundred other questions you need answers to, and it can start to feel overwhelming.
That’s where experience and knowledge affect your costs and likelihood of success.
We aren’t in the days of the 80s and 90s anymore. The days when you could just buy a list of qualified leads and start blasting them with your campaign. The government has put privacy restrictions in place that you need to consider. Social algorithms work against businesses. There are requirements that determine whether your ads get approved, let alone seen.
Marketing is a delicate balance of research, knowledge, experience and creativity. All in constantly changing conditions. It’s also the one thing that pretty much every entrepreneur thinks they can do themselves. After all, you see ads every day, everywhere you look. How hard can it be? But marketing without a strategy is a recipe for disaster. It often sours most entrepreneurs away from spending money on marketing.
Done the right way, marketing can be an investment that delivers again and again.
If you’ve managed to read this far and think, “this sounds very familiar, but I just don’t know where to start,” we get you. We've heard it a lot. That's why we're launching a program this summer called Propel Marketing Accelerator. It's based on the same model we use for our marketing clients, but instead of doing it for you, we're teaching you how to do it. Propel will help you:
align marketing efforts to your business strategy
develop a roadmap for what needs to be done and when
learn how to define your audience
research and use basic market intelligence to your advantage
Simply put, this program will give you a crash course in marketing so you can make informed decisions. It'll give you confidence in your approach to marketing. Once you have a baseline of marketing knowledge, you won't see marketing as "voodoo." You'll be able to make decisions that will have the biggest impact on your company and operate from a place of inspiration.
Trust me when I say, I’m not a numbers guy. (Luckily, my business partner is). When we started working with a business advisory firm, the biggest benefit, for me, was the educational component. It demystified finance. It gave me clarity and made me feel like I didn't have to be a numbers guy to "get it." We can do the same for marketing with you.
Propel Marketing Accelerator runs often and qualifies for Canada Alberta Job Grant funding. This funding reimburses two-thirds of the cost. If $900 out of pocket for marketing education can save you $20k-100k in misplaced marketing investment, it might be what you are looking for.