Bowerbirds are renowned for their unique courtship behaviour. Males build a structure - called a bower - and decorate it with sticks and brightly coloured objects in an attempt to attract a mate. The flame bowerbird (in picture above) is common in New Guinea. The male bowerbird will decorate their bower with brightly coloured berries, bits of glass and rifle shells - anything brightly coloured to attract a mate.
This is nature's version of marketing, and animals are great marketers because their very survival as a species depends on it. Ultimately, we have to be great marketers for our business to survive and thrive.
I grew up as a software developer and technology expert. Marketing was something other people did; and because I was never trained in it I did not think it was that important to me.
But as you already know there are very few businesses that thrive without some form of marketing. Over the last 5+ years of running my company solo I've had to learn to market my business - and here are 3 things that I've learnt about marketing you may find useful.
1. You have to show up consistently
Marketing is like trying to fill a leaky bucket. As long as you're marketing you will be building up brand awareness - or filling the bucket. Stop marketing and your brand awareness starts dropping as well - the bucket is leaking water all the time.
So building brand awareness - which generates leads for your business - is only effective if you consistently show up. If you market on LinkedIn and Twitter (like I do), you have to show up every day (or every weekday as I do). Over time, your presence in the market becomes more visible and people begin to recognise what you're marketing or selling. Then, when they have a reason to pay attention, your name will be the first to ring a bell. That's where consistent marketing pays off.
It doesn't help to show up in drips and drabs, and if you're marketing on social media consistency is even more important. Consistency is how you build a following and how your posts or tweets get attention.
So keep topping up that bucket to build your brand awareness.
2. Marketing takes time
As much as we would like instant response to our marketing, real response takes a long time to build. Think months instead of weeks.
Social media is one of the easiest ways to create market awareness for your brand, products and services. And because it's so accessible we think that we should be able to get real responses really quickly. But in practice you will find that it takes months before you start seeing consistent results. When you start out your following is just not that big, your presence is not generating as much buzz as you would like and relatively few people actually see your marketing.
One of my revenue streams is workshops. When I started doing this I was in a hurry - so I designed my workshop, crafted a sales page and started marketing - three to four weeks before the workshop was due. The results were dismal - sales were non-existent or low and I was not convinced that I was doing the right thing at all.
Two factors were playing against me:
- People are busy and often don't see your first marketing efforts. You have to allow enough time for multiple marketing "waves" to get noticed by your potential clients.
- Calendars are already committed. By marketing my workshops as little as 3 or 4 weeks out I was effectively eliminating myself from consideration because my potential clients already had their time committed.
So now I plan my workshops as much as 6 to 9 months in advance - and start marketing them months in advance. This gives my clients enough time to notice my marketing and allocate time in their schedules.
3. Follow up, follow up, follow up
If you don't follow up, you've wasted your time and your money.
Think back about events you've attended in the last year. I'm always surprised at how many events I've attended where I leave a business card or contact information - only to never hear from them again. So for the company that put on the event that was a waste of their time and money.
When you plan any kind of marketing activity, follow up should be part of the planning. During the planning phase, you should answer at least the following questions:
- How are we going to capture leads?
- How are we going to follow up?
- When are we going to follow up?
- Who's going to follow up?
The sooner you can follow up the better. Your marketing generated some interest, and you need to follow up on that interest before it wanes.
But I don't have a huge marketing budget!
You can do effective marketing without a budget - or with a very small budget. And even if you have a budget, you have to learn what works before spending huge amounts of money.
Here's how I currently market - with little or no budget:
- Content marketing through my weekly newsletters: Every week I send a newsletter to my subscriber list including a link to articles like this. Strictly speaking I should classify the newsletter as Lead Nurturing (as per the Tornado Method), but I do use the newsletter to announce upcoming workshops and new products. Cost: time only.
- LinkedIn and Twitter: I use Buffer to pre-schedule a minimum number of LinkedIn posts and Twitter tweets, and reach out every day with more spontaneous posts and tweets. Cost: time only.
- Free workshops: I host introductory workshops at popular Meetups in town to make potential clients aware of workshops that may be useful for them. Because I do this through existing Meetups (rather than create my own) there is a ready-made list of people who will be notified of the events. Cost: time only.
Over time, my content marketing is slowly but surely driving more traffic to my website, and more people are signing up for one or more of my products or lead magnets. It takes time, but it works.
Here are a couple of additional examples you may find inspiring:
Example 1: Burger Revolution
Example 2: Philip Morgan Consulting
Philip helps technology professionals find lucrative niche markets. For the past few years Philip has produced an email a day to his subscriber list - sometimes short, sometimes longer - but always around the topic of specialisation.
This low-key kind of marketing is very effective to his audience - by continuously providing value he not only keeps his audience engaged but is also assured of catching his audience when they're ready to buy.
His website is at https://philipmorganconsulting.com.
The purpose of marketing is to generate leads. If your marketing is not doing that, you need to fix it. We've looked at three things that will help your marketing be more effective:
- You have to show up consistently. Marketing is like filling a leaky bucket - you have to keep topping it up or your brand awareness will leak away.
- Marketing takes time. Don't think in terms of days - think weeks or preferably months.
- Follow up! If you don't follow up with the leads your marketing generated you've wasted your time and your money. Plan your follow-up when you're planning your marketing.
There's a lot more to marketing of course, but I hope that these three key considerations will help you get more results from your marketing.
Competition in the animal world is fierce
Flame bowerbirds build beautiful bowers to attract the right female. They have only their displays to advertise their suitability as a mate, so they spend hours and hours building and decorating the bowers.
For animals, the prize is landing a mate (and helping to raise the family). In business, our marketing should attract the right kind of clients - and we need to follow up when they show an interest to make sure that we don't miss an opportunity.
There is a ton of hype on the Internet on marketing - perhaps it is an easy target because so few of us know how to do it well. I've seen my share of hype and hard sell, and here and there a nugget worth mentioning.
One of the best resources I've come across is The Brain Audit by Sean D'Sousa of Psychotactics. Subtitled Why customers buy and why they don't, it is probably one of the best resources out there for DIY marketers. You can find more information on his website.
The Tornado Method is the world's simplest system for building and growing a small business. Download the Beginner's Guide to the Tornado Method from the Britewrx website.