Marketing Melts my mind!

08.11.19 06:34 PM By Paul Lewis-Brown

Frustrations of small business Marketing

General thoughts

If you are a small business or sole trader (like myself) then I will presume you are busy doing the work you do and the thought of allocating a 'wedge' of your valuable time for marketing fills you with dread and fear. There is not just the fear of finding time but there are a myriad of things to learn. I write this as a student who considers himself a 'Work in progress' and would welcome any advice from anyone who can add their 'two-penneth' to this blog.

Marketing Companies:

I have not had a good experience with Marketing companies in general (please let's be clear this is my personal opinion). The standard profile has been that you go to see them at their offices or they come to you. You get the standard sales 'tap dance' with 'white teeth and spinning bow tie' routine and they convince you that you have not been doing it right all along. You have not got time so just leave it to the professionals and somehow you convince yourself that you are inadequate and these people will change your fortune. They convince you that If you just start putting some 'pennies in the slot' then out comes a 2 pence return! so you take a ride and put a penny in the slot and 'X thousands of pounds' later you have very little return. They convince you again that "we are just not putting the penny in the right slots", and to keep pushing on with them, so you do. 'X thousand' pounds later you have done a little better but you are now 'X+X thousand' pounds in the hole and not knowing if you can afford to carry on or is it next week that things will pick up - Sound familiar? As I write this I realise that I do have many 'scars on my back' from these companies and I have taken myself into a quiet corner and had a 'little word' with myself and can now confirm that I have now stopped 'angry typing'!  

Going it alone:

So we have decided that we have to find the time and 'go it alone' however the first thing we have to realise is that this is going to be a marathon not a sprint. That itself is frustrating as you want sales 'NOW' and we will address this later. First we need to get educated and we need questions answering like:

Short term Sales & Marketing Plan

Short term sales will be in the form of direct mail or advertising to the client. Don't confuse this with social media posting.

  1. 1. Posting letters or delivering Leaflets to clients directly.
  2. 2. Google click ads. (Caveat mentioned below)
  3. 3. Amazon, Ebay Etsy listings. 
  4. 4. Social media direct sales e.g. Facebook, Linked-in, Instagram

Long term Sales & Marketing Plan

Long term sales must be a process that can be worked into your working week like blogging and social media posts. With blogging the content needs to be information that is genuinely useful to your clients and also with social media posts you need to spend many months taking clients 'hopefully' on this journey:

KNOW -->> LIKE -->> TRUST -->> BUY 


 If clients are seeing useful blogs and interesting social media posts about you and your work life, this allows the client to slowly get to 'know' you. If you are delivering content that is useful they may begin to 'like' what you do. If this content proves to be truthful and helpful you may be able to gain a small level of 'trust' and ultimately (and this may take years) when they next make their buying decision for the goods or services that you sell, they may choose to 'buy' from you!
You probably still have a lot of questions such as:
Direct Sales
  • Should I do click ads, posting or sell on a platform like ebay?
  • What platforms to sell on?
Social Media
  • How do I deliver my content to these platforms?
  • When do I post?
  • What kind of content do I post?
  • How often should I post?

Direct Sales Answers

  • Should I do click ads, posting or sell on a platform like ebay?
    • You need to do a review of your product or service and if that product or service is better sold locally, UK wide or Internationally. If it is a local ironing service for example you will find huge benefit from advertising on Facebook groups for example and maybe Google click ads but only locally as you may have a driving radius of say 5 miles and ultimately networking through word of mouth or posting leaflets would prove more effective. A simple website usually gives clients a more comfy feeling about your company and if you can afford some sexy whistles and bells like a booking service online then crack on and more power to your elbow however beware the Website bandits! I may do a blog post on constructing websites - let me know if it is of interest to you by commenting below. 
    • If you sold electronic goods by comparison, click ads is too expensive. For example if you priced up people searching for Voip phones on Google 'click ads' these clicks may cost you over £12. If you sell a Voip phone for £49.99 the cost of sale is just too big. if you put in £1200 in a click ads pot that would get you 1000 clicks. Out of that you may get less than 1% of sales which means you sell 10 phones, so you have sold £499.00 worth of goods and it has cost you £1200. Be really really careful about click ads as in many cases you have to have big margins and be in a less competative industry for it to work for you. Add to that the companies who work for Google calling you up convincing you that if you spend £1000 a month you will get 3% click through rate but this does not convert to direct sales (in my view). The 3% is just Google getting people to your website and only a fraction of those will buy.    
  • What platform should I sell on?
    • This depends on your product. You need to do some research on the best fit for your product, for example if you sell craft Items then Etsy is quite good but if you sell computer parts then Ebay may be a great fit. If you sell a service then Linked-in may be a better commercial market for you so put some time aside to see what you sell, look at the competition and see how their route to market fits with your aspiration.

Social Media Answers

  • How do I deliver my content to these platforms?
    • There are many platforms which can deliver, we use a CRM software called 'Zoho' and this has a social media distribution add on which allows us to create one article or blog and post it to all the platforms at once. There are a lot of other stand alone services that do this and it will save you lots of time. 
  • When do I post?
    • I am not sure anyone really knows this but the general convention is 9am and 7pm Monday to Wednesday for social media and Blog posts can be any time really - I (like many if you I expect) read most blogs waiting for my wife whilst shopping, picking the children up from stations etc or even on the toilet when I have a few mins to myself so it matters less!
  • What kind of content do I post?
    • Social media posts should be about something pertinent to your office or industry but show you or your staff in their natural environment without being too personal. Blogs should be something that informs your audience and gives them genuine advice or an insight into another person having the same or similar issues as they are.
  • How often do I post?
    • Social media posts should be as many times as you want as long as it is pertinent but at least twice a week but remember bad content can make people ignore you for being annoying and repetative. Blog posts should be once a week but again must be like a useful gift to be appreciated. 

In Conclusion

Reasearch how your product or service is sold by the competition and what is the most affordable route to market for you. You probably do not have the resources to do what the competition do so you have got to get creative. Beware of the sharks who will promise the earth and deliver little however I am sure there are some marketing companies who can help you but just try the smallest budget you can afford to make them prove themselves. If you need any free advice (as I have no horse in your race) then comment below and maybe I can save you some of the same "scars" that I have on my back!