Recently, I chatted with a business owner about internet marketing. He folded his arms, stared up at the ceiling, and proceeded to make all the common gripes.
“Marketing is just too expensive. I don’t know what I’m going to get out of it. I’m afraid to make that kind of investment.”
He paused, unfolded his arms and looked me in the eye.
“Now, if you could guarantee I’d make money, I’d invest all day long. I’d put 100k a month into this thing if you could tell me for sure I’d make it all back with profit.”
“Duh” I thought to myself. Who wouldn’t?
I smiled and said, “If only it was that easy.”
Marketing is Not a Refrigerator
At Marketing 360®, we speak with hundreds of business owners and entrepreneurs every week. The same question inevitably comes up:
Do you guarantee results?
This is an understandable question, but it’s also a non-starter. It tells us two things:
- The business owner is afraid. She’s not confident her business plan will work and is (at least unconsciously) already looking for excuses and crutches.
- The business owner is uninformed. She doesn’t understand how marketing works, or she wouldn’t be asking this question in the first place.
To feel fear when you are starting a business venture is natural. You’re facing challenges, taking risks. The path ahead is unknown.
But with that fear you should also be energized by a sense of opportunity. You must – at the very least – be able to fully sell yourself on your idea. You must believe you have a competitive offer customers will love. If you don’t believe it yourself, 100%, you don’t need to talk to a marketing company. You need to re-think your business idea.
Understand that marketing services are not a product like a new refrigerator. If a part breaks on your new fridge and it’s not keeping food cold, the warranty guarantees you get a new part so it works.
Internet marketing, on the other hand, is a process based on practical risk and explicit assumption.
When we talk about entrepreneurs taking risks, we don’t mean walking the edge of a cliff blindfolded. You’re not playing roulette.
Rather, you’re planning a path forward with a combination of calculation and instinct. You’ve surveyed the marketplace and are developing a plan to take your share.
But this ain’t no fridge. There are no guarantees about what will unfold. You can’t be certain of how people will react to your offering. No matter how well you plan your marketing strategy, there’s an inherent risk things won’t work as planned.
In fact, it’s more likely they won’t.
Another reason people look for guarantees from marketing services is they conflate assumption with certainty.
When you start a marketing campaign, you make assumptions about how your audience will respond. But no matter your level research or insight, you must be explicit that these are assumptions.
In other words, be prepared to be wrong. The consumer public is fickle, and it’s often the case that an unexpected sales pitch or marketing idea will be the one that takes off. If you create a marketing campaign you’re so certain will work that you forfeit the flexibility to change course, you may miss your real opportunity.
This is why using data correctly is so important. You make informed assumptions, execute the campaign, then look at the data to see how people actually responded. Based on those facts, you modify your campaigns to improve results.
If you’re asking about guarantees when it comes to marketing tactics, you’re kidding yourself. And any marketing company that offers you guarantees is misleading you. It just doesn’t work that way.
So here’s a little test for you. Consider the risks involved in marketing your business. Now assume you have a solid plan to compete. Let it sink in.
If you feel mainly fear and anxiety, you have an answer. You’re not sure enough about your business plan to aggressively market it.
If you feel energized and confident, you’re ready. You know there are no guarantees, and frankly, you prefer it that way. It makes things exciting!
What is guaranteed is that you have a solid plan so your risk is practical. You understand you’re making assumptions and know how to test them.
You’re going to give it your very best shot. That’s all you can ask of your marketing company, and all you can ask of yourself.