Here’s a conversation I have all the time:

Business Owner: “Almost all of my business comes from referrals. So I don’t need to do any other marketing.”
Me: “Great, then you have all the business you need!”
Business Owner: “Well, no. I’m pretty slow right now. ”

100 percent of zero is still zero

Does anyone else see how illogical this argument is? So, let’s pretend for a minute that this business owner did other forms of (effective) marketing and instead of getting one new customer/job/sale a week, she got three? All of a sudden only 30 percent of her customers are coming from referrals and 70 percent from other marketing. Referral marketing doesn’t look quite as omnipotent in that light, does it?

I’ve said it before—100 percent of not enough is still not enough. Why put all your eggs in one basket? Why?

I know lots of business owners who do their due diligence; going to their weekly networking groups, asking customers for referrals, and working hard to be referable but what about the rest of the time? What are you doing to attract customers when you aren’t actively networking? That all takes a lot of time; what is the real cost of those referrals?

I’m not discounting referral marketing—it is the best marketing there is; when you have a system in place to harness its power. The problem is, most small businesses don’t have a system – they just show up and hope.

Marketing doesn’t work for my business

My point is this- if you aren’t getting all the business you need then how can you say you don’t need any other form of marketing? “Well, marketing doesn’t work for my business.” Another excuse I hear all the time. Is that your experience too? If so then here are five questions you need to ask yourself before declaring that your business is immune to the practice of marketing.

  1. Was I doing the right type of marketing? Did you attempt to communicate with your customers and potential customers on their terms – or on yours? How do they prefer to be contacted? Direct Mail, telephone, email? It’s your job to find out and communicate with them accordingly.
  2. Did I stay with it long enough? Sending out one postcard, email or letter does not a marketing effort make. The key to effective marketing is repetition.
  3. Did I target the right people? If you can’t list at least five attributes of who you wanted to reach in your last campaign then you missed the mark. Your business serves a section of the population better than any other. It’s your job to learn what that section is and go and find them! Mass marketing to anyone and everyone is a waste of time and money.
  4. Did I follow up? Follow up an email or post card with a phone call or a phone call with an email or postcard. The more we can “touch” our prospective customers the better our chances of converting them!
  5. What was my goal? What were you trying to achieve with your marketing campaign? Were you trying to build your email list? Make the phones ring? Get foot traffic? Without knowing what you were trying to achieve (and measuring it) how can you know if it worked or not?

Usually this is where I start to uncover the ugly truth: it’s not that “marketing” doesn’t work it’s that most small business owners don’t have the tools and the experience to market their companies effectively. If you want to get more customers, grow your business and not just “get by,” an effective marketing plan is the only way to get there.

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

AvatarCarolyn Higgins

Carolyn Higgins is the President and founder of Fortune Marketing Company. Her personal mission is to help small businesses stop wasting money on advertising and promotions that don’t deliver and help business owners implement an effective marketing system that will bring in more customers—consistently. For more information about Fortune Marketing Company visit the Fortune Marketing Company website or blog.