Having retired from corporate America after 20 plus years in sales, purchasing and management, I decided to become a public school educator. Well, after earning my Master’s I lost that job because I was too expensive. Never fear, I understood that possibility and planned for it.
When I decided to embark as an entrepreneur, I did my due diligence or at least thought I did especially when it came to significant business decisions. Unfortunately, all the due diligence is naught when one does not truly understand this one very simple and necessary aspect of business:
My first and greatest defining moment was several years after establishing my business and coming to the realization I truly knew “diddly squat” about effective marketing. Sure I knew about:
- Business cards
- Meeting and greeting
- B2B networking
- Printed brochures
- Paid advertisements
Yet I truly lacked an in depth knowledge about:
- Marketing’s purpose
- Marketing’s goals
- Marketing’s results
One of my mentors, Ray Overdorff said if you invest one hour a day for one year, you will be come fairly knowledgeable and considered by some to be an expert. So that is what I did. Given that I love to read and can read fairly fast with above average comprehension, this was not as difficult task as it might have been for others.
First, I revamped my marketing plan from the traditional product based one to an education based one. Then I sat down and started writing about what I knew. Again, being a fairly competent writer supported me in this endeavor.
During this process I discovered, EzineArticles and had the opportunity to speak with the founder, Chris Knight who shared with me after I had written 20 plus articles I needed hundreds. Here I was so proud of writing over 20 articles just to learn I was way short of the goal post.
This was my second defining moment, or sub-moment if you will is that effective marketing is not a quick fix, but rather a dynamic, evolving process requiring entrepreneurs, small business owners to professional salespeople to always be thinking of being ahead of the flow.
This second moment lead to the third one that a truly integrated marketing plan was required where inbound actions such as article marketing became united and aligned to outbound marketing such as speaking, tradeshows or even cold calling. Brrrr.
Using a marketing calendar supports my integrated marketing plan where I have very specific goals for all marketing actions. Additionally now after seven (7) years, I have the data to support what activities generate the greatest results.
What I have learned is generally the results from outbound marketing actions are easier to determine. The best analogy is you have a pitcher of milk to pour into a glass. You can look at the glass and see the milk.
Inbound marketing is more like cake batter. You have a variety of ingredients such as flour, eggs, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, spices and butter all mixed together to deliver a great tasting cake. Since you have to bake the cake, there is more time involved than just pouring the milk into your glass.
Today I am still learning about effective marketing and accept the fact that I will never stop learning. However, I am in a far better place than I was seven years ago. After working with many other small business owners, I know I am still very much ahead of the market flow.
Leanne Hoagland-Smith is an author; speaker; and executive coach who seeks to determine the real problems facing individuals and organizations not just the usual common symptoms. She looks to unlock sustainable results in people, processes and strategies through common sense solutions. Her first book, be the Red Jacket in a sea of gray suits is available at Amazon.