We’re going to start focusing on extra income as one aspect towards reaching your financial goals, especially in regards to the 2×2 Plan we developed and use ourselves in meeting our every financial goal. If you haven’t heard about our 2×2 Plan, we encourage you to head over here and read more about it!
As part of this, and as we continue to share our list of over 100 ways to earn extra income, we thought it important to give you some ideas on how to market your business. But before we start sharing some initial strategies you can implement, its important to establish some thoughts about marketing overall and why you should do it. We want to cover some ideas for you to consider before you market your business, to help you understand why you need to market your business and finally some tips on what to consider to ensure you are choosing your right strategy in how you market it. We would love to have you share your thoughts as well so we can continue to build this great resource!
What is marketing?
We need to start somewhere of course and to me its always important to break a subject down to its most basic form. According to Merriam-Webster, marketing is “the process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service.” The reason I start here is because I want you to consider a few things before you start. When you market, and especially promote your family business, you are promoting your product or service. Why do I emphasize this?
- First, don’t forget that your product and/or service has value – The first place a family business can fail is when you don’t understand that you are offering value for what you are selling (I include products and services in this as you really do sell your services). If you start a business and believe that what you are selling doesn’t have value, its going to come across in the way you promote it. You don’t need to apologize for marketing. You don’t need to apologize for promoting your products or services. Remember the key to any transaction will be that you are providing the customer with something they want and are willing to pay for – and that ultimately the products/services they receive in return is worth the money they paid. Just because you don’t have a brand name associated with it doesn’t mean it doesn’t have value.
- The value of your product and/or service is not free – Remember you are promoting a business – what your family is doing is building a business. It can become frustrating at first if you don’t see much interest in your product/service. It can take time to establish trust with those potential customers and time to build your product/service to a point that others see the value in it. And although you might offer some free or deeply discounted products/services at first (incentives you offer for new customers to be discussed in our next article), remember that your product really does have value. You are not taking all the time in the world to offer your product or service for some purely altruistic reason. Yes, you may be able to help others with your product/service, but if you’re not going to receive anything in return for it, its not going to be worth your time as free products and services won’t help you reach your financial goals.
- Don’t be ashamed to promote your product/service – As you market, remember you are promoting the reasons why the potential customer need your products and services! This may sound obvious, but when you promote your products, you need to tell the consumer why your product/service is of value. Why would they want to buy from you instead of someone else? It can be hard to talk about yourself, and that includes your family business, but if your product/service has value, then tell the world that it does. Don’t apologize to them for offering value and asking the consumer to buy your product.
- Tell them why they should buy your product – Hopefully you’re business idea isn’t too saturated in the market, but we all know its rare to find a business idea that won’t already have competitors the day you open your doors. And if your product/service is of value and you don’t initially have competitors, rest assured you will soon. Let your customers know then why they should buy from you instead of someone else. Think about this from every perspective – it doesn’t just have to be “we’re the cheapest”. In fact, if you are selling a product/service with more value than your competitor, make sure to give the reasons why they should buy from you, with your higher priced product, than from their competitor.
- Promote your products and services honestly – After all this is said, make sure to be realistic in your marketing. If you’re selling a service that will merely relieve the customer of the pain and agony of having to clean their own toilets (e.g., you offer to clean bathrooms), you probably don’t want to communicate that by hiring your services they will bring in peace on earth. And if your product/service really isn’t worth the value you are selling it for, when either figure out how the improve the quality or figure out how to drop the price – or find another line of business altogether (last line of attack).
I love to write about the obvious. Shouldn’t everyone know this? Maybe. But when push comes to shove, when the rubber meets the road, when the tough get going…most don’t seem to understand these obvious points. Maybe you would share these tips with your neighbor if they were starting their own business. But when it comes to your own, especially when you are blinded by just how amazing you product/service really is, you might miss the reasons why you need to market.
- The business model “Build it and they will come” just doesn’t work – You’ve built your product. You have developed your service you just know everyone will buy. But whether you made the best product in the world, created the best website ever (after ours of course :)), or even came up with the cure for cancer, you can’t just sit back and have your product/service just sell itself. This idea might be nice for a touching baseball story, but you really need to let the world (or neighborhood, city, nation – whatever sphere you are trying to influence) that your product or service is ready to buy. We have seen business flop (yes, including our own) because we couldn’t get those products and services in front of the right customer base.
- Others don’t see the value in your product like you do – Yes, your product is better than any other on the market. We get that. Or do we? Your product is the one you want others to buy and you know inside and out why. Its your baby. You have invested and even poured yourself into it and you know that others will benefit from your product. But when you don’t tell those potential customers the value of your product and benefits, when you don’t even get those proposed benefits in front of a potential customer, you won’t have a customer. Don’t think that just because you know your product/service intimately means everyone else will have that knowledge. You need to share that with them – and you need to market to do so.
- Potential customers don’t want to part with their hard-earned money – Even in the best of economies, consumers only have a limited amount of resources. And to get consumers to part with those resources (time and money) and buy your product/service (then becoming your customer) may take some convincing. You need to market to those customers, to let them know you exist, let them know why your product/service is of value, etc. We hope you’re getting the idea.
Considerations when Marketing
We wanted to finish up our Marketing 101 with some additional items to consider.
- It really does take money to make money – This old adage is so true. In fact its become increasingly clear as we continue to build all our businesses. It really does take money – invested – to make money – profit. You might be thinking I’m wrong – that all you need to do is invest your free time to make your business take off. But that’s exactly my point – your time is money. Not only do consumers have a limited, finite amount of time to work with, so do you! When you take that “free time” and put it into building your business or marketing, you’re taking that time from somewhere else, whether its family, time you could have spent more effectively on another aspect or your business (see next point), or even away from your own free time. Your time has a cost associated with it, and that cost must be somehow determined to understand the investment you are making in your business.
- Consider Return on Investment (ROI) – Whether you are investing your time or your money, its important to consider your ROI. What this means is that when you invest your resources, do you expect to see a positive return on that investment (making more money than you invested) in the long run? If your business idea is to sell a product and it cost you $100 in supplies and marketing and you only expect to sell $80 (with a loss of $20), then all of the sudden you see that you probably could have stuck that $100 under your mattress and ultimately come out ahead. Now if that initial $100 investment started to make a monthly, residual income of $20 per month, you all the sudden see that after six months you’ll start making a profit. This illustration is to help you understand that resources invested should have an expected return on that investment – hopefully in the black. And as you realize that you can start making wiser decisions. Would $100 invested in this marketing strategy have as high of a return as in another? Your wisdom acquired throughout the process should help you to determine the best answer to those questions in the future.
- Sometimes it makes sense to pay for a service you can do yourself – I tend to see every one of these considerations in terms of ROI, especially this one. I know that given enough time, and possibly even resources, you can figure out how to do everything you want to accomplish. But when your task list continues to build, you start to wonder if there will be an end to it. One lesson that has been hard for me to realize is that when you can, let the person who can do it best – while ultimately saving you time and money – do it for you. Sure you can figure out how to design your web page, but if you know that paying a designer a reasonable amount of money will allow you to invest your time in something else with better return on your time (there’s the ROI), then maybe you should consider hiring it out. How does this apply to marketing? Instead of passing out flyers yourself, pay some kids to deliver them for you. Think through each decision, consider your time and ask whether that time can be invested better somewhere else by paying them to help you – yes, even if you can do it yourself.
- Ask yourself whether you would buy from someone else using your chosen marketing strategy – One of the quickest ways to determine whether your selected marketing strategy will be successful is to ask yourself some quick questions:
- Would I buy from someone if they marketed this product/service the same way?
- If I’m bringing this person inside my home will that amount of information communicated in that marketing strategy translate into trust?
- Did that strategy communicate enough information that I would know enough about the value of the product/service and benefit to me?
- Does the selected strategy hit the right target audience?
- Consider cost of reaching the right customer – Some marketing strategies are going to cost less to implement than others. A simple flyer placed on a car windshield or neighborhood may cost less than purchasing a full-page ad in your local newspaper, but you have to yet again consider your ROI. Your business may not require as much trust as another (your product/service isn’t taking you into their home or isn’t requiring the customer to pay a lot of money) so some strategies might be more appropriate. Or rather, you need some great testimonials, some way of communicating that you have the professional requirements and trust so another form of advertising (though more costly) could be of greater benefit. We can’t go into all the details here, but as you know your business intimately, consider the best ways to market your business, communicate your message and reach the right consumer.
- Don’t trust solely in a single marketing strategy – Right after thinking that “You have built it and they will come”, the next usual error is trusting too much in a single marketing strategy. We’re not going to say that it will always be the wrong decision, but usually when you can diversify your approach you can ensure that if one fails you’ll still have other marketing strategies to rely upon.
- Test and Evaluate. Try again. – When you decide on the ways you plan to market, make sure to test your marketing strategy and then evaluate whether it was successful. Try to quantify the results so you can truly determine your cost and the actual ROI you found from the cost of your investment. Have you ever wondered why companies will usually include the question, “How did you hear about us?” when you purchase their products? Its so they can determine whether the cost they expended in marketing through that strategy was worth their cost. You can and should do the same. It might take some creativity to come up with that information, but it should be possible.
Did we just throw too much information at you? There is so much more that we are learning ourselves, but we thought it would be important to share with you the what and why of marketing before we shared the how. We will next be sharing some ideas you can use for your businesses – and we hope to continue to build the list as we find more ourselves and hear from you.
Has this been helpful to you? Share with us that it has in the comments below and share with a friend! We look forward to continue providing you all the information you need as you find ways to earn extra income, especially in relation to the 2×2 Plan to help you reach your financial goals, that we’ve continuously used to meet all our financial goals.
Photo Credit: Thanks Photo Wand