I don’t enjoy lawn work. During my seven years living in New York state, I owned a home with a very low maintenance yard. All I needed to do was mow it each week and edge the lawn once or twice each summer. Even so, I did not look forward to caring for my lawn. It seemed like a distraction from more important tasks. In contrast, one of my neighbors relished caring for his lawn, and his home looked immaculate as a result. Whether we enjoyed the work or disliked it, each of us had a lawn that required mowing, edging, and watering.
Marketing your small business is similar to caring for your lawn. Most business owners do not enjoy working on marketing initiatives, but it is necessary because they have a business. How can you tend to your “lawn” of small business marketing and keep your business looking immaculate? Read on for some suggestions that may improve your marketing efforts.
The Story of a Lawn
When I moved to the Memphis suburb of Bartlett with my family in 2010, the home we purchased had a lawn with some serious problems. Alternating heat, drought, and a lack of fertilizer had allowed weeds to thrive and grass to wither. Some of the soil had compacted so much that grass was no longer growing.
After getting settled in, we took time to look over the yard and made a plan to remedy the situation. How could we take our lawn from brown and scraggly to a lush golf course green? We looked at our neighborhood lawns. Most were greener than ours, and all of them were very well-kept. Most of our neighbors used a lawn service to fertilize and exterminate weeds, and some also hired people to mow their lawns. We decided to use a lawn service to manage weeds and fertilize. The rest of the lawn care, I have handled with the help of my family.
Take Stock of Your Challenges
You also may need to take stock, not of your lawn, but of the state of your marketing. Perhaps you advertise via newspaper, TV, and pay-per-click. Do you know which of those channels actually produces your leads? Are any channels trending differently than expected? Is your website up-to-date and representative of your business? If you see any problem areas, you need to get ahead of the problems before they become critical.
Plan to Repair Your “Turf”
When you have identified any marketing problems you are facing, analyze your competition. Are your problems common to the industry? If so, there may be a ready solution to the problem. If your website is under-performing, people like myself are available to help you take a look at what can be done to get better results with pay-per-click campaigns, search engine optimization, and landing page optimization.
Maintenance and Improvement
Maintenance is rarely relished. Like my feeling of dread when confronted with the task of mowing my large yard on a hot summer day, marketing tasks produce a feeling of dread in many small business owners. Instead of heat, dust, and noise, it requires conversation with customers, reflection, written communication, and creativity. These intellectual and emotional demands added by marketing are not offset by fewer business management demands. No wonder marketing is often ignored unless there is a sales slump.
Here are some quick marketing maintenance tips:
- Communicate regularly with your customers and prospects in a way that adds value without demanding sales in return, perhaps by creating a newsletter or blog.
- Participate in offline networking events at which prospective customers will be present. Local chambers of commerce and trade associations are good places to start.
- Online networking is also very effective. Let’s face it, your customers are online. A few years ago, online marketing may have been optional for some businesses, but that is not true today. Key places to network online are at industry blogs, Facebook, and Twitter. Additionally, having a blog hosted on your website provides a way for more interaction with customers and prospects – if it is well maintained.
- Google your business by the search terms you expect prospective customers use when they are seeking a business like yours. Make note of searches for which your business is absent and consider creating content that will help you rank for those terms. Also consider creating a Google Adwords campaign to rank immediately for those search terms.
How My Lawn Has Improved
After more than a year of professional fertilizing and weed control along with our regular mowing, my yard has improved a great deal. I was surprised by two things in the process: the improvements took longer than I expected, and the grass has grown even more vibrant than I first imagined possible. All that maintenance work has paid off.
Just like the lawn care hobbyists among us, some of you may enjoy marketing your business, but each of us must do the work whether we enjoy it or not. It is easy to neglect things that are not urgent, but that is the perfect time to focus on marketing. When scarcity leads to desperation, marketing becomes strident, out of tune with customer expectations, and well, desperate. I hope that you will find time to tend to your business “lawn” before your business looks as unkempt as my lawn when I first moved to Bartlett.
Share Your Ideas
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