Improve your small business marketing by taking risks

There is a running gag in the newest season of the television show Archer. The gang has become a private investigation firm led by Cyril Figgis – hence the name The Figgis Agency. The gag revolves around the marketing that Cyril did, which was nothing except a flier. The flier consists of a picture of a basset hound dressed as Sherlock Holmes with a magnifying glass and the name of the agency underneath. The whole thing is printed on bright pink paper. Archer, of course, can’t help himself but to constantly mock Cyril for his design. Yet, every high-profile client they receive comment on the genius marketing.

It’s a joke of course, and such simple and stupid marketing would never work in the real world. Or would it?

You Need to Try Something New

Often, it can be hard to think about what marketing strategies you should implement. Time and money are limited and any new direction in marketing can potentially result in a heavy loss. With heavy loss comes increased risk. When your small business is your main source of income, risk makes you more reluctant to do change. That is the general feeling in my experience in speaking and working with them.

Something which may initially look like garbage could actually work. For any business that is starting their marketing, it is important not to be too dismissive of ideas. Some might be implausible, some might be impossible to implement, some might be good ideas that just need a chance.

If you are starting marketing for the first time, there is no past data of what worked and didn’t work. So there is no reason to discount what might work. You don’t know (yet).  If you are at a point where you need to change your marketing to break out of stagnation, the data you have only shows what has worked to a point. It is still no reason to dismiss most ideas. They are just ideas, after all, and contemplating them is not equal to implementing them.

Don’t Hesitate with your Small Business Marketing Strategy

Marketing isn’t an exact science. There is some luck involved but it’s something we can call forced luck. Basically, by being diligent and following best practices, you increase the chances of success. In other words, if you do things right and plan, the higher chance you will have of success.

Therefore, it is important to fairly evaluate the ideas you have come up with. Often a thorough evaluation of a seemingly dumb idea can be the fruit of a great one. The second most important step after this is the follow through. It can be hard, especially for small business owners, to go on a new path. As previously mentioned, there is a lot on the line. But a half attempt at a marketing idea will only produce mediocre results at best. What often happens is a return to old practices and dismissal of whatever marketing strategy was recently abandoned.

Stepping out of your comfort zone is integral to growth.

Qualify your Audience

Most products and services don’t target or attract everyone. And they shouldn’t either. Marketing can get expensive and time-consuming fast. It is much more worthwhile to attract people who are likely to purchase from you rather than random people who might just have a brief interest. This is especially true for web businesses who can potentially reach thousands of people.

It is important to ask yourself – What kind of marketing will attract the type of clients you want? How can I attract and delight them? It is important to answer these questions and change them as time goes on. For the Figgis Agency, a picture of a dog on pink paper was the “thing” that attracted the clients they wanted to serve.

Advantage in Weirdness

Sometimes, a weird image or campaign really connects. As long as it is targeted to your preferred audience. One real world example of this is Poo-Pourri (a real product) whose quirky ads I am sure are offensive to someone. Another is Cards Against Humanity, where their whole company image is condescending and cynical. The message extends from their website copy to how they treat their customers. They even sponsor podcasts and requesting that the hosts do not do any ad reads of their product.

The important part to remember here is congruence. The company image for these come directly out of the product. It should create a uniform and strong message that may be off-putting but attractive to many. It is through their marketing that they qualify their customers from the very beginning. They are not afraid to say, “If you do not like it, move on, you are not the right fit for us.”

Change is Terrifying

Changing how your market your product and business can have some unexpected results. If you have planned it properly, you should see some results. But there is always a worst case scenario. If your business is your soul source of income a dramatic change in customer flow might have a huge impact on your personal finances. To help counter this, make sure you have some capital and customers in the pipeline that give you some room to experiment. Remember, we are planning on trying something new before we replace the whole marketing mix.

If your current marketing isn’t getting the results you need, the only way to fix it is to adjust it. There is no use continuing on the same path if the data shows you that growth will be unlikely.  If you are hesitant about changing direction, you need to address those anxieties before you proceed. For a change to work, you need to be on board 100%.

Sit down and really think about what it is that is worrying you. How can we resolve those before moving on? If it is income related, try building up or setting aside an amount of money that will cover you if things go deeply wrong.  

You can also slowly shift into new territory by gradually assigning bigger parts of your marketing budget to it. This will slowly move your marketing from one path to another which might not be the best, but it does give you a chance to generally gauge the effectiveness of the new direction. 

A different direction in branding can also be harmful. You should have done plenty of research into your target audience, but if you still have reservations, collect a group of trusted friends and clients together and ask for direct feedback on your company’s new direction. This should either enforce your choice, or give you ideas to go back and tweak it.

Your New Small Business Marketing Strategy

A pink pamphlet with a cute dog is probably not the answer for your business. However, when you are starting fresh or in dire need of change, it may be worth to test the ideas that at first looked like they wouldn’t work. Strike out on a different path. Don’t forget to assess the results as you go.

You might be surprised about what you discover.

If you are considering changing your small business marketing strategy and would like some help, please do not hesitate to contact us. Click the button to go to our contact page now. We would love to hear from you.