How you can tell when your small business desperately needs marketing help
Having an online promotional video, ineffective marketing strategy, or small business brand is a lot like a piece of spinach wedged in your teeth, a bad-comb over, or leaving your fly open: everyone sees it; it looks bad, but no one will say something about it.
It’s tough to know when you look good and when you need a little help. Your small business brand is no different. So how can you tell when you might need marketing and design help? Just as seeing a piece of spinach in your teeth in the mirror, the answer is often found through self-analysis. You owe it to yourself and your success to take some time to reflect on where you are, where you want to go and how you might get there.
So do you need marketing and design help? Let’s find out…
Small Business Price War:
Does it always feel like you have to compete on price? That’s tough, isn’t it? If this is the case for you, you’re not alone, I’ve found this to be a major challenge for most small business owners.
When customers aren’t offered a compelling explanation on the value and benefits of working with an exceptional professional in your industry, they have difficulty deciding who to work with. As a result, they evaluate professionals on something that can measure: price. Your marketing strategy must identify the value and benefit your customers want, and then it should convey that value and benefit in a way that compels customers to take action. If there’s no perceived difference between you and your competition, customers will just rely on price when shopping.
* Do you fully understand your customers’ needs and wants?
* Do you know how to convey the value they want in a way that’s compelling to them?
If you answered “no,” you’re losing out on loads of customers. It might be time to consider marketing help.
Find Out How Your Small Business Stacks Up:
Take a moment to review some of your competition’s marketing efforts (YouTube or online promotional videos, logo, business card, advertisements, brochure, website, etc). Ask yourself, “How does my business stack up with the rest of the field?” “Do you look like an expert compared to the rest of your competition?”
Whether we recognize it or not, our online videos and presence (and printed collaterals) directly and immediately convey to prospects an image of expertise and quality. If prospects feel you’ve skimped on the quality of your marketing efforts, do you feel they might assume you might skimp on the quality of your service or products? Would it be logical for prospects to feel that way? Probably.
To find out where you stand, ask your prospects what they think about your marketing materials (make sure you ask people that will give you a straight answer).
Take a Self-Confidence Evaluation:
Have you ever told someone that your small business brand (videos, cards, logo, website, etc…) was temporary and that you we’re going to get it “fixed” later? Do you feel sheepish or apprehensive when showing or directing a prospect to some of your company’s marketing material? Do you avoid networking situations because your marketing and image don’t really show how good your small business really is? Could you do a better job in promoting your company if your image was unique and eye-catching? Would you feel better about your business if you had a professional, visually-appealing brand? If you’ve answered “yes,” consider reaching out to a marketing expert.
Are You Insane?
Small business owners are a great bunch of people—most are positive, hopeful, and optimistic. They all want their business to grow; they hope to bring in more sales, and they are optimistic about getting more customers. However, few of them have a plan to achieve it.
In talking with small business owners, I’ll ask, “Do you plan on growing your business more this year than last?” Their answer is always a resounding, “Yes!” I follow that question up with a slightly harder one, “What do you plan on doing this year that’s going to make that happen?” This is when I get the deer in the headlights look.
“I don’t know,” is their response.
If you want to succeed and grow your business, that’s terrific, just make sure you have a plan and a clear strategy to back it up. Part of that strategy might include getting your accounting books in order, implementing a clear and effective marketing strategy, gathering feedback from clients, hiring a business coach, or marketing your small business through online video marketing on YouTube or Facebook. These aren’t expenses, they are investments.
Are you planning on growing your business?  If so, what measures are you going to undertake to do it? What are you going to do, or invest in this year to grow your company? Doing the same thing from year to year and expecting different results is crazy – well, actually it’s defined as insanity.
Do a Skills Assessment:
One of the most beneficial concepts I’ve learned in business is knowing what I can and what I can’t do effectively. Even within the field of videography and design there are many areas I specialize in, and some I am not as strong in. For example, I feel I can excel in generating business, patients, and revenue through video promotion with online viewers. That leads some clients (because of my video acumen) to assume I am also an expert with motion graphics and crazy special effects. However, I don’t have that skill set.
In the areas where I was not as competent, I recognized I needed an expert. I hired one. I know I can’t do it all. More than that, I know I shouldn’t do it all, and you shouldn’t either. What do you really do well, and are video, marketing strategy, and design among them? Is your business success being compromised because you’re trying to save money rather than bringing on legitimate help.
Pretend that you had a board of directors for your business, and you were on that board rather than the current owner or manager. If you were on that board, do you think that the person(s) currently doing the video, marketing, and or design for your small business is qualified to help your company succeed and grow?  
* Does this marketing person(s) have the time; does she/he/you have the talent?
* Does anyone in the company have formal marketing or advertising training?
* Has anyone in the company studied marketing and advertising, and how they affect consumers?
If you’re really looking to grow, succeed, and achieve in business, recognize what you aren’t as proficient in, and then bring professionals on in those areas to advise you and guide you.
How’s the Reaction?
Just as parents see their baby with rose-colored glasses, small business owners often see their company very differently than their prospects and customers. How your business is perceived by prospects (not you) will have a direct affect on your sales your success—how prospects and customers view your business can be the difference between success and failure.
Learning to see your business through the eyes of your prospects is essential. If you want to know why John Q. buys, you have to see the world through John Q’s eyes.
How might others see your small business? Ask yourself these questions:
* Do prospects and customers often compliment your business image and marketing materials?
* How do you think prospects would rate your small business brand, online promotional videos, website, and marketing materials? Outstanding / Good / Average / Below Average / Need help.
* Do you think prospects and customers can see a clear and definite reason to do business with you over anyone else in the industry? Are you the clear choice?
* Do you have a clear, unique marketing strategy (codified and effective process of attracting new customers)?
* In your marketing and advertising, are you saying the same things as everyone else in your industry?
* Do you think you stand out from the rest of the crowd (in a positive light)? If not, how do you think that affects your sales?
* Do your answers suggest that your prospects and customers see you as a clear expert, the clear choice to do business with, or just one of the crowd? Now of course you see a huge difference between you and the competition, but that’s not important – do your prospects see a difference?
Are You Keeping Up with the Joneses?
You might be in an industry that is shielded from new entrants and stiffer competition, but for the rest of us, it gets more challenging. Challenging is okay, in fact it’s good, but you have to have to meet the challenge with new ideas, more effective marketing and perhaps a better strategy. Are you keeping up with the rest of the industry? If you’re finding it hard to compete, there’s a strong possibility you need to infuse fresh marketing and design into your business. Ask yourself these questions:
* Is your company growing at the same rate as the industry and your competition?
* Do you see others in your industry who aren’t as good and talented doing better than you?
* Is there more or less competition in the industry?
* Is the competition getting easier or tougher to deal with?
* Are you proactively competing with others in your field, or just hoping the competition won’t raise the bar on you?
The first step in getting help is recognizing you need it. Hopefully this article has given you some answers and some insight—either you should seriously look into getting marketing and design assistance, or you feel better about how you stack up against the rest of the field. Whether it's video, marketing, and design, or processes and procedures, you should always be looking at what’s working and how you can make it work better. How can you improve your small business today?
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