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Keep putting yourself out there

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When your order books or appointment schedules are full, it’s tempting to pull the plug on marketing, for fear of being overloaded.

There’s nothing worse than having to say ‘no’ to new business because you’re too busy. Or not being able to supply your customers because you can’t get stock in quick enough, or are understaffed.

But that doesn’t mean marketing shouldn’t still be high on your list of priorities.

Cast your mind back to the heady days of adolescence. Picture yourself day-dreaming about that divine being in the year above you at school, the one you really hoped would go out with you.

You had to do all you could to make sure they noticed you. You went to the parties you thought they’d be at. You tried to be on the same bus home. You even joined some random club in which you had no real interest, purely in the hope they’d notice you and fall in love.

Even if they were dating someone else, you still tried to stay on their radar. You never know, right? Their date would let them down eventually, wouldn’t they? And you’d be there, perfectly positioned for them to fall into your loving arms.

You didn’t want to come across as a creepy stalker, but if you weren’t in the right place at the right time, some other lucky person would be, and no-one wants that heart-wrenching disappointment.

The business of attracting customers is (for most of us!) far more competitive and even more fickle than teenage angst-ridden romance.

After what has been a hard year for many, it is not surprising that tough decisions needed to be made about marketing and advertising investment. If the money’s not coming in, or your logistics are impacted, you’ve naturally had to rethink.

As much as I may roll my eyes at the vagaries of digital marketing and social media, it has been a cost-effective life saver for many a small business over the last few months.

Through creative thinking, and often with only moderate technical know-how, many businesses have embraced digital marketing more effectively than they previously might have done.

To stand out, they had to think differently, come up with new offers or partnerships, or simply tell their story in a whole new way. And that’s no bad thing.

For some businesses, it’s been a time to take stock and take a good hard look at where their marketing was heading.

When things get tough, you really get to realise how tough your brand is. If it’s not strong enough to stand out or be admired in difficult times, a shift is needed.

Turning up at all those parties isn’t going to work if the object of your unrequited affections doesn’t notice you – or notices you for the wrong reasons.   

I was pleasantly surprised during 2020 at how many small businesses focused on how they presented themselves to the market, using the time to come up with a more contemporary look. Not just change for the sake of change, but an update to genuinely reflect the truth about their business.

For some, the need to bring greater clarity to their message has been highlighted as the battle for customers got harder.

In that crowded room at the high school party, a distinctive look might have helped you stand out.

But when that special person finally talked to you and you waffled like a gibbering wreck, or had nothing sensible to say, what were the chances of them talking to you again? Pretty low, right?

Or, it all went OK but, by the second date, they realised that you were really not the person that matched the initial impressions. Ghosting or a painful dumping
probably ensued.

We marketers talk a lot about brand character, personalities, attributes and human personas for businesses and there are good reasons for that. As consumers, we generally relate our relationship with a business like we do with an individual. We fall in and out of love with brands because of bad or good experiences, just as we do with people.

So, taking the time to maintain your story and ensure the way you present it is a true and fair reflection of how you want to be perceived, is useful at any time.

Taking time to work on your brand is valuable investment for future development. Whether  your dance card is full or if times are tough, this reflection and reassessment is likely to bring you greater dividends when it is time to get yourself back out there. But don’t leave it too long to search for love again.

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About Author

Vicki Jones

Vicki Jones is director of Dugmore Jones, Hamilton-based marketing management consultancy. Email vicki@dugmorejones.co.nz