Right around Labor Day - give or take a week- a certain shade of yellow starts showing up en masse. Not a perky spring buttercup yellow or an innocent pastel, but rather a more mature, ochre toned selection. It’s the saturated yellow of sunflowers, suddenly seen everywhere. It’s also the shade of school buses, and #2 pencils. Leaves of recently robust green plants, flowers and trees start gently leaning into this yellow, before submitting to a ruddy brown shade of compliance. The show offs of the bunch coax one last gasp out of the color spectrum with a rich red swan song, their final aria before the curtain falls.
The Messaging is Clear
The days are getting shorter, the light is waning, and it is time to get back to business- literally, your own business.
Put away the beach ball and get on board. It’s the season to harvest and hunker down.
School is back in session, so to speak. New notebooks, new programs, new tools! Suddenly you have a serious will to revisit your business marketing plan. Maybe it looks something like this:
Look into that workflow app you’ve heard so much about that will surely get your business on track for positive, sustainable growth;
Commit to a serious digital ad campaign- that is where it’s at these days!
Take your social media to the next level - maybe even start a podcast or a Youtube channel - who's stopping you?
All of the tools you could possibly need are out there, new ones seem to appear daily, and they promise to raise awareness for your brand, bring you sales, streamline your logistics, make your business STAND OUT. You just haven’t had the time to make the investment, to really focus. Now you do, now you are ready. Summer is over, school is back in session. You’ve got some killer back-to-school outfits to show off. You paid top dollar for them, you went all in! Everyone will notice you now.
*BEEP* BEEP* BEEP*
Back - up - the - bus.
So you finally did it, you got all kinds of new tools to help your business. You bought the apps, and followed the latest social media trends, or hired that company to improve your SEO, because that’s a ‘thing’ and you should do it. Except sales didn’t increase, followers didn’t flock, and now you’ve got several monthly subscription bills in auto draft and misplaced your login credentials.
The most common marketing mistake we see at Marketing Outpost -
focusing on the tools first.
Because here’s the thing - it’s rarely the tools, or lack thereof, that causes a project or a marketing campaign to fail - it’s putting the cart before the horse. It’s like not preparing your child for the first day of school and putting them on the bus in last year’s clothes, no backpack, no lunch money. It’s expecting the tool to give you insight into the needs of your own business.
Tools Are Not Solutions In And Of Themselves
Tools help you facilitate a means to an end, in this case achieving a business goal.
Tools do NOT:
Help you identify that goal
Self correct when misapplied
Do all of the work for you.
Like that cart. If you buy the cart without knowing what kind of horse you’ll need to pull it, you’ll likely end up with a stationary cart. So what was the point of the wheels?
Let’s celebrate the season with a little Marketing Quiz
QUESTION: Using the defined variables, which of the following equations are true?
(a) Business Goal
(e) Waste of Time and $
(a) + (b) - (c) = (e)
(b) ≠ (d)
(b) - (a) = (e)
(a) x (c) + (b) = (d)
ANSWER: All of them are true
So don’t get schooled by the tool - identify your goal first. Just one.
Then do your research to identify what tools are available to help you achieve it.
If you don't know what your goal is, the chances of choosing the right tool is a serious crap shoot. As soon as you give up on one tool, another one will be dangled in front of you, promising more, better and easier results, and the cycle starts again.
That is why the house always wins.
So we’ve had the lesson, what comes next?
Homework. Look out for your back to school marketing assignment in our next September blog, where we will cover:
The most common errors business owners make when choosing new tools
Examples of how tools can actually trap you
Tips for identifying and choosing the tool you actually need.
So back to that deep yellow - that color we are seeing so much of these days, that color that prompted all of this back to school enthusiasm for shiny new pens and fancy new
We suggest you take it from the perspective of being behind the wheel:
Proceed with Caution.