It’s difficult to see the picture when you’re in the frame. When you are so focused on your business you don’t see what holds it back. Namely you! When all the decisions are based on your knowledge and experience, you are probably working from the same knowledge you always have. This means that unless you are constantly improving yourself (in terms of business) you are likely to fall into the trap many owners do.
What are your decisions based on and who do you go to for help? The problem with owning a business is that there is very little help available in your immediate circle for most people. Unless you are surrounded by other entrepreneurs, it’s more than likely that you look to help for people who are fall less qualified than you.
The Self Fulfilling Loop
The ability to work in your business and work on your business are two very separate things. You may be the best at working very hard, doing long hours and motivating your staff, if you have any. But this doesn’t translate to growing your business. Growing your business is something different. It takes a whole new skill set.
If you’re stuck in the process of being a ‘worker’ in your business, you’re not moving your business forwards. You must step out of the roles which worked when you were an employee. Things which make a good employee are: turning up on time, working hard, delivering to deadlines and thinking of ways to achieve the maximum output for your boss.
Things which make a good business owner are entirely different. Knowing how to grow your business is about marketing. You need a whole new skill set and new ways of thinking in order to do this.
The Skill Set Of Online Marketing
Online marketing is vital to grow your business. Whatever kind of business you have, you need some kind of marketing engine driving it forwards. With new technology comes a new type of marketing. Before the internet there was traditional advertising: yellow pages, newspapers, flyers, billboards, television and radio.
Online marketing is a fantastic opportunity for business owners. But with it comes a few problems. The main one is not just learning the skills to create online advertising, but rather our mindset, or more importantly our industrial age thinking.
Industrial Age Thinking
We have been brought up with a lot of baggage. Our minds hold ideas which our forefathers embodied in their lives. Many of us are limited by old thinking patterns which no longer serve us. This is true in many areas of our lives but none so much as with growing a business using online marketing.
A poverty mindset always thinks of reasons to cut back and avoid spending. It is based on a presupposition that ‘there is never enough’ – a self fulfilling prophecy! Of course this is often well founded based on the past. But as a business owner this can be your biggest limiting factor to forward growth.
If our very thinking is based on our past and what it has taught us in terms of our income, we hold back and tend to be careful with our money. This is for good reason of course. But with online marketing your long term plan should be to be spending more and more on advertising, not less and less. This is a major roadblock to business growth.
Gently Does It
I’m not saying you should spend all your cash on an online advert, just to see how it goes. Far from it. You can start an online advertising campaign for very little daily expenditure. Set your budget as low as you like. That’s one of the benefits of online advertising. One of the other major benefits is the ability to test and measure each of your adverts.
By testing and measuring the response of your adverts, you can determine, very accurately, how effective they are in making you a profit. However this should be based on your return on investment, not instant return. Think about the worth of a customer over the years of your business. How much is a customer worth? Not a sale, but a customer?
Looking at the long term benefit of a happy customer who buys from you again and again can give you a different perspective on your advertising costs. Write down a number which reflects the cash value of a long term, loyal customer. Now match that against what you were prepared to spend on your advertising.
Testing and Measuring – The Power Of Pay Per Click
Pay per click advertising is an amazing form of advertising and available to any business owner. However, I recently spoke to a business owner who claimed it was a waste of money, despite other people in his business niche using it. Perhaps, he thought that they were about to discover what he already “knew”!
Most people start an advertising campaign on pay per click, lose money and decide it doesn’t work. But this is a mistake. The real power lies in the ability to test and measure your paid advertising. There are many variables with pay per click. You can target people very specifically by their keywords using Google AdWords advertising. You can also target by location – which is ideal for a local business. By testing and measuring the responses of different target audiences, with varying keywords, landing pages and advert content, you can eventually determine the most profitable advert for your business.
Once you have discovered a way to spend half of what you stand to get back, you are in a very strong position to increase your daily expenditure and scale up. This is how to grow your business. By adding other paid advertising methods to your growing ‘portfolio’ and testing and measuring each one over time for maximum efficiency, you can scale up your business for maximum growth.
Depending on your business model, it is also possible to lose money initially on advertising, and make it back over the long term for the customers you have literally “bought”.
Fear, Greed and Panic
Obviously you should be careful enough to test and measure advertising before scaling your budget up. Paid advertising can consume your capital as fast as you allow it to! Be very careful in the early stages to test and measure every aspect of your advertising. Don’t scale too quickly but also you can’t be afraid to spend money first.
Only spend money you are prepared to lose initially. You might lose money in the short term. But the long term gain of having a profitable advertising campaign which can be left running is worth the initial loss. The main job is testing and measuring until you have a campaign which is profitable. After this there is very little to do. Simply leave your campaign running at a comfortable cost and slowly increase it over time.
Equally don’t just run a campaign, get a profitable result, and then panic and turn it off. Your business will just fall back to your comfort levels again. Look for the long term, keep testing and measuring and expect to pay out first before you see a return.