I did a lot of home improvement last summer, and found myself thinking about that old Tom Hanks movie, "The Monday Pit" – where a couple tries to repair a house that just keeps falling apart under them. The stairway falls apart, the bathtub falls through the floor, the chimney collapses… the repairs go on, but the house keeps getting into worse and worse shape.
Now, my house was never in that state – the changes that we made to it were mainly cosmetic (and, making those improvements were hard enough!). But, we specifically bought our house because it was newer, and to avoid "Money Pit" type problems – I didn't want to face those types of projects and problems with my first house.
But, of course, I started thinking about how the concept of a Money Pit house relates to a small business brand. I've run into a lot of entrepreneurs who tell me "I've been marketing my business for years – but I just feel like I'm making more and more promotional materials and not getting anywhere with it".
And you spend postage or e-zine credits sending these promotions out into what seems like a big, empty customer-less void. Or, you spend money on your yearly website hosting fee – without getting any leads from it. You go to networking events, tell people your "elevator pitch" – and then get a blank stare in return.
That's how it feels to have a brand that's a Money Pit.
You hire designers, and writers to put these promotions together, or maybe you're just writing and designing things yourself – in which case it's just a Time Pit, but your time is worth a lot, right? And it just never seems to get you anything in return – no customers, no inquiries, and no work! This is definitely not what you're spending your time and money to get back – you want to create promotions that go out into the world and get results.
How to create a brand that's a client machine instead of a Money Pit.
1. Create a Brand Definition: Having a clear definition of who you are, what you do, what makes you different and who you best help can help drive your marketing efforts.
2. Market consistently: In both a sense of timing – how often you market (not sending out a newsletter every day for a week and then going silent for 6 months!) and in a brand sense (how you design your materials and how you write them). This consistent repetition helps your prospects to remember you when they have a need, and increases the chance that your materials might be in front of them at the right time.
3. Create a marketing plan: By having a plan, you'll be able to set out a strategy that will get you the marketing exposure and kit you need without running around in a sense of panic trying to "fix" things. Part of the frustration of having a Money Pit is that you're just bouncing from project to project while things seem to be getting worse. But, if you sit down and plan out your marketing efforts instead of just reacting to events and panicking, you'll be able to create materials that look like they've been created more intentionally instead of thrown together – which can help you communicate with your prospects.
4. Mix up your marketing – but with a strategy. Instead of marketing one service one week, and something completely different the next, create a time line where you're marketing one product or service for a while, and then move on to the next. This will help you develop a conversation with the client around one product or service, and reinforce that feeling of consistency.
Also, mix up your marketing methods – but not to the extent that you're printing things or creating web pages that won't be used. Always ask yourself how you'll use a marketing piece – if you're creating it just for one networking event, that might not be the best use of your time. Try to get the best bang for your marketing dollar and time.
If you market with intention, strategy and consistency, you'll be more likely to see great results for your marketing – instead of being dragged down into a branding Money Pit.