Blog best practice states that posts should be helpful.  OK, the most helpful thing I can say to a huge number of the businesses I encounter is simple – STOP MARKETING!

Why?  Because you are wasting time and money on efforts that will bring you nothing but pain and disappointment.

It’s easy to become complacent

Let me explain.  In January I went skiing in the French Alps.  Our chalet was in Morzine, which is quite low – the weather was unseasonably warm, with no snow in the town.

On the first couple of days we skied near the resort, and the weather was sunny and hot.  Later in the week we went much further, and higher – right over the border and way into Switzerland.  Suddenly it clouded over, the temperature dropped to about minus 10 and an icy wind whipped the snow into a white-out.  On a long exposed chair lift at about 9,000ft it dawned on me that I should have brought a hat and some more layers of clothing.  Luckily a colleague was carrying spares, otherwise things could have been very nasty – it was a long way home, over several high peaks.

The moral of the story is that I underestimated the scale of the challenge that faced me.  And I see a lot of SMEs making a similar mistake.  They cheerfully venture out into the marketplace with ill prepared campaigns and insubstantial collateral only to be caught unawares by the harshness of the environment.  Instead of the nice warm feeling they were expecting from the arrival of new business they experienced the chilly blast of total indifference.

Expect to be ignored

To avoid this kind of unwelcome exposure take a reality check.  There are three huge obstacles that today’s marketers have to overcome.

  1. People are punch drunk with information.  It’s coming at them from every direction 24/7.  A ton of fresh emails every day, incessant sales calls, junk mail, people with clipboards on every street selling charities, pop-ups, press ads, TV commercials, even product placement in the programmes themselves.  Every minute of every day there’s information being thrust in their face – so how receptive to your message are they going to be?
  2. Marketing used to be easier because, once upon a time, there was demand.  Now everyone has got everything they need.  Show me someone who doesn’t have a smartphone, a car, a computer and a microwave.  What business doesn’t already have an accountant, an IT support person and a stationery supplier?  How are you going to make them dissatisfied with what they already have?
  3. Every market is crammed with competing companies, from all over the world.  There are countless providers offering virtually identical products and services, at prices that are hard to match.  How are you going to differentiate yourself, let alone persuade customers that your offer is superior to that of all your competitors, and still make a profit?

Don’t hope for the best.  Be the best

Put these three factors together and you have the perfect storm.  Does that mean it’s best not to venture out at all?  No – you just have to be realistic about the obstacles, and invest in solutions that are sufficiently well considered and executed to overcome them.  Complacency, and the mediocre marketing that goes with it, will leave you whistling in the wind.  And it’s a cold one!

If you’d like to be better prepared get a copy of “The Authority Guide to Creating Brand Stories That Sell”.