Hello friends, and welcome to this edition of The 20 Percent.
This week’s breakthrough idea came to me during a conversation with my co-founder.
Entrepreneurs often think that they have marketing problems, when in fact they have business and culture problems. And there is no marketing substitute for that.
Looking back to our first two years in business, I realized something extraordinary. Every month we would get several client requests from businesses that (seemingly) needed our help urgently.
This sounded great at first. What better opportunity for us to shine than working on projects with huge upside potential?
The Entrepreneurial Blindspot
What I came to realize soon enough, is that there is a certain kind of entrepreneurial blind spot. It’s easier to convince a Flat Earther that the world is round than an entrepreneur to accept that online marketing is not a solution to a failing business.
Marketing is an amplifier. For it to work you need to find your own voice before you’re ready to be heard.
What to Do if You Find Yourself in This Situation
Before you start looking into digital marketing it’s important to have a working business process in place. If you can’t make the business work on a small scale, then growing your online reach with advertising will not bring meaningful results.
This is a common pitfall and it creates the business equivalent of Sisyphus’s punishment. As long as you continue spending money things seem to be doing okay (but not great). But the moment you stop, everything falls apart and you’re back at square one.
If you ever find yourself in this situation, I recommend you to seek a business mentor or entrepreneur coach – not a digital marketer. Building your marketing process on a shaky foundation will only add fuel to the fire, turning it from a business challenge into a business culture problem. Culture problems are systemic and much more difficult to resolve.
Find Your Voice by Building an Audience Around Your Website
Every entrepreneur can tell you how important it is to have a strong business network. But not everyone will pursue building an online network for their brand.
You can grow your online audience simply by publishing content about the pain points of your customers and how you solve them. Talk about what makes you different and engage with your readers.
Creating an audience is not about vanity metrics such as visits and reading time. It’s rather a way to ascertain your product-market fit and build brand awareness.
There’s no better place to build your audience than your website. Building an audience on a proprietary network is building an elaborate castle on sand. By making your website the center of your digital campaigns, you create a home for your brand. A single place for your audience to engage with your ideas, gather information on your products and make purchase decisions.
At the risk of sounding like Mark Manson, I’m here to tell you that it’s ok if you’re still figuring out your business. Take a step back to address your challenges with the help of a business mentor, and put in place a small-scale business model that works. The level of clarity and focus it will bring will set the stage for large-scale marketing success.