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The Dangers of ‘Now What’ Marketing

by | Nov 7, 2022 | 0 comments

What is Now What Marketing?

Now What marketing is when you go with a marketing strategy that doesn’t produce results. Leaving business owners to ask “Now What?”. ‘Now What do I do?’ ‘How do I fix this?’ This is how the conversation typically goes after things go sideways.

Now What marketing is the strategy that business owners seek out in angst. Angst as they approach the end of the budget and window of opportunity to generate revenue. The Hail Mary of marketing. One that seeks to turn back the clock and increase the ROI (Return on investment) of failed strategies.

 

The cause of Now What Marketing

The cause of Now What marketing is pretty straightforward in most cases. The business owner either didn’t seek an expert to help them with their marketing. In other cases, they went opinion shopping and chose to take the advice of someone that wasn’t an expert. This tends to be cookie-cutter advice. One-size-fits-all solutions. That doesn’t take the specifics of the business or the business owner into consideration.

It’s understandable to want to get up and running as soon as possible. Equally, understanding is to let our passion get the best of us and skip some steps. Steps that come back to haunt us when we are live and have more to lose and at risk. This is where opinion shopping can do the most harm. In our haste to get the business going, we don’t do our due diligence. Ask the right questions. Consider the source. Look at the advice and ask the follow-up question. How can I customize this to my business, budget, and timeline?

I recently had a prospect accuse me of being money first. She thought that because she thought I was throwing cold water on her ideas. When in reality I was cautioning her of the failure rate of businesses. Businesses that skip steps and don’t apply business models to ideas. She’s a ‘dreamer’. Dreamers will most likely become a statistic. If they don’t have that rock in the storm to tether down from getting carried away. Carried away in the storm of bright ideas. The results she said that she didn’t think we were a good fit. I agreed.

 

The results of Now What Marketing

The results of Now What marketing vary in the short term but become predictable in the long term. Allow me to add two stories for context. Both involve me because I don’t want anyone to think that I’m talking like I’m exempt from this learning curve.

We all go through it on some level. The depths of it depend on the people around you and the ability to learn from it. This put the shovel-down moment that we all have to experience at some point. When we are digging ourselves a hole we’ll have to work at least twice as hard to get out of it.  

I had a plumbing issue in my apartment. I called a plumber and he came out to assess the situation. He took his time to check the leak and the surrounding area. As he stood up, he said I see what you need and I can help. I’ve got two prices for you. One that I can give you now. The other is if you choose to say no and go with a cheaper inexperienced person.

We both laughed and I said I’ll go with the price that you can give me now on two conditions. The first condition was that he could start immediately. The second was that he allows me to use this story when I speak with my clients. The reason he has two rates is that the first is doing it right the first time. The second rate is because when people choose not to work with him. They end up calling him back later and he has to undo what was done. Before he can get back to the starting point of the original price.

One of the things that I’ve learned over the years is that there are several ways to learn a lesson. You can learn the hard way. You can learn from watching successful people. You can learn from watching those that failed and checking off what not to do. Narrowing down the options of what would be the next right move.

The second story is on a professional level. When I started my business. I went in with the understanding of an employee instead of a business owner. I had bright ideas on how I was going to change the landscape of the market. Tipping things in the scale of small business owners.

I started out as a one-stop shop. I took 30+ years of corporate experience in helping those on top stay there. Then attempted to apply all the best practices to SMBs (Small to mid-size businesses). I offered full-service agency expertise. Creating business models and strategies, websites, marketing, and advertising strategies. I even went so far as attending meetings on clients’ behalf as their agency of record with third-party vendors.

One day I had the benefit of having Chris Lema review my website and business model. Jennifer Bourn brought him in as part of her content camp as an expert. Chris took the time to explain to me that I was setting myself up to fail. Setting myself up to fail for several reasons.

First and foremost, with the one-stop-shop mentality. If you’re trying to be good at everything you can’t be great at one thing. The reality is that clients would prefer you be great at one thing than mediocre at a bunch of things…

Second, I was setting myself up to fail because I was devaluing my experience by offering too much. How can a prospect truly evaluate your value when they have so many things to base it on? In all honesty, I heard what he said but I wasn’t ready to listen.

 It wasn’t until the pandemic hit that I had clients looking to cancel their services. Citing that they thought I was charging too much. When in reality I wasn’t charging nearly enough. It almost ended my business. At that moment everything Chris said came rushing back to me.

I found myself in the Now What moment! Tough decisions had to be made. Thankfully I had really great people like Jennifer and Kyle Van Deusen around me. Jennifer gave me the tough love and process. While Kyle and The Table gave me the direction to pivot my business. I was able to pivot my business and identify where I could switch from being good to great. Get back to what I love to do and where I can make the biggest impact.

 

How to avoid Now What Marketing

There are several ways a business owner can avoid ‘Now What’ marketing. The general concept is to not put all your hopes into risky strategies that may or may not pan out. As a new or early-stage business, you have to identify what works for you before you go all in on the strategy. The other way to avoid Now What marketing is to seek out the experts that have done it before you. Not the book smart but the hands-on experience experts. The ones that can explain things in a way that you understand. Ways that you feel confident and comfortable with their recommendations.

As a marketing strategist with 30+ years under my belt. I can tell you that this is not something that is reserved for new and early-stage businesses. There are established brands that still struggle with the issue. I’ve shared my story and have countless others to reference.

The difference is that they have deeper pockets and are more established. If/when they miss on a marketing strategy. They still have more than enough runway to make adjustments. And still have takeoff with the next strategy.

Small to mid-size businesses don’t always have that much room for grace or mistakes. Hit or miss can mean dipping into savings. Running the risk of becoming one of the 20% of businesses that fail in the first year> Nearly 50% that fail in the first 5 years (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021)

One of the things that I suggest as part of my Profitable Business Framework is to test out strategies. Running multiple strategies with smaller investments to gain insights. Gaining learnings from the results. By working in smaller increments and phases. It allows room to ramp up on what’s working and phase out what’s not working.

The purpose of this method is to gauge what’s going to get you the best ROI. All while mitigating risks. It creates good habits and fundamentals in marketing and brand building. Providing insights into target audiences, ideal customers, and the ability to forecast sales.

 

How to address ‘Now What’ Marketing

If you’re like most of the businesses that I encounter in Now What mode. You’ve invested the better part of your budget, your time, and your patience into strategies. Typically, it’s paid advertising because that’s what people said you should do…

Paid advertising makes sense when you know who your target audience is and where to find them. It makes sense when you have a clear sense of how much you’re willing to pay per customer. CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) is a question. This a question that you should be willing to answer when thinking about paid advertising. It speaks to knowing what you’re willing to do to secure the business.

When looking for wins on a budget that can help get a business owner out of a hole. Borrowing an audience is a solid strategy. What form depends on the budget and who they have helping them. Helping them recover from the misguided attempt to turn a profit.

I recently had this conversation with a client. My recommendations are based on his audience and budget Sponsor newsletters and podcasts. He has a niche audience and is a new business owner. His goal is to remain behind the scenes and not in the forefront. Leaving him with more business strategy options than brand strategy.

Business strategy is based on people investing in the offer, service, and or product. As opposed to a brand strategy where they’d be investing in the person and the perception. Giving them someone that they can relate to personally. People buy from people they know, like, and trust. They may not know you but by leaning into the brand perception. They can infer some things and base their likes and trust on their own experiences.

When going with a brand strategy. The recommendation is to get out in front of the audience and promote your brand journey. Speaking to why it should matter to the target audience. Provided you’re able to back up your brand perception with results. It can be a helpful strategy. Think of it as more of a performance than a presentation. More long-term than short but you can gain some quick wins. When it’s the right audience the messaging resonates.

 

How to find the right partners to avoid Now What Marketing

You’ve taken the first and one of the most important steps in avoiding Now What Marketing. You’re acknowledging there are things that you don’t know. The next and equally important step is in finding the right partners who can fill in the blanks for you.

You’ll hear me say partner a lot and it’s because I truly believe it’s a partnership. But, it is not a 50/50 partnership. In the end, the responsibility is and will remain on the business owner’s shoulders. They must be prepared to execute the strategies and be coachable.

I can’t tell you how many people get as far as finding the right partner and then fall short. Fall short because they found someone that cared. But decided to transfer the responsibility over to their partner. The project(s) can’t mean more to the person that you’re bringing in to help you than to you. At the end of the day, if it fails, you’re the one that will hurt the most.

Finding the right partner is going beyond opinion shopping. Opinion shopping is the practice of going around asking everyone the same questions. Until you hear the one that matches what you already believe. Essentially finding someone that will co-sign on what you want to do. Rather than finding someone that will provide substantial recommendations. Recommendations that you may not want to hear but that get you to your goals.

More often than not a solid partner is someone that knows where you are in your journey. Simply by the questions that you ask. They can share your journey to that point in a disturbing level of clarity. They can also share a prediction story of what may happen if you continue down that path.

They’re not Kreskin, a mentalist, or a mind reader. They’re basing it on experience. FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) and knowing the path that you’re on and the goals you want to achieve. There are some that will have a track record that they can lay out in front of you. Case studies and testimonials that show they’ve delivered proven results. Others may not have the resume but they do have the knowledge. They may be earlier in their business journey. Which in some cases is why they’re more affordable than the pricier known option.

The further you are along in your journey the more options you’ll have when seeking out a partner or a coach. It will also affect the price quoted to you for projects. It can be more of an undertaking partnering with a business that is new or early stage. Which affects the price and who’s willing to take on the project.

The thing that I stress is that it is an investment in yourself and your business. One that when handled properly you can file as a business expense. Allowing you to recoup some of that investment. Circling back, you can pay the original price or you can pay the Now What price.  Personally, I prefer the original. It saves time, effort, and heartache.

Majority Media Services for addressing Now What Marketing

As an agency Majority Media performs business model evaluations and brand clarity assessments. They serve as the entry point. The Profitable Business Framework & The High-Quality Audience Framework.

The Profitable Business Framework. Designed for businesses looking to move past the friends and family sales stage. Ready to build out legitimate target audiences and business practices. Moving from side hustle to credible full-time business.

The High-Quality Audience Framework. Designed for businesses that are looking to target high-quality audiences that grow their revenue and share of voice in their niche. Marketing-focused strategies that bring in engaged ideal audience segments. Converting prospects into brand champions. Overcoming churn and instability. Businesses with a goal of increasing retention and ROI on marketing budgets. Via more targeted strategic marketing method.

Book a free consultation to learn more about the services. Let’s see if I’m a good fit to help you accomplish your business goals and guide your success.

About Sean Atkinson