Marketing Mimics Life

Clichés. We've all heard them...and hear some of them so often that we categorize them as tired, stale old sayings. But, the fact is, particularly in both life and in small business marketing, that there is a validated truth in these commonly applicable and very popular clichés.

So, just HOW does marketing mimic life? How do the clichés that are true in life itself pertain to marketing your small business?

Here are six clichés showing how the same truisms that resonate in life also resonate in marketing your small business.

Cliché Number 1: You NEVER get a second chance to make a first impression.

There's NEVER been a more truthful saying-whether it has to do with life or marketing. Your image is absolutely EVERYTHING. If you begin with a bad first impression, then prospects will, most likely, always see you that way.

Case in point: Remember the kid in your class whose mom wore a bathrobe and curlers in her hair when she dropped him off at school? Remember? How can you ever forget her? It doesn't matter whose mom she was, where you saw her, or if she was the PTA president. Whenever you saw that lady, you had a flashback of that fuzzy pink robe and all those hair curlers.

Or, maybe you've called a business owner needing their product or service, but were met with a spacey or completely-out-of-it if they didn't have a clue what the hairball they were doing.

What was your impression of them? Did you feel confident giving them your business? Did you trust them enough to make a purchase or did you physically turn and run out the door?

Guess what? They don't get another chance to remedy that very bad first impression. In fact, it's probably the very LAST place you'd ever go again.

This is EXACTLY how it works with your small business image. It's that first impression that people remember indefinitely.

What does your image say about you?

Does it reflect you as professional? Does it say that you're an expert in your industry? Or, does it say that you're simply thrown-together and don't care enough to worry about how potential clients see you?

Remember, image is EVERYTHING.

And, it's only your best face forward that brands you in a positive light. Make CERTAIN that you aren't presenting a bathrobe and hair curlers type, a spacey out-of-it type or any other type of poor image within your marketplace.

Even if you were only exposed to these people once, you still remember them today...and the first impression you provide is how your prospects will always see you.

Cliché Number 2: Life is a marathon, not a sprint.

Athletes in training for a long race all have one thing in common...that being their pace. They train with endurance in mind. This gives them the competitive edge to literally go the distance.

Consider six-time Tour de France Champion Lance Armstrong. What gives him the edge? Truth is-he earns the edge through his commitment to endurance. Your commitment to endurance is EXACTLY what gives you the competitive edge in marketing your small business.

Your marketing efforts MUST be continual and MUST be paced. You MUST get into the mindset that marketing takes time and does not happen overnight.

Are you marketing on a regular and consistent basis? Are you committed to being in business for the long haul? Or, will you drop out of the game if you don't get instant gratification?

Marketing your business continually and effectively-over a long period of time-attracts more customers and earns you a competitive edge.

You can be a leader within your industry or area of expertise if you commit to endurance, which will gain you more business if you pace yourself and enter the race for the long haul, not a quick buck.

Cliché Number 3: If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.

Albert Einstein documented at least 10,000 failures individual failures during his career. 10,000 failures? That's a pretty high number...yet, we would NEVER characterize Einstein a failure. Yes, he failed all right-failed his way right to success.

That's the deal in marketing your small HAVE to stick with it.

Although you won't hit a home run every time you step up to bat, you've got to perfect your swing-tweak it-and keep trying. The same is true whether you're marketing via direct mail or selling face-to-face.

Notice I mentioned that Einstein documented his failures. He realized the value of noting his failures so that he could learn from them and so should you.

You MUST pay attention to what works and what doesn't work. And then, you MUST be willing to redirect your efforts.

Above all, you MUST keep trying.

If you don't take notice of what works and what doesn't. If you aren't willing to redirect your efforts. If you don't keep trying. You'll just fail, but never learn anything to attain success in the marketing of your small business.

Cliché Number 4: Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto.

Just when it seemed that the Lone Ranger was at the end of his rope, his trusted comrade Tonto helped him save the day. If you think for a bit, you'll recall that the Lone Ranger even sought the assistance of his mighty stallion Silver.

Did the masked hero ever say, "No thanks, Tonto...I'll just hang out here over this raging river until my arms are so tired that I drop." Or "Run along, Silver. Just leave me here tied to this tree."? Absolutely not, he was smart enough to know that he couldn't do everything himself.

This is EXACTLY how it works in your small business.

Do you do everything yourself instead of hiring other professionals to help you succeed? If so, you are leaving yourself out there hanging over your own raging river with your arms growing tired. Do you actually like being tied to your own tree that has you immobilized? Probably not. So, enough with doing it all alone.

Get help. Accept the reality that you can't do everything yourself. Hire professionals to help you. By hiring professional help, you free up time to do what you do best, which is working with your existing clients. You'll actually make more money helping you reach greater success with your small business.

High-ho Silver!

Cliché Number 5: There are no free lunches.

EVERTYTHING has a price. Period. While your marketing budget may be limited in the early stages of your business, you simply can't afford to scrimp. In marketing your small business, you're going to have to spend money to make money.

You want to hire a professional with the expertise and experience to produce successful marketing materials for your small business. Sure, "professionals" with no experience or very little experience are cheaper to hire. But, it will cost you TONS in the long can bank on that.

Can you afford the high price of poorly designed marketing materials? Can you afford the cost of an amateurish logo or brochures that look like the 13 year old down the block designed them? NO WAY! Wanting a free lunch will end up costing you your image, your prospects' trust and your business its professionalism. This is certainly a price you can't afford to pay.

If your marketing budget is too minimal to hire a professional, then reprioritize it. I'm not talking about spending yourself out of business, but you must set aside funds for a professional.

Make this a high priority. You're undermining your own efforts when you expect to grow your business continually using cheap means of marketing. It simply won't happen.

There are no free lunches.

Cliché Number 6: You ALWAYS get what you pay for.

Two keys here: Practicality and professionalism.

First, you HAVE to accept that there's a cost for professional quality marketing materials. Don't believe me? See Cliché Number 5. After all, a true professional isn't a graphic designer who only designs for a hobby or a side job; this is how they earn their living.

This doesn't mean that you should expect to be gouged when it comes to pricing, but that you should expect to pay a competitive rate for graphic design services.

Do you want your marketing materials to say that you're the cheapest? "Hey look everyone...look at how much money I saved..." Or, do you want your materials to say that you're the BEST at what you do?

Here, the choice should be obvious.

Secondly, by hiring a professional graphic designer to create marketing materials for your small business, you'll get professional work. On the other hand, if you hire an amateur you'll get the work of an amateur.

Consider the benefits of hiring a professional versus what you'll get if you hire an amateur.

The professional graphic designer knows your target audience, which marketing avenue is right for your industry or area of expertise, and has experience in working with that type of marketing avenue. Amateurs don't.

Professionals know their success rates with clients who've face the same challenges as you in marketing their small businesses. Amateur's don't know their success rates or EVEN IF they have a rate of success with clients like you.

Speaking candidly, since amateurs don't pay their mortgages based on being a graphic designer, they usually aren't all that concerned with their success rates. They're usually more concerned with designing something that looks cool.

Amateurs can't tell you what you'll get for your money, when you'll get it and whether or not they can work within your budget. Professionals CAN and WILL tell you exactly what they'll deliver, when they'll deliver it AND how much it will cost you.

Professionals always have authentic references while amateurs, rarely if ever, can supply them. Authentic references-the names and contact information for other business owners the graphic designer has worked for-not just names and cell phone numbers for friends who like their work.

Remember, you ALWAYS get what you pay for.

Invest only in a PROFESSIONAL to help you market your small business. You'll get the premium quality results that ONLY a professional can deliver.

It's amazing just how accurately marketing DOES imitate life.

Put some vested thought into these relevant clichés. You'll see just how applicable they are in helping you market your small business effectively so that you can grow your business successfully.

Jeanna Pool is President of CATALYST creative, inc., an award-winning graphic design, web design and marketing firm located in Denver, Colorado. She helps small business owners who are really good at what they do, but struggle to market their services effectively to attract more clients on a consistent basis. She can be contacted at or call 303.380.9100.

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