Dear business owner

I have bad news.

When it comes to marketing, most of you are on the wrong end of the 80/20 rule. Here’s how I know.

In the last two years, while growing my blog writing service, BlogWorks, I have interviewed over 300 business owners about their marketing strategies. Close to 200 have become clients.

Here is my conclusion.

Most of what you think is important is not. Conversely, very little of your marketing is making a difference. Again, you are on the wrong end of the 80/20 rule.

Here’s what I’m talking about:

  • Constantly checking Facebook, hoping someone “liked” your post, or commenting on a tweet, thinking that you will be considered a thought leader.
  • Updating Instagram with your latest workout, meal, hairstyle, hike, selfie, or outfit for your Shih Tzu.
  • Spending thousands of dollars (not to mention months of effort) updating your website, hoping the search engine gods will finally open the traffic gates in your direction.
  • And then there is that unopened $250 Amazon lighting kit you ordered, thinking it will inspire you to (finally) start a YouTube channel.

Listen, I’m not trying to make you feel bad (not entirely true)—I just want to get your attention before I offer an alternative.

The good news is that with a small change in focus, and by actually doing less, you will land more fish and have to go fishing a lot less.

The good news is with a small change in focus and by actually doing less, you will land more fish and have to go fishing a lot less. Click To Tweet
But, before we get to that, a little history about how we got here.

A little history

When the world was a much smaller place, we typed letters to clients on IBM Selectrics and used whiteout to correct mistakes (if you think I’m making this up, here’s a picture.)

Small business owners had a mere handful of ways to promote their business and build a following.

Fast forward through the birth of the Internet, the explosion of social media, and many nefarious advancements in social psychology, and we have a whole new world of marketing.

It seems every month; there is a new scheme for getting business through your door or into your online world. And there are just as many enthusiastic “experts” willing (for a hefty price) to show you how they magically went from nothing to riches and how you can as well.

I know because I’ve tried many of them.

My story

I was growing my speaking, and corporate training business as the online world of marketing was born.

I built my speaking business by becoming a thought leader in productivity and time management. I wrote a book about it and enjoyed two decades of full calendars.

I turned my knowledge of the speaking business into live workshops teaching people how to build their own speaking business. I turned that success into an online course that would sell out in less than a month, twice a year.

Blogging and email marketing was my primary source of new business.

I turned my knowledge of blogging into a blog writing service based on a productizing model with subscription sales and built that to a team of 8 writers with a small client management team.

Along the way, I’ve made loads of mistakes, lost money I couldn’t afford, and wasted precious time and energy on schemes that went nowhere.

So, let’s talk about what does work.

The first rule

If you have a retail store, I can’t help you.

If you are building an online presence, this will help.

The number one step with any marketing is to know who you want to speak with. It’s not about numbers; it’s about having the right conversations with the right people.

After all, you can’t pay bills with Facebook likes or Instagram followers.

You can’t pay bills with Facebook likes or Instagram followers. Click To Tweet

Once you know who your audience is, your job is to get their attention, solve a problem for them and invite them into your circle.

Have the conversation

Dear small business owner please stop wasting your time

Imagine you just arrived at a conference (remember when we used to go to conferences?) and it’s noisy.

Everyone is standing—on the move.

People are loudly catching up with friends; others are aimlessly checking out the trade show booths – some are heading to the workshop rooms.

You spot a topic you’re interested in – maybe it’s outsourcing, or sales funnels, or closing a sale – so you follow a small group into the room.

The speaker seems to know exactly what you need, offers a simple solution, and wants to help you move forward.

That is content marketing.

Content marketing in action

In our crazy, distracted, nanosecond-synapsed online world of persuasion, content wins.

Valuable content makes people stop and pay attention.

Instead of spending months and thousands of dollars updating your website, create better content.

Instead of wasting hours every week begging for followers on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, make them come to you.

Instead of stumbling through another video, thinking you’ll be the next Vanerchuk, Lenarduzzi, or Neistad, write good shit.

Success online is not about millions of views. Who cares how many views your stuff gets if they don’t buy?

Success online is all about attracting the right audience, solving a problem only you can solve in your unique way, and getting a sale.

So, dear business owner, please stop chasing likes.
In the end, nobody cares, and you’ll go broke.

What to do instead

The world is hungry for thought leaders. People with a unique voice who solve problems.

Suppose you are an ace at video, or writing, or podcasting, great. The medium is not the solution.

Your voice is.

Step one to content marketing is to stop doing anything with a low (or doubtful) ROI. This is easier than you might think (if you don’t believe me, what this classic Bob Newhart skit).

Recently, I was dog walking with a friend who is building a counselling business. As happens to all of us, the social media sirens have come calling, and he wants to start a podcast.

Years ago, I went down that rabbit hole, bought a mixing board, interviewed top marketers, and recorded weekly shows. It took me (slow learner) a full year to realize how insanely hard it is to turn a podcast into revenue.

I reminded my friend that not only does he have four children under the age of 13, a wife who works full-time, but he also has a new business that needs his full attention.

The likelihood that a new podcast will return a better ROI than, say: growing his email list, asking for referrals, joining a business networking group, or speaking at the local chamber is less than nil.

The mistake I see business owners making is confusing what they want to do because it’s fun or challenging and what they need to do to pay the bills.

If you want to make videos because you’re good at it, great. If you want to spend time on Tik Tok because (sorry, I can’t think of a valid reason), go for it.

But, if you want to make money online, you need to stop doing what doesn’t have an ROI and focus on the one or two things that do.

If you want to make money online, you need to stop doing what doesn’t have an ROI and focus on the one or two things that do. Click To Tweet

Making money

I don’t do Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tik Tok, YouTube, or anything else that will be invented in my lifetime (I do have a team member share my blog on some sites.)

Yes, I’m sure I’m missing out. Poor me.

Instead, I publish my blog and build relationships on LinkedIn. It seems to work.

In the last four months, I doubled my MRR (Monthly Recurring Revenue) and worked less than 15 hours a week.

Don’t get me wrong—I didn’t come to this strategy without some pain.

For example, I’ve hired the experts and burned through an embarrassing amount of money chasing followers on Facebook.

You can’t run a business if you don’t make money. You also can’t support your family, save for the future, or donate to your local food bank.

If you have a small business, you need to learn (as quickly as possible) what works and do more of it, and stop doing what doesn’t.

It’s that simple.

Enjoyed this rant? Here are 3 more of my most popular articles to help grow your online business.

5 Simple Solutions For The Overwhelmed Person
How to (finally) make money with your blog
5 Business Blind Spots That Could Be Holding You Back

Image: Andy Beales on Unsplash
Conference: Product School on Unsplash