As an entrepreneur, knowing the right questions to ask at the right time is critical for success. Below, we will discuss the needs of business owners, of all stripes, to learn enough to be dangerous in the modern marketing world.
I state this as many entrepreneurs have a core strength that people are willing to trade money for. That could be accounting services, construction, property management, etc. As they scale their business, they venture further from their core strength. They soon need to decide will they master a new area of business or if they will hire or outsource those functions.
I have found that knowing how to ask a question properly has a profound impact. Asking strategic questions often unveil opportunity that most people don’t see, or it uncovers obstacles that need to be overcome.
Case in point.
Early in my life, my wife and I wanted to buy our first home. We needed some creative financing as we had some past business and school debt. I went to one of Canada’s big banks and they said ‘No Way!” to my situation and what I was looking for. It wasn’t that I was a credit risk, the product I was hoping for didn’t exist at the time. I went to a mortgage broker and they had at least 5 different options. We bought our first house a few months later, a second home a year after that and our third home about 18 months after that.
Further to this, I met with a friend that is a Chartered Accountant. He wanted to get into real estate and he wanted to learn about my journey of buying rental properties. What I found was interesting is I have an MBA, he is a CA and his wife is a lawyer, but none of us in the many years of school we completed had learned how to control assets and have others pay for them.
Let’s bring it to the marketing world now.
I work in marketing all day, work with several clients, and I listen to probably 5 hours of podcast or videos on digital marketing per week and I still don’t know everything. This space is becoming so large and changing so fast that it can be dizzying. There was a time as a marketer that you just needed to know how to write some copy, put some brochures together, design a tradeshow booth and order some schwag. Those days are LONG GONE.
Look at the sheer number of tools available to marketers today!
Ok, so what it the point?
All business owners need to have a solid understanding of modern marketing. Despite their product, service or business model, they need to know at least enough to be dangerous.
“Enough to be dangerous” means that you know enough to make big (potentially dangerous) decisions or actions, but don’t have enough experience to know when such activity is advised and when it should be avoided. Stackexhange.com
In discussions with several business owners lately I have heard some alarming stories:
- One business owner had no access to their Facebook page or a Google Analytics account. The agency they were working with basically had them hostage and they would just send a very basic report each month. Ensure that you ALWAYS have control of your business assets.
- In another case, I pointed out to the owner that they needed to get a Facebook pixel on their site and I explained why they are important. He spoke with the agency and their response was this:
We don’t really see any value in using the Facebook pixel.
I was floored!
I said to the business owner, “Hey, you don’t need to work with me but you need to work with someone else!” A few weeks later that agency commented to him that they “actually saw some interesting results due to the pixel”. No kidding!
Note: If you are not aware of the importance of a Facebook pixel please read this article from Hootsuite.
- In working with another client, they have a very talented web designer but the website was slow. The site was modern, mobile responsive, lots of white space, and easy to navigate. The web developer is one of the most talented I have ever worked with. The site was great in many respects … except it was slow. Once the importance of website speed was explained to the owner, they had the web-designer fix it immediately. The point is that this situation highlights that as an owner or a marketing strategist, we must know how all of the facets of digital marketing work together. I am not suggesting every business owner needs to learn web design, PPC, marketing automation, video production, etc., but we need at least a baseline knowledge of how the digital world works.
- Another common mistake I see is many business owners are outsourcing to agencies that are working with an outdated business model. I run a business so I get why an agency would want ALL of a client’s business. The problem is that may not be in the best interest of the business owner. Especially with the growth of the ‘Gig Economy’, it is easy to bring in technical specialists to bang out something for you with the need for a fancy agency. I also have a hard time believing that an agency can be good at ALL aspects of digital. Unless they are huge – which also comes with a huge price tag – it is too hard to master it all. Can you be a strategist and know how the parts work together? Of course, but actually doing everything is challenging.