As a long-time marketing professional, it amazes me how most small businesses neglect marketing. Just as you are an expert in your field, marketing professionals have insights and experiences that are highly specialized. They recognize problems that others are oblivious to, they see the cause and effect of things that might not seem important to others.
I need the services of a lawyer to cut through some red tape with the county, and I intentionally chose a local law firm that was on Page 2 of Google’s local search results, because I thought maybe I could help them get to Page 1 after using their services. I was actually shocked when I got to their office, and nearly turned around before entering their office.
First bad sign, was literally, a bad sign. The sign above the door says Bankruptcy. Had I known that, I never would have chosen them because I don’t want to be seen by other business owners walking into a bankruptcy office. I decided it wasn’t that important, and perhaps I will have an opportunity to recommend a change, if the opportunity arises.
Next, I stepped up to the receptionist’s desk, and immediately noticed that one of the paintings on either side of the big clock on the wall behind her is crooked. This is the very first thing a person sees when they enter the office for the first time. A large clock, and two paintings positioned symmetrically on either side. It is an interior design feature that evokes assurance and control. When one painting is crooked, the effect is ruined.
While waiting at the receptionist’s desk, I notice the business cards for the people working in the office are laser printed on perforated card stock. When you can buy great business cards for next to nothing, why go this route? It suggests that the business hasn’t been around very long or is running on a shoestring budget.
Marketing consultants notice all of the things that create both positive and negative customer impressions. Business owners might not consider these things important, but they absolutely make a difference. What is the value of one referral? Can signage or a cheap business card cost a referral? You bet!
The problem is that as a business owner, you may not know how much it is costing you, because these are lost opportunities, not returned purchases. Quantifying the action not taken is difficult. This is where you need to trust the advice given to you, or consider the lifetime value of a customer against the cost of your marketing spend.
How to invest your marketing budget is going to be different for every business. Just remember that first impressions can also be last impressions. Start by making your first impression a winning impression. A marketing consultant can help you with that.