When your marketing effort means whether your business survives or not
It is a bad business move and what follows from there, is further bad business decisions.
Some businesses survive on the smell of an oily rag and that can't be a good feeling. Many of these businesses have been doing the same thing over and over again, yet they expect a different outcome.
When they reach out to a marketing company expecting miracles and don't get them, they often sit there not only wondering why, but also blaming everyone but themselves.
As an entrepreneur, I have gone through a lot. I know that when I started my first business I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, other than my craft which is marketing. I had no idea how to 'service' clients, pre-empt what they were thinking or what they expected in return for their investment in marketing. I remember a company once paying $5,000 for a press release, and relevant distribution and pitching from my agency, and receiving more than 20 stories (the old fashion way - not blogs but in the media), and feeling like they should have had more return on investment.
I dumped them as a client immediately. I was gobsmacked at their expectations, particularly given that they were a completely unknown brand, with no noteworthy people behind the brand. It really was a case of me finding an angle that was newsworthy.
But the lesson there was not only to the client, who never had another story published, but was also to me. Manage expectations upfront, and if someone's expectations are not in line with reality or with your business, then don't take them on.
We all know how much 20 stories means to a businesses exposure, but what it can also do is go straight to the head (and ego) of the person that is being written about. PR is not real. It is news that is the mastermind of the PR person, who has the power or the angle to get a journalist to write about it.
When a company rings our office as their 'last chance dance' and if in some way I intercept it, I always say no. We cannot help someone who doesn't realise that it isn't just marketing that is making them fail, it is probably a host of things.
My exception to this rule is rural and regional companies - as they are my passion and less exposed to learning how to run businesses successfully and finding good mentors to help you get to where you want to be.
The reality is that no business person who starts their first business knows everything. You quite simply, learn on the job. You have to be brave enough to take risks, to learn new things, be corrected by those who know more and have had experience, and also to trust your gut instinct. Sometimes even those who have worked for many years successfully in business don't have all the answers, and perhaps you are the one person or business, that is different to all the rest that they have experienced.
Marketing should never be your last port of call. The thing you invest in after everything else didn't work, or meet your expectations. When you write a business plan, put the same effort into marketing as you would have put into your goals, product/service, finances, and human capital. Don't get some friend of a friend who fancies themselves in marketing, or your kid who is studying marketing at University to write those few paragraphs that you put into your business plan. That is simply setting yourself up for failure.
Be strategic. Plan ahead. Have experienced marketers develop powerful, results-orientated marketing strategies aligned to your business goals. Don't get stuck on what you think is good branding or good advertising, when you have never, ever asked your customers or prospects what makes them tick.
Marketing is not your 'last chance dance', it's the reason you are on the dance floor in the first place.