21 Ways to Know When to Get Professional Marketing Help

Celebrities and rehab.

How many times have you heard those two words used together?

News about celebrities entering or leaving rehab has almost become a daily occurrence these days. And whether it’s for alcohol, drugs, sex, painkillers, or some other addiction, each of those celebrities you hear about in the news have one thing in common.

They reached a point where they realized they needed help.

They might have been warned by a doctor, got arrested, had someone stage an intervention, or realized on their own they were out of control. But regardless of how they reached that point, they all accepted the fact they needed help.

Outside help. Professional help.

Many entrepreneurs are in a similar situation with their marketing.

I’ll be honest; there have been times when I desperately wanted to stage a marketing intervention with a business owner who was completely oblivious to how bad their marketing was.

Can’t see the forest for the trees…

Most business owners, don’t start out with a plan that includes “make sure my marketing is as awful as possible.”

Yet in the process of dealing with the daily operations of their business, many entrepreneurs lose sight of where they need to take their marketing in order to cultivate success.

So how do you know when to call for outside, professional help to get you back on track?

How to know when your approach to marketing needs rehab…

Below is a list of some of the most common red flags that indicate your marketing is in need of rehab.

1. You find yourself approving things as “good enough.”
Anytime you’re willing to accept less than your best, your business will suffer. The same is true with your marketing. When you allow yourself to settle for sub-par marketing, you’re sabotaging your results. Put your best effort into your marketing if you want to get the results you desire.

2. You have no interest in marketing.
Running a business requires that you sell something to make money. It takes effective marketing to accomplish that goal. If you ignore your own marketing because you have no interest in it, you’re making it easier for your competition to outshine you in the eyes of your audience, and making it harder for your audience to find you.

3. You think word-of-mouth referrals are all you need.
Word-of-mouth is a powerful form of advertising. But relying referrals alone as your marketing strategy is a double-edged sword. There’s a natural cycle to referrals. Sometimes they’re up, other times they’re down. Relying only on referrals for your marketing will result in a “feast or famine” cycle as your sales mirrors that rate of your referrals.

Adding other forms of marketing to the mix helps even out those peaks and valleys, by keeping your sales more consistent.

4. Coming up with marketing ideas is a struggle for you.
Let’s face it, not everyone is good at being creative – and that’s okay. But if you’re the type of person that struggles to come up with marketing ideas, don’t just ignore the problem. Get some help.

Finding someone who can help you with your marketing will do two things for you. First, it takes that creative burden off your shoulders so you can focus on what you do best. And second, it improves your marketing by getting an unbiased, third-party involved (more on this in point #6).

5. You’re not sure who to market to.
Some people have a really difficult time identifying their true customer. Sometimes it’s because what they offer is so unique it’s hard to figure out who would want it. But most of the time it’s because they haven’t done the research necessary to understand their market.

When you try to market yourself to everyone, you waste a lot of time and money attracting very few people. If you want your marketing to get results, know who you’re going to market to – or have someone help you identify your audience.

6. You have trouble being objective.
Ever heard the saying “can’t see the forest for the trees?” If so, the feeling of being too close to the situation to be able to see it objectively is probably something you’re familiar with.

What you sell, the value you offer, and what makes you unique are all seen differently by you than they are by your customers. Sometimes it takes the insight of an unbiased, third-party to help you see what you offer through the eyes of your audience so you can attract more of them.

7. You’re wishy-washy.
I once worked with a client who couldn’t make up their mind about a project. They’d ask me to take something out and send them a new proof, then return the proof asking me to put it back in. The result was a project that took much longer than it should have, and cost much more than usual.

Not being able to make decisions results in marketing that never gets done on time, and is always over budget.

8. You’re afraid of spending money.
I’ve talked with people who knew with 100% assurance that their customer was going to be at a specific event, or reading a specific website, yet were scared to death to spend any money to advertise there.

Without exception, their concern was “but what if I don’t get any results?

If you’ve identified a place your customers hang out and are 100% sure they’re going to be there, you need to be there too. It’s important to place yourself where your audience is so you’ll get the most exposure for the least cost. And putting effort into the marketing you place there, (based on research you’ve done) will virtually guarantee you’ll get results.

9. You always have to be right.
Every marketing consultant has had at least one client who hired him or her for their advice and expertise, then wouldn’t listen to a single recommendation they made.

Most of the time it’s either from their fear of the unknown, or their belief they know more than the person they hired for their expertise.

If you let your ego get in the way of making decisions that will help you move forward, you’ll find yourself slowly sliding backward as the world around you leaves you behind. Remember, the ability to adapt is a key difference between those who are successful and those who fail.

10. You’re uncomfortable with technology.
More and more, marketing is going digital. So if you’re uncomfortable around computers and technology, you’re already at a disadvantage.

As more and more people start using Internet marketing, social media, and mobile advertising to promote themselves, those who choose to avoid these types of marketing due to their fear of technology will find themselves increasingly irrelevant in the eyes of their customers.

11. You only do one type of marketing.
Putting all your eggs in one basket is never a good idea – especially in marketing. You need a well-rounded, balanced marketing plan if you want to get results.

12. You think you always have to be selling.
Marketing isn’t just about selling you. You also need to consider things like “goodwill,” relationship building, and customer service. If all you ever do or talk about is what you’re selling, you’ll scare people away rather than draw them to you.

Following the old advice “always be selling” will make you look pushy, and cause people to see you as cold or mechanical.

13. You insist that age = experience.
Many people who have been in business a while, are uncomfortable with technology, or are over the age of 50 fail to recognize that age has no bearing on experience.

Many of the younger generation have grown up using computers, iPads, and smart phones. They’re never experienced life without the Internet. For example, I have a nephew who has been able to easily use an iPad since the age of 2. So in many respects, they’re level of experience in those areas far exceeds your own.

Since marketing is becoming more and more digital, utilizing the skills of the younger generation is critical to your success.

14. You’re too busy.
This is a common excuse among business owners: “I’m just too busy with running my business to do my own marketing.” In fact, I’ve fallen into that trap myself from time to time.

Using client work as an excuse not to do your own marketing inevitably leaves you scrambling to find more customers, because eventually the client work will taper off. Many freelancers know this as the “feast or famine” cycle, and it’s easy to avoid if you schedule time into your workflow to do your own marketing the same way you would for an important meeting.

15. You try to duplicate what someone else did.
Everyone has mentors and experts they look up to and try to learn from. But trying to exactly duplicate what made those people successful is a good way to set yourself up for failure. The marketing plan that was perfect for their circumstances may be a bad fit for your situation.

Instead of trying to copy what one of them did verbatim, take the lessons you learn from each of them and selectively apply a mix of them to your situation based on what works for YOU.

16. You think of marketing in linear terms.
I talk to a lot of clients who think of marketing as a straight line. For example, they put a lot of focus into optimizing the home page of their site, thinking that anyone who comes to their site will see the home page first.

The reality is you never know what aspect of your marketing your audience will see first. They may see one of your website’s product pages first, or maybe one of their friends sent them an eBook you wrote, or perhaps the first contact they have with you is through Facebook.

You need to think of your marketing like a circular room with many doors. You never know which “door” someone will come through first. That’s why having a consistent brand is so important.

17. You don’t track your marketing.
You spend lots of time, money and effort to reach your customers. How do you know what’s working and what isn’t? Do you have a system in place to separate the effective marketing efforts from the ones that are a complete waste of time and money?

18. You think of marketing as advertising and promotion only.
Marketing isn’t just selling. It’s not just advertising and promotion either. Marketing involves a wide range of topics that include product development, pricing, sales, promotions, and advertising just to name a few. If you limit your view of marketing to advertising alone, you’ll only experience limited success.

19. You have no idea what makes you any different than your competition.
Some people call this your USP or “unique selling proposition.” Others call it your “value proposition.” But regardless of what name you give it, you need to know, (and be able to communicate) what sets you apart from everyone else in your niche.

20. You think exceptional quality, excellent service, and having the lowest price in town are your main selling points.

EVERY business owner says this about their business. Every. Last. One.

Basing all your marketing on “quality product,” or “outstanding service” only makes you blend in with the mob of people shouting the same thing. And contrary to popular belief, these are not the reasons people buy from you. Your customers are looking for someone who can solve their problem, not another person who claims to be the best.

21. You keep doing the same things expecting different results.
There’s a saying that goes something like this:

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting to get a different result.”

Adaptability is important to your success. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things. And most importantly, don’t let your fear of change or the unknown stop you from taking action your gut instinct are telling you to take.

Is it time for an intervention?

So there you have it, 21 ways to know whether or not your marketing needs an intervention.

The question is, what are you going to do about it?

If you see yourself in any of the points I make above, maybe it’s time to reach out for some professional help to get your marketing back on track.

Hey, even I ask my colleagues for critiques now and then to keep myself on track – even though I’m a marketing consultant. Why? Because like I say above, sometimes you need an unbiased, outside opinion to gain the right perspective – especially when you’re too close to the problem, or too emotionally involved to be objective.

About Edward

Edward is the Owner & Creative Director of Bear River Art Studio, and an international award-winning artist. He also happens to be in love with Northern Michigan. Maybe that's because he spent his summers up here as a kid. Or maybe he's just nuts about being surrounded by the natural beauty of Northern Michigan. And when Edward isn't in the office creating impactful marketing for our clients, you'll usually find him running all over Northern Michigan with his camera in hand, taking pictures of his favorite place on earth.