I’m often asked by entrepreneurs, or challenged by clients, to answer “how aggressive should my marketing be?” I find this to be an interesting question, and one that has just one simple answer.
If you’re an entrepreneur who sells a product or service, you may have started your business due to a pain in your life. That pain may have been a real pain, like needing to protect your child, or something less tangible, like wanting a better scheduling tool.
There was a moment in your life when you said “The world needs what I offer!”
If you’re selling a tangible product, you had to go through sourcing, design and initial iterations. You had to get your hands on the product; touch it… feel it. Then you went back for another round of upgrades and additions.
If you’re selling a digital product or a service, you knew that there was a need in the market and you intended to fill it. You pulled together pricing sheets; tied in a digital shopping cart. You hired a web designer or did it all yourself.
No matter the type of business you created, you did it for a reason. Either you had felt a level of pain without it, or you perceived others had.
I learned long ago that the most successful businesses are pain killers and not vitamins.
With that pain understood, you worked ardently. Maybe you worked moonlight hours and bought your startup to market after the kids were in bed. Maybe, like me, you just lived on as little as possible in order to maximize your risk runway and you tested and tested and tested.
There was a drive that pushed you. A problem that needed solving. A mission you were set on.
It’s not difficult to be an entrepreneur and to say “I’m going to stay up all night and see if I can get this shopping cart integrated.” Or to say “I think selling my car to finance the development of the website is the right move here.”
We make these decisions in our business because we believe in what we’re doing. We’re going to give it our all, and damn it, it’s going to work.
This mission is noble and just. Our spouses, partners or parents can see our steadfast dedication to our work.
But when it comes to marketing, everyone wipes the war paint off their face and second guesses themselves.
This second-guessing is probably just the fear of public humiliation or maybe just cowardice. Whatever you want to label it, it’s stopping you from fulfilling your greatness. Your timidness in marketing is your Achilles Heel.
To bluntly answer the question of “How aggressive should my marketing be?”, we first must ask “How much do I believe what I am selling will help someone?”
What are you selling? Ask yourself what the direct benefit to your customer is when you sell them successfully.
When our tech implementation team sells custom integration and we know our solution is the only right solution the customer is going to find, we fight hard for the sale. We pull out all the stops. We provide the highest level of detail in our proposals, we list the direct benefits and impact to their business. We discuss on calls what the personal impact would be of the reduced complexity and added revenue. We try to hit every single button we can to ensure the client sees that going with us isn’t just an option, but that it’s the only option if they want the outcomes they’re looking for.
Yes, other development companies do good work; our programmers aren’t the only top notch programmers online. But our entire package, with strategy and focus on the growth of the business’s revenue and decrease in the technological complexity does more than just get the job done. We are actively partnering with our clients to transform the way they operate.
About 18 months ago, a client came to me and said they were going to invest tens of thousands of dollars into a new funnel strategy. I met with them to learn more and within the first 15 minutes, I could see that what was being proposed was the wrong direction. There’s no way around it; the new proposed strategy was too complex, it required too many unnecessary additions to the businesses and likely wouldn’t work.
Here’s where I got aggressive… I laid out why it wouldn’t work. I encouraged the client to challenge their potential vendor and to get case studies. I pleaded to the client to look at these other routes to grow their business. My ideas weren’t as new and shiny, but they were time-tested and guaranteed to work.
Ultimately, I was unable to sway the client. Despite my valiant effort, multitude of calls and long emails, I wasn’t able to convince the client to see things as I saw them.
Fast forward 12 months and they apologized to me for not listening — and then thanked me for my effort in trying to stop them. It took a full year for them to see that my insights were correct and they had made a big mistake. Their new venture was just a cost, with no benefit to the business. No ROI from their year of work.
Since then, our relationship has never been stronger. Their trust in me, for standing up and actively pushing them away from something dangerous and costly, built my credibility.
Why did I fight so long and hard? Because I believe in my client’s product to change lives. When they were thinking of spending tens of thousands of dollars on a new strategy, plus untold hours from the chief entrepreneur, I knew that they would not be maximizing their potential. I knew that would-be customers would not get to experience their program.
It’s this steadfast belief in my client’s work that made me fight. It made me aggressive. And it made me win their trust, for life.
To the question of “how aggressive should my marketing be?”, the answer is in reflection to how much you believe in what you and your clients do. If you really believe that you have a solution that will save hours or days or weeks of time… that you will do more good in the world by selling your product, be aggressive.
Take off the kid gloves. Go for the jugular. Be direct. Work your ass off.
You wouldn’t compromise the quality of your deliverable. You shouldn’t compromise the aggressiveness of how you sell it, either.
One of my favorite lines on this topic was told to me at a 10-day meditation retreat in Italy. On the last day, as we broke our vow of silence, Greg, one of the only English speaking instructors, said to me:
“What force would you use to stop a child from touching a hot stove?”
The answer is extreme force. You’d do whatever was necessary.
So let me ask you….