Attention ALL Business Owners: Busy-ness Does Not = Busi-ness!

This is dedicated to all the business owners who are too busy to even read this article. Those plagued with guilt whenever they decide to take a step away from the business for any reason, so they never do. Those who confuse being “busy” fighting fires all day with being productive and passionate about what they do. But here’s the thing, taking a step back to work ON your business instead of IN it is not just beneficial, it’s absolutely necessary!

It’s a known fact, especially among business owners, that running a business requires a mental and emotional toughness that very few people possess. In fact, according to Industry Canada roughly 85% of businesses started survive a full year, 70% survive 2 years, and 51% survive for 5 years. With success rates like this it’s no wonder why many business owners think that the only way to be successful is to work harder and harder. The trouble is that working hard actually does work! Question is, for how long? With only so many hours in a day and only one body being pushed to its limits, complete burnout is not just probable, but definite.

In case that whole spiel wasn’t enough to inspire a change, maybe these 6 reasons or benefits are.

1. A Vision

If you don’t take the time to work ON your business, you begin to lose track of what your goal is in the first place. Although you can delegate most other tasks, the end goal or destination and method of travel is always up to the business owner, that’s you! Clearly defining your vision, mission, and values is helpful and definitely worth doing. But more important than that, is figuring out a way incorporate them into your everyday. The reality is that when it comes to their goals most business owners tend to set them and forget them. They get caught up working IN their business and forget about their long-term vision. Another reason goals are lost is because they aren’t authentic to the company or its mission. When a company’s vision, mission, and core values are aligned, incorporating them into the everyday is easy and effortless.

2. A Plan

Unfortunately, the most common plan is no plan at all. Even with the success rates being as low as they are, very few business owners take the time to actually work ON and plan their business. The result is a very reactive approach to business. Putting out fire after fire prevents them from ever being proactive. It also leads to additional costs that come with marketing on the run. Anything produced in a hurry is usually at risk of not being done well and costs more for the rush. So it definitely pays to have a plan when it comes to your marketing. Set a budget, plan proactively, and execute on that plan with ease.

3. A Solution

They say hindsight is 20/20, but hindsight in business is also too little too late. What if you could see a solution to your biggest business challenges before they pose a threat? Taking a step back to work ON your business does just that. While problem after problem appears while working IN your business, solutions reveal themselves while working ON it. Getting the chance to see your business from far away allows you to pinpoint problem areas and come up with the creative ways to address them.

4. A Skill

Albert Einstein said, “When you stop learning, you start dying.” Jim Rohn said, “A formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.” Both quotes speak to the importance of learning. It’s impossible to know everything, much less know everything there is to know about running a business. There are so many different hats we wear as business owners that the actual skill required to do our job is the least concerning. Most business owners studied and received a piece of paper validating them as experts in their field. However, very few along with that certificate acquired the necessary knowledge in all the other areas required to run a successful business like accounting, human resources, leadership, marketing, law, etc. Whether it’s finding a mentor, hiring a coach, taking a course, attending a workshop, or going to a seminar, it’s important to invest in your learning and bringing that knowledge back to your business.

5. An Insight

If you have a road map for your business and yearly plan, then checking in every so often allows you to see how close or far you are from achieving them. Reviewing your goals at the end of the year is a little too late to make any changes. Likewise, if you review them at the start of the year, it’s too early to see how that will unfold. That’s why taking some time to work ON your business routinely throughout the year is recommended. Doing a thorough review each month, or quarter even, will provide you with some great insights and time to make adjustments where needed.

6. A Break

For most business owners taking a break is the hardest thing to do and furthest thing from their mind. The work ethic that comes from earning your own paycheck is close to obsessive. The competition out there is fierce and sometimes being the most responsive and accessible is actually what wins you the business. But it’s also important to enjoy the fruits of your labour by enjoying some well-deserved quality time with family and friends. There’s no point working so hard IN your business that you never get to take any time away from it. I find that a baby-step towards a longer vacation time is planning a two-in-one vacation. We call these work-ations. During these work-ations you spend half your time away recharging and relaxing, and the other half working ON your business. If during your vacation you have a client meeting or conference to attend, you might even be able to write a portion of those expenses off.

If you are really worried about how taking a step back from your business will impact it, start by taking smaller steps. Read a book on leadership. Attend a seminar on selling. Enroll in a workshop on marketing (Hehe…bit of a self plug since we happen to have a few of those you can attend with Karrots Konfidential. In case any of the reasons listed here aren’t enough to inspire a change, there’s still one more benefit to working ON your business that might: SAVING MONEY. The fires and recurring issues in your business are always a symptom of a bigger issue that once handled will put out the fires for good. Isolating the problem will only come from taking that much needed step back to work ON it rather than IN it.

So for all those “busy” business owners too “busy” working in it rather than ON it (and even too busy to read this article) I have just two questions for you: a) How much do you think those fires are costing your business? b) How tired are you of fighting them?

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Um, Actually, YES, It IS Rocket Science

Marketing is the strategic use of visual elements like colour, font styles, and imagery combined with copy/text to communicate a clear and consistent message. The perfect combination of these ingredients will succeed not only in delivering a clear message – it will stimulate a response or reaction in the person on the receiving end.

This is why we stress the importance of any marketing material having a call to action asking the receiver to do something: “buy that”, “read this”, “download here”, “watch now”, “call us”, and so on.

There are many instances in which a great marketing campaign and its effectiveness are a direct result of psychology in collaboration with great design. However, more often than not, sole credit for a great campaign and its success is attributed to the creative. Still, as “marketeers” we know that there is much more to it and this is how we break it down.

There are four key psychology elements that come into play when creating a marketing campaign. Similarly, there are four design elements that are directly related to these elements. Their relationship is interdependent and complimentary in nature.

1. Perception & Visual Imagery

These days it is said that the average person is exposed to approximately 5,000 or more advertising messages each day. Which of those advertisements are remembered and recalled upon when it comes time to make a purchase is largely dependent upon a variety of factors.

a) Is it appealing? – Does the ad demand one’s attention?

b) Is it intriguing? – Does it instigate curiosity?

c) Is it catchy? – Does it use colour or bold design to grab one’s attention?

d) Does it stimulate one, a few, or all of the five senses? – Touch, taste, smell, vision, hearing?

2. Memory & Retention

Did you know that the human mind is like a computer and recalls or retains information in strings? Cognitive psychology refers to this action as chunking. There are many theories on how this works but what’s most important is that the human brain, just like a computer, has a maximum capacity for memory and recall. Chunking or grouping things into sets of 3, 5, or 7 makes it much more likely that the information will be retained. Did you ever wonder why the ten digits in phone numbers (123-456-7890) are grouped into three? Well, now you know!

Still, there are a variety of factors at play when it comes to memory and retention when it comes to marketing.

a) Is it legible? Is there an information overload or is the message legible and clearly displayed?

b) Is the typography capped at two fonts? How many different fonts are being used as display and text font?

c) Is the information grouped and balanced on the page? Is the spacing or leading between the text and even graphics balanced?

d) Is the message prioritized? Is what catches the eye first the most important part of the message?

3. Emotion – Colour

There is a lot of psychology research and reports showing a direct relationship between colours and the emotion they trigger within the receiver. For example, did you know that red doesn’t just represent romance and passion but that it also is known to trigger one’s appetite? How about blue? It’s usually a representation of calmness and tranquility but did you know that it also elicits feelings of trust, dependability, and strength?

a) Is the image properly paired with desired emotional response?

b) Does the colour correctly reflect the desired emotion?

c) Is the colour palette being used proper based on colour wheel theory?

d) Do the text colours compliment the background graphics and colours used?

4. Motivation – Calls to Action

The biggest and most inaccurate assumption made is that people don’t need to be told what to do. This couldn’t be farther from the truth! If there is a desired action you want a target market or receiver to take after seeing an ad, then it must be accompanied by a clear call to action. If the expectation is that people do something after seeing it like call, visit a store, visit the website, or do anything, then this has to be clearly requested within the design and copy.

To expect that one will take any initiative on their own volition to do anything is completely unrealistic. What seems obvious is not always obvious. Great example of this is during election time when it might seem like an obvious action to vote, that was what every campaign pushed for the most.

Because we are “marketeers” we always tend see things in 2D and heavily consider both the psychology and design elements mentioned. Everything we do is deliberate and strategic and that’s the difference you’ll notice right away when working with a firm like ours. These principles aren’t important to everyone, but to those that appreciate strategic marketing they are of the utmost importance.

Great design combined with psychology in order to deliver a clear and effective message is slowly becoming the new norm. But at Karrots Inc. we have the expectation that anything we create observes the basic principles of psychology and laws of design. We actually see ourselves as “marketeers” because the formula we use to create impactful brands and effective marketing campaigns day in and day out is: Great Marketing = Psychology (Science) + Design (Art). So at Karrots Inc. it’s not so much what we do, but it’s who we are and that is not easily duplicated.

A Marketing Audit DIY Checklist

Performing a routine marketing audit is a great business practice and an extremely important one for any size business big or small.

Marketing audits provide great insight and conducting one for your business can result in increased ROI and revenue. They allow you to take a closer look at your marketing strategy and tactics to determine what has worked and what hasn’t, reveal inefficiencies, uncover new strategies or tactics, and inspire new ideas.

It’s been said that 10% is the magic number when it comes to determining your what portion of annual gross revenue spend should be on marketing. However, many small to medium sized business struggle to even attribute 5% towards their marketing each year. For these businesses a marketing audit is not just a great idea, but it’s a necessity.

Here’s a quick way to evaluate your current marketing strategies and tactics and determine whether or not they require rethinking, revamping, or trashing.

marketing-audit-image-01

1. Evaluate all your marketing assets and determine whether or not they need updating or complete reworking by asking the following questions:

a) Is it professional? _______________________________________________
b) Are they consistent? ____________________________________________
c) Is it effective?  ___________________________________________________
d) Is it current?  ____________________________________________________

Although often treated as such, marketing collateral and assets are not just a set it and forget it thing. They should always be evaluated and evolve constantly to maintain their value and stay current.

2. Evaluate all your marketing assets and determine their effectiveness in terms of the message being communicated:

a) Is it consistent?  ________________________________________________
b) Is it effective?  __________________________________________________
c) Does it reflect your business accurately?  ______________________
d) Is the copy and content relevant?  _____________________________
e) Is it current?  ____________________________________________________

It’s also important to review any content to determine that the voice, tone and personality being conveyed is accurate. It is equally important to ensure that it’s been uniquely crafted and isn’t just recycled content. Lastly, simplifying content as much as possible to convey a clear message with fewer words is rewarded heavily in today’s world where our attention is extremely limited.

3. Evaluate all your marketing assets to determine the return on investment whether monetary or otherwise:

a) Are there measurable targets? If not, set some. _______________
b) Does it meet set objectives and targets? ______________________
c) Is there a quantifiable ROI?  ____________________________________
d) Does it enhance awareness or exposure?  ____________________

Although often treated as such, marketing collateral and assets are not just a set it and forget it kind of thing. They should evaluated frequently and evolve to maintain their value and stay current.

VISUAL ASSETS

___ Brand
___ Logo
___ Colour
___ Fonts
___ Business Cards
___ Proposals/Quotes
___ Invoices
___ Banners & Displays
___ Pitch/Presentation Decks
___ Promotional Flyers
___ Brochures
___ Products & Apparel
___ Forms
___ Other Materials: _______________________________________________

DIGITAL ASSETS

___ Email Signature
___ Email Address and Domain Names
___ Website Design
___ Website Content
___ Email Campaigns
___ Social Media
___ Blogs
___ Display Ads
___ Video
___ eBooks
___ Podcasts

TRADITIONAL

___ Signage & Decals
___ Advertisements
___ Photography
___ Case Studies / White Papers
___ Articles
___ Radio & TV
___ Trade Shows & Conferences
___ Mail Campaigns
___ Books

6 Reasons To Hire A Marketing Agency or Expert

Often, when people consider the challenges of their business and solutions to a problem that they’re struggling with, they wonder whether or not this is an issue that they should be bringing to a marketing agency. Why should you hire a professional marketer or agency at that?

1. The Difference Between Marketing and Branding

First, let us define the difference between branding and marketing because most people often use them interchangeably but mostly due to a misinterpretation of what each means.

Branding is the expression of the essential truth or value of an organization, product, or service. It is a communication of characteristics, values, and attributes that clarify what this particular brand is and is not. Branding is done using a pull strategy, attracting prospects inward. Branding could be in the way someone answers the phone at your company, the quality of your promotional copy, a slogan, or a lifestyle that your products represents. It is should be strategic and planned. However, more often than not, it’s an afterthought and usually determined by the perceptions of those buying.

Marketing on the other hand, is the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising. Marketing uses a push strategy that involves getting your message out. It is about you promoting your services and telling your target audience how they can engage with you. It is tactical and direct, meaning an action is tied to a specific desirable result. Push tactics are usually education or promotion based where the conversation goes mostly one way. An email marketing campaign telling people about a new product or service, for example, is a push strategy.

Marketing Strategy or Plan is all encompassing and will often employ both push and pull tools and tactics. It’s a detailed plan that includes every marketing tactic and initiative and pairs it up with the overall business goals (revenue goals) of the company from A to Z. It’s the complete marrying of a sales cycle and its various conversion points with the marketing campaigns that drive them. A great marketing strategy will consider the high level revenue goals of the company and how it can engage and move a target audience along to take whatever action is next in the buying cycle, and keep them moving. This is a very important differentiator as far too many agencies have become order takers and do exactly as asked without asking any questions of their own to clients.

2. Marketing for Growth and Scalability

When you are forecasting for growth/expansion you want to make sure your brand, your image, and how you are being seen and perceived can bear it. Having a proper marketing strategy creates a foundation for you to build on with your business. Once the foundation is laid you have a scalable business that you can build on, pass on, or sell. This usually is timed also at the point you reach in your business when you have decided that you no longer want to do business with everyone. You have a target audience or niche in mind and now you have to create a strong brand and message to attract them. You are now at the point where you can choose, and choose powerfully, who you want to work for and who you want to work with. An agency like Karrots can help you be purposeful in that message, and delivering it in such a way that the right people want to do business with you, and the wrong people won’t.

3. A Marketing Agency Saves You Money

Another thing to consider that many people don’t is how valuable paying for a marketer truly is. Most businesses don’t necessarily understand what we do and what goes on behind the scenes (part of a whole other discussion to be had later). But many people think that just because they have their own business and have sold products or services to people that this must make them marketing experts. Why would they pay for someone else to do it when they can save money by either doing it themselves or hire their daughters friend who is a graphic designer, their cousin’s cousin who’s a copywriter, or just use one of those online contests? Sometimes you get lucky and it works out, but more often than not, cheaper doesn’t always mean better.

There’s an old saying that goes something like you can get it “Fast, good or cheap. Pick two.” This is because no matter how hard you try, you could never have all three.

Good Cheap Fast

In fact, more often than not, cheap means wasting more time that you don’t have to get an output you aren’t happy with because the person on the other end isn’t actually as skilled as they should be.  Marketing agencies are skilled at selecting talent and have a wealth of experience so it isn’t a game of Russian Roulette when hiring them. I know here at Karrots Inc. we have tried, tested, and taught our staff over multiple campaigns and had many successes with a team member before we will say “they are someone we can trust.” So you it isn’t a gamble and you aren’t wasting any valuable time.

4. Established Companies Can’t Afford NOT to Hire Professionals

If you are just starting out and cannot afford the rates of a marketing firm, there are different avenues you can try when it comes to design like Fiverr, Design Crowd, and Elance to mention a few. But you must keep in mind that these avenues are not going to help you with your overall marketing strategy and messaging. They will get it done and will do whatever you ask them (as they interpret it) but are not thinking about how your business card ties into your logo and whether or not they’ll help you convert at the conference or trade show you plan on attending next month. This is a very important distinction as many people think that marketing is a fancy term for graphic design but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Think about it, just because I own a pair of scissors and know how to use them, does that make me a hair stylist you would trust to cut your hair? I sure hope not! Likewise, you wouldn’t ask a plumber or electrician to build you a house. Sounds crazy but it happens all the time in our industry.

5. Wasting Your Own Time/Resources? Why, What’s It Worth?

Sometimes when you think you are saving and cutting costs it might actually be costing you potential revenue. Do you want to grow your business? Duplicate your success in other markets? Expand globally? Why not? What’s stopping you from turning your business into a global empire? Most business owners that work with agencies do so because they want to build a business that is successful whether they are involved or not. They want a business that isn’t dependent on them driving it. Or sometimes, they are just simply tired of being complacent and want more from their business. If any of these resonate with you, then it might make be time to consider working with an expert to create a proactive, planned, and purposeful brand and marketing plan for your business. Over time it will not only save you time and money but bring in more revenue as well.

6. Overwhelmed by Project Management 

If you don’t have an internal marketing team, then you have limited resources. You don’t have anyone to follow up on the printer, make sure they’re getting the right files, or manage and oversee projects from beginning to end. You are likely wearing many hats and can’t even manage all of those, let alone the marketing. You find yourself in a panic late at night when your printer sends you a proof and you are completely unhappy with it. Something is wrong but you don’t have the resources or time to fix it.

The entire marketing and production process takes a lot of time. Whether it’s a website or magazine ad, every detail must be reviewed and looked at carefully. Now if you’ve done all that yourself, you might think you saved thousands dollars, but when you run up your own billable hours in terms of how long that took you, you would realize you actually lost money by your efforts. That is where marketing agencies are of most value. At Karrots there have been countless occurrences where we have had to save our clients and take on a project at the eleventh hour to turn it all around (and we do) but we often wonder “why the heck didn’t they just call us in the first place?”.

5 Questions to Determine If You Should Consider Hiring A Marketing Company?

  1. Do you want to grow or expand your business?
  2. Do you have a database (Full Mailing and Email Addresses of Clients)?
  3. Does your business have a brand? Is it clear and consistent?
  4. Does your business have a marketing plan and budget? Is it targeted?
  5. Does your business have a website? Is it being promoted? Is it converting?

If any of these questions aren’t clear with an answer or you think there’s room for improvement, then it’s time you set up a meeting with an agency to discuss your business goals. Remember, it’s just a meeting and doesn’t mean you are committing to anything. It’s just a conversation to explore whether or not there’s value in working together or not.

5 Reasons Why We STILL Love Reading!

Everyone says that reading is important, but have you ever asked yourself why?

Great quote by Jim Rohn was “A formal education will make you a living, while self education will make you a fortune.”

There is so much to be gained when you read a book like introspection, a paradigm shift, inspiration, new insights, increased understanding, and just great nutrition for our brains. I am not sure of any direct claims reading has to health benefits, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there were. When we read our mind is pushed and our imagination is stretched to visualize or gain a greater understanding of whatever we are reading.

Another anonymous quote but a great quote nonetheless is “Books give a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything else.”

So, when was the last time you read a book?

With the focus on digital now you can even buy and read books directly on your tablets or smart phones. Of course there is our old time favourite but now old-fashioned printed book option as well. Yet, with so many options available and the rapid advancement of social media and fingertip access, you would think that more people are reading than ever before. But sadly, the opposite is true and this is even more true for younger adults. Many tend to put the books down soon after college graduation. But with increased accessibility to some of the greatest books of all time today more than ever before, there really is no excuse.

I guess here at Karrots we’re a little bit old school in the sense that reading is still an essential part of our weekly activities. We love our social and digital media don’t get us wrong, but at some point, we all have to disconnect. Take some time to talk to someone, have an actual conversation with someone in person or even on the phone, rather than tweet them or leave comments on their ‘walls’. Birthdays used to be a special day when you called that special someone, wrote a card, went to see them. Now we just post a message with a cake emoticon on their wall and call it a day. As if to say a virtual smiley with waving hands wearing a birthday hat should be sufficient to maintain that relationship with them.

At Karrots we believe in the integrated theory as always being the best. The newest fashion trends are usually inspired by past and you can’t know where you are headed without knowing where you’ve been. It’s about looking ahead into the future while respecting the past by understanding our history. This is why old and new, contemporary and classic, traditional and modern make the best outputs not just in marketing but design, music, and many more creative disciplines.

So our commitment is to continue to read business and personal development books as well as attend as many relevant industry events as possible. We want to discuss anything we learn as a team to share with each other and keep our minds open. We want to inspire each other with articles and new insights that will constantly push us to be better and keep us motivated and inspired. There’s also a synergistic effect caused by us all reading a book together where all of our different views and perspectives come to the table and a whole greater than the sum of it’s parts comes to life. Reading for us has bread innovation and brainstorming sessions that have led us to the most unique client campaigns ever. It’s also been found to motivate the team internally and promote a better working environment.

So here’s what we’ve read or are reading at the moment:

  • Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill
  • The Go-giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann
  • Ubuntu by Bob Nelson & Stephen Lundin
  • How to make friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie
  • Getting Naked by Patrick Lencioni
  • The Psychology of Selling by Brian Tracy

Books

Reading has a significant number of benefits such as:

1. Helps to improve your imagination:

There are times we want to try something new but are held back by our fear of the unknown. A book can open your mind to explore beyond your imagination. Reading exposes you to new things like new concepts, new information, languages and even various cultural differences and beliefs. Reading also develops your creative side and gets those juices and imagination flowing that gives each reader their own unique experience.

2. Self Improvement:

Reading has been found to help boost self-confidence. After reading a lot of motivational and self-development books, you want to be the best version of yourself. Through reading, you begin to see the bigger picture you understand things better.

3. Gain experience from others:

When you read a book, you are gaining knowledge and learning from the experience of others. Reading not only helps us learn from the same mistakes of others it teaches us steps on how to move forward and remedy the situation to our benefit. There are so many motivational and inspiring books out there to gain to impact knowledge on different topics and ideas.

4. Discover and create or recreate yourself:

Reading opens your mind to the new ideas and concepts. It helps you to discover hidden potentials you sometimes never knew existed within you and think about how to exploit them to improve yourself. Sometimes it inspires you to recreate yourself into a completely new and improved version of yourself based on a huge shift in your thinking.

5. Reduces stress:

Complete silence, all electronics turned off, nothing to do, and a good book in hand. The thought relaxes you right? At some point, we all need to disconnect. Would you take your laptop to the beach with you while taking in the ray? No, that’s just too risky as technology is still a bit too fragile and valuable to be that close exposed to the blazing sun, water, and sand. This is why you grab a book instead. Taking some time to read at least once a week will improve your overall well-being and help you perform better in all areas of your life.

So, what are you waiting for?  Grab a book and share your experience with us and let us know why you love reading. Heck, read with us and pick one of the books we mentioned and join us on our journey of personal and professional growth!

 

Neck Ties & Marketing: 6 Common Myths Dispelled

Lately I’ve been speaking with colleagues, business owners, and fellow marketing professionals in the industry and it’s what we talked about that prompted me to write this post. There’s been a common thread in each one of these conversations about how what we do as marketers is often misunderstood. Like that broken telephone game we’ve all played as children, the stories being told just keep on perpetuating myths about what marketing is and what it isn’t. It’s both sad and ironic that we as marketing professionals can’t come together and start telling our own story. We are too busy working with clients and against each other that we’ve become the shoemakers without shoes! This is too often our reality because most of us are so client focused that we neglect our own marketing plans and initiatives. Well, I’ll be the first to admit we are doing a terrible job at controlling our own message that we have become part of the problem instead of the solution.

My hope is that after reading this post these myths and misconceptions are dispelled. So in the list below I’m addressing each one of them one by one.

Myth #1: Anyone Can Do It

Everyone has taken a marketing course or two in school I’m sure, and for those few who haven’t there are an infinite number of books and resources out there on the topic as well. However, reading these and taking a course or two doesn’t necessarily make you an expert. Otherwise, I would be an expert at accounting, taxes, business coaching, and a slew of other things. Instead I have an accountant and coach for my business because I believe their specialized expertise will serve my business best. But the experts in this industry not only come with a tremendous amount of marketing experience but they’ve studied the science and psychology of marketing as well. They’ve tried and tested so many different marketing plans and approaches that anyone would find it hard to stack up to the knowledge and experience they’ve gained. For example, did you know that even during our most recent 78 election campaign the reason why most candidates wear either a red or blue tie is because these same marketing experts have advised them to do so based on colour psychology. Yes, colours are very powerful communicators and can bring about certain feelings, emotions, thought patterns.In fact, Justin Trudeau our new Prime Minister sometimes didn’t wear a tie altogether right during his campaign, why do you think that was? Likely it was a way to relate to his target audience showing himself as belonging to the same demographic (the middle class) or at least give them that impression like “look, he’s one of us”. It’s really mind-boggling when you consider just how many things we either buy into or don’t based on the marketing and how they are presented to us. He wore a red tie when he won which is known as the “power tie” because it arouses feelings of passion and makes people wearing appear as decisive, bold, and assertive.

Myth #2: Marketers Are Really Just A Bunch of “Wacky” Creative Folks

Ok ok, some of us are (myself included). Ingenuity does seem to lend itself out most often to the wacky, weird, artsy, and weird. Still, there’s definitely a method to the madness and if you’ve ever sat in on a brainstorming session at an agency you’ll see what I’ve seen. A room full of “marketeers” that work tirelessly at putting the most creative and effective marketing campaigns together. These campaigns are strategically primed and positioned for a specific target audience, trigger psychological and emotional responses, and motivate a desired response. There’s so many talented and creative individuals in this industry. But because this industry naturally attracts those with an adoration for the creative, being creative doesn’t necessarily make you special. Anyone with a pulse is creative in their own way. What makes you talented in this industry is knowing how to turn creative visions into reality, but most importantly a palatable one. You aren’t just creating something that YOU think is great. You are creating something your team thinks is great, the client thinks is great, and target audience thinks is great too. Now, that’s a whole lot of people to please! Most talented artists ooze creativity but even they hire marketing and sales professionals to position their work properly and sell it to a buyer.

Myth #3: Marketing = Sales 

Just because you are an excellent salesperson does not mean you a marketing guru. Marketing and sales should never be confused as the same thing because they are very different. Marketing is dealing with the masses while selling has to do more with that one on one process. Marketing drives people from not knowing much about a product or service at all to intrigue and interest. While sales and the process of selling is all about bringing that prospect from mere interest to an actual transaction. Now, there isn’t a professional designation for sales people but there really should be one because selling really is an art and most sales professionals aren’t ever given enough credit for what they do. Their ability to engage someone who’s mildly interested, earn their trust, and then persuade them to purchase a product or service is nothing short of amazing. Even the most natural born sales people have to train themselves to overcome fears of rejection and talking with complete strangers before they finally become experts in their field.

So how’s marketing different? Marketing is about persuading a group of people rather than just one individual. A target audience that can be 10 or 10 billion people who have to be led from wherever they are in the buying cycle to that mild interest so that they can be sold from there. Marketing is meant to empower the sales people not replace them and this is often the other biggest fear or misconception. Marketing is not about replacing a sales person at all, it’s all about moving someone away from a group of people so that a sales person can do what they do best. Picture yourself at a party and that person you really want to talk to is surrounded by a group of people. It’s a lot harder to approach that person isn’t it? Well marketing is what would pull that person away from the group so that you can speak to them one on one and say what you’d like to say to them now that you know they are interested and listening.

If the average sale takes 12 touches then imagine a world where marketing replaces half or more of those with effective campaigns. Then the sales people get to do more of what they love to do and are great at – SELLING! This is not just possible, but it’s what exactly what we great “marketeers” do. Not only that, marketing solutions can be automated so that when you are short on sales staff, resources, or get too busy delivering, your marketing strategy is still working and driving those interested prospects your way. This ensures your business is scalable and will function more on it’s own. This is what increases it’s value and makes your business lucrative to investors or prospective buyers.

Myth #4: Marketing Doesn’t Produce A Real Return  

It’s so sad to hear this one over and over again. But it’s definitely a common misconception so I’ll do my best to speak to it because it couldn’t be further from the truth. This misconception comes from the sense that the investment in marketing isn’t in tangible goods or services so it doesn’t produce any trackable returns. Even worse, is that we keep on perpetuating the confusion of some tangible products and services for marketing. For example, a website is a marketing tool, but it’s not all there is to marketing. It’s only a small piece of a larger marketing strategy or plan.

Let’s go back to the science and psychology of marketing and how that factored into the elections. More specifically, the colour of a tie candidates sported or no tie where Justin was concerned, was not the only reason Justin won. However, the marketing strategy behind that combined with many other pieces of his marketing plan were definitely a factor in him winning. A marketing plan or strategy (especially a great one) will always consider each and every point of contact with potential buyers/consumers/clients and leverage the use of tools and resources to powerfully communicate a message to a large group of people. It will also help the front line sales people by creating a platform and conversation for them to now continue one on one. So Justin’s campaign is a great example of a marketing win. He was positioned properly and the message that was conveyed to a large group of people resonated with those he wanted to vote for him. Not saying his campaign was perfect or free of any flaws, but it proved to be more successful than his running mates which was all he needed to win.

So there is a returned but it’s a combined effect and that’s why it can’t actually be measured. But it’s definitely difficult to have all these pieces and parts align perfectly and harmoniously but when they do it’s magical! This is also why there is no one size fits all solution but rather a slightly unique approach depending on the product/service and the target audience you’re going after.

Myth #5: Before I Start Marketing It Has To Be Perfect

If this were how anything in life went then I’m pretty sure none of us would even exist because many of us weren’t planned. I believe in careful planning and having a marketing strategy, yes 100% I do. But that goal of perfection is an illusive notion I will never support. Marketing is mostly about experimentation and actually executing on something and then seeing what worked and what didn’t and modifying your strategy as you go. No plan is ever 100% perfect and marketing is no different. However, what I will say is that a plan and strategy will keep you focused and targeted so that you aren’t spinning your wheels or trying to get something done last-minute because you decided to rent a booth last-minute at a trade show.

The most common thing I hear from most business owners is the exhaustive list of things they think they need to accomplish BEFORE they start doing any marketing and it’s crazy! Firstly, it will never be perfect and what’s more productive than aiming for perfection is aiming at something. Have a plan and START implementing right away! Just like in life those who have learned the most failed the most, those who have marketed the most have learned the most. Now I get the budget constraints some business owners face and failing can be costly but that’s why taking the time to work on your business and learn about marketing by experts in the field is important.

As business owners we all know that up and down cycle of sourcing new business and servicing or delivering to the new business we source. But when you have a marketing plan you are proactive, targeted, and focused. It allows you to switch gears more quickly and evolve or adapt when necessary which is a huge advantage in any market place. This is something Karrots Inc. has done really well with and every year we’ve experienced rapid growth and it’s all because we have an air tight marketing plan and strategy. It’s been quite common for us to hit our revenue goals by our third quarter when we do all we do next is implement what’s next up in our marketing plan and keep on having that same success year over year.

Myth #6: Marketing Is The Same Thing As Advertising…Right?

Wrong. We might suggest advertising at times if it makes sense as part of a marketing strategy but it is definitely not the same thing as advertising. Advertising has a cost that is associated mostly to viewership or readership. Usually there is also no guarantee that anyone will in fact take action after seeing an ad but they do promise exposure and will often give you the demographics and numbers associated to how many people will actually see your ad (or hear it on the radio). Moreover, it can be very costly to advertise and this is why more often than not I’ll recommend online marketing solutions over advertising to my own clients. Some businesses need that increased exposure and awareness. But otherwise, because there is no guaranteed return on that investment I tend to include advertising only as part of a larger and more involved marketing plan. A dollar can stretch a lot further online but that’s not to say that advertising doesn’t serve a purpose. There definitely is a case for some companies to advertise depending on what their product/service is, but this is usually a very rare case for small businesses. Small businesses, especially startups, are looking to capitalize on more immediate returns rather than increased exposure without any guarantees so it tends to be a risky investment for them. Small companies are extremely risk averse so it’s difficult to justify them spending thousands on it without knowing exactly what kind of returns to expect.

Summary: 

There’s a real science to marketing that is not always shared or even revealed by marketing agencies. This is why we’ve made it our mission at Karrots Inc. to educate our clients on what goes on behind the scenes a bit more than most agencies. That transparency has earned us their trust over the years and we don’t plan on ever-changing that. I can understand why some have tried to keep the science of marketing a secret. There’s always that fear that if you give it away no one will see the use for marketing professionals at all when they can do it themselves. But, it’s this same secrecy that has led to these misconceptions about our industry and what it is that we do. But as long as a chef can make a living cooking then there’s always going to be a need for marketing professionals. Chefs have learned their way around the kitchen and all things cookery like no other and know exactly which ingredients and flavours go well together. They aim to please whoever is on the other end of the fork. A talented marketing professional is a lot like a chef in that sense. They too select the best ingredients and put them together in just the right amounts all aimed at stimulating the appetites of those in their desired target market.

Final Thoughts

Marketing and creating a plan should be custom tailored to you, your business, and your goals. No matter what your size, every business needs a strategic marketing plan to ensure time and resources are used in the best way possible. If you’re not sure where to start, we have a workshop made for you: Karrots Konfidential: DIY Strategic Marketing for Success. This workshop provides you with all of the necessary tools to create the ideal marketing plan for your business. You’ll walk into this workshop with goals to grow your business, and walk out with all of the ingredients and a recipe for success.

VIDEO: 4 Reasons Why You Should Use It In Your Marketing Mix!

One Video Is Worth A MILLION Words! 

Video is simply THE medium of choice for marketing your product or service online, but how do you use it effectively?

A Quick Look back

At its inception, the Internet was mostly used as a quick reference or research tool. Due to its limited abilities, websites made during this time – from the mid nineties to mid 2000’s – were very informative, but also very word-heavy, and took a long time to read. Today, we still use the Internet for quick reference, but you’ll notice that there is now a greater emphasis towards images and a shift away from text.

But if a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth a million. That’s why video is the best tool to get positive results in your business.

1. How-To Videos Are The Most Popular

In fact, the most popular video searches online are how-to or instructional videos, such as About.com. Find a way to create a how-to video for your industry: there’s something in everyone’s business that can be the fuel for an online video. For instance, I can create a video on how to set up an HTML signature, create a logo, or other little marketing tips that no one usually gives out for free. By instructing people on how to do something, your video becomes a very popular tool for marketing for your business. There’s a friend of mine that created his own DIY channel on youtube and this is pretty much all he does. He’s created and published how-to videos on just about anything. Check his website or his DIY Channel on Youtube and if you have a how-to video you are thinking of doing you can reach out to him!

Another great thing about videos is that it allows people to put a face to a name we all want to do business with people we like and can relate to so what better way to introduce yourself than through video?!

2. Google Wants Your Video!

Google recently acquired Youtube This means you can have pay-per-click campaigns attached to a video, which is a powerful tool you can leverage. You can also take advantage of keywords and online marketing to exploit a video and increase views. Google likes to see you use their products: the more you use their products, the higher they rank you. They rank sites with video higher than those that have only images and/or text.

3. Video Communicates or Says Things You Can’t Put Into Words

There are those days in your business where you feel like you sound like a broken record. You keep saying the same thing over and over again. No matter which client or prospective client you meet with it just seems like you are always being redundant. Sort of feeling like Bill Murray in that movie Groundhog Day. Video is a great way to turn that redundant message into a video so that instead of repeating yourself you can direct people to watch the video. You can also use video to show your process like that tv show “How It’s Made” to illustrate your behind the scenes and demonstrate exactly how you do what you do. We created one for Karrots, take a peek! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ps3K0FNhLtA

4. You Don’t Have to Break the Bank

Videos don’t have to cost a fortune unless their purpose is for a high quality brand essence or promotional video. These types of videos still have their place in marketing. The costs associated run quite high because of the production elements of cinematography and editing that’s required behind the scenes which is a combination of labour and technical equipment. But even if you think about it, a video is a tool and when it’s properly utilized it’s an investment that will bring you returns. It can be packaged, purposed, and published for so many different platforms that you can drive a huge return from just one video.

So if you are considering or planning on using video (or any other marketing tool) as part of your marketing mix sit down and carefully plan them all out as a series. This is also where a marketing strategist can help with figuring out which concept would best suits your goals and then provide you with a high level outline and storyboard for each.

TIP: Batch your videos together so that they can be shot all the same day and/or location to keep production costs down whether you are doing them yourself or have hired help.