Before I quit the 9-5 to launch my business, I interviewed 22 entrepreneurs from either the marketing or social enterprise space. My goal was to gain insight into the attributes, strategies, and skills I’d need to succeed.
There were a handful of pieces of advice I heard on multiple occasions, but only one that was brought up time and time again.
“Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish.”
While I understood, at the time it was just theoretical for me. Now, I see it in practice. Many of the social entrepreneurs I speak with are pound foolish – from a marketing standpoint – every single day.
This means underrating skills that are critical to their growth and not investing in them as needed, whether that’s a financial investment (personnel or external support) or a time investment (personal development and training).
There are three marketing skills that I consistently see a lack of awareness for among social entrepreneurs. Or worse, I see them dismissed.
Copywriting is the art and science of strategically delivering words that get people to take some form of action. It’s how you convey the value of your product or service to the masses.
Entrepreneurs have an incredibly limited time to convey who they are/their brand is, what they offer, and how they can help every prospective customer that interacts with your brand. To not prioritize the skills needed to convey this the most effective possible way is, in my opinion, inexcusable.
Whether it’s on a website, in a pitch deck, or through marketing channels, every business owner must tell the right story in the right way.
It can mean the difference between a 1% conversion rate on a landing page and a 20% conversion rate. It can mean the difference between someone visiting one page on your website and visiting five.
It can make all the difference.
Copyblogger is a great place to start improving your copywriting skills.
Almost every brand will have marketing budget limitations, particularly early ventures in the impact space. This makes the ability to track and analyze marketing data – and understand precisely where marketing dollars are best spent – is critical.
At a very basic level, this means being able to track your marketing efforts using simple techniques such as Google Analytics, UTM codes, and A/B testing.
At a more advanced level, this means understanding your marketing funnel and lifecycle: at what rate are you converting community members to customers? What is the value of a customer to you? Which acquisition channels allow you to leverage impact most effectively?
The number of brands I speak with that don’t have any insight into the impact of their marketing is astounding. It’s a time investment, yes, but one that’s well worthwhile.
For lack of a better phrase coming to mind right now (it’s 6.12am on a Saturday morning), I’ve labelled this third element ‘Holistic Strategy’. I’m referring to the marketing strategies that expand beyond just marketing and play an important role in all corners of a business.
This includes the customer lifecycle, the customer experience, the sales/marketing funnel, and your target audience, to name a few.
From a marketing standpoint, it’s critical to understand how these high-level business strategy pieces can be leveraged within your marketing efforts. For example, what are the key touchpoints within a customer lifecycle for when you can request customer feedback, referrals, and advocacy, and what are the tactics to use to push these actions?
Getting testimonials/reviews and referrals are two important needs to any business. They’re also fantastic marketing opportunities.
From a ‘holistic strategy’ standpoint, has your business understood the optimal touchpoints within the customer lifecycle for when a customer is most likely to refer you to others? At what point are you asking happy customers to refer you to their friends? How are you incentivizing this action?
Building these pieces into your brand foundations will be exponentially beneficial as you grow.
I provide a few more thoughts around these strategy pieces here or you may consider signing up to my free marketing strategy course here. Hubspot also have some useful educational content around marketing strategy.
Don't avoid what you don't understand
The main reason I hear for entrepreneurs not taking action with these things is that they simply don’t know where to begin. I completely understand that – I was the same with bookkeeping. Close my eyes and hope for the best.
Turns out that wasn’t a good idea for my financial health. And ignoring the above isn’t a good idea for your business health.
So I say to you now: “Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish”.
Invest in these critical marketing skills in order to best position your ability to scale your social impact. You’ll reap the dividends down the line.