And just as Mr. Chernoff thinks "everyone else" is missing the point, Mark finished our meeting by telling me that direct mail wouldn't work for his business. Oh sure, it was great for an auto collision center in Indianapolis but it wouldn't work in Chicago. And Suzanne's was a family-owned business, unlike Mark's which is only a family-owned business (yes, just like Suzanne's). Although Mark's does have the "disadvantage" of being located in the same buildng as his brother's auto repair shop.
It's a mistake that's far more common than you might imagine. And while you're laughing at the silliness of Mark and Mr. Chernoff, keep in mind there's a good chance you're making the same mistake.
This is one that's particularly difficult to spot because of our natural inclination to be consistent, and to remain committed to our choices. Especially when we invest our self into what we're doing.
Fortuantely, there are three simple things we can do to avoid this small business marketing mistake.
1. Recognise it really isn't your fault.
That's an easy thing to say – almost trite – so let's take a look at why it isn't your fault.
Most of the marketing advice you get is extremely biased. Yellow pages, newspaper, and other media reps (including ad agencies) are compensated based on how much you spend. So their incentive is to increase your transaction value, and they have little concern for your return on investment. As a result, they focus on selling techniques for themselves rather than effective marketing for you.
Yes it's short-sighted, but it's true.
2. Understand your choices are separate from who you are.
We've all had friends who made poor choices because they got bad advice, right? And we always tell them it's not their fault. They trusted someone to give them good advice.
Business owners trust ad agencies and other media reps to give them good advice. So when you act on the advice you're given, or what is popularly taught by the gurus and experts, you're acting in good faith. It's the media reps and gurus who have reason to be ashamed.
3. Listen to proof rather than opinion.
Proof is the return on investment that can be demonstrated. A business owner invests one dollar into a specific marketing channel and receives more than one dollar in return. That's good marketing.
When anyone avoids talking about specific numbers, you should avoid talking with them.
Small business marketing is an investment. Most business owners treat it as an expense because that's all they've ever been shown. Now you know better.
The question is: Do you recognise the good advice you've just received?