Are you spending time on the wrong things?
A couple of years ago, I spent a hectic few months helping my dad sell the family home. It was a pretty massive deal and as emotional as it was physical (35+ years of "stuff" to sort out / move / sell). It was also an eye-opening experience dealing with real estate agents, stylists, gardeners, builders, copywriters and even a pool guy.
Selling a house is a lot like like running a small business:
identifying your target market
figuring out the key marketing channels
highlighting your USP
hiring the right support team
getting the brand (aka house) out there in the best possible light
Another element that really made me think about the crossover between selling a house and growing a business was when our agent discussed the changes my dad should consider making to his home. Now, my parents bought the land and had the home designed in the 1980s and, aside from some DIY projects, not much had been done...the possibilities were endless. Should we re-do the kitchen? Get the bathrooms renovated? Update the wardrobes? Paint the deck? Change the carpets? Landscape the gardens?
The real estate agent's answer: What's your return? Will you make back at least 3x the money you'll be investing?
For example, if we spent $30,000 renovating the kitchen, could we guarantee this would increase the overall sale price by at least $90,000? Not really. If we spent $2,000 fixing one of the back decks, would that bring in a possible $6,000? Probably.
While it's relatively easy to do these calculations when selling a home, it can be less clear when it comes to business, especially marketing your business. Yet, the same question must be asked. Instead of jumping on board with the latest marketing trend, consider what's the return for your business? It won't always be financial; sometimes the return is heightened brand awareness, or the opportunity to speak to, and leverage, someone else's audience.
The issue is that we often forget to simply ask why we're doing something, before jumping in. All this leads to is ad-hoc marketing campaigns, inconsistent messaging and, often, a whole lot of cash being spent with no real concept of whether or not it "worked".
Next time you're faced with a marketing opportunity in your small biz, stop and truly consider the time and money you'll need to put in to make it happen. Ask yourself, "What's the return and how will I measure this?". Set the objective well before you start planning the execution and, in time, you'll find you're focusing on what's really important rather than every "shiny new thing" that comes along.