Running a business is a wild ride.
I really didn’t know what I was signing up for 10-ish years ago when I decided to try this online business thing.
It brings up all your unhealed stuff. Oh you were a gifted kid who found you couldn’t live up to the wild expectations people had of you so you developed a coping mechanism of just not trying anything you weren’t guaranteed to excel at and now have a deeply ingrained imposter complex and praise kink?
Yeah, that’s definitely going to show up.
Plus there are a million new skills you need to learn, especially in the bootstrapping startup phase.
Not to mention a million failures to cry about behind your computer before you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again.
It’s definitely not for the faint of heart.
But maybe most frustrating of all, just when you think you’ve finally got some things figured out — it all changes on you again.
Marketing your maturing business
I became a parent around the same time I started my business, and I remember — hilariously — complaining to my mom about the fact that my baby’s schedule kept changing as she got older.
“If she’d just pick something and stick to it, I could handle it!” I remember whinging. “But it keeps changing.”
Yeah. Like babies do. Duh.
Businesses can be a lot like that, too.
Just when you think you’ve got a marketing system figured out, something changes.
You change up your offer and suddenly — crickets.
Your favorite social media channel changes the algorithm and suddenly nobody’s seeing your posts any more.
Your ad costs suddenly skyrocket even though you didn’t change a thing on your end.
In other words: The tactic that finally, finally seemed to be working and paying off for you suddenly isn’t working any more.
Here are some of the most common challenges I see maturing businesses encounter with their marketing:
1. Your go-to marketing tactic stops working
Marketing tactics have a lifespan. Think about banner ads on websites as an example; in the early 2000s, that was the hot way to market your business online. Today, they’re kind of a joke. (And display ads that do still work? Are often disguised to look like content, interestingly enough…)
It’s difficult to predict when something will lose efficacy and eventually stop working altogether.
For example, webinars in the B2B space are getting less and less engagement and lower and lower conversion rates overall. Yes, they still work for some people, but generally, even people who have used webinars effectively for years are starting to see diminishing returns.
Sometimes there are outside forces at work. The new iOS update tanks your ads strategy. The algorithm changes mean that people aren’t seeing your posts as frequently. Your email deliverability suddenly goes in the toilet.
Sometimes the problem is more internal. For example, a coach who used to sell everything through individual networking and nurturing, who is now trying to scale that to fill 50 or 100 spots in a program.
It could be that your offer or your audience has changed and what worked before is no longer aligned with what you want to do or sell now. I see this happen a lot with business owners who want to raise their prices or offer more high-ticket services — but they’re still using the same marketing tactics that worked when they were appealing to a DIY or low-ticket audience.
The Solution: If you haven’t done so in a while, it might be time to audit and realign your marketing tactics with not just where your business is now, but where it’s headed. If you need some help spotting the holes and the opportunities, a VIP day could be the answer.
2. Your role has changed
As I mentioned above, most of us start out as solopreneurs, bootstrapping our way to a business and doing everything ourselves.
Then, as we grow, we typically outsource the things we hate the most or think we’re worst at. (For me, that was bookkeeping and accounting!!)
Interestingly, marketing is one of the last things personality-driven businesses like coaches, course creators, and membership site owners tend to outsource — even if they don’t really love to do it.
Many people I’ve talked with worry that outsourcing their marketing will dilute or change their brand voice. They worry that nobody can say or do it as well as they can, or that a team won’t be as invested as they are. Finally some fear that a marketing person or team might say or do something that will reflect poorly on the brand.
The result of these fears is either that these business owners put off delegating marketing tasks waaaay longer than they should, or they try to outsource, but stay mired in the day-to-day coming up with ideas, having to approve every single thing, etc.
It boils down to a lack of trust in the team members they hired, and ends up frustrating everyone and producing lackluster results.
The solution: The first step toward successfully delegating marketing tasks is to make sure you have a solid foundation in place to build on. There are three things I believe you must have in place to be successful at delegating marketing tasks: A marketing calendar, a brand voice style guide, and clear SOPs and workflows for the team.
Get these three pieces in place and it will be so much easier to transfer the trust necessary to allow someone else to take over your marketing.
3. Your reach needs to change
As your business matures, your needs in terms of audience size and leads can change dramatically.
If you want to sell 50 or 100 spots in a program, you need an exponentially larger number of people to see the offer.
But if you haven’t changed your discovery and acquisition strategies in your marketing, you may find yourself falling short.
PLUS, the discovery channels that may have driven your business growth a few years ago no longer work the same way for attracting new audiences. (I’m looking at you, social media.)
Many people turn to paid advertising at this point to try to make up the difference — but that’s not the only way to attract new people to your audience and convert them into leads. The problem with relying on ads is that then you have to pay for every new lead. And if you only rely on advertising to grow your audience and leads, you might be in a real pickle when a change like iOS 14 comes down that changes the advertising landscape.
The Solution: Audit your marketing channels and ensure you’re spending an appropriate amount of time and energy on your discovery channels to help people find you. A VIP day with us can be a great place to explore this if you want some support.
Growing businesses have different needs
The same way my 10-year-old has different needs than she did when she was a baby, your business has different needs as it grows and matures. And that means that your marketing tactics and strategies may need to grow and mature right along with them.