The other night I watched this episode of The Profit where Marcus Lemonis works with the mom and pop owners of Shuler’s BBQ to scale the business. It is a classic “entrepreneur gets sucked into business” and a scenario many of us grapple with every day. In one scene, Marcus sits down with the potential general manager – a guy named Ewell – to talk about his vision for Shuler’s. Ewell kept talking about how he saw so much opportunity for Shuler’s – tons of growth potential.
They have high food costs and a less than awesome customer experience yet they have a line out the door and into the parking lot during peak hours and all this guy can talk about is Facebook? I found myself yelling at the TV screen. What’s happening here?
I got news for you, Ewell, social media is not going to save your business.
When our phone rings here at BLC, we often get requests like “we need a new website,” “we want to be make the bestseller list,” “We need some media relations to get our product out there in the market.”
Don’t confuse the tactic for the goal
Likely, you do need those things, but it’s helpful to be clear on the underlying problem or issue you want to solve before you jump into the tactics right away. This is challenging for many entrepreneurs because you want to “do” things, you don’t want to plan and strategize. I understand your impatience. I like “doing” things too.
But I insist.
Digging in to find the objective isn’t always easy. Typically it is some form of increasing sales. Of course. But where are you now? Where do you want to be? and what is holding you back from getting there?
Tactics don’t solve problems and save businesses unless there is a strategy holding it all together. I don’t know why Ewell was so focused on Facebook and how he thought it would help them scale their business. Yes – they’d need more business but let’s just say his Facebook marketing worked and brought more people in, then what do you have? A line down the street instead of only in the parking lot? And business owners who now have to work three times as hard instead of two?
So the answer isn’t just “yes” to the request for a shiny new website, or media relations, or a brand refresh. Whether you are calling us here at BLC or another agency, you could start by asking yourself these same “why” questions.
It is important to be very clear on your business objectives (measurable), and what the <insert your marketing tactic here> needs to accomplish because of course, you know, you can’t build it and they will come.
Here is an example: In a discussion with a manufacturer who sells both direct to consumer and to business, we were called upon for a new website so they could grow their online sales as a percentage of overall revenue. We started by discussing from what to what. (the answer was from 15 percent of overall revenue to 25 percent) And why? Margins are much higher with direct online sales that don’t take the time of sales staff, and eliminate the distributor. But a new website alone won’t solve that problem. The goal is build a direct online sales vehicle and gain awareness in your niche target markets.
We’re going to dig into your audience to see how we can change their behavior so they find you when they haven’t heard about you, arrive at your website when they need you, see the message that solves their problem, then makes a decision either immediately or eventually to do business with you, and then talks about you and refers business. Each one of those segments has different needs and behaviors and has to be addressed in a strategy. Throwing up a beautiful website is only a start. I know what you’re thinking: It’s never as easy as you think it is, is it?
We are all guilty of misdiagnosing ourselves. Years ago, I went to my physical therapist explaining I had pulled my hamstring and we set about with exercises to fix it. The pain only increased over the coming weeks and she continued to ask more questions until she finally discovered even though I detected the pain at my hamstring, it started at my spine. The real problem was a herniated disc, not the actual pain I felt in my leg.
If you keep mis-diagnosing your marketing problems, you too will find out that Facebook isn’t fixing it for you; that your new website did not in fact, revolutionize your business; that brand refresh cost a lot of money and time but didn’t really change a thing.
I’d love to know what you think.[ssba]
This is amazing. First of all, I love the cartoon. Second, I love your yelling at the television. If only more people yelled at the television… Wait, no. But your message is important. Social media is a small part of your business, and it can solve a few problems very well, but it won’t save your business from all the other possible problems.
I see the same thing you describe, where people come to you telling you they need something, and you want to raise one eyebrow, lean in a little and say, ‘Do you? DO YOU?’ And sometimes, you wrap that question into a discussion that does end up helping your customer forward. Other times? They’ll keep moving for someone who won’t ask questions.
Lisa Gerber says
and for those who move on, it was likely for the best, even if it wasn’t fun at the time.
Thank you, fellow TV screamer. 🙂