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7 Bits of Counterintuitive Marketing Advice I Learned the Hard Way

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It’s been a while since I’ve seen some simplified counterintuitive marketing advice and so I thought I’d get out there and create a list of the best marketing advice I’ve heard. 

It’s not in any order, it’s just stuff I’ve heard over the years that just makes sense for today’s bootstrapping, value-driven entrepreneurs. 

Counterintuitive Marketing Advice That Works Wonders

  1. Always be launching.  

I’m going to start with this one because it’s something I have to say to myself over and over and over again, every single day.  I started my marketing career in the 80’s when doing any type of marketing activity was EXPENSIVE!!! So yeah, making mistakes was a no no and could often cost you tens of thousands of dollars and a room full of printed marketing materials with the wrong spelling or name or something.  Been there done that, and once you’ve felt that pain, you never want to go back.  So the pull to wait and analyze and fix and triple check is very strong. 

assorted-color hot air balloons during daytime counterintuitive marketing advice
Photo by ian dooley on Unsplash

You don’t have to do that anymore, because we are mostly digital and you can launch something digitally and fix it in seconds and keep tweaking until you get it right.  Then if you want to you can hit the real world knowing you’ve got something. 

I know a lot of folks who are hiding behind tech and hiding behind some kind of obstacle because they don’t want to launch and sell something. 

This is only hurting you – launch and learn. That’s your fastest path to success, get your offer out there, iterate, tweak and make changes until you get it right. 

  1. You can’t sell anything to everybody

You know how every marketer tells you to choose an ideal customer?  It’s because of this seemingly counterintuitive little law of marketing.  It doesn’t seem to make sense but once you think it through, you’ll see that it makes complete sense. 

Everyone is different and cares about different things. But if you try to reach everyone, you’ll have to dilute your messaging to the lowest common denominator and that means that it won’t appeal to anyone. And this will reduce your engagement and conversions. 

So yeah, the more targeted you are, the more clients you will attract with a high-value offer. 

  1. If your customers are complaining about price, they don’t know why they should choose you. 

Oh, I love this one.  If you’ve ever been on a sales call where the customer is asking for a lower price, that tells you right there that they aren’t connecting with the value that you provide. 

100 us dollar bill
Photo by Omid Armin on Unsplash

You want your customers to choose you at virtually any price because the value that you offer is exactly what they want.

For example, I used to pay $99 per month for a social media scheduling software because it had a very specific social media campaign feature that no other software had. When I started using that software it was $15 per month, they kept adding features (that I never used) but to get the feature I wanted, I had to pay more. And I did. Year after year, after year, until I couldn’t get that feature any more. THAT is when I canceled. 

You have to know your customer well enough to provide them that ONE thing they value the most that they can’t get anywhere. 

  1. Whatever you do, don’t sell anything

I learned this piece of counterintuitive marketing advice from an executive coach and it’s brilliant.  Of course, she didn’t mean that you shouldn’t generate revenue, she meant that you should stop FOCUSING on selling and, instead, focus on helping your customer get to their desired outcome.  

In other words, the goal isn’t to “sell”, it’s to give your customer what they want. 

It’s tempting to think that what your customers want (or needs)  is what you’re selling and that is the idea, but the reason prospects push back on buying is because they feel like they are being pushed or manipulated into buying. OH, and the reason you detest the idea of selling is because (admit it) you feel that way too. 

But, if you promise yourself that you aren’t going to “sell” and instead you’re going to have conversations you feel excited about that help you prospect achieve their desired outcome, the logical byproduct or this (assuming you’ve done your research and identified an ideal customer) is that they will want what you’re selling. 

  1. Do less marketing to make more money

Whenever someone says how do you only spend $17 a day on marketing, I tell them that I simply do less marketing.  Let me explain what that means.  

I focus, and I recommend that you focus too. I know — it’s counterintuitive marketing advice, but it works (and saves you time and money)

Most entrepreneurs churn through one marketing idea after another; email, quizzes, webinars, events, etc. The list just goes on and on.  

If you’re a solopreneur with a limited marketing budget, this is going to burn through all of your cash and generate nothing – like a slot machine. 

You HAVE to know, understand, and use the marketing process – and no one really tells you this. 

The marketing process is a recipe that you must follow step-by-step and in order each time, every time.  Run through the process on paper – that’s the marketing plan.  Once you’ve tested each step then you are ready to implement.  Once you implement each tactics, you must test, measure, tweak. 

Don’t just ditch something because it didn’t work once. If you enjoy running this strategy, and you can run the tactics efficiently, keep improving, keep optimizing, keep delighting your customers. 

  1. Have a $10,000 marketing slush fund

This is my own personal rule for clients I work with.  I learned about it the hard way.  This one is counterintuitive because people will tell you that you can start with small spending and make money as you go.  While this is true for some things, I’ve found that a lot of clients I’ve worked with who did this invested like $5,000 to get coaching and then ran out of money – so they had coaching, but not enough money to build the site and pay for the email marketing software and so on. 

pink pig coin bank on brown wooden table
Photo by Andre Taissin on Unsplash

You must have a slush fund to work with.  Because when you launch, you don’t want to stop, you want to keep moving and keep implementing.  

Going back to the idea that the marketing process is a recipe – the $10,000 slush fund is like prepping your ingredients, because once you start putting it all together, you don’t want your recipe half cooked or half-baked – that doesn’t work.

What I want you to do while you’re saving your stash is RESEARCH, plan, budget, get all your implementation ducks in a row, so that when you have the money you can press “play” and start implementing; hiring experts, building sites, placing ads, whatever was in your marketing plan. 

Only use half your budget for the first run – because you will have to spend more to fix, tweak and optimize. 

  1. Nothing is free. You’re either spending time or money so go for the lowest TOTAL cost.

Whew, there’s a lot packed into this one. Somehow we’ve been taught to think that if you do something yourself, that it’s free.  It’s not free.  Your time is worth something. 

Your time is worth your monthly expenses divided by the number of hours you spend doing something. It’s just that simple. 

You can pay someone to do something you don’t want to do or you don’t know how to do, but if you don’t get the desired results – you’ve wasted both time and money.

Social media is not free.  Just because you didn’t spend $5,000 printing flyers doesn’t mean that you didn’t waste $5,000 worth of time posting on social to get nothing. 

Each marketing strategy require some element of time and money. Here’s my shortcut for selecting a marketing strategy.

If you have more time than money – use a content strategy. Create an offer and invest your time in identifying and building a hyper-engaged community. Use that time and content to collect your market and customer research.

If you need money NOW: Invest in direct marketing – otherwise known as personal selling.  This is your fastest path to cash whether you’re having conversations with qualified prospects or using a referral strategy. This is the best way to invest your time.  Not only that, but you’ll be developing a sales process that you can use to train other salespeople. 

If your time is best spent serving customers – invest in advertising. It’s just that simple. If you’re a doctor, lawyer, or any type of professional who literally delivers value by engaging personally with your customer, or is needed to deliver your product or service. Invest in advertising.  If you don’t have the money now, use your time to learn about advertising as a strategy, choose your channel, and figure out an irresistible offer. 

So these are my counterintuitive marketing lessons that all came from learning the hard way.  I guess the lesson for you is — don’t assume something is good marketing advice. All good marketing advice comes from your ideal customer. What they want, how they want it and why they want it is the only thing that matters.

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