Marketing on a Shoestring is an Oxymoron

I am reading an embroidery industry trade magazine the other day.  One of the magazine’s regular features is to find an embroidery shop owner and assign a “mentor” or coach to help them work through a set of problems or issues.

This month’s story featured a new business owner seeking to tap into a niche market.  One of the “goals” as stated by this business owner was “Effectively marketing on a shoestring.”

As I read that, I thought, ”That is such an oxymoron.”

Where do business owners, in this industry or any other, get the idea that effective marketing can be done on a shoestring budget? 

Let me make a clarification right off the top.  The operative word in this statement is “effectively”.  Sure, there are some “shoestring” marketing tactics you can employ for your company.  But, if you are like most businesses, it is very difficult, if not near impossible, to effectively drive enough business and sales on a shoe string budget to meet your goals.

Granted, there are companies who do very little or even no marketing and stay in business.  In most of those cases there are some unique circumstances that make it possible for this scenario to be successful.  But these are the exception, not the rule.

For the rest of us, it is very difficult to meet our business and sales goals with marketing tactics that are supported on a shoestring.

It’s like this.  The fundamental role of marketing is to drive sales.  You drive sales by communicating those things that are different about your product or service to your target market. Chances are very good you are not the only company providing the same product or service to that specific target market.  Therefore, you need to engage them in why they should buy from or do business with you.

There are whole textbooks in business colleges written around the above paragraph, but it really does boil down to those 3 sentences.

Effectively marketing on a shoe string becomes much easier if you are the only provider of a specific product or service to a particular target market.  Even then, success is not guaranteed because you still need to let those customers know you exist and have a solution to their problem.

Part of the problem is too many business owners see marketing as an expense and not an investment in their business.  It’s this simple; if you are not driving sales you won’t have a business.  And effective marketing backed by the proper budget is how you get that done.  Not on shoestrings.

If you are not marketing to your customers, I guarantee that your competition is.  And he who markets more successfully, wins.  And successful (i.e. effective) marketing requires an investment commensurate with your goals.

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