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What SHOULD You Spend on Marketing – Blackberry Accounting & Consulting LLC

When you marry an Eagle Scout, you end up in some very strange conversations, especially stuck in traffic when you tire of competing over reading tags in military alphabet.  

The latest in the series from the world of Scouting is, what do you do first if you come across someone who has a broken leg, bleeding, and isn’t breathing?

I’m super unclear how you would end up in this situation, but after watching Lovecraft Country I’m going to have to be honest here and just own the fact that I’d take off running. I’d feel badly later sure, but whatever did that is still out there. Besides, someone needs to be around to tell the reporters what happened.

Assuming that you’re trapped and can’t run away, what do you do first and how do you know?

What young Life Scout Brian didn’t realize is that he was learning about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the first wrung of which is basic survival. Simply put, if you don’t have the basic components of survival then nothing else matters. You fix the thing most critical to that survival first.

Did you pick to stop the bleeding first? If so then you are correct.

It only takes 5 minutes maximum to bleed out and that’s if things go well. You can survive without oxygen for 8-10 minutes. The broken leg, well that’s the first responder’s problem assuming you get past the bleeding and breathing part.

Not everything has to be life and death. Have you ever cooked a big holiday dinner? You want everything finished at the same time because no one wants room temperature dressing. If you nail it though, there is a moment when all the buzzers and bells go off at once. Do you grab the turkey out of the oven or grab the potatoes before they boil over? Bonus points if someone comes in to “help” and you have to navigate around them.

How about running a business? Aren’t there times when you know that something is off, you’re working hard but not having the kind of success that you expected. How do you know what you need to take care of first? What is the most important thing you can do right now to make your business more successful?

The short answer is, it depends. Not very satisfying but every business is different, but I can provide guidance on this. By that I mean, you don’t have to read a bunch of business books to figure it out. I do that sort of thing and just like there’s no sense in both of us bleeding to death in the woods, there’s no sense in both of us wading through a lot of dry, action-free business books.

The first level in the business hierarchy of needs, much like Maslow’s is survival. In the business world this means cash. Without sales you can’t worry about debt eradication or process improvement. You have to have money coming in the door or you bleed out.

Quick Marketing Steps When You Don’t Know Where to Start

When I first started Blackberry Accounting, I had no idea how to go about marketing my firm. I kept hearing that most firms get their business through referrals. The problem with relying on referrals is that you lose control of your leads and it prevents you from breaking into new markets.

I’ve read a lot of marketing books, taken a lot of sales seminars, watching sales webinars…you get the idea. Some of those methods just make me cringe but since sales isn’t my thing, I’m certainly not about high pressure sales. To me marketing is more about getting your name out there so that people who are looking for what you do can find you.

  1. Start With What Works – Look at what you’re doing now. How effective is it? How much are you spending per client? If you have never gotten a lead from a particular marketing campaign, those dollars could be put to better use somewhere else.
  2. Make Yourself Easy to Find – Start by claiming your business free on google:

You can fancy this up any way you want or go with just a simple listing. The important thing is that your phone number and contact information be accurate. Don’t make people have to hunt for your information.

Google is a good place to start but you can also claim sites on all sorts of social media sites. My only thought there is that if you get over extended and the sites start looking dated, it can be a strike against you.

  1. Website – You are going to need a website. Even a simple one-page site will do it but most people google service providers. Having a website legitimizes you as a business. Also did you see what I did there? I called it googling and you didn’t even notice. That’s why it’s important to claim your business on google.

Don’t forget to showcase your team. People want to know who you are. Any business relationship comes with risk so let your clients feel like they know you a little from your website and social media presence.

  1. Ask for Reviews – In most areas, it takes less than ten reviews to get bumped up to the top of search results. If you’ve claimed your business on google, there is a super easy link you can send clients that makes it very easy for them to leave you a review.

It also doesn’t hurt to keep up with former clients. For years we got a Christmas card with an NFL schedule in it from the real estate agent who sold us our house.

As a side note, since I’ve become a small business owner myself I post more reviews than I used to because I know how important they can be.

  1. Signs, Business Cards, & Flyers – Think about the sort of things that you notice. What sort of marketing gets your attention? I hired a guy to do a few things to my house from a flyer left on my porch. It said that he was in the area doing some work for some of my neighbors and listed his typical jobs. I also took a snapshot of a plumber’s van with my phone because I needed a new garbage disposal. The idea is to make it easy for people to find you.

One caveat, if you put a sign on your truck with your name and number on it, drive like they taught you in drivers ed. I don’t think you necessarily need to keep your hands and 10 & 2, but if you’re going to be cutting people off in traffic maybe take the sign off the truck first.

How Much Should You Spent on Marketing

The important thing is to keep your message simple and targeted. I’ll let you in on a little secret, it’s not as easy as you might think for a homeowner to find a contractor. If you do quality work and make it easy to find and communicate with you, it will go a long way towards filing your schedule without having to spend a lot of money on marketing.

A rule of thumb is that for a business to maintain their current position, they should spend about 5% of their gross sales on marketing. If you want to grow or break into a new market, you should spend between 10%-15% of gross sales on marketing.

If you’re running a $100k a year business, spending $10k-15K is a lot of cash so make sure you get your money’s worth.

Remember the Ferengi 3rd Rule of Acquisition: “never spend more for an acquisition than you have to”