“Is my marketing for my small business working?”

The other day, I was having lunch with a friend, an interesting question came up: “Is my marketing for my small business working?” It’s a great question and one that many small business owners grapple with. However, one meeting alone can’t provide a definitive answer. To get a clearer picture, I asked the him five key questions. These questions help determine whether their marketing efforts are on track and delivering results.

  1. What are your marketing goals?

First things first, we need to know what success looks like for your business. Are you aiming to increase brand awareness, generate leads, boost sales, or perhaps improve customer retention? Clear, specific goals provide a benchmark to measure your marketing performance against. Without these, it’s challenging to determine if your marketing is effective.

  1. Who is your target audience?

Knowing your target audience is crucial. If your marketing efforts aren’t reaching the right people, they’re not going to be effective. We discussed who their ideal customers are, their demographics, interests, and pain points. Understanding your audience helps tailor your marketing messages and channels to where they will be most impactful.

  1. How are you tracking your marketing efforts?

Tracking is key to understanding what works and what doesn’t. I asked what tools and metrics they’re using to monitor their marketing activities. Are they using Google Analytics, social media insights, email marketing reports, or customer feedback? Having robust tracking mechanisms in place allows you to analyze data and make informed decisions.

  1. What is your current marketing mix?

We then delved into their marketing mix—the combination of channels and tactics they’re using. Are they focusing on social media, email marketing, content marketing, SEO, PPC, or a mix of these? It’s important to have a balanced approach and diversify your marketing efforts. Relying too heavily on one channel can be risky.

  1. What are your results so far?

Finally, we looked at the results they’ve seen so far. This includes both quantitative data like website traffic, conversion rates, and sales figures, and qualitative data like customer feedback and engagement. We compared these results to their initial goals to gauge how well their marketing is performing.

By the end of our discussion, we had a much clearer picture of where they stood. While we didn’t have a definitive answer right away, these questions laid the groundwork for ongoing analysis and improvement. Marketing is an ongoing process, and it’s essential to continuously monitor and adjust your strategies to ensure they remain effective.

So, if you’re wondering whether your marketing is working, start by asking yourself these five questions. They’ll help you identify strengths, uncover weaknesses, and ultimately, refine your approach to achieve your business goals.

On Writing

Over the past year, I’ve done a lot of writing just for the sake of writing. I’ve blogged, I’ve journaled, I’ve crafted ads. I’ve written my wife and kids cards for big events, mini events, and non-events. When I write a note by hand, I rarely use cursive. When I write a note, I print, mainly to make it legible for the reader. I save cursive for my own private journals. In the past, writing felt like work; now I write for enjoyment, for creativity, for reflection, and much more.

And the title of this post is a nod to my favorite author.

When Inspiration Needs a Rain Shower: Embracing the Creative Percolation Process

Have you ever stared at a blank page, your mind a swirling fog of “almost there” ideas? Or maybe you’re grappling with a creative project, the vision stubbornly refusing to come into focus. Fear not, fellow creators! This frustrating feeling – often called brain fog – doesn’t have to spell creative doom. In fact, it might just be a sign your brilliant idea is simmering, waiting for the perfect moment to bubble up.

Just like this past week for me. I was wrestling with the creative direction for a project. Every concept felt forced, a pale imitation of the spark I knew was missing. Days bled into one another, each attempt at brainstorming leaving me more discouraged than the last. Then, this morning, something magical happened.

On my usual walk, I found myself captivated by the sight of a gentle rain. Each drop, a tiny percussionist, pattered a rhythm on the surface of the pond. And as I watched, a calmness washed over me, mirroring the quiet serenity of the scene. In that moment, the creative dam within me broke. The missing piece, the elusive spark, materialized with surprising clarity.

This experience taught me a valuable lesson: sometimes, the most potent ideas need time to percolate. We, as creators, often become fixated on forcing inspiration to strike. We push ourselves to the brink of frustration, convinced that a relentless pursuit is the only path to success. But what if the key is to let go, to trust the process?

Here’s the truth: stepping away, allowing your mind to wander, can be the most productive thing you can do. Go for a walk in nature, listen to music, engage in a completely unrelated activity. Let your brain take a break from the conscious effort, and allow the subconscious to work its magic.

The next time you find yourself drowning in brain fog, remember the rain shower. Embrace the pause, the quiet simmering, and trust that the perfect idea is brewing just beneath the surface. It might arrive in a flash of insight, or it might reveal itself gradually, like the slow blossoming of a flower. The important thing is to be patient, to create space for the creative process to unfold naturally.

So, the next time you feel creatively stuck, don’t despair. Take a deep breath, step away from the project, and allow your mind to wander. You might just be surprised by the brilliance waiting to emerge from the gentle rain of inspiration.

Scrollin’ Through the Feed: What’s Hot in Social Media Right Now

Anyone else feel like social media moves faster than a toddler on a sugar high? It can be hard to keep up with the latest trends, but fear not, fellow scrollers! I’m here to break it down for you, K.I.S.S. style.

Short and Sweet, But Not Too Short: Remember Vine? Yeah, good times. Short-form video is still king, with platforms like TikTok and Instagram Reels leading the charge. But here’s the twist: longer content is making a comeback. We’re talking TikTok testing videos up to 30 minutes long, and even YouTube experimenting with horizontal formats. Think mini-documentaries, in-depth tutorials, or just longer storytelling.

Building a Tribe, Not Just a Following: Forget chasing follower counts and picture-perfect profiles. Today, it’s all about building real connections and fostering a sense of community. People crave authentic interactions, meaningful conversations, and a feeling of belonging. Whether it’s joining a niche group or engaging with creators you genuinely connect with, community is key.

The Rise of the Machines (But in a Cool Way): AI is becoming a social media staple, from personalized content recommendations like “You might also like…” to chatbots handling customer service inquiries. While it might sound a little sci-fi, think of it as your social media assistant, making your experience smoother and more efficient.

Real Talk, Real People: In a world of filters and carefully curated feeds, people are craving authenticity. They want to connect with brands and creators who feel genuine, transparent, and trustworthy. Ditch the staged photos and scripted messages, and show your true colors. Let your personality shine through and build trust with your audience.

Shop ‘Til You Drop (But From Your Phone): Social media is no longer just for catching up with friends and sharing funny cat videos. It’s become a massive shopping platform. Platforms like Instagram and Facebook are making it easier than ever to discover and purchase products directly within the app. Think one-click shopping sprees fueled by your favorite influencers’ recommendations.

Game On, Everyone! Online gaming is more than just a solitary activity these days. Platforms like Twitch and Discord are transforming it into a social experience. Players connect, interact, and even compete while streaming their gameplay. It’s like watching your favorite sport, but everyone’s potentially involved!

So, there you have it! These are just a few of the things heating up the social media landscape. Remember, the game is constantly evolving, so keep your finger on the pulse and adapt your approach to stay ahead of the curve. Now, excuse me while I go chase some trends and build my online tribe (with a healthy dose of K.I.S.S., of course).

Beyond Scheduling: Unleashing the Magic of Organic Content

Ever stare at your keyboard, plead with your fingers to “start writing,” and… silence? This morning, my creative gears were firmly in ‘park.’ Social media posts sat taunting me, but my brain mumbled, “Nope, not today.”

Cue the trusty tennis ball and my dog! A quick 15-minute break in the sunshine, playing fetch, did wonders. Back at my desk, with a Diet Coke chilled to near-freezing perfection, I dove into my social media campaign.

I firmly believe in a balanced approach: scheduled posts, paid ads, and organic content that truly connects. These organic gems can be tricky, but often reap the biggest rewards. ✨ And suddenly, like magic, an idea sparked! My fingers flew across the keyboard, and my dog got a happy head pat.

“K.I.S.S., Ryan”: How a Crusty War Photographer Taught Me the Power of Simplicity

“K.I.S.S.” It’s a philosophy that I’ve lived by for a long time, especially in the advertising world. Well, this might date me a bit, but back in college I took a photography class. Digital cameras weren’t quite a thing yet, so we were shooting on film and developing in a darkroom. I absolutely loved the class and learned so much about framing, creating a shot, and developing unique images that would jump off the photo page.

My teacher was a crusty old Vietnam vet, a former war photographer. He showed us his incredible, moving work from the Vietnam War. Above his desk, he had a sign he’d made out of old photographs that said “K.I.S.S.” I was really struggling with an assignment, so I went up to him and rambled on about all the things I was trying to do. He raised his hand in a stop motion, then pointed at the K.I.S.S. sign. At that point, I had no idea what it meant.

He asked to see my proofs for the assignment. He flipped through them in seconds, pulled one out, and grunted with a big, arthritic finger, “Ryan, that’s your shot. Look at that kid on the tricycle, giving you that cute smile… you know the moment you turn your back, he’s going to go flying down a hill, looking for a ramp to jump. The one you’re focused on is too much; you’re overthinking it. K.I.S.S., Ryan.”

I looked at the two pictures, and he was absolutely right. The simpler one was better – a night-and-day difference. I looked at him and asked, “Okay, but I still don’t know what K.I.S.S. means?”

He grinned out of the corner of his mouth. “Keep It Simple” – then took a sip of his coffee. “What’s the other ‘S’?” I asked. He just laughed and walked away.

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