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Is Your Marketing Effective?


April 06, 2017

“The saddest thing in life is wasted talent,” we know these words from A Bronx Tale, as a father sharing some of life’s wisdom with his son. Opportunity knocks only so many times, and if marketers are unwilling to open the door, suffer the consequences they will. My point is marketers are tasked with a difficult job as is, why waste time spinning wheels with ineffective approaches?

Recent research from FreshBooks delved into how independent professionals underutilize some of the most effective marketing approaches available. This is quite the quandary, as self employed and small business owners possess limited resources, making marketing decisions mission critical.  

The study explains that small business owners will look to effective techniques; but there is still much room for improvement. Let’s start with good: the highly effective methods in place. Nearly 50 percent of those surveyed have established referral partners, and almost 70 percent solicit client or personal referrals.

Unfortunately, only 22 percent of those surveyed utilize content marketing. Content marketing puts the power of the pen in marketers’ hands.

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Create a story for one’s brand, product or service and engage prospective customers – from video and social media, to paid opportunities, the future of content marketing is one to be a part of. Teaching, training and speaking are another highly effective approach that is being underutilized at just shy of 40 percent.

Around half of respondents are utilizing industry events, associations, entertaining prospects or social media for marketing needs, but these are only somewhat effective. Nearly a third of those surveyed are paying for advertising and 19 percent are posting on forums – both less effective methods.

Now that we’ve painted the group with a broad brush, let’s take a gander at the two largest generations in the workforce: Baby Boomers and Millennials.

VP of Strategy at FreshBooks, Matthew Baker, told Mad Marketer, “Millennials and Baby Boomers seem to be more comfortable with different prospecting approaches – or at least express different levels of effectiveness with different approaches.”

The Greatest Generation is old school. Baby Boomers prefer to build relationships, and leverage that network for new projects or jobs. It comes as no surprise when given the choice between social media, content marketing or soliciting client referrals, referrals received the most support with 47 percent of Baby Boomers viewing it as an effective approach. Content marketing garnered 26 percent and social media grabbed 22 percent.

Millennials, on the other hand, when given the same question produced more balanced results. Content marketing led the pack at 42 percent, with social media and soliciting client referrals both receiving 30 percent of support from respondents.

Baker continued, “Millennials are more adept at social media and content marketing. It’s not too far of a leap to conclude that Milliennials are more comfortable with online outreach and generally have less experience and success with offline techniques. It seems the days of knocking on doors and cold calling are mostly in the past.”

With time and resources limited, it’s quite interesting to see where small business owners and independent professionals draw the Do-it-Yourself (DIY) versus outsource line. Interestingly enough, 60 percent note enjoying the aspects of business management outside of their core competencies.

Professionals are quite willing to roll up sleeves and make a play at marketing themselves or their business with social media, as digital marketing and social media deliver the highest DIY support at 50 and 57 percent respectfully. The most outsourced non-core service is graphic design at 50 percent – I’m a stick figure kind of guy, so I can relate.

SMB owner or freelancer, it’s all about making the most of the resources at hand. Baby Boomers and Millennials may view effective approaches differently; agile and digital approaches are certainly the direction marketing is headed. As the results note, the room for improvement is there. The self-employed or SMBs must choose wisely; each decision can prove boon or boondoggle.

The real talent is picking best practice and putting it to work. Like I said, “The saddest thing in life is wasted talent.”




Edited by Alicia Young

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