Questions from the Tank: ”When Is the Best Time to Market My Business?”
By Fernando Camacho
This is something that comes up all the time when I’m working with dog daycare businesses. And the short answer is: All the time.
You need to change the way you think of marketing. It’s not a temporary thing that you do only when you see an urgent need. Instead, it’s a proactive necessity that is an ongoing part of your monthly business processes.
There are certain things you need to continually do to keep your business moving forward; for example, paying rent, scheduling staff, delivering services to customers and, yes, marketing your business. It’s not a “sometimes” thing, it’s a regular part of running a business.
This is a big mindset shift for most people who typically only see marketing as a way to entice new customers in, but marketing is so much more. The focus is always on advertising a specific offer (e.g., “Try us out for free!”), which is useful and important, but should only be a small percentage of your marketing efforts.
Successful businesses understand marketing does so many things that create long-term momentum. Here’s how I like to explain it:
Imagine your business as your new car. You work hard, save up and buy a really nice new car. It looks great, drives great and is able to take you so many cool places. Now you have a big decision to make: Should I buy gas for it?
Seems like a stupid question—if you don’t buy gas, the car will never leave your drive way. In reality, most people don’t think about buying gas, it’s just a necessity of having a car.
Marketing is the fuel of your business. Without it you’re not getting very far. Sure, you can push your car, and with lots of effort, you can move a little (like organic posting on social media), but it’s exhausting, takes forever and leads to little or no results. Now, if you’re lucky enough to live on a hill, you can get some speed real quick (like having a post go viral), but that doesn’t last long and is over in no time. If you want to continue to go somewhere, you have to fill your tank regularly.
Another thing I hear people say is that they only want to do marketing when business is slow. Bear with me for yet another analogy…
Waiting until business is slow to do marketing is like not buying food until you get hungry. As I’m writing this, it’s approaching lunch time and my stomach is grumbling. As soon as I finish this article, I need to get something to eat. So, I’m going to walk over to my kitchen and find something good for lunch.
If I didn’t think ahead and buy food in advance—before I was hungry and wanting to eat—I’m going to be out of luck. Same holds true for your business.
Marketing is stocking your shelves so that when you want more customers, they are ready and waiting. By doing branding, and educational and informative marketing before you need customers, they are already there when you do need them.
If you don’t think about it until the moment you need them, you’ll likely starve before you can scramble to get them. What if I get hungry at 2 a.m. and no stores are open? How do I get food then? I don’t.
Your marketing plan should be year round—you’ll do different things at different times (sometimes you’ll promote offers and sometimes you’ll be doing brand awareness)—but if you keep your marketing top of mind, you’ll have a constant flow of people coming into your business.
So, stop thinking of marketing as a temporary fix and see it as an ongoing tool. If you do that, you’re business will take you places and never go hungry.
Questions for this column come from the Facebook group The Dog Daycare Business Think Tank and are answered by Fernando Camacho (Fern). Fern runs Overdog Digital, a digital marketing agency specializing in working with dog daycare and boarding facilities. He does private business consulting, staff training and helps pet businesses utilize modern resources to expand their customer base and grow their businesses. Fern is also the author of six books and is a speaker at national conferences and private events. To join the group or ask a question, go to: www.facebook.com/groups/dogdaycarethinktank