Have you ever climbed Mount Everest? Of course you haven't.
You've probably heard: it's dangerous. If you were to consider an adventure of this magnitude, you'd have a plan, right?
Marketing mistakes for breakfast.
Allow me to give you a little glimpse into the life of an online marketing consultant. Yes, that would be me. Here's how my (very inefficient) morning went today...
1. The home page video:
A client catches me on Skype and sucks me (sucker) into a free consultation. (I'm not saying you can't have a free consultation with me, but after we've established I provide valuable marketing advice, I do prefer to get paid for it.)
The client wants to have a video on his home page. He's been providing his own share of free consultations and has a great big oh-for to show for it in a recent string of them. He's been web surfing and concluded a nice explainer video would surely change his fate.
After typing free advice for longer than I care to admit, I ask, "What do you think the real problem is with closing the deals?" Suddenly the Skype consultation ends. I guess he moved on to more important things.
In the course of the chat I fielded no less than 10 questions about fees. "What would it cost to rewrite my existing video?" "What would I charge for an original script?" "How much would it be to do a slick 90-second video?" And so on. Notice the questions were about execution. Meanwhile, my questions were about strategy. I delivered a little bit of help fielding the questions about costs. The client delivered zero help in response to my questions about strategy.
2. The eBook:
This was an email conversation with a prospect. It began with the arrival of a contact form. It was flattering, but frustrating too. In the first contact, I read how much the interested prospect enjoys and learns from my content, in particular my new eBook, "Strike A Chord: Lessons for Making Your Web Content Resonate." Then, in an effort to not waste my time, I guess, the prospect tells me he won't be able to afford my services. I offer to consult with him at no cost. Apparently he can afford that. We make an appointment to talk and screen-share. At that time, the plan is to discuss online marketing strategy for a new website.
A day later, it appears the planning session won't be necessary. He has my email address now-no need to return to my contact form. In come the questions.
"How much time would it take to create an eBook much like the one Feldman Creative just published?" Same question regarding an infographic we recently posted. Being the perceptive consultant I am (or would like to be), I gather the questions are really about fees, not time. In other words, "What would you charge me to...?"
Why bother with strategy when you can create an infographic?
[Sidebar now, your honor...] It's inevitable the agenda of the fishing expedition I just described was to arrive at a number of hours for the projects in question and multiply by my hourly rate. Unfair? Probably not. From where my prospect sits, it's probably a perfectly fair formula. And to be fairer still, it's probably my fault for forever falling into the selling your service by the hour trap. But the real answer to questions along the line of "How long did it take you to do X?" is 25 years. This is how much time I've put into learning my trade. A massive part of that learning experience (don't ask how much, please) involved learning how to connect creative execution to actual, thoughtful, realistic, measurable marketing objectives.
In what has to be filed under "Great ironies," just minutes before I had read a wonderfully inspired post from Duct Tape Marketing mastermind John Jantsch, "Why You Must Stop Selling Your Time." (Sidebar to my sidebar...) John has yet to climb Mount Everest, but because I know the man, read one of his great books and heard him speak on small business marketing strategy multiple times, I know he'd agree you'd best map the climb before attempting the 29,029-foot ascent.
Have I made my point?
"Fire, aim, ready" is bad business. You'll wind up shooting yourself.
And what about this Mount Everest thing? Perhaps the metaphor is a tad more imposing than need be. You might have some grand ambitions, but rather avoid territory where the air is so thin.
No matter my friend. Yours may be a smaller mountain, a hill, or even a sloped road. My advice remains the same. Don't go packing your gear just yet. If you embark on the venture without a map, you're making the biggest and most common of all marketing mistakes.
Get a plan together. If the notion gives you chills, get yourself a sherpa who know the way to the top. You've probably heard stories of people brazen enough to head up Mount Everest without one. I believe you know what happened to them.