What Building a Fence and Marketing Have in Common

A while back, my fence was needing a major overhaul. I got several bids from several reputable vendors and wasn’t too excited about paying thousands to install a new fence and having to wait weeks for the contractors to be able to squeeze me in. A neighbor heard my concerns and suggested a handyman he had used for several rental properties. This handyman came out and gave me a bid that was significantly less than everyone else and who could start ASAP (red flag #1). I didn’t feel that references were needed as he came recommended by my good friend. Once work started, I noticed that the workers appeared to be family and more of manual labor, rather than skilled craftsman (red flag #2). When I came home to inspect their initial work, my concerns were confirmed – the work was substantially substandard. I approached the contractor and outlined each of my concerns, to which he agreed to remedy. A few days later the issues were not resolved and additional construction continued to be unacceptable. I ended up firing the contractor and having to hire another to completely re-do the project. I ended up with a project that took twice as long, caused significant headaches and stress, and cost significantly more than if I had opted for the reputable option out of the gate.

I was reminded of the quote: “If you think it is expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur” Red Adair

At Epic, we have found that critical errors are common in the early stages of marketing for many businesses. Many times new businesses will go with the quick, easy, and cheap option right out of the gate. Often this ends up hampering their ability to scale, as much of that early work has to be re-done, thus transforming those early projects into long, difficult, and expensive endeavors. If these elements had been done properly from the outset, they would have withstood the need to re-tool during the growth phase of their business.

  1. What’s your WHY? If you don’t know it, your customers will never care.
    – What is your motivation for business (life)?
    – Why does your business need to exist?
    – What problems do you solve?
    – What is your Unique Selling Position?
    – What is your Value Proposition?
  2. Branding – this will live forever and provide the first impression to most of the market.
    – Name
    – Logo
    – Colors
    – Style, Voice & Tone Guide
    – Visuals
  3. Website – this is the central hub for all marketing. Do it right and think about growth.
    – Custom not Cookie Cutter
    – What do you want people to do? Why would they do it? Funnels!!!
    – Don’t be “mobile-friendly”, be “mobile-first”
  4. Collateral – how do you present yourself?
    – Business cards, letterheads, etc. (yes – they still matter)
    – Kit covers, sales brochures, one-sheets, etc.
    – Email templates, signatures, office templates (PowerPoint, agenda, etc.)
  5. Digital Presence – beyond website
    Social profiles – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.
    – Maps – Google, Apple, Yelp, etc.
    – Industry – Houzz, Thumbtack, Angie’s List, Pinterest, etc.

We have fielded hundreds of inquiries from small businesses where many are asking essentially the same question: “How do I generate the newest business with the least amount of expense and headache?”

This is similar to me asking a contractor, “What is the cheapest, quickest, and easiest fence option?” The contractor would likely suggest a chain-link fence that may fit the requests, but not be what I actually want or need. Instead, the contractor’s ability to achieve my short and long term satisfaction goals will improve as they strive to understand the motivation behind my request, my vision for the future, and current budget parameters. He would then understand that while quick and inexpensive were initial motivators, they are not critical in the long-term. I want a fence that will last, be visually appealing, and require little maintenance. Given this new information, he can then show me how a slightly more expensive option (wood or vinyl) would better achieve my objectives and help me to understand the value of investing in a better quality product.

For a small business entering the marketing arena, early performance is critical as it can dramatically impact the bottom line (both for good and bad). Unnecessary expenses or time required to fix mistakes can rob a business of key resources that are critical in a start-up phase.

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