I believe there’s a process that any person can go through that will make them a better marketer, guaranteed. I started my own business in 2001 after spending seven years at a large company. I found out very quickly that when you venture out on your own, you truly are alone.
And it’s a lot scarier of a place than being in a corporate bubble. I found out that when you start your own business, the line between success and failure is razor thin. And when the decisions you make directly impact how well your business performs, you tend to look at things differently than when you are spending someone else’s money. And that’s an incredible lesson, and one that’s hard to learn elsewhere.
When It Gets Personal, You Learn Quickly
After launching my own business and mapping out my services and solutions, it was time to market them. That included taking a chunk of my own money to fund my marketing budget. And let me tell you, it was an entirely different feeling when I was spending my own money. Using my own hard-earned money to fuel marketing campaigns was an incredible experience and yielded some powerful marketing lessons.
You can’t learn those lessons in class, from a book, or even at a company that’s giving you a budget to spend. And the effect it has on your own business perspective and how you manage client campaigns is priceless (no pun intended). So, if you have never spent your own money to market a product or service before, you should (and I will quickly explain the process I recommend below). Then I’ll explain some inherent learnings you will gain during the process of “putting some skin in the game.” Are you up for the challenge?
If you’re ready to become a better marketer by funding your own campaign, then follow the process below. Believe me, you may never look at a client’s budget the same way again.
1. Identify Your Product or Service
The first thing you need to do is to identify the product or service you are going to market. You can market your own freelance service, a product you developed, training you built, an ebook you’ve written, or anything that you feel comfortable selling. If you don’t have anything to sell of your own, then find someone close to you that does.
For example, approach a family member or good friend that has a business and tell them that you’re going to help them market their product or service using your own budget (for a generous commission of course). Hey, if you are putting some skin the game, you should have the ability to be rewarded. Once you identify what you’re selling, make sure there is content online that you can drive prospective customers to. If a landing page or site hasn’t been created yet, you’ll need to build one (either by yourself or by using part of your budget.)
2. Stretch Out Those Alligator Arms & Reach Your Wallet
Yes, now you need to fund the campaign. Reach into your wallet and find your budget. To make this fair, let’s use a percentage of salary that could work for a majority of people. I recommend taking 5% of your total salary as the budget for your marketing campaign. So, if you earn $25K per year, you’ll spend $1250. If you earn $50K per year, you’ll spend $2500. And if you earn $100K, then you’ll spend $5000. And yes, it’s obviously ok to use less, if needed. Just make sure there’s enough budget to make some type of impact.
3. Develop Your Marketing Strategy
OK, online marketing big shot… now’s the chance to put your money where your mouth is. At this point, you need to map out your strategy to generate sales. Once you start brainstorming ideas, you’ll probably notice a transformation occurring. You might be taking this conversation a little more seriously now that your money is in the game.
Will you run paid search, Facebook advertising, how strong are your organic rankings, do you have an in-house email list, and what assets can you leverage that are already in place? You might experience a sudden feeling of excitement, fear, and nausea, and you might realize that you never felt this way until your own dollars were on the line. Don’t worry, you’re experiencing a side effect of entrepreneurship, and it’s hard to reproduce that feeling without funding your own gig (or riding roller coasters over the age of 35). By the way, I’ll explain more about the lessons you will learn during this process later in the post.
4. Projections and The Upside of Entrepreneurship
Even though you run the risk of losing your own money (and some of you will), you can also end up making money (if you do a good job and generate a profit). I’ll explain more about Return on Investment (ROI) later in the post. At this point, you should run projections based on various performance scenarios. Run the numbers using various success levels to identify how much you can earn. Once you have your strategy in place and your projections, you can get ready to launch.