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Ask Haley: What’s the best marketing investment right now?

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Q: What’s the best marketing investment right now?

A: Do “one-size-fits-all” clothes ever really fit? Every day, I get more and more emails from “marketing experts” touting the latest miracle cure. Despite what you might read about social media, SEO, email marketing or even cold calling, there are no miracle cures…no quick fixes…no ultimate marketing tools.
Except one.
And that’s you. The best marketing investment you can make now is in developing and leveraging your talent, your intelligence, and your creativity. Don’t get me wrong, now is an ideal time for marketing, but first you need to make an investment in yourself.
Step 1: Get out of your business.

No, I don’t mean it’s time to fold-up the tents and start a new career. But it is time to step back from the day-to-day firefighting to seriously assess the business you are in. The world has changed, and while it will come back, only the strong…and the nimble will survive. When you’re spending 8, 9, 10 or more hours of your day battling the blazes, it’s impossible to focus on the big picture and see new opportunities.
Step 2: Get input.

Don’t rely on the news for your economic forecast. Call your clients. Call your vendors. Call your peers. Ask everyone you can a few questions:
* What’s going on in your business right now?
* What’s the outlook for the next 6 to 12 months?
* How is your business changing?
* Where do you see your opportunities?
* What threats do you see and how are you going to address them?
If you’re a hockey fan, you know that Wayne Gretzky credited his amazing success to one simple principle: “Skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been.” In hockey, great players learn to anticipate where the puck will go. In business, you need to develop a radar system that gives you an accurate sense of your market and where it is headed.
Step 3: Rethink and reinvent your business.

You are not in the staffing business or the recruiting business, or whatever else you do today. You’re in the business of helping certain types of people achieve certain kinds of results.
* Could you do it better?
* How could you do it faster?
* How could you do it more efficiently?
* What other customers could you serve?
* Where else could you provide your services?

Or better yet, how could you not just beat the competition, but completely change the paradigm for your business to make the competition irrelevant?
You may be familiar with the concept of Blue Ocean Strategy. It’s about creating industries that are not in existence today. It’s about creating “value innovation”–ways to deliver both greater value to the market while reducing services desired by clients (and in the process lowering costs).
Now is the time to question everything you do. It’s time to challenge the norms in your industry. It’s time to truly be an entrepreneur and take your business to where the puck is going to go.

And if you make this marketing investment, the ones you then make in more traditional branding, lead generation, lead nurturing and client retention will be far more profitable.

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