I was walking through Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. today when I stumbled across the throng of media and protestors in front of the Supreme Court. They were there for the Supreme Court deliberations on the constitutionality of Obamacare. There were some groups carrying banners against the health care reform law, while some were for it.
As I was making my way through the crowds, one man was handing business cards. As he hands his card to the people gathering in the Supreme Court, he tells them (me included):
Check out my ideas on how to reform the government and health care. Visit my website.
At first glance, it seems like a good match: here was a man promoting a website on his views to reform the government, amongst the crowd of people who care enough about the policies of the government, specifically health care, to actually come before the Supreme Court.
Except that his website was not about reforming the government. Instead, he was promoting a home improvement site, and his site has NOTHING to do with government policies. It turns out that he is a contractor.
The tactic for me was highly questionable for a number of reasons:
- The success of your marketing efforts depend on your ability to reach your targeted market. Just because there is a big crowd and you handed out all 1,000 of your business cards do not mean that these people are your target market. Do not confuse numbers with the effectiveness of your marketing campaign. Read the article “Shotgun vs. Rifle Approach to Marketing Your Home Business”
- Branding is about presenting an image or personality of your business in the eyes of your customers. It starts with how you interact with possible clients, and the message you impart in your various touch points with them. With this guy’s misrepresentation, it is entirely plausible that potential clients may be turned off with his tendency to fib some details to suit his purposes — and for someone in the contracting business, this is not what you want to show potential clients.
- Be wise about how you spend your time. As a small business owner, we tend to wear many hats and oftentimes find that there’s not enough hours in a day to accomplish all the tasks we’ve set out to do. Given our limited time, it is important to focus on tasks that will give you the most results. Standing on the street for hours giving away business cards to people who may not be looking for a home improvement contractor (a number of protestors came from out-of-state) does not look like effective use of time for me.
As small business owners, it’s much tougher for us to spread the word about our businesses. Getting our products and services known is a business challenge we all must think about. But I don’t believe we need to resort to cheap tactics and gimmicks — as these could even backfire on us. Focus your energy, resources and time on marketing strategies that could bring the most results. Start by honing your strategies with laser like focus designed to reach the target demographic.