When It Comes To Growing Your Business, Stick To Knitting

“To do two things at once is to do neither.” – Publilius Syrus (Moral Sayings, 1st century B.C.)

In a recent article in Newsletter on Newsletters, marketing pro Betsy Morris identifies “nine ways to market your product line on a shoestring.”

Some of her ideas include using feedback forms (comment cards that collect data that can be used for marketing), selling article reprints to seminar speakers, and putting out an annual ranking of some sort to draw press attention.

All these things make sense on paper. They are cheap, and they do work. The trouble is, they don’t work very well. And they take almost as much time and energy as direct mail, the primary method for marketing newsletters.

Businesspeople who pursue these kinds of marketing programs usually regret the time they spend on them. I’m generally opposed to such schemes. I think they are especially bad for new business owners. Ironically, it is they who are often “seduced” into spending time and money on them because of their supposed economic advantages.

The problem is this: In return for the relatively low cost of such programs, they give up a lot of their valuable time and brainpower. The result — in my experience — is almost always the same. At the end of the day, they are working too hard for too little.

Every business has two or three critical numbers that business builders need to pay attention to. Likewise, every business has one, two, or three marketing methods that produce the most customers.

As a general rule, you are better off eschewing the esoteric and secondary marketing efforts while you are growing. Your time is much better spent doing the harder work: making the basic marketing plan work.

It’s not easy to do the hard thing, but it usually pays off. When your fundamental marketing program is failing, don’t abandon it for secondary or tertiary efforts — no matter how inexpensive they may be. The greatest asset you have or ever will have when it comes to growing your business is your ability to do the basic marketing work. Spend the time you’d spend on the funny stuff on the basics and you’ll grow gradually, steadily, and enormously over time.

If and when you are lucky enough to have a big, thriving business, you can hire someone to try out these secondary and tertiary marketing schemes. But while you are still growing, stick to your knitting.

[Ed. Note.  Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]