You know, I love receiving questions and comments from readers and I take the time to respond to everything personally and in detail wherever I can.
But there’s one common question (or variations of it) that tends to solicit a facetious response from me and that’s “What’s the quickest way to make my business successful?” That question is like asking me “How long is the piece of string I’m holding that you can’t see?” The fact is it doesn’t really matter how I answer either of those questions because, without any information, my response can only be a stab in the dark that may or may not be helpful.
So from now on, when I receive questions like this, I’ll be directing the inquirer to this blog post where I’m about to expose my secret strategy for marketing your business like a pro.
The first thing you need to know is: Pros don’t take short cuts!
Growing a successful business is like losing weight; it’s a daily, focused process consisting of testing and tweaking ideas and monitoring results. You don’t go for one run and suddenly have the body of a pro athlete. You set goals and each day you do a little bit of the right stuff that brings you closer to them. Then when you reach those goals you set new goals and you start working towards those. Over time it becomes a healthy obsession that’s just part of what you do all the time.
That’s the high level gist of this post. If you’re still with me, keep reading and let's go deep.
The “Marketing Hierarchy of Success” that I’m about to share with you is loosely based on Abraham Maslow’s concept of the human hierarchy of needs.
Maslow studied people who he described as “exemplary” such as Abraham Lincoln and Eleanor Roosevelt, to devise a 5-tier hierarchy that describes the development of healthy individuals. The broad concept is that people are first motivated to fulfill their basic physiological needs (food, water, air etc.) before advancing and mastering each of the upper levels. At the highest level a person achieves self-actualization where they are capable of continuously growing and realizing their full potential. Maslow suggests that a person’s lower level needs must be met in order to avoid unpleasant feelings such as anxiety. As the person advances upwards, their needs stem from a desire to grow rather than to avoid pain.
So how does this relate to business marketing and how can you use it?
Below I’ll share with you the details of my 3-tier “Marketing Hierarchy of Success”. At the lowest level, business owners are performing the basic marketing tactics required to keep their business humming along. When they can consistently perform the basics at tier one and add tier two activities to their marketing they start to experience rapid business growth. Adding tier 3 activities into the mix is about reaching a level of marketing mastery. At the highest level, the business owner has built a system of defined processes while continuously learning and incorporating new marketing ideas. They are constantly monitoring, reviewing results and redefining the marketing plan and strategy.
As with Maslow’s theory, the “Marketing Hierarchy of Success” is based on the expectation that the entrepreneur masters each level before advancing and incorporating the next level.
Let’s discuss the three marketing tiers that drive business success.
Tier 1: Surviving
A business owner that’s operating at a tier one level is maintaining their business by consistently performing the daily, weekly and monthly marketing activities required to keep things going. These include, but are not defined or limited to, the following types of activities:
Tier one activities are performed consistently and frequently. They are the basic marketing activities required to attract and retain customers. At the lowest level of performance they enable an owner to keep the lights on while juggling monthly cash flow. At the highest level of performance, tier one activities result in the slow and steady growth of the company.
Tier 2: Thriving
Tier two is where all the fun starts to happen and things get really exciting! This is when events like a media promotion, speaking event, tradeshow or anniversary party occur. The result is a massive revenue spike for a day or two then small incremental gains continue for months or years afterward as the point-in-time effort continues to payoff.
Tier two activities are not ad-hoc events that happen by accident. They are planned at the beginning of every year and can be relied upon to boost revenue.
At this level, the business owner is performing tier one and two activities using defined processes and tools. Their annual marketing plan and budget includes itemized tier one and two activities that they know, with reasonable certainty, will result in a minimum of X dollars for the year. The processes include constant monitoring and review of results and refining future marketing plans to effectively utilize all available resources. This is a healthy place to be on the road to business success.
Tier 3: Optimizing
Pros know that they must continuously learn and try new techniques and strategies that keep them sharp and at the top of their game. When a business owner reaches tier three, they are continuously learning, trying new tactics, checking results and tweaking things to make it work or dropping it because it doesn’t work.
Tier three activities are ad-hoc and untested new ideas. They are the cream on top of your marketing pie. They are expected, in the sense that a “miscellaneous” bucket was included in the annual marketing budget and plan. However, the exact activity and complete details are not known until later in the year.
When the results of a tier three activity are positive and repeatable, it is moved down the hierarchy and reclassified as a tier one or two activity next year. It is removed from the “miscellaneous” bucket and itemized in the marketing plan and budget of the following year. Planning includes lessons learned and details of any changes or improvements needed to accelerate the results of activities in future years.
To clarify, the diagram below provides an overview of the “Marketing Hierarchy of Success”.
In 1943, Maslow coined the term “meta-motivation” meaning the motivation of people who go beyond the scope of their basic needs and strive for constant betterment to reach their full potential. These days we call this “hustle”.
If you want to build a successful business you need a whole lot of hustle!
Using the “Marketing Hierarchy of Success” to market your business like a pro will definitely take a lot of hustle because it requires you to master and perform on all three levels. Unfortunately, many business owners are inconsistent and oscillate between each level but are never able to perform at all three levels simultaneously. When you can build a marketing system of defined processes and activities, your business will reach it’s full potential.
What do you think? I know this has been a long blog post but I hope I've given you enough detail to create a customized "Marketing Hierarchy of Success" for your business. I'd love to hear your thoughts and answer any questions in the comments section below.
And if you know anyone who could benefit from reading this article, please share it with them now. Your thoughtfulness just may accelerate your friend's business.