Desperation Marketing – What it is, why you shouldn’t be doing it and what to do instead…

(Particularly if you’d like to create a rural or regional business that actually thrives…)

‘Desperation Marketing’ would have to be one of my pet peeves. Yet I see so many business owners going down this path…because, well, they ARE desperate.
And I get that.
You want your business to work and to bring in some money…so you can pay the bills and support your family.
Or possibly you’re like me, and you don’t want to go back to working for someone else in the city or doing something you hate.
Fair enough! Life is meant for living and having fun in my books (with money as a side-effect) – not working in some horrible job you hate, just to survive.
So, I thought we’d take a nice, detailed look into what ‘desperation marketing’ is – to help you identify it within your own marketing activities, and so you can spot it in your competitors too.
Plus, why it really does suck to go down that path and simply doesn’t work effectively, long-term.
AND what you should be doing with your marketing instead – so your business can thrive online (and offline too!) in the way that you desire.

What is Desperation Marketing?

Quite frankly, ‘desperation marketing’ is desperate. It’s where a business employs desperate marketing or promotional tactics, rather than designing and implementing a well thought out strategy.
These tactics may include:
  • Spamming Facebook groups
  • Discounting endlessly
  • Throwing random posts on their Facebook page – hoping people will like them
  • Screaming ‘buy now’ at their customers and clients
  • Featuring your products over and over again on Facebook in the same boring way, and again screaming ‘buy now’ at every opportunity.
These tactics SOMETIMES yield the odd sale on a short-term basis. Yet, this isn’t a solid marketing strategy that will serve you well in the long-term and generate a consistent level of sales in your business.
Generally smaller businesses resort to these tactics when they find themselves in a spot of bother financially. Or, in an effort to get things off the ground.
Trouble is, while you might see the odd sale when you throw up these random Facebook posts or offer a discount – people soon start tuning out to you.
And I see this a lot within the horse product industry in particular – so if that’s you, listen up.
Plus, before you start saying – I don’t spam Facebook groups – you probably do. I hear your protests that you’re simply ‘sharing’ your products and discounts and I call bull-dust on them.
Because you know all those little posts you share across several Facebook groups at once, just to try and reach as many people as you possibly can? That’s spamming. And, it doesn’t work.
Here’s why you shouldn’t run your business this way:
People are busy and honestly, don’t care about you or your business…
Consumers these days are smarter, busier and have far less patience for marketing material. Facebook tends to be flooded with it, so people simply switch off, and scroll right on past.
You might get the odd like, and the odd sale from someone who’s ready to buy that particular thing right now, or the occasional impulse buy – but you’re missing out on getting the attention of 95%+ of your target audience, who aren’t quite ready to buy from you yet.
It might work for one day – but not the next…
The moment you post a Facebook post, either on your own business page or by throwing it into a gazillion different Facebook groups – you may get a handful of sales.
But the next day? You probably won’t get any.
See the issue? It’s not predictable and relies on you posting (aka spamming annoyingly) constantly. Like always – and that’s kinda really painful for you and for them.
You’re doing what everyone else is doing…
In spamming Facebook groups, whether you see it as spamming or not (it is!), you’re basically doing what every other like business is doing too.
You therefore simply blend into the noise, and into nothingness.
That don’t get you no sales – instead it gets you crickets! Can you hear them chirping?
Discounting will land you in hot water, quite quickly…
When you resort to discounting your products and services on a regular basis, you end up killing your business. It decreases your profit margins – and essentially trains your customers and audience to wait for the discounts. They will simply stop paying full price, if you’re always on sale.
And providing your pricing is ‘on-pointe’ in the first place – you need to maximise your profit margins as much as possible – particularly if you’re selling products. Otherwise, you won’t remain profitable – and your doors will not stay open for long.
I don’t want your business to fail – and I’m sure you don’t either – so for all of the above reasons – just don’t resort to desperation marketing, pretty please?

What to do instead…

Now, for the fun part.
So, if you have been relying on desperate tactics, by spamming Facebook groups left, right and centre – don’t freak out just yet. There is an answer, and it doesn’t have to be overly tricky. Pinky swear!
What you do need to do, is to get your business foundations RIGHT, and come up with a REAL online marketing strategy that truly works.
Clearly, precisely how you market your business will entirely depend on your exact business and who you’re target market is. But regardless, these are the main steps you will want to follow.

Step 1: Determine your ideal audience or customer

Believe it or not, your aim is not to market to everyone on the blooming planet.
For example – your target market if you’re selling horse products, is not everyone who owns a horse.
When coming up with your business plan, business idea and your marketing – you need to decide and get really clear on the precise TYPE of horse person you wish to target.
That way – you won’t be marketing western horse riding gear to an English rider – and vice versa – etc.
And these days, where possible, you need to go fairly deep into the characteristics of your ideal customer. Choosing English riders may not be enough – you need to know whether they are a member of a particular type of club, whether they trail ride at weekends, what they feed their horses, where they keep their horses, what colour horse they have and even what colour hair they have.
The more detail – the better, as this makes you stand out in a particular market.

Step 2: Ensure your products and/or services fit with your ideal target market.

If you’re changing course or narrowing down your ideal customer, you may want to conduct a review of your current products and/or services (depending on what your business does) – to ensure they are still ‘right’.
You may need to do a little customer research here, which can easily be achieved by surveying your existing audience, or simply chatting to your ideal customer wherever it is that they hang out – and listen to what they say and like.

Step 3: Focus on helping, not selling

Next, you need to shift your marketing focus from selling to your audience or ideal customer to simply helping them.
This means you must stop shouting ‘buy now’ at them – and plastering ‘buy now’ over your social media and any other marketing channels.
In fact – you’re now only allowed to directly ask for the sale 20% of the time. The other 80% of your marketing MUST be helpful, educational, inspirational or interesting.
In this way, you’re offering value upfront, and selling in a more subtle, longer-term way. You’re nurturing and building a relationship with your customers (or potential customers), to get them through your door (either virtually or in the physical realm) and continued good service and ‘nurturing’ will hopefully keep them buying again, and again.
It may even get them recommending you to their friends – which is by far one of THE best forms of marketing out there.

Step 4: Content marketing strategies…

Now, we take a leap into the actual ‘tactics’ or things you must do!
First up, you need to be writing blog posts. Some digital marketing experts claim that writing blog posts is no longer effective – but I disagree.
Done well and used well, they can form the basis of your online content marketing strategy (as they can be published and re-purposed in many different ways on your social platforms).
They certainly can have a positive impact on your search rankings on Google (SEO), providing you choose trending topics and you make them in-depth enough.
However, the true value lies in helping your customer. Blog posts can be inspirational, educational and utterly engaging (when you’re clever and creative!) and could well be the thing that kicks your potential customer across the line, so that they actually buy from you.
These days – the longer your blog post is the better, even going so far of 2000 – 3000 words, as the stats show that this helps your Google rankings and apparently gets more shares and engagement on Facebook.
However – I generally recommend starting with shorter posts, particularly if you’re only just starting out with your blog writing. Starting somewhere, with 600 – 800-word posts, is far better than getting overwhelmed by the effort involved with writing a more lengthy article and doing nothing.
Once you get the hang of the shorter posts, you can then start making them longer. If you have several shorter posts that can be tied together in a relevant overall theme – you can then rework these into your longer blog posts too.

Step 5: Re-purpose

Once you have your blog posts written and uploaded to your website – you need to share that baby on to your social platforms.
You can also (very strategically) share these super-helpful articles within relevant Facebook groups. Remember – we’re not asking people to buy – but offering helpful advice that will give them something, gain their interest and their trust.
Not only that, but this content can go even further.
You can take quotes or snippets out of each blog post and post them onto social media from time to time as well.
And, there is no harm in rehashing older blog post and re-posting them on your socials, say every 6 months. Chances are, you’ll reach different people each time, so no one will no the difference between a ‘re-hash’ and a ‘newbie’.

Step 7: Test & Refine…

As you begin to get into the swing of writing blog posts and sharing great social media content, you should start to get a feel for what works and what doesn’t. Particularly on Facebook (and other platforms) you have access to some pretty comprehensive statistics and in the form of customer/audience reactions.
If a particular post gets a good reaction, with lots of comments, likes and shares – see if you can do more of that.

Step 8: Get your foundations (website) right!

This step could well be placed in between Step 3 and Step 4 – but regardless, getting your website right, will serve as the foundation of your businesses success.
Because there really is a very precise art and science to building a high-converting, effective website – particularly when it comes to the messaging or copy.
And I’m not just saying this because I’m a Website Copywriter!
Many business owners focus purely on how their website looks – without thinking of their customer or how they’re communicating their message.
Words on the page matter people!
Creating an effective website is so much more than producing a glorified business card, that simply states ‘here I am, this is what I do’. Your website is not about you – it’s about them.
Your copy needs to be engaging and in the right tone for your particular audience, and lead them through a process where they start knowing nothing about you or what you offer, and gradually warm them up to you – and get them to take action or buy.
This is not easy to do as a business owner, as we’re often too close to our own businesses – so a professional copywriter who specialises in your particular type of business and industry can make all the difference as to whether your business succeeds or is a total flop.
There is absolutely ZERO POINT to working on your content marketing strategy etc. to drive traffic (potential customers) to your website, if your website is not presented, written and optimised to convert that traffic into paying clients and customers.

Step 9: Scaling and growing

Content marketing is just one piece of the online marketing puzzle. It’s a good thing to start with though, as it’s completely free to do as you’re taking advantage of the ‘organic’ tactics available to you via social media etc.
Once you hit the right types of messages and posts that are getting traction, you can then start delving into the world of paid ads on Facebook etc. That’s where you’re able to target even more people, than what you can reach organically.
Along with Facebook (or social) ads, you’ll want to start implementing a sales funnel, to start growing your email marketing database.
But all of that starts getting pretty complicated – and is a topic for another day.

Stop being so desperate, and get cleverer with your online marketing…

Hopefully by now, you’ll have discovered some REAL online marketing strategies that will catapult your business forward, and grow your business on a consistent basis, without getting all desperate.
But if you need any further clarification, feel free to give me a shout.
Sarah – The Rural Copywriter :)