Most businesses leaders that I interact with have one thing in common:They know they should be doing something to promote their business, but they don’t know where to start.They throw marketing ideas at the wall like spaghetti to see what sticks. And while they are trying to reinvent the wheel, their business doesn’t grow, they can’t get new clients, and they can’t figure out the problem.They even look at what their competition is doing and assume it’s the right thing, only to find another dead end.It’s a deep, dark, marketing money pit.To address this issue, I wanted to help you uncover some of the main areas where you may be throwing your marketing dollars down the toilet.Most Print AdvertisingFor most business owners, this is probably the first thing to mind and the most tempting starting point with advertising. However, it is one of the least cost effective channels for promotion.Print advertising in the newspaper, Yellow pages, magazine, or billboard that will potentially be seen by your audience can cost thousands of dollars per month (or even hundreds of thousands if you are working on a bigger scale.) This can eat up an entire marketing budget very quickly.Study after study tells us that an advertisement needs to be seen 7 times before people begin to tie it to your brand - and even more times for them to actually take action. So in order for most print to be effective, you need to get these print pieces in front of the right people so many times that they are actually likely to act.Some quick math will tell you this could literally put you of business in a hurry. I believe there are many more cost effective ways for small businesses to get their message in from of the right audience.SEO/SEMOne of my main "preaching points” when it comes to marketing is "you have to engage people where they live….online”. However, spending money on SEO/SEM is really tempting for obvious reasons, but can be a money trap if you aren’t prepared.Why? In order or these techniques work, you need to have a good amount of information on your target audience and what they are searching for. It is also beneficial to analyze what your competitors are doing and how you can exploit the holes that are available.SEO/SEM is a more advanced technique that I would recommend for those who already have strong brand recognition or a product that has a lot of traction. From those sources you have customer data you can leverage to use these channels well.If you are just start starting out with marketing, I would avoid investing money in SEO/SEM in the short-term.Brand Awareness CampaignsThere are 2 principle types marketing:Direct response marketing is when you directly ask for someone to buy your product or service, or engage in something you are offering. That’s how you sell your services, move products, and build a successful business.Awareness marketing is spreading the word that you exist, without making any specific ask. Brand awareness is extremely important long-term commitment and can be done effectively through many free or cheap channels.Brand awareness campaigns are a long-term strategy that is great for platform building and creating more influence for your brand. However, it is more difficult to tie the revenue to these type of campaigns. For a small business who needs to increase concrete metrics and meet revenue projection for next quarter, awareness marketing isn’t the answer.These include things like sponsorships, commercial spots, wrapping your car with a logo, or giving away freebies at a trade show. Generally speaking, it’s unrealistic to expect to slap your logo on something and expect people tp give you a call. Again these campaigns are a long-term investment that works well for multi-million dollar companies that have multi million dollar marketing budgets and fight for marketshare in a highly competitive space.My first recommendation to small-medium-sized businesses is to spend marketing dollars tactically, rather than strategically. This means you set goals for and measure every marketing activity by whether (and how well) it creates sales leads or shortens the sales cycle.Hiring unqualified people to guide your marketingEarlier I mentioned something referred to in the industry as the "marketing money pit". This represents the business owners who throw marketing ideas at the wall like spaghetti to see what sticks, and the “marketers” and “designers” who gladly take their money for service they know will not create value for the client.The result is tremendously under-performing businesses and freelancers that are lining their pockets without adding real value.These people will try to sell you a second-rate website, questionable SEO tactics, and lofty promises X number of traffic, visitors, or sales. If you find yourself in a conversation with one of these people, politely step away from the conversation. These kind of people can almost never delivery actual long-term value.What should I be doing instead?Instead, you deserve a trusted guide who understands your real-world problems and can take you by the hand and help you implement a proven plan of action. This person won’t make lofty promises, but will get in the trenches with you and help you get real clarity about your brand identity, your message, and how to communicate it effectively to grow your business.I’d love to have a short conversation to see if we would be a good fit to work together to clarify your message, improve your marketing strategy, and get your business the attention it deserves in your community.Do you want to 2x your revenue while chopping your marketing budget in half?Let’s talk.