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Marketing Addiction Is the Struggling Entrepreneur's Pitfall

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If you're struggling to create a sustainable business, you might be addicted to marketing. Every day seems to bring a new marketing tool that promises more traffic, more reach and more clients. The seduction is hard to resist. But more often than not, the payoff is exhaustion and a low account balance -- the exact opposite of the financial freedom you crave.


Whether you realize it or not, you create the struggle each time you prioritize novelty and omnipresence over a focused business strategy. Without clear direction, every direction seems sexy and full of potential. As your fatigue and debt increase, your confidence declines. That's a recipe for failure.

I believe technology is a main cause of marketing addiction. In the attempt to keep up with every new option, we have cast aside powerful marketing strategies such as talking to people live. And I do mean live, not Facebook Live. Internet-based connection might help your reach, but it still pales to in-person relationship building and the many conversations it can foster.

Related: 8 Common Ways Small Businesses Waste Money Marketing

One of my clients was frustrated she couldn't get enough of her own customers, despite working hard and being tired as a result of all that work. She was writing a book, developing a program, blogging and updating her website. She also was paying a social media strategist $500 a month. I asked her how many clients she'd gained from her social media investment. "None," she said. Her strategy was about keeping up with everyone else and maintaining social media presence. She'd started questioning whether she should give up her business because hard work was not paying the bills.

If you don't pay attention to your finances, you'll quickly fall behind on payments. The more marketing channels you pay for, the more bills you have. If you're not getting more clients while you increase your expenses, you're creating more debt.

How do you shift from marketing addict to profitable business owner? You become more focused and intentional in how you choose your business activities. Here are five practical ways to get started.

1. Take a day off from marketing.

Pay attention to how easy or difficult it is for you to stop using your marketing tools for one day. Notice what you miss and what you're relieved to ignore. You'll have a harder time getting clients through marketing activities you hate or don't understand. Why? Because you won't use those channels effectively.

2. Look at your bills.

Take out your credit card statements. All of them. Open up Excel and create two columns -- one named "Marketing Tool" and the other called "Monthly Expense." Record every tool and every dollar amount in the appropriate column. Then hit the AutoSum button and stare at the total monthly debt that's killing your business.

Related: 7 Creative Strategies for Marketing Your Startup on a Tight Budget

3. Do the math.

Evaluate your ROI and eliminate strategies that haven't brought you clients or income. Go back to your Excel spreadsheet and add two more columns: "Number of Clients Generated" and "Monthly Income."

For each tool you're using, record how many clients have come to you as a direct result of that method. Include free apps such as Twitter and LInkedIn, and don't forget any blog posts or email blasts. Any row with a zero needs to justify its existence. These are the first tools you should consider eliminating or spending less time on, at least in the short term.

In the "Monthly Income" column, note how much revenue you earned from each tool. Again, anything with a zero next to it should be on your hit list. This is equally important for your free tools. Spending huge amounts of time on a free tool that doesn't bring you clients is just as bad as spending huge amounts of money.

4. Consider your target market.

Think about the numbers while you complete this exercise. Make sure any tool you use is one that your target market uses, too. If you won't reach a substantial audience within your key segments, it's not worth your time, effort or money. You can make all the noise you want there, but no one you're trying to reach will hear you.

Related: 10 Budget-Conscious Digital Marketing Strategies

5. Create a business strategy.

Align your investments with your goals for the next year. How much money do you want to make? How many clients or sales do you need to reach that goal? Where do your clients come from? How do you reach them? Once you understand these answers, you can determine which tools will help you reach these goals. Then, stop focusing on the ones that don't.

Remember that client I mentioned earlier? We cut her focus down to three main activities that suited her goals and her style. She started getting more clients. After six months she had nine monthly clients, and she reached 15 monthly clients shortly thereafter.

Marketing tools either will support your business goals or distract you from reaching them. Outlining clear intentions lets you make empowered choices that help bring you one step closer to financial freedom.

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