I did a lot of home improvements a little while ago and found myself thinking about that old Tom Hanks movie, "The Money Pit," where a couple tries vainly to fix a house. The stairway falls apart, the bathtub falls through the floor, the chimney collapses... The repairs go on and on, but the house continues to deteriorate.

Now, my house was never in that state. The changes we made to it were mainly cosmetic (and making those improvements was hard enough!) We specifically bought our house because it was newer and to avoid "Money Pit" problems. I didn't want to face those types of projects and problems with my first house.

But, of course, I started thinking about how the concept of a Money Pit house relates to a small business brand. I've run into a lot of entrepreneurs who tell me "I've been marketing my business for years, but I feel like I'm just creating more and more promotional materials and not getting anywhere."

You may be spending e-zine credits or money on postage sending promotions out into what seems like a big, empty, customer-less void. You may be paying a yearly hosting fee—without getting any leads from your website. Or you may be going to networking events, delivering your "elevator pitch," and getting blank stares in return.

That's how it feels to have a brand that's a Money Pit.

You hire designers and writers to put promotions together. Maybe you're writing and designing materials yourself—in which case we're talking about a Time Pit, and your time is worth a lot, right? Whatever, your efforts never seem to get you anything in return. No customers, no inquiries, and no work! This is definitely not what you want to be spending your time and money on. You want to create promotions that go out into the world and get results.

How to create a brand that's a client machine instead of a Money Pit.

1. Create a Brand Definition: Having a clear definition of who you are, what you do, what differentiates you, and who you work best with can drive your marketing efforts. Once you know all this, you can create consistent, effective marketing efforts that make you look professional and enable clients to remember you when they have a need you can fill.

2. Market consistently: I'm referring to timing—how often you market (We're not talking about sending out a newsletter every day for a week and then going silent for 6 months!)—and branding—how you design and write your materials. Consistency helps prospects remember you and increases the chance that your materials will be in front of them at the right time.

3. Create a marketing plan: With a strategy, you'll get the exposure you need without feeling that you're running around trying to "fix" things. Part of the frustration of Money Pit marketing is that you're bouncing from project to project while things seem to be getting worse. If you plan your marketing efforts instead of reacting to events and panicking, you'll be able to create materials that look intentional instead of thrown together. Which can help you communicate more effectively with clients and prospects.

4. Mix up your marketing—strategically: Instead of marketing one service one week and another the next, create a timeline that has you marketing one product or service for a while and then moving on to the next. This will help you develop a conversation with your clients and reinforce a feeling of consistency.

Mix up your marketing methods—but not to the extent that you're printing materials or creating web pages that won't be used. Always ask yourself how you'll use a marketing piece. If you're creating it for a single networking event, that might not be the best use of your time or money. Try to get the biggest bang for your marketing buck.

If you market with intention, strategy, and consistency, you'll be more likely to see great results instead of being dragged down into a branding Money Pit.

bigstock_Falling_Money_669153

[Via Elf Design]

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