One of the things I find extremely interesting is the number of small business owners who are out of touch with their marketing efforts, both online and off. It’s more than having an ad or making a payment to the same marketing company that you’ve made payments to for years. It’s understanding the metrics and data, and comparing it to other data sources in order to make good decisions moving forward.

It is about knowing who your customers are and what they truly want, and understanding how they shop for your services or goods. It’s about putting out consistent messaging on your business cards, your ads, your website, and your social sites in graphics and words.

Yet for many very overworked small business owners, it’s just easier to hand your marketing over to whoever is the cheapest or the easiest to deal with — to just get something done and “out there.” After all, if you throw it “out there,” someone will eventually see it and call or click. At least that’s what you’ve been told, or what you want to believe because you’ve just spent a lot of money on that approach.

The problem is that when you are dealing with multiple people and companies, it’s easy to duplicate efforts and have multiple ads showing up on the same websites. You can easily end up with a bunch of different ads with different logos and messages because you left the creative to each marketing business you are working with.

This does not mean your marketing vendors are not professional or don’t know what they are doing. It means you haven’t taken responsibility for your own company’s messaging. Here’s the thing: you are the business owner, the one responsible for making the decisions that surround and affect your business. To paraphrase Harry Truman, the buck stops with you.

Do You Know What Your Message Is?

Message development is one of the foundational principles of any business marketing effort. Do you know what your message is? If you think it’s, “I sweep chimneys,” you are missing the point. Every chimney company sweeps chimneys. Why should your potential clients choose your company? Are you the best, the cleanest, do you have the sexiest technicians? Hope you laughed at that last one… but seriously, what separates you from your competition? Why should I call you? That’s what your message should be centered around.

Of course, if you don’t like your current message, you can always change it. Just do it in a way that makes sense within the context of your overall story. Most legit marketing companies have ways to help you get this right. And if you need help defining your message, start talking to other business owners in the chimney services industry. Ask your customers what makes you special. Why do they call you every year? Why do people pass you over for your competition? It may be that your message is poorly communicating your best, most distinctive qualities. If so, you can and should change it.

Is Your Message Consistent?

When it comes to creating an effective message, consistency is key. Whether you pass the strategy and the work off to a marketing partner, or do all the heavy lifting yourself, make sure your marketing efforts are consistent. Getting your message out there takes a tremendous amount of effort, especially in the beginning. It’s like getting a rocket off the ground – it’s never gonna happen if you only give it a little fuel every now and then.

If you don’t have a consistent message, or the time or money to be consistent with your efforts to get it out there, your business is going to hobble along in fits and starts, and never gain the momentum it needs to truly flourish. You need to be consistent.

As people come into contact with a consistent, unified message on a consistent basis, your company will start owning real market share, and your competition will never know what hit them. Please believe me when I say that this is worth getting right.