By: Sandra Clayton
A lot has changed that affects how we view and conduct business. For one, our economy has changed, and as a result there are many, many women who once worked at large corporations who either left by choice or have been laid off or let go. A sizable number of us are 50-ish, and we're sitting on the fence between being too young to retire and too old to start job hunting. So, our choices are to wait it out or take control of our working years by starting our own businesses.
The other thing that's changed is our idea of retirement. Turning 55 or 60 doesn't necessarily mean we have to slow down and call it a day anymore. We're eating healthier, exercising, and living longer. Some women can't afford to just kick back and play with grandkids. Others simply don't want to -- they'd rather be chasing the American dream like everyone else.
The fact is that baby boomers are one of the most powerful entrepreneurial groups in business today. Close to one-quarter of all new businesses in the U.S. are started by people age 50 and older who choose entrepreneurship over retirement.
There's another thing that's changed, and that is the way people connect and consume information. It's a change that dramatically affects how you market and grow your business. Nowadays, conversations are quick texts, tweets, emails and status updates. The amount of space available to communicate with people is shrinking as mobile device use continues to rise. People are consuming information on the go and have become experts at scanning, filtering, sorting and deleting. Print is on a decline and advertising is primarily viewed on social, search and other web platforms.
You may or may not have felt the impact of this shift during the time you spent working in the corporate environment. Larger corporations generally have the size and resources to fund specialized departments to take care of specific, essential business tasks such as marketing. When you're on your own, you don't have those departments to rely upon. And yet, your ability to get the word out about your new venture is crucial to the success of your business.
Please don't make the mistake that many entrepreneurs make of trying to tackle marketing on your own, especially if your skill set lies outside of this specialty. With tools like Wix and Squarespace for websites, the do-it-yourself approach may seem appealing. After all, how hard could it possibly be to modify a template and launch a site?
For starters, you'll spend an exorbitant amount of time absorbed in steep learning curves rather than focusing on more important areas of your business. Secondly, somewhere along the line, something will become vulnerable, whether it's an insecure website that gets hacked or one that that can't be found on search engines and leaves your business with no visibility. Somewhere down the road you'll realize that in order to get ahead, you need the right website and the right marketing strategies.
The thing is, marketing requires expertise and training. It's the core of your business's success and should be treated as a high priority. Don't be afraid to factor the expense of professional marketing support into your business plan from the beginning. If you treat it as an afterthought or an add-on, you'll only wind up spinning your wheels in extreme and expensive ways.
I know there will be some adventurous women who want to tackle marketing on their own. If you do take the do-it-yourself route, make sure you set realistic goals and stay focused on the broader picture. Don't jeopardize the success of your business by being shortsighted.
Marketing is not now and never was something you could "set and forget". There is no magic ad or press release that will transform your business overnight. Take the time to map out a strategic plan and follow through consistently in order to achieve measurable results. All of your marketing initiatives need to be tightly integrated on desktop, mobile, search, social and traditional platforms.
Even in the old days of print and radio, successful businesses never grew out of "one-hit-wonder" marketing. It takes time and considerable effort to build brand awareness and grow your business. It won't happen in a vacuum and it certainly won't happen overnight.
Women who understand the value of consistent, effective marketing tend to be successful in the transition from corporate life to entrepreneurship. Please keep this in mind as you're planning out the next stage of your career.
Sandra is a branding and marketing strategist and a partner at Yellowdot in Jersey City, NJ. She takes a holistic approach to content marketing and educates her clients about blogging, social media and SEO strategies to drive traffic, generate leads, and convert those leads into sales. She is passionate about inspiring and empowering women to improve their marketing strategies and take their business to the next level. You can find her at YellowdotGroup.com and follow her on twitter: @SandraJClayton