I was born and raised in northeast Ohio – in a town that could be the poster child for the Rust Belt. As bad as it still is, you have to love its undying, unyielding spirit.

It has such a strong blue-collar mentality. Work hard. Pay your dues. Never give up. Grind, grind, grind.

It reminds me of Steve Martin’s advice for upcoming performers. He said, “Be so good they can’t ignore you.”

Work hard and you will be rewarded. I’ve seen that mindset in everyone from entertainers to nonprofits to small business owners.

Work hard. Put in your time. Work hard. Put in your time. Work hard. Put in your time.

Over and over – round and round. And they have little to show for it because they missed 1 ingredient: marketing.

Why does the Red Cross get more donations than the Salvation Army?

Josh, marketing? If I work hard/have a great product/put on a great show, why do I need marketing?

Because people have to know what you do.

You can’t be so good that your name magically jumps into somebody’s brain. And the better you are, the harder it is for the average person to understand how good you actually are.

I heard this bit in the 80s. I don’t know if this is true now or even if it was true then. But this little anecdote helped me see the value of marketing.

The Red Cross and the Salvation Army do a lot of the same type of work. But the Red Cross is bigger and gets more donations. Why?

The Red Cross brings a camera crew, records what they do, and lets everybody know.

Not to be callous, but I bet a photo of you putting a blanket around the shoulders of a little girl after her home burns down will get you a bunch of donations.

Pics or it didn’t happen.

The Moral of the Story

Be so good they can’t ignore you and get people to look at you. You have to do some kind of marketing. You have to let people know what you do and how good you are.

Steve Martin could have developed the funniest act in history. But it would have done nothing for him if nobody saw it.

Maybe you’re doing well with referrals. Word of mouth marketing is a form of marketing. I’ve talked to a bunch of consulting firms about their out-of-date websites. They don’t care. They’re too busy to making Scrooge McDuck money.

Scrooge McDuck swimming in moneyBut what about you? Are you swimming in money?

If you’re good at what you do…
If you have happy customers and clients…
If you’re getting repeat business…

But not getting enough business…

Then the problem is that people don’t know about you.

You can’t overcome that by being good enough.

The super short version

What if Whitney Houston only ever sang in the shower? You’d have never heard of her.

Are you better at what you do than Whitney Houston was at singing? She used marketing. She got heard.

Why aren’t you?

Featured image by Felix Mittermeier