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Why you should invest in your business, ESPECIALLY if you are broke

“No matter how broke you may be right now, time is infinitely more valuable.” On this episode of Dragon Digital Marketing Podcast, I share with Monique the importance of establishing product/market fit quickly … even if it means spending a few hundred dollars you feel uncomfortable parting with.

We also discuss why I think marketing should be a top priority for every business. Suppose your business starts declining and you have to pivot. Pivoting is extremely uncomfortable by default … but it is unbearable if you don’t know how you are going to get clients. Investing in marketing solves that problem.

We touch on...

  • The importance of ruthlessly cutting extraneous features to get to your “minimum viable product.”
  • Why entrepreneurs hesitate to hire much-needed help, and what to do about it.
  • The value of setting a delivery date for a product you haven’t yet created.

About the Show: Monique Idemudia is the host of Dragon Digital Marketing Podcast.


Full Transcript

Monique Idemudia: Hi, and welcome everybody to a new episode of the Dragon Digital Marketing podcast. I’m your host Monique, and you’re listening to episode number 32. And in today’s episode you’ll learn why marketing is the number one thing that your small business should be focusing on right now, and why marketing makes it easier for you to pivot as well.

I’m so excited to talk about this, and my special guest who’s joining me today is a digital marketing expert, entrepreneur, and educator, and he’s one of the top leading experts when it comes to direct response advertising and business growth. Please welcome Dylan Ogline. I’m so excited to have you here today, Dylan, how are you doing?

Dylan Ogline: I’m doing awesome, Monique, how about yourself?

Monique Idemudia: I’m doing great, too. I’m so excited to have you on the show today. We’re going to talk about why marketing is the number one thing that every small business should be focusing on, and that’s what you specialize in, right?

Dylan Ogline: Yeah. It’s a big thing. I’m out there pushing. And it’s kind of self-serving, but yeah, I definitely feel that the more people should be focusing on marketing, 100%.

Monique Idemudia: Why should people be focusing on marketing predominantly? Why is it so important for almost every business?

Dylan Ogline: If you’re a small business owner or a beginning entrepreneur, you’re just on the ground floor getting started there’s a multitude of reasons, but for me, the number one reason of why it should be your focus is simply once you figure it out, you eliminate the question of where am I going to get growth. You have it figured out. And that makes so many other issues of being a small business owner much easier to solve.

You reach your capacity and you need to add somebody to your staff. Well, what’s the underlying reason that stops people from doing that? The cost. If I’m doubling my expenses, that’s scary. But if you know that you can double your ad spend on Google, you can double your ad spend on Facebook, and you have those things figured out, you eliminate that fear and then you can focus on making a good hire. This could go in other directions like adding another product or another service to your line up. Those things require investment of typically resources and time. But if you have the growth figured out, it eliminates a lot of the headaches.

Monique Idemudia: Right. If you got your marketing figured out you can really focus on growing and scaling your small business. And marketing really is just a process of getting people interested in your product or service, and getting them aware of that, and finding out about that you even exist and then you qualify people for sales. So without marketing, you wouldn’t be even able to be clear about your audience and then qualify them step by step so you can make any sales and have customers in the first place.

Dylan Ogline: And I would also when I’m talking about marketing, marketing in general typically falls into two categories. You have time leveraged strategies, which is podcast marketing. It could be actually getting on podcasts and talking to people. That’s typically just an investment of your time. It can be content marketing, writing articles, writing blog posts. It can be video creation, creating just YouTube videos to just put out there. Typically, these things have little to no cost at all, and it’s just an investment of your time.

We talked a little bit about this pre-show about organic marketing methods. On the other hand you have money-leveraged strategies, which is traditional what most people are thinking-- Google ads, Facebook ads, YouTube ads, things like that.

Monique Idemudia: Yeah, so you definitely want to figure that out so you know what you’re doing and you have some kind of predictability there so you know what’s working with your audience and you can figure out exactly how you got to write your ads and tweets so they perform well for your business. And at the same time, leverage some of the organic strategies as well so you’re just broader and you can reach more people if you’re omnichannel and not putting of your all eggs in one basket. So you also have some long term strategies there where you don’t have to pay per click for.

Dylan Ogline: Yeah, I’m 100% for if you-- depending on your product or service what exactly your business is-- if you can do something like YouTube videos and just put out one video a week or something like that. If you can do something like podcasts and be a guest on various different shows and do one or two shows a week. Over time, these have a compounding factor, and give it a year, give it two years, next thing you know you’ve been on 200 podcasts or you have 200 or 300 videos on YouTube. It’s definitely a worthwhile investment. 100%. Yeah.

Monique Idemudia: Yeah. For sure. So you’re helping people to start and grow a profitable business. How do you get started? What’s your approach?

Dylan Ogline: So my main business is Ogline Digital, a digital marketing agency. Essentially what we’re doing in English is we manage companies’ Google, Facebook, and YouTube ads. That’s it. Like that’s what we do. And then I created a training program so I can teach people how to start and grow their own business just like Ogline Digital. I would say the lesson that I teach people with that program that could apply to pretty much all small businesses is niching down. Niche down as specific as you possibly can. And if you think you’re already doing it, you probably need to go a little bit further. This makes your client outreach through marketing much more efficient. It makes your processes, your operations much more efficient.

If you can get really good specifically solving one type of client’s problems, just one problem that they have, that’s kind of where you want to be. And listen, this is coming from personal experience because I made that mistake myself. So I made that mistake, got absolutely nowhere because I wasn’t getting good at anything, so then I just cut all my offerings to just one single thing: digital marketing management. And I see this all the time with so many different businesses.

I was talking to a photographer recently. She does everything for everybody. She does weddings, she does newborn pictures, she does senior pictures. I don’t know all the categories for photographers, but she’s doing all these different things. And I’m like the problem is, is that she does great work, but I’m like you want to be considered the expert in one of those categories and then you can charge a premium price.

But if you’re the jack of all trades, everybody kind of views you as average. But if you just do senior photos you’ll be able to increase your pricing, you’ll get better and better. When people look at your Instagram, as an example which is a big thing for photographers, all they see is senior photos, all of it feeds on itself and it becomes a snowball effect. So, generally speaking, if you can niche down, get your service your offerings down to one specific solution for one specific client, you’re heading in the right direction.

Monique Idemudia: Yes, because that’s how you make your messaging resonate the most and the best with the people that you want to reach if you can be way more targeted and not try to talk to everybody. Because if you want to talk to everybody, you end up talking to nobody, and you’re not getting the results that you want. That’s right.

Dylan Ogline: Yes. And again, for those listeners out there, you kind of have to fit this to your business and you have to figure out what this direction looks like for you. A good example with my business is I mentioned being full-service, a lot of people in this industry, they do full-service, they do everything for everybody. One of the verticals that we work in is plumbing and heating companies, HVAC companies. Imagine if you’re a plumbing and heating company, and I reach out to you and I say, “Hey, we help small businesses grow.” Like okay, like that’s not really exciting. But imagine if instead of that, I reach out and I say, “Well specifically plumbing and heating companies grow and get more install projects with direct response digital marketing solutions.” I’m specifically saying that I help you, I help just people like you. I don’t help everybody, I help just you. That already separates you from the pack. So that’s a marketing message that’s targeted just for you.

But then I took it one step further if you noticed. I didn’t say, “We just help you get more clients, get you more customers.” I said “install projects.” So with the plumbing and heating industry, typically you have repair projects and you have install projects. And just from industry know-how, and just talking to people in that industry, I know that they have a higher profit margin with install projects. So I’m not just saying, “We get you any kind of project.” I’m saying, “We specifically help people like you get your most profitable type of job.”

So that indicates to that potential client that this guy actually knows what he’s talking about. And I did that all with one sentence, with one headline. That’s where you want to get to. And again, however this looks for your particular business, you need to figure that out. But the more specific you can get, the better your marketing outreach is going to be.

Monique Idemudia: Right. In the beginning you’ve touched upon that there’s several reasons why marketing is the number one thing that businesses should focus on and you’ve mentioned one. Let’s touch upon the other reasons. What are your other reasons where marketing’s so important?

Dylan Ogline: So, I would say definitely the growth factor. When I said multiple reasons, like it can stem into different directions. If you’re focusing on your marketing, you get really specific with it, you handle the growth factor that makes you better at building the business, by its very nature, it also forces you. Like I never seen anybody get good marketing work where they say, “I do everything for everybody.” By its very nature, it forces you to get more specific. So we specifically help plumbing and heating companies with direct response digital marketing solutions.

That’s forcing me to get very narrow with my offering. And it’s like a snowball effect. So because I’m just doing one or two main services for one or two industries, I get better and better and better. And it forced me to get niched down and get narrow, and then that forced me to get better and better and better at very few offerings. Whereas if I’m just relying on referrals, and clients just randomly coming to me, I’m doing everything for everybody, by the very nature of that I’m never really getting good at anything because I’m doing all of these different services.

If you just have one service, getting your operations narrowed down is extremely easy. If you’re reinventing the wheel every time, you’re doing a different project every time for your clients, operations is a nightmare because you have to figure things out every time. So all of these things stem from just that one single thing, which is focusing on niched down marketing strategy.

Monique Idemudia: Yes, absolutely. So if you have a really niched down marketing strategy, you get a higher quality of leads and customers to your business. And that will also facilitate all the other processes that you have like operations, like customer services, sales of course, delivery, all of that. All of the processes, everything goes hand in hand, and just flows better because you’re such an expert in that one niche and you don’t have to figure out how to do other things and completely different things as well. So it becomes like automatic and you’re just executing, executing, executing and you stay the most efficient all the time as well.

Dylan Ogline: 100%. And I got asked this question recently because of COVID. A lot of people are having to kind of change up their business. Maybe the niche that you chose or the service that you chose suffered during COVID, right? Well, pre-COVID had you figured out marketing strategies, you knew that I could get clients, and then for some reason that industry slowed down, people weren’t looking for your service as much, but you had this idea for this other service that you could offer and you needed to pivot.

And this might sound kind of contradicting my previous advice of getting niched, but the world changes, and what the service you have now that might be killing it, five years from now might be obsolete. Well, pivoting is extremely uncomfortable. Just by default. It is unbearable if you have no idea how you’re going to get clients.

So in my particular case, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if for some reason digital marketing, the niches that I work in-- the plumbing and heating companies, home service businesses-- for some reason, those businesses go off a cliff and I need to move towards dentists and photographers. I need to start doing digital marketing for dentists and photographers. I know that I could switch my marketing towards those industries and very quickly figure it out.

Let’s go one step further. Let’s say that digital marketing management services overall dries up and I need to switch to web design. I could pivot to that really easily. And it’s still uncomfortable by its very nature, but it’s not unbearable because I know that, hey, I know how to get clients. I have that part figured out. So I can just shift my marketing towards web design for photographers and very quickly get that figured out.

But if I was, prior to that, relying on referrals and just randomly people finding my business word of mouth, the idea of pivoting and going in a different direction is absolutely unbearable. So it’s almost like an insurance family so to speak.

Monique Idemudia: Yes, marketing touches upon so many different aspects of any business. There’s this concept of the seven pieces of marketing, which is product, promotion, price, place, people, process, and physical evidence. So if you really think about it, really affects almost every area of your business and it’ll help you to figure out any problem that you encounter along the way when you want to grow and scale your business. Maybe you’ve hit that plateau and you want to grow more and figure something out. If you really get your marketing nailed down, you know who you’re talking to, and you know whatever you’re doing you can transfer that to different segments of your audience. Or even if you want to pivot to an entirely new audience once you’ve figured that audience out you can still implement your processes and systems that are already proven.

Dylan Ogline: Absolutely. Absolutely. I would add this: if you are on kind of like the ground floor with your business, maybe you haven’t started, or you have this idea for this product or service. I’ve talked before about selling your service, doing the marketing, before you even have it built. We talk in the tech space, people talk about your MVP, your minimum viable product, proving product market fit, right?

Well those people have the misconception that they need to build out their product, they need to build out their service, they need to do all these organic methods, and that’s how they prove their product market fit. And that works, that certainly can work, but it takes a lot of time. And I always argue that time is a much more valuable resource than money. Even if you have little to no resources, you can make money back, but you can’t make time back.

We’re all aware of this, but for some reason, like there’s a psychological element that stops us from actually implementing this. So if you’re listening and you have this idea for a product or a service, I highly encourage people to create a quick landing page or something, start selling the service before you ever even have it built. Because very quickly for a couple hundred dollars, in a week or two, you can prove product market fit.

Now again, it depends on what your product or service is, and how you’re going to have to figure out how to put this in place. But like I said, for a couple hundred bucks, you could spend the money, do some Google ads, do some Facebook ads, get people to come to a landing page and see if they’re willing to actually give you money for that product or service. If the answer is no, then you probably don’t have product market fit. And to me, that’s an extremely well worth investment to spend a couple hundred dollars to figure that out rather than spend six months, a year, two years building out the perfect version of your product or service, then going to sell it and figuring that nobody wants it. Like that’s a bad route. Figure it out as fast as you can.

Monique Idemudia: Yes, I agree. That’s a great way of going about things, and that also ties in where the people falling for vanity, metrics. Bots don’t have credit cards, they wouldn’t buy your product, so you can really validate your product market fit if you’re selling it before you have it. But allow to get that validation because you need people who want what you have to offer. That’s like a fundamental thing that you need to figure out when you’re starting your business or when you have a business in general. And then the second thing that you have to figure out is a way to get paid. So those are like the two essential things, and you can always give people a refund afterwards and be like, “Hey, this was a test.” Just explain the situation and a sympathetic human being and give them like a Starbucks gift card on top of that or whatever. Then you know who actually was willing to buy your product.

Because if you just ask your friends and family, “Yeah, sure, I would buy it. It’s so amazing.” But they just say it like that, but you need like real people, actually people who are buying it and don’t know you. In the market that’s marketing, right? To see if they like your product and then get the feedback as well is also super important. You want to get some feedback if you’re just starting out, your service is new, your product is new. You haven’t went through a lot of iterations yet. You want to get the feedback from people. What they think about it, what you can improve. There’s a lot of things that you wouldn’t even have thought about and you need other people’s input to become better as well.

Dylan Ogline: Absolutely. And like you said about your friends and family, they will lie to you, and people ask me, “How do I determine that I have product market fit?” And it’s like it’s really simple. Is somebody willing to give you money? Like don’t ask ten of your ideal clients like, “Would you use this product or service” because people will lie to you, because people are nice. They don’t want to tell you no, especially if it’s friends and family. Especially if it’s previous people that you’ve worked with. The best test is to essentially ask random people. Asking random people, introducing your product or service, and then saying, “Oh, you’re interested?” is condensing what you’re actually doing. But basically saying, “Oh, you’re interested. Here’s the credit card form.” Actually get their money.

And you mentioned giving the money back. I’m real big into just being honest with people. So maybe you don’t say this is a test, maybe you say something like-- and again, depends on what your product or service is-- but if it’s a training program, because I literally did this with my training program. I forget when I ran the test, but I was like, “We’re starting January 15th.” So I had until the 15th to one: prove product market fit. And two: build it. Build out the first week of the product.

And had I not ended up delivering it, or I had failed at proving product market fit, I would have then emailed people and been like, “Hey, for da da da reason I’m not going to be able to deliver the program, I sincerely apologize.” Typically, if you have the resources to give them a gift card or give them 10% extra back, be like, “I’m very sorry.” 99.9% of people are going to be okay with that if you’re genuinely and authentically apologetic. And it’s not scammy if you are honest with people, and you’re like, “Oh hey, I’m starting in two weeks.”

And like I said, I did this with my training program. I think it was near or over $10,000 in sales before it was ever, ever built. And I did that, I told people three weeks from now we’re staring or whatever it was. And then I was forced to deliver that version of the program by that certain date. But I had proven product market fit by actually getting people to give me money. It’s an absolutely valuable lesson. And if it doesn’t work, maybe you get feedback, and you tweak it. Maybe you go in a different direction. But it’s pretty easy to pivot and make that directional change if you didn’t spend two years building out the product or service. If you haven’t built anything yet you can quickly change. So it’s very, very worth it.

Monique Idemudia: Yes, that’s right. You can also communicate it as a pre-sale from the beginning. And like depending on your product or service, three weeks might be enough for you to figure it all out, but if you really solve a unique problem that no one has ever solved before in the way that you can, and you get people all hyped up about it, they’ll wait three months too. And you can keep the money and then use it for whatever it is that you have to do for your product or service development or whatever you still need to invest in. I mean you could use it for sure, so that’s a great tip. You’ve also talked about how being lean and agile is super important. Let’s touch upon that a little bit more as well for small businesses.

Dylan Ogline: Sure. So we kind of did talk about it a little bit with selling before you actually build it. And it’s all about just being able to pivot. To me, that is why it’s so important, because your guess of what that perfect version of the product or service is probably wrong. But once you have that figured out, you can make those quick pivots. As far as like being lean, mean, and scrappy is the term that I use. Even if you’ve proven product market fit, all right, I have that. Now I’m going to spend six months building out the perfect version or a year building out the perfect version, you’re probably going to get it wrong. So it’s better to just put out the absolute minimal version of your product or service out into the marketplace.

I’m a big fan of deadlines. So telling your customers, especially if they’ve already given you money, that I will deliver by this date. That forces you to cut all the unnecessary stuff. And you’re just focusing on the absolute minimal version. You can use this with services too. So ruthlessly cut things, ruthlessly look for what is the absolute minimal version that I need to get the cash register to ring, to get the customer in the door, and to deliver that product or service to them. What does that look like? And you want to keep your operations as slim and as sleek as possible.

This way you’re not wasting time, and secondly, so that if you need to make those pivots, you can seamlessly make those pivots because you haven’t invested two years building out a website for a service that you’re not going to offer and the service needs to change directions. When you’re starting out your business, 99% of us start with zero to very few resources, especially money. And you need to embrace that. And as quickly as you can, you need to step outside of your mind and really embrace the fact that you can always make more money, but you could never get back your time.

The stuff I talked about today is it’s not just stuff I read in a book. This is stuff like I might be 31, but I started my first business when I was 14. Like I’ve been doing this stuff for 17 years, and I wasted like 12 or 13 of those years not doing the stuff that I’m talking about today. Wasting years building out the perfect version of the product or service only to find out that absolutely nobody wanted it.

I cannot tell you how many times I did that with all kinds of stuff. I had to build out the logo, I had to build out the website, I had to build out this, only to find out that nobody actually wanted that product or service and I got zero in sales. Whereas I could have saved years of my life had I just spent a couple hundred dollars to figure out that nobody wanted it in the beginning. So like literally if there is any message I could have, just one message, is realize that you can make back money but you can never make back the time. I can never get back the 12 or so years that I wasted bouncing around from one idea to the other, never proving product market fit, never truly investing in marketing to figure it out and get it to work. So this is stuff where like don’t be stupid and make the same mistakes that I made. Realize that time 100% is the absolute most valuable resource you have. No matter how broke you might be right now, time is infinitely more valuable.

Monique Idemudia: I absolutely agree. And it’s always so great to be able to learn from other people’s mistakes when they’re sharing their story like you just did and their experience. So you can have a lot of takeaways from that and use that to your advantage when you’re building your own thing as well.

So how can people find you, and learn more about you and what you do, and reach out to you if they’re interested in learning more?

Dylan Ogline: Sure. My training program teaches people how to start and grow their own… My exact tag line is “Start and grow your own hyper profitable digital marketing agency.” My personal website is dylanogline.com.

Monique Idemudia: Okay. That’s it. Super simple. I’ll definitely link your website in the description below, so go check him out and everything that he does. Make sure to also check out the show notes of this episode on dragon-digital-marketing.com. The link is in the episode description and there you can find further resources that are super helpful for you and going to help you with your small business marketing. You can also learn more about digital marketing for your small business on my blog, my other podcast episodes, and also be sure to check out my free branding course, Brand Story, where you’ll learn how to build a brand for your small business.

If you go to the website dragon-digital-marketing.com right now, you’ll find a free download which is a Buy Your Persona template, and that’s going to help you to get really clear on who your ideal buyers are so you know who you’re targeting and who you’re talking to so you can get super specific and niche your business down and really make sure that all of your messaging and your marketing resonates with your target audience even better. That’s what we’ve talked about in this episode: niching everything down, which helps you to become more lean, and more agile, and more efficient in your digital marketing as well so you can make your marketing stronger. Thank you so much for watching and listening. I really appreciate it and I hope to see you again in my next episode.