I was recently asked this question by the owners of a SME that I worked with in the past and, honestly, this question doesn't really make any sense - if you think about it. Now, before you conclude that I have completely lost it, let me explain the context. The SME was approached by a very popular review website whose salesperson was quite informative about all the new features that the website has to offer - if the SME signs on to their services of course. In true digital fashion, this website offered a free version of their services and a premium version. The SME then contacted me, explained all the wonderful features, and then posed the question - "Is it worth it?"
Want to know why this question doesn't make sense? Let's begin!
I know that this is a question that many small business owners ask on a daily basis. After all, we need to make countless decisions and to top it all off, our decisions could make or break our businesses. When faced with the question "Is it worth it?" I want to challenge you to figure out exactly what "it" is. Basically, what is the sacrifice that the business needs to make in this situation. So, what is the "it" in the situation above? Is it time? Money? Effort? Energy?
Once you have established your "it", you need to ask "what are we trying to achieve?".
Why your question needs a follow-up.
As I listened to the list of features and benefits that the review website had to offer the SME in this situation, I couldn't help but get a bit excited. After all, it sounded like the perfect solution to many of the problems that the SME was experiencing. But then I remembered, the salesperson who had wowed the SME with their features was trained to do just that; wow the SME with benefits and features. That's their job! I then asked the SME to explain to me why they feel it necessary to sign up for this service. In effect, what were they trying to achieve?
Their answers ranged from higher Google search rankings, to getting more positive reviews, to building their brand, and increasing brand awareness. With limited budget and time being two of the main challenges that this SME faced, I challenged them to think of ways in which they can achieve their goals without spending their marketing budget on the services offered by the review website. Within a few minutes we were able to determine that there are several features in their existing channels that they are utilising that can achieve their goals, they just need to use them properly. We even identified a new channel that they weren't utilising yet that could achieve the same, and that's completely free. Furthermore, to address their time resource constraint, we discussed how existing content can be repackaged to utilise the aforementioned features and set up the new channel.
I said all of that to say this - as a small business, we are constantly faced with questions, limitations, and challenges. Often, because of our limited resources, sales pitches like the one from the review website sound like the answer to all our problems. But, before dedicating your budget to a new opportunity, ask yourself the following:
What is your "it"? In effect, what is the sacrifice you are making? Is it just money, or will you need to supply the content as well? In which case it's time as well.
What are you trying to achieve by doing this? Are you looking to increase leads, increase your brand awareness, increase sales, organise your content, etc.
What other options do you currently have that can achieve the answer to question 2? Does one of the platforms, channels or software that you are already using offer a feature that you are not fully leveraging? Is there a different platform that you can use without needing to make the sacrifices that you listed for question 1?
Too often we opt for something new when what we have is not working or not producing the results that we are looking for. As a small business owner, our "it" (our sacrifices) attached to that something new could mean the end of our business. So, I urge you to instead look at what you are currently doing and optimise rather than simply replace it with something else.