Solopreneurs, I’m talking to you. This needs to be said, even though not many people are talking about it:

Marketing should be an above-the-line expense.

Or, said differently – you should be intentionally (+strategically) investing in marketing every month. Otherwise, what are you doing? If you’re an entrepreneur, advertising what you do for a living is how you stay in business!

In this episode, I’m explaining what I mean by “above-the-line expense,” plus walking you through another “Emily Hirsh Signature Pep Talk!”

We’ll cover:

  • What Amazon’s doing that you should do, too
  • How to take smart risks + commit to “FAILURE” even as a solopreneur
  • And, how I’m taking ($20K) risks in my own business right now!

Here’s what I want you to know: You need to commit to your potential (for success or failure!) + STOP saying “I can’t afford marketing yet!” because you’re too BIG to play small – yes?

Okay – tune in, screenshot the episode, and share your fired-up takeaways over on Instagram Stories (tag @emilyhirsh for a shoutout!).

Key Points:
[2:32] “I don’t have money to spend on marketing” means you shouldn’t be in business
[3:25] Let’s talk about Amazon’s business growth strategy (+ what it means for you)
[5:47] Here’s the #1 reason solopreneurs fail
[7:04] Some percentage of your budget should ALWAYS be reserved for this
[10:11] Figure it out now, or you’ll be in the same place next year

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Episode Transcripts:  

Emily Hirsh: I’m Emily Hirsh, and this is the Hirsh Marketing Underground Podcast. Attention innovators, influencers, creators, and game-changing entrepreneurs: your internet domination begins right here. We are the powerhouse marketers that you’ve been looking for. You’re already making waves in your industry, and we’re here to help amplify those waves of change by creating a connection that cuts through the noise. We take everything you’ve built inside your zone of genius and find its audience. With killer strategy and laser eye for impact, we launch multimillion-dollar campaigns and skyrocket your reach online. And now, we are doing the unheard of. We’re unveiling everything we’ve learned, taking you behind the scenes with the Hirsh Marketing team, and giving away the secrets to our client’s success. Stay tuned for top-converting strategy, ROI reports, and insider knowledge that you won’t find anywhere else. You’re changing the world, and we’re the team to help.

Emily Hirsh: Hello, hello friends. Today, I am talking about a belief that I have that I think really needs to be said, and not a lot of people are talking about it, the usual over here for Emily Hirsh, right? And that is that marketing should be an above-the-line expense in your business. What do I mean by that? First of all, above-the-line generally means like, above the line on the income statement. That’s what they define it as. And it’s basically a part of the cost of goods sold, right? Essentially I’m saying, every single month you should, in some way, be investing in marketing. Because if you’re not investing in marketing, and you’re not investing like that in your business, then it’s not growing. That might be promoting a Facebook Live for you, for $50 a month if that’s all you can do. It might be committing to spending $1000 to grow your list. It might be running traffic to your webinar and raising your budget a little bit.

Emily Hirsh: But, I think that we sometimes, especially as solopreneurs … because I’ve been in the situation where you’re supporting your family or you have to make the money like, to live off of it, and you just have the minimum expenses, because you want to keep as much as possible. I did that for a while, right? I had like 80% margins in the beginning of my business. But the problem is, you’re going to hit a wall, because you’re not going to keep growing. Marketing is one of those things that you have to shift the way that you’re looking at it, and the way that you’re looking at, like your perspective of it, because I think people don’t spend money on marketing for … they push it off, right? They see it as like, “I don’t have money to spend on it.” But then you’re basically saying, “I don’t have money to grow my business.”

Emily Hirsh: If you can’t be putting money back into your business, you need to look at your numbers, because you should always, always be putting money back into your business. Always. In many ways – in marketing, in the delivery, in the team, in the growth. You should always be doing that. If you want to be around for a while and you’re building a solid foundation, you should 100% be doing that constantly. But marketing should be an above-the-line expense, because you should always be investing and growing. And, this also means … I’ve talked a lot about buying data and committing and saying, “I’m willing to spend $1000, and I might not get it back.”

Emily Hirsh: This is going to be an extreme example, but I just recently read a book about Amazon and how they fund projects all the time. Like, new projects. I think one was … a really good example was the Amazon Fire Phone that totally failed, right? If you know about it, you know it failed. But what they did was they had a department, literally, working on this Fire Phone for a while, to see if it would work. They do this all the time, and then sometimes the idea completely takes off and blows up, and then sometimes it doesn’t, and it fails, and they have to shut down the department and then kind of like, redeploy people … not redeploy like fire them, but usually, I think, it’s put them in other places, in other positions. Sometimes it might be fire them, I don’t actually know the answer to that, but … or let them go, I guess it would be lay them off if the project fails.

Emily Hirsh: But the point is, Amazon is saying … obviously they have a lot more money, but they’re literally saying, “Every single month, we’re investing in these projects, these ideas that our team has come to us with and developers have come to us with, and they might completely fail. We might waste,” on their level, like, “$1 million,” or way more if they have a whole department, “but that’s okay, because we’re looking for the ideas that blow up and are successful.” To them $1 million is like $100 to us. So you, on your level, where you are today, you’re not Amazon, but [you] should be doing the same thing. You want to be investing in things… not 50% of your income, I’m talking like 5-10% of your business [income] going into things that are testing and trying and looking for those things that are building you that data, figuring out what is and isn’t working, because that’s how you move forward. You might not make it back every time, and that is okay. That is okay, because it’s powerful to know, “Hey, I tried that thing, I spent $1000 and it totally didn’t work. Here’s why it didn’t work, and here’s what I have to do next time to get it to work.” And then you fix it, and then you do it again, and then you spend more money because it’s working and you’ve got something that’s working.

Emily Hirsh: I’m so passionate about this because I believe this is one of the number one reasons that people don’t grow their business[es], is because they’re stuck in this small mindset of like, “I can’t put any money into anything that might be a risk.” Business is a risk, right? Every day it’s a risk. We signed up for this when we [became] an entrepreneur. The Internet might shut down tomorrow, like something might happen, our business will be gone. We’ll figure it out, because we’re entrepreneurs. We can do that. Don’t play that small solopreneur … and people might get mad at me for saying this, but … solopreneur mindset where you’re refusing to do anything risky, including spending money on your marketing, because you will never grow. You should constantly be saying, “Okay, my marketing budget for the month is this much. It’s X percent of my gross revenue. It’s an above-the-line expense. It’s part of the cost of my goods sold. It’s part of running my business. Now, how am I strategically going to spend that money? Am I going to drive it to videos to grow my video audience? Am I going to grow my list by X amount?” Maybe you have a funnel that’s working. Okay, then why are you not scaling that next month?

Emily Hirsh: Look at marketing [as an] expense that way so that also you’re not afraid to go try new things and test new things. I constantly believe that you should have a percentage of your budget that’s testing something new, because you never know when it’s going to completely take off and work so well. Just like Amazon’s doing right? Just, we have to do it on a smaller level. Obviously we can’t build up departments and then shut them down and waste all that money. But I’m giving you guys permission, it’s okay to test something and take a little risk. I mean, obviously be smart about it. I’m not just saying throw your money out there and hope that one of the things works. I definitely don’t do that. And we are small business owners, we’re not Amazon, we don’t have investments, we don’t have, you know, venture capitalists and whatever. I don’t know how it all works in Silicon Valley. We don’t have that, and so we have to be a little more careful and a little bit more, you know, close with our money and not spend as much. But we still have a little room to do this. We still should have a little bit of room to do this.

Emily Hirsh: If you’re not doing this … and do it strategically, like obviously put your money into something that works. I bet you, if you talked to somebody, they wouldn’t be like, “Oh yeah, Amazon thought from the beginning that the Fire Phone would fail.” No. They thought that it would work, but there was still a risk to them. Same when you, let’s say you’re running traffic to this webinar, and you think it’s really great. Obviously think that it’s going to work, but also don’t be like, “Oh my gosh, I failed on this. I spent $1000, it didn’t work, so I can’t run any ads, because I suck, so I’m never going to run them again.” No. Pick yourself up. Figure out what the problem was, fix it, and do it again.

Emily Hirsh: But you have to go into it, too, with the mindset, when you’re buying data, when you’re trying to figure out what is and isn’t working, and when you’re trying to get that information and that intel, which is a lot of us at the beginning of something new … That was me and my Ignite course. Honestly you guys, we spent over $20 000 in ads. It could have completely failed, and I knew that in my head. I was like, “You know what, I’m going to commit to that, I’m committing to that number. Here’s what I think I’ll get out of it, but I don’t know, because I’ve never launched this before. I don’t have the data.”

Emily Hirsh: I have the business where I have the savings and the ability to spend $20,000, but for you it might be $2,000, it might be $1,000. And don’t dump a bunch of … We were pretty sure we were going to sell some, because I have a big warm audience. So, don’t just go spend $20 000 if you don’t have that and that foundation. But still, I could have lost money. And I didn’t – thankfully, we met our goals. But I could have lost money, and I knew that going into it. And I would have been upset if we did, but I also would have been like, “This product’s awesome, and so we got to go fix the messaging. Let’s figure out what is and isn’t working.” Currently, right now, we’re in the process of building an entire launch report so we can look at all the numbers, because I know there’s room for improvement. Absolutely is there room for improvement, even though we did well.

Emily Hirsh: So you have to go at it with that mindset, and I want you guys to figure out your expenses, to figure out your business, so that marketing can be an above-the-line expense, and that you’re constantly putting money into growing your business. Because if you don’t, you’re going to be in the same place you are right now in a year, okay? Like, sorry, but you are. And it’s something that I feel like … I am able to take risks, and yeah, there have been some that didn’t pay off. Absolutely. Have I had things I bought that did not work? Definitely. But a lot of them do, and a lot of them really pay off for me. And I’m smart about what I still put my money in. Like, I do trust my intuition, I trust my gut. I also like … if it’s somebody I’m going to work with or somebody I’m going to hire or something I’m going to invest in or even, you know, the $20 000 in ad spend that we chose to spend, like I have, you know, logic backing my decisions, and I’ve thought it through, and talked to my team, and so I’m not just like, throwing money around. That’s absolutely not what I’m saying. But I’m also willing to take risks and willing to look at things as like, there is a positive when something doesn’t work, because I’ll never do that thing again.

Emily Hirsh: I’ve actually had a lot of those experiences with my team, where I’ve set up somebody in a position a certain way or organized our org chart in a certain way, and I didn’t know what I was doing, but three months down the line I’m like, “Oh my gosh, this has been causing this problem,” and we didn’t even realize it [because] we were so close to it. Then we fix it, and it’s like, “Wow, why didn’t we realize that sooner?” But it’s like, if we never did that thing, whatever it was, or spend that money and get that information back, we would never have gotten the info that we failed, and then we could never fix it, and we’d be stuck.

Emily Hirsh: So I want all of you listening to this to make sure that you’re investing in your business in that way. You’re constantly putting money back in, as strategically as you can. Absolutely. But you’re not just not doing that, right? You’re not taking all the money that you make and just being irresponsible with it. You’re putting it back into grow, because you’re creating something that’s hopefully going to be here for decades, right? Marketing should be an above-the-line expense. Don’t be afraid to fail, and whenever you do fail, or whenever you go into something knowing, “Hey, I might not make tha $1,000 back that I’m going to test with,” be strategic with it. Then use that data that you got from that failed, or maybe it was like a mediocre fail, like you broke even or something … [and] go fix it, and do it again! That’s what business is.

Emily Hirsh: All right you guys. If you want to work with Team Hirsh after this lecture of a podcast, go to HelpMyStrategy.com to apply to work with us. We are the best marketing team out there for influencers and people selling digital products, and if you’re the right fit for us, we would love to work with you.

Emily Hirsh: Thanks for listening to the Hirsh Marketing Underground Podcast. Go behind the scenes of multimillion-dollar ad campaigns and strategies, dive deep into The Hirsh Process, and listen to our most popular episodes over at HirshMarketingUnderground.com. If you loved this episode of the podcast, do me a favor and head over to iTunes to subscribe and leave a review, so we can reach more people and change more lives with this content. That’s all for now, and I’ll catch you next time.