I frequently chat with friends of mine in the marketing business about what you posted. Most people do not spend enough money in marketing of some fashion to keep the leads coming in. Marketing is a broad term which can include many things not always thought of as marketing. It is a fact that all of the people in my area that are in business for themselves (different trades) who have been consistent in their marketing, are the businesses doing better than most. In landscaping it is even more obvious by looking around at the home shows.
I would not hesitate in investing more in marketing, and I plan to do just that. I am marketing as much I can and will take every opportunity to do so. It has had a tremendous effect on the quality of my leads and my closing rate. ( I am getting 8 of 10 right now) I will tell you that I am almost always the highest bidder, but IMHO I bring more than just fixtures to the table. I believe the people who are looking for lighting are looking for quality, experience, professionalism, and an emotional connection to the person they are going to hire. As long it all makes sense, I have found price to be secondary. That said, my attitude towards marketing is that I am the best with out actually saying it and I assume the client is willing to pay for that.
Not knowing how each person promotes him/herself, I can only say what works for me. What I am saying in a nutshell is that it matters as much how you are marketing yourself as much as to whom.
Tommy Herren, CLVLT #1169