Small Business Success Tips - Marketing
By Don Dewsnap
A definition of marketing: presenting your product widely in a way that makes people want it.
Whether your business is new or well-established, the very first step to marketing is
recognizing it is necessary. Marketing is not a luxury; marketing is a vital part of any business.
For a small business, marketing is crucial. It is also very expensive if done badly.
Not only does poor marketing cost valuable time and money, but the lack of results for
weeks or months represents lost sales, which add up to actual lost income.
The most money a small business will ever lose is the money it didn't make because of
preventable errors and wasted resources in bad marketing.
If you can afford it, hire a person or a marketing firm that has a proven track record
of helping small businesses grow. (In theory, a good marketing person or firm will pay for
itself in increased sales. Some do and some don't, so get references.)
A small business owner just starting out should take two primary marketing steps
simultaneously, whether or not he can hire marketing help:
1. Get some kind of personalized marketing going, even if it is just an hour on the
phone cold calling every day, or sending out letters, to individuals or businesses that
might be interested in your product. This action works because you are the boss, and
people like talking to the boss. It also helps you learn what people need and want, how
much demand already exists for your product, and what approach gets people to respond best.
2. Start learning as much as you can about marketing, both in general and specifically
as it relates to your field. Look at, watch, and listen to as much of your competitors'
marketing as you can find. Even more important, read books about marketing. You can find
out which are the best by searching for "best marketing books" on a search engine, and see
what most people agree on.
Neither of these steps has to take a long time, if you actually do them. Each book will
give you ideas and increase your understanding, which will help your ongoing marketing
efforts. Within a week or two, you will feel much more confident about what needs to be
done to market your product, and that confidence will grow as you learn more.
It is worse than pointless to start a marketing campaign without having some idea of
how to make people want your product. The principles of quality apply to marketing as much
as to any other endeavor: average or below average marketing does not stand out and will
not succeed against high quality marketing.
An established small business needs to market as much as a new one if it wants to grow.
While word-of-mouth is powerful, it is not sufficient, and it usually is self-limiting. In
other words, word-of-mouth won't help you market to specific targeted markets, and it
won't help market new or improved products.
The approach for an established small business is different from that for a new business.
1. Your previous and current customers are your best market. Most small business owners
never really grasp that, and let their customers fade away. Retention of customers is a
major key to growth. If your retention is poor (less than 95% of "retainable" customers),
do whatever it takes to find out why, and fix it. Usually, some principle of quality is
not being applied.
2. Learn more about marketing, as described above. Compare what you are learning to the
marketing you have done in the past, both that which was effective and that which was not.
This exercise should help you build even more effective campaigns in the future.
Don Dewsnap is the author of
Small Business Magic, published by Oak
Wand Publishing. Small Business Magic details the principles of quality necessary to
business success, applying to all aspects of business from production to sales. The
principles of quality are not well known, and almost never applied to their full potential.