Small Business Marketing 101

While we are a financial services firm, we often times run across business topics that we feel are noteworthy.  So while we are not marketing experts, we’ve seen many companies make similar mistakes when it comes to their marketing.  Now we’re not talking about logo design, twitter handles or even ill timed marketing campaigns.  We’re talking about the fundamentals – the basics that often get overlooked or simply reprioritized to the bottom of the list.  Well, this post will look at a few things that every new or would-be business owner should contemplate before they take that leap.

Nothing happens without sales.  If this is the first rule of business then the second is this – if you want to go out of business, stop marketing.    For those who’ve worked in Corporate America, it may now resonate with you why the Sales and Marketing functions typically have the biggest budgets.   We know that it’s not the aim of a new business owner to shutter its doors, but unintentionally this is the result of the marketing approach new owners take.  You see, marketing is an essential and integral part of business success.  Unfortunately, most owners don’t adequately fund or plan their marketing and as a result, it is done as an afterthought.  Therefore, set your enterprise up for success and make marketing a priority.

Quality, Honesty and Integrity.  These three items are the cornerstones of all marketing.  Firstly, you must sell a quality product or service that will inspire customers to not only purchase it again, but spread the word to their friends.  Concurrently, the business must ensure that its marketing is built on honesty and integrity.  Companies built to last have a strong ethical foundation and honest marketing practices.  Thus, if you market in this manner and sell a quality product, you’ve laid the ground work to capture the Holy Grail – an impeccable reputation!

Marketing is a philosophy.  Unfortunately, too many individuals view marketing as slick campaigns, buzzwords, advertising and the like.  The reality is marketing is a philosophy and the above items are only components to execute that philosophy.  Marketing is everything a company is and does.  A company’s ethics, culture, work environment, hiring practices, attention to quality and customer service all affect and are affected by marketing.  Some companies spend tons of money on and attention to logos and advertising, ignoring the damage done by unethical behavior.  The point?  It’s important to realize just how integrated marketing really is or you’ll find yourself wasting marketing dollars while other things derail your efforts.

Build it and they will come. The simple step of moving out of your home will not solely result in increased sales.  The only thing you’ve done is made it easier for those selling their products and services to find you!  In order to generate “street traffic” you have to initiate some form of marketing so customers know why they should stop and visit YOU vs. your competition.  “But my signage tells what I offer so I’ll be fine.”  Really?  Try this exercise the next time you’re out.  Pick an obscure product (bike tubes, hammer, flyer printing, bug spray) and then visit an area you think will have a store that will offer it.  Don’t look up the store on the internet, we want you to drive/bike/walk around looking at signage and see how easy it is to find.  The point is this; even with a highly visible location it’s EXTREMELY hard for potential customers to “see” you.  The only way to ensure that the do, is to market to them.

Relationships matter.  Most people don’t think of this when they do their marketing.  However, the reality is this; marketing intersects in many different ways with relationships.  People do business with those that they know, like and trust.  Do you go back to the store with the clerk with the nasty demeanor?  Or how about that restaurant with the hostess who was indifferent when you arrived?  Your ability to strengthen human relationships through marketing will determine the success of your business.  However, befriending every person within 10 miles of your business is not the answer.  What you have to do is figure a way to infuse paying attention to your customers and what matters to them with the marketing tactics your organization employs.  If you can do that, you’ll create a following of customers who’ll want to do business with you time and time again.  And that my friend is what we all want!