Is Small Business Marketing Just a Load of Hype?
It's hardly surprising that many people switch off at the very mention of Small Business Marketing. There are hundreds and thousands of self professed "small business marketing experts", many of them spouting complete B.S. about what you should and shouldn't do.
It really annoys me that there is so much bad information. Especially being directed at small business owners. They can least afford to waste their money on the latest social media fad... The one that 's "gonna make customers fall from the sky" and land in your order book!
Most of these guys (and gals) have never ran a real business of their own. they have no idea what it's like to struggle along in a small business and try to make the books balance at the end of the month. It pisses me off that they tempt you with false, empty promises of lots of new customers, without any guarantee of success.
That's exactly why I guarantee my results. I'll help get you leads or it's free.
Why are small business owners the target of all the bs marketing guru's?
Simple. Because they have little understanding of what small business marketing is, and can't tell the good from the bad. And that's not their fault.
Most small business owners didn't have any formal training in sales, or accounting, marketing or customer service. They almost always start a business because they are good at "doing their thing", delivering their product or service, and they see an opportunity.
Just think, the kitchen manufacturer was once an apprentice kitchen fitter. the plumbing contractor started out as an apprentice plumber. The florist loved flower arranging and took a night classes or worked for another florist. The same goes for most small businesses. The now owner was once a trainee in their skill or trade and became a do'er.
At some point they decided that they wanted to "do it" for themselves instead of for someone else. They had learned the technical skill, but no-one had taught them the business skills that go along with running a business (sales, marketing, Customer service, accounting, people management etc). Those pieces you just have to pick up as you go. Learn on the job, so to speak.
Well, some of them.... some of them ye' kinda learned. some ye' didn't.
Time for a bit of self honesty. Me included.
I hate accounting and book-keeping. I detest it. but it's a necessary evil. If you don't invoice, you don't get paid. Simple as. You may be the same?
People management. I'm not so good at that either. I probably expect too much from people and get annoyed when they don't work as hard as I do - even when I'm paying them very well. In my own businesses, that's why I didn't like employing directly and prefferred to subcontract. That way I didn't have to deal with employment issues and personal problems. I suck at managing people - but at least I'm honest with myself.
My background is engineering (years ago) and I also qualified as an electrician (years after qualifying as an engineer - and only because I wanted to). I never learned people management or accounting in my degree or in my 'employed' years.
Eleven years ago, I completed my MBA. Part of that was marketing and finance (accounting). But it was all tailored to big business and corporate. I loved the marketing, but hardly anything was applicable to small business marketing.
A few years before that, I had been bitten by the marketing bug. Purely by accident (through a friend in the UK) I discovered the difference that marketing made in my own businesses. I started to read everything I could find on small business marketing - and sales. Took courses and joined a franchise in the UK to work with business owners to get big results. Stupidly, I did an expensive MBA to validate my experience. What a waste... I was a small business owner who had self-educated in sales and marketing.
How do you feel about sales and selling?
I'll hazard a guess that you feel the same about sales as you do about marketing? Most people squirm at the mention of doing sales. Kinda makes your skin crawl??
Many of us have had a bad experience with a pushy or slimy salesman at some point. That experience sticks in your mind and you just always associate sales with slimy. You don't want to be associated with slimy or pushy, do you? That's what puts you off.
I felt the same - for a while. But here's what changed. And it changed a loooong time ago for me. I was a student in Belfast. A friend had an evening job selling subscriptions to the Belfast Telegraph, selling it door-to-door in housing estates. she was making great money, and as a poor student in need of 'beer vouchers', I was interested. She got me a start, and after a week or so, I was making fantastic money for very little effort. Knock on a door, tell them what the offer was and you'd sign up about one in three. Better than that once you figured out how to sell the appeal!
Anyway, a few years later, I was back knocking on doors, this time selling home security systems. I'd take an evening and canvass maybe 30-40 houses and make 3-4 sales - probably two grand or more in sales. Then I'd work two evenings and a Saturday doing the installs. I soon figured out that the sales was the easy bit. Easy money for easy work.
I can't tell you the number of sales books I read and CD's and cassettes I listened to. But I got pretty damn good at it. Not because I had to, because I wanted to. It's the best paying job in the world!
Zig Ziglar once said that "Nothing happens until someone makes a sale". True that! The wheels of business don't turn without sales.
Here's another truth. Marketing makes the selling easy. Especially if you can't knock on doors for customers!
So why do you need small business marketing?
If you're potential customers know that they have a need for your product or service, then it's good marketing that will get you found ahead of, or with, your competition. Lets say you sell kitchens. The old way of marketing was the Yellow/Golden Pages. Lots of competition in there - so the bigger the ad, the better chance you had of standing out. Expensive that!
Today, you should have a website. Not just any website, but a very good lead generation site, with great SEO that gets you ranked on page one of Google (because that's where people go when they're looking for anything!). You could use Adwords or Facebook ads. You could advertise in kitchen magazines or local papers, and that's expensive too. There are in fact lots of ways to do it, but the goal is to get people to call or email you.
Good marketing attracts potential customers to your business. No marketing equals no customer attraction. Many small businesses really do struggle - and all because there's no marketing being done.
You can be the best kitchen fitter in the world, and you might even be a great salesperson too, but if the phone don't ring or the door don't swing - you have no-one to sell to.
So what should you do to get the phone ringing? I'd suggest starting with deciding on who it is you want to market too. Don't fall into the trap of saying 'everyone'. You can't market to everyone. Your not Coca Cola. There is an ideal customer for every small business. You need to start with the who and create a marketing and sales strategy around that - before you start thinking about tactics - like advertising or websites.
If this has got you started thinking, and you'd like to have a chat about it, drop me a line. email me at [email protected] or hop over to the contact page and fill out the form. I'm gonna start doing some free Small Business Marketing workshops around the country in a few weeks. Let me know if your interested?
Cheery Bye for now.