Tag Archives: small business marketing

HOW TO MARKET A SMALL BUSINESS IN TOUGH TIMES

SMALL BUSINESS MARKETING ON A SHOESTRING

Word of mouth can be your best spokesperson. This post is a four-step outline for building your small business without an advertising budget.

 1. BUILD A SOLID FOUNDATION FIRST

• Know who your clients or customers are and what they want; create a profile of the ideal client/customer.  This definition becomes your target audience.

• Perfect your professional profile and photo. It all starts with YOU!

• Figure out what makes you different and how to say it in a “sound bite” or “tag line.” These words become your key message. Create your “elevator speech,” a 60-second summary of whom you help and how.

• Get your house in order so that you won’t fail to deliver on your promises.

• Sketch out a plan with a tentative timeline and budget, including:

1)  Website – This is your online brochure and list builder. It must have educational value and continually fresh content as well as good design.
2)  Blog – Regularly demonstrate your knowledge and industry expertise; posts can later become an ebook.
3)  Brochure–Goes beyond the business card for trade shows, luncheons, etc.
4)  Create desirable incentives, freebies, special discounts and rewards for your target audience, and offer finder’s fees for referrals.
5)  Newsletter marketing can reach current and prospective clients/customers via your website or directly through email.

2. LEARN and PRACTICE PROFESSIONAL NETWORKING SKILLS

The best way to get new clients or customers, far and away, is by being recommended.

Networking is not selling. It’s making business connections, seeking and giving referrals.

• Become a connector who facilitates business introductions.

• Join your local chapter of Business Networking International and other groups.

• Take on pro bono activity and make known your involvement.

• Choose and engage in appropriate social media.

3. DON’T HIDE YOUR LIGHT UNDER A BUSHEL

Small firm visibility can be increased through publicity, which is more credible than advertising. Understand what the media considers news and what editors want.

• Event marketing can be used to obtain publicity.

• Surveys and case studies can also generate publicity.

• Trend articles can demonstrate your expertise and be recycled.

• Speaking platforms let you reach beyond the captive audience.

4. GET THE HELP YOU NEED

Marketing is not something you do with your left hand. Don’t think you can go it alone or expect your existing staff somehow to do double duty.

• Look for experienced marketing counsel with some knowledge of your industry.

• Use your network to find professional marketing help at a price you can afford.

MARKETING SURVIVAL MUSTS

TODAY’S SMALL BUSINESS MARKETING SURVIVAL MUSTS:

A LEAP OF FAITH AND A SENSE OF HUMOR

For the moment the debt ceiling crisis has been averted, but it’s no secret there will be challenges in coming months for the small business ROI. 

Let’s start with the good news:  sales of luxury goods are up, corporations are sitting on a good deal of cash, the Federal Reserve has vowed to keep interests rates near zero, and a lot of people are pushing for quick remedial action. 

What’s the situation right now?  Fueled by the unprecedented Standard and Poor’s rating downgrade and abetted by economic distress impacting Europe, fiscal uncertainty will color business decision making at least for the rest of 2011. 

Until Thanksgiving business will hold its breath, watching and wondering whether the 12-member Super Committee will make the deficit reduction recommendations needed to avoid triggering automatic spending cuts in 2013.  The nail biting will continue until the Congressional vote in late December.

Given that situation and all that goes with it, today’s small business CEO survival kit should contain a leap of faith coupled with a good sense of humor just to stay the course. 

Don’t Toss Out the Baby with the Bathwater

Long-term marketing efforts should not be the first to go just because they may be hard to measure. In theory your initial business plan was based on a sound strategy and you have made prudent adjustments over time.  A review may suggest more revisions, but hoarding gold is not the answer.  Why uproot a solid foundation simply because it turns out it will take longer to build the house?  Trust the decisions you’ve already made, and just reduce the pace as needed. 

Better ways to save:

  • Shop carefully for office equipment and supplies
  • Risk the mayhem and reduce insurance coverage
  • Cut shipping costs
  • Eliminate interest charges by paying on time or in cash
  • Cancel all but essential memberships, frills and perks 
  • Postpone the new hire; instead use contract services or freelance services and/or offer incentives to the existing staff 
  • Barter for goods and services
  • Do some of it yourself, but only if it doesn’t detract from your core business.
  • If all else fails, employ robots!

Laughter Really is the Best Medicine

See how comic Stephen Colbert Explains the Debt Ceiling Deal & the Coming Super Congress.

Learn from the poem Solitude by Ella Wheeler Wilcox.   Look for the humor.  Find something to laugh at or at least smile about.   Your smile will be infectious. “Rejoice, and men will seek you.”  Network.  Be charismatic.  Let business find you.

Solitude

Laugh, and the world laughs with you;

Weep, and you weep alone.

For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth,

But has trouble enough of its own.

Sing, and the hills will answer;

Sigh, it is lost on the air.

The echoes bound to a joyful sound,

But shrink from voicing care.

Rejoice, and men will seek you;

Grieve, and they turn and go.

They want full measure of all your pleasure,

But they do not need your woe.

Be glad, and your friends are many;

Be sad, and you lose them all.

There are none to decline your nectared wine,

But alone you must drink life’s gall.

Feast, and your halls are crowded;

Fast, and the world goes by.

Succeed and give, and it helps you live,

But no man can help you die.

There is room in the halls of pleasure

For a long and lordly train,

But one by one we must all file on

Through the narrow aisles of pain.