5 Fundamental Rules of Marketing for Small Business Owners

Many small business owners we have met have misconceptions about marketing. They think of marketing as doing flashy advertising with catchy pictures and some coupons in newspaper insert or with a direct mail company. This underestimates the power of marketing and the value good marketing can bring to your small business.
We ourselves have fallen into this trap when we owned businesses in the past. The reason many small business owners, including ourselves, do this is because of lack of time and lack of understanding of what marketing is all about. We have thought long and hard about this when we operated small business and afterward. Based on that we have come up with 5 fundamental rules of marketing that when used properly are sure to improve your sales. Here they are in no particular order:

  1. Great marketing without great products is a waste of money
    Many small business owners spend lots of money in advertising their business to bring the customers to their doors, only to disappoint them. They come to your business with great expectations and are disappointed when your product or customer service does not meet those expectations. Make sure you bring “your house in order” before spending money on marketing. Otherwise you might as well just throw away that money.
  2. Marketing is everyone’s responsibility, not just manager’s or owner’s
    Related to the first rule above, many small businesses think that only owner or manager can do anything about marketing. In our view it “takes a village” to market your business including your customers, employees and anyone else that comes in contact with your business. The employees can help by providing great service and keeping customers happy, customers help by spreading word about your business and so on. Don’t lose sight of all these other aspects of business by focusing solely on advertising.
  3. The best marketing usually doesn’t cost you anything
    As we mentioned earlier marketing is everyone’s responsibility. When done properly your customers will do the marketing for you – FREE OF CHARGE!! This is commonly called word-of-mouth. If your customers like your product they will not stop talking about it in front of their friends and families. They will mention it when asked for recommendations; many times even without it. We have shown how you can achieve this by keeping your best customers happy here, here and here.
  4. Marketing means more than just advertising
    As mentioned in the opening paragraph many small business owners fall into this trap of thinking that marketing is all about giving money to advertising companies in exchange for flashy ads. There is more to marketing than that. Strategic marketing involves understanding your customer base, finding the target market, and tailoring your products and services to that target market. Many small business owners do not spend effort in doing these things and end up casting their net too wide. Spending time in understanding your target market and focusing on it will make your marketing dollars go further.
  5. You cannot ignore Internet and social media marketing in these times
    Internet and social media are as pervasive as corner gas station these days. Your customers are using them for everything – from finding your business to understanding how good it is to giving their review to the world. Sites such as Google , Craigs List and Yelp are helping them do this almost effortlessly. If you are not spending effort and marketing dollars on these sites you are missing out on great opportunity to reach your customers.

Use these rules to modify your approach to marketing and get more bang for your bucks. We will explore more tactical marketing approach in the coming days. Stay tuned…

Image Courtesy:   chantrybee

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  1. We have a new software product that is able to track a lot of what I mentioned — you can roll up the call tracking from offline and online sources, including separating out PPC from organic, and integrate that with your analytics and PPC data. It’s an easy way to see how much ROI each source is bringing you. It’s available at http://www.mynextcustomer.com, and we’re happy to give demos to anyone interested.

  2. Angel Business Advisors says:

    @Keri Morgret – That is a very good point. You may be wasting your money if you don’t know how much return you are getting. This is where many business owners get frustrated. Granted it is difficult to track the return on marketing; but there are some simple things you can do to get better understanding of return.

  3. I’d add a sixth rule — you need to figure out ways to measure your marketing. I’m at a pizza place right now, and was actually thinking earlier of the ways they are and aren’t measuring their marketing (I’ve been here before, and chatted with some of the staff).

    They’re using text message advertising. You can get 15% off your purchase that day if you text the name of the restaurant to a certain number. They can tell on the backend how many people text that, and at the register they can also mark how many people redeem that code. They also offer deals through the month by text, and the register again tells them how many people take advantage of those deals.

    They do the usual coupons in publications, and can tell via unique codes for each publication how many people redeemed the coupon from each source and judge the effectiveness. To track this even more, they could use a call tracking system where they print a different number in each publication and see which ads bring in the most calls.

    They have a website, but it forwards to another website URL, so they aren’t able to track where their visitors are coming from, and which efforts are working best for them. They could also integrate call tracking here, where a different phone number would show for social media versus paid search or other methods, and see what works best for them.

  4. Great blog post. There are many small business owners that don’t have the time or know how to market their business the right way. They are too involved in the actual business.

    It’s good to try and show them the way.


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