Small Business Marketing – 5 Steps to Strong Foundation for 2013

Does Your Small Business Have a Solid Foundation?

Marketing Foundation

Is this your Marketing Foundation?

Based on some recent research, small business owners remain worried.  But this worry doesn’t negate the need for doing the work necessary to get one’s small business marketing house in order for the upcoming year.

Many business owners believe all this small business marketing stuff is either too difficult or doesn’t deliver.  Neither belief is further from the truth.

Marketing is all about laying a solid foundation for your business so it will grow and prosper.  In the process, it identifies the marketing tactics that will produce results.

If you feel your small business marketing foundation may be a bit unstable or too haphazard to produce results for your business, then you need to use these next few weeks to layout an actionable game plan for your 2013 marketing efforts by answering these questions.

1.  What is the reputation of your small business?

David Ogilvy once said “every advertisement is part of the long-term investment in the personality of the brand.”  In today’s digital world where everything is archived by Google — it goes way beyond that.  It includes word-of-mouth, Facebook comments, Yelp mentions, search, local business listings, customer reviews, etc.

It doesn’t matter if you are online or not.  There is a strong possibility your business and your customers are online.  And they may be talking about you.  If so, you need to know.

Action:  Google your business and find out just how stable your small business marketing foundation is and take action to improve it.

2.  Who is your ideal customer?

Do not say “everyone”.  Everyone doesn’t matter, unless everyone is buying from you.  Those that matter are your frequent buyers who rave about your products and services.

Action:  Profile them and pay attention to them by developing a communications plan built around them.  By doing so, you’ll be attracting more like them.

3.  What do you really sell? 

The answer to this question is not about how great your products or services are.  Rather, the real answer, the marketing answer is about the emotional payoff your product or service delivers.

Action:  Feature that payoff and your small business marketing will start to soar.

4.  What one sentence describes what you deliver in jaw dropping style

Dan Pink‘s book Drive included a story about Clare Boothe Luce and JFK.  In 1962, she offered the President some sound marketing advice:

‘A great man,’ she told him, ‘is a sentence.’

Abraham Lincoln’s sentence was: “He preserved the union and freed slaves.” 

Franklin Roosevelt’s was ”He lifted us out of the Great Depression and helped us win a world war.”

Her point?  Only through consistency and laser-like focus can one define themselves.

What is your sentence?  Are your small business marketing messages built around a single sentence or idea about what your business represents or are they scattered to the wind?

Action:  Create your single sentence and use it everywhere.

5.  How will you reach your ideal audience?

Your ideal audience defines your media.

It doesn’t matter how many people are on Twitter or Facebook.  The only thing that matters is if your audience is there.

While you may not be interested in online marketing, you may need to rethink that position if you discover your ideal audience is active online. If they are not online, then use the right offline media to reach them.

Action:  Determine where your audience hangs out and make a commitment to be there and to do so with consistency so you strengthen that all important know, like and trust factor for your business.  And don’t forget to do your due diligence when it comes to your media selections.

Once you have your answers to these five questions and follow-through by taking action, the foundation for your small business will become a lot stronger and 2013 will look much more promising.

Your Turn:  What are your barriers to creating a strong small business marketing foundation?  Share your thoughts in the comments section below.  Do you think these questions and actions will produce positive results? Why?  Why not?

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Sheila Hibbard

Sheila Hibbard takes the fluff, hype and confusion out of marketing and social media. She provides small business owners with straight forward, no nonsense marketing guidance and techniques that produce results based on her 35 plus years in advertising, communications, research, strategic planning and social media. Author of Marketing Online Made Simple - WHO.

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  1. I think small business marketing is a tough game partly because employees of a small business are often required to wear several hats. Burdened by the daily obligations to operate the business, marketing often gets neglected. In my experience, a lot of small business owners struggle with “true” marketing (as opposed to advertising) because they haven’t taken the time to really educate themselves on best practices. Therefore, the marketing that they are using is not working effectively which causes them to discredit the power of marketing as a whole.

    • Many thanks for your comments, CJ.

      I agree with you. Being a small business is a tough game. It certainly isn’t for sissies or the faint of heart. But if one expects to win at this game, they need to understand the parameters and the nature of the game they are playing. Ignoring the basics, unfortunately, spells failure for many a small business owner. And I feel ‘marketing’ is all about business.

      Everything a business owner does is some form of marketing – the way they greet customers, check them out, the products they offer, their ability to make friends with their customers. All falls under the big umbrella of marketing. Lacking a game plan – a marketing plan – makes this a hit or miss proposition rather than by design.

      And all that is required is to thoughtfully answer some of the most basic questions proposed in this article and others on this site. The answers will begin to form some structure and can guide the small business owner to greater success.

      Hope to see you back here, CJ.

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