Small Business + Small Marketing = Big Problems

Have you ever had a really good marketing idea, implemented it, and it went off super successfully? Then you tried to emulate it the following year – or perhaps in another market – and you didn’t have the same results? Congratulations! You haven’t failed at marketing, you’ve learned one of the cardinal sins of marketing. Strategies and tactics vary by market, time of year, and the audience you are talking to.

The number one question I get whenever I speak at a conference on marketing is, “What is the one thing I should be doing right now to market my business?” Whenever I hear that question, I realize the business owner has a much larger problem. They don’t understand marketing as a whole and how it applies to their business.  They are stuck in the rut of being a small business owner with a small understanding of marketing.  And that can equate to big problems.

The question is a great question. The problem is, there is no ONE answer. If there was, all businesses would be doing that one thing, and they all would be super successful. Your marketing plan should be made up of several different strategies and tactics based on the individual market you are in.  My biggest struggle as a marketing director is convincing the marketing teams I work with that their strategies should not all be identical.

Top Three Reasons Why Marketing Strategies Vary By Market
■ First, unless you opened all of your businesses at the exact same time, the life cycle of the business you’re in is completely different in each market. Your older businesses will have an established patient base and the marketing strategy for that market is focused more on customer retention and top-of-mind awareness than on new customer acquisition strategies. In essence, the marketing tactics and strategies are built around maintaining your brand. Additionally, because that business is established, the marketing team should be focused on marketing ancillary services that may not yet be offered at other businesses.

On the flip side, a brand new business in a market where there are competitors requires a different strategy. It is still in its infancy for client growth.  In that market your primary focus is new customer acquisition and differentiating your business from the current market leaders to gain market share.

■ Second, each community you are in has different personalities, meaning your true target audience differs. While that may sound crazy, there is a lot of truth to it. A business located in an affluent and upscale part of Dallas, Texas should have a different marketing strategy than a business located in a small rural Texas town or a town along the Texas border. Languages, culture, and discretionary income all play major roles in how you market. It is important you take the time to get to know your community and your target audience as you craft your marketing plan.

■ Third, competition varies by market and the different stages of your business. You should continually be evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of other players in your market and analyzing the marketing strategies they are currently using. As your competitors began to adapt the things that once set you apart, your competitive advantage and marketing strategies will need to change.

What’s the One Thing You Should be Doing?
So you see, it really is difficult for me to tell you the ONE THING you should be doing to market your business in your particular market. If you really only want to start with one thing, I would encourage you to start with creating a good marketing plan. Then begin implementing those steps and revising it throughout the year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.