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Small Business Marketing - Can You Communicate Like This?

Many small business marketing plans focus on advertising. Or internet marketing. Or sales promotion. But really the basis of any small business relationship, relies on solid marketing communications. What do I mean by that? Here's an example....

I helped a $1 million company in the construction industry develop a marketing plan recently. Now we all know what is happening in that industry....not enough. So the company signaled to me they would be late in paying my invoice.

Then, this week I received a check for the good-faith amount of $50. But what impressed me was the note that was attached to it. It said:

"Like many others in this hard economy, July and August were very difficult months for us. We only produced a fraction of our normal sales which is why you're receiving only a partial payment to apply to our account. We are starting to see things turn this month and are expecting business to slowly return to normal production. Thank you for your patience and continued support. Please call with any questions"

Now I don't know about you, but this open and honest communication with me, and all of their other vendors, goes a long way towards creating a trusting partnership. And since trust is the basis of any good relationship, I think this is very good small business marketing.

What do you think?

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September 22, 2008 in Small Business Marketing | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Small Business Marketing: Do You See Your Company's Marketing Style on the Highway?

These days a trip on the highway is filled with adventure. But I never stopped to consider how a small bussiness' marketing style might be reflected in any number of motorists I typically see on the highway. Does your small business' marketing style mirror one of these drivers?

No Turn Signals
It used to be that the turn signal was valuable. It signaled a driver's intentions to all other drivers. Once other drivers knew what your intentions were, they could slow down, change lanes or otherwise act accordingly. However, without this basic form of communication out on the road, or in your marketing communications, others don't know where you are going. Common "turn signals" in the marketing world are e-newsletters, podcasts or press releases.

Slowpokes in the fast lane
We've all seen these left lane chug-a-lugs who slow down everyone else's travels because they have not adapted their driving behavior to others' around them.

In the marketing sense of this analogy, if your company doesn't yet have a website, or your site has been under construction for more than 6 months, you're hogging the left hand lane.

Frantic lane changers
These folks are the jitterbugs of the highway. First they switch lanes to the left, then back to the right, then back to the left again. They are so busy switching lanes and trying new avenues, that they fail to realize if they just stayed in one lane and drove at a steady speed, they'd get further, faster.

In the marketing world, these are the people who jump willy-nilly from one tactic to the next. They're probably now Twittering and podcasting, yet their company lacks a basic marketing plan and communications platform.

The Distracted Multi-Tasker
The other day, I actually saw a person talking on her cell phone, drinking a cup of coffee and smoking a cigarette, all as she drove 60 miles an hour. It made me wonder what she was actually focused on. Driving? Probably not.

In marketing, these folks launch a marketing campaign with the best of intentions. However, the day-to-day intrusions and distractions take their eye off the ball and their marketing effort falters.

I'll post more of these profiles in Marketing Tips & Tools, but which ones have I missed?

September 11, 2008 in Small Business Marketing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Small Business Marketing Affinity - It's Between People, Not Organizations

If your small business marketing plan includes a strategy of drawing upon certain affinities in your marketplace to get new orders and referrals, BRAVO. You've mastered one of the most important elements of marketing.

However, the greatest affinities exist between people, not organizations. What do I mean by this?

If I get a letter from someone touting they're "A fellow member of TwinWest Chamber of Commerce" ( I sit on the board of this great organization) I take notice. However this affinity is not as strong as it could be. What could make it stronger? If there's an affinity between me and another individual of this organization.

For example, if this same person contacts me and says "I just had coffee with Joe Smith, who I understand is a board member of TwinWest, with you....", now an affinity between people has been established and I'm much more likely to listen to this person's pitch...because I know Joe.

In fact, if an affinity is established between me and another person, I might even sit and listen to a pitch out of obligation. I mean, I wouldn't want any feedback like "Boy, that Jay Lipe wouldn't even take my call. You said you're a colleague of his...?" to get back to Joe.

So if your marketing efforts, whether you've been in business for 20 minutes or 20 years, hinge on establishing affinities, then establish a personal affinity above anything else.

Anyone else care to agree/disagree or expound on what I said....?

Interested in learning more about marketing for your growing company? Try any of my special reports, e-books or published books.

September 8, 2008 in Small Business Marketing | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Small Business Marketing; The First Cardinal Sin of Marketing

OK, so I harp and harp on marketing tactics to keep your small business marketing alive. Then what do I do? I violate THE most important small business marketing principle. OK, here's the story....

This weekend, I was invited to play golf in a league as a substitute, and I had a blast. The course was gorgeous, we moved along at a nice clip, the other foursome members were nice guys and everyone was having fun. My mind couldn't have been further from marketing.

But after our round ended, one of the guys asked me to join him in the bar for a beer. So we walk in and we end up sitting with one of the guys in my foursome who's nursing a Leinenkugel's. So we sit down with him.

One thing led to another and before long we're talking about business. This guy works in an industry that I have lots of experience in and he eventually asks me what I do. "I help growing companies with their marketing" I answer and his eyes light up.

Yet, when he asks me for my business card, I discover that I just passed out the last one at a networking event the week before. That's OK, I say to myself, just get one from your briefcase. Oops, I didn't bring my briefcase.

Boy was I embarrassed to say "I'll have to email you", instead of being able to hand him my card right then and there.

This is, in my opinion, the #1 Cardinal Sin of Marketing...running out of business cards. Why? Because most instances, when an interested party asks you for a card, they are "opting in". They WANT to start a relationship with you.

Boy did I screw up. And even worse, I didn't follow my own advice, found in The Marketing Toolkit for Growing Businesses, which is to put a stash of 20 cards in your car's glove compartment. That way if you run out of cards in your wallet or purse, and forget to bring your briefcase, you're still covered.

Today, I stocked my glove compartment with 20 cards and I'm good to go again. And the contact I met this weekend? We've since emailed. But I'm lucky, he and I spent 5 hours together, so he was willing to overlook my small business marketing misstep.

I may not be so lucky next time.

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September 2, 2008 in Small Business Marketing | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack