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Is Your Marketing Delivering Sale$?

July 22, 2008

Many small businesses and a number of larger ones have no clue if their marketing is bringing in any new customers or generating enough sales to justify the expense. Most don’t have a way to measure the effects of marketing.

Many small businesses have a hit-or-miss approach to marketing. There seems to be little rhyme or reason and no overall plan for the marketing. In fact, many small businesses conduct what I call “ego marketing”. They will put up a billboard on a well traveled highway with their picture on it, so every day when they drive by their ego gets inflated, the sign company gets rich and the small business owner gets zero sales from it.

Don’t get me wrong, outdoor advertising has its place, but in most cases it’s a waste of resources. In this highly competitive, high cost business environment, small business owners need to make smart investments in marketing. So what should a small business person do?

Well, before you spend another dime on a brochure, flyer, billboard or newspaper ad you need to just stop and take a careful look at what’s going on in seven (7) key areas of your business:

1. Customers- Who do you want to sell to and who are you really selling to?

2. Products- What’s your value proposition or why in the world would anyone spend money on what you’re selling?

3. Pricing – What’s your pricing strategy? ( Ah…yeah you should have a strategy for each of your targets and it shouldn’t be to make the most you can on everybody. A lot of businesses have gone out of business with predatory pricing. Subprime mortgages…nuff said)

4. Place – How are your customer’s gonna get your product? In the old days you needed to have a store to sell your wares. That cost a lot of money. Today, you could be selling to customers in Dubai and never leave Cleveland, or wherever you live, because of the Internet. Your distribution is part of your marketing (Betcha didn’t know that!!!!)

5. Promotion – This is what most people think marketing is all about. But if you don’t pay attention to the other Ps of marketing (there are 4), then you’ll end up with ego marketing or marketing that doesn’t do diddly squat to your bottom line. ( Yeah… I said it)

6. Competition – You gotta think outside of the box when it comes to your competition. Don’t think about just the other folks selling the same things you do. You got to consider everything your customer could be doing with their money and come up with a darn good reason for them to give it to you ( uh…that’s what your value proposition is all about, see how this all comes together?). Your value proposition is that compelling reason for a customer to select you and your product over all the other things they could do with their money, including the alternative of keeping it in their pocket and doing nothing. Sometimes customers doing nothing is your toughest competitor.

7. Branding -What do people think of when they think of your product? That’s what you brand is all about. For example when I think of Volvo, safety comes to mind, Walmart, low prices. Nordstroms, great service. They didn’t get this way by accident, but by consistently delivering on their brand promise over a long period of time. (Did ya notice I didn’t say anything about advertising or logos or any of that stuff when talking brand?)

So all you have to do is get your arms around these seven areas. The first step in doing so is to do an audit. Stay tuned to this blog for more information on how to do a “Small Business Marketing Audit: A Guide for Understanding & Managing the Marketing Mix” or better still “The Seven Secrets to Making Cent$ Out of Your Marketing”. Both of these sound like the titles to a book. Which do you prefer?? More soon.

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