Times have been tough the past few years. We’re a little confused and definitely a little scared. But there’s hope for the small business owner. We've compiled 6 tips to re-think the market and how you approach it.
It’s a tough business environment but there’s hope for the small business owner to succeed in
2010. We’ve compiled six tips to help you re-think the market and how to approach it.
Don’t Take Notes From Big Business
Is your marketing not yielding results justifying the investment? Before you react, consider your view
of marketing itself. There’s a tendency for small business owners to consider marketing in the way big
businesses practice it.
To illustrate the point, think of five advertisements. Now, compare your marketing budget to theirs. Do
Celebrity endorsements, television commercials and billboard ads are expressions of marketing that
typically come to mind. It’s natural. We’re a product of our environment and we’re constantly saturated
with corporate messaging.
How businesses have marketed over the past 80 years is a result of mass production. Large-scale
output led to mass marketing and created mass media. Like its products, companies found that
packaging and delivering marketing content was also an efficient business practice.
Businesses wanted their messages to be seen by the most people possible. The bigger, the better
philosophy worked because demand exceeded supply. “Market” evolved into a verb. It became
something that producers did to customers.
Return to the Marketplace
To reevaluate your view of marketing, consider an original practice. Marketing began hundreds of
years ago as literally going to a marketplace to sell a good. Craftsmen would engage buyers face
to face. He encouraged conversations and built relationships in order to sell his product. His craft
became an extension of him. “Market” was something done with customers.
For small businesses to succeed in 2010, you’ll need to return to the marketplace. Rather than setup a
booth at a flea market, try to give customers what they want. Not just with your product or service, but
in your marketing.
You probably can’t think of someone who demands more adverting but everyone appreciates
a good conversation. Conversations engage us in a powerful way. They contribute to
partnerships, inspire ideas, make us laugh and may even cause you to sell something.
Determining the best place to start your conversation will depend on your product or service.
Start by investigating options to market online. Consider social media networks as an
opportunity to allow you to convey your unique voice. Like the old marketplace, encouraging a
conversation will build relationships. Not only is it more personal, it’s more effective.
Continue to Invest in Your Business
When some small business owners feel the pinch, they react by drastically reducing their marketing
budgets. However, continuing to invest in your business is especially important during a downturn.
Competition actually increases during a recession. As many talented people are laid off, they
substitute their time by innovating and opening businesses of their own. The Internet itself is also
increasing competition. For example, the website esty.com allows individuals to sell goods without
having to operate a business of their own.
As consumers become more conscious of the dollars they spend, they more thoroughly
evaluate potential purchase decisions. Consumer review and price comparison websites keep
today’s consumer well informed.
Facing increased competition is not a time to lay-low. Smart marketers know that their efforts
create long-term friendships. When we emerge from the recession, the value of continually
maintaining friendships will be realized. If your business isn’t proactive, your competition could
recruit the majority of post-recession friends!
Continue to invest into your business. If you’re marketing efforts haven’t achieved the results
you desired, re-think your strategy. Consider relying on a professional or hiring a consultant to
advise potential strategies.
Stop Considering Yourself A Company
This may seem counterintuitive. As a small business owner you wear many hats, from accountant to
supervisor. The next time you put on your marketing hat, stop thinking of yourself as a company.
4. People don’t particularly like companies. Companies want to sell us on something. They use
automated phone systems that keep us from a human being for as long as possible. They charge us
too much for coffee.
The challenge isn’t to convince people to like your company. That’s a difficult fight to win. Instead
focus on the associations people have with your company. What does your product or service mean
to them? To help realize your potential in 2010, consider your business’ identity in the minds of your
customer. It’s how they define you that really matters.
Take Calculated Risks
People like to stick to what they know. We are creatures of habit and tend to fear change. But, if you
completely eliminate risks, you also eliminate the opportunity to grow.
5. It’s a new era in business. We have new challenges that require new solutions. Perhaps you have
refrained from new opportunities to market your business fearing they won’t match with your
customers. But consider the importance of reaching and influencing existing customers. Yes,
frequent customers make up a significant portion of your sales but frequent customers aren’t
synonymous with loyal customers.
Consider marketing less-popular products or services to target lower-volume customers as they
represent the greatest growth potential. Small businesses are more nimble than the big guys. If
you try something new and it doesn’t work out, you can more quickly change your strategy. You
don’t face long negotiation processes, there’s no red tape and minimal office politics stand in
There is uncharted territory to be covered along with new successes to be realized. Maintaining
complete control is a losing game in today’s market place. Instead take a managed risk. Just
start small. Until you venture to try something new, you won’t know your business’ full potential.
We have come to a universal understanding that failure is a bad thing and should be avoided at all
costs. You’ve heard the phrase, “happiness is a state of mind,” but consider that failure, too, can be a
state of mind.
6. Failing can actually make us smarter. There is great value in learning from our mistakes. If we apply an
understanding of what went wrong to future efforts we can improve their effectiveness.
Re-think your definition of failure. Even if an effort doesn’t achieve your initial goals, don’t jump to
classifying your efforts as a failure. You may actually uncover success in your failure in the form of
information. Apply what you learned to improve the effectiveness of your next initiative.
Just as there are new challenges for 2010, there are new opportunities. Technology has gifted
business owners with thousands of new opportunities to reach customers. Unfortunately, new
technologies are frequently avoided. We don’t always understand them and they have yet to be
“prove” their effectiveness.
The truth is that you don’t have to be a technological expert to employ all these new
technologies. Many innovations are so user-friendly; they don’t require hiring an expert.
Regardless of how your business uses technology, the role of technology in your customer’s
life is increasing in importance.
Once we realize that failure doesn’t have to be a disheartening blow to your ego or bank
account, we can begin to plan on failure. Accounting for failure reduces the risk involved with
failing and establishes a system for future successes.
A Little More About Us
Companies elect to work with us based on the outcomes we create. Our team has spent years
working in marketing and understand how people interact online. Our work is driven by consumers
and research - not just intuition.
We specialize in online communication
for small businesses. www.wink.es
Privately held. Founded in 2008.
We don’t sell ads. We sell results. www.twitter.com/winkes