Notes from Jeff York

Small business marketing thoughts from a marketing small business owner

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Fixing a broken belief system

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“I tried that before and it didn’t work.”confused_man1

Think about that statement for a moment. How many times and how many ways have you heard that statement expressed. Since this is a blog about marketing and business, I’m sure you know where I’m going with this, but let’s take it out of context and examine it.

Ever pick up a remote and try to change the channel on your TV, but the batteries were dead? Did you resign yourself to manually changing the channels from then on or did you examine the problem and find a solution? New batteries means you fixed the situation. The problem wasn’t with the remote.

What about hiring a bad employee? Unfortunately, many of us have been in that situation before. It’s a difficult solution for all concerned, but once the remedy was executed, the situation was fixed. Does that mean hiring employees is a bad idea or did I mean that you just had to examine the problem?

The same ideas apply to marketing. Time and time again, I’ve encountered people whom might have “tried TV” or “did marketing” before and whatever they did had failed. Therefore, they jump to the incorrect conclusion that marketing doesn’t work (for them). Instead of spending the effort of finding out why it didn’t work or determining something else that might work for them, they walk away from marketing their business and handicap their business’s growth.

I highly respect the business owner that I work with who calls me up to tell me that their current spot or ad isn’t working. That gives us (both the marketing firm and the client) the chance to reexamine the messaging. Is the wording strong enough? Are we appealing to the right audience? Are we even reaching the right audience or are we using the wrong medium? This is a far better path than simply pulling the plug on a campaign and walking away from marketing altogether. Sure it harms the marketing firm some. But the biggest damage is done to the business itself. The owner no longer believes in marketing and therefore limits that business’s growth potential.

Take a look at the list of Fortune 100 companies. One of the things that they have in common (with the possible exception of Berkshire Hathaway) is an expansive marketing effort. They know and understand that growth comes from reaching new customers, announcing new offerings in the most effecient way, and branding themseleves against their competition. Even at the small business level, growth must come from telling people that you exist.

Do you have a story you can share in which your marketing efforts were falling short and you did something to turn it around? What can we all learn from examples that you can share about your business’s marketing successes?

Who are you?

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If you’re a small business owner, you often have to grapple with ways in which to grow your business.  You want to attract the largest number of customers as possible without growing too fast and becoming a victim of your own success.  You might be faced with the temptation to expand your company’s core business to offer more services and more products to attract even more customers.

A smart move?  Maybe, but consider this…who are you?  What do people know you today as?

Before you start diversifying into new offerings, consider the confusion that this can cause with your current customer base.  Will your new lines make your existing customers think you’re going to be leaving them behind?  Is your new production complementary to your existing offerings or is to something completely different?  How will you be able to position your company that makes all your offerings a complete package?  If you’re not having this conversation with your marketing department/company before going down this road, you might be setting yourself up for problems with brand confusion and lost identity.

Just more food for thought…

Written by Jeff York

July 6, 2008 at 4:40 am