Going through the first round of classes in Carlson makes me think about who really uses marketing and marketers to their full potential. The reason being that marketing here is taught at top level, meaning that the majority of things that marketers learn are applicable to large corporations. Which is great, seeing as how that’s what I’d like to do at this point.
The flip side of that coin, of course, is that what’s being taught may miss how to help smaller businesses without a large budget. The big corporations treat the great B-schools as a farm system, infusing young talent into their organization knowing well that some will do very well and some will languish. Yet in order to continue their paths of victory, they must attain additional march-men (and women). They succeed at this because they have the funds and prestige to do so. Many people go to B-school expecting the big pay check, the posh big city office and the respect. To each their own. Those things certainly are appealing, but I’m interested in working for a company I can respect and develop a mutually beneficial relationship with over the long term.
The really beautiful aspect of great marketing is that it scales. It’s based around a few simple and important tenets that are tried and true at a small level, yet are used globally by trillion dollar organizations. Here’s a quick run down of things to think about if you have a small business:
1. What are you doing to attain customers?
Seems pretty obvious right? No matter what you are offering, you have to figure out who can derive value from the product or service you are offering and convince them to an initial trial. The concept seems rather basic, but there is actually quite a bit behind it. Figuring out who is most likely to use your widget, the best way to make your mark with them and actually getting them to use your offering, etc. Building a plan for this is necessary. People don’t randomly walk into your business without a reason (at least not often), so you’d better figure out how to capture attention and convert that into action.
2. What are you doing to keep customers?
This is where most people falter. They forget how difficult it is to maintain relationships with anyone, much less with people who are bombarded with marketing to get their business every day. Sorry guys, but a postcard when my oil change is needed isn’t near enough.
It certainly doesn’t hurt, but it’s not good enough. Which brings us to the next point…
3. How are you different?
The big problem for small businesses is that they don’t necessarily understand just how much competition is out there. Consumers have a great many choices every day with whom they spend their discretionary income. Most of the time they choose based on what makes them happy. That happiness may come in the form of a few extra dollars toward their car payment, a few extra minutes to spend with their kids or treating themselves to something special.
So doing things differently, doing things worth talking about, will get you more publicity than any price promotion you could dream up. Name any huge company today and I’ll show you a disruptor of some sort. Building a business that treats customers as special, once in a lifetime gifts is the way to really build. Because people talk. Good or bad, they talk. And if they like what you do, they’ll want you to succeed too. So give them the reason to talk. Build something worth talking about, for the right reasons.