Smart Marketing … for Small Business
By Leslie R. Wolff
I met a former business owner who never had time to
spend on marketing, now he does.
Marketing is the process of acquiring customers and keeping them. That’s it, no great mystery, without customers a business does not survive. Without happy, satisfied customers a business does not grow.
Theodore Levitt of the Harvard Business School once wrote …. “Marketing is all the exhilarating big things and all the troublesome little things that must be done in every nook and cranny of the entire corporate organization in order to achieve the purpose of attracting and holding a customer.”
Then why are so many business owners so confused about marketing their products and/or services? Why do some in an industry succeed greatly and others barely exist or fail? It is not the lack of capital. It is the failure of understanding what the various elements of marketing are and how they work together. It is the failure to examine all the “troublesome little things” within their business that affect the effort to gain customers and retain them.
Marketing is not difficult. Marketing need not be expensive. Marketing produces a better bottom line. Marketing requires discipline. Good marketing requires an open-minded attitude and a willingness to think “outside the box”.
Smart business owners will always ask themselves questions, constantly challenging their own thinking. Questions that open their mind about how they operate and what they should be doing. We put clients through a questioning process known as a “Marketing Needs Analysis” to get a clear understanding of the marketing strengths and weaknesses of a company. Then they help a firm build on their strengths and strengthen their weaknesses. Here is a brief sampling of some questions from our “Marketing Needs Analysis” that every business owner should be asking.
“Effective management always means asking the right questions.” Robert Heller
Questions to ponder:
- How easy or difficult are you to do business with?
- Have you ever surveyed your customer base and asked them to rate your quality of service?
• What is your percentage of customer turnover? Have you ever examined why a customer leaves you?
• What do your employees think of management? How does that affect your customer relationships?
• Do you know how big is the market for your product or service? Are you getting your fair share?
• Are you aware of all the factors affecting your market? How do you use these to your advantage?
• What is your customer’s perception of your firm? How do you find out and use it to grow your business?
• What is your most important business asset? Why do you think it is, and how can it benefit your marketing efforts?
• What is your competition doing to build market share? How can you outsmart, outflank and outmaneuver them without outspending them?
• What is your competitive edge in the marketplace? Can you make it proprietary thus difficult to duplicate?
• How would you describe the profile of your customer? Is this the best profile for the growth of your business?
• Where is your business coming from? Are you overlooking other areas of potential revenue?
• What research has been done re: the potential of other markets? Have you been asking the right questions?
• What is your corporate philosophy toward your customer? Is it clear and does every employee and customer know it?
• How much of your marketing budget is for lead generation? Is it getting the results you need?
• How much of your business market do you want in the next five years? Are your plans optimistic, realistic or not yet defined?
Smart quote of the week – “My greatest strength as a consultant is to be ignorant and ask a few questions.” – Peter Drucker
Les is CEO of Philadelphia based Smart Marketing Group a creative strategy firm focused on showing clients on how to outthink, not outspend their competition. Smart Marketing … for Small Business is based on his 50 years of experience, expertise in the marketplace. (www.smartmarketinggroup.com) E-mail him your question at smartmarketing4U@ aol.com