Small Business - 2/2 - Duct Tape Marketing

Tag Archives for " Small Business "

14 Teaching Business Behavior

business teachingThere is a well-worn truth that goes something like – if you want to learn something teach it. I think this certainly applies to many aspects of business. If you want to learn something at a much deeper level then write about it, speak about it, and create and conduct workshops and trainings on the subject. You can and should be doing all of these things as a routine part of your business growth.

However, I want to suggest that you take this concept to another level. I believe that there is a powerful layer to this teaching notion that is rarely accessed by small business. If you want your customers and partners to behave in certain ways then teach them how to do it. Now, I’m not simply talking about teaching them how or what to buy – I mean teach them a behavior that clearly has a benefit to them, but ultimately may benefit your cause.

Here’s what I mean.

Continue reading

14 My Small Business Economic Stimulus Wish List

Today on the AMEX OpenForum I wrote a post about what I think the Obama Stimulus package should contain to address the needs of small business. Small business is the economic engine that will pull us out of this recession – let’s put some oil in the engine!

1) Really fund the SBDCs and SCORE
2) Fix the Uncle Louie problem along with the banks – tax credits for small investment
3) Want to create jobs? – I have simple solution
4) Fix health care – and watch out for the entrepreneurial explosion

Read the full post here

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

18 7 Time-tested Ways to Dig Out from a Recession

Scan the headlines each day and you won’t have to get very far to stumble upon the word recession or its more palatable cousin “economic downturn.”

It’s times like these that send many small business owners on a quest for the magic recession fighting marketing tip. Today I would like to share my top seven quick fix marketing strategies with the caveat that you understand nothing beats building a marketing system based on a narrowly defined ideal customer and core message of differentiation.

Being the practical guy I am though, I also know that sometimes you need to hear about ways to start getting out of a hole before you can really listen to the message of long term fix. The good news is that these seven strategies, applied effectively, can help you make your business recession proof and unswayed by the various and inevitable cycles in the economy.

Take these seven tips and re-energize your marketing today!

1) Partner with other businesses – Proactively creating strategic partnerships is a great way to generate new leads and build long-term momentum. The trick is to do it ways that are win-win and simple for all parties. Number one rule, only seek marketing partnerships with organizations that you would have no problem referring your best customer too. Adhering to that logical rule alone will make this strategy more effective. Creating motivated strategic partners is simple if you can find a way to tap their self-interest. Take them an effective white paper or seminar idea and let them co-brand and co-sponsor it. That way they have a ready made and logical way to partner with you and you’ve done all the work.

2) Reactivate past customers – Where did I put that customer anyway, I know they are around here somewhere. Sad but true, sometimes we don’t bother to communicate with current customers unless they call with an order. By the time they have decided someone else appreciates their business more, it’s too late. Reach out to lapsed customers and make them an apology, promise to never ignore them again, and make them a smoking hot deal to come back.

3) Get out from behind the computer – Building personal relationships is always in style. It’s very tempting to sit and write blog posts and participate on social networking sites, and while these aren’t always bad things – sometimes you need to go out and shake some hands. Make it a point to go to several industry conferences every year. Join an industry or chamber type group and go to events where you can make connections with prospects and partners. Join a referral group such as BNI and participate. Go visit your customers and ask for referrals.

4) Speak at events, hold workshops – Marketing is essentially a trust building game. Few things build trust more efficiently than getting in front of a group of potential customers and sharing your expertise in an educational setting. Go propose to conduct a hot sounding workshop for your bank, accounting firm, law firm and insurance firm. Check local libraries, chambers, and associations for opportunities. Look in your local business papers and see what groups have speakers listed in calendars of events. Get two of your best customers to help conduct peer2peer webinars to discuss best practices and issues with peers you invite.

5) Fix your follow-up – lead generation and conversion is not a one shot deal. By automating your multiple follow-up messages, scheduling routine marketing touches and sending the occasional thank you, hand written note, you can stay top of mind when the buying and referral decisions are made. The longer the sales cycle for your industry or service the better your follow-up needs to be. There is so much that technology can do for you here, let it!

6) Repackage your products and services with offers to act – This goes along with differentiating really, but sometimes you’ve got to give that tired old dog a new look. Find simple ways to relaunch yourself, your people, your products, your services, your packaging, to give yourself a new start in your market. You don’t need to start from scratch, look for innovative ways to repackage, reprice, redeliver, reguarantee and recommunicate about what you do. Make them an offer they can’t refuse, make it so bold they must rehear you.

7) Fix the marketing gaps – In every way, shape, and form that your business comes into contact with your prospects and customers it is performing a marketing function – good or bad. You must look at all of your customer touchpoints and turn them into positive, brand-building opportunities. Tear down the lead generations touches, sales touches, service touches, delivery touches, follow-up touches, transaction touches, and billing touches and make sure that every single one of them is a performing a killer marketing function for your business.

Maybe by now you’ve surmised that all of the items above are good for business, no matter the economy, it’s just that sometimes you need a fix or two to get restarted.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

18 Top 12 Resources for Start-Ups

Logo of the U.S. government's Small BusinEvery now and then I get asked to provide a list of resources to help small business owners get started and growing. Here are some of my favorite recommendations.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

18 Are You Too Online?

Even a casual reader to this blog will know that I am a huge fan of the growing set of low-cost online tools available to the small business owner and marketer.

Blogging, RSS, podcasting, social and local SEO, online PR, social networks, video services, and other online branding tools have leveled the playing field for the entrepreneur wise enough to tap this awesome toy store.

But, the ease at which these tools can be accessed can lead some businesses away from proven offline marketing strategies and tactics at the expense of true marketing momentum.

The beauty of a solid Internet presence is what it can do to enhance your overall marketing footprint. Your overall marketing momentum and growth can lean heavily on new media, but should not do so at the expense of a fully rounded effort.

  • Direct mail can be enhanced with online offer fulfillment
  • Magazine ads can be enhanced with webinars
  • Blogs can help you build a local community of partners
  • Networking offline can help you move people to network online
  • Pay-per-click advertising can help refine offline headlines
  • Social networks are a great place to locate offline strategic partners

The trick is to leverage all the tools available to you (on and off) to meet the overall objectives of marketing – building know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat and refer.

To neglect the awesome power, reach and control still available through many offline vehicles is a little like mimicking the dog with a bone who sees its shadow in a reflection of water and drops the bone it has to grab the bone it sees as somehow bigger and better.

Use online and offline tactics to support each other and watch your marketing results grow exponentially.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

29 I Don't Have Time for Marketing

The preposterous sounding title of this post is a direct quote from the lips of many a small business owner I have encountered. The root of this problem of course can be summed up nicely in something known as Parkinson’s Law

Parkinson’s Law is the adage that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” It was first articulated by Cyril Northcote Parkinson, appearing as the first sentence of a humorous essay published in The Economist in 1955.

The Law is as alive and well in the small business as it may be in the halls of the largest bureaucracy on the planet. So, the key to effective marketing may simply be a matter of defining the right work to fill up the time available.

Marketing is and must become a habitual activity in your business. You must live by the marketing calendar or die by the lack of time available to complete the greasing of the squeaky wheel.

The only way to find time for marketing is to plan for it. Create a marketing theme for every month of the year and then build marketing activities on a daily and weekly basis around the theme.

You know you need to be sending out more press releases and building relationships with key journalists in your industry – make that September’s theme and do it. You know you need to build a network of strategic partners to make your referral leads really soar – make that October’s theme. You know you need a blog, you need to start blogging as a part of your Internet presence – make that November’s theme.

Create the biggest, most hard to ignore wall calendar you can find and post your year of marketing themes. Then break each month down into the action steps needed to make progress on the monthly theme. Finally, assign yourself or someone on your team daily action steps, appointments really, and then complete the daily marketing action before you pass Go or return another email.

That’s how you make time for marketing, that’s how you build marketing momentum and that’s how you make marketing expand to fill the time available for its completion.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

8 So You Think You're Different?

Being different, or more accurately, having a point of differentiation that matters to a market, is one of the most critical marketing strategies for the small business.

Intentionally finding and centrally communicating that point of difference is what sets the truly successful business apart from the businesses relegated to compete on price.

See, the market must have difference, a point of reference with which to compare competing businesses – that’s how decision are made. So if you don’t give them something that makes you uniquely suited to serve their needs, they will fall back to the only measurement of difference you do have – price. And, as I’ve said often – price is a terrible place to compete because there will always be someone willing to go out of business faster than you.

But what makes you different? That’s the question small business owners have a tough time with because, at the end of the day, people are a little uncomfortable really being different. So, they hang their hat of things like “solution driven blah blah” and “superior customer service” and “unique set of fill in the blank” that everyone in their industry is saying.

Don’t believe me? I dare you to take the “Sameness Test.” Go to the website of your top five competitors and copy and paste the first paragraph you find there onto a blank page. Now add the first paragraph from your site. Then black out any reference to company names and pass this document around your office and see if anyone in the office can pick your site out or identify any competitor. It’s my experience that this will probably make you laugh and cry at the same time.

Use this Sameness Test as motivation to step out and really identify some way for you to create, perfect, and communicate, in the simplest terms possible, how your business really is unique.

Don’t know where to look? Ask you customers, research your industry around the world, look for opportunities presented by your competition. You don’t always have to be the first one to create a revolutionary innovation in your industry to be different. Sometimes it’s enough to package your services differently, approach a niche market differently, price your products differently, add services to products, add products to services, create outrageous guarantees, or add some truly remarkable habit to your sales and marketing process.

Just know this, it’s OK to be different, in fact, it’s the only way you can grow.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

22 The Most Expensive Way to Grow a Business

There are really only four ways to grow a business – Get more leads, close more deals, increase your average transaction or add products and services to your offerings. Of the lot, trying to generate increasing numbers of leads is the most expensive.

Small Business GrowthNow, don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that you drop your lead generation efforts, I’m simply advising you to give more real focus and effort to the other three first.

In other words – fix your message, fix your follow through, and fix your Marketing Hourgalsssm. Do that and you might actually find that you can grow your business while decreasing the number of leads you need to in order do so. Too often a lone fixation on lead generation for growth can attract the wrong kind of prospect and run your resources dry while you chase your tail looking for the next live one.

In most cases, the easiest thing to impact in a small business is lead conversion. By creating a truly systematic way to present, follow-up, transact and thrill your customers and prospects you can almost certainly expect to do substantially more business with the amount of leads you currently generate

With a message that communicates how remarkably unique your business is, targeted at a narrowly defined ideal prospect, price pressure goes out the window. Find you message, raise your prices and grow through increased average dollar per sale.

I use an hourglass image to illustrate the idea that every customer that comes into your funnel and squeezes through that small part to become a customer needs to immediately go into another expanded set of offerings (the bottom widening part of the hourglass) that includes complimentary products or services, introductions to strategic alliances and an acute focus on referral generation – that’s how you build real growth momentum.

So, fix your message, fix your follow through, and fix your hourglass first, figure out how to get bigger this way, and then turn the lead generation tap and prepare to witness a flood of growth.