Why Small Business Needs To Market Itself Now More Than Ever
In 2009, when you turn on the TV or listen to the radio, you got bombarded with the words, recession, TARP, unemployment, foreclosures, and other less than positive descriptors. No wonder small businesses are fearful of their long-term viability. But there is one thing small businesses can do to take control of their future. They should increase their marketing efforts. They should spend money on marketing because that is the one thing that will increase their chances of surviving a recession.
Traditionally, when a small business faces stagnant or negative revenue growth, they look to cutting expenditures to offset their lack of growth. One of the first areas that normally get cut is the marketing budget. This practice always makes me shake my head in disbelief. Granted I run a marketing communications firm so I am hardly unbiased but it just doesn’t make sense that when you don’t meet your revenue expectations, you cut the one strategy that is supposed to generate leads and bring in the revenue.
Maybe small business owners are spending their money on strategies that don’t yield a good return on investment. Maybe the small business owner doesn’t know which strategies target their customer base better. Maybe they are tired of throwing money down the sink and seeing no customers in return. Maybe their reasoning is all of the above. I will explain what some common miscalculations are when companies look at their marketing budget and decide what they should cut.
I recently completed a marketing strategy project for a company that has been in operation for close to 25 years. Their marketing budget was full of association membership dues, events, direct mailings, promotional gifts, and other traditional marketing line items. I was surprised that I didn’t see any money allocated for internet strategies such as email marketing, search engine optimization, online advertising, pay per click, and other strategies. I was surprised because how could anyone not pay attention to the Internet trends that surround us every day?
Everyone has heard of Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media outlets. Most companies view these websites as “time killers” not as “marketing strategies”. With the proper focus and guidance, companies can also increase their marketing reach by utilizing social media tools that are inherently free, except for your time of course.
I would love for each small business in operation today to deploy internet-related marketing and advertising strategies to help them raise their brand awareness and drive traffic to their website. Submit a press release, start a blog, create that Facebook profile and see who in your customer base is online. Start the online conversation, get input on your business, determine new market trends, redefine your target customer, offer promotions, gain competitive intelligence, and more importantly, take control of your marketing efforts. Now is the time every business should spend more time and money on marketing. The companies that spend more money on marketing in today’s environment will be the ones to ride out this recession and exit with a stronger foothold in their marketplace.
Marketing does not start and stop at the small business marketer or the small business owner. Every person working for that small business needs to become a marketer in helping to promote the company and its value proposition. Marketing is something that employees should do to ensure that their company will prosper during these hard times. Harvard Business School’s Rosabeth Moss Kanter summed it up best when she said, “are you facing falling customer orders? Slower renewals? Cancellations? Requests for even deeper discounts? And you have probably cut budgets and jobs more than you like. So now what?
When you can’t (and shouldn’t) cut any further, you can leverage the creativity of the people on your team. In a recession, everyone should be in marketing. “ What Ms. Kanter is alluding to is that marketing is not a single player game. In times like these, everyone needs to be a marketer. Now is the time to raise your marketing efforts.
So consider this everyone’s call to marketing. You can take control of your future. Use smart marketing strategies that yield a high return on investment. Track your performance, tweak, and reimplement. Start marketing your company, start telling the marketplace how good you are. Take your marketing strategy online. Get involved in social media. Start that conversation with your target audience; you may be surprised by the results.
About Conversion Pipeline
Michael Delpierre is President and Chief Marketing Officer at Washington D.C. area-based Conversion Pipeline. Conversion Pipeline is a strategic marketing communications company focused on the small business and non-profit sectors. Conversion Pipeline offers a variety of custom-tailored marketing, communications, branding, social media, and revenue generating strategies aimed at elevating brand awareness while increasing the revenue pipeline. For more information please visit www.conversionpipeline.com or contact the Pipeline creative team at [email protected].