The Three Classic Marketing Challenges Faced By Small Businesses
The other day I met with a client who was complaining that his marketing wasn’t doing a thing for his business. So I asked him three simple questions.
1. Do you have something good to say?
2. Do you say it well?
3. Do you say it often?
At my first question, “Do you have something good to say?” his eye-brows went up and he gave me a surprised and wary look. I think he was trying to figure out if he should feel insulted. Eventually he gave me a tepid answer that was far from confidence inspiring.
I then asked him “Do you say it well?” At this point, he started drumming his fingers impatiently on the table, clearly not comfortable with my line of questioning. “Of course we do!” was his eventual response and to prove his point he showed me some of their marketing collateral, and one or two ads they had run in trade journals. As I expected, their communications was the usual mix of unfocused copy-cat platitudes that so often plague small business marketing.
With my third and final question, “Do you say it often?” he became down-right angry. “Of course we don’t! It hasn’t done us any good so why the heck should we through good money after bad!? I ran an ad two months ago in our trade journal and got only two calls. Last year we sent out a mailer to 2,200 companies and hardly got any response at all!”
This exchange typifies three of the main reasons small businesses struggle to earn a great return on their marketing investment:
1. They don’t have a clear understanding of the real needs and buying criteria of their target markets, and they don’t make the effort to ensure that their offering (value proposition, USP, whatever you want to call it) is 100% aligned with these buyer needs and decision criteria. Only by doing these two things can you truly “have something good to say”.
2. Even companies that do have something good (or even great) to say, often then fail to communicate their message with any passion, creativity or clarity. It’s the equivalent of the finest sushi shop in the city advertising “Cold Dead Fish Sold Here”…
3. And lastly, even those small businesses with a great business offering, articulated in a compelling fashion, often still fail to succeed in marketing simply due to a lack of commitment and “stick-to-it-iveness”.
In future posts, we’ll look at each of these three challenges and how exactly small businesses can overcome them.