Small business marketing strategies are no longer just a sound byte
or one of those topics of discussion at your local chamber of commerce meeting.
Small business marketing has aggressively become a significant part of business growth and development. In fact, an effective small business plan can predictively remove the guesswork to build instantly profitable, scalable, and measurable businesses.
Conversely, omitting a strategic marketing plan will severely impact the success and sustainability of your business. So, I decided to give you a complete walk-thru of 40 years as a small business owner.
Hi, I’m PY an active small business owner present and past with 40 years of business marketing and ownership experience, with heartaches, cuts, nicks, blows to the head, and big PAY DAYS to prove it!!!
Today is your day because if you are a small business owner or entrepreneur YOU landing on this page wasn’t an accident. You were supposed to be here. According to one of the most famous authors and business developers of all times… famous quote:” we grow only to the level of the people we meet and the books we read”
Small Business Marketing Strategies
Keep reading as I share simple overlook ways to increase sales (without working more)! I’ll relay what I learned about small business marketing, social media marketing, search engine optimization ( SEO), page ranking, and my recent obsession with small business automation and technology strategies, outsourcing, and more.
I’m especially excited to share underutilized simple technological aids that without a doubt will help you the small business owner and entrepreneur save time and grow sales~
First 25 Years in Business
In my first 25 years, I worked in the beauty industry… a single mom in desperate need of money! Newly in the beauty industry, I used to watch the senior stylists work their magic raking in the dough. One of those stylists was the guy I worked for. As I continued to watch and learn, I noticed one glaring similarity from the top earners versus the others.
That similarity was their level of expertise in precision hair-cutting and styling techniques. I also discerned their relentless pursuit of ongoing training.
One of the best things that could have happened to advance my development happened early in my career. My boss invited me to a hair show in New York. That experience opened a whole new world.
While in the Big City, I watched young girls my age, drive- up in luxury cars, dripping in diamonds, even wearing fur legwarmers. At that point, I knew I was on to something BIG! The hair show was lights, camera, and action. The showroom was Spectacular, the people, clothes, and platform technicians elevated me to a new level of hope and possibility!
After my hair apprenticeship, I realized that I desperately needed more training. As the saying goes,” when the student is ready the teacher will appear”. The training became available; “DCU”, some of you’d heard of Dudley products and the Dudley Men!… just saying LOL!!! …Dudley products is a minority-owned haircare and beauty cosmetic product line.
Former owner Mr. Joe Dudley (now run by his daughter (s)) owned a hair-styling training school named “DCU”; Dudley Cosmetology University. The school enrollment was sold by Dudley’s sales reps who could sell the Heck out of that dream. I brought into that dream Big Time… hoping to change my future trajectory!
Ready, Aim, …Oh, did I mention I had one little problem… that was I had Zero dollars, rent, a car payment of $381. 92, and a baby to feed?
The good news; they had a solution for that too~. Credit!… you could finance your training… WELLLLL … Boo Boo…. SIGN ME UP!!!
The training was top-notch, I mastered haircutting, customer relations, and other technical skills. The ONE Major missing component, unfortunately, is what many professionals like myself overlook.
We start our businesses spending most of our time sharpening our skills, trying to be the best. Yes, we all want to be the best, whether you’re a stylist, doctor, lawyer, artist, singer, or selling the best widgets. But what we don’t want, is to be the best and the Broke-est!… my mistake, I had a one-woman band…I never built a REAL business!
(Mistake #1 …Working for myself by myself…I never built a business)
Honestly, how many times have we heard, “if you want anything done right you have to do it yourself? As entrepreneurs, we develop the mindset that no one can do things as well as we can.
That’s why for close to 10 years, in our current business I’ve been performing all of the administrative work myself. All the while knowing I’m repeating a painful past… I can hear my mentor saying, “if you’re the only one working in your business, you don’t have a business”. You are an employee having an entrepreneurial seizure.
To grow a true business, we need teams. That’s the only way to build a business. Remembering my favorite slogan: “Do What you Love, Outsource Everything Else”…
After finally letting go: here’s what I potentially missed from 9 years of Not outsourcing…. Minimally, maybe half a Million dollars…. How? I’ll tell you; this is my philosophy.
Ok, think about this; we are smart right? RIGHT…. Do you think there are others just as smart as us?… Do you think that there are others out there that could be smarter than us? Could there be others that are Way, Way smarter than us? So, if we’re smart and we add just as smart, then add smarter, and next top it off with Way, Way Smarter… what would we have? Mo’ MONEY…. TIME and FREEDOM!!!
It’s nearly impossible for ONE PERSON to know it all; it’s NO way we can know the what if’s and what incidental benefits we will encounter from OPK… (other people’s knowledge).
Get Down With OPK…
Here’s a true scenario of what happened in our industry. Within our industry, there are processors that are hired by national companies. Those national companies hire companies like ours. (regional /local companies). Lets back up a second, those national companies are hired by investors, mortgage companies, and big banks.
Now, this is what we would have never known had we not started to outsource. Unbeknownst to the processors, as they begin to reach out to solicit work from contractors like ours, they began to show the national company’s hand, metaphorically speaking. Inadvertently, the processors started teaching us the business, how to make the Real Money!
To recap, the national company’s hired processors from across the sea…hint, hint. (outsource). Fortunately, those processors started reaching out to local contractors like ours. As a result of their knowledge, we increased our income exponentially. We wouldn’t have known how the investors/ banks bid if it wasn’t for the processors that worked directly with the nationals, who worked directly with the investors. Thank God for “OPK”.
EXAMPLE: One of our obligations is to bid to repair property damages that are found during inspections. Before the processors, we used to bid just a few items, calculated below-documented pricing, and provide inefficient line-item descriptions. We didn’t know how to properly bid the way the banks were submitting bids to their clients. Once we started to outsource, the processors would bid the damages for the same prices the banks presented to their investors. What you don’t know will Not Only Hurt You but Can Drop-Kick your Profits.
(Mistake #2…Outsource, Outsource Outsource)
Projections are a part of a business that I just assumed was something that HUGE Multi, Multi-Million dollar companies engaged in. After listening to one of my favorite business development mentor’s Marcus Lemonis (The Profit) I realized if you don’t set projections or income goals your company won’t grow. We must inspect what we expect. If we aren’t growing, we are dying.
Food for Thought: Do you have suppliers, bank fees, ACH fees, merchant account fees, tools, equipment, and the Biggie INSURANCE PREMIUMS? Does the cost of those services decrease or increase? ….
According to recent research, the #1 reason we as small business owners don’t review our financials is that we are afraid of what we will find. So, we bury our heads in the sand. Unfortunately, that doesn’t change the facts, running a business is hard work and we have to learn to play the game.
Let me put it the way I really mean it! We can’t act cowardly and expect to run a fine-tune, well-run, income-generating machine. To quote one of my favorite business quotes: “Stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone ought to be.” Elizabeth Gilbert …OOCH!!!
Projections will force us to look in the mirror to bust a move. To do something!… even if it’s the wrong move… do nothing, you learn nothing, do something…even if it’s the wrong thing you can course correct. Click here if you need help!
(Mistake #3…Not Setting Projections)
I’ve recently become obsessed with technology and automation. Another one of those things I wanted to do but never had time. And for some reason, I read this “take a few minutes to do what you don’t think you have time to do, to save more time later” … I’ve heard similar messages for decades and never busted a move. Again “when the student is ready the teacher will appear”. Or to quote the great “Les Brown” You Got to Be Hungry”!!! ( Les Brown is a world-renowned motivational and business development leader)
Speaking of having to do something different, our current business was working me day and night. I was getting tired of getting tired, I needed a fix. What can I do to lighten the load… My solution… Technology!!! ;
I’m certain most of you have heard or seen CRM advertisements. Just in case you’ve been hiding under your desk, buried beneath papers or ducking sales reps. A CRM (customer relationship management) is a piece of business software that makes you want to kiss the developers… You may have heard of “Salesforce “they’re the largest and most popular CRM in the industry.
What is a CRM? A CRM is a Super Helpful piece of technology designed to help you manage multiple tasks under one umbrella.
Find out more here.
Most industries have one CRM that’s more popular than others. Therefore it’s hard to say which CRM is best because it depends on your industry. We use PPW, which has been a LIFE-SAVER for me. I could do a commercial… but it would probably sound like everybody else….it saves you Mad Time!
…it changed my life… I have more free time hence, writing this article 2:30 in the afternoon, which wasn’t possible before the CRM. ….. Shhh…. Don’t tell Tae…LOL!! ….
Currently, we work for seven different companies. I had to visit each company’s PPW portal (if they used PPW if they didn’t that was even worse!) to view work orders, invoice, bid, estimates, push the order to subs, etc.… it was a nightmare…NOW…OMG…Today is a NEW DAY. …
Yep, I’ve incorporated our CRM and I’m…. “Loving IT”!!!!… (speaking it in the Living Colors voice). The CRM helps me to keep up with completions, invoicing, tracking subs and more. As a small business owner, sometimes we have to back- up before moving forward. That thirty-minutes it took for training, made running our business 5X more efficient. Many of the tasks that took hours, I can complete in minutes!!! …purchasing our CRM ended up being more than worth the time and money! Helpful Resources Found Here
(Mistake #4…Stay Current and Implement Simple Technology…)
Speaking of making our business easier, this is going to be short and sweet. But it’s the simple things that we overlooked that become huge income producers. Computers… OK…before starting, I must admit… I’m a little tight with money…. I hold it longer than I should and pinch more than most! I’m happy to announce; that I don’t hold it as much now as in the Past!
…The older I get the more aids I’m reaching for… pun intended. I believe it to be true, that as things age, they slow down, people too! including our computers. So, the lesson here, if you’re using antiquated, out-dated office equipment or worse, if you have employees using inefficient equipment, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.
Fact!… research shows, that employees waste three hours per week complaining about their inability to complete work because of outdated equipment. To add insult to injury we stand a greater chance of losing Good talent. Skillful employees won’t stick and stay if we fail to provide quality office equipment. More devastatingly, we’re potentially strengthening our competitor’s army. Slow equipment …slows down productivity…. We don’t have to help our competition, they’re coming anyway! For office equipment ideas go here ==>
(Mistake #5…Spend Money on Equipment…Keep Them Updated and Sharp!)
.***Insider’s Tip… my #1secret to a Great haircut…. Sharp shears …simple Huh!!!
Mind Your Business
As I’m sitting here writing, our Next-door neighbor is having about 15- 80-ft pine trees cut down. Me being me, I go outside every once and a while to check on the progress. I watched them grind one stump which took about 20 minutes. If one stump took that long (curious minds want to know) how long will it take to grind 15 stumps? And the flip side, what if the equipment was old and outdated?… it could take FOREVER!
I’m still watching the construction next door, from my office window trying to figure out how much can they reasonably charge for their services? A few years back, we had fifty-two trees cut down. I still remember how much we paid. But what I can’t remember is them using all those huge-gigantic pieces of heavy equipment.
Ok, here’s the helpful part, the father and I talked about business, specifically about insurance. Long story short his insurance company recently notified him that they were going to eliminate parts of his coverage and increase his premium… Huh????? He called around to find another carrier which he did, that insurance company offered increased coverage and better rates. From what he told me he ended up saving $30,000 in the process. Boo-yah!
I still can’t figure out how much they would have to charge to make money for this job. Today is day seven, it rained yesterday, and there are about 15 stumps remaining, at least five workers, about six huge gigantic pieces of equipment, a climber, and more.…. WOW…. Ok…I’m just wondering…
Back to the lesson learned and mistakes made. Perform yearly insurance and other business services check-ups. Don’t fall in love with your insurance or other service providers unless they love you back. And the only way you’ll know if they love you… is when it’s Claim Time!… that’s another story…I know… I keep me some stories...LOL!
Insurance and other services providers know business owners are very busy and would prefer to keep things simple and the same. Ironically, my insurance company sent me a letter last month, informing me that they were increasing my insurance premium. They bumped their heads. (Right now, we’re paying 6.5 times more than our peers. And we’re all earning around the same amount of money, and No claims have been paid out.)
(Mistake #6 Mind Your Business…Perform Yearly Checkups on all Business Services)
Create business allies; many people go into business and the first sign of another business owner looking over their shoulder, they try to hide their hand. All business owners aren’t your enemy. We can learn more about improving your business from an ally than from any other endeavor. I think this stinkin thinkin came from our educational system, which calls this cheating. CHEATING IN BUSINESS IS GOOD…. STEALING IS A NO-NO!
Look at our Fortune 500 companies. There are many duplicate businesses. Let’s look at Pepsi and Coke; McDonald’s and Burger King; Android, and Apple… OK Wait… that’s going too far …Android and Apple are like comparing sneakers to Nikes … don’t hate. Just saying… LOL!!!…
Anyway, you get the picture. We can learn a lot from studying our competition. Additionally, we can also study business trends from companies across the globe or other business sectors. The sky’s the limit… So open-up… remember when we keep our hands shut tightly. Yep… nothing can get out… in contrast… nothing can Go in as well!
(Mistake #7 Create Business Aliases)
Within that same vein… I think I found my best and most knowledgeable accountant yet. All from speaking with the service rep that was behind the desk of an auto repair shop. That person turned out to be the owner of the business. During our conversation, he started to speak very highly about his current accountant. Conversely, he spoke how his prior accountant/CPA performance wasn’t up to par.
I asked if his accountant were taking on new clients, I was given his number and so far, so good. One year back taxes down, one to go, only two years behind, one now…. The lesson within a lesson Pay YOUR TAXES ON TIME… THE UNCLE DOESN’T PLAY…. HE WILL DELIVER A KNOCKOUT PUNCH!
(Mistake # 8 Not Paying Estimated Taxes)
Never stop recruiting …Keep searching for the most knowledgeable and talented team members possible, especially for key positions.
(Mistake #9 Neglecting to Find Your Power Team
I know I ranted about our CRM and how much time it saves. Technology is wonderful, and automation is heavenly. Mix the two and you have paradise. The first time I was introduced to an autoresponder I was simply amazed. Automation at its finest. If you aren’t automating the mundane, routine components of your business you may want to reconsider.
Especially routine tasks such as; follow-up’s, friendly reminders, scheduling, and so on… even schools are using automated services to alert parents of school closings, school events, and other pertinent events. We just can’t outwork machines… and why would we want too?
It’s nothing cooler than a client automatically contacting you to request info. They push send, shortly after they retrieve an immediate automated reply. Although many people are now familiar with autoresponders, it still excites customers and makes them feel special, according to research.
(Mistake #10 Not Employing Automation)
The next 5-6 mistakes are what I learned from my SEO business. These mistakes can help most businesses, especially since every business should have a website. I’m going to touch a little on, SEO, Targeted Marketing, Keyword Research, and a few other things that are critical to having an effective web presence.
First SEO Job!
One of my very first SEO clients was a wedding photographer. I met online. (Cold Call) I noticed his beautiful wedding photos were on the second page of Google. Why was I searching on Google’s second page… because I knew that the businesses that were on the second page wanted to be on the first page.
Long story short, after a brief conversation he hired me to perform SEO services. Translation, he wanted his website to show up on the first page of Google. So, when searchers typed wedding photographer, Raleigh, NC his website would show up first. In a few days, his website went from the second page to the first-page second position. Bam!.
Question?… how much was my services worth to him?… Mind you, his wedding packages started at $5000.00. The takeaway here is that having a web presence is vital and it is properly optimized, is a must!
Ok, the next few lessons are all dealing with your web presence. To optimize your website for business growth isn’t hard, I can say that now. But back in the day when I was tucked away in what I called the “dungeon” trying to start my online business, that was a horse of a different color. There were times when I wanted to snatch the computer cord from the wall, violently throw it out the window, and surrender to self-pity. LOL!!!
Websites play a vital role in today’s’ marketing mix. Recently, I read a staggering statistic that even in today’s technological age over 40% of all businesses don’t have a website. I still find that hard to believe in today’s tech environment. A website can perform several important tasks such as:
- A convenient way to display products and services.
- An easy way to educate clients or customers.
- It is the quickest route to inform customers of upcoming sales and other promotions.
- It portrays a professional business image.
- It offers the ability to add an additional income stream via the World Wide Web.
Furthermore, when applying for business credit, a website could be looked favorably upon as a credibility factor which helps to establish your business legitimacy.
(Mistake #11 Not Understanding the Importance of a Website)
Now that we know we need a website, you don’t need a website that sings and dances. You don’t have to spend $20,000, on a web-designer. You can DIY or learn enough to hire a web designer for cheap. You can obtain an efficient site for less than $500.00. Bottom-line we must stay current with technology to stay engaged with our customers and to maintain a competitive edge.
(Mistake #12 Website Strategy KISS – Keeping It Simple Sweetie….)
There are a few areas of intentions I will like to touch on. Firstly, web speed, if you’re wondering what does speed have to do with it… keep reading. Ironically, just today I was reading a newspaper article my hubby brought to my attention that touched on this very issue. There was one thing that stuck out that I found humorous. The writer stated that he didn’t want to wait for a slow email… “Slow Email”… he didn’t say slow snail mail… Freaking Email…. Times are changing, did you know there are people that think microwaves are too slow …one of them is writing this post…:)
That being said; if your website takes longer than 4 seconds to load, you stand a great chance of losing potential customers. Fortunately, that’s an easy fix. You can have your website speed tested by your web designer or test it yourself. Your website loading speed should be at least 93% or above… top sites are loading at 95% or above. You can test your speed here:
(Mistake #13 Maintain Regular Website Check-ups)
While running my SEO business, I learned a lot about website design, SEO, content writing, and email marking. Yep, plenty of bruises! So, I also realized whenever people talk about websites, SEO page ranking isn’t too far behind. Especially, since everyone’s goal is to rank on the first page of Google.
Wondering…. how important is page rank… it’s critical? Did you know that 67% of all searchers view only the first, second, or third positions on Google’s first page of any search? What this means to you if you own a Dental, CPA, Attorney, or Real Estate firm or other, it’s vital to your business health to be one of the top three positions.
(Mistake #14 SEO and Page Ranking… is Critical)
Don’t get discouraged SEO page ranking is for organic searches…if your site is to educate or inform consumers, chances are your clients may already know your business name. If so, your clients will type your name into the search bar and your site will pop up. If you have a site that you’re wanting to rank for or just building one, Market Research is your new best friend… it’s super important. This one component can keep you off the first page of Google forever.
Here are a few things you should do before building your website:
Choose low-competitive but highly relevant keywords. Thoroughly research your business idea before diving too deep. Keeping in mind; just because your idea sounds good to you and to YOU it makes perfect sense, doesn’t mean it going to make dollars and cents!!!! There is a difference, so, research, research, and more research. For existing businesses, it’s never too late to re- research your market which can improve rankings, clearly identify your target market, and maintain marketing messaging congruency.
(Mistake #15… Overlooking Market Research)
The Biggest Under-Utilized Lessons Learned Involving Website Building:
Web-Designing, SEO Strategies, Effective Marketing Research, Content Creation and Keyword Selection are all equally important components of an effective website. I know many off-line marketers don’t talk much about these matters, but they are Extremely Relevant.
I won’t go into much detail here, but below I’ll uncover another overlook web-building component that will decimate the chances of your website to never reach Google’s first page for your desired search term…EVER!!!!
I’ve painfully proved it …LOL!!!…during my first years of online marketing. My SEO Massive failure and personal frustrations were the main reason why I started my SEO Business. The silver lining… I Learned SEO masterfully!!!
On my first website, I choose the wrong keywords. Those that I would never rank for in a million years. Worse than that, if I did rank, reaching the first page wouldn’t have made any money. The keywords had no commercial intent. Sometimes people with Good intentions give Not So Good Advice!
(Mistake #16… Choose High-Relevant, Low-Competitive, Commercially Intended… Keywords)
How you say what you say is more important than you may think!
Quick question? What’s the difference in search volume between these two search terms: used cars and pre-certified cars? I don’t know today but the last time I checked, used cars were searched 10’s of thousands of more times monthly, versus pre-certified cars.
So, if you’re writing content which term would be more profitable to use “used cars” or “pre-certified cars”. Would it be fair to say that some used car seekers were looking for pre-certified cars? This is something you’ll want to address with your SEO strategist. They should be able to help you write highly relevant content.
(Mistake #17… Misunderstanding Relevant Website Content)
Another huge mistake that many business owners make because of lack of knowledge is A/B testing.
Research has shown that just testing your website title or headline can sometimes improve your viewership by 40-50-60% or more…. How does that equate into dollars, only testing and analytics can reveal the truth?
Why analytics? Analytics is the easiest way to follow customers that visit your website. It also offers an accurate forecast of their behavioral. Furthermore, it reveals their likes and dislikes about your content. It displays which pages they like, how long they stay, and much more.
(Mistake #18…Not A/B Testing and Checking Analytics)
How can using this information improve customer experience? Knowing your customer’s footprint can give you the ability to offer them more of what they want and less of what they don’t want. The difference of baiting your fishing rod with filet mignon or worms, you can feed the fish what you like or feed the fish what they like! …
(Mistake #19… Not Speaking the language of your Target Market)
Feed the Fish What They Like~
In short, when writing your website content, write with your customers in mind. What are they looking for? What problems are they trying to solve? What interests them? Speak clear, concise, and succinctly. Try to avoid the need to impress your clients. If your current customers are your target market, the way you say what you say is good enough. Be authentic and helpful, they will appreciate your sincerity. However, that information should have been identified during your preliminary process and market research. It’s a part of the 4 Ps. Understanding the 4 Ps of business is a critical component of business development.
Four P’s of Business
Many times, we miss this, or we get away from the fundamentals as we go along in our business. I wish I had learned and implemented this years ago… it’s more helpful than most think. If you know who your client is, this can dramatically save time and money. Looking back when I first started as a cosmetologist; I tried to be everything to everybody.
Knowing what I know now, I could have earned more and worked less if I would have known my target market. What they look like? What they like? Their hobbies? Marital status? And so on.
So, learning your target market will positively impact your marketing endeavors. It doesn’t pay to deliver the wrong message to the wrong person.
(Mistake #20…Not Clearly Identifying Your Target Market)
Your target market; this is a hot topic of discussion for my hubby (Fred) and I. Despite popular belief…. Everyone is not your customer. Fred’s theory is incorrect!. I had to learn this the hard, painful, slow, money-losing way! …when you talk to everyone you talk to no one.
I know we talked a bunch about our websites being the most critical piece of technology that dictates a profitable outcome. Having a business website isn’t everything but it’s right up there with oxygen. In contrast, unfortunately, there are a few serious issues arising out of technology.
The purpose of speaking on this issue isn’t about trying to induce fear, just awareness. Our government, mobile carriers, and many other business entities are trying to do their part to help to protect us.
This fast-growing issue is the threat of cybersecurity. If you knew me personally, you’d know I would be the last person that would talk about security-cyber threats. If not for my recent attacks.
Thank God I caught the mayhem quickly. Frankly, I was a little naive about what was going on at the time probably like most people. We all think it won’t happen to us. But yes, I was spoofed. I still cannot tell you how or when. The bank card that was spoofed was still in my possession.
Within this last section…. I’ll go over a few recommendations of precautions you may find helpful. Regarding business account logins, viruses, and computer protection.
Regarding logins, I incorporated hard to guess passwords; most are computer-generated. So now I just copy and paste them into the login’s because they’re too hard to memorize. We use a few pieces of software that generate passwords. But you can use a password manager service, one of their many features, are computer-generated passwords.
In addition to that, my hubby talked me into placing an additional layer of protection on my phone; two-factor authentication. Before every call, I had to unlock my phone. Hmmmmm…. not feeling that at All !!!…. I have a new phone now and it locks but isn’t as cumbersome as the Android…Sorry!
Another one of my husband’s responsibilities is to keep our computers secure, malware and virus-free….…as you can see all things dealing with Security is Fred’s responsibility…
I call him Security Patrol behind his back… I guess he knows it now…LOL!!!
But I must admit… I used to attract viruses frequently a few years back. A few years ago Freddy signed up with a program that keeps our computers safe… I cannot remember the last time we had a computer virus. The great news… this service handles everything…they take control of the computer, clean, install and protect. All while I’m asleep… learn more here
Here’s the last order of business, truthfully, I haven’t implemented this system yet… I’m funny with my money…. But I am thinking hard about it and after researching, it’s a much safer option than what I got going now. ACH… many of you are familiar with the terminology. ACH is an electronic transfer of funds… you can read more about by clicking on the link above. I must admit I love the companies that pay us via ACH …and dislike the snail mailed payouts.
(Mistake #21… Protect Your Assets)
If you’d like more good sound advice on growing your business this year, check out these tips…