It is both exciting and daunting to be asked to write for the Chamber Blog.
As many of you know we write a blog for our own business and often publish articles that we believe will be of value to our customers…. most of whom own and are trying to grow a business.
People join the Chamber for a many reasons…. but growing your business has to be among one of the more common of those reasons.
It’s part of what is often called “marketing”.
I spent many years not understanding how to “market” my business.
Or if I did understand how, I didn’t get why.
All in all it was an uncomfortable, scary and an unproductive place to be.
I felt like it was something hugely important (and it is) that I didn’t get and certainly didn’t do well.
If that feels like you, I would guess two things about you –
- You didn’t go to school to study marketing.
- You are a pretty typical owner of a small business.
One of my favorite business strategists, Michael Gerber, wrote a book in 1986 titled “The E-Myth Revisited” so long ago, that in this case the “E” stands for entrepreneurial (not electronic or e-mail).
One of Michael’s root premises is…. most small businesses are not owned by entrepreneurs, they are owned by a technician who had an “entrepreneurial seizure”.
Most of us came to business ownership by an indirect path.
- We found something that we liked and/or did well.
- Then decided it would be even more fun if we owned a business that did that.
There might be another path for many small business owners too…. I call it “lifestyle seizure”.
- Many of us reached a point in life, where lifestyle was the most important thing for us.
- We see business ownership as a vehicle to do more of what we want, and less of what we don’t like.
Either way, business ownership through “seizure” doesn’t make us bad people.
But those of us who came to business ownership via “entrepreneurial or lifestyle seizure”…. are often missing some of the instincts of the true entrepreneur.
We may not have the passion to attack all the challenges of business ownership, without some help.
When I think about what I didn’t know and wasn’t comfortable with…. selling tops the list and marketing is a close second.
So, here’s my marketing lesson for Small Business Owners.
Marketing is a noun. It describes a collection of activities that you will use to grow your business.
Marketing is not a verb (even though you often hear it used as one). You can’t actually DO marketing.
So, if you don’t know how to “do marketing” you are not broken….. you are normal.
If I were to ask you how businesses are marketed, your answers might look like this –
- Place ads on the radio or in the newspaper (that’s not marketing….. that’s placing ads)
- Network at a variety of events (that’s not marketing….. that’s networking)
- Use direct mailers (that’s not marketing….. that’s mailing)
- Cold call (that’s not marketing….. that’s phoning)
- Blog or email (that’s not marketing, that’s….. well you get the idea)
So from that, we draw three conclusions –
- In order to promote your business you have to “do” something.
- You can’t or won’t “do” something you don’t understand.
- You understand plenty and could use those things to promote your business.
You can easily turn all of this into Marketing Action Plan.
All that we are looking for is…. a few, specific activities that you can do well, consistently and measure.
That’s really important, so I am going to say it twice and really loud…. A FEW, SPECIFIC ACTIVITIES, THAT YOU DO WELL, CONSISTENTLY AND MEASURE.
Build your plan in the plainest possible language. Build it so it will pass a this test –
- Is it comfortable for you…. you won’t do it well and consistently if it’s not.
Once you have that plan…. do it well and consistently and your business will grow.
And measure…. even the best laid plans don’t always work, so you might have to “tweak” if you are not getting the results you want.
This very simple approach can work…. the sales of my business almost doubled over the four years after I started using this approach.
P.S. Michael Gerber really did write a great book. It provides a very useful prospective for the small business owner and you should really think about reading it.