Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9 pm ET.
This is excerpted from my recent interview with Louis Gudema, who has worked with companies from MIT startups to IBM — and everything in between. He focuses on helping small- and mid-sized businesses grow faster by focusing their efforts with his Bullseye Marketing Framework. For more information: www.revenueassociates.biz.
SmallBizLady: WHY SHOULD SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS CARE ABOUT MARKETING?
Louis Gudema: Across virtually all industries, the companies that market more and better, grow faster. Period. For example, a study of >1000 insurance agencies found much faster growth from those that market more. My study of 85 software companies found those with the broadest marketing programs grow almost 5X faster than others. Those are very different industries, but you see the same results over and over again. The biggest companies market a lot. They didn’t get big then start marketing, they got big because they marketed.
SmallBizLady: DO SMALL BUSINESSES TYPICALLY MARKET ENOUGH?
Louis Gudema: No, the vast majority of small businesses do very little, if any, marketing. They should allocate several percent of their budget toward marketing, at least. Remember: marketing is an investment; it should not be an expense. It should return several times what you spend.
SmallBizLady: IF MARKETING IS SO GREAT, WHY DON’T SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS DO MORE OF IT?
Louis Gudema: There are reasons why more small business owners don’t do more marketing. First, they often don’t know much about it. They are really experts in their business. And they probably developed good sales skills. Marketing has become complex. There used to only be about 6/8 ways to communicate w/customers. Now there are DOZENS. Plus, over 5000 marketing software vendors in dozens of categories, all making similar claims. Many marketers are overwhelmed, so it’s no surprise that small business owners are, too!
SmallBizLady: ISN’T IT REALLY EXPENSIVE? SMALL BUSINESSES DON’T HAVE A LOT OF MONEY?
Louis Gudema: It doesn’t have to be. Marketing starts with understanding the customer. Talk to 10-20 customers — not a sales call, but a listening conversation. That’s free! If you have those conversations I guarantee you you’ll learn a lot, improve offerings and probably even have some of those customers ask you to do more business. And, it’s amazing the number of free and inexpensive tools available these days, like low cost email tools and free CRMs.
SmallBizLady: WHAT’S THE BIGGEST MARKETING MISTAKE THAT SMALL BUSINESSES MAKE?
Louis Gudema: They equate marketing with advertising and other approaches that are expensive and typically take a long time to have an impact like social media. They also forget about the most profound purpose of #marketing which is to understand the customer and market and develop better products and services. In the startup world, that’s called creating product-market fit. Don’t do any promotion until you have that!
SmallBizLady: YOU HAVE DEVELOPED THIS APPROACH THAT YOU CALL THE BULLSEYE MARKETING FRAMEWORK. HOW IS THAT USEFUL FOR A SMALL BUSINESS?
Louis Gudema: This small business marketing approach helps companies recognize marketing assets that they’re not taking full advantage of. These are marketing assets that they already own, like their customer relationships/website, but are not fully exploiting. They are foundational. Every company should do these first both because they produce the fastest, least expensive results…and because they help set you up for success with those later programs.
SmallBizLady: WHAT’S IN THE CENTER OF THE BULLSEYE?
Louis Gudema: Talking with customers, having listening conversations, creating better offerings, and then upsell them. Least expensive new revenue. Improve your website so that it helps produce new contacts, leads/sales for you. Make sure that it’s more than a brochure
Use email marketing. Analyst firm Deloitte estimates that email marketing is 40X more powerful than social media! Use remarketing, which shows ads only to people who already have visited your website. It’s very efficient and inexpensive.
SmallBizLady: AFTER YOU DO THAT, THEN WHAT?
Louis Gudema: Secondly, you expand your universe by selling to people who want to buy *now*.
Think of these 3 characteristics of customers:
- People (or companies) who fit the right demographic profile for your offerings (age, gender, income, etc.) but, still may not want your particular products.
- People who have the right attitudes, or “psychographics”, they like your stuff! But they’re not looking to buy this week, month or year
- People with the right demographics and psychographics who want to buy NOW! That’s who you need to focus on
You can find them through search ads, by people who visit your website repeatedly, and other methods.
SmallBizLady: YOU HAVE THINGS LIKE SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING & INBOUND AND ADVERTISING IN THE OUTER – LAST – RING OF YOUR BULLSEYE. REALLY?
Louis Gudema: Absolutely. These are long-term awareness and branding programs. They can take 1-2 years — or more — to have an impact. VPs of marketing often complain that execs in their firms don’t understand that they need more time to let those work. Not that they can’t be valuable in the long run. They can! Creating a strong brand means your customers are more loyal, you can charge more and have higher margins. You can get $1,000 for a smartphone!
You want to get there eventually, but you want to start with those faster, less expensive programs.
SmallBizLady: CAN A SMALL BUSINESS PERSON REALLY DO THIS ON THEIR OWN? WHAT KIND OF SKILLS OR TEAM DO THEY NEED?
Louis Gudema: Great question! If a person doesn’t have marketing experience, then they should get help. Each of the tactics that I’ve mentioned has many techniques that are essential to their success, like combining email with Facebook Custom Audience ads and remarketing
That combination is very inexpensive but has lots of levers you need to pull to get it right
Take advantage of what others know. It’s faster and cheaper than doing it all yourself.
SmallBizLady: THERE ARE THOUSANDS OF MARKETING SOFTWARE PROGRAMS. HOW CAN YOU CHOOSE THE RIGHT ONES FOR YOUR COMPANY?
Louis Gudema: Yes, and those thousands of programs are in dozens of categories. No one can know how to use them all. But, with the Bullseye, you can focus on the 5 or 6 most important programs to support those initial efforts. And, the great thing for small business people today is that many of these are inexpensive — sometimes free! It’s a great time to be marketing.
If you found this interview helpful, join us on Wednesdays 8-9 pm ET; follow @SmallBizChat on Twitter.
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