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Why Small Businesses Need a Marketing Strategy

You decide to throw a dinner party.  You want it to be the type of dinner party that people remember fondly and talk about for years.  Imagine that you will serve an amazing meal and that your guests will rant about the delicious food, the great atmosphere, and the wonderful conversation. Now imagine throwing it all together without a plan. You won’t plan the menu. YouSmal business Marketing Strategy won’t plan the decorations. You won’t even plan the guest list.

Instead, you just go to the grocery store and pick up whatever is on sale that day, hoping that you can somehow throw it all together and make it work. You end up with a box of Fruit Loops, 3 lbs. of  chicken fryers, 10 boxes of mac and cheese,   Velveeta, and 2 litres of Hawaiian Punch.

For the guest list, you figure you can just tell one or two people and count on them inviting everyone they know – you’re sure a crowd of the most fun, excellent conversationalist dinner-party-guest-types will come.

Given this scenario, I want you to  imagine the type of dinner party it will be now! Do you think you’ll be serving a delicious meal? Do you think  you’ll have the best guests – and lots of them?  Or do you think your menu will consist of some crazy meal made of Fruit Loops and Velveeta with a few mismatched guests including the boisterous lady from your spin class who ends up drinking too much and insulting everyone in the room and the neighbor down the street who hasn’t showered in weeks,  shows up just  for the free meal, and stands in the corner mumbling to himself all night?

Would you really rely on 1 or 2 of people to get a bunch of the most fun, outgoing, and best dinner party guests to your house? Would you plan a meal without a menu, a recipe or two, and a shopping list? Of course you wouldn’t!  So then, why would you run a business this way?

Yet, that is exactly what small business owners do every day. They have a vision for a business:  offering the very best product or service, standing out from the competition, and serving lots of  happy satisfied customers who talk about their business for years!  But instead of mapping out a plan for achieving all of this they go to work every day, work IN their business,  deliver the best they can handle, buy whatever advertising is cheap or on sale, attend events because they think they should – all the while  hoping to attract the right kind of customers who appreciate their work and are willing to pay a decent price for their product or service.  And then they expect those customers to tell anyone and everyone about them,  without teaching them how to refer the right kind of customer! (Think dinner party guests!)

Just like a dinner party, you can’t build a successful business without  a plan. You need to outline a strategy: Who would make the best customers? Who do you want to invite to do business with you? What will you offer? How will you package it? How will you deliver it? How will you promote it? Buying whatever is easy and cheap and counting on a few people to spread the word might get you some results, but are they the results you want???

What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!! Leave your comments here.

By the way – if you like this post, I would REALLY appreciate your ReTweet! Thank you!!!! 🙂

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2 Responses

  1. A couple of memorable analogies with the grocery store and guest list – thanks!

    Using the analogy of a house’s foundation and its walls to illustrate the beginning of the website building process is something I do with each client, and I think it’s as plain as using your grocery and guest lists to describe the need for a sensible marketing strategy. People like to have those tangible ways to learn and be productive.

    [Note to self: good website development + good marketing = nice house + lots of valuable guests + tasty food = PARTY! (a.k.a. success)]

    Another part about your post that I liked was its “reminder” factor. For me, it’s all well and good to have an overall marketing strategy, but I have to guard against not following it when I start a new service offering; my human nature of taking the path of least resistance will default to that unhealthy cart full of on-special groceries and a patchwork guest list of people that may not even know how to spell twitter, much less care about how to use social media to spread the word.

    1. Carolyn

      Scott,

      You make some excellent points (and I love your house foundation analogy!). Often times we know what needs to be done, we just need a kick in the pants and a reminder to do it. Tempatation is easier – and the path of least resistance is always tempting. As you know, it’s important to keep your eye on the big picture and use your Marketing Plan as a filter for all other decisions you make!

      Thanks for your comment.
      -Carolyn

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