Small Business Marketing – How To Do It Right!

There are two broad categories of marketing – one appropriate to small business, and the other not so much so. Unfortunately, a large percentage of small businesses don’t know the difference between the two and they waste money, and loose potential clients and customers because of it.

Two Types Of Marketing

Marketing can be separated into two broad types:

  1. Image marketing.
  2. Direct response marketing.

Image marketing is about YOU and your business. Direct response marketing is about the CUSTOMER and their concerns.

Image marketing is designed to impress the client with how great you are: how professional, fast, award winning, environmentally friendly, etc. It doesn’t address the customer’s needs and it is often filled with “fluff” that really doesn’t have much to do with anything. You’ve seen the ads – beautiful sunsets, soft music, cute puppy dogs, a recital of how great the company is – what the heck that has to do with “selling widgets in Peoria” I’ll never know!

The Best Marketing For Small Business

While image marketing “might” have a place if you are a major corporation with boatloads of cash to burn (I’d still argue that ‘dollar for dollar’ it isn’t as effective as direct response) a small business typically doesn’t have lots of cash to burn and must make every dollar count. Direct response marketing is designed to get potential customers to “do something specific that directly leads to a sale.”

An effective direct response piece is ALL ABOUT THE CUSTOMER! The only thing relating to you and your business should be your contact information – that’s it! The purpose of a direct response piece is to get the customer to TAKE ACTION NOW.

Making A Compelling Offer

The heart of an effective direct response piece is the “compelling offer” you make to your prospect. To do this well you must know your customers inside and out: their problems, their concerns, their desires, their aspirations. As one famous copywriter once said (I forget who), “Your ad copy should enter into the conversation that’s already going on inside the head of your prospect.”

This makes sense, because if you already know what your customers are looking for then you don’t have to “convince” them to do anything. If you simply offer them what they are already looking for then you don’t have to resort to fancy sales gimmicks and tricks.

By using direct response marketing to focus on your customers’ needs and not your own, your marketing becomes an exercise in writing compelling offers and putting them in front of your prospects. If you know your clients well and your offers truly address their needs they will respond.

How My Ocean Voyage Adventure Can Make You A Better Marketer

A few years ago, I had the opportunity of a lifetime – the chance to sail across the Atlantic Ocean with my Uncle, Cousin and a friend on a brand new 45 ft catamaran boat. I was beyond excited. The only way I managed to wrangle a position crewing was that I had volunteered to cook for them (I knew nothing about sailing!) This was a boyhood dream for my Uncle who I had always looked up to while growing up – he was a hugely successful entrepreneur who had built one of South Africa’s most successful car dealerships from scratch (with no college education and barely a penny to his name).

My Uncle had this boat built especially for him and now, along with my cousin (his son) and his best friend, the 4 of us were going to get to “test its chops” on a 33 day blue water adventure that started in Cape Town, South Africa and would end in St. Lucia in the Caribbean.

There are lots and lots of stories I could tell you about this voyage: the scores of flying fish I’d find on the deck every morning, having dolphins swim alongside my cabin and call to me to come play, the great whale that we had a near miss with, or the very eerie island we had to make an emergency stop at filled with inbred people that had clubbed hands and feet.

But the story I really want to tell you today is the one about the green flash.

It was a ritual on our boat that every day at about 6 p.m. we’d all gather on the deck for “Sundowners” (cocktails with snacks I’d rustled up in the kitchen). The four of us would sit quietly on the deck, skin burned from sun and salt spray – happy and content to watch the sun go down.

Now, I had never heard about this before, but apparently there’s an incredible thing that happens the split second that the sun sinks below the horizon: a “green flash” is emitted from the sun’s rays and in the reflection of the water for a milli-second.

My crew mates talked incessantly about the incredible beauty of this green flash – and every night that we gathered for our sundowners they saw it – and I never did.

For 27 sunsets (excluding the ones we missed due to storms) I kept my eyes laser focused on that orange orb, refusing to blink just in case I missed it.

“Did you see it? Did you see it this time?” they’d turn and say expectantly to me.

“Um, no.”

With every night I felt like a bigger and bigger idiot. How was it possible they could see something that I did not?

Well to be honest I’m not sure they did.

If you Google “Green Flash Ocean” you’ll see that people seem to be equally divided between whether it’s myth or fact. And this reminds me very much of the way most people preach about marketing.

Conventional wisdom teaches that what really counts is having a strong brand presence and that this is the road to success – the entire advertising agency industry is built upon this one primary assumption. And for good reason.

Brand advertising is just like the green flash. Everyone tells you that it’s the holy grail to getting more customers. But after investing tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on building your brand you’ve still got no idea if its really working or not. Could that bump in traffic be caused from it? Maybe. But maybe its because your biggest competitor happened to also drop the ball and people are voicing their dissatisfaction with their feet. Or because the economy’s picking up. Or, or, or…

The bottom line is this. Building a strong brand IS important for your business. But it should be the by-product of your advertising – not the goal of it. If you’re hoping to catapult your business to fame using just brand advertising, you’re in for a very long wait my friend. Having a cool looking logo and a clever tagline isn’t what’s going to create a client stampede in your business.

But the kind of advertising that can is emotionally charged marketing, otherwise known as direct response marketing. Its designed to make your prospects take immediate and decisive action – to light a fire under their rears and get them to call you, to work themselves into such a lather that they have to speak to you right this very second. Direct response marketing is measurable to the penny (which as a direct response advertising copywriter means I put myself on the line every time I create a campaign). And it helps create a strong brand for your business as a wonderful side benefit.

Think of it as getting double the marketing bang for your buck.

Does the green flash really exist? I have no idea.

Are your brand ads working? I have no idea (and you don’t know either). As this is your money we’re investing – don’t you think it makes more sense to use a proven way of marketing that can create a client stampede in your business, is measurable to the penny and happens to build your brand at the same time?

Market America – Golden Opportunity, Money Pit, Or Just a Good Place to Shop? Part 2

If you read my first installment you saw that I had jumped head first into the Market America arena because of my belief in some of their products due to the relief I received from a persistent medical condition. Unfortunately my jump in left me unprepared, uninformed and ill-equipped so I have spent the last month figuring out what I was doing, where I was going, and that it was predominately wrong. I will try to outline some of the obstacles that I have encountered, and provide some insight which will hopefully allow anyone in a similar situation avoid the negatives and find the positives.

My Number ONE mistake

When you are going to jump into something like this, try to get your spouse on board BEFORE you do it. My mentioning this should obviate the fact that it is not something that I did. This has led to the battle of the decade between myself and my wife and has made our start with this endeavor less than pleasant, to say the least. What I had jumped into with the absolute belief that I was doing something with unlimited positive potential, turned into a nightmare with me trying to do everything I could to get the process started, and my wife fighting me every step of the way. Although I was anxious and willing to take the steps needed to, what I believe will, change our lives for the better, she believed she was “happy” with the way things were and became belligerent in her objections to every aspect of “our” (I thought) new home based business and anything and everyone associated with it… including the person that “got me into it”. This being my sister, of course, made the situation unbearable. The more I would do to try to get started, the more she would do to sabotage my efforts. Receiving negativity, ridicule and criticism from partially informed and unenlightened acquaintances is one thing, however, living with and coming home to it every day it is quite another. One of the reasons that people get divorced has been demonstrated to me in a very personal manner. Needless to say this has been a major obstacle which has taken a lot of time and effort to get beyond (hopefully), and quite possibly could have been avoided if our individual goals had been addressed prior to my committing to the business.

The sad part is that I did not learn from previous experience as it is not the first time we have gone through this. A previous venture that I entered into put me into a position of wealth and power, but with my wife as my enemy led me to walk away from it to “salvage” my marriage. I have regretted that decision every day since and am determined and confident that WE will succeed together this time.

Additional miscues

Although I have spent endless hours online researching countless opportunities both through my own searches and then offered up in the resulting onslaught of junk mail, upon entering the Market America family I began to institute activities that I believed needed to be done to get started, without reading the “getting started guide”. I read the career manual, attended a number of seminars, and began prospecting for interest in products both in person and online with limited success. I was immersed in my efforts, attempting to do it myself while admittedly overly distracted by the aforementioned situation. I purchased numerous products both to sell myself on, and also try to sell my wife on to “convince” her of the validity of the company, the product lines and thus potential for earnings. For me it reinforced my belief, but as the saying goes, you can’t sell a drowning man a glass of water, even if it’s the best water in the world. This was not the right way to get started.

The company has a 16 year history with a proven track record, and the guide is supposed to be followed in order to emulate the people that are already successful in the company. I didn’t even notice that I had the guide until I was no longer distracted. I should have known there was a simplified set of directions. The career manual, while much thicker and in depth, may be the blueprint for the business, but is not the blueprint for getting started.

Some needles in the haystack

While in my distracted state I spent countless hours trying to find the way to get myself started. In the process I came across a couple of gems which while not directly related to Market America and their plan, are nonetheless worth mentioning as I believe they have contributed to my progress, helped in resolving my number one obstacle, and will ultimately assist in our efforts to build our business to as far as we desire. The first of these is a series of emails I received from Joshua Valentine. I don’t remember how I got onto his list, but the free information he provided in his emails was both informative and enlightening. Although I have not gone on to partner with him in the business the emails were directed at, I sincerely appreciate what he provided and look forward to seeing him at the top. The second of these gems is a free bootcamp that was offered by Mike Dillard at Magnetic Sponsoring. As with Joshua, the information provided in the free bootcamp was very informative, but in this case led me to purchase his product, and also additional products from him including Blackbelt Recruiting and Traffic Formula 2.0 which will without a doubt provide me with an unfair advantage over anyone lacking the knowledge contained in them.

My take on my decision to sign up and what I have learned thus far

Although off to a somewhat rocky start, I am sure that I made the right move. Market America has some good people, and some not so good, some that just want a little extra income, and some that want to go all the way. And some eventually drop out, it’s not for everyone. You get out of it what you are willing to put in just like in any other business.

My exposure to the company thus far however has been overwhelmingly positive, you just have to read the directions and look in the right places to get linked up with the best people that are in line with your goals. JR Ridinger, the founder of Market America, is truly a man that believes in his vision of what the company can provide to anyone willing to follow the plan that has made a great number of properly motivated people wealthy beyond anything they could have attained in a traditional job. We intend to be among them. When have you ever seen a privately owned company volunteer to be audited every year and provide that to anyone that wants to see it? They do it. What company gives the people at the bottom the opportunity to out-earn the people above them if they have that motivation? They do it. What company has multi-millionaire people with guaranteed residual income working directly with teams of new entries? They do it. Invaluable training is available to those willing to “just show up”. One of the themes that they try to drill into you is – You have to decide who you are and what you want, write your goals down. Make your short term goals attainable, and your long term goals will become your reality. And lead you to believe it by showing where they came from, a corrections officer, a body shop worker, a waitress from a restaurant near where I grew up. Real people that are living the dream.

Unfortunately if I sound like a cheerleader for the company now to you it is because the atmosphere that is generated by the people of the company that are already successful because they followed the plan is contagious, and I just went to a seminar with Andy Docos as the featured leader, and he is inspiring! But am I being brainwashed? Will this work to help us attain our goals? I’m certainly not a guru yet but we are making progress…let’s see if it lasts until my next update.