Without the same budget, resources and in-house expertise of larger companies, small businesses are at a disadvantage when it comes to marketing. By default, responsibility for marketing often falls to the business owner, who usually isn’t a marketing expert and is already strapped for time. As a result, usually one of two things happens:
- The owner tries various marketing tactics, but without a strategy in place, these tactics often fail, wasting valuable budget dollars.
- The owner does the right thing and hires a consultant or marketing firm to create a marketing plan, but without the time or expertise on staff to execute the plan, it just sits on the shelf gathering dust.
Why don’t these options work for small businesses? Because what they really need is a marketing system. A marketing system goes beyond the marketing plan to give small businesses the foundational tools, strategies and tactics they need to activate their plan, along with processes to grow and sustain marketing momentum. Here are the core elements of a marketing system – you can see that the plan is just the first step:
- Plan your marketing using a strategy-first approach to identify your ideal customer and define your core difference.
- Build the right marketing foundation, such as a website, social media pages and marketing kit.
- Activate the marketing plan with the right lead generation and awareness tactics.
- Sustain marketing over the long term by putting the right marketing processes in place.
Here are the top five reasons why a marketing system can be the right choice for small businesses:
1. A marketing system is familiar, just like other business processes
Most business owners have no trouble thinking in terms of business systems when it comes to things like paying the bills, setting up services, or hiring employees. But for some reason marketing is more often viewed as a mysterious creative art. In reality, marketing is a business system, and by treating it as such, any mystery around it simply disappears.
2. A consistent and predictable stream of leads and referrals
Small businesses don’t need a flash-in-the-pan big-budget marketing campaign with short term results. They need an ongoing and steady stream of incoming leads to fill the sales funnel and create predictable revenue over the long term.
3. More qualified leads that take less sales time to convert
It takes a lot of sales time and effort to try and convert prospects who either know little about the company, or were never really qualified leads in the first place. With the right marketing system, small businesses can put processes in place to more effectively move prospects through the sales cycle without a salesperson ever having to pick up the phone. The result is that your prospects get to know, like, trust, and try your company’s services or products through your marketing content, and often end up contacting you when they’re ready to buy.
4. Automated marketing systems
One of the main reasons small business marketing efforts fail is because they simply take up too much time. With a marketing system, small businesses can put a series of tools and processes in place to automate many of their marketing functions.
5. No more guesswork, no more wasted marketing dollars
Many small businesses spend their time trying the latest marketing tactic of the week and hoping something will stick. The result is a lot of wasted marketing dollars, and no clear idea on why a tactic didn’t work. By focusing on strategy first, marketing tactics simply become the range of tools and vehicles small businesses can choose from to reach the right audience with the right message. And with the right processes in place, owners have a clear picture of what they need to do each month.
When it comes to your marketing system – don’t take a cookie cutter approach:
While a marketing system should adhere to some core principles and follow logical business-building logical steps, it should not be confused with a “cookie cutter” solution. Each step in a marketing system should be customized to the organization, from identifying the right target market and defining a core difference, to selecting the right tactics and strategies that will best reach the target audience.
Even the types of marketing processes should be customized to each company’s internal resources, capabilities and budget. In the end, an effective system should take the guesswork out of marketing, bring clarity to business owners, and become a manageable business process, just like every other small business system.
For a practical guide on how to get started on installing a marketing system in your small business, download our free eBook, The Seven Steps to Small Business Marketing Success.