Oftentimes, I get the specific request to help market (i.e., “promote”) a product or service from a small business or microbusiness leader. The assumption is that the barrier to sales is market awareness, understanding, or knowledge and that “marketing”—marketing communications or promotion of the product or service alone—will solve the problem.
But I don’t like assumptions.
And such a narrow definition of marketing isn’t helpful in most cases. So my first step to help market a small business is to find or validate the root cause of sluggish or slow sales. (We always take a holistic approach.)
One of the first things I want to know is “Did you conduct market research before developing your product/service?” If the answer is yes, an in-depth review of the feedback collected in the product development phase (or service delivery planning phase) is needed. If the answer is no, the small business leader will need to be open to solutions related to product development or “productization” beyond just marketing communications. (Or find a lackey who will do his/her bidding.)
Promoting a product or service that has not been designed based on a significant and validated market need is a waste of time and money.
And as a results-driven marketing person, it’s no fun for me.
Small business leaders who have the market data—or value getting it—and have the ability to think strategically and holistically about their marketing efforts, even if the ultimate solution isn’t what they anticipated at first, are more likely to be successful.
According to a recent New York Times article, some of the key reasons why small businesses fail are that owners “cannot get out of their own way,” “lack of focus, vision, planning, [and] standards,” and/or are participating in a declining market.
I help entrepreneurs avoid these pitfalls by taking a holistic approach to marketing that includes product development and strategic planning instead of a task-based marketing communications approach as a panacea for slow or sluggish sales.