Running a small business is not easy – if it was, everyone would do it! The rewards are great, but they can come with much sacrifice time, energy and often for many personal savings. That is not a whinge about being in business I wouldn’t do anything else, it’s just the reality of small business. I guess like a lot of things we work hard for they are extremely rewarding. For those of you already in business you probably already know this. To ensure that our sacrifices are not in vain any resource we spend on our business needs to be spent wisely. This is particularly important at business start-up time as we invest a lot and ironically, it’s the time we are earning the least!

Part of being smart in business is to know when to spend, where to spend and how to spend. It is something that we get better at the longer we have been in business. I am surprised however, how the same costly mistakes are made by businesses when they are doing their marketing no matter how long they have been in business. I think it’s because of a couple of blind spot beliefs that business owners have when it comes to marketing.

When you spend money in marketing it should be seen as an investment. In other words, whatever you spend should come back to you in sales or new customers. If it doesn’t there is something wrong.

The greatest spend in marketing is promoting your product. This may be through your website, online or offline advertising, publicity, events, or direct marketing. It doesn’t matter how much you spend you are unlikely to achieve success if you have any of the following going on.

  1. Having a poor, undifferentiated product or service
  2. Not focusing on the customer
  3. Having a belief that marketing is just promotion

Having a poor, undifferentiated product or service

There are so many ‘me too’ businesses that are just the same as everyone else and selling platforms like Amazon, Alibaba and eBay are encouraging this. You lose the ability to stand out if this is no point of difference. Your advertising looks like everyone else’s. Businesses in this situation may end up relying on pricing discounts to stand out which can become a one-way road to lack of profits.

Not focusing on the customer

Losing sight of who you are selling to and what their needs are can mean that you end up with a product that doesn’t meet their needs. What colours do they like? How do they want to purchase rather than what is convenient for you? As a business owner what you think takes second place to what your customers think when it comes to marketing.

Having a belief that marketing is just promotion

Marketing is all about meeting the needs of the customer at a profit. It is not just about advertising what you have already got. Marketing Strategy looks at making sure you match your products/services and the way you sell them, explain them and price them to your target market. If you are not prepared to adapt elements of what you do and how you do it to further meet customer requirements for example having a generous returns policy, then you will not achieve what marketing promises.

So Shoestring Marketing is about doing marketing correctly and marketing done correctly delivers a good return on investment large or small.

For more information on Shoestring Marketing consider my book The Shoestring Marketing Kit for Business available here.