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Marketing Q and A for Savvy Entrepreneurs

Implementing These Answers Can Mean the Difference Between Entrepreneurial Success and Stagnation Beth Southworth, a friend, marketing compatriot and owner at BS Consulting and Development, LLC recently asked me these 5 marketing questions often posed by savvy entrepreneurs.
What is the single biggest mistake a small business can make in their overall marketing strategy?
The single biggest mistake I see small businesses make in their overall marketing strategy - and I see it EVERYWHERE - is that they are too focused upon themselves.
When I review their websites, their blogs, their brochures, etc, I see where they love to talk about what they do, their newest hires, their new equipment, their company's growth.
Blah blah blah! Listen hon! No one is interested in that information except you! The irony is that everyone you're trying to market to is just as self-involved as YOU are! Target customers must be able to interact with your company (online, offline, in-person) and think "Ah ha! This company GETS me!" That's the bedrock of good marketing strategy.
Do you think it's best for a business owner to write their own blog content for their website?
A business owner should always BE RESPONSIBLE for what is written for their blog content - and all other content for that matter.
This doesn't mean that they have to be the one to do the writing.
Outsourcing blog writing is a very wise strategic use of time as long as the following attributes are in place: 1) You must TRUST your writer.
Obviously, this only occurs over time.
2) The writer must understand your industry and your customer.
3) The writer must be able to speak in your voice.
4) The writer must be reliable.
When you find a writer of this caliber, hang onto them like gold.
You as the business owners must provide the raw content.
The writer will refine, put it in your voice, speak to the customer, utilize your keywords and make it "online friendly".
However, always remember that you are ultimately responsible for what is posted and the content that goes out.
Never relinquish that responsibility.
What is the main difference between how a company should market themselves offline and online?
The strategic difference is - quite literally - nothing.
As stated above, always speak in your customer's voice and to their issues not your own.
That's true for all the marketing you do.
The important issue about online and offline marketing is to integrate them.
Very often I see brochures with no link to a web site or a Facebook page.
Or advertisements without a direct call to action and lacking a website URL.
Big mistake.
Small businesses cannot afford to do "image advertising".
It's expensive and brings little to zero results.
Also, remember to mention your webpage in your face to face interactions with people as you network and in your presentations and speeches, as well as your voice mail recording and your email signature.
If you could only give one piece of marketing advice to the small- to mid-sized business owner, what would you suggest?
Always remember that you, as the business owner, must only spend your time on activities that make your company money.
And the only two things that make your company money are: 1) Selling your product and/or providing your service, and 2) Marketing your product or service.
I cannot overstate the importance of becoming a marketing expert in your particular industry.
You must always learn, always study, and always tweak and refine your marketing.
Hire outside marketing strategists to advise you.
Hire outside marketing tacticians to do the work for you.
Take their advise and recommendations as seriously as you would a doctor's recommendations.
Yet always remember that you alone are responsible for the marketing decisions and educating yourself on how best to market your business.
If a small business owner is "anti- social media"..
what is your best argument for WHY they should reconsider (or not!)?
Usually, there are three common reasons that business owners are "anti-social media": 1 - They believe it is too time consuming.
2 - They approach it like other media (radio, TV, print etc), expecting similar results, and 3 - They usually don't have a strategy.
If a business owner holds these beliefs and takes this approach, it's no wonder they are staunchly "anti-social media".
I would be too! Let's take these reasons - or objections - in reverse order: 3 - They don't have a strategy.
Plunging in to social media without a strategy is like making dinner without a recipe! It will be a disaster and you will NOT like the results.
So you MUST have a strategy and measurable objectives and outcomes.
2 - They approach it like other media.
Social media is not really media.
It's social.
However, I see too many business owners using social media like they do TV, radio or print ads - and this doesn't work.
Those traditional ways of media are all ONE WAY.
With social media, the emphasis is on the social aspect.
Social media is more like networking, it's building relationships and developing a dialogue not a monologue.
1 - Social media is too time-consuming.
Time management in social media is key.
Once you have a strategy and measurable objectives, and you understand that social media is about sharing great content rather than selling, you can craft a doable task list for your social media efforts.
Try 15 minutes a day, 3 days a week for starters.
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