Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Small business owners are all over the map.

My internet marketing business has me meeting with small business owners almost everyday. It always amazes me what a tremendous variety of entrepreneurs are out there. From absolute titans of focus and motivation to little lost sheep, you never know what to expect when you arrange a consultation. I quickly learned that even the most well designed internet marketing strategy will only succeed if the business owner is both equipped and committed to maximizing their new opportunity. For the most part, the small business owners have a pretty good handle on things and are just looking for a way to build their business. Then there are the others.

Probably the most common miscalculation is the trades person who has been doing something their whole life and has decided that it was time for them to go into the business for themselves. In this group you have the carpenter, auto mechanic and the computer repair technician. The usual scenario here goes like something like they quite their job, bought some business cards and "put the word out". They probably have a couple clients lined up and they figure once the word gets out, the clientele will come. After several months of paying their mortgage out of their savings, they realize they are going to have to get a marketing plan.

Another common mistake is the retail entrepreneur who bets their whole investment on location. This is the specialty retailer, insurance broker and the local attorney. They subscribe to the "build it where people can see it and they will come" theory. Usually by the time I have met these people, they have built it and not enough people came. These retail locations can be quite expensive start ups. The clock is ticking on these folks the minute they hang up the "open for business" sign. With the tremendous overhead involved, it is crucial for these people to realize their need for a marketing plan early in the game before they are too far in debt.

The last common scenario I see is the seasoned professional who has planned very well but their marketing strategy is falling short. While these professionals can be anyone, it often seems to be baby boomers. While some people of the greatest generation have embraced technology, some still think of it as gadgetry and something for young people. My challenge is usually to get them to just accept the facts. Their competitors are getting business that they are not getting because their competitors have kept up with the times. This usually means a strong internet marketing strategy. Mostly, these old school entrepreneurs are skeptical. It is usually because they don't use the internet themselves. However, after I show them that these competitors that are whooping their butt all have a strong web presence, the smart ones come around.

Whatever the scenario, the successful small business owners are the ones with a sound marketing plan and are fast on their feet. Too many times I am invited to a local business that is already knee deep in debt and do not have the funds to launch an effective marketing strategy. They just kept hoping things will get busy. Unfortunately for them, the next deal they make will likely be with the auctioneer.


Anonymous said...

This is a great reminder about why it's so important to have a marketing strategy in place *before* you open your doors. If you wait until you're desperate to start marketing it's unlikely your business will still be around by the time the strategy really kicks in. Thanks for the great article!

Amanda Moore
Virtual Assistant

Partrick4u said...

Nice Article. I liked it very much. I agree with your quote that the most well designed internet marketing strategy will only succeed....for a way to build their business.