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The Three Marketing Principles I Tell All My Clients

In today’s fast-paced and constantly evolving world of digital marketing, it can sometimes feel like you’re on a small sailboat amidst a raging sea, struggling to keep pace with the relentless waves of technology, rapidly changing trends, and high competition!

As a specialist in budget marketing, I’ve worked with countless start-ups and small businesses across various industries, each with its unique services, products, and, of course, challenges and goals.

Through these experiences, I’ve distilled three fundamental marketing principles that I now share with all my clients, sometimes repeatedly.

These three marketing principles aren’t merely “my ideas,” they are the culmination of a lot of study and years of hands-on experience. They are what I consider to be foundational elements of successful key marketing strategies.

In this article, I’ll discuss these three “laws” in-depth, explaining why they’re critical and how they can help your marketing efforts, setting the stage for sustained growth and a strong brand presence.

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How Are Today’s Small Business Dealing with Marketing?

For many small businesses, marketing has become digital. While every year, billions of dollars are spent online, even a local coffee shop, hair salon, or auto repair shop needs basic digital marketing in order to “exist,” a website, a google page, social media, some kind of email marketing, and so on.

Most business owners know the basics – like posting on social media, running paid ads, email marketing, or search engine optimization. But here’s the thing: each of these areas has gotten pretty damn technical when you get down to it.

It’s no longer enough to post a cool photo on Instagram or Facebook; you’ve got to understand all this stuff about algorithms, what your audience wants, and you even have to know a bit about video editing – and social media is the easy one.

Running pay-per click ads, email marketing, LinkedIn out-reach, content marketing, search engine optimization, and many other digital marketing channels require even more technical knowledge.

For small business owners, getting into the nitty-gritty of digital marketing is a must, but man, it can be overwhelming to dive into all those technical details to make their marketing really work.

I totally get what it’s like starting a new business or running a small one. You’re buzzing with excitement to get your product or service out there – to anyone and everyone who can benefit from it. It’s all about spreading the word!

I also know that running a business is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes a ton of enthusiasm, energy, and sheer grit. Even if a business owner is very familiar with marketing, as a business owner, their time is like gold and it’s way more valuable when they focus it on the big picture – steering the ship, not just rowing it.

Despite the importance of marketing, and the time and technical knowledge required to make digital marketing successful, 27% of small business in America don’t do any marketing, and 47% of small business owners manage their own marketing efforts.

Let’s consider a typical business owner who decides to manage their own marketing. This approach, while well-intentioned, often leads to them being stretched too thin, resulting in overwhelm.

Managing marketing efforts single-handedly not only detracts from their capacity to focus on crucial aspects of their role as an owner but also tends to render their marketing less effective. Lacking the time and resources to dedicate to marketing, their efforts may not achieve the desired impact.

Essentially, when a business owner tries to wear too many hats, particularly in marketing, it can lead to both personal burnout and a dilution of their marketing effectiveness.

Even in my case – and I run a marketing company, so you bet I know my way around marketing – I’m not the one deep in the trenches doing all the work. Sure, I oversee our marketing strategies, but I’m not the one handling the intricacies of my ads, social media, content creation, and SEO, for my company. I’ve got a team for that.

According to U.S. Bank, 78% of small businesses fail because they lack a well-developed business & marketing plan.

Not only are small businesses struggling with marketing, but they’re failing because they’re not doing it or not doing it right.

As a marketer, it’s hard to read these numbers and not do something about it!

That’s why I offer free, and by that, I mean completely free, out of the goodness of my heart free, zero-obligations free, marketing consultations to any small business and start-up that is struggling to find the right marketing strategy or approach.

That’s also why I write these articles.

Just by understanding and implementing the three marketing principles listed below, businesses can streamline their marketing efforts, enhance effectiveness, and minimize frustrations.

These simple yet powerful concepts help businesses focus on what matters, ensuring their marketing efforts are more manageable and fruitful.

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Three Marketing Principles

1) UNSPLATER YOUR MARKETING

If you feel splattered all over the place, the simple and yet overlooked solution is to un-splatter yourself. I’m not trying to be comical or unrealistic by overstating the obvious. If you are a small business owner and feel splattered all over the place, the truth is, you probably are, and so is your marketing.

The good news is, I’m not just going to tell you to un-splatter your marketing; I’m also going to tell you how.

Whether you are doing your own marketing or hiring an employee to manage it, it’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to do everything at once.

When I say unsplatter your marketing, I mean focus your efforts on a single marketing channel instead of all of them at once.

Not knowing which approach to take or what marketing strategy or tool will work best, I find many business owners and marketing staff trying to do everything and be everywhere at once – they cast a wide net to catch more fish approach, so to speak.

But when you’re a start-up or a small business with limited time and money for marketing, a multi-channel marketing approach can stretch your time and resources too thin, leading to mediocre results in multiple areas. Instead, a more focused marketing strategy that can provide good results in one area.

When you concentrate on mastering one form of marketing—social media, content marketing, paid ads, and so on—you allow yourself the time and space to learn and excel in that area.

I’ll give you an example. Let’s take a small and rather new B2B company that sells apples, oranges, and bananas and can sell them nationwide.

A splattered approach would be to try and market apples, oranges, and bananas to all fifty states at once by generating social media content, running Facebook and Google Ads, writing articles and content marketing, and running inbound email marketing, all while making a weekly on YouTube.

If it sounds like a lot, it is!

The result would be a few leads trickling in from some channels, a very overworked executive or employee, and eventually, all collapse.

It’s not that none of these channels or efforts would work. If you had a large marketing budget and a team of professionals, you would want to run a multi-channel marketing strategy that would generate great results. But even then, you’d probably be hiring a social media pro to manage the social media, a person proficient in managing online ads to manage ads, someone with experience in inbound email marketing, and so on.

Here is the key:

For a small business or start-up, doing a little bit of everything will produce less results than doing a lot of one thing.

Now let’s un-splatter!

Take one channel. LinkedIn!

The one channel you choose doesn’t have to be LinkedIn. It could be inbound email marketing or a pay-per-click ad campaign with a marketing funnel. The point is to choose ONE action, and for the sake of this example, I will use LinkedIn.

According to Forbes magazine, 82% of marketers find LinkedIn to be the most effective social media platform for B2B.

By spending 30 minutes to an hour on LinkedIn daily, reaching out to potential customers or businesses that could potentially buy apples, oranges, and bananas, you’d soon start to see results.

By focusing on a single platform, you would also learn all its tools and how to use them to increase results, such as Sales Navigator, InMail, Groups, the types of posts you can create, and LinkedIn’s email marketing tool.

This “unsplattered,” focused approach enables you to:

  • Develop Expertise: By dedicating your efforts to one marketing channel, you gain a deeper understanding of its nuances, which is crucial for crafting more effective marketing strategies.
  • Improve Efficiency: With focus, you optimize your resources and time, leading to a more efficient marketing process.
  • Enhance ROI: Concentrating on one method at a time allows you to refine your tactics, improving your return on investment as you learn what works best for your business.
  • Achieve Better Results: As you become proficient in one marketing strategy, the quality of your execution improves, leading to more successful outcomes.
  • Build a Strong Foundation: Once you have established a successful key marketing strategy in one area, you create a solid foundation to build and expand into other marketing avenues.

Now, I get it; as a business owner, you may not be interested in becoming a marketing expert and learning all about a single form of marketing and excelling at it, but that’s why this same rule applies to small businesses that hire an in-house marketing guy.

Small business owners should have their marketing staff focus on getting results with one specific channel or even with one specific product or service and then expand from there.

At the end of the day, marketing needs to equal results and increase sales.

Focusing on one marketing strategy, channel, tool, or approach at a time gives you a better chance of achieving meaningful, sustainable results. Once you have a successful system in one area, consider expanding your efforts into other marketing channels.

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2) YOU ONLY NEED A SMALL SLICE OF THE PIE

In an initial conversation with any client, one of my first questions is about their target audience. Who are you trying to target, who would benefit the most from your product or service, and where are they?

Here’s what I mean by you only need a small slice of the pie:

While I know most businesses offer a product or service that could benefit and apply to many people in their area, the entire US, or even the world, as a start-up or small business you ONLY NEED A SMALL PIECE OF MARKET SHARE TO GET GOING. IN FACT, YOU ONLY NEED A TINY PIECE OF MARKET SHARE TO GET GOING.

Similar to the idea of focusing on a single marketing approach and getting results with that before adding more channels, focus on a niche, build a precise target audience, start selling to that, get going, and then build outwards from there.

Let’s take the same example I gave above about the small B2B business that sells apples, oranges, and bananas to all fifty states.

Maybe the goal is to be the number-one distributor of apples, oranges, and bananas in the U.S., but you have to start somewhere so let’s start with apples.

It’s easier and more effective to market a single product or service than all of them at once.

Why apples?

Because apples are the second most popular fruit in America. And while apples are the second most popular fruit, second to bananas. Fruit is sold by the pound, and according to USDA, people eat more pounds of apples than bananas (26 pounds per person per year).

And, while we can sell apples in all 50 states, let’s narrow it down to the one state that consumes more apples than any other state – New York!

According to the same study done by the USDA, New York consumes 34.7% of apples in America.

In this example, I just took the marketing efforts from trying to market three products to all fifty states to one product in one state.

From here, you’d get more nitty-gritty, and you’d figure out what business consumes the most apples, which cities in New York, and then who in those businesses to talk to, and so on.

The more “down to detail” you get, the more efficient and effective you’ll be.

And once you had apples going, you’d offer oranges and bananas to your clients in New York, and you’d research and manage individual campaigns for oranges and apples to flank the one you have running for apples. For example, bananas would be marketed to Maine (not New York) since Maine consumes 35% of all Bananas, and so on.

In the small business world, it’s common to believe that a product or service has universal appeal and is suitable for “anyone” and “everyone.”

While this is often absolutely true, it can lead to a scattergun approach in marketing, which is often less effective.

The key to success in a broad market is not to target everyone but to carve out and cater to a specific type of person or, as we call it, “a niche.”

1. The ‘Everyone’ Market: It’s a tempting thought – a product or service that appeals to a vast audience. However, even the most universal products have segments that resonate more deeply with them.

2. Finding or Building Your Niche in a Broad Landscape: Your task is to identify a subset of the market that will most benefit from your offer. This involves analyzing customer demographics, behaviors, and preferences. It’s about understanding who, among the “everyone,” is likelier to become a loyal customer. The more specific you get, the more effective your marketing will be.

3. Tailoring Your Marketing Message: Once you’ve identified your target audience or niche, your marketing should speak directly to them. This doesn’t mean excluding others but rather focusing your message to resonate strongly with your chosen segment. This approach ensures your marketing efforts are impactful and not diluted.

4. Establishing Expertise and Trust: By focusing on a niche, you position your business as a specialist rather than a generalist. This builds trust and authority in your brand, making your business the go-to within that market segment.

5. Efficient Use of Resources: Targeting a niche allows more efficient use of your limited resources. It means spending less on broad, less effective marketing strategies and more on targeted, high-impact ones.

6. The Path to Expansion: Starting with a niche doesn’t mean limiting your potential. On the contrary, it provides a solid foundation for growth. As you dominate your niche, you can explore adjacent market segments, gradually broadening your reach without losing the focus that brought you initial success.

In a market that caters to ‘everyone’, the smart move is to find and build a niche. It’s about being a big player in a smaller field rather than getting lost in the vastness of a general market.

Focusing your efforts on a well-defined segment maximizes your impact and sets the stage for sustainable growth and expansion.

3) THERE IS NO BIG RED BUTTON

I wish I had a big red button to press whenever I want more leads or clients. A big red button, a magical solution – where a single push brings in a flood of leads and clients. But I don’t, and I’m sure it doesn’t exist.

Marketing is an investment!

Earlier in this article, I gave an example of a small B2B business that sells apples, oranges, and bananas. I showed you how to focus the marketing efforts along a single marketing strategy or channel and narrow down the target to capture a small piece of the potential market.

Using this third principle, “there is no big red button,” business owners and marketing staff must work at it to get results.

For key marketing strategies to succeed, it takes time and effort; it takes resources and funds, experience, testing, reviewing results, and optimization, and sometimes you have to go back to the drawing board and find a new approach and sometimes even re-brand completely.

Somewhere along the line, by getting your hands dirty, testing and reviewing results, changing and optimizing, you will find:

  • Your target audience and ideal customer
  • Where they are and how to reach them
  • What to say to them, how to say it, to get a response

Successful marketing is a continuous, strategic process that involves time, consistency, and a commitment to learning and improvement. Here are some points to keep in mind:

  • There’s no instant solution in marketing. Unlike the mythical ‘big red button,’ marketing requires time to develop, implement, and bear fruit. It’s a process of building awareness, fostering trust, and gradually drawing in customers.
  • Marketing success is built on consistent efforts over time. This includes regular engagement with your audience, continuous brand promotion, and consistent messaging across all platforms. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and patience is key.
  • One of the most critical aspects of marketing is the ability to test different strategies, monitor the results, and adapt based on what works. This iterative process involves trying various tactics, analyzing data, and tweaking your approach to improve effectiveness.
  • Even when a marketing strategy shows positive results, the work isn’t over. The market is dynamic, and what works today might not be as effective tomorrow. Continuous optimization of your marketing efforts is crucial. This means staying updated with market trends, understanding changes in consumer behavior, and adjusting your strategies accordingly.
  • In today’s ultra-competitive market, getting comfortable can be risky. Continual improvement and innovation in your marketing efforts are essential to stay ahead of competitors. This involves being creative, trying new tactics, and always looking for ways to better connect with your audience.
  • Ultimately, the goal of marketing is to drive business growth. This only happens after a period of time. It requires a well-thought-out strategy, a deep understanding of your audience, and a commitment to refining your efforts constantly. By embracing this approach, small businesses can create effective, sustainable marketing strategies that drive real growth.

Effective marketing is an ongoing journey, not a destination. It’s about building and maintaining a strategy that evolves with your business, audience, and market.

While there’s no ‘big red button’ for instant success, a committed, thoughtful approach to marketing can yield substantial rewards in the long run.

SUMMARY

So there you have it, my three marketing principles:

1) Unsplatter Your Marketing
2) You Only Need a Small Slice of the Pie, and
3) There is No Big Red Button

Each of these basic principles carries its own weight in the realm of effective marketing. I encourage you, especially if you’re at the helm of a startup or a small business, to take a moment and consider how these three marketing principles can be tailored to your unique context.

Take the timer to review how you can streamline your marketing, focus on your niche, and understand that success comes from consistent effort, not one-off miracles. Applying these principles could be the game-changer your business needs.

And… if you’re feeling a bit daunted about how to implement these principles, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Reach out to me – I’m here to help, completely free of charge. Seriously. No catch!
As someone who’s both a business owner and a marketing professional, I get immense satisfaction from assisting fellow entrepreneurs. Whether it’s brainstorming ideas, fine-tuning strategies, or just getting a fresh perspective, I’m more than happy to lend my expertise. Remember, in the world of business, collaboration and mutual support go a long way. So, don’t hesitate to drop me a line – let’s work together to make your marketing as effective as it can be.

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