In all my conversations with small business persons at networking events the discussion, invariably, leads to competing with big business. There is nary a small business that has not thought about large advertising bucks to promote their services and products in their quest for a robust and growing top-line. While it is true that big business has large marketing teams and, seemingly, endless supply of dollars, it is not difficult for small and medium businesses to stand up to the giants.
As Jay Conrad Levinson the father of the epic Guerrilla Marketing: Easy and Inexpensive Strategies for Making Big Profits from your Small Business states, “running a small business is completely different from the job of running a large corporation.”
First published in 1983 under the same title, Levinson’s tome has been published in 62 languages and has sold over 21 million copies worldwide. For small businesspersons with limited spending, there are many ways in reaching out to your target market without having to fork out the big bucks that large corporations do.
The soul and essence of guerrilla marketing revolves around “achieving conventional goals, like profits, through unconventional methods”. Where small businesses lack in terms of money, they have the capacity to invest in abundance creativity, enthusiasm and energy. In fact, Levinson has provided a list of 200 Marketing Weapons a small or medium business can deploy in the marketing battlefield to achieve their goals.
Implemented with sincerity this marketing approach provides a small business with several advantages – certainty in an uncertain world, economy in a high-price world, simplicity in a complicated world and, most important, marketing awareness in a clueless world.
Assuming it to be out of their realm, small and medium business owners get paralyzed by the thought of marketing themselves. They know they must, but the thought of the myriad tasks that are involved with marketing leads them to a situation of knowing “when to start” and “what to do”. As a result they tend to make disconnected efforts to achieve a hazy goal expecting results right off the bat. When this does not happen they lose confidence, if any existed in the first place.
Fact is that you will never be completely ready so the key is to start immediately – right now and right where you are. And the secret to success is “start taking action and never stopping”. As Levinson states think about your marketing as breathing – you couldn’t exist with only one breath, or even two, or three. You have to continuously breathe to be alive and kicking. Similarly, you are not going to attract a new customer with just one new effort or even two or three. Just like breathing you have to keep marketing all the time to stay profitable.
Another important point for small and medium business persons to note is that mistakes will be made. This is true even of large companies. As Micheal Eisner, former CEO of Disney once said, “At a certain level, what we do at Disney is very simple. We set our goals, aim for perfection, inevitably fall short, try to learn from our mistakes, and hope that our successes will continue to outnumber our failures.”
While the marketing world has shrunk thanks to technology, as a small entrepreneur you can take advantage of this shrinkage and leverage it to impact your profits. The biggest change since Levinson’s book was first published has been in the area of social media marketing. The advent of social media websites on the internet has spawned a whole new world in marketing. While there may be plenty of debate in the efficacy of these media in the marketing efforts for businesses, there is not denying the fact that not being present on any of these media is more harmful.
Jonah Berger, as Assistant Professor of Marketing at the Wharton School of Business at University of Pennsylvania, calls this social tramsission. In his book, Contagious – Why Things Catch On, he elucidates the six principles that drive all sorts of things to be contagious. i.e. to be spread virally to gain importance. If you are the owner of a small or medium business, his research-based insights will show you how to make your products / services / ideas catch on.
Leverage the social media scene and take the initiative to make your business contagious, in addition to the tactics mentioned by Levinson. This will clearly help you launch your business on the road to success.
So just take aim and fire.