If you’ve tried to identify ways to grow your business, or closely followed the growth of successful entrepreneurs – you know and have seen the power of having a local marketing system to grow a highly-profitable small business.
Maybe you’ve even attended a local marketing workshop or invested in an online program, because you are ready to see that level of success in your business too.
But you still haven’t implemented. You still aren’t seeing the changes you want to see in your business. So tell me – what’s holding you back?
Let me guess…
- You’re spending so much time in the day-to-day of running your business, that you really don’t have the time to sort through all of the different strategies and tactics to build a holistic program.
- With so many different technology options and “gurus” spouting opinions, you really don’t know where to start and aren’t convinced that the investment will result in ROI for you and your business.
- You love the idea of building a local marketing system, but after seeing so many of the slimy sales and marketing tactics commonly used, you don’t know how to create a program that works and is in line with your values.
And I get it. As a small business owner, you (and your staff), are busy and strapped for time and resources. You don’t have the time or money to spend on anything that isn’t bringing customers in the door.
And maybe you’ve even tried to implement a program before, only to see your time and effort fall short. Oh and that feeling…I’ve been there. So much hard work and hope only to see it fizzle it out.
But here’s the thing, after 10 years growing small businesses across the globe, I’ve seen 4 major myths that are to blame for the lackluster results local, small business owners see in their local marketing systems.
Regardless of industry, regardless of target market – these myths impact small businesses, nonprofits, and startups – and it doesn’t have to be that way.
4 Small Business Marketing Myths and How to Avoid Them
I’m going to walk you through those myths and help replace them with proven, actionable steps that will give you that ROI you deserve and put you in a position to really leverage your growth (and excitement!).
MYTH #1: WE’VE ALWAYS DONE IT THIS WAY (SO IT MUST WORK)
OK this one really kills me. Why? Because there is an inherent assumption that is almost always true – that because that’s the way it’s always been done, it must work. From fledging startup to 100+ year old institution, this myth can (and will) cost your business thousands in marketing spend, but also in opportunity.
And I get it – when I say “we,” I mean the collective we. We are all guilty of this.
But how do you know if you’re falling into this trap? What does “we’ve always done it this way” look like?
- It could be the way you’ve marketed or not marketed your business.
- It could be the way you find your next customer.
- It could be the way your community “works” or how your customer “just is.”
And I’m here to tell you – almost always – that just isn’t true. Not only that, it is holding you back, keeping you small – and in some cases – is a huge threat to your business.
Let’s take a common one I see as an example: dumping hundreds, if not thousands, into paid advertising in local print, radio, or TV. With few exceptions – or without a laser-focused strategy – this money is oftentimes not trackable to an ROI.
As in, we have no clear information as to whether or not it worked. And getting that information is complicated, at best, and impossible, at worst.
In fact, in recent industry surveys, it’s one of the most ineffective ways to market a local business. But it wasn’t always this way, and if you’re doing what you’ve always done, you might be making this expensive mistake too.
Building a successful local marketing system requires small business owners, like you and me, to think differently about our business and our local markets, because if we do what everyone else is doing, if we do what we’ve always done – our businesses won’t ever get above the noise.
MYTH #2: REALLY GOOD MARKETING PROGRAMS REQUIRE A LOT OF MONEY
This is one I hear and see A LOT. It’s actually the most common objection I get about local marketing systems. And you’re right, a marketing system does take money. But not nearly as much as you think. In fact, a huge marketing or advertising spend can actually be a symptom of a broken program.
What works at the local level are oftentimes incredibly cost-effective or free (outside of your time and energy).
And most marketers don’t talk about these strategies for one simple reason – because they can’t sell you the most effective local marketing strategy – a word-of-mouth program.
I know. It’s not glamorous or sexy, and is so, so old school. But for 86% of local, small businesses – it’s the most effective marketing strategy. And it’s FREE. And if you leverage technology and systems to capture and cultivate it, is extremely affordable and insanely profitable.
When I first transitioned out of startup in 2010, I had this same mentality – that you need a big budget to see success. I was used to a startup mentality where you had funding and could justify just about any spend. A budget was not something you heard about very often and if it was, I oftentimes couldn’t even get to a place where I’d actually ever hit its threshold.
So when I transitioned out of startup and went out on my own, it was hard. All of those digital marketing strategies didn’t work. Those startup tactics did very little for local, small business. In short – I got my ass kicked.
And I had to learn the hard way, through trial and error, how to build a business on little-to-no budget. And now, after 5 years, I have this down to a science.
A science I used to help a 103-year-old nonprofit reinvest a $1,000 event advertising campaign in targeted, local marketing campaign – cutting their investment in half and selling out the event for the first time in 20 years. Or a local startup, where we got ROI nailed down to the point that every $1 spent made them $5.45.
That’s the beauty of a local marketing system. I had more success, bigger wins, larger growth on less money than I ever did in startup – you don’t need a huge budget.
Why? Because what works in your local community are affordable and scalable strategies that will allow you to effectively hit your growth goals, and give you levers to pull to ratchet up, or down your growth.
Now that we’ve dispelled the myth of needing heaps of cash to see results, let’s dig into the third most common myth about local marketing systems.
MYTH #3: IT’S JUST ME (OR MY SMALL STAFF) AND A PROGRAM LIKE THAT TAKES HOURS
The size of the organization (in staff) doesn’t correlate to an ability to create a successful marketing program. In fact, some of our MOST successful programs I’ve ever worked with were one-person shops. For reals.
Creating a marketing system that works does take time and effort. In addition to word-of-mouth marketing, many of the strategies that work best for local, small businesses aren’t overly robust or require a significant amount of technical support.
As a small business owner, you can build an effective local marketing system in a way that every hour of work has a solid ROI for your business.
Whether it’s you or a large staff, the a local marketing system is (easily) implementable and not very technical, so you’re not having to spend excessive amounts of time becoming an expert on new technologies.
Modern Entrepreneur Reframe: It’s better to do something well then do many things poorly. Having one solid piece of a marketing system in place (maybe it’s your online directories or your referral program) that you execute well will put you head and shoulders above your competitors. Because the Modern Entrepreneur always remembers to “Go the extra mile. It’s never crowded.”
Interested in what other things to remember when building a successful local marketing system? Click here to get my detailed guide of the four most expensive marketing mistakes small businesses make and how you can avoid them.
OK – so now you know don’t need a huge budget or even a staff if you’re wanting to build a successful local marketing system. Which is a great lead-in into our next and final myth…
MYTH #4: LEARNING TECHNOLOGY TAKES TIME AND RESOURCES I DON’T HAVE – WITH NO ROI
Remember when I said most strategies that work for local, small business aren’t overly technical? That’s part of what is so great about owning a small business serving a local market.
But for the few technical aspects (think online directory setup for online reviews and industry-specific social media channels) learning something new can and will take some time and potential resources, but not nearly as many as you think.
But what does that compare to the countless hours and revenue you’re losing every single week trying to market and grow your business with gum and duct tape, using the suggestions of “gurus” that doesn’t actually apply to a local, small business?
I’m not one to believe that technology is always the answer – because it isn’t – but there is a place and a time where it can have a transformational impact on your business.
Some examples of my favorite technology tools for marketing for a small business include:
- MailChimp for your email marketing needs (and did I mention they have a free plan).
- Buffer for scheduling your social media content (oh…and they have a free plan too… notice a theme here?)
- Moz Local for setting up and maintaining your online directories.
- Google Analytics to have access to who your website is performing for and where your traffic is coming from.
- SquareSpace for your local business website needs (assuming you’re at a place where you need one).
Don’t stop now. Keep reading…now that you know the most common myths impacting the success of a local marketing system, I’ve created a DETAILED, free cheat sheet for you to help you build (or improve) your local marketing system.
You deserve a marketing system that works. It is my hope for you to be able to circumvent all those pitfalls and obstacles I had to overcome while learning how to build a local marketing system.
I’ve been building local marketing systems for small businesses across the globe for the last 10 years and made so MANY mistakes. And you don’t need to make those same mistakes. I’ve put together a list of things that I missed or overlooked when I was first starting out – so you can avoid them and put your growth into hyper-drive. Click here to get that list now.