Smart Marketing Basics

Small Business Marketing Should Include Speaking at Events

Small business marketing encompasses a variety of campaign tactics, but one that often gets overlooked by small business owners and marketers is speaking or presenting at local events or industry shows.  Don’t panic – this doesn’t mean you have to get on the major speaking circuit and travel cross-country like Dr. Phil.  Rather it can be as simple as reaching out to local business chambers of commerce, rotary clubs and industry associations to present a case study, or share a best practice.

SMBmarketer just tweeted a link to a great article from Inc. magazine called “10 Tips to giving an important speech” that talks about the value of speaking to your business, and some simple methods you can incorporate to become a better speaker.  You can view it on our SMB_Marketer twitter profile, or by going directly to the specific tweet.

When you participate in an event on behalf of your small business, whether as a sponsor, or as a speaker, be sure to promote your participation.  Using press releases to announce your trade show event, is a smart marketing basic that should not be overlooked.  If you are speaking at a conference, or even just participating  on a panel discussion with other speakers, it is important to get the word out in advance to your database of prospects, your customers, and to show attendees.

Often times the local new media and industry journalists will cover these events, and sending them your press release only helps to call attention to your session, as well as establish your name in their minds as prospective interviewee for a follow up news story.  Your sales team can you also use your press release to stimulate interest in your company, and to drive potential meeting appointments while at the show.

Writing press releases that promote your trade shows and speaking events are a great opportunity to create news for your small business.  Writing press releases can be challenging when you are not sure how to create the right message.  If you are a small business owner trying to get started marketing your business, be sure to subscribe to our blog and download our free “Smart Marketing Playbook” article series. Our blog discusses simple strategies to help small business owners grow their business, while our featured articles provide more insight into the ten smart marketing plays that can help make your business successful.

Using Awards to Market Your Small Business just received – a Small Business Standard of Excellence Award from the Web Marketing Association.  The 2010 WebAwards is the standards-defining competition that sets industry benchmarks for the best web sites.  Industry expert judges scrutinized more than 2,000 website entrants based on seven criteria, including design, content, and ease of use.  Complete award details are available on the 2010 WebAward website.

While I am honored that the 2010 WebAwards recognized our new website as an effective way for small businesses to quickly create professional press releases using low-cost templates, it also presents me with an educational opportunity to write about in this blog, Smart Marketing Basics.

Remember, issuing press releases is a great way to build awareness for your small business. Smart marketers invest in developing a pipeline of potential announcements, to ensure they are putting out a steady stream of news throughout the year.  Researching and applying for awards specific to your industry or product application, is a great way to get your company known.

Awards are also a great way to get validation on your offering. For, the 2010 WebAward provides independent validation that small businesses can benefit from easy to use, low cost tools to jumpstart their marketing efforts. Outside experts put our site to the test and commented that we “had a great site that was fast, informative and interactive.”

Awards and industry recognition are a great way to supplement your own marketing efforts, and give you credibility among potential customers.  A good way to find appropriate award programs is to research the industry events that your customers attend, as well as local business associations within your community.   Be sure to also check with magazines or publications that follow your industry.  You can also analyze the web sites of your competitors or related companies to see what recognitions they might have garnered.

Award applications often involved long lead times, so invest some time early on to determine application deadlines and to plan around any other requirements.  To learn more about small business marketing using press releases, download our free article, Using Press Releases to Market Your Business at

Small Business Marketing Plans for 2011

If you are like most small businesses, you have just finished up your third quarter, and getting ready to make the final push through to year end.  A last final sales and marketing push to help you make your numbers, and close those deals that you have been nurturing earlier this year.  While getting your business over the goal line for 2010 is key, that is not the only thing that should be on your mind.  As a business owner or business marketing manager, laying the foundation for 2011 needs to start happening now. 

Like all other aspects of your business, marketing activities need to be planned for.  If you wait for “things to slow down,” or for when you “have some free time”, marketing won’t happen at all.  Effective marketing programs require time to be developed, time to be created, time to prepare your sales and operational teams to support them, time to get customer approvals, and most importantly, time to be executed out in the marketplace, so that you can actually see some results.

Additionally, executing marketing activities should not be a sporadic, infrequent occurrence.  Effective marketing requires regular investments, at regular intervals throughout the year.  Why?  Because the role of marketing is to create demand for your offerings; creating demand involves moving your customers through each phase of complex, emotional, and sometimes lengthy customer purchase decision process. 

While the customer purchase process can seem complex, the marketing planning process doesn’t have to be.  It’s important to map your planning process to the scale of your business – there’s is no need to conduct lengthy offsite meetings or create multi-page marketing documents that take you a  month to write up.  It’s OK to keep it simple, especially if you are just getting started, or are new to marketing planning. 

My advice to small business marketers is to focus on two principles: 1) utilize a marketing calendar as a simple planning methodology, and 2)  map it against your customer purchase process.  The customer purchase process model is based on the premise that a customer advances through four phases, in a linear fashion, as part of his or her decision to purchase products or services.  These phases include awareness, consideration, purchase, and loyalty, and marketing programs can be used to drive your customers through each phase. 

The customer purchase process is always ongoing, which is why it is important to develop a calendar that can be used to identify which marketing programs and tactics you will take on each quarter.  The beauty of a marketing calendar that maps to this purchase process, is that it can start out simple and evolve over time to be a sophisticated as you need it to be.  It can easily scale as your business grows over time. 

To learn more about the Customer Purchase Process model, and how to create your own marketing planning calendar, visit our website as to learn more about our Marketing Planning and Calendar Template.  This is a low cost, downloadable resource that provides helpful insights and templates that will jumpstart your marketing activities for 2011.

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