Sequim and Port Angeles Small Business Marketing

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In the past six months I’ve talked with hundreds of Sequim and Port Angeles business owners, and there is a clear consensus on the subject of marketing and advertising.  They are confused and frustrated.  They are frustrated because what used to work doesn’t work as well now.  Advertising budgets have shrunk as the economy has contracted and business has fallen off.  More than ever before, small business owners are challenged with where to spend their meager advertising budget.

Here’s what jumped out at me after talking with hundreds of business owners:  the vast majority do not know what the priority checklist is for advertising, from the least effective to the most effective.  As a result, they are shooting from the hip with their advertising decisions (and money). I watched one business owner spend $350 on a totally wasted ad that produced nothing, and the same business owner has pulled the trigger on several other wild advertisements costing hundreds and now thousands of dollars.  These particular efforts produced nothing but a smaller bank account and zero business.  The business owner later said after some reflection, “I feel stupid.  I wasted good money.  I don’t know what I was thinking.  Each time someone convinced me to spend the money on their advertising it seemed like a good idea at the time.”

That’s the way it is when you are in business for yourself.  If you don’t know where you’re going and exactly how you intend to get there, and if you don’t understand the marketing and advertising methods and their relative effectiveness, you can be sold almost anything.  Trial and error is not a good way to build a business, and it certainly is not a good method to survive this current recession.

There are traps for the unwary business owner here.  One trap is pride or arrogance.  A business owner who thinks they know how to market their product or service (if in fact they do not), is his own worst enemy, and there’s nothing sadder than a great product or service in the hands of a business owner that self-destructs.

The more common trap is being sold by persuasive salesmen who are selling their specific advertisements, and purporting to advise the business owner on how to market their product or service comprehensively.  For years magazine ad salesmen sold ads to business owners with persuasive arguments that their magazine was the best place to place an ad today.  The truth is the vast majority of those salesmen did not have knowledge and experience to advise a business owner on comprehensive marketing.  The salesman wanted to sell one ad or one package.  He did not care whether the business owner succeeded or failed because of a poor comprehensive long-term marketing plan.  When was the last time an ad salesman asked you if you what your long-term marketing plan was?

Here’s the point of this article.  If you are a small business owner, don’t rely on someone selling newspaper ads to advise you on what is best for your business.  Don’t rely on someone selling magazine ads, or radio spots, or TV spots, or Internet banners, or some new gimmick.  Each of these salesmen has a goal, and it is to close the sale with you and sell you their advertising.  Don’t forget almost none of these salesmen are experts on marketing, sales, and advertising outside their little niche.

Do yourself a huge favor, and don’t make expensive advertising decisions as though you were shooting from the hip without aiming.  Running your business is not supposed to be  by trial and error.  Get with someone who can really help you put together a long-term and effective marketing and advertising plan.  One last caution here.  Almost all ad salesmen claim to know marketing and sales and to be experts who are there to help you.  Be discerning and wise, and be sure your marketing consultant is discerning and wise, and that he’s not just trying to sell you his product.

Chuck Marunde is a business owner, real estate attorney (ret.), a real estate Internet broker, an author, and marketing consultant.  Chuck can be reached by email at chuckmarunde@gmail.com.

1 Comment for “Sequim and Port Angeles Small Business Marketing”

  1. Nice article. Marketing dollars are very often wasted–and it is tough for small business to sort through all the junk choices that net no return. The old advertising models are really not delivering the goods–and those sales guys don’t have a lot of incentive except to collect their commission. My company, Workmen’s Design, makes simple websites that allow owners to see real results–but even in cases where the website is a hit, it takes a while for the dollars to come back to the business. It’s a tough tough squeeze.

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