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    Hi guys, I’m a digital marketing specialist and have a concept I’m trying to test.

    My assumption is that small business owners are challenged by how to take the next step towards growing their business, time and money a finite resource ma,king agencies and consultants out of the question, and lacking the time and resources to do a marketing course or spend hours each week reading marketing blogs for some generic information.

    That’s my assumption but I’d love to hear from real business owners on whether this is a challenge they face and some information around this challenge.. and how you currently try to solve it. How do you currently try to learn what is the best next step for your business in terms of marketing, advertising, sales etc? Is there a solution that currently works for you?

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    I think this is probably the single biggest challenge that most small businesses face. There are plenty of businesses with potential (in many cases with superior products or services than others in the market) and yet without adequate marketing they underachieve or fail.

    As accountants I can tell you that we see the problem at the very start of the business journey. Most start-ups / new businesses completely fail to either (a) see the need for a concerted marketing plan or (b) budget to have the funds available for it. Probably both.

    It’s worth keeping in mind that the feedback you will get from FS is from a particular small businesses demographic. Its on here somewhere but the recent survey FS did of it members found that most here are “lifestyle” type small and micro businesses. So in some sense “freedom” is the definition of success to many here rather than pure financial outcomes (and by the way everyone is entitled to define their own measure of this – you could argue freedom is more important and valuable than money).With that in mind I think you may get some distorted data in asking about marketing because frankly many here would not engage in much of it. There are certainly some that are operating or striving to operate larger businesses but they are the minority.

    Back to your question. Our approach is part DIY and part outsource. We apply a portfolio approach to marketing and advertising and budget accordingly. Each channel has a different ROI but focusing on say one low ROI channel is risky. So we handle the “easy” stuff in house and outsource the more complex / expensive items (that require greater expertise) to professionals. So TV for example – we will not go direct to stations we hire pro advertising people. Radio we have done DIY so far because its somewhat more simple and we are well connected in that field (so we get good discounts already). Alternatively if it were flyers or email marketing its DIY organised.

    I think the biggest challenge is establishing an ROI for each channel. If you can give clients some data on that in advance before they risk big dollars then the decision is much easier. Obviously with so many products and services in the market its hard if not impossible to provide accurate forecast ROI but if you could we would be interested in chatting.


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    I’m with Alex,
    Most new businesses fail!

    If someone is serious, they need GOOD advice.

    They have probably started with the advice of an accountant if only to help register a business name or set up accounting systems.

    I suggest the next step is marketing advice. This need not be extensive or expensive. It may be limited to helping the business owner understand the marketing process and directing them in how to avoid the misinformation that may proliferate in the marketing advice space.

    Eg: I’d call “digital marketing” a misuse of the term “marketing”. The same with “Internet marketing”, “search engine marketing”, “content marketing” and all the other “digital” combinations that misuse the term, “marketing”.

    If we talk about the Internet we are really talking about a wide range of different communications channels that may be used to deliver information.

    We did not use the terms “TV marketing”, “radio marketing”, “press marketing”, magazine marketing” or “PR marketing”. Why are all the Internet communications channels considered to be “marketing”, when they are only new information delivery channels?

    Perhaps the biggest problem for anyone looking for advice on the Internet is to work out what is accurate, current and relevant to the searcher’s needs.

    We can’t rely on what is said on websites, reviews are frequently scammed or published by people with limited knowledge.

    It’s tough to find help you can trust.

    One way is to throw the problem around for help on specialist forums like FS.

    Paul – FS Concierge
    • Total posts: 3,488

    It always comes back to identifying the problem that businesses have and providing a solution that businesses are willing to pay for that solves the problem.

    The use of broad terms is not particularly helpful because they are meaningless by themselves.

    It is much more useful to start with the problem eg, “Need More Sales” and then devise a strategy that will meet those needs.

    In that way, even established terms like SEO are not particularly useful because good search results do nothing of themselves to help a business solve a problem.

    Showing a small business what you will do, how much it will cost, and what the expected returns are, are mucch more important than the terms you use imo.

    • Total posts: 805

    That’s my assumption but I’d love to hear from real business owners on whether this is a challenge they face and some information around this challenge and how you currently try to solve it. How do you currently try to learn what is the best next step for your business in terms of marketing, advertising, sales etc? Is there a solution that currently works for you?

    Yes it is a challenge, I am a small business owners and I have spent way too much time trying to learn everything, it’s was a time challenge in my eyes, I can learn it, but am I better of focusing on what I know and pay someone to do the rest.

    I decided to go with a mixed approach as well, pay someone to teach us the critical elements of the day to day marketing of my business, I also set aside a few hours every Saturday morning for learning, either an on-line course or blogs.

    I knew I could not afford a lot of consultants, so the “teach a man to fish and he will eat for life” approach was best. BUT I still pay people on and off for the bigger items, but the day to day stuff is in house.

    Like I have said before in many posts, it is very difficult for me to find good quality B2B marketing courses (there are beyond too many B2C courses), so I got a custom course designed by a Flying Soloist and he delivered it to my staff in our office. This helped as they could ask specific questions. We then have additional on-line courses for reminders and learning.

    If anyone knows a really good B2B course let me know as I believe in constant learning as things change over time.

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