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Assessing your use of marketing – Part One (Sept)

Small Businesses - don't leave it too late to ask for help

In the first of this two-part blog I want to challenge some current thinking amongst those of you who own and direct small businesses and ask you a question. Based on your own experiences of marketing would you say that marketing is a wasteful process? 

If you answered ‘yes’, well that doesn’t surprise me, in fact I’d expect it to be the response in at least 7 out of 10 cases because in November 2014 69% of top CEO’s polled also felt the same way (Source: Forbes Insight). But if marketing is being perceived like this some fundamental mistakes are being made. So why does it happen, and what can be done to change it?

Well in this blog let’s look at the ‘why’.

Firstly, there’s the scattergun approach from specific forms of marketing activity, namely certain types of advertising, direct mail, social media and sales promotion which tend to be poorly executed in SME’s and lead to high levels of wastage. Another is the lack of shared information and knowledge between colleagues and departments. However I believe there’s another less obvious reason which arises directly as a consequence of budget holders who unwittingly engage the wrong solutions. Unfortunately I see this occurring more frequently in businesses where no means of measurement or personal accountability exist (until it’s too late). This group is usually comprised of business owners who once made fabulous strides in their early years or often second and third generation owners of family businesses. In both these cases the owners perhaps sense a level of success that falsely creates a position from where they believe specific management skills are unnecessary.

However, without improved training and understanding of fundamental management skills in: accounting, HR, leadership, marketing (strategy) and Health & Safety, any serious marketing communications failures can be easily attributed.  For those who’ve read some of my other blogs you will have seen me warn against working in a silo, devoid of legitimate external inputs, the same is true here. So whilst success may work for the first, second, third or even fourth generation of a family business, ignoring the aforementioned forms of personal development will eventually increase risk and therefore profitability. Of course a decade ago this didn’t matter, consumers were much more susceptible to most forms of advertising and marketing media. But today, where referrals count for more, failure to recognise internal weaknesses will mean that all forms of marketing communications become increasingly tenuous.

My view would be that for any company to succeed it must have people that can market internally first. People that can: lead staff, manage demands, critique issues, develop processes, charm customers and other stakeholders and ultimately develop the overall business. Unfortunately the problems to which I refer happen all too often.

If you recognise this problem and would like to discuss what I could do for you, please do get in touch by calling: 01788-815327.

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