Small business marketing is different

If you are a small business owner, at some point in time, you have had to acknowledge something obvious:

Marketing is not the same for small businesses as it is for large.

I’m sure you thought about all the extra money and staff that the big businesses have and how that is probably why they can do all that marketing and get more customers and do more business and make more revenue … Ok, all of that could be true.  But, after 8 years of struggling to learn the ropes in small business marketing, I’ve learned a few things about what can hold a business back.  Money doesn’t make my top 10 list.

If you read the About Me page, you know that I didn’t start out to be in marketing but, through a series of events, I found myself the Marketing Director for a small IT consulting business.  During my 8 years on the job, the company more than doubled in size (from 13 to 27 employees), and we successfully rode out a major recession. Marketing was non-existent when I started (I replaced an intern), and we needed to build a whole sales and marketing engine from the ground up.  It was hard, and it was painful, but it was almost never about the money.

So what IS on my top 10 list of small business marketing pitfalls?

  1. Misunderstanding the difference between marketing and sales
  2. Failing to use the existing staff (even if it’s just you) in the right roles
  3. Failing to seek (the right) outside help
  4. Not really understanding why you do what you do
  5. Failing to align marketing message and delivery
  6. Picking the wrong marketing tools for your business
  7. Failing to commit to your strategy
  8. Missing your opportunities to gather market research
  9. Gathering the wrong market research
  10. Failing to create clear expectations and hold marketing (and sales) accountable

Is money a component in resolving some of these issues? Yes, it can be; but it’s the goals and strategy items on this list that are important (and I believe that most of these issues are also present in large companies, but market momentum — i.e., loyal customers— hides it.)

Most entrepreneurs started their company with an idea about selling something they love or helping clients within their area of expertise.  None of them started a business because they know and love sales and marketing (unless that is your business — then this site may not be for you.)

This site is for the brave entrepreneur who has the goods or the services, but can’t get a handle on the marketing thing quite the way they want.  It is for the person who spends money and time on activities they THINK will move their business forward, only to be disappointed that nothing happens.  If you’ve ever uttered the phrase:

“If I only had more time/money, I could do more marketing and I would have more customers …”


Yes, marketing for a small business is different, but it has little to do with the money.  That is what this series is about.

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