My marketing is costing me a lot of money, but I'm not getting the results I had hoped for. What should I do to get better results?

Perhaps you should re-think how you do your marketing. Often, as small business owners, when we think about marketing, we think of the traditional methods of marketing such as canvassing, personal letters, Yellow Pages, trade shows, radio, television, print media etc. but marketing is so much more that. Marketing is also your business name, the products or services you sell, the location of your business, how you answer the telephone, the follow up you do…or don't do, and the image you project. Simply put, marketing is everything your company does to influence people to buy from you once, to continue to buy and to refer someone to buy.

When considering any type of marketing there are three fundamental strategies that every Small Business Owner must consider if they want to be successful:

1) Have a clearly defined target market.
The goal with your marketing should not be "who all can I sell to?" but rather "who are my best potential prospects?" By trying to make your marketing appeal to everyone you weaken the message and it excites no one. Do the market research to find out what are the common denominators of your customer base, what motivates them to buy from you, and then design and plan your marketing to attract more of that type of buyer.

2) Develop a balanced marketing approach.
The first step, we all know, is that we must constantly market to attract new customers. It is expensive and the return on investment is low, but it is the only fast way to grow your customer base. The other half of the balanced marketing concept is to implement a pro-active customer-based marketing program influencing them to continue to buy, to buy more often and to refer new clients to you.

3) Focus on Image Marketing.
The third fundamental marketing strategy focuses on the image your company projects. If you have a great product or service, does your image reflect that? Is the quality of your marketing materials a good reflection of the caliber of your company? Do you and your people project professionalism? As the business owner or representative it is your responsibility to project an image of yourself, the company and the product or service that removes those fears and makes it comfortable for the prospect to buy.

In summary, I challenge you to look at your business and measure how you are doing in these three areas:
Do you have a clearly defined profile of your best potential prospects? Are you actively marketing to both new prospects and existing clients? Is your company image a good reflection of your company's performance?

If you answered yes to these questions, then congratulations and keep up the good work! If not, then I encourage you to take some time to work on improving in these three vital areas and you will see greatly improved sales and profitability in your business.

In our upcoming Small Business Workshop with the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce on February 28, 2006, we will delve into a seven step marketing formula that, when used properly and consistently, will ensure successful marketing with greater return on investment (ROI). It is a workshop any small business owner will not want to miss!

Colm Kelly is the president of the Small Business Resource Center (SBRC) in Carlsbad and can be reached by phone at (760) 607-0863 or by e-mail at [email protected] The SBRC is a coaching, consulting and business management training center just for small business owners, a cost effective alternative to traditional business consulting. Visit their website at