The 2012 Reader’s Choice Award for Best Marketing Strategy Blog

by Sherryl Perry on July 9, 2012

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The 2012 Marketing Sherpa Reader’s Choice Awards were announced last week. Blog readers were asked to nominate their favorite blogs in thirteen different categories. After a list of the most-nominated blogs was compiled, the Marketing Sherpa audience voted. I am pleased to announce that the winner of the “Best Marketing Strategy Blog” category is Susan Oakes from M4BMarketing.com. Many of you may already know Susan. She’s a regular reader and often adds to the conversation here in the comments. Susan graciously agreed to an interview which I share here:

Let’s start by your telling us a little bit about your background.

My background is marketing, primarily with large multinational companies such as Johnson & Johnson across a number of industries. After university I started in sales and then moved into marketing and worked my way up to being Marketing Director. During my career I have been lucky to have had experience marketing a range of large and small brands as well as launching new brands.

Do you think it is more difficult to market your brand today as there are so many options available and do you think that this is leaving some small businesses confused?”

It is and it isn’t. It Is more difficult due to the options and the emphasis on tactics especially the new shiny ones that small business owners are told they should use. The problem is often the tactics are not put into context of why and when they should be used. This makes it very confusing for business owners especially those without marketing experience to see which ones are the best for their business and customer relationships. Some try and if they use the wrong ones they do not get the results they want and give up.

However we are fortunate today that as more customers online we can find out more about them which used to cost a lot of money. This helps our understanding and is the basis of effective marketing.

 I follow your blog (and subscribe to your newsletter) and one of the things that you mention quite often is the need for small business owners to “simplify”. Why is that so important and do you have any tips on how to make that happen?

It is just like in our personal lives. The more complicated we make it the more stressful life is. There are so many things to do when you are running a small business that if you just add more to your marketing list you are likely to be adding complexity and not achieve the results you could. Also customers love simplicity as they are overwhelmed today as well.

The first tip is to be clear on your target market and find out all you can about them. The next tip is be focused on what you offer. If you offer  a laundry list of products or services it confuses customers and makes your business like everyone else. If you offer services package them up. It simplifies the buying process for customers and it makes it easier for you to market.  The third tip is to use technology and automate where you can. For example if you have a series of emails that you normally send customers after they purchase instead of doing them manually use software such as Aweber and set up an auto responder. That way you only need to do an email once.

What is your top strategy tip (or words of wisdom) to small business owners who are feeling overwhelmed by time and budget constraints?

Take a big step back and review what you are currently doing with your time or money. Then select one marketing objective at a time to achieve. The reason for this is for each objective you add it will usually mean different strategies and tactics which costs more in time or money.

I want to offer special thanks to Susan for taking the time to share such valuable information in her answers. Which of Susan’s tips resonates the most with you? Does Susan’s advice to focus your offer make sense to you? Do you package your services, to simplify the buying process?

Susan offers valuable insight that helps small business owners increase sales and profit through the power of “marketing simplicity”. You can learn more from Susan by visiting her website M4B Marketing. Please join me as I congratulate her for being voted the “2012 Marketing Sherpa Reader’s Choice” award for best marketing strategy blog.

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Kate R September 16, 2012 at 6:02 am

Her blog seems pretty nice. Didn’t know about Susan till now. Added to RSS 🙂 I love finding new awesome blogs of awesome people.

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
September 16, 2012 at 1:06 pm

Hi Kate,
Susan is all about keeping marketing simple. I’m glad you found her (and me too. Welcome to my blog!).
Sherryl Perry recently posted..2 Tips on Using Social Media to Get Found OnlineMy Profile

Kate R September 16, 2012 at 1:29 pm

Hehe thanks! I’m glad too, Sherryl. 🙂 By the way I love your slogan: “Where Business and Internet connect” – really clever!

Garcia July 24, 2012 at 2:45 am

Susan worked hard to achive the status she has, and it is honorable to be the best, however it is also a great responsibility. Today she can’t give up everything or do anything at not as high level as she did previously.
Congrats to Susan!

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
July 25, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Hi Garcia,
I first met Susan online but I feel like I’ve known her for years. I can attest that she practices her marketing techniques without even thinking of them. She’s a real pro and as a small business owner, I respect her knowledge. Susan’s marketing messages resonate with me. I’ve gone so far as to stick little post-it notes with her advice like “simplify” on my monitor to remind me of some of her advice. 🙂
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Is Your Email Address Part of Your Brand?My Profile

Edward July 17, 2012 at 10:45 am

I believe that is an frequently overlooked point. Much of what works in the bigger businesses can work with smaller businesses as well. The idea of automating things using bots for example can give your company a larger than it is feel.

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
July 19, 2012 at 3:21 pm

Hi Edward,
I agree. I think that more small businesses would be successful if they started paying more attention to what big businesses are doing. After all, they started out small too.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Is Your Email Address Part of Your Brand?My Profile

Robert July 17, 2012 at 10:36 am

I want to maintain my Blog’s reputation like Susan’s but the thing is laziness that we are gaining while on but this idea can also work to grow faster…

sandeep kumar
Twitter:
July 17, 2012 at 5:26 am

COngratulation Susan…..for your achievement…..
And thanks to Sherryl for sharing such a nice person interview with all of us…

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
July 19, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Hi Sandeep,
Thanks for dropping by and letting us know that you enjoyed my interview with Susan.
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Chrissy July 17, 2012 at 3:33 am

Excellent interview. I am already a fan of Marketing Sherpa and now I have another new blog to follow – the MB4 Marketing blog looks great! So many great bloggers out there, thanks!

A.K.Andrew
Twitter:
July 15, 2012 at 9:44 am

Congratulations to Susan, and thanks Sherryl for sharing the interview. It’s essential as you say to keep your product/business focused. With so many marketing alternatives, that was great advice, to take it one step at a time. Thank you.
A.K.Andrew recently posted..Changing Procrastination CreativelyMy Profile

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
July 15, 2012 at 12:31 pm

Thanks for letting us know that you enjoyed the interview with Susan. Life is complicated enough without making marketing complicated too. 🙂
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Is Your Email Address Part of Your Brand?My Profile

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
July 14, 2012 at 10:42 pm

Thanks for coming by and letting me know that you learned something new about Susan. It’s impressive that she won the reader’s choice in the marketing strategy category. I voted for her! 🙂
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Is Your Email Address Part of Your Brand?My Profile

Geek Girl
Twitter:
July 14, 2012 at 4:28 pm

Thanks for sharing this interview with us Sherryl. Congrats to Susan! I will check out the newsletter. 🙂

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
July 14, 2012 at 4:55 pm

I think you’ll like Susan’s newsletter. It’s always a quick read and she often shares examples that small business owners can relate to.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..The Powerful WordPress Text WidgetMy Profile

Alwyn
Twitter:
July 13, 2012 at 5:10 am

First of all, congratulations to Susan. I like her blog and I will start visiting her blog from time to time. Thanks for sharing us the interview Sherryl.
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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
July 14, 2012 at 1:50 pm

You’re welcome Alwyn. Thanks for letting us know that you enjoyed the interview.
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Faissal Alhaithami
Twitter:
July 13, 2012 at 1:11 am

I really like the way Susan carries on with her blog. She is quite good at explaining things by giving wonderful and easy-to-understand examples. Thanks for your effort of reaching out to Susan and bringing us this great interview.

Thanks.

Susan Oakes
Twitter:
July 13, 2012 at 1:47 am

Thanks Faissal and I was taught why complicate when you can make it simple to understand. Some of the readers here know I like to use analogies as I find it is a quicker way for others to understand. Plus it is fun to find videos and pictures to illustrate 🙂

I do appreciate Sherryl reaching out and interviewing me.
Susan Oakes recently posted..Are You Just Flirting With Me?My Profile

zourkas
Twitter:
July 11, 2012 at 5:39 pm

You are welcome Susan!! 🙂 You know that there are many talented and creative people who do not go to the right directions and they fail !! I hope you are a person who help people in order for them to succeed 🙂

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
July 12, 2012 at 3:49 pm

Hi Zourkas,
I can attest that Susan is very helpful. You can hire Susan for individual help and you can also subscribe to her newsletter. I think her newsletter is one of the best. It’s concise, to the point and an easy read.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Do you Brand Yourself, Your Company, or Your Product on Social Media Sites?My Profile

Susan Oakes
Twitter:
July 13, 2012 at 1:43 am

Sorry Zourkas, I did reply earlier, must have missed it in my ever bulging inbox. That is what I do now and what I did in my corporate career. And it is a terrific feeling when you see them succeed beyond what they initially thought.
Susan Oakes recently posted..How To Avoid The Marketing WobblesMy Profile

zourkas
Twitter:
July 11, 2012 at 12:08 pm

Hello!! Congratulations Susan!! I think that you know exactly what you are doing…i am telling this cause there are many new internet marketers out there who do not know exactly what they are doing or they have been effected from information overload!! Thank you really for sharing this information with us !

Susan Oakes
Twitter:
July 11, 2012 at 5:19 pm

Thanks Zourkas and it is interesting what you say about new marketers and information overload. It is difficult to sort through it all. Glad you found the information useful.
Susan Oakes recently posted..How To Avoid The Marketing WobblesMy Profile

Anton Koekemoer
Twitter:
July 11, 2012 at 4:04 am

Hi Sherryl,

I do agree! The need for the average Business owner and or marketer to simplify is of great importance – as to save time, and other valuable resources. Using Tools to help you market and manage your strategies has become a well-known secret today. With the simplification of finding things online – marketing and keeping track of business has just become ever more time and resource consuming.

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
July 11, 2012 at 5:57 pm

Hi Anton,
Thanks for weighing in on this. Simplifying is great advice. There is so much information available today that it’s easy to get distracted. By simplifying, I believe it’s easier to stay focused.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Do you Brand Yourself, Your Company, or Your Product on Social Media Sites?My Profile

adel July 10, 2012 at 6:51 am

I really love the term quiet achiever, I must practice this now and I think this will help me in all of my goals, being humble is still the best thing to do, nice article well done.

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
July 11, 2012 at 5:54 pm

Thanks Adel. Susan isn’t fond of self-promotion but she certainly has friends who will get the word out for her. 🙂
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Susan Oakes
Twitter:
July 9, 2012 at 4:59 pm

Thanks everyone for your congratulations. Much appreciated. It is a good time to be a small business and what I like is how we all learn from each other which I now do with many of your blogs.
Susan Oakes recently posted..Just One MoreMy Profile

Ann
Twitter:
July 9, 2012 at 2:28 pm

Hi Sherryl,
Congratulations to Susan. That is wonderful recognition for all of your achievements. What great experience at several levels. A definite ‘expert’!! The one at a time strategy works so well and gives you a bird’s eye view of the overall program.

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
July 10, 2012 at 8:28 pm

Hi Ann,
Susan does offer some great marketing strategy tips. For the longest time, I had a post-it note stuck to my monitor with the word “simplify”. 🙂
Sherryl Perry recently posted..4 Simple Steps to Building Your Brand OnlineMy Profile

Carrie
Twitter:
July 9, 2012 at 12:44 pm

Congratulations Susan!!! :DD
And thank you for doing the interview with Sherryl. The tips you offered are very useful.
I agree that breaking down the goals into smaller objectives definitely help with achieving the overall success of a small business. I also think that simplifying things can make the life of the owner of the smaller business a lot easier. I do love the word “automate”. I mean, automatic things are more time-saving, more productive, and a whole lot cheaper than manual things. Thank you for sharing this interview.

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
July 10, 2012 at 8:26 pm

Hi Carrie,
Thanks for letting us know that you found Susan’s tips useful. If you’re interested in reading more tips from Susan, I recommend signing up for her newsletter. It’s always a quick read and worth my time.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..How To Gain More Social Media Audience Through Photo SharingMy Profile

Catarina
Twitter:
July 9, 2012 at 10:47 am

Susan you really deserve the award!!

Your strategies are spot on and business owners who follow your advice will definitely benefit.
Catarina recently posted..Entrepreneurship – do genes play a part?My Profile

Shamelle
Twitter:
July 9, 2012 at 10:04 am

I just saw the list of other competing sites. To come up on top, wow.. that’s such an achievement. Congrads, Susan and keep up the good work.
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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
July 10, 2012 at 8:24 pm

Hi Shamelle,
I followed the link that you left. That’s a good share. If anyone reading this needs to know how to use Gmail to access their website email address, Shamelle has included a video in her post.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Tips to Organize & Manage Your Documents and EmailMy Profile

Keyuri Joshi
Twitter:
July 9, 2012 at 8:09 am

Heartiest congratulations to both Susan and Sherryl! My knowledge base and confidence has most certainly been enriched from reading both of your blogs.

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
July 10, 2012 at 8:16 pm

Thanks for the kind words Keyuri. I always appreciate your support and it’s a pleasure emailing you back and forth. Your skill set is very complimentary to mine (as is Susan’s).
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Do you Brand Yourself, Your Company, or Your Product on Social Media Sites?My Profile

Susan Cooper
Twitter:
July 9, 2012 at 4:11 am

Susan, Congratulations on this well deserved award. I am also a subscriber and folllower of your blog and have gained much from what you have offer up in tips and advise.

Sherry, I loved the interview you did with Susan. I learned a few things about her I didn’t know. 🙂
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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
July 9, 2012 at 10:55 am

Hi Susan,
I had remembered that Susan worked with multinational companies but it’s easy to forget because she relates so well to small business owners. She doesn’t write as if she’s speaking to someone from a large corporation.
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WC Bracken
Twitter:
July 10, 2012 at 10:13 am

I think that is an often overlooked point. Much of what works at the “multinational” level can work for smaller businesses as well – if you scale and price properly. The idea of automating things using autoresponders for instance can give your business a larger than it actually is feel.

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
July 10, 2012 at 11:02 pm

Exactly! Multinational companies became successful for a reason. There’s a lot that we can learn from them.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Is Your Email Address Part of Your Brand?My Profile

Bhushan July 9, 2012 at 3:46 am

Hey Sherryl,
Thank goodness we have such passionate peeps as you guys to help steer us with integrity. You are top,congrats
Bhushan recently posted..ERP Software CompanyMy Profile

Jackie
Twitter:
July 9, 2012 at 2:21 am

Thanks Sherryl for letting us know about Susan’s win. I was completely in the dark on this one. You’ve gotta watch those quiet acheivers!

Congrats Susan, as I said in my email…Awesome and well deserved.

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
July 9, 2012 at 10:41 am

“Quiet achiever” – I like that! It describes Susan well.
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Susan Oakes
Twitter:
July 9, 2012 at 4:46 pm

Haven’t been called that before Jackie 🙂 Appreciated your email and now off to take lessons in shout it out loud!
Susan Oakes recently posted..Save Yourself From Marketing Overwhelm NowMy Profile

Jackie
Twitter:
July 10, 2012 at 3:00 am

Well you know what they say Susan…if you don’t toot your own horn, nobody’s going to do it for you 😉

Susan Oakes
Twitter:
July 9, 2012 at 2:16 am

Thanks a lot for asking me to do the interview Sherryl and appreciate the congrats.

Thanks Jeannette and I am also really pleased we know each other.
Susan Oakes recently posted..Just One MoreMy Profile

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
July 9, 2012 at 10:40 am

You’re very welcome Susan. Thanks for answering my questions so thoroughly. I suspect you’ll get a few subscribers to your blog after some readers see the value in the tips that you shared.

Jeannette Paladino blogging, branding
Twitter:
July 9, 2012 at 12:31 am

Congratulations, Susan! A wonderful honor, well deserved as your tips are always on target. I’m pleased to know you through LinkedIn.
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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
July 9, 2012 at 10:38 am

Hi Jeannette,
One of the things that I appreciate about Susan’s advice is that it’s always on target. She obviously practices what she says too. 🙂
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