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.