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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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Published by Sherryl Perry

Welcome! If you're looking for help building an Internet presence that fits your needs and works for you, you're in the right place. I blog common sense articles about WordPress, social media and SEO. My goal is to help small business owners and entrepreneurs understand their core business. Together, we can develop and implement business strategies that make sense to you.

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52 Comments

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

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

  2. 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!

    1. 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

  3. 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.

  4. 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…

  5. 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!

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

  7. 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.

    1. 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

  8. 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 🙂

  9. 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 !

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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. 🙂
    Susan Cooper recently posted..Lesson From My Roses: by Cheryl TherrienMy Profile

      1. 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.

  16. 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.

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

    1. 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.