Why Using Corporate Marketing Can Kill Your Small Business

So you’ve put your ads in the Yellow Pages and you’ve taken out advertising in the local press. It’s cost you a nice chunk of change.

And yet the phone still isn’t ringing.

There are a lot of good reasons why that could be, but one of the main reasons is getting sucked into the idea that the type of advertising used by big business is the best sort, and perhaps the only sort you should use.

But this is a fallacy, and most of the companies that use the TV ads with their catchy nonsensical jingles and glossy magazine ads with pouting models are successful because they’ve built a brand over decades. In most cases they’re successful even though their advertising is useless, and they could probably stop advertising tomorrow without any effect on their business.

But when you run a small business, you really can’t afford to take chances and wait years for a branding campaign to (hopefully) take effect. Using the glossy big business type of marketing is likely to leave you penniless and holding a one way ticket to a bankruptcy hearing.

The reason is simple: branding type marketing is all about image and, for the people who create it, the overpaid creative types in the big advertising agencies, winning advertising awards. And the marketing executives who work for the big companies get paid whether the marketing brings in any new business or not. If the marketing campaign won an award, it must be good, right?

But as a small business owner you’re in a completely different type of situation. If your marketing doesn’t bring home the bacon, you go hungry. An advertising executive working for a big company doesn’t have to worry about the power bills, the shop rent, the staff costs. The small business owner sees these (often substantial) costs go out of his bank account week-by-week and month-by-month, and he’s the only one responsible for making sure there’s money coming in to cover things.

What The Small Business Owner Needs To Do

The most important thing about marketing is that it can be measured, so you can see right down to the last penny how much it’s costing and how much it’s bringing in return. The way to do this is to forget about “branding” and “image” and use direct response marketing techniques that have been proven to get a response.

Every single part of your marketing, every ad you run or letter you send, should have a strong call to action. And then you should measure exactly how many sales leads a particular ad, sales letter or email brought it, and try to improve on it.

Don’t Trust The Ad Salesmen

The tragedy is that some of the people selling marketing services to small and medium-sized businesses have also swallowed the hype about branding. These people persuade small business owners to run ridiculous campaigns that makes the business look good but often doesn’t bring in a penny in revenue. These types of “marketing consultants” often think they’re doing the right thing, and when the marketing fails they feel blameless. But it’s the small business owner who feels the pain, not the consultant.

The advertising salesman from your local paper is often no better, and neither is the rep from the Yellow Pages. Don’t listen to them and be seduced by a pretty ad that makes you look good. In the end the only thing that matters are sales leads and profits, and to get that you need to use good old-fashioned direct response marketing that uses tested methods for bringing in the sales.