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Small Business Marketing For Dummies Paperback – 13 Dec 2013
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From the Back Cover
Learn to: Develop the right marketing strategy for your business Attract new customers and keep them coming back Harness social media as a marketing tool Get the word out about your business and connect with customers without spending a ton of cash Great marketing is about winning and keeping customers. Small Business Marketing For Dummies teaches you simple but very effective ways to raise your company profile, develop a strong brand identity, connect with customers and keep them coming back again and again. Find out where you stand clearly identify your market, your customers and your competitors Identify yourself develop a stand-out brand identity and position your product or service within the marketplace Chart your course create a solid, achievable marketing plan to guide your business into the future Make an Internet connection get the lowdown on how to establish and grow your web presence, how to blog for business success and how to use social media to pull in the punters Get the word(s) out create high-impact marketing communications, including ads, mailers, newsletters, online and offline promotions, press releases and more Transform customers into sales reps win your customers' undying loyalty and turn them into energetic advocates for your business Open the book and find: Inexpensive ways to spread your message online and offline Practical tips on how to create a solid marketing plan How to write winning emails, newsletters, ads and promos Sales techniques for turning prospects into customers Strategies for turning customers into fiercely loyal advocates How to get great, free publicity for your business Tips on how to find and work with a marketing consultant
About the Author
Paul Lancaster is a small business expert, consultant and inbound marketing specialist based in Newcastle upon Tyne. He held web and marketing roles for Sage, British Airways and Shell LiveWIRE. Paul is an active supporter of youth start-up and entrepreneurship programmes throughout the UK. Barbara Findlay Schenck has been a marketing consultant for more than 20 years, with clients ranging from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies. In addition to her experience as a small business strategist, she's also a bestselling author and columnist. Visit her website at www.bizstrong.com.
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By its nature, a book like this cannot hope to address the marketing needs of all types of businesses and the ideas it contains will not suit all businesses. For example, there are repeated references to repeat customers but for some types of business this is not a strong feature - you aren't likely to want to have your garden designed on an annual basis nor are you likely to buy a wedding cake on a regular basis. The (sensible) advice to analyse your client base and see why they return is therefore of limited value in some circumstances: it isn't of much benefit to a local electrician or plumber who is mainly called in to deal with an emergency or to effect repairs that the customer needs rather than wants.
Overall, I thought much of the advice better aimed at the larger end of the small business market, most likely selling physical product of some description or selling a wide range of services. This is borne out by repeated references to employees & staff and a comment on bringing in marketing experts when your annual budget for marketing communications is a mid-five figure number. There is also advice on working with marketing & ad agencies, placing ads in mainstream media including TV & radio - all well and good but of limited use to the typical start-up business. The part I found most useful was in relation to developing a website (something I've not had to think about before as there was someone on hand to deal with this aspect). The part that irritated me most was on the subject of social media marketing. The author is convinced of its value but I know a number of large businesses who have found the effort involved in using Twitter, blogs, etc was not rewarded by any increase in business. I suspect this is something that works brilliantly for some businesses and is a complete irrelevance to others, particularly locally-based service businesses that can fill their order books entirely from plain vanilla 'word of mouth' communication without any need for electronic involvement.
Inevitably, there is a certain amount of 'teaching grandma to suck eggs': telling businesses to answer calls quickly and to have a professional answering machine message, or, for businesses with a physical presence, that the entrance should clean and clear from clutter. It strikes me as unlikely that someone who would go out of his or her way to buy this book wouldn't have enough 'nouse' to figure these things out.
Overall the book is OK - readers will need to take from it what is relevant to their own business and its stage of development.
And that is the strength of this book, it clearly and convincingly shows a set of possibilities for marketing your small business in ways you may not have thought about, or ways you may have neglected - and yet Paul Lancaster doesn't prescribe how you need to apply these ideas or techniques - he merely describes possibilities.
So, although I think it would be the more up-scale small business who might directly apply the ideas in this book, small, less formally organised outfits would be making a mistake in passing it by. They might not apply very much of what they read directly, but they will encounter a feast of ideas that are sure to feed their entrepreneurial spirit.
I note that other reviewers state that this really is more aimed at the larger multi-employee small business and I'd agree with that. It's also mostly aimed at those who are selling to repeat customers not the kind of thing I do. Having said that some of the strategy does apply and the most important one is getting your message across to as many potential clients as possible using all the media available. It's not rocket science but it has reinforced the reality of making a success. You have to devote as much time to the market as you do the product you are selling. I guess the classic example being breakfast cereal, a product that is pennies to make and is dwarfed by the advertising.
Probably the people who would most benefit from this book would be someone setting up a business such as a nursery garden center or retail shop. Maybe an engineering firm that direct markets to the public perhaps. A sole trader who does garden maintenance probably won't learn anything from this that would help him or her.
Overall, a good solid (if sometimes obvious) book aimed at multi-employee business.