I grew up with big agency marketing. Corporate marketing jobs are busy. Small business marketing is also busy but in such a different way.

I prefer small business marketing because it’s real – and it’s fast. Corporate marketing and small business marketing should, in theory, be the same but in reality, they could not be more different.

Here are my top tips for small and micro business owners from a marketing point of view:

Set Goals

How many businesses fail to set an overarching goal? MANY! Failing to set a goal is the first big mistake of most small businesses. Having a purpose is the fuel for your rocket. Be driven by your big goals. Achieving a big goal is achieved by setting a series of smaller goals – all heading in the same direction. Set goals with timelines – write them down and put them somewhere you can see them. Some people are driven by the image of the big house they would like to retire in. Some are driven simply by being free from corporate restraints. Whatever your goal is, identify it.

Have a Plan

That seems ridiculous, doesn’t it – to make one of the first tips ‘have a plan’. Most small businesses in NZ lack a plan. They do not achieve growth as a result. You need to decide what your big goal is – that’s the hardest part. Once you see the horizon, you can start building your plan to move toward it. This is exactly the same principle as the age-old question ‘how do you eat an elephant? – One bite at a time’. Each step you make toward your goal gets you closer to your horizon.

Your business and marketing plan should cover the following:

  • Who Am I?
  • What do I want to achieve as an end goal from this business?
  • What do I stand for (what are my business and brand values).
  • How am I different to the others around me in the market.
  • Who is my customer?
  • What do my customers need me for.
  • How can I connect with my customer and be relevant to their world.

Reassess your plan at least annually

Here’s the thing – the horizon is a moving target and so also will your overall goal be – to a degree. While the big goal itself probably will not move, your vision of how to achieve it might. As you learn new skills and interface with other people also on their business journey, your focus will inevitably lift, and your plans get bigger and bolder. It’s what happens when the brain is engaged and the sense of purpose is strong.

Create a brand – not a logo

A brand is a living thing. Many small business owners confuse branding with logo creation. Creating a brand takes vision and consistency. You must create a brand with feelings, views and values – people connect with brands. Bring to life a brand with a significant emotional intelligence – with a clear point of difference to other products in the same category. Work the reason why people need your product or service – and bring that point of difference alive.

Watch your Analytics at least monthly

Getting now to the business end of the story. While you create your story and the values of the brand will guide many of your actions – always follow Google Analytics to discover what is working for you – and replicate successes. In particular, watch how people are finding you and how they travel around your website. There are many advanced tricks hidden in Google Analytics such as Click Attribution Reports – understanding which medium plays what role in the path of the customer before making contact that will give you good clarity on your media and creative planning. Looking at the User Explorer Reports tells you how many visits an individual purchaser has made before purchasing, how they were introduced to you and which pages were viewed at each visit. Business owners who have awareness of this type of visitor information will make progress much more quickly than those who are guessing.

Invest small amounts regularly toward lifting your standards of professionalism

This is important. I advocate ‘don’t wait to be perfect’ – this being a standard that holds people back. Go for ‘Correctness’ and get started! Perfection is a moving target. Continual upgrade and improvements are the way forward in the electronic marketing world. Invest in packaging upgrades and improvements, professional images, professional collateral. Keep samples of the very first of everything as you watch the progress of your journey. If you commit to tiny upgrades on a continual basis, you will grow personally along with your business. All large corporates were once small startups with big goals and increasingly high standards. Get out there and do it.

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