This week’s Pearls of Leadership Wisdom is on Marketing.

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”Albert Einstein.

Small businesses do marketing poorly. It’s one of the main reasons they’re small businesses.

Here’s a thought experiment –

In 2009 you had 20 customers (or 50, or 400, it doesn’t matter). Your marketing was ad hoc. You had no real marketing strategy. You did a lot of networking. Your market share is less than 10%.

In 2010, you decide to:

1. Develop and hone your products and services until they are so shiny you can see yourself in them. You do the same marketing as you did in 2009. How many customers do you have?

Well, I think you will get an incremental increase in your customer numbers. All you have really done is increase your conversion rate of prospects into customers. Everything else is the same. So let’s say you will end up with 25 customers in 2010. A 25% increase. Not bad. Not bad.


2. You do NOT develop your products and services further. Your products and services are good enough (after all, you have the customers you have). Instead, you spend your time in 2010 constructing and executing a targeted marketing strategy to get to more of the kinds of prospects you know you can convert into customers because you did it in 2009. How many customers do you have?

Well, once you have identified your target market, clarified your value proposition and why you’re different, and you have decided it might be good to actually tell as many members of your target market what your value and difference actually is (because you’ve given up being bashful for lent), I think you can readily expect to get your message to twice as many people, generating twice as many prospects, and, as your products and services are unchanged, convert them at the same rate as in 2009 to get 40 customers.

You’ve just doubled your business.


Reasons why marketing will not double your business –

  • You have a huge market share and there’s nowhere to go (and you’re bored with your exec lifestyle and read these Pearls because you like to reminisce about the way it was before you did marketing.)
  • You do nothing because you have a lifestyle business and you don’t want to grow. (This is the only good reason.)
  • You are cynical and jaundiced about marketing, have spent money before to no end and are once bitten twice shy. (And don’t understand what conditioning means).
  • Marketing doesn’t work for you (your current customers bought from you by accident.)
  • You are your business and people buy you. Yup. (God was having a laugh when he endowed you with such talents but decided you could only ever show them to a handful of customers. You must have done something bad in a previous life.)

Reasons why marketing will double your business –

  • You realise that tinkering with product and service development is something you do because it is comfortable, not because it is right.
  • You may not know how to put a coherent, low-cost marketing programme together, but you are not deterred – you get some help, like the big guys do. And you are a demanding outsourcer.
  • You do what is right, not what you know.
  • You have a passion for your value and to not deliver it to those who would want it if only they knew of you is a crying shame and a crime against humanity. (I only half jest about the crime against humanity bit – if you are helping seriously disadvantaged kids, for example, and you have a proven benefit, and you don’t take the steps you need to get that help to as many as possible, what would you call that?)

Double or quits…

Marketing, to me, is about getting more customers. If you have 20, you can get 40. Incremental change shows poverty of ambition and bank balance.

This is the case for marketing. I rest my case.


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