Running a small business can be like operating in a bubble. Often you are the lone decision maker, and that is not always a good thing. Collaboration is one of the advantages that big businesses have over small businesses. They can fill a room with people, ask them to accomplish the same task and choose the best possible outcome. In your business, it’s just you. So, as a small business owner, how do you combat this disadvantage? My advice is you need to attend or create a support group of your own. Seek out people in a similar business situations to yourself and use them as a sounding board to vet your ideas. The feedback you will receive is incredibly valuable, and can ultimately save you from costly mistakes. We help facilitate this type of support and interaction for small businesses with our Microbusiness Meetup - a forum in which small business professionals can discuss common problems or share successes.
While you can (and probably should) apply this tactic to all aspects of your small business, for this post I will focus on it’s benefits to your company’s marketing. Here are my top reasons to vet your marketing ideas with other small businesses:
1. You are too close to your own products. There is probably no one who knows your product better than you, and that can be a great advantage when delivering a service or product, but not necessarily in marketing. When you are too close to your products, things that are obvious to you may not be so obvious to potential customers. Early on in my business I fell victim to this myself. I have been producing/selling web video since 2008, and early on I was so focused on the intricacies of the technology and industry buzz that I never communicated to a customer why they might need my product in the first place. I was focused on telling customers how my product was superior to my competition, while they were wondering why they would want it at all. These gaps in communication are exactly the type of thing you can identify by vetting your idea in a group. To you, the benefits of a product might go without saying, but is your customer on the same page?
2. Treat it like a focus group. Bouncing ideas off of your contemporaries may give you some insight into how your message will be received. Do you have to explain a marketing concept several times? You may be overly complex. Did the marketing pitch for a new product fall flat within your group? Use that reaction to tweak your product or marketing message or else you can probably expect a similar result with the general public.
3. Mutual benefit. Taking off on the “know, like, trust” marketing concept of Seth Godinand other marketing gurus, testing your ideas in a group contributes to the success of all the businesses involved, and growing a business is a bonding experience. It’s a great way to build up the know/like/trust factor between you and your supporting group. Bonus points if you have similar target markets. What works for one business may work for the other.
There are advantages and disadvantages to running a small business when compared to a larger business. Don’t let isolation be one of them. Build a circle of trusted circle of like-minded people to maximize your marketing efforts.
Takeaway – Vet your marketing ideas with like-minded people to increase your effectiveness.
5 Minutes to Better Marketing is a twice-monthly series of direct email articles aimed at improving your marketing efforts and overall success of the small business community, specifically in the Buffalo, NY region. These articles are universal. They can help many small businesses. If you know of anyone that may benefit from communications like this one, please share this article.