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Robert Gerrish
Small Business Coach & Author

Robert Gerrish has owned businesses in London and Sydney. He is currently working as a business coach helping fellow entrepreneurs to succeed in their business. Robert has a background in Marketing and Business development. He has columns regularly published in several newspapers and business magazines.
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Bad Small Business Behaviours: Binge Marketing - Robert Gerrish Bad Small Business Behaviours: Binge Marketing - Robert Gerrish

"Binge marketing" describes a type of behaviour seen all too often; particularly from those running a small business.

The classic cry of the binge marketeer is "Oops, business is a bit slow, I guess I'd better do some marketing". While this is most often said in the midst of a quiet spell it's also a sentiment aired when the bank balance is a little thin or when new staff arrive. In other words it's a panic button reaction said in the vain belief that a few actions here and there will get things moving again. Oh, that business development was that easy!

That said, let's be fair, it sometimes works, but often it does not. There can be many explanations for quiet spells and whilst marketing may not make you totally immune, it can certainly increase your flow of business opportunities.

Effective small business marketing is not an activity to be done in spurts, it should be constantly happening in your business. If we think of marketing as an engine, it needs to be ticking over steadily at all times. A quiet spell now often signals a lack of marketing six or nine months ago.

And we needn't be daunted or scared by marketing. It needn't be that difficult; the secret is to find what works for you and keep on doing it.

Certainly there may be occasions where a very particular marketing activity takes centre stage - a direct marketing campaign perhaps or a series of local advertisements - but these are tactical actions, not the whole story.

Being an ex-marketing consultant, I'm proficient at baffling people with marketing jargon, but that has no place here so let's concern ourselves with real live marketing actions that we can apply to our small business.

Let's be really clear about this, basic marketing is simple and anyone can do it (and yes, that includes YOU). But marketing takes time to work. One-off panic actions usually come across as that - a business in panic. Few like to give their custom to a business that is in crisis, your business will simply not be an attractive proposition.

If on the other hand you design a program of marketing actions and stick with it consistently it can and will spread like a virus.

As an example, let's look at a very basic marketing plan. Try developing something similar for your own business and trial it over a period of a few months. Do more of the things that work- research, understand and amend the things that do not.

Daily Actions Daily Actions

As any successful network marketing person will tell you, the secret is to 'sow a seed' each and every day. We should absolutely be doing the same in our businesses. In practical terms this might translate to:

* Telling at least one person per day what you do, who you do it for and what the outcomes of your work are
* Add the name of at least one potential client to an on-going prospect list
* Add one more personal detail about an existing client to a personal profile database
* Send one letter/one e-mail/make one telephone call to a new contact

Most of these actions are directed at developing and building relationships with your customers, whether new or existing.

The main point is to have marketing be the focus for at least a brief period each and every day. Often the best way is to block an hour or so out every morning to undertake such actions. If you employ staff, have them develop their own daily plan in much the same way. The key here is to start the engine and keep it ticking over.

Weekly Actions Weekly Actions

Next, let's look at compiling a list of weekly marketing actions. These might include such things as:

* Following up the new contacts and relationships you've made during the week
* Setting aside time to make a block of phone calls to new prospects
* Asking past customers to respond to some questions regarding your level of service and their general impressions of your business - its procedures, its staff and so on
* Researching your competitors and seeing where your 'point of difference' lies. Thanks to the Internet, these days competitor analysis is so much easier. When was the last time you really looked into what those around you are up to?

Monthly Actions Monthly Actions

If you're effectively handling your daily and weekly actions, your monthly actions can be a time for summarising and looking at more far reaching strategies. Where you have a sales-force, this can also be a good time to thoroughly assess their daily/weekly and monthly actions, adjusting their targets as necessary - keeping the revs up on the engine!

Additionally, it's a time to review areas of your business that you may not consider to be true marketing. For example, the effectiveness of all the 'contact points' of your business:

* the initial phone greeting from your receptionist
* your voicemail and after hours message
* email signature
* letterheads & business cards
* vehicle appearance and vehicle livery

All of these project an image to the outside world, to your past, present and future customers. Each area is an element of your overall marketing and as such is extremely important to the entire marketing picture. Could any be improved? Could they work harder for you?

Very importantly, it is strongly recommend that each and every month you and your staff make voice contact (either in person or on the phone) with the people who really support and encourage your business. These people are your advocates - they are in effect 'silent salespeople' for you. Advocates are the people who generate referrals and really help your business to grow. Think of them as your marketing team.

So when you next contemplate a binge, try instead to translate your actions into a regular program of activity. If you already have a regular program, consider how you might get the engine ticking over a little faster.

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This article was written by Robert Gerrish who supports business owners on a path to loving their work. His website is brimming with resources for those going it alone in business. A great example is his FREE report featuring 101 practical tips direct from business owners. Get this and more at:

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