Small Business Marketing Myths

Small Business Marketing Myths

msp_marketingRecently, a friend of mine who owns a small business told me “Paul, I tried marketing and it didn’t work.”  I asked “What kind of marketing did you try?” His reply, which I'll share in a few sentences, mortified me. And it offers some important lessons to managed service providers.

So, what type of marketing did he try?:

“I mailed three hundred flyers out to prospects twice over the last month and I got nothing in return. This marketing stuff is a total waste of my time and money. I am not doing it anymore.”
Unfortunately, this attitude is common with small business owners. They try one marketing tactic and give up after it fails. I believe this is because they often mistake single advertising tactics for marketing as a whole. You need to understand that marketing is the sum of many tactics, one of which is advertising. Most people fail to comprehend this concept, which is why so many are unsuccessful at marketing.

What's In Your Toolbox?

I want you to think of your marketing program as toolbox containing hundreds useful tools. Now imagine an auto-mechanic attempting to rebuild an engine with only a screwdriver and never looking in his toolbox for other tools. I am going to go out on a limb here and say this is not going to have a happy ending. I would also speculate that the mechanic is going to get frustrated and give up in short order. He might have some small successes, but there is no way he is going to rebuild the engine with just a screwdriver.

So, let me ask this question. If it is illogical for the mechanic to attempt rebuilding an engine with a single screwdriver, why does it make any sense to try one marketing tactic and expect success? Of course, it makes no sense at all. It is just as illogical to give up your marketing efforts and wonder why they failed after attempting one tactic (mailing flyers to prospects for example). You must unleash the entire marketing toolbox to have any hope of achieving success.

Once you grasp the concept of using multiple tools to achieve success with your marketing program, you must also understand that there are multiple marketing categories. Some of these include brand building, networking, customer relationship management, direct sales, etc. You should work with these marketing categories in mind when digging into your toolbox for specific tactics and remember that it takes multiple tactics to tackle each category.

Top-Down Approaches

When you think about from the top down, marketing is really pretty simple. Identify your broad goals, choose the marketing categories needed to meet these goals, and then select all of the tools/tactics necessary to market the categories. You will also need some patience, persistence, and a modicum creativity.  And remember, you can’t rebuild an engine with a screwdriver alone and advertising is not marketing.

If you would like to discuss this top more, catch me on MSP marketing and operations section of Virtual Administrator Forum. I would love to answer your questions.

Paul Barnett is marketing director for VirtualAdministrator, which offers hosted solutions for managed service providers. Read all of Paul's guest blogs here. Guest blog entries such as this one are contributed on a monthly basis as part of’s 2009 Platinum sponsorship.
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