Fine-tune your marketing message – Talk Business & Politics

Marketing and promotion are not two things that most small businesses can claim. My experience is that most small business owners think that most marketing and promotion dollars are wasted dollars, and their goal is to minimize expenses and hope “word of mouth” will take over.

It’s like being a junior high school student and planning what you’ll do with the money you’ll earn from your NFL career. In other words, low probability of success.

Small businesses that want to grow and dominate their local markets understand that spending a certain amount of money – not a trivial amount (5% to 15% of revenue, depending on the industry) – on consistent advertising can help them achieve their goals. We have many local examples of companies employing this strategy – Lewis Ford, Sam’s Furniture and Eureka Pizza, among others. It just takes faith and specific knowledge of probability theory.

I was fortunate that during my MBA program in the late 1970s (believe it or not, there weren’t many of us back then), I was a graduate assistant in the marketing department at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. I worked for a professor, Dr. John Summey, who was an expert in marketing research. I learned more about probability theory from him than from anyone else, and that knowledge drove me to outspend all of our competitors for promotion in our own company.

This resulted in an annual growth rate of more than 30% for 13 consecutive years between 1988 and 2001. We consistently spent 14% to 16% of our total revenue on promotion, and the relationship between increased spending and a almost linear corresponding revenue growth convinced me that the odds work when you have tens of thousands of independent events (the commercials) that a potential customer (or former customer) can respond to.

Marc Zweig

How can you spend that money, you may ask? Again, this varies by company, but Print Advertising, Sponsorships, Radio Advertising, Cable TV, Billboards, Email Marketing, Direct Mail, Google Adsense, Facebook, Instagram, Amazon and LinkedIn are all possible. Be careful however, these “experiments” will not always be conclusive. It would be best if you experimented a bit to see what you do best. It’s part of where your money goes – figuring out what’s best for you – and it’s only part of the cost of being in business.

By understanding the probabilities and fine-tuning your very business-specific “benefits of doing business with you” messages, you can take your business – whether serving individuals or B2B – to a new position of leadership and dominance. in your local market.

Be smart, think creatively, reduce personal company extractions and make it happen. Almost any business can use this strategy. Many owners will say they can’t afford it and they don’t have enough working capital.

You might be surprised at the results if you stick with it.

Mark Zweig is the founder of two Inc. 500/5000 companies based in Fayetteville. He is also an entrepreneur-in-residence and teaches entrepreneurship at the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas, and group president for the Northwest Arkansas chapter of Vistage International. The opinions expressed are those of the author.