Small Company Syndrome

One of the questions that came up after my Kaseya Connect talk was what to do about branding and marketing if you’re a small company. If you’re only a couple of people, what should you invest in and why? Some observations:

1. Don’t spend just because others are
It’s temping to try and mimic larger companies and spend money on things that you may not need right now. Yes, a killer website will help you sell, but it might not be what you need right now. If, for example, you’ve seen success in a certain vertical or have a great success story with a certain type of business, I would spend money on having someone help you tell that story (case study) before I would spend a bunch of money on a website. Focus your money on what will get you in front of the right people. You can always build the killer site later.

Likewise, don’t spend money on a bunch of blanket mailings that go out to anyone and everyone, or on a yellow pages ad that won’t reach anyone. You would be better off putting together a list of 50 potential clients that fit your company, and then spend your money and efforts marketing to that group. Not only do your marketing dollars become more potent, but you find the clients that fit what you do. It’s one of the hardest things to do as a business, but in order to get into the mind of the prospect, you have to sacrifice.

For example, if you had a couple of auto dealerships as clients, and they love what you do, write up that story in a compelling case study. Then start to market to a short list of auto dealerships that could benefit in the same way. Even if you’re not completely selling only to that niche, you can pursue a niche or channel for a season.

2. You must track
If a marketing tactic is not somehow measurable, I don’t think it should be done. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve worked with companies that are spending money on some sort of tactic and have no way of measuring results. They get sold on doing a blanket mailing or a yellow pages ad, but they don’t really know if it’s working or not.

With any tactic, you should be able to measure. Know if it’s working, know how to adjust it if it’s not and, most of all, make sure you at least learn something. It’s okay to try things and maybe have some of them not work, but at some point, if it’s not working, you need to learn and move on. I’ve done this successfully with Google AdWords. Put a small amount of money in the hopper and run a campaign for a short season. At the end of that season, decide if it’s worth investing more, worth investing the same or that it doesn’t work and move on to something else. Try, track, learn and improve. If you’re not tracking and learning, you’re wasting money.

3. Laser sharp focus
I mentioned above the idea of picking a place to focus. This is so essential for a small company. You simply don’t have the resources to play with the big boys yet. You need to find a couple of niches, or just one where you can be that big fish in a small pond. This will allow the marketing dollars that you do have to be more potent. It’s also easier to talk to one industry than it is to try and create a blanket message for all. If you show up to auto dealerships with a story of success with another dealership, you will get further than just putting an ad in the yellow pages.

Some final thoughts …

Just because you’re small doesn’t mean you can’t market and brand yourself well. In fact, you might be at an advantage if you’re forced to focus on a niche. Being small and agile could allow you to find a niche and sell, sell, sell.

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