Let’s face it – sales are good and you are pleased at your progress. So what else should you be doing to grow your business?

You initially built your successful small business on your own abilities. You grew it further by adding a sales person or two. Now you’re at a decision point: what do you do to grow your business further? Do you want to grow to the proverbial “next level”?

If you are that business owner it’s time to delve into marketing; you know you should but you’re not sure how. This article is designed to help you embrace marketing for growing your business.

Marketing has many definitions. It’s often thought of in terms of paid advertising. For our purposes we will use the following formula to differentiate sales from marketing.

A sale is achieved in four steps: Attention, Interest, Preference and Choice. The last two are the responsibility of sales. The first two – attention and interest – are the responsibility of marketing. That’s it – no heavy marketing jargon; the role of marketing is to focus attention on your products and services and then gather the interest and feed it to sales.

Expecting sales people to do your marketing is like expecting hunters to give up hunting in order to farm. The proper place of marketing in growing a small business is feeding opportunities to your sales staff who go forth and make your product or service the preference and then the choice.

Your business will grow to the extent that your sales force has a steady steam of qualified suspects (leads). Marketing is the means of finding those suspects. Why do many small businesses focus on the sales aspect of business growth?

I believe it feels ‘easier’ to go out and beat the bushes looking for another sale versus taking the time to build a marketing approach that works. If you are selling then you are ‘doing’ something. If you are marketing you may feel you are just adding expense.

Marketing is the servant of sales; too often it’s the other way around. Marketing is too often associated with “trash ‘n trinkets” and trade shows and too often isolated from the sales process. When I was in direct sales we always complained that the marketing folks were too far removed from what we in sales had to deal with.

What does it mean to be the ‘servant of sales’? Specifically, marketing’s only reason for existence is to provide leads to sales and to track the effectiveness of what they do in finding those leads.

Taken further, a marketing plan should target those who would most benefit from your products and services and then implement methods that will gain attention and interest.

Understand that a sales person still must close the sale. But the success of that sales person can be multiplied if they don’t have to split their time by finding their own sales leads. Again, that’s the role of marketing. A sales person is measured and compensated by the revenue they generate. Marketing efforts should be measured (and compensated for) the amount and quality of leads they provide to sales.

Another way to look at it is that Marketing feeds the top of the sales funnel. Don’t waste your sales people’s time with generating their own leads; put in marketing methods that work and let marketing fill the top of the funnel.

Another reason business owner’s focus on sales is the time factor – effective marketing takes time and persistence. Many owners would rather focus on selling due to its direct impact on today’s business.

Okay, so you know you should be doing marketing but a) you don’t know what to do, b) you don’t know how to do it, c) you’re not sure what activities would work best in your business, c) you really don’t want the expense of hiring a marketing person.

Let’s talk then about marketing methods that are relatively inexpensive and can be outsourced – and how to decide which ones will work for your business. And notice as we go through them that none of them are focusing on paid advertising.

Marketing Methods


Many of us have “attended” a webinar; a hosted presentation accessed via a website and telephone. If planned carefully these can be a powerful way of presenting your company to a wider audience.

Numerous companies offer Webinars including www.webex.com and www.gotowebinar.com. The “trick” with a webinar is to carefully craft your message and desired response to the medium. By this I mean that it is very easy for attention to wander when sitting in your office watching a slide presentation. Phone calls or IMs coming in can divert the audience attention easily.

Rather than trying to fully demonstrate a product or service focus rather on the “high points”. Design the session to prompt viewers to request further information by offering a white paper or a CD or a free offer of some kind.

Remember that the participants are indeed “viewers” and work to keep their interest. Long, text-filled PowerPoint slides should probably be replaced with images or short videos. Excellent resources for improving PowerPoint presentations can be found here: http://www.michaelhyatt.com/fromwhereisit/2007/11/how-not-to-use-.html and http://lifehacker.com/software/geek-to-live/rock-your-presentation-with-....

Marketing a webinar is also a challenge. You must find a mailing list of potential email addresses and, again, make the webinar sound interesting and useful. Contact us at www.marketstrategy.cc for more help with Webinars.

Email Blasts and Newsletters

Related to the webinar is the Email Blast. An email blast is accomplished by purchasing a list of potential prospects and sending them a “bulk” email. The simplest way to do this combines Microsoft Word, Excel and Outlook to send out a text-only message to the list. These lists can be purchased or even found online. Due to security changes in Outlook, you can only send plain text in this manner.

If you want to send a more formatted email message you will need to use a company that provides this service and has their own mailing software that avoids the problem of text-only messages.

Again, since many of these may be “captured” by Spam filters, it is important to craft the message and the subject line carefully. This type of message should seek a request for more information again by offering a free offer such as a white paper or CD.

In a related vein, an Email Newsletter can be used successfully to keep in regular contact with customers and prospects. While you can do this yourself, companies such as www.constantcontact.com provide easy-to-use templates and tools to create good-looking HTML newsletters with pictures and content of your choosing.

The difference here is that Constant Contact requires the list be “opt in”. Opt In means that individual must subscribe to your newsletter and must also have an easy way of canceling their subscription.

A combination of a text-only email blast advertising your newsletter may result in new prospects and customers.


Almost every business has a potential magazine or journal audience. Whether retail, professional or institutional, there are magazines, journals and websites aimed at your potential customers. Writing for these publications can establish your expertise and reputation among prospects and your existing customer base.

Now before you dismiss this out of hand (I’m not a writer; I don’t have time to write, I don’t know how to get it published) at www.marketstrategy.cc we spend some of our time “ghost writing” articles and submitting them to the proper channels for you. We interview you to get the content, interview – when appropriate – your customers to gain additional information, and then craft an article that puts your business in the most positive light.

There are also services such as www.elance.com where you can find talented writers and designers who can help you craft your message and get it published. If you have enough information you may even want to consider producing an “e-book” in Adobe PDF format for sale or to distribute freely to enhance your reputation as an expert.


This is one I used to shun like the plague. However in certain situations it may be an effective way to gain prospects. Let me define “certain situations” – if you cover a large geographic area with a small sales staff and your company is not well known, companies such as www.callboxinc.com can provide a fairly low cost calling program to potential customers.

The trick here is to carefully craft your message so that it elicits a request for more information from you or your sales staff. Do NOT try to close business but simply gain “attention and interest”.

It is critical that you have numerous conversations with your telemarketing company and that you have multiple training calls with the actual person who will be calling for you. You may irritate some potential customers but you may also gain useful leads for your sales staff to follow up.

www.MarketStrategy.cc can help you if you’d like to discuss whether this is an option for your business or not.

Trade Shows, Seminars and Speaking

Trade shows are what many think about when they think marketing but they can also be a black hole of wasted time, money and effort.

However, a targeted approach to certain tradeshows can yield useful results with planning and forethought. The approach “we’d better be there because our competition is going to be there” will just mean your sales staff sitting around talking to each other.

A targeted approach to a Trade show is to first make sure you can get a complete attendee list PRIOR to the show. A carefully crafted email and phone campaign can make sure prospects are aware you are exhibit as well as providing invitations to special events or showings of your product or service.

Your approach during the show should again seek to elicit a follow up meeting; not just a glad-handing “good to see you” approach. Questions should also be crafted that separate actual leads from “tire kickers”.

Following the trade show every attendee should again be emailed thanking him or her for attending (whether you spoke to them or not) and again offering useful information to them such as a CD, article reprint or white paper.

A seminar is similar to the Webinar discussed earlier. The key here is whether the expense of renting facilities and providing food and beverage is worth the extra effort. To be useful, a seminar should highlight and feature your customers, not you. If you have happy customers and experts presenting about your products and services you will gain credibility.

www.MarketStrategy.cc can help you decide whether or not a seminar is an effective use of your time and dollars.

Website and/or Weblog (Blog)

Everyone has a website (don’t they?) but does it really help you drive business? I won’t go into much detail here other than to say that you might want Market Strategy to give you a quick no-cost, no-obligation review of your site. We have done website re-design to help companies capture more “eyeballs” and cause them to actually do something with you.

A Weblog is basically an online journal; like an article in a magazine, a weblog establishes you as an expert in your field. A service such as www.elance.com can help with ghost writers if you and your staff can’t provide sufficient content to keep a weblog up to date with new information.

Brochures, handouts and other written materials

While still important, your printed materials should reflect an overall communication strategy that encompasses your website as well. Printed materials are typically most effective in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format both for printing and for making available from your website as downloads.

Basically there should be consistency between your web material and your printed material. Again, www.marketstrategy.cc can help with web and print materials review.

Notice that we have specifically stayed away from paid advertising. In some circumstances advertising may make sense but, like trade shows, they can be unfocused and costly “shotgun blasts”. True marketing should more closely resemble a sharpshooter rather than a scattergun.

For a “free sample” of our services go to www.marketstrategy.cc.

Author's Bio: 

Hal Warfield is Vice President of Business Development at www.marketstategy.cc. His experience includes 20 years of sales, marketing and business development. Contact him at hal@marketstrategy.cc.