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The Golden Rule of Small Business Marketing

The Golden Rule of Small Business ... the ... vs ... RiddleAs a current small business owner and ... ... manager, I have seen ... from both sides of the fen

The Golden Rule of Small Business Marketing

Solving the Marketing vs Operations Riddle

As a current small business owner and corporate marketing manager, I have seen marketing from both sides of the fence. The big corporations tend to rely on their buying power and large advertising budgets to convince their potential customers to buy their products, while small business owners tend to be more crafty with their modest marketing budgets, looking for unique opportunities here and there that will enhance their sales efforts. There is one rule, however, that is applicable to both the big guys and the little guys. I call it the Golden Rule of Marketing, and here it is:

Marketing will never solve an operations problem.

As much as marketers hate to admit it, the bottom line on marketing is that it tends to cause more harm than good when a company’s operations are not running smoothly. So if sales are down and you’re considering ramping up on your marketing dollars to “solve” the problem, you should first ensure that the problem is not with your operations.

Evaluate your Operations

How do you sell your product or service? How good of a salesperson are you (honestly)? How about your service delivery…is it smooth and swift or slow and cumbersome for customers? All of these questions pertain to the operations of your small business, and none of them can be rectified by running a razzle-dazzle marketing campaign. In fact, a successful marketing campaign that encourages people to purchase your product or service, only to find that the product or service is faulty or the service delivery is poor, will hurt your business in the long run through negative word of mouth.

Consider an Example

Imagine that you run a hardware store. You need to have the right store hours and the right personnel in each department in order to ensure that your operation runs smoothly. If you have a great lumber salesperson working in your plumbing department (and he knows nothing about plumbing), that’s an operations mistake. You can pour over the numbers each month and work hard to come up with new marketing schemes to boost your sagging plumbing sales, but nothing that you try will work as long as you continue to employ the wrong salespeople in the wrong departments. In fact, a great marketing program that draws people in to your store only to experience poor service when shopping for plumbing supplies might convince them not to return to your store, thus damaging your business. It’s a broad example, but you can see how easily it would apply to other businesses, including yours.

Think About your Business

Does the above example sound like something that might be happening in your small business? Maybe you’ve got the wrong people in the wrong places, or maybe you are trying to do everything yourself and haven’t accepted the fact you can’t be a copywriter/salesperson/accountant/operations manager effectively.

Remember, marketing will never solve an operations problem. It is critical that all small business owners remind themselves of this rule every time they consider a new marketing plan aimed at boosting sales or countering a downturn in business. Before you spend your money, ask yourself “What’s the problem with my business” before you try to solve it through increased spending. If you can identify that the problem lies with your operations, it can usually be repaired for far less than a new marketing blitz will cost you.

You can’t throw money at an operations problem and hope that it goes away. An operations problem is like a bad cut and marketing is salt in the wound. Your business will be better served if you heal it firstFeature Articles, then drive the customers to your door.

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Will Dylan is the Author of “Small Business Big Marketing” a powerful e-book for small businesses available through his website . Will also offers article and news release writing services. You can contact Will at

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