Now, more than ever, success as a small business owner means being a Jack-of-All-Trades, and a master of each one as well. An increasing number of U.S. businesses operate with no employees – 47 percent more in 2014 than in 1997, according to Harper’s Index, meaning business owners are doing it all themselves. And, while owners earn, on average, approximately 27 percent more than the rest of the population, your own margin can increase by doing things in house rather than hiring out. Take marketing, for example. The Small Business Administration recommends spending seven to eight percent of your monthly budget promoting your business – more if you’re a service firm. Even if your annual revenue is only $1 million, that translates into a hefty chunk of change each month. But what if
you could do it on your own? And what if you only needed a week to figure it out?
Mark Satterfield, author of “The One Week Marketing Plan,” claims he can show you how – and you only need $50 to $100 to do it. “The bottom line,” he writes, “is that if you do what I tell you to do, you will never again have to worry about where your next client is coming from.” Just follow the steps (don’t move to Step 4 before you’re done with Step 1) and you will be the master of your own marketing. For procrastinators, he includes an appendix: The Reluctant Marketer’s Toolkit, with exercises to get you motivated.
If it sounds too good to be true, it actually isn’t. Good marketing is really no mystery. A well-laid plan can produce excellent results. What may be holding you back is how to conceptualize your plan when you’ve never done marketing before.
Day One is devoted to finding your niche. Even if your current client base is broadly diverse, when it comes to advertising, a narrower focus works best. Becoming “the predominant expert” in a particular area may help you identify trends and clients you haven’t discovered. Before you start wondering whether concentrating on a single niche will chase other clients away, the point is to do one marketing promotion at a time. Over the life of your business you are likely to have “multiple marketing campaigns, each directed at a particular niche audience.” But, a targeted, niche message will beat out the general message, intended for a broad audience, any day.
Day Two is about creating a free offer as the center of your campaign. By Day Three you’re ready to design your free offer website. On Day Four you develop “drip-marketing” messages: a series of emails that puts you “on the path to building a strong relationship,” with potential clients. On Day Five (whew!) you should be busy generating traffic to your website.
If such a rapid pace overwhelms you, Satterfield suggests spreading it out over a longer period of time, with no harm done to your overall goals. The key, however, is to use his guide as a workbook that helps you generate ideas, take advantage of step-by-step guidance, and craft messages using handy templates. The downside is that the free offer he describes isn’t a cool pen set or nifty t-shirt of the sort that a potential client (like yours) truly might appreciate, but rather “information” that you deem useful to your customer. Satterfield’s recommendation is that you develop a newsletter or report as the bait. Members of your target market can obtain it (for free) by clicking a link on your website. Requesting the report then generates “drip-marketing” emails with the hope that by Message Seven you’ve reeled in a live customer. Does it really work?
As with any marketing campaign, it won’t succeed with everyone. Savvy Internet users understand that clicking advertising links only leads to endless junk emails that continue long after interest in the product has waned. But targeted properly, information to potential customers can have value. If it generates interest in your products, you’ve come out ahead. Even if you forgo the “free offer” route, Satterfield still teaches a good deal about marketing. I’m holding out for the t-shirt.
By Constance DeVereaux