If Your SMB Marketing Strategy is Broken, These 9 Questions Will Help Fix It

by | Jun 2, 2023 | Marketing, Marketing Strategy

If you’re a local business with $1 Million to $10 Million in annual revenue, there is a strong likelihood you’ve been increasingly frustrated by the marketing landscape. Here’s how to create, validate and execute a strong SMB Marketing Strategy.

In a recent study, it was found that more than 67% of SMB owners and marketers are disillusioned with modern marketing tactics. To be fair, the same percentage are frustrated by marketing professionals, too…so here’s looking at me, kid.

The reasons are simple: for too long, marketing has been treated like a series of disconnected tactics. Because these tactics are constantly changing and largely (when you consider the big picture) new, business owners have fulfilled these tactics in one of two ways.

One, they partner with a series of specialist vendors who do one thing (like SEO) very well. The idea being that you’ve got a dream team of vendors that, collectively amount to a strong SMB Marketing Strategy.

Or two, they hire somebody they know and trust, who is probably self trained (not a bad thing by the way) to oversee all of it. Very often these soloprenuers are responsible for the strategic, creative and practical execution of each disparate marketing element. The issue here, of course, is that no person is expert in everything. In this model, performance is traded for security. It may (or may not) surprise you to hear that this trend is increasing.

Whether you’re in this camp or the former, the key SMB Marketing Strategy problem is the same. In both cases, marketing channels tend to be treated as isolated tactics that have no relevance to each other. Even worse, each tactic often carries desired performance metrics that are at odds with revenue generation. For example: SEO executed to increase rank. Social Marketing to increase followers. Paid Search executed to decrease the average CPC. Social ads executed to increase the count of email opt-ins. And all of which are executed in a siloed way that supports only itself.

It’s not that all of these things are wrong or bad (some are: looking at you “decreasing the average CPC”) it’s just that they’re incidental. They could be peripheral performance indicators, but they do not indicate performance in themselves. And, as disconnected techniques, if managed only to these metrics they literally have the potential to undermine each partner solution, creating wasted time, budget and potential.

Okay fine, but what is the fix, here? As is often the case when positive changes need to be made, it starts with properly diagnosing the current state. Understanding clearly where you are, in a multifaceted way enables you to rewrite the roadmap. Once you know where you are and where you want to go, a true SMB marketing strategy can be built that utilizes each channel based on what it does well and how it supports every channel in driving revenue.  Admittedly, this means that you must first understand what each channel does well…but perhaps that will be a future blog topic.

To wrap this one up, let’s finalize our thoughts on creating the roadmap for your SMB Marketing Strategy. Below are a list of questions that need to be answered in order to really pinpoint the current state, and will help articulate precisely where you want to go, from a marketing perspective.  If we want to make real change, answering these questions is where it all starts.

1. For each service line, what is your average transaction value and what is the annual / lifetime value of a customer? Are these numbers ideal? If not, what is              ideal?

2. How many monthly transactions do you complete per service line? Is there bandwidth to complete more? If so, what is the ideal number?

3. Do you know what you’re willing to spend to make that happen? If you’re not sure, it’s important to pinpoint that figure. Here’s a metaphor that provides a                way to think about it: Let’s say I wanted to sell you a painting that would be worth $100k once it was restored. You look at the figures and you find that your                hard costs (including the time you’ll have to invest and the restoration itself) will be $35k. That leaves a potential for $65k in profit. Now the question: what are            you willing to pay for the picture itself? In other words, how much will you spend to BUY that potential profit? Most often, when you’re talking about growth                  tactics, the answer is 25% to 50% of target profits. This is not the only way to think about the problem, but it’s an effective one.

4. How do you compete? Low price? High quality? Most well-known? Customer service? Is this the ideal? If not, how would you prefer to compete?

5. Who is better than you at your desired way to compete? Why are they better? What do they have or do, that you do not have or do?

6. Who is the target customer for your desired way to compete? Be specific. Age, gender, lifestyle, geography, interests. Who are they?

7. What does the future of your organization look like under the best-case scenario? This is the old 5-year plan question, but I never cared for extended                        deadlines. It often just slows down progress. Call it 18 months.

8. What will need to change to get you there? Brutal honesty sometimes required, here.

9. And finally, are you ACTUALLY interested in making those changes? This is a real question. In my experience, more than 50% are not. The status quote is                too comfortable…even when the runway is limited. That’s not an indictment, by the way. Sometimes good enough is just fine.


J.W. Martin

About the Author

J.W. Martin is a marketing expert with 25 years experience developing marketing strategy for local businesses. He can be reached at jw.martin@saasql.ai

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