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How to Increase Cost-effectiveness

in Small Business Marketing


For an independent business to succeed, it must invest steadily in marketing. The on-going success of many companies in many industries over many years has proven this. Yet, many companies seek high returns on a shoestring budget.


Saving money and getting more sales must somehow go together. Let’s review three common tips, then let’s consider a more fundamental approach to achieving this objective.


option: frequent news releases

Some advise companies of all sizes to issue a news release whenever anything possibly newsworthy happens in the company. Local media could turn each news release into free publicity.


In practice, this is generally not so useful. Local media typically use a tiny minority of the news releases they receive. Thus, there is a high risk of wasting the time taken to write and submit news releases. Also, any company frequently issuing news releases could gain an unwanted reputation with news editors – like the boy who cried wolf.


option: networking in the community

Some say that networking in the community is the best way to get new business. You get to meet people in person and everybody prefers to do business with people they like and trust. While this is true, steadily bringing in new business from networking takes an extraordinary combination of charm and persistence.


Those who seek new customers at business mixers and conferences often find that most people they meet have the same intent: to get new business – not to find a new supplier. Working the room at grand openings, parties, and annual general meetings takes determined assertiveness. The chances of significant payback are often like finding a needle in a haystack.


Success at networking in the community requires an unusual blend of smarts, charisma, and perseverance. Additional time and energy with some acquaintances could eventually lead to sales, though. Any company seeking new business at low cost should understand this.


option: just getting your name out there

Some suggest that simply keeping the company’s name before the market’s eyes is essential to success. This, too, is easier said than proven profitable for a small business.


Many find that applying this truism on a modest budget quickly becomes hard to justify on the basis of traceable return on investment. Even those who regularly post, monitor, and adapt on Facebook, for example, find that awareness-based marketing can involve a high overall cost per sale.


"There must be a way."

Once issuing frequent news releases proves unreliable; once networking in the community proves best for persistent, charming extroverts; once casting a wide net proves hard to justify, a common objective reappears. More good sales at lower cost per sale call for a more targeted, more fundamental approach.


two pillars

To rise to this challenge effectively starts from:

  • certainty about your ideal client profile.
  • a key message that intuitively positions your product or service as the best remedy for the problems that the ideal client needs solved.

focus: the customers you want more of

An ideal client profile covers the essential characteristics that your best customers share. If your clientele falls into multiple categories, then have an ideal client profile for each.


A salon and spa, for example, might have an ideal client for hairstyling and manicure-pedicure work. This would differ from the ideal client for massage and bodywork. There would be notable differences between young men for hairstyling and retired women for reflexology. Each ideal client profile is a distinct bullseye for the company’s targeted marketing.


fcus: how they find you irreplaceable

For each ideal client profile, there is a view of the customer experience – why they consider the company the go-to source for the satisfaction it provides. As this becomes clear, remember this axiom of statistical reliability:

  • The higher the sample size, the lower the margin of error.

Learning why your best customers bypass your competitors, like defining your ideal client profile(s), requires gathering and wisely interpreting market intelligence. This is best done with the care of an unbiased expert.


Make the right promise to the right people in the right way.

With a credible, meaningful, authentic key message – ideally expressed in the words that the best clients use – any business could claim its turf as must-see experts, or the leading product, or the highest overall value.


Getting to know your ideal clients should reveal how to reach more people like them. This should include how to communicate key messages to the target market effectively.


Hit the bullseye in one shot.

If the company’s key message is like an arrow and the ideal client like the bullseye of the target market, then effective, economical marketing is like archery. Be a good archer and succeed, even on a shoestring budget.


– Glenn R Harrington, Articulate Consultants Inc.


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