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Sunday, July 06, 2008

Better Marketing in a Tougher Economy

By Bill Doerr
Sales and Marketing Editor

Bill's section is brought to you by qAlias

The ‘doom and gloom’ media hype notwithstanding, the consumer’s perception of just how things are – good or otherwise – always affects your business. But planning and implementation of marketing always benefits your business in any kind of economy.

Business Marketing Success, Inc., headed by Joe Costantino, was interviewed for his thoughts on how to do this simply, effectively and affordably by small business owners.


I recently attended the Connecticut Business XPO in Hartford, CT. While there, I met a number of small-to-medium sized business owners. The common chant was, “The economy is softening and I’m struggling”. Can you relate?

Later, on a podcast with Joe Costantino, I brought up what I’d been hearing. I wanted to see what ‘words of wisdom’ Joe might have. Why? Because Joe’s been working with small-to-medium sized businesses for a number of years. Joe’s based in Abington, MA and heads up Business Marketing Success, Inc. – a marketing consulting and coaching firm. What I like about Joe is his ability to bring a perspective to a business that is often unavailable to the owner who’s working inside of it. Working with Joe, his clients get a handle on why they’re not where they want to be and they discover how to get there . . . simply, effectively and very affordably.


On the podcast, I asked Joe for his insights gained from working with a number of clients over the years. Joe obliged. He shared four (4) common causes of markeing malaise as well as some good thoughts on what to do if they’re happening to you.


#1: “You Don’t See Yourself as a Marketer”

“This is often the result of either a lack of training or experience in this critical business

function . . .” Although Joe’s an MBA, making marketing make sense on the ‘micro’ vs.

the ‘macro’ level isn’t something he feels you can learn in school. “But that’s no excuse.

No matter what you ‘are’, you had better also be a ‘marketer’ or you’ll be hurting!”

#2: “You Have No System for Marketing”

“The famous Michael Gerber (The E-Myth) was renowned for arguing the importance of systems – for everything a business needs to operate effectively and profitably. Well, marketing is something every business needs and that requires a system, as well. But most small firms don’t have a marketing system. And their sales suffer because of it.”

I wasn’t arguing. But I wanted to learn why Joe felt this is so common.

“Bill, small business owners are independent by nature. They take advice quickly but implement it slowly. So while most will tell me that a ‘system’ would be nice, most don’t have one or use one. In a robust economy, you can get by without systematizing your marketing. But in an economy like the one we’re settling into now, it could be devastating”. I asked Joe to elaborate. “Look, it’s simple. If you don’t know why something is (or, isn’t!) happening how can you address the underlying cause of that? You can’t! You may know what’s wrong – the symptom that ‘sales are off’, but unless you also know WHY . . . unless you know the cause behind an effect . . . you’re not in control. That’s true of marketing as much as anything. So having a marketing system gives you that level of control that not only improves your revenues and profits but it drives your competitors crazy!”

#3: “Your Message Isn’t Attracting Your Target Market”

“I love business conferences like the one in CT because I get to meet a lot of small business owners in a fairly short time. And you know what I find is painfully obvious? MOST . . . and I’m cutting a big check here but I can cash it . . . most can’t tell me what the heck it is they do for a customer or client or patient! Specifically, they can’t describe the impact they cause in someone’s life that would make them want to invest money to get that valuable benefit. Usually, it’s because they haven’t made the effort or taken the time to understand how their ideal clients perceive them and describe what they do for them to a friend or colleague. That’s an eye-opener! And, until they do, they won’t ‘stand out’ to the market they want to attract and they’ll be even more likely to suffer stagnant sales in a slow economy.”

#4: “You’re Seduced By The Latest and Greatest Marketing Opportunity or Idea”

“When I first meet with a new client, I ask to see what they’re doing now to market their business – assuming, of course, that they are actually doing some marketing already. Often, they tell me, “Joe, we did this for awhile, then we tried this.” And on and on it goes. Bill, it’s scary. It’s also inconsistent. That’s a symptom that they’re working without a coherent, coordinated and consistent approach to marketing. Again, in a good economy, you might get by with such an approach. But not in an economy like today. Rather than jump on some tactic that just pops up – e.g. “Hey Charlie, this guy’s got a deal on a half-page ad if we’ll agree to run it for six (6) issues . . . whaddya say . . . y’wanna do it?” it makes more sense – dollars and cents! – to do your marketing with a strategic gameplan in mind. Just the simple act of creating a marketing plan forces you to think about your options when you can best evaluate – and choose -- them . . . and that’s always better to do before you ‘have’ to make a decision about your marketing options.”

As we were wrapping up, Joe offered some final thoughts . . .

“Take an Obstacle Course and Get Over Yourself”

“You must assume responsibility for your own marketing. Embrace this truth: If it’s going to be . . . it’s going to be . . . up to ME! If you don’t see yourself in this role now . . . change how you see yourself and what you’re really responsible for doing in your business.”

“Get a SYSTEM for Marketing”

“Cash in a business is like blood in your body. If it’s not flowing, you ain’t going to go on for long! Don’t allow such a critical business function as your marketing to be done by chance. Marketing is always done better . . . by design than by accident.”

“Get Clear About What You Do FOR Your Customer”

“If you’re not clear on this . . . do something about it. If you’re too close to your business to see the impact you have to offer a qualified prospect, seek some insights from your best clients. Ask them, “What did you want from a company like mine?” Then ask, “Why did you pick my company?” The first answer reveals WHAT people really want to buy. The second answer reveals WHY you’re a preferred provider of that valuable outcome. Both your ‘mission’ and ‘position’ are key insights you’ll want to communicate with your marketplace to attract interested and qualified prospects to your business in this economy”


“Unless you plan to do things by design, you’ll do them by accident. And, you’ll probably do them sporadically, erratically and far less effectively than you’ll like. So, have a marketing PLAN!! Or, hire a marketing consultant or coach to help you do this.

As I was driving back to my office, I thought . . . “Joe’s right on. Marketing is more important than ever . . . and, done properly, it’s just as simple, effective and affordable to do, too.” Joe makes some good points here. I hope you heed them and put them to good use in your business or practice . . . NOW!

About Business Marketing Success, Inc.
Headed up by Joe Costantino since 2002, this firm helps small-to-medium size businesses grow revenues by defining clear goals, choosing affordable marketing strategies and implementing effective marketing tactics. As a result, their clients grow their businesses by design, not accident

. . . in any kind of economy . . . hot or, not. To learn more go to: or call: (781) 727-0656.

Bill Doerr, CCO of SellMore Marketing, LLC is the creator of The Preferral Prospecting System™,

The Expert Directory™, The Client Machine™ and The Ultimate Client Development System™.

Bill uses these services to help service providers build their business by leveraging relationships and generating more introductions to new business. You can reach Bill by phone at: 860-798-6964, online: or by email: or through the TNNW Blog:

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