The difference between a small business success story and a failure often times comes down to marketing. Among the many things, a small business owner has to do, marketing is one of the key pieces that is very difficult to outsource. The reason is simple. For what you can afford to pay a marketing firm, you just will not be able to get a marketing plan that will allow you to stand out from the rest.
If you want to stand out from the other companies in your industry there's only one way to do it. On your own. But how do you do that if you have little marketing experience?
The answer is by teaching yourself from people who have implemented successful marketing strategies at larger companies. But why can't you just go out and hire someone to take care of it? Marketing companies work with many other companies and are much more experienced than a small business owner is.
Richard Harshaw - Monopolize Your Marketplace
The answer as to why the key is not in hiring the right marketing company is actually in the first book I am going to recommend. Monopolize Your Marketplace by Richard Harshaw. You see, when the book first came out in 1997 it was so successful that it lead to a real explosion in demand for Harshaw's marketing firmís services. Harshaw's pricing increased to $3,000-8,000 per month. Which small business can afford that?
But much worse than that, Harshaw's principles were so successful that he set up a national franchise network to deal with the demand that build up in response to his book. A total of 800 franchisees signed up and paid $35,000 to become a part of the system. While Harshaw build up a big business quite quickly, customers didn't really benefit. The services offered by the franchisees didn't live up to what Harshaw initially had to offer. Demand for the company's services quickly went away. Eventually, the franchisor ended up in bankruptcy.
The lesson for me from this story was that if a marketing company truly offers services that work, the demand will be so high that it quickly becomes unaffordable for small business owners. The opposite is the case too. If a marketing company has been servicing small businesses for a long time, then its services probably don't work very well.
Either way, if you want to build up a successful marketing strategy and plan for your business you can still buy Harshaw's book on Amazon. I had to go for a used copy, but I found the content to be the best among all the small business marketing books that I have seen.
The reason is that the book is focused on marketing strategies that provide tangible, measurable results. He helps you with identifying the pain points in your industry and then helps you put out marketing communications that stand out and grab the attention of potential clients. The content is still very actionable today despite that a lot has changed in the small business marketing space particularly online.
The book's content while not specifically addressing company websites can be used to build a website that is truly different from what your competitors are doing. Beyond the book if you want to see how the book's content can be adapted online look no further than Harshaw's current company, Monopolize Your Marketplace. If you google "Developed and Designed by Monopolize Your Marketplace." you will find a whole series of websites that were designed by Harshaw's team and you can learn on your own how Harshaw has adapted to the online world.
John Caples - Tested Advertising Methods
The next book I am recommending is a true classic. Amazon currently sells the fifth edition and the first edition was first published in 1961. I know many people will dismiss this book because it is old. However, it is entirely focused on strategies, in other words, what to say, not where to say it. Therefore, it is quite current today. In fact, one of the first ads laid out in the book is quite popular online and featured on many clickbait sites.
The reason to read this book is to learn some time-tested advertising strategies, including to perpetually test all of the variables of your ads. Furthermore, the book teaches that what you say is more important than how you say it. This, of course, is my initial point that the content of this book, despite that it was published a long time ago, is still quite relevant online.
The next thing Caples teaches is that the headline is the most important element in most advertisements. Again, this still proves to be true online.
Overall, if you spend the time to read through this masterpiece, you will get a better understanding of coming up with a marketing strategy for your business. You can then decide where you want to implement that strategy.
Drayton Bird - Sales Letters That Sell
The last book comes from a British author. In it he lays out many of his past advertising campaigns that were written for companies such as American Express. The reason to read this is that he shares many of his successful sales letters.
This is therefore a very practical book with many examples that you can use to adapt to your business. Once you have done that a few times you will eventually be able to come up with truly original sales letters. Doing this, I think is the key to figuring out how to market your business and drive customers to your business so that you will be successful.
Overall, the three books that I highlighted in this article are the same books that provide the basis for all the marketing methods I have implemented in the pest control business that I run in Bergen County, New Jersey. If you run a business that is somewhat similar to pest control then I think you too will agree that these three books are a great start to developing your marketing plan. If your business is primarily online then I would still recommend these books but you probably would like to find some other materials to help with how to implement these strategies online.
There are a few things online that I found a little different from the strategies taught here. SEO, for once, is a bit different since SEO is somewhat of a scheme to tricking an algorithm into believing you are more popular than you really are. Unlike offline campaigns where your sales communications have to convince a potential client to buy your product or service with SEO that is not always the case.