Categorized | Business


Hazardous to Your Wealth

By Tom Irmen

A pastor of a well-known mega-church that I attended regularly while living in a suburb of Chicago often lamented on why a drowning man would push a life preserver away. He used this analogy often to describe his dismay at individuals, while in the midst of a personal challenge, would elect to ignore an assured solution to their problem.

I ask myself that same question, and more often than I care to admit, when I observe small business owners struggling for survival, when the solution is at their very fingertips. In my nearly three decades as a small business owner, I have witnessed the failure of hundreds of self-employeds, many of whom appeared to have bright and promising futures.

How could this happen you might ask? Well, while most business owners possess great skills in their chosen career fields, few, if any, have the requisite skills necessary in marketing to ensure their own success, and, with rare exception, marketing trumps career skills every time.

I also believe business owners, most of whom have only a small degree of marketing expertise, have an inherent fear of marketing, ignoring it at their own peril, hoping that their career skills will overcome their marketing inexperience. Most become victims of the 95% failure rate of small businesses that occurs within the first five to 10 years.

For a small business owner willing to commit and risk both time and fortune to achieve success, it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to ignore a few basic marketing skills that can greatly enhance your chances to succeed.

First, differentiate yourself. Define why a potential customer would select you over your competitor. Marketing, after all, is mere communication. If you can’t articulate to a customer just why he or she should choose you rather than your competitor, then it’s time to fold up your tent.

Second, define your target market.

Third, determine which advertising platform(s) will most effectively communicate those unique characteristics which will successfully differentiate your business from your competitors to your target audience.

Lastly, commit to a sustained program of advertising that both informs and motivates potential customers to more closely examine your company’s products and services. Avoid the “idea of the week or month club” where you jump from multiple advertising platforms with messages that may only serve to confuse the market you are targeting.

While not the most comprehensive approach to marketing, these few steps, carefully implemented, would likely have saved many of the hundreds of businesses that I have had the misfortune to see fail throughout the years. The choice is yours.

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