I was on the phone the other day with a client, one we have been working with for several months now. She said “you know, I thought when we first started talking that we would be ‘too small’ for a company like yours and that you wouldn’t deem us worthy of your time.”
She is very well-spoken and that is exactly what she said.
It did get me thinking, because this is not the first time I’ve heard this from our clients, and across the marketing services industry. Small, or even medium-sized, businesses sometimes – or often times – feel that they can’t get the help they need because they’re too small. This is especially a feeling when it comes to marketing. Likely, small business owners have been and are focused on their product or service, and making it the best product or service they can. They don’t have the time to think about marketing that product or service, and thinking about what assets they possess which would help sell that product or service.
If you’re a small business owner, the last thing you can afford to do is hire a huge Sales staff or a huge Marketing staff. Often, you are not only the subject matter expert for your product or service, but you’re the VP of Sales, VP of Marketing, VP of Technology and everything else. Which, let’s face it, is way too much to ask of anyone.
Most business owners know this, and therefore look for help. They can (and should) hire interns and people that will work in order to gain experience and enter the workforce. But ultimately, to move the business to the next level, they will need help. So they raise their hand and say “I’m ready for help” only to have the door shut on their faces because they’re always told “you’re not big enough or worth our time” (from marketing services companies and other marketing experts).
I had thought this was a dynamic occurring as the exception and not the rule, but now I’m starting to think it is the rule and not the exception. I mean, think about Google’s entire business model (which includes why it has been so successful, yet underscores my point): they have totally nailed the “self-service” angle of online marketing. Small and medium-sized businesses can utilize Google without the need for taxing Google’s resources. Trust me, if you plunk down $1 million per month in online marketing through Google, you would not be using self-serve. What they’re essentially saying is “if you’re not big enough to command our resources in terms of a team of people who are thinking about your business and helping it every day, we have a solution for you.”
This is great in my opinion. But, it underscores what every business owner is up against. This self-service product covers paid search advertising. Check. It doesn’t cover SEO, PR, email, direct mail, online display, social media or much else. You see where this is going: a business strikes out using the self-service ad platform in Google, throws up his or her hands and says “now what?”
Well, my advice to small businesses – and we work with a few so I know this to be true – is to not hesitate to ask for help or to raise your hand. Yes, some might say “you’re too small to be worth my time”. But there are others who say “you know what, we’ll help you out because we believe in your business and can help you go from a small business to a medium-sized business.” There are providers out there – not only in marketing services but in everything – who cater to the small business and provide valuable services.
The key is to find them and get to know them. But they are out there. I would start with talking to people in business that you know and trust. Ask for referrals. Work your network of associates. I would NOT Google “help for my small business” or anything like that. I would ask those you trust, who know you, know your business, and like your business, for help and to recommend someone who can help you.
In essence, I’m saying “have no fear” for small businesses. Most service providers are not huge, publicly-traded companies; most are small or medium-sized businesses just like you and will help out and work with a reasonable budget.