Almost everyone in marketing dreams of a never-ending flow of qualified leads streaming into their business.
This has been a lifelong quest for me. It has been a strange and exhilarating journey.
Along the way, I have built four businesses and learned many valuable lessons; many of them the hard way, bumping my head as I went.
Many of the discoveries were driven by my naiveté and unwillingness to accept the status quo. One of my most profound discoveries has been the difference between entrepreneurial marketing and traditional marketing. The two approaches are so different that you have to forget what you know about traditional marketing to be effective in entrepreneurial marketing.
I have read hundreds of marketing books and, attended more marketing courses than I care to remember. I’ve had almost as many failures as the hot breakfasts I’ve enjoyed. But each failure has taught me some small lesson which I have added to my experiential tool box. I have also had many successes, among them helping several businesses double in size in a matter of months.
My marketing journey began over 36 years ago, when I studied marketing at the Salisbury Polytechnic in what is now Harare in Zimbabwe., I had heard that marketing was truly the business of business and if you wanted to be successful in business marketing was a great place to start.
I naively thought that what I learned in school would set me up for a life of success. Imagine my disappointment when I learned in the workplace that although I had a good academic grounding, much of what I’d learned was of limited practical use. This was especially true in small businesses with limited marketing budgets.
With the impatience of youth, I quickly became disillusioned with starting at the bottom, I gradually moved away from marketing into sales, where if you were good there was virtually no limit to what you could earn and achieve. Everything I learned had some practical application. I readily found ways to apply what I was learning.
Some years later I went through a similar transition when I started my own business..
I quickly figured that although cold calling could be effective in reaching a prospect, it was an inefficient process for building a business. It couldn’t produce what I needed: a steady stream of new clients that would call me, eager to buy my services. Some people told me there was no alternative; you had to just get on the phone and make those calls. To some extent that’s true. I still believe that the most powerful marketing weapon we have, is one-to-one selling. However, the key issue in almost every business is how to get the phone ringing so you can do some one-to-one selling.
I began to look for marketing that was inexpensive to implement and would not involve having to work too hard. Over the years this has developed into a philosophy of marketing, that I call now entrepreneurial marketing.
There are about 20 areas in which entrepreneurial marketing differs from traditional marketing. Traditional marketers may disagree with some of my views, in fact I expect some of my comments will make them uncomfortable.
Time, Imagination and Energy Versus Money
Traditional marketing requires a significant investment of money, whereas entrepreneurial marketing however, requires the investment of time, imagination, energy and knowledge.
Entrepreneurial marketing is a better approach for businesses with limited funds; well executed, it can inexpensively produce significant results.
Entrepreneurial marketers are patient. Because money was scarce, I have used what I now call entrepreneurial marketing to build several businesses.
In the beginning sales are slow until you’re the marketing efforts build momentum, however once up to speed, no-cost marketing activities such as referrals, joint ventures and public speaking, can keep new business flowing with very little effort and almost no cost.
Smaller Size of Firm
Traditional marketing is geared to big business with deep pockets and plenty of wiggle room.
Entrepreneurial marketing is more geared to small to mid sized business because it requires less investment and poses less risk. This does not mean that large businesses should not or cannot do entrepreneurial marketing. Quite the contrary. I believe that all businesses could save large sums of money by adopting some of the principles in entrepreneurial marketing.
Profit is the Key Measure of Success
Entrepreneurial marketers measure their success with profits. Every program has to pay for itself or you stop doing it.
Traditional marketing is more frequently measured by sales, response rates and leads. Large businesses are obviously interested in profits but generally do not ascribe them to a specific marketing program. I believe that marketing needs to be accountable and that each program needs to be measured just as you would a sales person. If it profitable you keep doing it, if it is not you modify it until it is or you stop and do something that is profitable.
Importance of Frequent Communication
Traditional marketing is largely based on years of experience. Thus it takes years for anyone to become a successful marketer in this field. Big dollars and splashy campaigns often cover marketing errors that would severely hurt a small business who is unable to saturate the market.
Entrepreneurial marketing is based on an understanding of human behavior. Entrepreneurial marketers know that purchase decisions are made in the unconscious mind and that you can best work on the unconscious mind by repetition. For this reason they communicate frequently with customers via any medium that makes sense. They draw them in slowly, building trust and rapport as they go, teaching prospects how to buy and providing value every step of the way.
Focus on the Core
Entrepreneurial marketers quickly learn that to grow they must maintain focus. They also learn that a growing ego can quickly result in a loss of focus. Entrepreneurs are notorious for going in multiple directions only to discover the negative consequences when business begins to decline.
Traditional marketers grow and then diversify.
Traditional marketing focuses on linear growth through acquiring one customer at a time.
Entrepreneurial marketers find ways to grow geometrically. They look for alliances that will create a constant stream of new business through referrals and endorsements. They also look for ways to increase the size of their sales by up-selling and cross-selling at every opportunity. They increase the size of their business by offering back-end products and services to satisfied customers.
Make the Easy Sale First
Entrepreneurial are focused on meeting one-on-one with prospects. To do this, they must find superior access vehicles that open doors for them. Usually this can be achieved by offering some kind of useful information that buyers need. It can be done in special reports, executive briefings or simply provided over the phone. The primary goal is to educate the buyer about becoming a better buyer.
Traditional marketers on the other hand build the brand, the brand stands for something that the purchaser can trust and thus they rely less on making the easy sale first, using their powerful brand as a way to gain access to customers.
Entrepreneurial marketers are fervent in their follow-up, knowing that 68% of all business lost is as a result of apathy after the sale. They continuously follow up never letting a prospect have time to forget about them.
While traditional marketers talk about staying in touch with customers, they focus more on new business and invest money in seeking new clients more than they focus on retaining existing clients and nurturing prospects.
Other People’s Assets.
Entrepreneurial marketers use other people’s assets to reach their customers. They form alliances with businesses that have the same prospects as they do. In this way, they can take advantage of the huge investments already made in developing clients and infrastructure.
Traditional marketers generally simply use their financial resources to try to obliterate the competition.
Range of Marketing Tools
Traditional marketers use only a handful of marketing tools; mostly these are the traditional media.
Entrepreneurial marketers have more than 50 tools and most cost nothing to implement.
Some of which include: testimonials, joint ventures, strategic nurturing of prospects, referrals, back end selling, cross-selling, up-selling, down-selling, customer educations, public speaking, writing articles, pre-programming purchases, endorsements, personal communication and developing irresistible offers.
Combinations of Tools
Entrepreneurial marketers know that combinations of tools work better than individual tools on their own. Each tool supports the other until its impact is felt. So they combine direct mail, with advertising, public speaking, telemarketing and a host of other tactics, never relying on one to support their growth plans.
Traditional marketers believe that if the reach is large enough, individual tools such as advertising, direct mail and Public Relations work on their own.
Focus on Individuals
Traditional marketers develop messages aimed at groups they call markets.
Entrepreneurial marketers develop messages aimed at individual prospects and customers.
Dialogue with Clients and Prospects
Entrepreneurial marketing is about dialogue with customers. Entrepreneurial marketers know that by talking to and listening to customers they will get their best ideas for improvements and for new products.
Traditional marketing is a monologue directed at customers.
Entrepreneurial marketing is ‘you” marketing. It talks to prospects about the problems they are facing, the issues that keep them awake at night and answer their unspoken questions.
Traditional marketing is “me” marketing. It is all about how great the business’ products and services are, how effective its people are and how it has the biggest, best and most expensive equipment.
Entrepreneurial marketers are givers. They know by giving free services, information, samples and by educating their prospects, customers will learn to trust them and many will buy from them. They reverse the risk so customers don’t have to run the risk when they buy from them.
Traditional marketing is more often about taking, they expect customers to pay for everything, and they frequently expect customers to shoulder the risk.
Entrepreneurial marketers quickly become very comfortable with technology as part of their marketing team creating efficiency and capability at the same time.
Traditional marketers adopt technology more slowly.
Permission Based Communications
Traditional marketing is interruptive. It interrupts the customer with a daily barrage of messages, each focused on making the sale.
Entrepreneurial marketers gain prospects consent to send them useful information. They use opt-in mechanisms to broaden consent, before they try to get face to face with customers and prospects.
Targeted to Small Set of Qualified Prospects
Traditional marketing is generally unintentional. It is mainly broadcast over mass media, reaching as many people who are totally disinterested and it reaches those who are interested.
Entrepreneurial marketing is intentional being highly targeted to a small set of ideal buyers. Everything has a strategic objective, from the attire of the sales people to the way the phones are answered to the way sales people sell and all the content in every piece of public information.
At the end of the year, traditional marketers count up dollars.
Entrepreneurial marketers count up relationships first, and dollars second.
Easy to do Business With
Entrepreneurial marketers know that they can never make it: too easy too much fun and too attractive to do business with them.
Traditional marketers tend to do business the way most of their competitors do business, and as a result tend to be largely undifferentiated.
Traditional marketers do a large amount of image advertising.
Entrepreneurial marketers never do image advertising because they know it is almost impossible to measure. Effective direct response marketing will generate sales with the image coming along for a free ride.
Entrepreneurial marketing is consistent with quantum thinking whereas traditional marketing is consistent with mechanistic thinking.
Jane Vella explains the difference in
LEARNING to Listen LEARNING To Teach; The Power of Dialogue in Educating Adults “We have been brought up to accept hierarchy, certainty, cause and effect relationships, either-or thinking and a universe that works as a machine–in short mechanistic thinking. It is a shock for most of us to consider a universe composed of energy that is patterned on and spontaneous, the certainty of uncertainty “both/and” thinking and the connectedness of everything. This is quantum thinking.”
Are you an entrepreneurial marketer or a traditional marketer?
Where are you on the continuum between entrepreneurial and traditional?
If you are positioned towards the traditional end of the continuum, recognize that you will need a big marketing budget to succeed. Entrepreneurial marketers will continue to chip away at your customer base.
If you are more on the entrepreneurial side, recognize that you need a constant flow of creative new ideas and lots of energy to make up for your lack of funds. But remember entrepreneurial marketers are above all patient.
If you are feeling stress in your marketing, it is a sign that you are doing something wrong, so step back take time to think and recognize what you need to change.