Small Business Marketing Matters:
5 Small Business Marketing Rules

- Amanda Cullen

Over the next few articles, we will explore my five small business marketing rules. Here they are:

  1. Be easy to do business with.
  2. Communicate with your customers in ways that are meaningful to them.
  3. Know where you want to go.
  4. Involve your team.
  5. Keep at it.

These rules seem simple enough, right? That's the great thing about them: they are easy and inexpensive to follow, but it's almost certain your competitors won't do it. Taking steps to address each of these rules will differentiate you in the marketplace. All you have to do is make the effort.

Small Business Marketing Test

How does your small business currently stack up?

Before making any changes, you first need to assess how your company and its marketing efforts are performing now. Take this simple test by yourself and with your team to target the areas of your business with the most opportunity for improvement.

Keep this test, so that you can tell how your marketing efforts improve as you implement some of the advice and tips I'll provide in the article series.

1. Be easy to do business with
Do you make your customers go through hoops?

Many small businesses don't realize how their processes affect their customers' experiences. Answer the following questions to identify if you are "easy to do business with." Feel free to create your own questions to suit your particular business.

  • Does our billing cycle consider the customers' schedule? Or is it based solely on our convenience?
  • Are we open when customers want to buy?
  • When a customer calls, does a person answer the phone?
  • Has a customer ever said something like, "I love that you are a small business. It makes things so much easier for me."?

On a scale of 1-10, with ten being the best, how would you rate your company in this category? Type in your number below. There is a running total at the bottom of the article.

Enter a number from 1-10:

2. Communicate with your customers in ways that are meaningful to them.

If you don't communicate with customers in ways that are meaningful to them, your messages will be ignored. Evaluate your communications with the following questions.

  • Do you know how different customers like to be contacted? Which ones prefer email? Which ones prefer phone?
  • How is the response rate on your print/TV/radio advertising? Are you settling for the industry averages, or do you outperform?
  • When you communicate with your customers, does the message resonate with them? Be wary of messages such as, "We have the best technology!"
  • Do customers receive consistent messages from your company?

Based on your answers to these questions, how would you rate your company on a scale of 1-10? Type in your answer below.

Enter a number from 1-10:

3. Know where you want to go - What are your business goals?

If your company finds communicating with customers difficult, perhaps it's because the company doesn't have a future vision. Answer the following questions to determine if you know where you wan to go.

  • What should your revenue be in three years?
  • Are you planning on introducing any new products or services?
  • How much do you want to grow, and what resources will you require to do it?
  • What steps have you taken today to help achieve your company's future success?

On a scale of 1-10, how well do you know your company's intended future? Type your answer in the box below.

Enter a number from 1-10:

4. Involve your team

"No man is an island." If you have employees, they should understand your business and should participate in communicating your marketing message to customers.

  • Can you remember an instance where an employee came to you with an idea, and you let her run with it?
  • Do you share financial information, like revenue projections, with your employees?
  • Do your employees feel that they will succeed if the business succeeds?
  • Do you help your employees focus on the big picture, or are they always caught up in the day-to-day minutiae of their jobs?

Rate how well your employees are engaged in your business. Type in a number from 1-10 in the box below.

Enter a number from 1-10:

5. Keep at it - How are your implementation skills?

We all know the best plans are worthless if they aren't implemented.

  • In the past year, how many initiatives have you started? How many have you finished?
  • Have you ever heard an employee say something like, "Oh, we'll never finish this project. We started something just like it last year, and management got bored before we finished."?
  • Once you make a decision, do you monitor its progess during implementation?
  • Do you ever have follow-up reports on your initiatives to measure their success?

Are you an implementation novice or master? Rate your company from 1-10 in the box below.

Enter a number from 1-10:

Small Business Marketing Test Score

Below is your total score, summed from your rating in each category. If your company scored less than 50, we've got work to do. (If you'd like to save your score, feel free to print this out.)

Your small business marketing test score:

Next month, we will start addressing each small business marketing rule in detail. As you start implementing these tips, tricks and strategies, feel free to take the test again.

Want to talk about your small business' marketing? Feel free to give me a call or email me with your questions—513.833.4203 or


Zoo in a Jungle Marketing is a marketing strategy, planning and design company operated by Amanda Cullen. She has years of marketing strategy, planning and design experience, as seen in her portfolio.
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