What’s Small business marketing smart all about, and more on how it all started!
I think my first real introduction to local real-world entrepreneurial efforts is when my Mom decided to help my brother and I start a lawn mowing business to earn a little spending money.
Of course using the word “business” may be an exaggeration, since we were very young, and only had a small handful of lawns to mow. But, it was my first experience with being involved in launching and marketing a venture that turned profitable.
Without any marketing education, Mom drew up a flyer (by hand, with a black marker, that she then duplicated with a copier) that we distributed door-to-door to the same houses in our neighborhood in which we already delivered a weekly classified ad paper. Then, after folks called, Mom took my brother and I too each house where we met the owners, and secured the job.
Of course, I know this story is pretty much like every other ordinary lemonade-stand type story that most entrepreneurs have experienced themselves.
However, in hind-sight, I’m realizing that there were some pretty cool things that Mom did in that venture, without any marketing education, that was actually pretty astounding. Sometimes a mother’s intuition is just what’s needed!
First, the flyers she made that we passed out were very much attention grabbing. Isn’t one of the traits of effective advertising to make it look like a personal message from one person to another, or somehow not “adsy”? You can’t get much more non-adsy than to draw your flyer with a black marker, using stick-figures to illustrate the message.
I don’t remember what the flyer actually said (I sure wish I had one now though). I do remember that it was hand-drawn, with a stick figure pushing a stick figure type lawnmower, and with a few short words and our phone number. Something about two boys and a mower looking for lawns to mow. That was the attention getting ad that got folks to call our phone.
Then, once folks called us Mom made sure we understood that the customer would set the price for what we were paid (what a novel idea! The customer knew right-away that they weren’t going to be taken advantage of by hiring us… establishing instant credibility/trust factor).
She figured we didn’t have any prior experience (other than mowing our own lawn) and she wanted us to have the understanding that although we were in it to make money, we were also in it to serve. Thus, as difficult as it was for some of our customers, we never quoted a price.
Mom insisted they pay us what they felt we deserved for the job. We probably weren’t the highest paid mowers in town, but we were still compensated to our satisfaction. This “allow the customer to set the price” policy was the compelling offer that enabled us to get pretty much as many lawns as Mom wanted us to have.
We distributed the flyer to a few hundred homes, and obtained 5 or 6
customers. I don’t remember how many phone calls we got, or how many
customers we turned down (if any),
but I’d say based on normal marketing standards that effort was a success. It certainly was in the sense that we got as many customers as we wanted.
Of course, there were a lot of elements missing, or ways the campaign
could have been improved. But I’ve never forgotten the lesson from that
summer of hard work, profit, and the power of good advertising.
I think another lesson from that first business experience was the power of focusing on a local (or targeted) group of prospects. And the fact that, sometimes it’s the small, low-cost ways of getting the word out to those prospects that’s just as effective or more effective than the high-dollar methods that are more often touted.
So, I decided to launch this website small business marketing smart, with the goal of discovering, exploring, focusing on, and revealing more of these low-cost but highly effective ideas to spread the word about our local businesses.
Of course, my plan is sort-of self serving, as I want to find this information to increase the success of my local business. But I really do hope that in the process, you will find useful information also, and perhaps can contribute to make small business marketing smart a great resource for all small businesses that need a little extra “edge” to get that fire going in your business success.
To local business success,
Small Business Marketing Smart