The fourth wave of the Small Business Success Index (SBSI) was just published, so naturally I went right to the marketing section, eager to see how we small business owners are doing in marketing and innovation. The SBSI measures competitiveness, which they define as “the level of success a small business achieves in conducting the organizational activities critical to its short and long term viability.” If the SBSI score on marketing is any indication, we’re done for.
Though it scores 2nd in importance, marketing and innovation got a D grade (down from a C- last winter). That represents a huge drop, and it really sucks. According to the SBSI, small businesses are struggling with marketing and innovation, becausethey’re running out of ideas on how to creatively market their businesses.
I kid you not! Here’s a direct quote from the SBSI:
Businesses are having trouble marketing and positioning themselves in a highly competitive market, but are having even more difficulty in coming up with new ideas to grow their businesses.
I’m sorry, but that is the most pitiful thing I’ve ever read. My business has grown considerably in the last 6 months, so I guess what I’m doing has worked (mostly networking and marketing via this blog). I think to be successful at marketing, you need to continually read marketing-focused blogs, newsletters, and articles and find out what other people are doing. Their creative ideas can definitely provide a jumpstart to get your creative juices flowing. (Yes, there is a lot of info out there, but you don’t have to read it all, just some of it.)
Off the top of my head, here are a few things a small business can do to market their company:
- Network locally and at tradeshows and conferences.
- Hold workshops and seminars through local incubators, chambers of commerce, and networking groups.
- Start a business blog and/or newsletter that are published regularly and are short, funny, chock full of personality, and informative (about both your company and your industry).
- Keep your website updated and make sure it’s search engine optimized.
- Videos and podcasts.
- Hold a contest.
How you have fared with marketing and innovation over the past 6 months? Would you agree it’s gotten more difficult? Are you running out of ideas, too?