I grew up in a small town of about 13,000. I was 19 when I started my first real entrepreneurial (and marketing) venture and opened up a car detailing shop. I wasn’t into cars and really had very little experience, but I saw a need and opportunity and went for it. I rented a bay out of a very small service station so I had very low overhead. I soon added oil changes to the list of services, then changing out brake pads and shoes, etc. Four years later I owned one of the more prominent stations in town and we, pretty much, did it all – school bus contracts, tires, batteries, simonizing franchise, food and snacks. Our sign out front said “Wilson’s Texaco – We’re America’s Station” (playing off of the Dallas Cowboys “We’re America’s Team”).
I figured out pretty quick that good marketing involved 4 things that most people don’t even consider when they hear the term “marketing”:
– Great products/services at fair prices
– Great customer service
– Good systems (time and efficiency)
– Great team/staff and mentoring (multiply your efforts)
Little did I know back then that just 5 years later I would be promoting Jim Rohn, Og Mandino, Brian Tracy and others all over the country and eventually founding Jim Rohn International and YourSuccessStore.com. Long way from the detail shop!
Now fast forward to 1998. We had a thriving seminar and products business, but the new hot topic was now the internet. All our marketing efforts up until then were seminars, promoters, direct mail, newspaper and magazine ads and some media-mainly radio.
The internet was intimidating! It was reserved for the tech experts (which I certainly was NOT). Many of these experts positioned themselves as tech marketing guys. There were some early adapters in the seminar and speaker world, speakers whose names you would recognize. They found the tech “marketing” guys and were off to the races.
That’s when I heard a pearl of wisdom from Jay Conrad Levinson that put us at least 5 years ahead of the game. He said, “marketing is marketing is marketing.” Whether it was classified ads from 50 years earlier, media ads from the 60’s, direct mail from the 70’s and 80’s or infomercials from the 90’s – it’s all the same. Marketers know how to market. Save the tech work for the tech guys and sales for the sales guys, but no matter what make sure the marketing guys are doing the marketing.
Side note: If you own your own business, YOU are a marketer!
Well, I decided then we would find a very teachable and flexible internet tech guy and we would build our online plan together versus asking the tech “marketing” guys to go do it for us. In other words, I would be the strategist and they would be the ones to get it up and running. They were the technical experts and we would be the marketing experts. We were so fortunate to catch the early wave of internet marketing. Ten years later we saw many of the same early adaptors in the speaker world who had gone with the tech experts and sadly their internet marketing efforts never really took off. Their sites may have been a web guys dream but they were a marketer’s nightmare.
Now here we are today and social media is where email marketing was 5-8 years ago and the internet 10-15 years ago. So what to do?
Entrepreneurs and small business owners at their core have an advantage over any outside expert because, in part, they have firsthand knowledge and feedback from their customers, they can directly observe what their competition is doing and they have a historical perspective that again an outsider would not have. Now connecting the marketing dots with technology and outside experts is important and often does involve third party help. So, yes, seek out ideas and strategies from those with more knowledge or experience than you – ALWAYS be a student. But my belief is if you own your own business then it’s essential that you man your own marketing ship. First understand the 4 components I listed above (and I’m listing them again because they are so important):
– great products/services at fair prices
– great customer service
– great systems
– great team/staff and mentoring
Then make sure that in all your marketing efforts including the technology side (websites, email marketing, social media, SEO, etc.), that you are the one manning the ship, connecting the dots and making sure you-at the very least-are co-creating your marketing strategies and efforts.
To your Success!