Most small business marketing is backwards

"when things aren't adding up in your life, start subtracting." Small business marketing tips at

Have you ever wondered why marketing doesn’t make sense?

There are things in life we never question because “it’s just the way it is”. Much of what the masses have come to accept is backwards.

I now have cable for the first time (too many Mennonites between me and any village population at my former farm to make access fiscal cable company sense). At first, I couldn’t figure out why I was challenged getting the guide to scroll the right way. Then it dawned on me – the plus sign brings you to lower numbers; the minus sign to higher ones. That’s backwards.

Why does the icon on online videos say play when it’s actually paused? That’s backwards.

How am I supposed to contact online support (the suggested help menu action) to fix the fact I can’t get an internet connection? That’s not only backwards, it’s infuriating.

I’m left-handed. Any mass-marketed tool I pick up with my dominant hand doesn’t work right. I’ve adjusted with ambidextrous (although far less comfortable) solutions. So maybe I’m backwards by nature.

Firefox (my preferred browser for a long time) switched to Yahoo search. Curious decision for an entity purported to be focused on forward thinking (yep – seems they’re going backwards). I’m switching to Chrome.

Still, during more than 25 years of creating small business marketing support strategies, I think the most wrong-mindedness (or backwards thinking) comes from precepts still focused on corporate ideals.

5 reasons industry precepts won’t work for your small business marketing

"when things aren't adding up in your life, start subtracting." Small business marketing tips at http://NanetteLevin.comThe feature vs. benefit mantra: This assumes you have a big budget. Relationship building is the best way to foster small business growth – particularly if you can identify and impress centers-of-influence. Your best clients don’t care about features or benefits – they want to know what makes YOU special.

Conversion rate of 1-3% are good: Are you kidding me? Small business owners don’t have the time or money or audience to mess with such abysmal returns. Look to convert at least 20% of your prospects or rework your strategy. Think niche. That’s a bit backwards for conglomerate thinking, but an effective approach for small business owners willing to put feet on the ground.

Be First: most Fortune 500 Companies can’t hold this ground. Why would you consider such a daunting task as a small business owner with limited financial resources? Instead, find something another has done well and improve on what they offer in ways only you can do.

Position against the completion: NO – these people (at least on the small business owner front) are your best allies. Spend some time discovering who is better than you and collaborate with them to wow clients. They’ll appreciate the business you send (and might even refer some back that better aligns with your special talents) and make clients remember you for the find.

Work a room: This idea of passing out as many business cards as possible during minute-or-less conversations is ludicrous for any small business owner seeking to maximize limited time. Instead, think Pareto’s Principle (the 80/20 rule) to determine who in the room is key. Take time to leave a positive impression on the movers and let the rest scurry with a get mentality driven by ineffective sales pitches.

There are so many more reasons most of what you hear is backwards when it comes to small business marketing (perhaps I’ll expand in another post), but that’s enough to get you started.

How about you? Do you find things everyone accepts as normal in life backwards? Have you bucked purported marketing wisdom to find greater success with a contrary approach? Are new ideas starting to swell in your head? Please share in the comments below and look left to your social media favorites to spread the word if you liked this post. Thanks!

4 responses to “Most small business marketing is backwards”

  1. What a wonderful and helpful post Nanette – you really have me thinking about this now. Smart small vs big business practices often seem miles apart to me, and I think it’s wise to understand why. But I’ve never quite looked at it this way before. And I’m definitely going to be paying more careful attention to what seems backwards in my life so I can make needed tweaks.

    • Thanks for your kind words and personal walk-away note, Deborah. Right – small businesses are very different animals from their corporate counterparts.