Adapted from “No Time Marketing: small business-sized steps in 30 minutes or less” By Alyssa Dver, 

1. Marketing is as much an art as it is a science. Plan, test, execute, and measure, but never be surprised by uncertainty and change.  In our eagerness to measure and declare return on investment for all marketing spends, we often forget that humans are unpredictable.  As such, we can’t always predict a market reaction or group think.    Testing helps minimize the chances of this but historically it is like the weather.  We can predict some things but often not with precise timing or impact.  While we must embark on programs we feel have a high likelihood to generate results, don’t be stuck doing what everyone else does.  Can you be the Apple of your industry?

2. You usually need to bang on the same prospect door four or more times before someone answers. Make sure that you have the right address.Be sure you have a target list and target profile that you are confident represents qualified leads BEFORE you spend money on any program.  Just because you gave out 1000 pens at the tradeshow doesn’t mean you have any real leads.  Know who and why people will buy your products or service and not someone else’s. 

3. You are not your customer. Never assume you know them that well.  Just because you buy products or even buy your own product, never assume that you are a typical customer.  Don’t even assume there is such a thing as a “typical customer”.  There may be types of customers at best.  Learn your customer demographics and psychographics.  Once you “get” them, marketing “gets” much easier.

4. Restricted resources represent an opportunity to embrace creativity and revisit comfort.Economic downturns force us to look within and find ways to improve productivity and reduce waste.  It’s hard to readjust the way we work but it’s a great time update business processes and marketing assumptions.  Use the opportunity to revitalize your perspective and take the lead away from dormant competitors.

5. Don’t confuse prospect enthusiasm for purchase authority.”I love your product” doesn’t mean “I will buy your product” in any language.  People will say nice things out of courtesy, lack of confidence, politics and for many other reasons that don’t require them to take out their wallet.  Asking prospects directly who and how purchase decisions are made could save you enormous efforts.  If you just want perpetual positive feedback, get a dog.

6. Motivate don’t manipulate.Find reasons why people want to work at your company or buy your products such that it improves THEIR lives, not their company’s.    People don’t do things usually unless they get something of clear personal value in return.  Figure out what that is and then use that as your currency.  How will your product or service make them look better at work or home?  Will it increase their revenues or reduce their expense?  Nothing else matters.  Just ask Maslow.

7. Quality precedes quantity.More leads and more sales may sound great but only if you can support and follow up with them.  Damage to your reputation and costly repairs will be the result when customers or prospects are left hanging.  When identifying leads, save your sales team the pain of sifting through hoards of simply breathing prospects and provide them a list of really qualified leads.  This saves everyone – your sales people, the prospects and your marketing team – a ton of time, money and aggravation.

8. The best teachers are students.Your best weapons are your ears. By listening more so you can understand other people’s needs and desires.  A defensive posture is never welcoming and it is incredibly attractive to your prospects when you are genuinely interested in what they have to say.  Build your own bandwagon by inviting other opinions and input to gain buy-in and team membership.  Exercise your intellect and creativity by asking questions, trying new technologies and reading a broad variety of information.  An open mind closes more deals.

9. Confidence sells. BS smells.Say to yourself: “What would Barack do?”

10. Spend only if you would be willing to pick up the tab.It’s easy to spend company money so next time you approve a marketing expense, think about it coming out of your own potential bonus or salary increase.  While you do need to spend money to do marketing, make sure you are being responsible with assets that really are yours even though you don’t balance that specific check book.  Be responsible with your marketing spend as well as your impact on the earth and society.  We all can make a difference.

Author:  Formerly a CMO for a public company, Alyssa Dver is chief executive for Mint Green Marketing which consults for companies ranging from large multinationals to small startups. In 2007, BusinessWeek recognized Dver as one of 8 female entrepreneurs to watch.  She authored the well-endorsed books, “No Time Marketing” and previously, “Software Product Management Essentials”. A featured columnist for Software Magazine, she has also been published in Forbes, BusinessWeek, Entrepreneur, Promo Magazine, and dozens of others. Ms. Dver regularly presents at venues including The World Diversity Leadership Summit at the UN, The Women’s Congress, The American Marketing and American Banking Associations, and Strategic Management Institute.