Marketing and Salesmanship: What every small business owner should know

Dear Small Business Builder,

Welcome to the Bright Owl Marketing Blog!

I write this first post with some excitement tempered with a dash of trepidation.

The excitement is due to the fun of starting with a blank slate and creating a new small business marketing agency, in conjunction with a new business partner (Craig Pethebridge).

The trepidation, of course, stems from thinking about the difficulties we will invariably face.

But you can’t have very much fun and excitement without overcoming a few challenges here and there, so let’s get to work!

A quick marketing quiz

Let me ask you a few questions about your current marketing activities:

  • Do you track how many enquiries, leads or sales are generated by each marketing campaign you run?
  • Do you test different campaign elements and track the results to see what works best?
  • Do you know what your return on investment (ROI) is for each campaign?
  • Do you know how much it costs to acquire each new customer?
  • Do you know what the life time value (LTV) is of each customer?
  • Do you know how much you can afford to spend to acquire each new customer?

If you answered “no” to some, or even all, of the above questions, don’t panic – you’re definitely not alone!

The vast majority of small businesses would be unable to answer “yes” to most of these questions and obviously not all of them are going down the gurgler. Mercifully, failing this quiz doesn’t automatically mean that your business will fail. 😉

What it does mean, however, is that you have some serious thinking to do if you want to stack the odds in favour of your success.

And, oddly enough, that’s where we come in…

We can help you answer “yes” to more of these critical marketing questions!

Why we are doing this…

We started this agency to offer you, the small business owner, cost-effective marketing services that directly generate business growth.

In other words, marketing that consistently pulls in more leads, sales and profits, with a higher ROI, in less time.

Small business owners like yourself simply don’t have the time or money to waste on advertising that does not work – i.e. that doesn’t generate enquiries, leads or sales.

And I’m sure you know the sort of advertising I’m talking about…

To make it sound more palatable, larger agencies will call this “brand-building” or “educational advertising”. And, to be fair, it does have its place in the campaigns of larger enterprises.

But the problem is it doesn’t actually build anything when used by a small business, on a small scale (with the possible exception of the ad agency’s bank account!).

The truth is, all marketing activities should focus on achieving specific, measurable results. Nothing less should be tolerated.

Advertising is “salesmanship in print”

Claude C. Hopkins, a legendary figure in early advertising history, wrote the following in his classic book, “Scientific Advertising”:

Advertising is salesmanship…

…The only purpose of advertising is to make sales. It is profitable or unprofitable according to its actual sales.

It is not for general effect. It is not to keep your name before the people. It is not primarily to aid your other salesmen.

Treat it as a salesman. Force it to justify itself. Compare it with other salesmen. Figure its cost and result. Accept no excuse which good salesmen do not make. Then you will not go far wrong.

In fact, this definition of advertising was first given in 1904, prior to Hopkins’ rise to fame. John E. Kennedy, another of the great copywriters of the early advertising era, was even a little more specific.

Kennedy said that “Advertising is salesmanship in print”.

This is a simple yet extremely powerful concept. It revolutionised the advertising industry at the time and it is just as relevant today as it was then.

Of course, these days you can substitute any number of modern media channels for “print”, but the underlying truth is still the same.

Therefore our core promise to you, the small business builder, is…

To deliver salesmanship in print, email, on the web, or wherever else your customers may be lurking!

Well, I’d say that’s enough pearls of wisdom from the “Ancient Greeks” of the advertising world for now.

I look forward to throwing more bright ideas your way on the Bright Owl blog in future.

Until next time…

Happy Business Building!

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