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Fifteen SME Marketing & Business Strategy Takeaways

I was delighted to be asked by Kinvarra Business Network to attend a recent meeting to present on a topic of my choice within the area of Marketing. I prepared for a slot of about 40 minutes plus Q&A.


15 Marketing Takeaways


I decided to title my presentation ’15 SME Marketing & Business Strategy Takeaways’ and to focus on some big ideas and questions rather than focus on tactics and implementation.

1. All about the Customer

2. Marketing is

3. Word of Mouth

4. Understand your Buyer’s Process

5. Know the Competition

6. A ‘remarkable’ Product Solution

7. Pricing that Works

8. Select your Channels

9. Ability to grab attention of Target Audience

10. Branding

11. Audit current Activity

12. Focus on small number of marketing actions

13. Have strong calls to action

14. Measure response


Here is the presentation in Google Slides..


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The final one, number 15, is to use a One Page Marketing Plan – see my previous blogpost for a template. I don’t intend to comment on every slide in the presentation but just a few things that struck me as I was giving my talk:


Marketing is Psychology

I regularly tell people that People like to buy from people that they like and indeed people that are like them. The best asset of every small local business is the ability to engage at a personal level – it is worth taking the time to do this. Indeed most small businesses do it naturally. So it is no wonder that they say that Word of Mouth is their biggest marketing asset. I think that this personal touch starts online ie I would recommend profiling the story of the business owners and the staff on the website (but keep it interesting). Many businesses do this but I still find a few who are extremely reluctant.


In a big impersonal world, a business that can build trust is creating a major competitive advantage. To do this means that every member of staff must demonstrate the values of the business through their actions every day.


Example of Customer Insight

Businesses need to understand their customers; what they want and how they feel and indeed what they are thinking. It is often said that they need to ‘walk in the customers shoes’. Which reminds me of a story that I like to tell of a lady in Gort, County Galway who owns a shoeshop. She told me once that men and women buy shoes differently. Typically a group of ladies will arrive in the shop to browse. If one sees something they like they might try one on. But they take their time and while the owner likes to engage them in chat and be seen to be helpful she is very careful to be not too pushy. She said that she instructs her staff to politely leave such a group of potential customers alone, if a man arrives in the shop. I had the image of a man in his fifties or older when she was talking but I presume the same approach applies to younger guys also. The typical process she suggests is to ask the size, and then bring a pair of shoes one black and one brown in that size and in general the man will buy. They arrive in a shop with  the intention to buy. And how do we know which shoe to bring him to try; well you could ask, but generally she just brings a pair like the one he is wearing!


Need to get Customers talking about you:

I often use the rule of thumb that if you can imagine two or more of your customers enjoying a cup of tea in a local cafe and talking about your business, then your business needs to be on Facebook. Social Media is just a modern way of sharing updates. And if you have a Facebook Business Page then you have to develop a content strategy to keep them engaged. My view is that businesses need to work on getting customers to talk about them – both online and offline. This links to the fact that Word of Mouth is acknowledged as one of the biggest marketing assets.


How to create buzz:

Depends on your business but in general I think that people are looking for experiences. As such I am a big believer in business owners attending and indeed hosting events in order to engage with potential customers. The event in itself has to stand out from the crowd and then the business must be able to connect and engage with attendees after the event [i am a big fan of email in this regard]. I think that if your business is serving an area in which the audience holds a genuine interest and you are an authority on a subject and provide good content, then the business can build a community of followers who are of real value to the business over the longer term.

Good marketing gets copied:

I read two fantastic books recently called Website of traction book and Startup Growth Engines which talk about the fact that there are no golden rules for marketing success (Update: See this Post for Review of those Books). In fact the normal approach of simply doing what you did before in terms of marketing will not work long term; one reason that tactics lose effectiveness is that they get copied by the competition.I heard a fantastic example of this – one of the businesses said that they sponsored a colouring competition with the local primary school and it worked a treat. It is a great way to raise awareness of your brand with the parents who are nowadays highly engaged with their children. But apparently lots of other businesses copied this tactic and it is losing its novelty factor. So your good marketing gets copied. There is no point complaining. Take it as a complement, and be always thinking of the next idea!


As always I hope you found this blogpost and my slideshare useful… comments and social shares always welcome.
donncha (@donnchadhh)


p.s  For instructions on how to embed a Google presentation in your WordPress website see my blog on Startup Web – and the images in the presentation are mostly sourced free of charge from

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