Most of us remember the first person who opened our eyes to a new way of thinking with regard to marketing. Maybe it was an author who spoke to us through the pages of a book, a speaker at an industry conference, or a relative who showed us the ropes of a dedicated family storefront. With an emphasis on the entrepreneurial spirit, we recently interviewed 20 successful small business men and women to get some insight into the teachers that mattered most to them over the years, as well as the truths that helped to set them on the path to winning in their chosen industry.
Marketing Mentor: Jim Kukral, University of San Francisco
Important Lesson: Develop content that truly solves your target audience’s problems and just get it out there — it doesn't have to be perfect, but it does have to be relevant, timely, and helpful.
Marketing Mentor: Seth Godin
Important Lesson: Be the first to the space, and sell the experience and the relationship, not just the widget. Selling widgets is for the second place company, whose only option to gain market share is to compete on price.
Marketing Mentor: Jay Abraham, Author of Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Go
Important Lesson: There are only three ways to increase a business: increase the number of clients, increase the average size of the sale per client, and increase the number of times clients return and buy again. A mere 10 percent increase across the board expands our income by 33.1 percent.
Marketing Mentor: Jack Trout, Author of The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing
Important Lesson: Differentiation is key. Companies can’t try to do the same thing as the competition and do it better; they have to identify and promote what makes their product or service unique.
Marketing Mentor: Sarah Petty’s The Joy of Marketing
Important Lesson: Co-marketing. Why go it alone? Co-marketing with other boutique businesses just makes good sense.
Marketing Mentor: Jim McCann, CEO of 1-800-FLOWERS.COM
Important Lesson: Don’t be afraid to ask. You can be perceived as a large company even with no marketing budget.
Marketing Mentor: Sarah Petty’s The Joy of Marketing
Important Lesson: If you have a strong product, are passionate at what you do, you love people and your community, and you continue to learn (education, marketing and finances) how to run a successful boutique business, you'll thoroughly enjoy your job, continually have the opportunity to be a blessing to others, and survive — even flourish — in any economy.
Marketing Mentor: Brook Lundy, President of Someecards.com
Important Lesson: Great creative matters.
Marketing Mentor: David Meerman Scott, Author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR
Important Lesson: You are what you publish. Every business has information that can contribute to the education of the market place. Marketing and PR pros need to think like publishers.
Marketing Mentor: Peter Shankman, Help a Reporter
Important Lesson: Instead of pitching and asking (how old school marketing is conducted), he is all about giving. He constantly gives, and as such, he is the center of every conversation.
Marketing Mentor: Alan Weiss, Author of Million Dollar Consulting
Important Lesson: The more you create this "force field" around you, the less you have to sell to potential clients, because they already know who you are and want to buy from you. The result is that fees are much less of an issue, and you can charge what you're worth.
Marketing Mentor: My Mother
Important Lesson: You need to listen to your audience, and get to understand and know their viewpoint. If you can see things from their perspective, you can market ideas and services effectively.
Marketing Mentor: Dan Marques, Director of Online Marketing for Gemvara
Important Lesson: We can really increase our marketing efforts without pushing a bigger marketing budget by being smarter with Analytics. Our Analytics told us there were several big friction points in our conversion funnel, so we did Usability testing and were able to double our conversion rate from last month!
Marketing Mentor: Gary Vaynerchuk
Important Lesson: "Keep plugging along" with your project. As entrepreneurs, we have days we wonder why we put so much effort into our businesses. I have seen exponential growth, however, and know as I keep on pushing, I'll keep on growing.
Marketing Mentor: Scott Armstrong, Founding Partner of BrainRider
Important Lesson: Focus on what your customers want to learn/buy and not what you have to sell them.
Marketing Mentor: Barbara Sher
Important Lesson: I've learned that I can be successful while authentic in my marketing, and it makes it so much more fun.
Marketing Mentor: Guy Kawasaki
Marketing Mentor: Holt Vaughn, Eastco Multi Media Solutions
Important Lesson: There is power in a team. Bringing a team approach to any project can catapult your business to another level.
Marketing Mentor: Jill Snyder of the Schnieder Corporation
Important Lesson: Make all your decisions based on the results a particular marketing activity will generate. By doing so, you will be able to generate positive ROI and can invest only in marketing strategies that add to your bottom line.
Marketing Mentor: My Father
Important Lesson: In order to be creative, a person must be a consistently voracious and interested reader of all things. In short, everyone needs to read, a lot, everyday.