The following is the first in the series "Marketing Like the Big Brands," running every other week in which marketing expert Jim Joseph shows entrepreneurs on a small-business budget how to apply marketing strategies used by big brands.
Whether or not you realized it before, if you're a small business owner, you're also a marketer. Maybe you were never trained, but you are in fact marketing your business. While lots of people have different perceptions about what marketing should be, for me, good marketing is all about creating a powerful and compelling brand experience for customers.
It takes a special kind of person to run a small business. You wear many hats. Entrepreneurs don't often have a clearly defined role within a well-oiled machine, nor can they generally count on multiple resources to complete projects. There's no marketing team to do the heavy lifting.
We also expect marketing to be a never-ending job. The minute we have our plan in place, something changes -- a competitor enters the market, legislation changes the rules or a technological advance requires a rethink.
This is true of big businesses and it's certainly true of small ones. Many entrepreneurs look longingly at the big brands, wishing they could replicate their activities and generate their impact. I believe that in small business, you can get the same kind of results as the big brands, just on a different scale.
The methodology needed to create an amazing brand experience remains the same whether you're Nike, a local restaurant, BMW or a consultant. It's the same process regardless of the size of the business. Sure, the budgets may be different, but how you get there is essentially the same.
To start, small businesses can learn a lot from how big brands create experiences that connect with customers, creating sharing and loyalty.
It's a matter of knowing what you want to accomplish and following proven best practices that work on any size business. It's a matter of turning your business into a brand by creating an experience tailored to your specific customer. Small businesses can often do that even better than big ones.
Brands should be inspiring. That should be your ultimate goal. As an entrepreneur, you may not think you can be inspirational, but you couldn't be more wrong. It comes with the entrepreneurial territory. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and way of life. You can add more value to people's lives than most large corporations. Innovation and creativity doesn't necessarily come from the towers of big business. It comes from the breakthrough, on-the-ground thinking of small businesses.
Every two weeks I will explore a different aspect of small business marketing, using principles I've seen from the big brands. We'll investigate how to act like a brand, identify your target customer, position your business and map out touch points -- all with the goal of helping you create a comprehensive marketing plan that builds toward a compelling brand experience.
The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.
Jim Joseph is the North American president of New York-based communications agency Cohn & Wolfe, part of the media company WPP Group PLC. He is the author of three books, including the latest, The Personal Experience Effect (Happy About 2013). Joseph also teaches marketing at New York University and blogs at JimJosephExp.com.