Getting The Word Out

June Johnson got into business by accident. A retired universityprofessor and former professional singer, Johnson started VoicePower, a voice-coaching service in 1990 after helping a friend finda better job by training him to speak with more authority.

As a result, Johnson heard from others in similar situations.Soon after, she found herself giving workshops at private companiesand at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Johnson likes to say she got into business by accident. How shemarkets Voice Power's services, however, is no accident.

Unlike many small businesses, Johnson realized immediately thatshe needed help in getting the word out about her business.

She met John Murphy, of Murphy Associates, a Brookfield,Wisconsin, business that creates marketing plans for home-basedbusinesses and small companies.

Even though Johnson knew little about marketing when she startedout, she recognized marketing was a vital part of her businessplan.

"They think they don't have to," Murphy said."Or they don't realize the importance of an organizedeffort to get your name in front of people."

No business is too small to have a marketing plan, he said.

"Who needs a plan? Anyone who wants more people to knowabout their company than already do," Murphy said.

Small business owners have to understand that if you put a goodplan together and implement it, it will end up paying foritself.

Sometimes small businesses wait until there's a crisisbefore they start a marketing plan, said Alan Gaudynski, whostarted his own public relations and marketing firm in Brookfieldin 1990.

Entrepreneurs should think about a marketing strategy whenthey're drawing up their business plan.

Where a firm sometimes fails in marketing is by placing too muchfocus on one particular tactic. For instance, the business ownerbelieves all he or she needs to do is put together a nice brochureabout the company, but has done little research beforehand.

Entrepreneurs with small budgets don't need to spend a lotof money on marketing to have an effective plan. They can call in aconsultant for less than $1,000, Gaudynski said.

Or, they can do their own research. "Public libraries arefull of books on how to market your business," he said.

Also, some local chambers of commerce and business and tradeassociations provide advice through committee meetings, workshopsor seminars.

Sharon Lerman, who started a consulting business out of herhome, turned to the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) andthe U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for help in writingher business plan and marketing strategy. The SBA offers amarketing checklist for small retailers and an overview onmarketing for small business.( Milwaukee BusinessJournal)

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