I want to share tips from an article I read in the National Post, Five marketing growth tips for entrepreneurs. Author, Romina Maurino, states that most entrepreneurs shy away from marketing because it’s an area they worry will be overwhelming and time-consuming yet it’s what grabs people’s attention and is crucial to building a loyal following.

“When you start your business you are not just in the business of delivering your product or service, you’re also in the business of acquiring customers,” says Mitch Solway, Vice-president of marketing at FundThrough, an invoice funding service that helps small businesses meet their cash flow needs. He continues, “Marketing is going to be the engine that drives new customers into your business and, as your business grows, so will the demand for more and better marketing to continue to fuel the growth.”

Solway shares 5 tips to keep in mind whether you are just starting or wanting to grow your customer base:

1. As an entrepreneur, you have great marketing instincts: While marketing may not be your believed strength, Solway feels that as the entrepreneur your are often the best marketer in your company. He states, “Marketing, at its core, is about three things: a deeper understanding of who you are trying to serve, the problem you are solving for that customer, and what makes you different than the current alternatives.” These three areas is what prompted the entrepreneur to start their company: they identified a need for a market that wasn’t being served and are now doing something about it.

2. Don’t market to everyone – focus on your best customers With limited resources you will need to focus on a size of the market that you can start to chip away at. That means identifying your ideal customer, figuring out who’s ready to buy what you’re selling, whey they live and what they have been using before you came along. The same applies to your marketing- always come back to what’s the most important problem that you are solving for your customers, so you can identify who you really need to focus your marketing against. This will also help you figure out what channels you should use to reach them and what problems you need to tell them you solve.

3. There’s a ton of freelance and small agency help out there, so use it. What you do fro ma marketing perspective really depends on how early you are in your business, how much time or resources you have for it, and how much growth you are looking for right now. There are so many great small agencies and freelancers who can help with any of the basics, from building a simple website to doing some basic search engine marketing, to designing great print or presenting material and even writing and sending email campaigns.

If you are not ready to bring outside help, remember that you are often your own best sales and marketing department – you can hustle, make calls, meet people and make things happen on the promotional side, just like you did when you were getting your business off the ground.

4. Today’s happy customers are tomorrow’s best marketers for your business: Yes it’s important to get those first key customers in the door, however it’s also crucial to make sure they enjoy their time they spend with you. That’s because your customers can be one of your best marketing tools. “The best referral program is delivering really happy customers”, says Solway. “Take the time to really focus on making your customers feel great about having chosen you. That will always lift the extra marketing effort.”

5. Don’t let waiting on invoice payments slow down your marketing and other growth efforts: At the beginning you will rely on hustle however eventually you are going to need to invest in marketing to not only drive more growth but also to systemize and scale those marketing programs that work. That may mean hiring external or internal resources, and that’s going to take funds.
For many businesses, cash flow is going to get in the way being able to invest in marketing. You may have some great ideas on how you can drive more business with some marketing but if you don’t have the funds on hand to invest because you’re waiting on invoices to get paid on then it can be frustrating – even if you’re just waiting on 30-day terms.

An option is to use a third-party funding service like FundThrough that can help your small business keep the marketing momentum, because it allows them to get their invoices paid right away, for a small fee.

“It’s like instant cash flown you need it, and you can then use those funds to pay employees, increase inventory or invest in marketing to drive even more business,” Solway says.
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The points are very useful and I encourage the small entrepreneurs to look into FundThrough. I don’t work for them but I know that cash flow is one of the biggest issues concerning companies, small and large!

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Today I attended the IMBA, Independent Mortgage Brokers Association of Ontario, conference. I wanted to learn about this industry so that I can bring my empowerment workshops focussing on growth, development and life skills to this group in a way that will serve them best. I was fortunate to hear the main speaker, Arlene Dickinson, a judge for CBC’s Dragons’ Den; a television show that has ignited a national conversation about entrepreneurs in Canada. She is the marketing expert on the show. I completely aligned with her words and wanted to share some of her messages to the entrepreneur.

Arlene is a women to be reckoned with… with no formal education and much life lessons she has been able to create a very successful business plus so much more. She is rated as one of the wealthiest and most powerful woman in Canada. Listening to her speak, she came across very humble and brought a good amount of humour to her stories.

HERE IS WHAT SHE SHARED:

* Learn to be in the moment… This is a lesson that she learned travelling for the first time across the ocean from South Africa to Canada. She was in London, England and her father asked her what she saw out the window. She said she didn’t see much she was thinking about coming to Canada for the first time and was excited. He turned her around and then said, take another look and this time notice what you see for you are here: BE IN THE MOMENT and enjoy this moment.

As an entrepreneur there are highs and lows, much like a roller coaster. By learning to be in the moment you can enjoy that moment, deal with things at that time, and deal with whatever “perceived obstacles” you are facing. Also learn to celebrate the successes and not worry about, what’s next.

Also remember that life is a journey and that everything that we learn along the way is valuable — what we do want and what we do not want. LIFE LESSONS!

Being in the moment allows you to be 100% present and give all to that moment and time.

* The lessons of life are the lessons of the Entrepreneur – Arlene does not distinguish between the lessons of life and business for to her they are one. I agree and in fact this what my corporate workshops are about – brining in our life skills and lessons into our every day work life.
For Arlene, then, it is about taking our life lessons into business in every facet.

* We are short-handing ourselves with Technology – It is great to use twitter, facebook, msn, and email to communicate with our friends and colleagues. What has happened (and I totally agree with this) is that we have confused the intention of techonoloy. These different forms of communicating is to be used to provide CONTENT NOT INTENT . In otherwords, it does not replace the face-to-face communication that is needed to build that relationship. You want to understand what a person is saying. What is their intent, what is the tone of their message, what is their body language. This can never be caputured through techonology. In fact, if the success of our long-term business is dependent on the strenght of our relationships, than you must NOT confuse the purpose of technology. Pick up the phone, have a lunch meeting, play a round of golf — this is where the relationships are built. Then use technology (email, msn, etc.) to send the follow up, or content, that is requested or required.

Me & Arlene Dickinson, the judge of CBC's Dragons' Den

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