I am sure you have wondered to yourself, “Why are large companies who spend a bundle on gimmicky advertising so successful; while I can’t seem to attract one customer to my small business?” The same tactics that work for large companies, won’t work for your small business. Never fear. There are some tactics that have been proven to work quite well for small companies at a small fraction of the cost paid by the big guys.

How the BIG GUYS Advertise

If I were to list some of the most popular advertising slogans, you could probably quickly identify the company I am talking about:

“A 15-minute call could save you 15 percent (or more) on car insurance”

“Just Do It!”

“Melts in Your Mouth and Not in Your Hands”

“There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s ?.”

Unless you have lived in a cave for the past 20-years, you had no problem identifying each one of these companies.  It may help to know that Geico spends approximately $1.2 Billion/year pushing it’s catchy jingles and clever TV ads.  Nike spends close to $3.0 Billion/year in advertising and marketing.  MasterCard spends $300 Million/year getting its message out about what money can’t buy.  And M&M’s candy that doesn’t melt in your mount, will certainly melt your marketing budget at $84 Million/year.

To be clear, these companies are all quite successful with their marketing campaigns or they would not shell out that kind of money on advertising.  These large companies use what is called C&R Marketing; which stands for Creativity and Repetition.  They produce a creative slogan, fashion some entertaining advertisements; and then repeat it over and over and over and over again.  This style of advertising is only effective if you can afford to invest substantial sums of money in advertising; and you have a national, if not global, presence to deliver to the masses.

Unfortunately, small business make the mistake of trying to mimic these giants when they attempt their own marketing.  Often, business owners who hire me to help them with their marketing stress out over the name of their company, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and finding a jingle that will ensure people remember them.  They then want to start marketing campaigns just like the big guys on TV, Radio or the Internet in an attempt to capture as many buyers as Geico.  When this C&R marketing doesn’t work for them, they resort to discount coupons in direct mailing campaigns because they are at a loss as to how to get customers any other way.

What Can A Frugal Small Business Owner Do?

If you are a small business owner who is frustrated with this marketing challenge, let me give you some hope.  There really is a way that a small business can market more effectively than the big guys and spend a fraction of the money.

Niche Marketing

The big guys offer products that will serve the masses.  Everyone needs car insurance, almost everyone uses sporting goods, everyone uses a credit card, and unless your a diabetic, you will probably buy M&M’s several times in your life.  But, I can almost guarantee that everyone doesn’t need your product or service as a small business owner.  One of the hardest things for small business owners to do, is to establish their niche client.

Let’s examine an example of what I am talking about with a residential HVAC contractor. If you are an HVAC service company, you need to start looking at home owners that own homes that are 15-20 years old.  This is when HVAC equipment breaks down.  You may also try to target general contractors building new homes for new installations.  You can also focus your service contract advertisements on all other home owners.  That is three niche clients that need three different marketing campaigns.

If you enter the conversation going on in the head of each of these clients, you can create compelling advertisements that will ensure you capture substantial market share within these niche(s).

Strategic Marketing

Tactical marketing is created to attempt to get your prospective customers to decide to buy right now.  It will end with a message like “call me if you have questions”; or “25% off your purchase”.  Only 1% of prospective customers are ready to buy now. The remaining 99% will buy at some point, but don’t want to buy right now.  The big guys use the C&R strategy to make sure people never forget their company with a jingle, slogan or creative advertisement.  I can almost guarantee that you cannot afford to do this.  While C&R marketing will work with 100% of customers, it is very expensive; and will not work for niche small business marketing.

Small Business Marketing

In order for a small business owner to be successful in their marketing campaigns, they need to line up a series of pre-planned items in their campaigns to be effective.  I call these steps the “Conversion Equation”.  If you follow these steps, you will most certainly improve your ability to capture and convert prospects into paying clients.


The first is that you have got to get noticed.  While the big guys use C&R, a small business owner needs to create compelling and meaningful headlines, not slogans.  For the HVAC Contractor, here is an example of an interrupting headline:

“After 15-years, Your Home Furnace May Start Pumping Poisonous Gasses into Your Home”

If you are a home owner, I am guessing this headline got your attention.


The second step in small business marketing is to keep your prospective customer’s attention to let them know that your headline was not simply a scare tactic.  This is often done through a sub-heading.  For the HVAC Contractor, it may sounds something like this:

“Learn 10 Key Tips to Hiring the Right HVAC Contractor to Protect Your Family”

This sub-headline then keeps the reader, listener or viewer engaged to understand what things to consider when hiring an HVAC contractor.


The third step is to educate your prospective buyer.  You can now inform the prospective customer on how to buy whatever it is that you’re selling.  The education needs to be objective while at the same time persuade prospective customers that you know what you’re talking about and would serve this prospect well, if they were to hire you sometime in the future.  If you have a crappy company and an educated prospect will not buy from you, then no amount of marketing will fix that problem.


The final step is to offer your prospect some sort of “valuable” thing.  In most cases, this “thing” is a continuation of their education on how to buy the right product or service.  In other cases, the “thing” is a low-cost gift of some sort that may or may not be related to your company’s service or product.  In no case, should the “thing” be a free audit; or free consultation.  Remember, you are trying to educate your prospective customer for a future purchase.

In all cases, you will need to capture contact information for your prospective customer in exchange for the “thing”.  When the big companies do their C&R advertising, they don’t capture your contact information because they are going to shell out millions of dollars advertising to you over and over and over again through mass marketing outlets.  Small business owners, on the other hand, need to rely on capturing contact information, so they can continue to stay in touch with prospective buyers.  You will use this contact information to create a drip e-mail campaign or phone call follow up or whatever fits your marketing campaign.

If you are interested in learning more about how you can dramatically improve your own marketing as a small business owner, please sign up and download my FREE video entitled “Everything You’ve Ever Learned About Generating Leads And Growing Your Business Is Wrong!”.

Note from the Author
My name is Jeff Schuster.  I am a certified Life and Business Coach serving small business owners, corporate executives and others who want to transition from “expert” to “entrepreneur”.  I have been a small business owner for most of my 30-years in the workplace.  I grew an energy efficiency and renewable energy engineering and construction company from nothing to over $10-million/year and sold it in 2013.  I now help other business owners make amazing progress toward their own dreams of business ownership independence and success.

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