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Minority Owned Businesses Stay Small By Not Marketing

December 18, 2012

In collaboration with Jose Monterrosa.


According to the American Marketing Association marketing is, “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”

Large organizations have the resources to hire specialists to manage the entire process that lead to creating and retaining new customers. On the other hand, small businesses struggle and never make it past the start up phase. One study suggests that sixty five percent of them fail by the tenth year. Hispanic owned small businesses have an even higher mortality rate of fifty percent by the end of the first year.

While the reasons are many one of the primary reasons, is not being able to produce enough potential customers. Why? No, tested and proven marketing strategy or no strategy at all. Many Hispanic entrepreneurs are sales people that are so single minded in closing the deal that they ignore the large picture of marketing. The following quote illustrates the simplicity and the difference of sales and marketing.

“If the circus is coming to town and you paint a sign saying, “Circus Coming to the Fairground Saturday,” that’s advertising. If you put the sign on the back of an elephant and walk it into town, that’s promotion. If the elephant walks through the mayor’s flower bed, that’s publicity. And if you get the mayor to laugh about it, that’s public relations. If the town’s citizens go the circus, you show them the many entertainment booths, explain how much fun they’ll have spending money at the booths, answer their questions and ultimately, they spend a lot at the circus, that’s sales.” Author unknown

Jim McIngvale Owner of Gallery Furniture is a perfect example of a salesman and promoter that was limited in his sales by the number of people who saw his only publicity, an eighteen wheeler tractor trailer. He needed to sell to other households that never drove by his roadside mobile mattress store.

Mr. McIngvale is proud to tell his story of rags to riches. One day he decided to spend five thousand dollars on TV advertising. Since this was a limited budged and needing to stretch his ad buy, he was the presenter of his advertising. He is so passionate about advertising that he has even taken out loans to pay for his advertising. His marketing has worked. The rest is history. His store on I-45 is the number one single retail location to sell the most furniture in sales volume in the world.

Over the years, we have spent millions of dollars of other people’s money to increase their sales and grow their business. Here are some easy tips you can use on a small budget.

Look at this 2013 calendar to create a campaign for every holiday that is relevant to your product or service. If you notice, in January, it is General Robert E. Lee’s birthday. Offer some genuinely fantastic offer to those customers that can show you their ticket to the viewing of the very popular movie, Lincoln. Partner up with other retailers that can tie in to the celebration.

Advertise your event by printing flyers and distributing them within a 1 mile radius of your location. Create a social media campaign with alerts leading up to your promotion. Send out a press release with every promotion you do. On a slow news day, or week, you might be surprised how you get free publicity worth thousands of dollars.

Partner up with other businesses in your immediate area that are not competitors and create a shared plastic, door hanger with coupons and exclusive offers.

Advertise in church bulletins and start a relationship with non-profits in your immediate area and find out how you can assist them. You want to display your brand as being community minded.

Placards commonly used in the early 1900’s are coming back in style because they work. Make some professional looking placards and hire someone to stand in a high traffic area pointing to your store.

Sample your product to prospects all the time. When Starbucks opens a new location they turn out teams of marketing people to give away one pound of free coffee to all business nearby. There is no limit to how you can creatively sample your product. It’s the old puppy dog sales tactic. Here hold the puppy isn’t he cute wouldn’t you like to take it home.

One piece of advice about advertising and promotion keep it real. Put out a message you believe with your whole heart. Just doing this will separate you from all the other businesses that are tone deaf to real customers that want to meet  real people with real offers to their needs and wants.

[Picture by Victor Escalante]

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