Small Business Marketing: Little Bets

Market your small business the smart way, with "Little Bets."

Market your small business the smart way, with “Little Bets.”

My friend Peter Sims wrote a book called “Little Bets.” It’s about testing things on a smaller basis, instead of investing too much time/effort/money into something huge, when you’re just not sure if its going to pay off. It’s also about giving those “bets” time to see whether they work (for example, at least a month for an ad campaign or a new social media approach)–and NOT continuing to do a bunch of other things in the meantime. How will you know precisely what campaign brought you results, if you have 50 different things going on all at once?

I absolutely love this concept of “Little Bets”, and I’ve used the phrase and approach with many of my corporate consulting clients. The big boys’ biggest mistake, I’ve found, is believing in one HUGE thing (such as a Super Bowl ad) too much–and building big campaigns and marketing programs around it. If that one thing fails, it can be devastating.

Small Businesses Marketing–When Thinking Small Leads to Big Results

Most small businesses naturally understand “Little Bets” to a degree–most of the time the campaigns decided upon are small and bite-sized. I’ve yet to see a small business waste $3 million on a TV commercial.

The problem I see with small businesses is a clear lack of focus, and a lot of *everything*, and not really knowing precisely what is working or not. And, perhaps more important, not testing anything, not looking at analytics, and not going back and optimizing things.

Small Business Marketing Mistakes

  • Spending on paid ads for Google adwords or Facebook–but you aren’t running A/B tests or optimizing the ads, so the people who click might not be who you want, and you haven’t really seen a return on your investment, even if it wasn’t a lot of money.
  • Using every social media channel, trying to respond/post/interact every day, and getting burned out when none of your fans or followers seem to actually book an appointment with you, or buy something. But having no idea which posts actually get the most traction…
  • Getting your business on local “deal” sites to drive a lot of volume fast and get some cash-flow…but then realizing a few months later that nobody wants to pay full price for your services, and you don’t have a lot of loyal customers. And then maybe just to get some more cash-flow, you run another deal…Yikes, a never-ending cycle. Maybe you don’t even know which customers came through on the deal that actually returned–you should know the exact percentage, and it should be at least 30% to even consider another deal.
  • Knowing that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is important, but not understanding how to get keywords or do the tags/code needed on a Website…so hiring an expensive SEO consultant who doesn’t know your brand. And six months later you have no idea whether the SEO worked…

Does any of this sound familiar?

Smart Marketing for Small Businesses: Choosing the Right Little Bets

Unless you are:

  • Getting 5% conversion on your Website (5% of the visits end up purchasing something or booking an appointment)
  • Getting 5% of your fans on social media to refer, share, and interact with you
  • Getting more repeat visits, and higher dollar amount per service for long-term customers, than you are getting all new, low-paying customers…

You’ve got to take a few steps back and look at your overall foundation. And, you’ve got to decide on testing and optimizing just a few things. Now, I know some small business owners whose business makes $1 million or more a year, and they’ve told me they don’t need help or optimization with their online marketing because clearly things are working. But what if that revenue could be doubled, or your profit margin is higher, after focusing on optimizing just a few things…testing them out to see if they work, and continue to refine those things?

The three key words are Focus. Test. Optimize.

Some Examples of Good Little Bets for Small Businesses

  • Splitting your email list into two groups and testing a different subject line for each, to see which one gets the most opens, and the most clicks, so you get a great idea of what appeals to your audience in general in terms of content, and your tone and voice.
  • Testing a blog with some keywords you research yourself (I will show you how to do this in my first module, launching soon), and tracking that blog to see the traffic it brings you, and whether that traffic does what you want it to (book an appointment, or buy something).
  • Running a survey through your email list or Facebook page to ask people what they are looking for, or what they would like to see from you. This could include a product line idea you have, a new service, or even what channels you should focus on in social media.
  • Optimizing what already works with social media, for example, going through your Facebook insights and seeing which 5 posts over the past 3 months got you the most engagement. Next, categorize those posts (for example, are they “Educational”, such as a link to an article, or are they “Inspirational” such as a feel-good quote?). After you categorize your top posts, try only posting content in those categories for a month, and see whether overall your engagement improves on Facebook.

All of these things may seem so small, and so easy–but that’s the beautiful part! Taking these small steps and truly understanding what is working, and then focusing on making those things work even better…and better…is going to bring you better results than if you’re running around trying dozens of things, particularly if they are big campaigns, or spendy ones.

Small Business Marketing: The Big Picture

It sounds counter-intuitive but taking a step back, focusing on a few things, but having the big picture in mind (your goals and what you aim to achieve), is going to grow your business.

I’m interested in what you have done as a “Little Bet” in your business, and how taking a step back actually moved you two steps forward. Please share in the comments.