Navigating Sales and Marketing – Advice for the Small Business Owner

Virginia Grant, Executive Director of Gainesville Black Professionals, Inc. sits down with marketing professional, John Bacon.

Sales and marketing is vital for the growth of any small business or brand.  Sales in a company refers to the interpersonal interactions, the meetings, the calls, the presentations and ultimately “closing the deal”.  Sales is building relationships with your customers. Marketing is the act of acquiring prospects and clients.  It is a combination of all the things you do to get the attention of your customers.

Sales and marketing trends are constantly changing, and it is important that business owners stay in the know.  Recently, I met with John Bacon, a proven leader in the field of sales and marketing.  John has an MBA with a specialization in Management from St. Leo University and is currently Group Publisher at Naylor Association Solutions. Headquartered in Gainesville, Naylor, is the leading provider of member engagement and non-dues revenue solutions for more than 1,800 associations in North America.

What made you decide to pursue a career in sales and marketing?

Naylor Association Solutions was one of the first jobs I had after getting my bachelor’s degree. I was very intrigued early on in my career to help companies achieve their goals and objectives by helping them brand themselves through advertising. This evolved into leading sales professionals to do the same, and has allowed me to not only help consult advertising clients but also association clients to help them maximize non-dues revenue for their organizations.

How much should a small business owner invest in marketing?

The U.S. Small Business Administration advises that a small business should spend at least 7-8 percent of the gross revenue on marketing and advertising. This means that it is very important to be as strategic as possible so that your marketing budget does not go to waste. In my job, I am talking about marketing every day; this is not a one and done conversation. A small business should be looking at new ways and new avenues to evolve the marketing and promotion of their products and services daily.

Is there a difference in branding and advertising?

Yes. Branding is the process that involves creating a unique presence and image for a product or service that will catch the consumers’ attention. It allows your business to stand out and differentiate itself from competitors in the industry. Advertising involves finding the right platform for a small business to showcase their unique product or service that they are offering to drive traffic (attention/business) and generate revenue.

When should a business owner consult with a marketing professional or firm?

Because of how important marketing is to sales, I would not launch a sales campaign without making sure you have a plan to market your products and services. To generate sales, you have to make sure that you are arming your team with all of the tools that they need to be successful when they are out promoting your business. Often, depending on how small the business is, it may be hard to budget for a marketing consultant or hire someone to handle the marketing and promotion. I recommend going online and doing research; not only to see what other small businesses are doing but to educate yourself and familiarize yourself with how marketing is evolving and changing sometimes overnight. That way you can be more proactive on your marketing strategy.

How has social media changed the world of marketing?

Social media has made it very easy to promote products and services. With Google ad words, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, SnapChat, Instagram, etc., small businesses have found more diverse and cost-effective ways to give their business a presence. I highly recommend that if you do not have a page for your business on some of these platforms, make sure you do that ASAP! Social media has given businesses a better way to track consumer data through the opens and clicks of their digital marketing media, it allows businesses to create their own content to communicate with consumers through their own messaging, and allows businesses to reach people they never would have dreamed of reaching; making their small business global. If you want to stay ahead of the game, study the trends of social media and how it will impact the world of marketing now and in the future.

Is there any other information or tips that you would like to share with our readers?

Be STRATEGIC! Small businesses need to make sure that they have a strategic marketing plan to reach the people/ companies that they are trying to get in front of. I am being somewhat biased, but I think it is important to identify the Associations that represent your industry to see if there are opportunities to work with companies/people that will make purchasing decisions for your products and services. After that, I think it is important to research local and regional industry related content and researching online to make sure you are promoting your business in every possible way that you can to the people that count.

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