There is a stack of hurdles in successfully running a small business. Managing cash flow. The whole chicken-egg thing of putting on staff to grow the business so that you can afford to put on staff. And - obviously - marketing the business.
Small business wrestles with allocating an effective marketing budget, working out where the best advertising opportunities are, evaluting sponsorships and promotions that resonate with customers - let alone delving through the mind-field of new online marketing opportunities.
But the one thing that really holds a small business from successfully marketing their business is - they don't actually know what business they are in.
It is frightening but somehow illuminating how many small business owners can't answer the question: What is your business? Or tell me about your business?
The usual answer is the function of the business or the tasks that the business undertakes each day. For example, I am an accountant. Or we are financial planners. Or we do graphic design.
And they may go on to tell you that they are a family business, or have been around for 20 years, or have (and someone actually told me this recently) bought out all of their competitors and therefore they are the only Product X supplier in their region.
Isn't this missing the point? As well as being pretty boring?
All I care about as the potential customer is how it affects me.
The features of the business - its credibility, its years of service, other clients, pricing strategy - are just features.
I want the What's In It For Me. I want the benefits of doing business with you. I want to know that you can save me 10% more of my revenue into profits. Or that you can provide me with the fastest turn around logos.
How do you tell people what your business is all about? Do you know what's 'in it' for your customers to do business with you? Have you asked them?
Once you've got that nailed, expanding that message across all of your marketing activity is damn easy.