When we talk about what drives a business forward today, what motivates its employees and fuels growth, we rarely just talk about the need to make money. Profit was the zeitgeist of the 80s and while it’s still what we’re all striving for, it’s about more than that now.
Profit is the product of an engaged workforce and a successful company, not the sole driver.
When most modern leaders talk about what fuels their business, they talk about purpose, passion, vision and values. These things provide meaning to our work, and in doing so also drive results.
Yet the bigger the company, the more they can feel like platitudes. Many corporates make a big effort with little effect. They’ll plaster their values on their website, have its CEO talk internally about their vision, and have marketing focus its brand on the company purpose. It can all feel a bit methodical and contrived.
This is one of the biggest differences between big businesses and their smaller counterparts, because for the latter all that comes naturally.
Small businesses are all about heart
Small and young companies are built on the sweat, tears and passion of their founders, whose values are implicit in everything they do. That permeates through the whole company, and the smaller the business the more likely it is to reach all corners.
An early entrepreneur is likely to have ploughed everything into their idea; many commit their savings, some remortgage their houses and sacrifice much of their family time. They do it because they’ve already invested their heart and soul. That kind of passion doesn’t need to be on the company’s ‘about us’ page for it to be clear to other employees, yet it’s often overlooked by outsiders wanting to do business.
This is something marketers should take heed of. Small businesses are all about heart and you must win that heart if you want to win their business. Show that you understand what’s driving them, that you believe in their vision and that you share their values. Try to match their intensity of purpose, passion, vision and values, and find how they link to your own.
Invest big to make it with the small ones
All this means knowing the business and its key employees, plus taking a personalised approach to marketing to them. Of course, that will sound labour intensive; when marketing efforts are scaled up they become generic, but when they’re bespoke they can be expensive and high risk.
That is why a segmented approach to small business marketing can really deliver results. Focusing your efforts on a small business that is part of a valuable sector means you can replicate your efforts again and again. Over time you’ll build reputation in that sector as your small business advocates spread genuine appreciation of your company.
Like the entrepreneurial business owner, marketers must take a risk and invest significant efforts in order to see profit and success. But as they say, ‘from small acorns’…