Meg Dedyne

RISE up!

By Meg Dedyne

Fortune’s 4 Ways to Create a Marketing Strategy for Your Small Business hits a lot of points that have recently come up in our JRN 450 class, on our field trips, such as to MSU RISE last week and in my own experiences outside of class as well.

It’s funny because Jeffrey Hayzlett writes from the perspective of being a former CEO and said, often small business owners would ask, “Do we really need marketing?” His answer was always undoubtedly yes, but with small and most of the time, dwindling budgets, marketing is a lot of the time, the first piece of the business to go.

What made me think of this is at the public relations agency I work at, we often talk about how public relations is the first thing to go for a small business or company (and, no, public relations is not the same thing as marketing). Sometimes, this works in our favor, as loosing a communications department means agencies picking up the slack. And other times it doesn’t, meaning when our budget is cut or decreases significantly.

Marketing was something that Laurie Thorp from RISE talked a great deal about as well when we visited last Friday. We asked questions about whether marketing was something RISE was still working on. Thorp’s answer was yes. It again, had a lot to do with budget and the fact that RISE is student-run, which just makes sustaining a business (and a budget), that much more difficult.

Hayzlett gives great tips for creating a marketing strategy, including determining your objective, creating and documenting your strategy, getting personal, and remembering that content is still king. I personally like how he stuck to four pieces of advice or tips, because I think it is very easy for a small business to look at a plan like this and feel like it’s feasible and something they can do. Anything more and a small business, with a small budget could be turned off.

There are a couple of these tips that stand out to me. One of them is to get personal and focus on one-to-one marketing. Engage with your followers. I think RISE is in an excellent position to do this because Thorp talked about how their business has a competitive advantage because it is local and MSU students run the business. The getting personal part is made possible because of local ingredients and the fact that Spartans want to help other Spartans. I feel like this is an aspect that could be played up in their marketing strategy. Spartan-made is definitely a draw for customers.

The last piece of advice from Hayzlett is that content is (still) king. This is interesting because when I recently interviewed my expert, Dillon Davis of the Battle Creek Enquirer, he said the exact same thing! He said stories and content will always matter, and I completely agree. Whether your small business or startup is focusing on marketing, public relations, advertising — what have you, content and especially people, will always matter.

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