The Fast and the Dead: Your Advantage as a Small Business

A guest post by Dennis Yu, CEO of BlitzLocal– providing local online advertising for professional service firms.

Small_Guy_And_Big_Guy_If you're a small business owner like me, you check up on the competition now and then. Look at the big guys. How many people do they have, how much do they spend on advertising, how much muscle can they flex compared to tiny little you?

Sometimes it's daunting to be the small guy— maybe you have a single office and are competing against a national chain. They may have 20 people in their Internet marketing group and you are perhaps doing it part-time, among the 15 other things you're trying to do. How can you compete?

Let me tell you a story…. The angel investor in our tiny company is Markus Frind. If you haven't heard of Markus, a few years ago, he taught himself how to program by building a dating site. At the time, folks like Match.com and eHarmony were established players with millions of users. This ONE GUY built a website that is now larger than both of these players, generating over 2 billion pageviews a month, earns more than any other website on the planet on Google advertising, and is the #70 most popular site on the planet.

He did this all by himself. One guy. At Yahoo! Personals, I was proud to be part of a team of 80 folks. Match.com had well over 300 employees. The other publicly traded firms also have hundreds of employees. How did one guy beat industry giants with massive staff and marketing budgets to become the #1 most popular dating site on earth (verified by HitWise)?

  • The race is not about big and small: It's about fast versus slow. You as a small business are more nimble than the mega corporations. Do you remember your days suffering in the bowels of a giant company, tied up in bureaucracy, perhaps hating your job? Now you're the nimble guy who can make decisions and just go, as opposed to having multiple committees and PowerPoints to discuss who should be at the meeting to make a decision.
  • Tutors 3-legged raceMany people slow things down: Ever done a 3-legged sack race at a carnival? If two legs are good, three legs are better, right? If you're the one person doing the Internet marketing for your company, you don't have to worry about a ton of coordination. With bureaucracy, things get mis-communicated and lost. Back to the dating example, Markus was the Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Technology Officer, and so forth. He could make decisions immediately with no paperwork.
  • You have a better view: When you serve multiple roles, you see things that folks who are splintered into many functions wouldn't realize. In a big company, Marketing can't get stuff done because IT has set up things for their benefit, not that of Marketing. If that technical person understood marketing, maybe they would have set things up another way.
  • The buck stops with you: It's your money– and, therefore, you care more than a corporate drone ever would. You're not a wage slave who is disgruntled or trying to skate by unnoticed. You are motivated to succeed.


The fact that you're reading this says that you are actively looking for ways to improve your business.

 

So take heart in knowing that small is an advantage. The race is won by the fastest, not the biggest. You can seize on new marketing techniques and optimize several times before the behemoths are even aware such techniques exist. Be the David killing the Goliath– or for you history buffs, Sir Francis Drake versus the Spanish Armada: little ships that outmaneuvering the big battle ships.

Universal Lead Definition

Brian Carrol has a nice post over at his B2B blog. His first point to settle upon a universal lead definition with the sales team is a good one. We went through that process sometime ago and I wanted to share my thoughts.

In our effort to break down a qualified leads and easily measure them, we came up with two categories for these leads. We called them actively and passively qualified leads. An actively qualified lead is defined as an action that a prospect takes to "raise their hand" and signify interest in your products or services. Our sales people decided that if a prospect "raises their hand", they are a qualified lead and warrant a call. Some of the ways a prospect can actively qualify themselves are (some are quite obvious):

Filling out a form with a pricing offer
Requesting a free trial or live demo
Inbound phone call or email
Tradeshow booth visit and card received/conversation with salesperson
Referred by a partner/customer/employee
Asking for more info at one of our webinars

Passively qualified leads are done through our lead score algorithm. These leads come in through various sources some of which are:

Whitepapers/Case Study/Testimonial downloads
Registering/Attending web seminars
Opt-in lists
Trade show lists (double opt-in)
Networking attendee lists (double opt-in)
A visit to our pricing page (with duration of stay)

These leads are not considered qualified until we gather 5 critical pieces of information on them. For the sales team, those pieces are:
Name
Email
Phone
Company
Time frame for purchasing decision

Marketing is in charge of getting these pieces of information gradually through our lead nurturing programs.

This is how our sales team has decided to define a qualified lead. We did it this way to be able to easily measure the leads and provide metrics to marketing on how many qualified leads we are supplying sales. In the next blog, I will talk about how we measure these leads.