Small Businesses Stay on Track by Playing Offense


Small businesses get them coming and going. Unsolicited business propositions.

Coming at them via LinkedIn from companies selling new business leads, SEO services and recruiting services. Coming at them via email and text and phone calls from companies offering advertising, legal, social media and yes, public relations services too.  Coming at them from publishers moments after being awarded one of their bazillion “reader’s choice” awards, specifically designed — mind you — for the purpose of selling the lucky winners a one-off ad.

It’s the last of these examples, the annual “small business reader’s choice” awards, that actually triggered this post as a client was recently named as a winner within a particular business category by the readers of a regional publication.  Also included in the email in which the publisher announced the award to the client was pricing for the various advertising opportunities available in the upcoming “special” issue of the publication.  How convenient!

In this particular case, our client asked for our advice as the pricing for the one-off advertising “opportunity” did not amount to pocket change, as it almost never does.

We also often see random communications sent from regional publications to clients such as this one:

We are going to press this week and we have a couple of spots to advertise that I thought might be of interest for your organization.

The biggest problem with many of these unsolicited sales calls, aka cold calls, is that the service provider is bypassing the opportunity to build a sustainable relationship and a repeatable business opportunity with the prospect in favor of the quick hit. One and done. But how many small companies do you know have marketing dollars lying in wait for a one-off marketing opportunity to roll around?

Managing unsolicited opportunities from service providers can be a little tricky, especially if they’re a regional neighbor to your client.  While the primary reason for a reader’s choice award is to sell advertising to the winners (not really sure if there are ever any losers!), the publisher has a business to run too and believes that putting your client’s names in lights for one issue means a good turn deserves another (and oftentimes that’s true).

But whenever one-off, reactive opportunities like this come up, we always advise clients to consider what they would otherwise do with that money. Should the money be used to put more muscle behind an ongoing marketing strategy that is business aligned, be set aside for that yet-to-be-presented opportunity that may be better aligned with existing marketing goals, or perhaps shared with employees who are knocking it out of the park?

Ask the question: if I spend money on this, will it matter a week from now, a month from now, a year from now?

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One Response to “Small Businesses Stay on Track by Playing Offense”

  1. Mark Taylor June 15, 2015 at 8:03 pm #

    Right on target, Jim. Another question to add is, “Does this bring value to my business goals?” Unsolicited one-offs really do.

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