After reading the book E-myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael E. Gerber, I realized many small business entrepreneurs need to find a balance between what Gerber calls the three business personalities, “Technician, Manager and Entrepreneur,” to ensure business success in the early stages. Starting up a business requires higher-level thinking and planning, including decisions about letting marketing specialists take on the role of the technician. Marketing experts in their field can have a major impact on how we identify and effectively reach our target audience at Nordic Wolf Mead, as well as helping communicate and convey our unique value proposition.
Best said by Kyle Mills on the townsquareinteractive.com website about “Why You Need to Hire a Marketing Specialist,” entrepreneurs can spread themselves too thin and this corresponds with what Gerber’s writes about entrepreneurial decision making, and how the technician in them usually dominates—to the detriment of the overall business.
Subject matter expert interviews and meetings with marketing specialist in Western North Carolina, lead to the development of a strategy for planning and developing and annual marketing plan for Nordic Wolf Mead that will include hiring marketing boutiques. However, given a range of marketing skills our founders have, we also plan to take on the “technician” role with a few projects when it makes the most sense.
Specialty Marketing Boutiques Can Impact Early Business Success for Nordic Wolf Mead
Based on our target audience and their preference for using social media, phones. IPADS and other forms of technology to gather information and network with family and friends, we’ve decided to focus most of our marketing budget on digital marketing; incorporating video, blogging, vlogging and the use of videos in web development and our marketing plan.
Our business depends on foot traffic and word-of-mouth referrals related to our customer’s “step-back-in-time” experiences at our mead hall including staying at our facility for tours, tastings, purchasing at the bottle shops and using the space for picnics and attending planned events. For this reason, we are dedicating time and financial resources toward networking within the community and product tastings that will also happen outside the company at wind shops and festivals.
Pre business launch, we see a tremendous amount of value in product research to help further determine the target audience and product acceptance. All of these planned promotional activities, mean that we will need to incorporate some consultation related to marketing, promotions and public relations for the company.
The success of a business relies not only on its value proposition, but how well the product is marketed to the target audience. Professional marketers are specialists in their field and are always staying current with the trends; measuring the effectiveness of their marketing and gathering research to target specific groups through a carefully crafted message. Establishing trust early on with marketing consultants who can help with this process, and having confidence they understand our mission is how we’ll reach our marketing goals, and still have time for higher level planning.
I researched local marketing firms, boutiques and consultants, and contacted them to schedule interviews. This process helped me to find several that I trust; many that I already knew and some that are new contacts. This process helped me establish several marketers who had a strong interest in understanding Nordic Wolf Mead’s product, our plans for startup and future growth as well as where we were in developing our marketing plan including market research. This process helped me to rule out other marketing firms/consultants that may not be a good fit for our company, and where to focus our marketing dollars.
If the Shoe Fits: Selecting Boutique Firms to Best Represent Nordic Wolf Mead
Prior to meeting with three marketing experts who I’ve known for several years, I spend time seeking out a few additional boutiques/firms to make sure I was not just being loyal to the people I know and trust. I contacted The Goss Agency in Asheville last January to setup an appointment, and I never heard back. There website impressed me; however, customer service and response time is integral to Nordic Wolf Mead. I decided maybe this firm was too large and expensive, so I moved on to a few others.
I discovered another web support and digital marketing company, Moxxie Marketing, listed on The Haywood County Chamber of Commerce website; however, I noticed their website wasn’t up-to-date. The use of photos and videos was limited, and there were errors on their webpage. Some of the videos were not sized properly, and there were words cut off on the page. The most recent blog was posted in 2016. Considering the consulting services listed on their website included helping small businesses with web development, content, social media and writing and posting blogs, I was not impressed.
JB Media is a marketing firm in Asheville that specializes in Social Media Marketing. After completing a Google search I noticed they appeared on the home page as the number two listing after The Goss Agency. JB Media (Founder Justin Belleme, and Sarah Benoit) are two instructors that teach for the Western Carolina University (WCU) Digital Marketing Certificate (A training program I developed and oversee.) I have had an opportunity to attend a few of their training programs in Asheville related to developing a social marketing campaign. Their advice and my own research helping me double participation in our WCU training programs over the past year, so I already know, first hand, the impact of their services.
After conducting a Subject Matter Expert interview with Justin Belleme, and visiting the company website, I developed a better understanding for the services JB Media offers to clients.
Justin Belleme is the founder of JB Media Group which is a Digital Marketing Agency that provides a range of services including SEO optimization, social media, digital advertising, marketing strategy and consulting, content writing and marketing, content distribution, social impact marketing, and digital strategy sprints.
JB Media helps companies create blogs, articles, and content for Facebook, Twitter, as well as graphic design for digital advertisements.
With Millennials being a large percentage of the target market for Nordic Wolf Mead, and their dependence on digital media for information related to travel, events and having a good time, we’ve decided to hire JB Media to help us support a digital marketing campaign. Given that we have determined our target market spends a great deal of time online, this confirms the use of social media as part of our marketing campaign. This is confirmed by an entrepreneur.com article by Sujan Patel that to get the most out of every dollar spent, optimize your outreach and promote your company where your very best prospects spend their time.
Cathy Busick from Insight Marketing Company is the founder of the company which started in 1997 and her services include digital marketing, marketing consultation and traditional marketing. Cathy also serves on the advisory board for the Western Carolina University Entrepreneurial and Innovation program. Her website including use of logo, tagline and presentation of services is impressive to me and much of what she teaches in the classroom is current and up-to-date. She is also a consultant we use for our Digital marketing Certificate Program at WCU.
Cathy seemed passionate about our business idea when we met. She asked several questions that seemed to provide her with a picture of where we plan to be at startup and our plans for growth. During our meeting she spend time offering her ideas and experience as an entrepreneur and marketing specialist, which helped to further develop my trust in her ability to convey our story to the public.
After meeting with Cathy about her services and our marketing plan, I discovered Nordic Wolf Mead may be limiting it’s reach by focusing on only millennials for our target market. Since millennials have’t reach their earning potential yet, and that Gen Xers and Baby Boomers have more disposable income, Cathy suggested we revisit our target audience to possibly include these ages. At this point in our conversation, I had an “aha moment:” realizing it’s the social and recreational preferences, as well as disposable income levels of our potential customers, that determine our target. However, for many reasons Millennials will be drawn to our product and we will have a higher percentage of certain age groups.
In addition to Cathy and my conversation about target audience, I liked what she had to say about her recommended approach to marketing; especially, during the startup phase. She explained the product needs to sell itself and that testing and getting the mead in front of people early on will be the true test of its success. Not that we hadn’t already thought about having pre-launch blind tests, but she added a whole new spin on the idea by recommending house parties to introduce the mead outside of our circle of family and friends.
After discouraging reliance on newspapers and radio to start, Cathy’s recommendations were to allow for 10% of gross revenue for marketing, but to also try and market creatively utilizing events, tastings, local festivals and social media.
Our plans are to hire Cathy Busick to help us create the branding for the company including possibly refining our logo, tagline and branding consultation on the website. We will also into hire Cathy to help develop traditional forms of marketing such as flyers, ad copy and other printed materials, and to make signs for the company.
Betty Farmer is the Founder of Farmer Communications. Farmer Communications is dedicated to “growing better communicators.” To achieve this, Betty provides 1) coaching for individuals in public speaking, media relations/interviewing, and gender communication; 2) consulting in public relations and crisis communications; and 3) training in group settings on crisis communications, public relations & marketing communications, leadership communication, and networking communications.
There are several reasons we would benefit from Betty Farmer’s consultation including pre business launch strategies, networking and overall business communications.
After having a lengthy conversation with Betty, I was impressed she reinforced that “It’s all about relationships.” Betty believes the most important thing in any business, startup or long-term, are strong relationships within your businesses, with customers, employees with partners/vendors, with the media and within the community. One of the most important principles in crisis communications, for example, is that strong relationships PRIOR to a crisis occurring will likely help the business navigate a crisis much more effectively.
Some key advice I received from Betty related to Nordic Wolf’s marketing plan pre launch, is that once we establish a location, we should develop relationships with similar businesses including those selling local and natural products, wine shops and craft breweries. It’s important to establish a business community where businesses can support one another and refer customers.
Betty also reinforced our decision to focus on the sustainability of Nordic Wolf Mead by saying “Do the right thing!” when I asked her advice about offering public relations to a startup. Companies that make safe products/provide ethical services, treat employees well, and give back to their communities are far more likely to prosper than companies who do not. “PR shouldn’t be the cleanup crew; PR should be the building crew,” she says.
I also really liked what she had to day about tailoring communications. She explained that “ a startup company should spend some time thinking about all the people with whom they are communicating, and then answer the question, ‘What are the needs of those audiences?’” What she means by this advice is that messages to employees are different than messages to customers, and messages to media, so all communication should be tailored with a specific audience in mind.
Betty reinforced our decision to hire JB Media by saying a digital strategy is imperative. She explained that face-to-face communications and traditional media outlets are important, but a strong active digital strategy will help a startup communicate and market their products/services directly to consumers.
What’s to Gain from Hiring Specialists to Be Our Marketing “Technicians?”
We believe by developing full confidence in marketing specialists to effectively interpret our mission and value proposition, they will be more effective at artistically and strategically conveying our message to the target market. Of course, the end result of their support is to drive growth and profitability for the company.
Simply, broken down these outcomes include the following:
Effective Identification of Target Audience
Nordic Wolf mead is in the process of closely targeting our audience; however, after having conversations with both Cathy Busick and Betty Farmer, we see the value in not ruling out potential customers that don’t fit our initial age profile.
We’ve learned to take our research to the next level, so we can incorporate factual information related to the types of people that are embracing mead today. An outcome from Betty Farmer’s consultation led to our recent decision to become a member of the American Mead Makers Association. Although marketing research for mead includes all types of wine, the association informally gathers statistics from national members to determine the age range of meadery customers. The 2018 results show customers are between 21 and 35.
By allocating funds for marketing specialists to help identify our target audience, and to help us craft a message that conveys our unique value proposition, we hope to see a return on investment on promotional and advertising dollars. Ultimately we would like to meet or exceed our first year’s projected sales and our five year projections.
Pricing and positioning the product based on the Unique Value Proposition (UVP)
In addition to understanding Nordic Wolf Mead’s target audience, it will be critical to price the product based on our UVP; within a range that supports the Value Chain based on value for the customer and the cost of production. By understanding our potential competitors, and positioning our product in a way that separates us from other meaderies locally and nationally, we believe customers will not be focusing on product cost as much as the quality and experience. However, it’s important to know how our pricing compares with other mead and honey wine products being sold locally and nationally. Again, by utilizing the expertise of marketing firms to research our competition and to help us establish and promote our UVP, we believe we will have a greater impact than trying to accomplish this on our own.
Increasing Foot Traffic and Overall Sales
By utilizing marketing specialists to help with the outcomes mentioned above, and to help Nordic Wolf Mead create unique advertisements for new products and events, we expect the following results:
- An increase in foot traffic to the Mead Hall
- More people wanting to attend tastings and tours
- Increased bottle shop sales
- A growing number of customers deciding to regularly purchase mead and other services
- An increase in the number of tourists buying Nordic Wolf Mead online when they return home
- A positive reputation related to our mead and “step-back-in-time” theme-based experience
- Referrals from the Chamber of Commerce, other businesses and locals who have developed a trust in our brand
- Effective internal public relations, signage and branding, so customers experience all that Nordic Wolfe Mead, and eventually the marketplace, have to offer
Customers will get caught up in the experience and will stay longer in the Mead Hall. They will buy a bottle of mead, a drinking horn or two after a tasting, purchase a picnic basket from the bottle shop, and will enjoy spending time drinking and eating at one of our indoor or outdoor tables.
Eventually, the expansion of the Mead Hall will include a old-style European marketplace with local crafters/vendors selling natural local products. Mead Hall staff, vendors and even customers will be encouraged to dress in medieval, renaissance and viking age costumes like a small scale Renaissance Fair, or Disney World-like experience.
By utilizing marketing consultants to effectively promote this theme through social media, public relations, local advertising and sales, we expect to attract more media coverage for our events, increase the number of people who are regular patrons to the Mead Hall, Marketplace and those who schedule celebratory events. This specialized marketing support will help us to maximize free press coverage for Nordic Wolf Mead & Marketplace and to convey our UVP to locals and tourists that come to Asheville. Our expectation is to create a “buzz” within the community about this new step-back-in-time theme-based meadery.
Build Strong Business, Customer and Employee Relationships
Effectively branding the product and establishing a company culture will boost confidence and pride among employees, and this will ultimately translate to loyalty, referrals and customer satisfaction. Marketing and Public Relations (PR) specialists and consultants can help Nordic Wolf Mead craft and communicate our internal and external messaging. They can provide customer service and communications training, and help the founders effectively network within the community including capitalizing on developing relationships with “cluster” businesses in the geographic area where Nordic Wolf Mead will be located.
This marketing and PR expertise will lead to an increase in employees (front-of-the-house and operations staff and managers) understanding of the company UVP, and this support will also help the company effectively convey its branding message to its customers. Building relationships with procurement vendors will help to maximize the value chain including communication systems related to inbound logistics and operations (tour logistics, signage and labeling), and will ensure we incorporate a strategic approach to outbound logistics (selling and packaging) our products.
Incorporating a strategy to utilize marketing boutiques for consultation, training and developing a marketing plan will not only lead to business growth and profitability, but will reduce the amount of time founders spend on the technical aspect of the business. Being able to rely on some of the specialty boutiques that offer specific expertise related to communications, promotions and overall marketing of the companies UVP, will enure we are effective in establishing our target audience and allocating enough funds toward business growth. An article on HuffPost called “Why So Many Small Businesses Don’t Spend Enough on Marketing,” says marketing is a measure of the amount of business you bring in relative to the amount of money you spent to do it. In effect, as long as your ROI is positive, your investment pays for itself and then some.
I’ve seen first hand how this works in my current role as Assistant Director of Professional Development at WCU. When our marketing specialist left the position and we were in the process of hiring another, I was required to do all of the marketing for my programs. Understanding the connection between marketing effectively, and return on investment, I ended up spending more time on marketing and less time developing training programs. This is exactly what will happen to Nordic Wolf Mead, if we don’t tap into the expert knowledge found through hiring marketing professionals for strategic and technical work. If we try do do it all ourselves, the business will suffer. In order to establish a strong enough customer base and steady growth well into the future, we have to rely on these marketing professionals to help develop and implement our marketing strategy. To reinforce Gerber’s advice about balancing the three business personalities, our strategy has to include letting experts handle the higher level marketing so we can focus on higher level planning and implementation.