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01 October 2023

Where and when to begin marketing

By Jay Conrad Levinson

Guerrillas are never stopped by analysis paralysis. Don't let it stop you. Many business owners realise the simplicity of marketing, but just don't know where they should begin. Analysis paralysis stops them in their tracks. So many tasks. Where to start? So they don't start. They know what they must do, but don't really have a plan, so they make disconnected efforts to achieve a hazy goal. When they don't see encouraging results right off the bat, they lose confidence, if any existed in the first place.

If there's any correct time to start, it's right now. If there's any proper place, it's right where you are. You'll never feel you are completely ready, so you may as well begin immediately.

If there's any secret to be learned, it's the secret of taking action and never stopping. You've heard Diana Ross sing when she was a member of The Supremes. Hear now what she says about taking action: "You can't just sit there and wait for people to give you that golden dream; you've got to get out there and make it happen for yourself."

Guerrillas have learned that the best time to market is when they don't need any more business. They know that the best source of new clients is old clients and that the best marketing is characterised by quality and not quantity. They realise that their best marketing vehicle, and least expensive, is a satisfied customer. And they know that the two best ways to measure their marketing are by customer retention and by profits, both a part of each other.

It's wise to think of your marketing the same as you think about your rent. You pay it and never think twice. It's also wise to think of your marketing as breathing. You couldn't exist with only one breath, or even two or three. Don't think you're going to attract a new customer with only one effort, or even two or three. You keep breathing and stay alive. You keep marketing and stay profitable.

Every part of your success is dependent upon one individual. You are that individual. You're in charge. You say when to begin. You've got the insight to make the right decisions now. To succeed, you're going to need that insight, along with courage and conscientiousness. If you're frightened of making mistakes, you're sunk. Accept that you'll make mistakes. Each one has a lesson to be learned.

Michael Eisner, Chairman and CEO of Disney, and the man who propelled it to undreamt of success, says: "At a certain level, what we do at Disney is very simple. We set our goals, aim for perfection, inevitably fall short, try to learn from our mistakes, and hope that our successes will continue to outnumber our failures." There's nothing Mickey Mouse about that kind of philosophy – because it embraces mistakes as part of the process.

There is no need to hit a home run the first time you're at bat. A single will do, then another single, then another, one following each other, none grandiose, but all bringing you closer to your goal.

As small business grows, so does the need for mastering guerrilla marketing. And small business is growing faster than ever. As entrepreneurs arise all over the globe, so does the need for mastering guerrilla marketing. Just a new kid on the block as the 20th century headed towards its completion, guerrilla marketing is now a powerful and proven force worldwide. It must be reckoned with and best yet, utilised. Some would say it's mandatory for small business survival.

Ask any small business owner: It's far easier to employ guerrilla marketing than hope to defend yourself against it.

A whale of a lot has changed since I wrote the first guerrilla marketing book in l984. And almost all of it favours small business. Marketing itself has changed dramatically and interactively, not to mention electronically. So has the array of weapons available to guerrillas – more powerful than ever, yet half of them completely free. That's why so many guerrillas are smiling so broadly. They also know that many things have not changed and that those things are as important as the things that have.

I'm referring to the soul and essence of guerrilla marketing which remain as always – achieving conventional goals, such as profits and joy, with unconventional methods, such as investing energy instead of money. I'm also referring to humanity which is relatively unchanged since the first book, indeed, since the first human.

The marketing world has changed because it has shrunk rather than expanded. Again, credit technology for the shrink job, accomplished not as much by the jet as the net. Marketing has also become a lot more technical. But that doesn't mean you have to be technical – because technology has met you more than halfway by becoming much easier to use and even easier to pay for.

Guerrillas welcome the changes as much as they welcome the status quos. They are fully alert to what has changed and what must never change. They know well the difference between change and improvement. Analysis paralysis is a condition that has been eliminated in their world. 

- The writer is the Father of Guerrilla Marketing and author of Guerrilla Marketing series of books. The views expressed are his own


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