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The Guide to Marketing Success for SMB Leaders

In this episode...

The guide to marketing success for SMB leaders is easy to learn. It can be transformative, and it can give you a leg up on the competition. It all starts with you regardless of your marketing experience.

All right. Here we are with the inaugural– that’s a hard word for me to say, the inaugural Totally Hyped episode of Season 2. This year, we’re going to be a little bit different. First, the focus on you, the small to mid-size business leader, it’s going to be a little bit more pronounced. I fear that most marketing podcasts, and, in fact, I’ve probably been guilty of it too, we talk like we’re talking to other marketers. I want to talk to the business leader because business leaders oftentimes get a little disconnected from marketing and maybe they don’t know exactly what’s going on.

I think that there’s an idea that marketing is necessary, but I don’t love the expense because I can’t tie it to revenue or specific gains or improvements in our company, but I think that that’s wrong. I think you 100% can. I want to talk to you about that, approaching marketing from a leader perspective rather than from another marketer’s perspective. I want to do that in a way that is disregarding your level of expertise.

That means that some of you are well versed in marketing and maybe you have a lot of information, and maybe you’re an expert, and some of you are a little more hands-off and you might still be thinking, “Shouldn’t we be taking ads out in the phone book? I feel like all of this internet stuff is just a fad.” Regardless of where you are on that spectrum, I want to make sure that I’m talking to you from that angle.

That means we’re not going to be talking about specific how-tos in marketing. I’m not trying to impress other marketers or help other marketers. I’m trying to help you, the business leader, make sure that you’re marketing is getting you the best bang for your dollar without getting into the details of how marketing tactics work. Again, you’re not going to have to know how to perform the tasks, but you do have to be open to the idea that marketing is probably the most powerful and efficient tool you have to shape and improve your business.

Another change I hope you notice this year, and I guess this depends on my ability to be fun, but there should be more of a fun factor. I like laughing, and goofing off, and having fun, and I love operating businesses. I think operating a business is fun. One fun item that we’re going to do this year is called the Hypometer 3000, which is this machine that can determine whether a marketing topic is overhyped, underhyped, or hyped just right. The goal of the Hypometer 3000 is all for you. It’s to help you understand whether what your team is up to is more about the hype than help.

There’s a lot of things that people do because it’s what everybody does, but it’s not particularly helpful to the company. The Hypometer just takes your level of understanding out to the equation and just says, “You’re probably doing the wrong thing, or you’re probably doing the right thing here.” We’re going to have plenty of guests this year, lots of experts. Some will have their whole own episodes, and some will just pop in and out of episodes as needed.

It’s always been the intention of Totally Hyped by the way to be a passive tool for business leaders. It’s always meant to be so that you could be driving in your car and take in an episode of Totally Hyped and learn something and hopefully be inspired by something. For now, it’s still going to remain audio first so that you can be doing other things, and it’s more of a passive thing that you can be working out, I guess, if you wanted to and listening to an episode of Totally Hyped. However, our website’s going to offer more supplemental items this year like downloads, images and videos if needed.

You might be able to see some of the guests. You might be able to see what’s going on in some of these episodes, but it’s going to be audio first. If during the course of any episode or the course of you wake up at two o’clock in the morning and, “That Cale was an idiot,” or, “My God, that was a good point that Cale made,” or, “You know what? I’ve got a question about that episode,” you can reach out to me anytime at [email protected]. That’s C-A-L-E is how you spell my name, not like the vegetable, [email protected], or you can go to and there’s some forms on there for you to fill out and you’ll engage with me or someone at the show that way.

For right now, let’s jump into this topic. Today’s episode is a high-level guide for business success for you, the business leader of a small to medium-size business. We want you to make the most of your marketing efforts. That’s what this whole episode is about. When it comes to marketing, there’s two types of small to mid-size business leaders. One type of business leader has marketing knowledge or some experience or maybe they even have a lot, like I mentioned before.

The other type doesn’t know very much about marketing. You might keep your distance a bit from the marketing efforts. You just know that marketing needs to happen. Therefore, you’re fine with spending on it, but you’re not really quite sure what’s all going over in that department, bunch of creative people, bunch of hyperactive probably millennials working for you over there. At the end of the day, my job is to, regardless of where you fall on the spectrum of what you know about marketing is to find middle ground.

Sometimes, it might feel for some of you at one end of the spectrum like I’m overexplaining things and for others, it might feel like I’m using a little bit of jargon, but at the end of the day, that’s probably, hopefully, I’m doing it well, and I’m staying in the middle and the learning comes through that. That’s the point.

Marketing is one of those things, though, that makes sense at a high level. We know we need to market, we know we’re promoting our business, but with the cavalcade of tactics, and channels, and jargon, it can be very challenging for a business leader. To stay on top of it all and to know if I’m doing everything I should be doing, or if I’m doing too much. Maybe some business leaders are even feeling like, “It’s so confusing to me. Maybe, I should just stay away from the whole thing.” I’m just here to tell you, no, no, no, no, no, no. Don’t do that.

I’m going to show you a very simple way for you to be as involved as you should be the exact right level. That shouldn’t take you much time. It shouldn’t really even take you off track of what you’re doing right now. It’s just doing it in a way that’s helping your marketing team a little bit more effectively. No matter what your degree of marketing savvy, just please understand that as a business leader, even if you’re hands-off, you really play a key role in ensuring that every marketing dollar you spend has the ability to impact your business in a positive way and has the ability to improve your business.

Even again, if you’re one of these people, that’s more hands-off, you still play a key role. We’re going to talk about that here in a second. We’re not going to get into the how-tos, I promise. This is going to be more about leadership and how you lead in a way that also causes your marketing company and all your departments to act better. This isn’t a leadership how-to thing.

It’s just to make sure you’re not forgetting that while you’re leading and aiming your company in the right direction, that if you just make sure that everybody’s aware of where you’re going, that that’s the thing that is going to be most helpful to making sure that all your departments, but marketing, who’s probably not really privy to what direction is the company taking this year, in a lot of cases anyway, making sure that if you are clear with your marketing department or your marketing team, whoever, if they’re outside or they’re internal, making sure that they’re aware of where you’re headed in a way that allows them to do their job and impact the company in the way that you want it impacted from marketing.

Oftentimes, we define marketing success incorrectly. A lot of times we look at marketing and say, “How did the ad do?” It had a million viewers. It’s a lot of clicks. No, no, no. What you really want to know is did it do the thing for our business in a way that the business noticed and can track that we wanted it to do? That means if you were trying to increase sales when you ran the ad, no matter where you run it, if it’s a social media post, or if it’s a TV ad or radio ad, or if it’s a paper click effort that you’re doing on Google or Bing, did it actually do the thing that the business wanted it to do?

That means that you got to stop getting hung up in how much– Here, let me just say it this way. What marketing success is not and how great a post is it’s not in number of followers. Marketing success is not in your ranking in Google, or your TV ad, or your print ad. What marketing success is, is what did those things do to your business in a measurable way. That means from where you sit, you and whoever’s running your marketing department or your marketing efforts, you need to have a straightforward way to see how the marketing efforts are impacting your business and are those marketing efforts impacting your business in a way that’s aligned with your objectives.

If you do those few things right there, little bit of work upfront, making sure that you’re all on the same page and that you can all see transparently what’s going on will give you a leg up on your competition because most companies aren’t going to do this. They’re kind of floundering, and they’re kind of just doing marketing for the sake of marketing, but if they want to move the needle in very specific ways, you’ve just got to be clear with each other and you’ve got to be transparent. That’s just super important. I can’t stress that enough. I’ve been doing this for so many years. These failure rates, 87%, 77%, all these failure rates come up all the time about how horrible marketing is really doing.

Technology projects altogether just do horribly. The number one reason is because the requirements aren’t stated clearly enough. In your case, you don’t need to go and say, “Here, the requirement is this specific marketing tactic here.” No, you’re going there and saying, “This is what the company is trying to do.” Then your marketing team needs to come to you and say, “Well, here’s how we’re going to do that, we’re going to use this tool, that tool, or the other tool. It’ll cost this much money. Here’s how we’re going to make sure that it does those things.” Because at the end of the day, no marketing project starts knowing that it’s going to be successful or knowing that it’s going to be a failure.

You have to factor in that we’re going to start here, and there’s going to be a lot of knobs turned, and a lot of levels adjusted, and a lot of modification that goes on in order to try to get it to go in the direction that does the thing it’s supposed to do. At the end of the day, you got to be careful about, it’s not about building an audience. Somebody’s going to say, “When we build an audience, of course, we’re going to see it,” but if it doesn’t mean that the phone rings more, if it doesn’t mean that sales increase or your leads get better, better quality leads or leads that are converting more, or just more of good quality leads. If it’s not doing those things, then those are just numbers.

It’s exciting to have 10,000 followers, but if they’re not doing your company a bit of good, it’s probably a lot more work than it is benefit. You got to really pay attention and help your team understand that these are the key performance indicators we’re looking at every day to see if our business is headed in the right direction. What are you going to do to help me to make this number better? If your marketing team is doing that, and you guys can come up with a way of reporting on those items that you’re trying to improve, I’m going to tell you right now that the improvement in your business, it’s going to be amazing. I can’t even define it partly because it’s hard to explain.

It’s more than just the idea that it’s going to improve your business, the relationship between leadership and your marketing is going to be so much better. Now, it’s going to sound overly simplified, but again, this only can start with you. This process of being that dialed in, it can only start with you. First of all, they probably can’t drive the change in reverse. They’d like to maybe, and maybe they’re capable, but it’s very difficult to go in reverse order and lead from behind. While this is going to sound overly simplified that it starts with you, it does.

First of all, all you really need to do is just over-communicate your goals and objectives. “Here’s what we’re out to do. How are you guys doing working on this today?” You’re not talking about a thing, you’re talking about this goal. “How are you guys doing on increasing sales today? What are you doing today to help us out?” Then, you guys have to have KPIs or key performance indicators that you both can look at and know every day, that are my efforts doing what they’re supposed to do. Don’t be freaked out because marketing again, you don’t know that doing all this social media effort is going to pay off the way you think it’s going to pay off. You don’t know that.

What you do know is you’re going to do this, and you can measure what this did, and then you can make adjustments. That’s really what it’s about, but you got to have great measurements. You both have to believe in those measurements. You have to have access to them. You can’t just be like, “I will show you in three months how you did.” It’s a horrible way to run that relationship. At least your marketing leaders or your key marketing people shouldn’t be aware of what they’re doing every day, and how that’s impacting the business, 100%.

If you guys can get on the same page that way and be very clear and very confident that these numbers and your ability to move these numbers is going to have an impact on the business, it’ll be life-altering how different things will be for you. Don’t get me wrong, it’s exciting to have 10,000 followers or have a database of 100,000 readers for your newsletter, but if they’re not really doing anything for you, they’re not buying, they’re not recommending you, they’re not helping you out, they’re not advocating, it’s not very helpful. In fact, it’s probably a lot more work to manage that and keep growing that than it is helpful.

However, if you had 100 followers, and they’re buying from you all the time and driving five new followers per week, that’s helpful. It’s not a number you’re going to go raving to your friends about, but it’s certainly helpful. That’s the audience you want to build. That’s the audience you want to build. If you can build 100 like that, you just keep building on that, that’s where your efforts go. We know if we get more followers like this specifically, we’re going to have this impact, and that’s just a wildly different approach.

To recap where we are so far. You got to be the communicator of your objectives and you have to be clear and precise about what those objectives mean. Then you and your marketing team need to understand what the key performance indicators are that you’re looking at to determine whether those are happening or not. They need to have access to that so they know that on a day-to-day basis, week to week basis, month to month, quarter to quarter, how they’re doing. They don’t need to wait three months to have you go, “You know what? That didn’t work,” because they couldn’t see the numbers. That just sucks.

Make sure you’re not ambiguous about what those numbers mean and the impact on those numbers. Just make sure that everybody’s crystal clear and they can see that when this happens, this happens. Then that’s all you can really ask for. Then, if you look at it from that perspective, when we talk about money, money, money, money, money, money. Anyway, whether you create budgets or approve or oversee them, you need to be able to see what’s what.

Then, your marketing process becomes quite different. Because I know I’m going to get my result, I’m willing to spend this much money to get that result. That’s how marketing should work. That becomes your own formula. There’s all kinds of formulas you can read online about how much money you should spend on marketing, but at the end of the day, it should be very unique to you. What am I? What’s my tolerance for achieving this goal? I know that when marketing does this and it costs us much to do that, I’m going to get that goal. I’m willing to, here’s my ceiling. It’s a way different way of doing marketing budgets, but it’s the most effective.

You can’t just jump out of the gate and do it. You got to start somewhere, find your rhythm, and find how you guys work together the best, make sure that your key performance indicators are clear to everybody and that your objectives are clear to everybody. When you start moving the needle in the right direction on a pretty consistent basis, change the way you’re doing your budgets. You’ll be way happier and so will your marketing team. You can’t sit there and be like, “How much did we spend last year on that? We’re either going to increase or decrease that.” That’s a horribly lazy and outdated way to do your budgets.

You need to know what you’re up against and what it takes to get to that improvement level and what are you comfortable with. You have to put a dollar amount on that improvement. You have to, at the end of the day, say that if we were to increase sales 10% in this area, that would mean $20 million, and then say, “Okay, $20 million is what we’re going to get out of this.” You know what I’m saying? If the value to the company is this, and I spend this much money to get that, what is my tolerance for how much would I be willing to spend?

For example, if I borrowed $10 from you and said, tomorrow I’m going to give you $15 just to show my appreciation, the next time I wanted to borrow $10, you’d be pretty happy to do that. In fact, you might even be like, “Hey, you need another $10?” You know that you’d do that all day long if it costs you $1000. You got a 50% return on your investment, are you kidding me? Gone are the days when marketing is considered unnecessary evil. If it still feels that way, you’re doing it wrong.

One of our stepfathers– One of our forefathers in marketing John Wanamaker said, “Half the money I spent on advertising is wasted, trouble is I don’t know which half.” He said that 100 years ago. If you’re still feeling that way today, which many companies do, you’re doing it wrong, you really are. Don’t feel alone. Lots of companies, most companies feel upside down or are actually upside down in at least some of their marketing approaches. Nobody’s unique that way. This happens for a number of reasons, but the most common is that you weren’t clear in what you’re trying to achieve, and then you didn’t have measurements. It’s all tied together.

Be clear on those objectives and this will help you with your budgeting as well. You have to go and say, “I know I’m going to hit the mark, or I’m pretty confident I’m going to hit the mark, or maybe we have no way of knowing right now because this has never been done before, but I’m willing to invest this much to find out whether we can move the needle here. If I do start moving the needle, then recalculate. I’m willing to find out. I’m willing to spend $50,000 to find out if we can do this.” If we can, then recalculate and say, “In order to achieve this goal, it means this to my company and I’m willing to spend this to get that.” It’s just life-altering when you can get to that level of clarity.

I don’t want to get into detail about budgeting right now. We have episodes coming up that are going to be detailed about budgeting, but for right now, I just say, you’re not alone. No one’s got a firm grip on it, but a very clear way to go about it is to say, “What’s it worth for me to find out if we’re capable of doing that with marketing? Then if we are, then I’m willing to spend this to hit that mark.” I hope that makes some sense.

I feel like I rambled a little bit there, but at the end of the day, it really just, start with the goal in mind, to the best of your ability, predict what that would be worth to the company if you achieve the goal, place a literal dollar amount on it. What would you be willing to spend? Maybe just start with 5% to 10% of what you’d be willing to spend to hit that mark, just to find out. Then, once you start moving in the right direction, recalculate, and say, “What’s my ceiling for this?” That’s how I tell customers to do their budgets all the time.

Then, just understanding that the marketing could be anything. It doesn’t have to be how much we’re spending on social media this year. What’s the objective? Oh, guess what? Social media is not going to be that great of help in that effort. Maybe, we’re spending a lot less on social media. It really should be a conversation when you’re doing budgets. One of the things that, I guess, maybe I’d warn you about, but I don’t even know if a warning is the right word to use. It sounds negative like, “Uh oh.” One thing to think about is that, I probably mentioned this earlier, you’re not going to start a marketing project knowing before you start that it’s going to succeed or fail.

There’s always, almost always, I can count on less than one hand. I can count on half of one hand, if you chopped off 2 1/2 fingers in my hand, I could probably count the times that we started from point A, and knocked it out of the park without any adjustments. I’ve been doing this for a long time. Really, almost always, you’re going to need to at least understand that there’s a process that goes into being successful, and it’s not just, “If we do this, we’re going to win, we’re going to win.” You’re going to probably win with some tweaking.

Just make sure that you’re aware of that, and that there should be 5% to 10% of whatever you’re doing is dedicated specifically to finding out, and to dialing things in, and to knowing where you’re landing and where you can go from there. Hopefully, that’s as clear as mud for you. At the end of the day, your job is to really just go and talk about the objective, and be clear about it. It’s not some secret thing that you want to increase sales. Almost all objectives are about making money. You need to be clear about that, and then you need to work with the marketing team to figure out how you’re going to both see what’s going on there, and what those efforts are achieving for you.

You do those two things, and you work together to achieve that goal, and I promise you, you’re going to be thinking about marketing in a completely different way. Well, there you have it. That’s the first episode of Season 2 of Totally Hyped. My name is Cale Guin, and I want to thank you for listening. Until next time, be good. You can get answers to your marketing questions at If you’re interested in guaranteed marketing results, stop by, home of the only guarantee in the business.

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