How to Advertise and Market Your Small Business With Employees

by Tom Egelhoff

When economic conditions are tough business owners usually make two major mistakes.

One, they cut back on advertising and two; they cut back on their workforce.

In this article I want to explore the latter. Keeping and marketing with your existing workforce to build a stronger business.

Studies have shown that the average number of people who attend weddings and funerals is 250.

What that means is each one of us has a sphere of influence where we touch at least 250 people so significantly that they will celebrate our weddings or show up for our last ride.

Each employee in your workforce knows or has some influence on a lot of people. Or to put it more simply – influence on a lot of potential customers.

How many customers have your employees sent to your business? The answer is probably zero or you have no idea.

Building your small business with employees

Let’s look at the employee time frame. There are 168 hours in a week. (24 X 7 = 168). Each employee spends 40 hours with you at your business. They spend another 40 hours sleeping.

The other 88 hours (over twice the time they spend with you) they spend out in the world interacting with others. They have hobbies, do sports, attend church, and donate time to kids, charity, and too many other activities to list here.

So what are they saying about your business during those 88 hours?

I would hope they are telling people about how lucky they are to work where they do. About how well they are treated and appreciated for their efforts.

Or, they could be telling people that you are the worst boss they’ve ever had, that your products and services are sub-standard and are looking hard for another job.

Each person they tell will tell at least one other person when you business name comes up. Probably more than one.

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The power of one employee

What if each employee brought in just 5 brand new customers? What would that do for your business? Put yourself in your employee’s shoes for a moment.

What is the dynamic between you and the company? If I work harder and the company does better in most cases I won’t see any pay increase. So is my incentive to work just hard enough not to get fired?

Most employees don’t understand the cause and effect of their efforts. They don’t seem to understand that increases in profit are where raises come from. It’s where benefits come from. Don’t blame them for this “fuzzy logic.”

In most cases employers only share financial information when the company is on the verge of collapse. By then the only option left is layoffs and cutbacks.

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The power of employee incentives

Consider a different scenario. All employees have business cards and have an incentive to pass them out. If a new customer comes in and buys something the employee that sent them receives something for contributing to that sale.

It might be points the employee can save and cash in later in the form of time off or prizes of some kind. The great thing about these kinds of incentives is they pay for themselves in the profits of increased business.

Next, encourage employees to be active in the community. Pay their dues to Kiwanis, Lions, Rotary, etc. Show them that networking can benefit them and your business at the same time.

They will be exposed to a whole new group of people and contacts they would not otherwise have made. They will become more confident and business savvy from the experience.

Keeping, training and motivating good employees through these recessionary times will pay off when good times return. And good times will return faster for your business then your competitor because you will have competent, knowledgeable, motivated employees.

And that’s the kind of company customers are looking for.                   

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