The Small Business Bottom Line

Even if you’re terrible at accounting (but great with customers), you still know the basics of money: We want to be in the black instead of the red. I mean, red is my favorite color everywhere except on a financial statement.

A color can show you the bottom line about your company’s financial state at that point in time.  But what if you are in the red for one quarter and the profits from another quarter have to cover that expense? Or what if your financial statement is black, but not black enough? — Meaning you could stand to have more profit, more buffer, more resources (after all, that’s what money is—a resource).

In my opinion, the small business bottom line is marketing (solutions that work).  Marketing is all-important, but unfortunately, it’s also the one thing that many small businesses (in my world) address last—or not at all.  When done right, marketing can improve your financial bottom line.  When done wrong, marketing can cost you more than you can afford to pay.

It’s Not About That

Online marketing is not about the website or the social network page. Offline marketing is not about the print items or the number of times you appear on television. Both kinds of marketing are about strategy.  At the core that strategy answers three questions:

  • Who are your people?
  • What do they want?
  • How will you reach them?

Your marketing items, on and offline, are a series of mini-strategies that you (and your team) must design with the end result in mind.

You Don’t Want It

You don’t want a Facebook fan page just to have a Facebook fan page, as Lisa Barone has said on this blog before. You want it in order to reach your people (target audience).  So the question is, who are they and are they on Facebook?

You don’t want a full page ad in the local newspaper just to have a full-page ad in the local newspaper. You want to get in front of your target audience. So, are they reading the local paper or the New York Times? And will one BIG ad do it or would you be better off with 13 smaller ones?

You don’t want to be on television just to be on television.  You want to be where your people are.  Does it really matter that an advertiser says that he can get your ad aired in 1 million homes across the state when you only need to reach the 100,000 in your local area (and neighboring towns)?

Put the time and money into what really matters. Marketing strategy matters.


Jamillah Warner Jamillah Warner (Ms.J), a poet with a passion for business, is a Georgia-based writer and speaker and the Marketing Coordinator at Nobuko Solutions. She also provides marketing and communication quick tips in her getCLEAR! MicroNewsletter.

6 Reactions
  1. Amen to that last line. “Marketing strategy matters.” We are bombarded with how-to blogs telling small businesses what they need to succeed. But if the strategy doesn’t match the audience, it’s a waste of time and money.

  2. Absolutely Jamillah, great reminder for small business. Our mantra to the businesses we work with is plan,strategy,review because without directed focus its like watching a fish out of water jumping around trying to breathe.

  3. Jamillah, this is great advice. Small businesses that try to market their product to the whole world often lose bottom line because they failed to reach the people that were really interested.

    In order to segment the market and determine levels of market penetration, it is critical to understand if the target market spends time online, if they use social media, and if they value personal outreach. In cases like these, a little research will almost always pay off in more bottom line than it originally cost.

    I’ve been having a few conversations with Dawn over at Best Small Biz Help ( about small business bookkeeping tips, and she really knows how to foster controllable, sustained growth in startups. Not only does she “get” the financial predicaments of many small firms, she understands SEO (Search Engine Optimization), online marketing, and traditional marketing techniques. It’s really been an eye-opener. If any fellow readers are looking for help with marketing, she’s a great resource.

    Thanks again for your great advice, Jamillah. This is a good summary of the places where many marketing strategies fall short.

  4. Brian Satterlee

    Small business marketing is both the most important thing to the small business, and the most misunderstood. Many think that marketing is synonymous with advertising and it couldn’t be further from the truth. Marketing is about identifying the customer and creating business strategies that cater to the customer. Without good marketing, it is like beating your head against a brick wall snd wondering why you have a headache.

  5. Good points Jamillah. I would add to also make sure your strategies and tactics selected are in line with your sales and marketing objectives otherwise it can waste time and money.

  6. Very true. You can confidently run your business when you are in the black. There is no need for the added stress of running your business in the red. Having your beacon in the fog in front of you and zig zagging toward your goal will ultimately lead you to your greatest success.