Kolau had the privilege to interview Marilyn Goodman, City College of San Francisco’s Marketing Coordinator and instructor since 2008. She is a very skilled communicator and one of the highest-rated City College of San Francisco instructors of all time.

What is the one piece of marketing knowledge that you especially want your students to walk away with?

Marilyn: That’s easy. The piece of knowledge that I always tell my students is that it is two times more expensive to get a new customer than to retain an existing customer. So if you have one last dollar to spend, spend it getting an existing customer to buy something else.

You should have a retention program from day one, up and ready as soon as you get your first customer in the door.

Do you think email marketing is the most efficient channel for a small business to implement customer retention strategies?

It has to be a component of an integrated strategy. Don’t think that sending out one email is your retention program. It should be part of a three step, four step, five step program. That includes an email, a phone call, a site visit, and a newsletter. It’s not a one-medium retention program.

How do you feel that marketing has changed in the past five years, and how does that change what you teach your students?

Consumers look at what a product or service can do for them, not at the features, the attributes, or the benefits. So over the years, I have seen a switch from promotional messages to content messages, meaning “Tell me something that helps me sell my flowers or promote my restaurant. Don’t hit me over the head with your message about your attributes.”

Social media is definitely changing the landscape of marketing. It allows us to have a dialogue with our customers. It used to be that marketers send out a message, and consumers either believe it or not. But now you have this whole dialogue going on.

So when I see companies like Oreo on Pinterest and on Twitter, I think “Really? A cookie company?” They’re making themselves relevant. They’re putting themselves into consumer conversation, and making consumers talk about them, using their stance on gay marriage or whatever it may be, to make themselves a part of consumer conversation. That’s the biggest switch I’ve seen: that social media now allows brands to interact with consumers to become part of the relevant conversation.

Facebook’s organic reach continues to decrease, and Twitter ads have yet to prove to be a good return on investment for most, so do you think that small businesses should focus more on Google and less on Facebook?

No one is on Facebook anymore. If you look at the millennials, teens, and Gen Y, they’re leaving that platform. And you won’t see Facebook scrambling to retain market share. Facebook, according to my students, is viewed as a social media platform for old people. There’s a company in San Francisco that does Facebook analytics, and developed a software that analyzes Facebook advertisements. So a small business may have a Facebook, but a small business that’s going out through the millennials, uh-uh.

My husband has always wanted to open up a little doctor’s office. It’s a small business with just my husband. I told him no Facebook, because small businesses are usually geographic. They don’t need the national reach that a State Farm Insurance would need on Facebook. I would emphasize having any customer who has a good experience with your company give it a Yelp review. You would be shocked at how many small businesses’ number one source of business, my husband’s business included, is from a Yelp review. It was shocking to me. To find a doctor, they’re going on Yelp? You would be surprised at how much a consumer values the Yelp reviews for a small business.

Use Google Adwords, and drive customers to write positive reviews on Yelp. So when consumers go to look for your business, there you are.

A recent study indicated that small businesses are increasing in-house marketing efforts, and that outnumbers the ones outsourcing more of their marketing efforts 3 to 1. Do you think that small businesses are looking to be in control, or that they have grown dissatisfied with their marketing agencies?

I don’t think it’s either. Small businesses now have the resources and the tools available to do it themselves. Now an average employee can make a beautiful website in a half-hour, maybe less.

The phenomenon you’re seeing there is that more online resources are available for it to be done in-house. Why would I go hire an agency when I can bring on a really smart marketer who can do all of it, under my roof where I have more control?

Do you think the do-it-yourself strategy will continue to increase, and the agencies will continue to decline in the near future?

In small businesses, I would say yes. I believe that small businesses are now savvy, and if they don’t know how to do it, they can hire a college kid or an intern. If you go on LinkedIn, and you type in “Marketing intern” in the United States…or forget the United States, in San Francisco, you will find 500. And those are small businesses who are saying “I’m not going to hire an agency. I’m not going to outsource this. I’m going to hire a smart marketer who can do social media and build a website.

And there’s crowdsourcing for logos now. You don’t even need to hire a designer to design your logo. You go to one of the crowdsourcing sites like 99 Designs, and you tell a graphic designer out there exactly what you want, and they spit it out. You can say “ABC Small Business, these are the requirements, and if yours wins, you get 50 bucks.” So that’s a huge phenomenon. You can control your marketing from inside.

What is your number one advice for customer acquisition?

I would look at your brand. I would look at your competitive analysis. I would look at your competitive advantage. I would look at your positioning. Look at your opportunities and threats and determine how you will differentiate yourself from the competition. That’s the first thing I would say. What are you offering that’s unique and different?

If you say yes, I have a business or a service that is unique and different, the second thing I would say is how are you getting that message across? What are your consumers not understanding about it, that is making your acquisition suffer?

What are you doing wrong? Are you emailing them when your target demographics are in social media? Are you sending them a Facebook campaign when your target market gets most of their information from direct sales?

I would look at your brand message, I would look at your position and your competitive analysis, and then I would see how you are marketing. How are you letting consumers know that you exist and why you are different?

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