Successful marketers play the marketing game to win. Struggling marketers play the marketing game trying not to lose.

Marketing is really just a game. And successful small business marketers play the game to win. Now that doesn’t mean they are necessarily the best marketers. It’s just that they are typically more clear in their purpose and intent in marketing their business.

Struggling small businesses play the marketing game just hoping not to lose.

They don’t want to lose money.
They don’t want to lose credibility with clients and potential clients.
They apparently don’t want to lose precious time because they don’t use it for proactive marketing.
Playing a game not to lose is an entirely different mindset than playing a game to win. But, it’s exactly the attitude and mindset that way too many small businesses take into their marketing. Because they’re not experts at marketing, they tend to just dabble in marketing when they desperately need new business and hope it doesn’t cost them too much.

The primary concern of struggling small business marketers is just trying to survive the rough times and until things turn around. You end up just trying to do enough to get a few more clients and then just praying that the current slow down will end soon.

Because struggling small business marketers are just trying not to lose, they also fall prey to “just trying to keep up with the Jones.” You’ll know this is happening to you when your approach to marketing is watching what your competitors are doing and then just trying to do them one better.

Be careful. It often ends up being the blind following the blind. Because you see them spending time, money and effort on some tactic you assume it must be working. So naturally, you need to spend some time, money and effort as well just to keep up. What you don’t know is that they’re also a struggling small business marketer that is just trying not to lose.

What is your marketing mindset? What is your purpose and intent when it comes to marketing your business? Are you playing the marketing game to win or simply trying not to lose?

Successful small business marketers win because they think, and therefore act differently than struggling marketers. It is not because they are more creative, smarter, or better at what they do for a living. They expect to win and intend for their marketing to result in a flow of high-quality prospects. The good news is that you can choose to think, and therefore act differently to start playing the game to win.

So what is it that makes successful small businesses winners at the game of marketing? Let me offer a few suggestions:

* Successful marketers are great students of the game. They understand the rules and how to apply the proven principles of marketing in their business. They are always paying attention to what works and what doesn’t work as well as looking for little ways to improve their game.
Think about professional athletes such as Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods. There’s no doubt that these guys are tremendous athletes. But, what put them at the top of their games is that they are huge students of their game. It’s not just the hours and hours of practicing, but also the commitment to studying and learning that creates a winner.

* Struggling small businesses resist learning about the game of marketing. They don’t invest the time or effort to learn what it is they don’t know to better market their business. They’re content to tell themselves and others that “I’m just not good at marketing.”

* Successful marketers are clear about the purpose and intent of all their marketing efforts. You’ve certainly heard the popular sentiment of beginning with the end in mind. As it pertains to marketing, that means being clear on what your most desired outcome is for any effort.

When you’re clear about what outcome or result you want to produce, you’re more likely to get it. It might be getting your target audience to request more information or to add subscribers to your email newsletter list. Knowing what you are trying to get helps you better define the steps it takes to make it happen.

* Struggling marketers tend to develop marketing without any sort of clearly defined most desired result. Too many small businesses vaguely define their desired outcome as creating more name recognition or letting people know what services they provide. How do you possibly measure something like that?

* Successful small business marketers believe in the value of preparation. Effective small business marketing is about 90% preparation and about 10% application. Successful small business marketers understand that, and that is a big reason they win more often.

* Far too often, struggling marketers rush into doing things without adequately planning and preparing. They mistake activity for forward progress, but it is actually all the activity without thinking and planning that holds them back.