Message. Market. Methods.
Branding and marketing for small businesses 
July 2017
Why You Should Never Stop Learning

We all like to think we are doing what we can to continually learn, change, and grow; in our personal lives as well as our work lives. In addition to the little - and big- things we learn "on the fly" all the time, we need time for structured learning. It is structured learning that is often sacrificed for activities that seem more urgent or important.

Continual learning is critical to your business. Making important business decisions is much easier and quicker when you have the right information. From a marketing standpoint, the right information will allow you to better understand and develop your brand so you can leverage it to grow your business. Learning the right things also helps you successfully create messaging, define target markets, and choose the right marketing channels.

What do you need to learn?

Every marketing decision involves answering a question- how much should my budget be, do I need to re-brand, should I try social media, am I targeting the right people, how do I differentiate myself from the competition? Learning begins with questions, and the right questions differ depending on your situation. You may want to know why people really buy your services, how much they are willing to pay, why they might choose a competitor over you, how much customer interaction they want, or where they are most likely to see your advertising.

Make a list of all the marketing decisions you need to make. Write down questions for each decision that would provide you with help if you knew the answers. Now you are ready for your knowledge-seeking mission. Where do you find this knowledge?

Where/How to learn it

Structured learning can occur in many different ways. Plan time into your schedule for one or more of the following:
  • Follow blogs from industry leaders
  • Sign up for newsletters from vendors, thought leaders, or competitors
  • Use your local library's business databases and other business resources
  • Watch inspiring presentations (ie. TED talks)
  • Read articles in industry magazines and newspapers (yes, they still print things!)
  • Sign up for webinars on topics that interest you
  • Take a class: Many local community colleges and universities have community-based seminars for business owners. Online webinars and courses are widely available from thought leaders in multiple disciplines.
  • Implement surveys: The best way to gather marketing intelligence for your business is to simply ask your customers. If you wonder how important it is that you offer after-hours appointments, or if you should increase your product line- ask your customers. Surveying is one of the most valuable and most underutilized learning methods there is. 
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