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Sales and marketing terms deciphered

Posted by Jason Keith  November 1, 2011 06:03 AM

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The Internet is chock full of information on all kinds of topics, but it seems like when it comes to small business, the information is not only bountiful but sometimes difficult to decipher. 

What happens is that authors assume that the reader knows the subject matter and as a result, the terminology that goes along with the story. This happens a lot when it comes to marketing terms specifically.  Small businesses are typically looking for marketing advice – ways in which they can get more exposure for their business – so people writing use decades old (or recent buzzword) marketing terms that can be difficult to understand. 

Keeping that in mind, I wanted to take a few of the most “tried and true” marketing terms that are used in everyday stories, explain their meanings but more importantly highlight how they relate to the small business owner.

ROI: this stands for “return on investment.” In other words, the amount of money spent on a marketing campaign relative to how much you take in in business.  What’s important about ROI is that it indicates testing of a marketing campaign, no matter what medium is being used, to determine how effective it’s been.  That’s important regardless of the size of the business, because without calculating the money being brought in from marketing, a business could be spending money on things that aren’t working. Worse, it will never realize it. Testing is one of the most critical components of any marketing or advertising campaign.

CPC:  This means cost per click. The reason this is important is because as online ads start to take a greater piece of the marketing puzzle, so too will this terminology. The “cost per click” model means that as a business you’re paying for every click you generate – be it with Facebook or Google ads and banner ads.  Know what you’re paying for, how it will impact the budget for the campaign and what you can realistically expect to bring to your site before embarking on any online campaign.

80/20: also known as the “Pareto Principle,” this “rule” means that by the numbers 80 percent of your outcomes come from 20 percent of your inputs. How this applies to small business is that typically 20 percent of an establishment’s best customers account for 80 percent of business. As I’ve mentioned in the past, focusing in on your most loyal customers will also yield positive long term results.    

Value Proposition: This is a fancy way of describing what the standout quality of any small business is. But what value proposition allows a business to do is focus on what they want to stand for.  In other words, it behooves a restaurant to focus on one cuisine or have a “signature dish” rather than a menu that meanders all over the place and doesn’t stand out.  The same can be said for any business.  Do one thing really well and customers will want it.

SEO: If you’re a reader of this blog, you should already know this stands for “search engine optimization” which is incredibly important to getting found online, especially locally.  As a small business owner, focusing on the specific key terms that are being searched that you want to rank for, as well as the terms the competition is popping up on is paramount. 

WOM:  Finally, this is the most important term to know as a small business.  WOM, or “word of mouth marketing” is and always will be the most effective form of marketing. This has also been called “viral marketing” in recent years, people just haven’t realized it.  Even something as simple as a local business making an impression with 25 customers who then each tell one friend, who then each tell another friend can mean instant success.  Once the good word takes off, it can catch like a wildfire. So any elements of marketing that a business can use to harness word of mouth should be utilized. Encourage referrals, give incentives to loyal customers that do refer you and always treat referrals well. 

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About this blog

Jason Keith has been working for and with small businesses in the New England area for more than 10 years, specifically small, micro businesses. Born and raised in Massachusetts and a former journalist, he provides a unique perspective on the issues facing small businesses locally and nationally.To reach him directly email

This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed here are the author's alone.

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