by   on April 9, 2024

Four Levers to Dominate Your Small Business Marketing In 2023

You are a small business owner. You sell great products and services. But you struggle with marketing. You feel like your business could grow much faster and bigger if only you could fix your marketing. If so, this post is for you. In this post, you’ll learn a simple four-step small business marketing plan to implement for your business in the next 90 days.

Let’s start with something that happened in 1997.

It was January 1997. The venue is the MacWorld conference. That was the first big public appearance Steve Jobs made after he returned to Apple. He had inherited a company that he founded, but in a rather bad shape business-wise.

Sales had declined 30 percent in the last quarter of the previous year. Microsoft had gained market share. The brand name had taken a beating. And Jobs had some serious work to do. So he got to work.

He looked at the company’s endless list of products. And he called for his top managers, showed them the product list, and asked them one question:

“Which ones do I tell my friends to buy?”

And when he got a long winding answer, Jobs spotted the first problem. He then decided to cut the number of Apple products by 70 percent. Instead of bragging about the number of products, he shifted the focus to something else.

He launched the Think Different campaign.

It was a campaign that caught the world’s attention. And it helped relaunch Apple, with an increased focus on Apple’s values and purpose. And then you know what happened.

iTunes, iPod, iPad, the iPhone. The rest is history.

Instead of thinking of competition as enemies, Jobs decided to partner with them. It was the $150 million partnership with Microsoft that infused fresh life back into Apple when Jobs got back.

He made friends in the music industry with iTunes.

This post is not about Apple or Steve Jobs. But instead, it’s about what and how Steve Jobs transformed a fast, dwindling business. It’s what Jobs did at Apple that got companies like Forbes calling him a marketing genius.

But what does it mean to be a marketing genius?

The answer lies in Jobs’ plan and strategy to turn around Apple. You will see a framework if you carefully examine every action he took. I call it the MMMA Framework™ for marketing.

Podcast Alert: This post was first published on The Launch Plan podcast. Here’s a link if you’d like to listen. Or click the play button below to listen.

The MMMA Framework™

MMMA stands for Market, Message, Monetization, and Affinity. And these are the four key levers of any business. If you turn these levers the right way, you progress. When even one of them is ignored, your business will start to go down.

When Steve Jobs returned to Apple, many Apple employees lost their jobs. But that was done for a reason. It was not cost-cutting. The Think Different campaign was the culmination of turning these four levers.

Let’s look at each of these four levers closely.

Lever #1 – Market

The first lever is the Market. In simple terms, how well do you understand your market?

By asking, “Which ones do I tell my friends to buy?” Jobs made a very important point. You don’t have a business if you aren’t sure who your market is. In context, Apple manufactured products for many markets back then.

For example, they made Newton a Personal Digital Assistant. They made computer displays, Macintosh Server, printers, speakers, the Apple Quick Take cameras, and the Apple PowerCD cd player. The list was endless.

So that’s what you do when you focus on understanding your market and decide to serve that market. Instead of serving all kinds of customers, Jobs decided to serve only those who valued design and innovation—the creators.

Lever #2 – Messaging

First, read the following excerpt from Steve Jobs’s speech, describing the thinking behind the Think Different campaign.

The best example of all, in one of the greatest jobs of of marketing in the universe has ever seen as Nike. Remember, Nike sells a commodity, they sell shoes. And yet, when you think of Nike, you feel something different than a shoe company. And their ads is you know, they don’t ever talk about the products they don’t ever tell you about their air soles and why they’re better than Reeboks air soles.

 

What is Nike doing their advertising. They they honor great athletes, and they honor great athletics. That’s who they are. That’s what they are about. Apple spends a fortune on advertising. You’d never know it. Never know.

 

So. When I got here, Apple just fired their agency. We’re doing the competition with 23 agencies that you know four years from now we’ll pick one. And we blew that up. And we we hired Shaddai, the ad agency that I was fortunate enough to work with years ago.

 

We created some award winning work, including the commercial voted the best ad ever made 1984 by advertising professionals. And we started working about eight weeks ago. And what was the question we asked was our customers want to know who is apple? And what is it that we stand for? Where do we fit in this world.

 

And what we’re about isn’t making boxes for people to get their jobs done. Although we do that, well. We do that better than almost anybody in some cases. But Apple’s about something more than that. Apple at the core, its core value is that we believe that people with passion can change the world for the better. That’s what we believe.

Simply put, once you understand your Market, you use Messaging to connect with them. To get someone’s attention, you got to know something about them. Their name, for starters. Or perhaps where they live or hang out. Or what they like. And only when I get to know them with any of these details can I send them a message and get their attention.

The ‘Think Different’ ad was one of many ways Apple coined its message to its market. But it didn’t end there. That’s because ‘Think Different’ was not just a slogan. It was a marketing campaign. And it was not complete without the rest of the company aligning to deliver on the promise.

And that brings us to the third M in the MMMA framework.

Lever #3 – Monetization

Imagine what would have happened had Steve Jobs decided to do the ads but not delivered the products and services. While Apple put out a message that they stood for design and innovation, delivering the goods was also important.

Creating products, services, and offers that your market will pay for. And Apple did just that, starting with Macbook Air, the iPod, iTunes, and everything else that followed. Their messaging has ever since been consistent, with a focus on design, innovation, and creators.

That’s the third key element in the MMMA framework. Monetization. And that brings us to the final element of the MMMA framework.

Lever #4 – Alliances and Associations

It’s the relationships we form with people that buy our products that we make our products with. And Steve Jobs did that well too.

Be it partnering with companies like Microsoft, forging alliances with independent music artists, or with developers and customers. Jobs knew that marketing was never complete without forging these alliances and nurturing these relationships.

And that’s what you need to do with your business, too—build alliances and partnerships with businesses so you can leverage your strengths and connections with pockets of the market.

That brings us one full circle with the MMMA Framework for marketing.

So what did we talk about today? Let’s quickly recap.

Summary

First, we started with how Steve Jobs used the MMMA framework to turn around Apple. Then I walked you through the key elements of the MMMA Framework.

  1. The first M is the Market. We must always stay on top of the market and understand it well. Because without understanding the market well, we can’t create value in the long run.
  2. The second M is the Message. Learning to use the right language to communicate with the Market is as important (or more) as understanding the Market. When you have nailed your message, it shows up everywhere. On your website, ads you run, marketing collaterals, your emails, and talks you give at conferences. Everywhere.
  3. The third M is Monetization. And that’s not just about making money, but what we create to make money. The more specific and intentional we are about our Market, we can create products, services, or experiences that echo our understanding of the Market and Messaging. And that’s why you feel different when you own an Apple product.
  4. The final key element in the MMMA Framework is Alliances. Despite everything else you do, the Alliances you form help you run the home stretch. Jobs couldn’t have turned around Apple but for these alliances. Even today, Apple is known for its alliances with its partners.

For small businesses, it comes down to the relationships you have with customers. The emails you send. And the businesses you partner with.

How do you plan to implement the MMMA Framework for your business?

Take the quiz to get started today 👇

 

Or, download the 90-Day Marketing Plan. It’s designyourthinking.com/plan.

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