pricing and marketing in business

The Business Development Bank of Canada has released a study of the top challenges faced by small and medium-sized businesses in Canada.

This is a ‘conversation’ with that report. I’ll tell you what they found, and then weave responses in from the other side of the fence, as the guy who sits in the offices and trucks and walks the plant floors of these businesses.

The study identifies what the challenges are. But the question that matters is why these challenges exist. The BDC study is powerful and revealing, but it misses that most important question of all.

But here’s the kicker: even if the BCD researchers had asked the why question we still wouldn’t have the answer. This is because most owners of small and medium business (SME) owners don’t know the real reason why these functions are such a challenge. I know this because I ask. In working deeply with these businesses month after month the answers I get are often wrong.

The BDC identifies the most challenging functions for SME owners in Canada are sales and marketing, finance and human resources, in that order.

Let’s have a look at marketing

The main sales and marketing challenges for small business owners are:

  1. increasing the number of customer prospects (58%)
  2. developing a sales and marketing plan (54%)
  3. converting prospects into customers (52%)


In my experience the answer has little to do with marketing.

Plan, Prospect, Convert: Who’s Got Time?

The issue is capacity. This is acknowledged – after a fashion – in the study: owners are looking for training. But knowledge isn’t the only limitation. Owners of small businesses don’t have the time, the knowledge, or the financial capital to undertake a marketing plan even if they knew how to do it.

Without a plan and without the time or knowledge prospecting falls victim to the feast-and-famine cycle we see over and over again. When business is slow there is a panicked attack on prospecting that dries up the moment the pipeline is full again.

“I haven’t answered my phone in two weeks.” That is the recent response of a business owner when I asked her how her sales were doing. She wasn’t converting because she believes she is too busy with work she already has to answer the phone. Until the pipeline dries up again and then it is a panic of advertising and beating the bushes for more business.

The Problem Isn’t Marketing; It’s Capacity

For all the marketing firms out there, there is a significant gap in scalable marketing solutions for SME’s. Small businesses don’t need pretty websites. They need scaleable, high-ROI, managed solutions that take the whole process out of their hands. Business owners need results from their partners suppliers, not more work to do.

Next article: BDC Report – Small Business Challenges – Finance

At the Great Performances Group we improve the success of small and medium business anywhere in the English-speaking world. Check us out to find out how. Read Clemens’ book “Great Performances – the Small Business Script for the 21st Century.” Leave a comment or question! A Facebook “Like” is sweet too.

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