It’s no secret that small business owners have an uphill battle in getting the message out.

This is especially true when dealing with the media noise associated with our overly-communicated world. It is my belief that those who wish to remain competitive and choose to wage an effective marketing campaign will have to be forward thinking.

Edie Weiner, a futurist, once wrote, “Professionals generally know so much about what they know that they are frequently the last to see the future differently.” I’d like to use Edie’s words to challenge your outlook on marketing. 

Have you focused in on what you’ve known and always have done to the exclusion of new ideas? I’ve recently come across small business owners who’ve yet to embrace the digital age – social media, online marketing, in-app advertising and so on. Some of them feel as if these things are ancillary at best – unnecessary, at worst. If you’ve allowed your thinking to fall into one of these categories, I suspect that as you toil away at perfecting ancient methodologies, you’ll fall further behind while innovative upstarts eat your market share.

This is not to suggest that you are to upend everything you’ve known for the sake of merely doing something new. However, you should adopt the attitude that your small business enterprise will lean into the future for the purpose of maintaining a winning edge. Many entrepreneurs would do well by applying the Wayne Gretzky philosophy to marketing, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”

So what lessons can you take away for your business? Here are a few things you can do to see the future of your marketing differently:

Empty the Wastebasket

I recently sat down and critiqued a particular marketing tool we’ve used for the last three years.  I reluctantly came to the conclusion that this tool has been a massive waste of time. I’ve been slow to ditch this service because firms similar to ours use this tool and we wanted to be on par with the competition. 

In the end, we’re keeping up with the Jones’ but not really getting anything in return (except ego-stroking, I guess). It’s a proverbial dinosaur.  Even I, as a professional marketer, have to gather the courage to dump poorly performing, antiquated strategies.

Read Up

Even if you don’t consider yourself a “creative” person, you’ll be surprised at how many new ideas you’ll get from reading what others are doing to promote their businesses. Go grab a few marketing books from the library. Check out a few articles on www.adage.com.  Take the time to read blogs from renowned marketing professionals.

Observe

With notepad in-hand, venture into your day and jot down ideas you pick up from your surroundings. Pay special attention to digital billboards, coupons arriving via mail, banners on a webpage, TV commercials and so on. Analyze color schemes, pricing strategies, photography, use language, etc. Chances are, you’ll be inspired to take on a new state of mind as you push your small business into the future.

Walter Dailey is a marketing speaker, consultant, and creative director for DSV Media, a creative services firm specializing in Dental Marketing, Small Business Marketing and insight for small to mid-sized businesses.  Ask your questions: walter@dsvmedia.com