Marketing our small business is one of the greatest challenges to allocate funds. What is the most effective marketing strategy for a small business that makes economic sense? Due to the Internet and today's trend toward it, is print advertising going the way of the dinosaur?

Jim Carpenter

Gun Mouse


Let's start with your second question — all promotional channels are evolving, which means some kinds of advertising may become mostly birds and print advertising may become a much smaller lizard. All different in significant ways, but still very much alive.

In response to the first question, for any business with an online consumer-oriented presence (although it appears you hope for wholesale traffic also), search engine optimization (SEO) is critical.

After a few minutes of searching phrases I would use if actually looking for your core products, Gun Mouse was nowhere to be found. The monoliths of gun cleaning showed up, but not as pervasively as expected — meaning those firms could also use some SEO help. That means an opportunity for you to get there first.

The other firms that surfaced were big-box sporting goods retailers, which I suspect are on your shortlist of wholesale targets. Improving your positioning in response to searches will help you get the attention of the product buyers when you pitch for shelf space.

Investing in hiring someone from outside your firm to do your SEO work is also important. Hiring someone's nephew may be good for office politics and seem inexpensive, but it can actually come with the greater cost of lost time and opportunity. You already needed great search optimization, and waiting to see if a homegrown solution works can cost you more money than hiring a specialist. Do a little homework locally and you will find multiple cost-effective options.

About the author

Michael Porter is the director of the master's in health care communications program at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business.