Tom,

I hope you feel better. I just want to add some insight on a few points....

And that by being a small provider I am in some way inadequate or less desirable to do business with than the next guy. And that as a Small guy I am a liabilty, not an asset. It doesn't matter what side of the fense I sit. If I'm the customer, the provider doesn't want to take the risk, If I'm the provider, the customer doesn't want to take the risk.

Being small isn't the problem. Acting small might be. (I'm not directing this at anyone, BTW). There is a phenomenon in sales whereby businesses mainly do business with companies their own size. It is a growth and perception problem. (I think Gerber rambles on about in E-Myth Mastery).

> You bring the argument up, "its hard to hire sales people", well I have the same problem, I have to find a way to do it to > succeed. Does that mean I turn away $50 residential subs when I'm searching for the big $800 a month subs?

Hiring salespeople is especially hard for small businesses. It's cyclic. How do you pay a salesperson with small margins?
Well, one way is to chase bigger elephants.

An aside to this is if that isn't a skill you possess, outsource it or hire a consultant to perform the skill.

Positioning is the image consumers have of you and your "brand". There is only room in a consumers mind for one position. So if you are positioned as the small, home-grown WISP, you can't get big projects. When you market yourself as a world-class, best-of-breed, technology shop, Microsoft Gold Partner, Goldmine Authorized, Linux Certified, CCNA, blah, blah, blah. On your next project: Shout about it. Tell everyone what a breeze it was; quote the client as pleased and happy; talk about it like it was an everyday transaction.

Want to get $800 accounts? Show the value. Plan for it. And execute. If you are closing $800 accounts, it isn't the market.

Back to perception: A guy owns a 25 person biz; he has your Resi connection for $50. You call him up to sell him an $800 connection at his office. How do explain the difference? What is the Value presented? What is the STORY you tell him about the Productivity he will get from your service? He is having the same issues as you: he can't hire a sales guy; he can't afford a full-time IT guy; his copier is on the fritz; can he meet payroll.

I'm probably not wording this perfectly, but I hope the message is at least understood.

Marketing requires a clear, concise, simple message to be put in front of a target audience.
It is about Positioning, Perception, Branding and Storytelling.

see:
Marketing Basics 2: Differences between Marketing and Selling
http://www.isp-planet.com/marketing/2006/marketing_vs_selling.html


There is so much potential in the small WISP market, if it was only recognized.

You need to get away from "small" and "WISP". Selling the Invisible with connotations like small and WISP is hard. The market is unfamiliar with "ISP", let alone WISP. Give them a phrase that they can understand and wrap their head around. Wireless Broadband Service Provider is close. Maybe Wireless Broadband Network Provider.
Perception is all.

What do you do when your own governement says "Come Earthlink, Come AOL, Come Verizon, you are our only hope, we need your money?"

I will mention it one more time: Perception. These companies are thought of as successful, big, moneyed, publicly traded enterprises. They have systems and processes in place. They can scale. They can "handle it".

We are living in a society that wants little risk. (That's why we do not see or hear the wounded from the Mideast.) To mitigate the risk, people go with what they know; what their friends use; what they perceive as best. In my experience, most small businesses in Tampa Bay have not heard of the independent ISPs in town.
Marketing problem.

Hence, why Remarkable, Sneezers, Guerrilla Marketing and WOMA are so important to competitors.

[Side note: But there is a rule that small biz has to get a percentage of funds granted to large biz for any project. Check with the SBA.]

Small Business is NOT a bad word. Small businesses should be helping small businesses succeed.

Most small businesses shop at Sam's and Wal-Mart. No one is helping the small business. He has to help himself.

Let me tell you a quick story:

We have a convenience store 4 blocks from my house, next to a small bar, a pizza joint and a Latin restaurant. This convenience store looks stale. Dreary. He sells subs. I think he spends more time and effort trying to sell pre-prepared food than on milk (often out of date), coffee (hardly ever fresh), snacks (no selection), and ice. The 2 owners are often sitting outside reading the paper. They are maybe 500 feet from a Walgreens (24-hours) and a Kash'n'Karry (supermarket chain). I like to give the convenience store my money, but he does nothing to earn it. Out of date milk on 2 out of 3 visits. In a supermarket, they false front every aisle every night, so the shelves always look full. If you want to compete against the chains, you have to put your best, professional image forward. To do that, you probably need to get honest feedback from others - your clients, vendors, partners.

I apologize for the wordiness. If I was Tom Peters, I would have used slides. If I was Seth Godin, I would have summed it up in a paragraph. But I'm not them, I'm Peter from RAD-INFO. But I do a good impression of both of them ;)

As Gerber says, you need to work ON your business, not just IN it.

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