By Don Warner

Generally, big corporations were the clients or users of my marketing and public relations services or computer software companies for decades. The work was interesting, and I loved the checks. “Look at this,” I often boasted. “I got General Electric to write a check that took money from their bank account and put it in mine.” Yet, over time, I became increasingly restless and uncomfortable. The truth was that whether I lived or died didn’t matter a twisted pretzel to GE, Honeywell, Royal Doulton, London Fog, or to the other household names to whom I gave the best of my time and talents. I wanted to do something that helped people.

An article I read around 1991 about small businesses in the New York Metropolitan Region reported that there were then, as I recall, something like 500,000 businesses with ten employees or less in the region. The statistic knocked me out. “Now there’s an underserved market if ever there were one,” I thought.

I bought a list, and started calling and writing to owners. Before long, I discovered that more often than not, owners knew little or nothing about marketing and had no line for it in their budgets, frequently because they had no money. Often, helping them figure out what they could do themselves was the only support that could be given. If they had money, my firm could provide some services, usually, not always, fairly limited in extent. Either way, enormous amounts of time were spent educating owners about marketing, helping them understand that it’s a business process. Just as business processes are needed for manufacturing the product or configuring services, marketing is a function that also requires a business process to support it. The difference is that marketing is the only function that directly affects the top line — sales revenues.

In time, I came to believe that the way I was going about trying to help small businesses made no financial sense for them or my own business, which seemed to be fulfilling my list broker’s prediction that I would wind-up in poverty. What was needed was a book, a short book, a short how-to book that would layout the process in plain English. The book — along with supporting materials and perhaps some coaching — would enable owners to pick-up marketing on the fly, as they do most activities.

It took fourteen months to write, develop, and print Marketing for Smarties Workbook. The first copies were delivered in January 2003. Toolshed, worksheets from the workbook on a CD, were produced at the same time. A month later, marketing began. The rest, as they say, is history.









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