Monday, February 09, 2015

Crain's Help! My company needs a marketing intervention

Help! My company needs a marketing intervention

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As a small-business owner, you face myriad challenges. You know you need to ramp up your marketing to gain more customers, but you don't have the money to outsource. So you find yourself adding *MARKETING!!! as No. 136,873 to your to-do list—even though you haven't the slightest clue how to build a campaign.

Jean McLaren, chief marketing officer at Pittsburgh-based marketing firm Marc USA, feels your pain. She recently led a marketing "hack-a-thon" for four companies at startup incubator 1871 in Chicago. In it, she paired seasoned communications pros with fledgling company CEOs. The results were so enthusiastic—and some of the changes so dramatic—that she plans to hold a second event next month.

"Small companies have the same problem that the big companies have: focus," McLaren says. "Their heads are turned by all the various ways in which they can take their business, and they can forget what it's like to take a step back and look at marketing in its purest form: What is the one idea that I need to present?"

Here, we examine how four Chicago companies are answering that question.

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