Small Business Marketing – Are you a farmer or a hunter?

Small business marketing can either be active or passive…so what’s the difference? Basically it is whether you are working like a farmer or a hunter!

Small business marketing - hunter farmerI felt like I have to write this post because of meetings I have had with clients lately (coaching and social media marketing). All were with favorite clients and they were very telling in how much resistance I got for my suggestions! So this is what happened at my meetings…

  • Yesterday I met with two of my favorite clients and was talking with them about their marketing efforts. During the talk I suggested that they do “popbys” which is hand delivering a small gift to your customers and prospects. They said that doing that would be very time intensive and that they would rather do things that are more time-effective. Fair enough.
  • Day before that, I was talking with a Realtor client and asked if she was doing open houses. She said she was too busy working on transactions to take the time to do open houses and that she wasn’t sure that doing them would be time effective. Fair enough.
  • Last week I talked to a coaching client who is ROCKING it, but she needed some ideas about how to get more targeted business. I suggested she do in-person networking and sell a $97 consultation. She seemed to think that, having tried that in the past and not had too much success (before she had a GREAT product), she felt that it would not be time effective. Fair enough.

Huh. I was starting to sense a theme here…:) So what were “time-effective” strategies? Some of them were doing cold calling, a couple were doing email newsletters and one was relying on the internet for leads. NONE felt that getting belly to belly with humans would be a good idea. Sigh.

What Do Small Business Marketing Farmers Do?

DO NOT get me wrong! I love planting sales seeds and watching them grow. I DO think you should build up lists that will eventually turn into business. I DO think that consistent marketing done over time will result in consistent sales.

What I don’t think is that farming is ALL you should do (especially if you are doing it because it saves time and effort – you will get the best results from doing things that are hard which other people refuse to do!)


  • Do one-on-one meetings with people who are not looking to buy their products right now but who could be a good referral source in the future
  • Work for years on their website, getting ranked for keywords that will get them traffic and sales – my favorite!
  • Hold informational seminars where they collect names of people who are in an industry for later use
  • Grow large social media networks of people interested in their industry
  • Start an email newsletter list and send out emails once a month
  • Attend networking groups, mixers and leads groups

Now, many of you may be thinking, gee Tara, isn’t farming what you sell? SURE! I have built a highly sustainable, income producing, sellable business over the last 10 years PARTLY by farming. We have gotten clients AMAZING sales and opportunities through these methods and if you follow me at all, you know I am a HUGE proponent of growing big lists and communicating with them regularly.

BUT, if you want to sell something SOON, you need to get in front of humans that can buy your stuff NOW!

What Do Small Business Marketing Hunters Do?

  • Call targeted prospects who have expressed an interest in buying their product or service – we ALL have leads that have fallen through the cracks and feel crumby about it, CALL THEM!
  • Stop by targeted prospects offices with TWO popbys (small tokens of your undying affection), one for the gatekeeper and one for the prospect
  • Speak at an event where you are the featured guest and sell something to the people there (I use a sort of passive approach by having a signup form for an hour long consultation, you could be more aggressive about it – selling from the stage)
  • Taking a prospect to lunch
  • Holding an open house or brokers opens if you are in real estate – people DO NOT stop by an open house unless they are thinking of buying or selling
  • Asking EVERYONE who wants some of your time, “Are you planning on buying my product or service in the next 30 days” before agreeing to meet with them (tire kickers are not a good use of time!)

So, should you do ONLY hunting, flitting from one prospect to the next, kicking them to the curb if they do not buy in your timeframe? A resounding NO! But I will say that as far as I can tell, most small business owners are MUCH more comfortable farming than they are hunting.

I don’t know if time is REALLY an issue either. YES, it does take time to meet someone in person or get to an event, BUT people who have looked you in the eye and shaken your hand are much more likely to remember you than people who joined your email list or only talk with you on social media. Think about it, the person on the other end is busy too, they get your call and think, “yeah should call her back” and something comes up.

When I ask someone if they are busy, they say YES like it is a individual thing happening only to them. I have to say that whenever I ask it, EVERYONE is busy. You are not ESPECIALLY busy, your tasks are not ESPECIALLY hard, everyone had lots to do, is on overwhelm and doesn’t have time to waste. The difference between people who are busy and happy and those that are busy and frantic is time management, calendaring and saying no.

Hope this helps your small business marketing efforts, that you do a little more hunting, still keep on farming and get out there and SELL SOMETHING!

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