June 26th, 2010 | Edwin Dearborn, Chief Brand Officer

Sometimes it is so easy to get lost in the fast paced world of overwhelming terminology and techniques that you forget the basics. Why small business marketing ideas succeed or go flat is much more simple that some would want you to belive. While there is much to know about online SEO tools, social media, using keywords effectively and a seemingly endless host of other online paraphernalia, the difference to success or failure really is determined by two crucial points. And unfortunately, these are not taught well enough in our universities or even our business and trade schools.

After basketball coaching John Wooden passed away, I was listening to a radio interview with Bill Walton talking about his mentor. Bill shared the story of how he came to UCLA many years ago and finally had the opportunity to finally meet the legend that would eventually propel his professional NBA career, as well as leave a lasting impression upon him as a father and as a man. Expecting his first talk with John Wooden to be inspirational, John’s first lesson was on how to properly tie a shoe. You see, when a shoe comes undone during a critical moment, you can trip and then lose an entire game. John Wooden started with and kept in the basics of success.

In running a small business we have to score during critical moments, such as during a challenging economy or from a fierce competitor within the market place. Our prosperity is determined whether we are totally certain of our basics, perform in a deft manner and act fast even under the most excruciating pressure.

This is not a pep talk or in any way an attempt to conjure up the spirit of John Wooden to inspire you. This is to point out what are the two critical factors in small business marketing success. There is no lack of ideas, opportunities nor methodologies in which to build a successful business. Without these two underlying and primary elements, I have found that somehow the tools and techniques just never come together to give lasting success and profitability.

Those two critical factors are, and will always will be, Competence and Execution. Those two crucial human dimensions roll over and solve so many other business problems that it could not be overstated.

Competence is defined as, “The ability to perform a specific task, action or function successfully.”

Competence is easy to see. It does not have to be “sold”. It is demonstrated in motion, emotion, dress, manner, how you answer another’s questions, as well as how you treat others and yourself. Competence is knowledge and mastery all synergized into one. While we celebrate this in our favorite athletes and even our nation’s soldiers, it can be achieved in business and marketing. It takes burning the midnight oil, reading books, asking questions and then ensuring that one has the follow through to ensure one can perform the needed actions through drilling and repetition.

But then there come the second factor, Execution. This simply means “Getting it fully done.” No excuses, apologies or claiming one conveniently has ADHD or some other pathetic, non-scientifically substantiated reason. Call it guts, courage, determination, carry-through, fortitude, responsibility or whatever else you want to name it. In other words, can you Cowboy-up or not?

The world of internet marketing is not only exciting, but it can be very rewarding personally and financially. But in reality, with these points in all the tools become much more effective.

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