Entrepreneurial companies face a host of unique challenges as they try to establish themselves: low or no awareness in the marketplace; frequent changes in business direction; Razor-thin budgets.

This article lays out some core marketing principles that will help 1) lay a foundation for business growth, and 2) stretch marketing dollars.

1. Make it Easy for People to Understand What You Do

Companies frequently make the mistake of offering everything (and the kitchen sink) to prospective customers, thinking that something will stick. But what they are effectively doing is confusing the issue. They're not creating a coherent image in the customer's mind about what they do. So the customer is less apt to remember their company down the road.

I was at a networking event recently. An energetic entrepreneur approached me and began rattling off the benefits of his productivity solution. Over the course of our mostly one-way conversation, he offered me what seemed like seven different product offerings.

Every time I tried to pin him down, he'd say, “We can do that, but we also do this.”

I liked his energy, but I wasn't clear on what his company did, and I didn't think he was either. His story changed with the wind, so my confidence that he could deliver on what he said diminished.

We all play the customer role. And when we hire someone for a particular task, we want to hire an expert in one thing. Not someone who claims to be an expert in everything.

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Michael Lehman is a San Francisco-based marketing consultant who specializes in working with emerging businesses. Find out more at www.pulsemarketing.net.