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Cures for Eight Common Small-Marketing-Firm Ailments

by Steve Adams  |  
September 15, 2009

Ask most people what they like about working with small marketing firms, and you'll hear answers such as "their personal approach" or "I'm not just a number to them" or "I get to work with the heavy hitters instead of some trainee just out of school."

Yes, those are some of the things they say when things are going well. But should the perceived service level drop, those same enthusiastic supporters begin to question their decision about working with a small firm.

In particular, things that they used to find charming—such as a live person taking messages instead of a system putting a call through to voice mail—suddenly become indications that maybe they need to consider a somewhat larger, "more professional" firm.

The good news is that these small-agency quirks don't have to be fatal. In fact, many can be fixed by applying simple technology that provides big-business tools while allowing firms to stay true to their small-business core. The following eight cures to the common small-marketing-firm ailments will help ensure that your company doesn't fall into the "too small" trap:

1. Don't have one phone line for all your business communications

Nothing says "too small" like a phone number that returns a busy signal or a phone that rings and rings until the caller finally gives up.

In today's business world, someone placing a call (instead of sending an email) expects the call to be answered or, at the very least, routed to an auto-attendant or voice mailbox. Though a standard private branch exchange (PBX) phone system might be too costly to install and require too much specialized knowledge to maintain, virtual PBX services can provide the same professional "face" without the equipment investment or the maintenance.

Those services automatically route calls to extensions that you set up, and they provide voice-mail services so callers can leave a message. Callers will never get a busy signal and won't be stuck in a ringing loop, and so they will gain confidence that you have the staff to service their business.

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Steve Adams is the vice-president of marketing for Protus (, a provider of communications tools, including the MyFax ( Internet fax service; my1voice (, a virtual phone service; and Campaigner (, an email-marketing solution. He can be reached at

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  • by Melissa Tue Sep 15, 2009 via web

    Great ideas. Also, many of these services (email transfer, online phone, virtual document server, etc.) are available for free through Google, and are extremely quick and easy ways to start putting your administrative functions in place while you are busy running your new business.

  • by wamai Wed Sep 16, 2009 via web

    ths is a fanastic article. It can be summarised into 2 things
    1. Be professional
    2. Behave big.
    Business is about delivery and image ( impressions one creates). The small organisations like ours don't have too many chances to create a second impression. We are judged a bit too harshly and most potential customers are skepiical about us. Therefore the only way is to create lasting relationships, over deliver and be professional at all times. Never forgeting we only survive by acting small but delivering big.

  • by Jeff Fri Sep 18, 2009 via web

    Nice tips.. many small businesses make the mistake of ignoring the small things that really count..

  • by Theresa Thu Oct 8, 2009 via web

    Great Article... I am one of those small marketing businesses that is referred to in this article. I am growing and I want to maintain that professional aspect with my clients as it is a challenge to keep up with their desires. I currently communicate primarily through email and phone, but I know that I will need a fax (preferable online since I am mobile,) does anyone have a suggestion for an inexpensive or free option? Thanks.

  • by Steve Wed Oct 21, 2009 via web

    Theresa, check out If you mostly fax things from your computer, this is the way to go. Incoming faxes come to your email account as email attachments, eliminating at least half of the distortion typically caused by fax machine transmissions. If you're not already faxing from your computer, find a way to do that from your word processor, Excel, database, etc. As they say, fax machines are so "90's" :)

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