Meet Ivana Taylor, a seasoned small business marketing expert, online publisher, and influencer. With more than 25 years of experience in manufacturing organizations, Ivana understands the challenges of marketing on a limited budget and has made it her mission to help overwhelmed entrepreneurs simplify their marketing efforts.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you got started in your field?
The first rule of marketing is to find a way to be a big fish in a small pond. For me, that turned out to be starting my career by selling the most difficult product or service possible — long-distance phone programs to businesses. This was the hardest job I ever had that taught me the most about sales and marketing.
Because the purpose of marketing is to make the sale as friction-free as possible, I recommend that every marketing person and small business owner sell something. Because if you can’t get and keep customers, you won’t be in business for long.
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your career, and how did you overcome them?
I spent 15 years in marketing for manufacturers. This is where I really learned to do big marketing on a small budget. The biggest challenge was having marketing and a focus on customer needs to take a back seat to engineering and operations. In other words, when we needed to save money, marketing was the first place to see cuts.
Along those same lines, I found it really difficult to enroll management in doing more customer-centered research to understand what value customers were looking for. I think we really missed out on better, higher-margin pricing because we didn’t invest in understanding what customers valued beyond the features of the product.
What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned throughout your career, and how have they influenced your approach to leadership?
I’m not sure if you’d call these lessons or opinions based on research, but I’ve created these little mantras over the years:
- If your customers are complaining about price, they have no idea why they should choose you.
- You can’t sell anything to everybody.
- Your 5-year sales line graph is a picture of your overall system. So, if you want to see exponential growth, you’re going to have to make exponential systemic change.
- Your job as a leader is to serve your employees.
One thing that people don’t know about you?
I was a classically trained pianist. I started playing at the age of 4, I stopped playing at the age of 21 — and I haven’t touched a keyboard since. I’ve literally forgotten everything.
What advice would you give to young professionals or entrepreneurs who are just starting out in your field?
If you want to be a great marketer — sell something first. In fact, find the hardest thing to sell and sell it; cars, phones, magazine subscriptions, anything like that.
As a marketer, your job is to create a frictionless sale. The best way to do that is to have sales experience. When you have sales experience, you understand what sales people need to convert leads to customers, and you know what customers need to enthusiastically choose your product at any price.
Thank you, Ivana, for taking the time to share your insights and expertise with us today. Your passion for simplifying marketing and helping small business owners succeed is truly inspiring. We appreciate your valuable advice and the practical tips you’ve shared, and we’re sure our audience will find them incredibly helpful as well. Thanks again for being a part of this interview, and we look forward to seeing all the great things you’ll continue to do for the small business community.