For marketing firms in Raleigh, competition is fierce. There are many marketers selling their services across the Triangle, and more firms are opening every week.

These firms are all different sizes. Some of the firms consist of a single operator that works exclusively with one client. Other marketing firms are large corporations that handle hundreds of accounts. Many of them are like Lason Media LLC – designed to be medium sized operators with a small staff, and a few good clients.

In these kinds conditions, it’s hard to survive. To do so you have to remember these nine keys:

Find a nitche – Marketing is extremely diverse. The way a restaurant is marketed is different than the way an online retailer is marketed. If you specialize in one thing, it keeps you from branching out into unknown fields. Nitche businesses cost less to operate, and it allows you to better allocate resources.

Shaking Hands is Key – Trust is earned, not given. With business to business sales, it is important to shake hands with people. Ninety nine percent of people find it hard to dish out hundreds or thousands of dollars to people they don’t know. To even consider getting a business deal, you have to build a personal connection with potential clients.

Have a good product – Having a good product is essential for all businesses. To succeed you have to provide a better service then the next guy.

Sell a relationship – Most businesses sell a product or a onetime service. Marketing firms survive by maintaining long term retainers. These deals can last for decades, so you have to do everything in your power to build a build a bridge between your firm and your client. It is crucial to have good client maintenance.

Keep competitive prices – It doesn’t matter how good you are. People aren’t going to purchase from someone that charges an arm and leg for a service. Do you research, find out what others are charging and stay a little higher than the competitors with the medium prices. Never be the lowest price, most business owners know never to trust the guy that charges bottom dollar (and neither should you).

Keep a good cost structure – Do your research, know your expenses and how to keep your overhead down. Runaway spending has killed many a business. You don’t want to be the next victim.

Be honest – People like honest people. People like people that are genuine. If you start portraying yourself in a different light then reality, people will find out and may think different of you.

Keep pounding – It is hard to start a small business. Most failures can be avoided. If you give up you will fail. Most successful small businesses lost money for their first eighteen months to two years.

Referrals are the best leads – If someone likes your service, they will tell their friends about you. This breaks the ice and gets their attention. Salesmen find the best success rate for referrals. If you build good business relationships and provide a good service, people will come looking for you. If you’ve been in business awhile, and you aren’t getting referrals, its time to evaluate to find what you are doing wrong.