Will Marketing Rebellion Free SMBs From Their Inferiority Complex?




Marketing Rebellion shows small business owners that they’ve had it right all along. It is a treatise on the evolution of marketing for marketers and businesses who want to thrive in a no-BS marketplace.

Will Marketing Rebellion Free Small Business From Their Inferiority Complex?

I’ve just received my copy of Marketing Rebellion: The Most Human Company Wins by Mark Schaefer, and boy is my brain tired, resigned, and excited at the same time.

And I think that’s exactly Schaefer’s point.  To get marketers to just stop for a minute, step away from the top-down corporate marketing delusion and think about the customer.

There is a Disconnect Between Businesses and Customers

Businesses think 13% of their marketing is unsolicited while consumers feel that 85% of their messages are unsolicited.

81% of businesses feel their marketing messages are useful and 84% of consumers say these messages are NOT useful

75% of businesses believe their messages are personalized while consumers say that just 17% of the messages they receive are personalized.

Marketing Rebellion was written for marketers, especially those in larger organizations. But more than anything, I saw this book as a boon for small business owners.

Why Marketing Rebellion is Great News for Small Business

Many small business owners suffer from a sort of inferiority complex as they try to make themselves look big.  At the same time, larger enterprise companies organize and reorganize themselves to create a more personalized customer experience.

Shaefer focuses on how a few large companies have learned to embrace their values, build communities and become more human. But can you imagine the level or organizational complexity, training and technology that it took to do that? It’s that whole analogy of turning a cruise ship compared to a jet ski.

Here’s the good news. Small business owners can finally embrace the competitive advantage they’ve had all along — being naturally closer to their customers.

Here’s what that means:

Who you are and the reason you started your business can finally be front and center. Don’t shy away from your values and beliefs because you think they are irrelevant to your customers.  Your values and beliefs are the reason your customers choose you.

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One of my favorite examples in the book is Jeff Bezos from Amazon.  But not today’s mega retailer, rather the startup from back in 1994. His goal was to fulfill the basic human need for affordability and fast delivery. You don’t have to be Amazon, but you can absolutely think about which basic human needs your business fulfills.

Human Needs Businesses MUST Consider Fulfilling

Marketing Rebellion provides examples for all of these.

1. Feel loved (Chapter 3: The evolution of loyalty) One example Schaefer gives is how he received a hug from a hotel employee who saw he was having a bad day.  As a result he wrote an article about it and a big brand was rewarded with free press. That’s how big it was.  As a small business owner you show this kind of human connection multiple times a day! If you’ve been thinking that these random acts of humanity make you look unprofessional — think again!

2. Belong (Chapter 4: The greatest human need) Remember that old TV show “Cheers”? The defining line of the opening song was “Where everybody knows your name.” These days if you watch the show Diners, Drive ins and Dives, you see examples of small businesses creating a sense of belonging.  No high budget marketing required.

3. Protect self interest (Chapter 5: The Artisanal Brand) Another way to say this is to make your customers feel special and unique. Schaefer provides several examples; everything from t-shirt companies who sign their work on the label to a small business owner who started a furniture store that stocks handmade furniture. Ask yourself, how can you either provide a unique product or service or allow your customers to customize their experience.

4. Find meaning (Chapter 6: Values-based marketing) Have you been shying away from speaking about what you believe or value? Stop it! Research shows that nearly a quarter of consumers will pay a 25% premium when their values align with a brand. And 51% will by a brand based exclusively on their values!

5. Be respected (Chapter 7: Consensual marketing): Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. You can stop stressing about the latest marketing tools, tech and silver bullets. Think of marketing technologies as being there to do the mundane so that you can focus on the personal experiences.

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The Lesson for Your Small Business

The lesson for small business owners is to stop hiding your light under a bushel and leverage your strengths and turn them into simple, focused marketing strategies.

Stop thinking that you need to use expensive marketing technology and tools to automate every aspect of your business! Step back, remember why you started your business, what matters most to your ideal customers and create checklists, then processes and finally systems that free you up to actually BE a human being to your customers.

Mark Schaefer Practices What He Preaches

When you see Mark Shaefer’s extensive list of expertise and experience, it would be tempting to think that he’s unreachable or inaccessible.  He’s a globally recognized author and speaker and has worked with companies such as Dell, Johnson and Johnson, Adidas and the U.S. Air Force. He’s written six other best selling marketing books and his podcast is among the top 1% of business shows on iTunes.

And yet, he’s as easy to reach and talk to as Tweeting him on @markwschaefer.

Here’s something that might surprise you. He doesn’t have a grand plan for the books he writes. When he has a question that nagging at him, he digs into the research and out pops a book.

I guess you can say that he truly embodies the message of Marketing Rebellion.


To appreciate Marketing Rebellion you have to be a consumer or a marketer.

As a consumer, you will cheer because you’ll see so much of yourself in the examples of good and bad marketing Schaefer shares.

As a marketer, you might nod in agreement while the voice inside your head rattles off some version of “yes but.., ugh, or stop the world, I want to get off.

And for those of you on the enterprise side of marketing, head over to your closet and grab your “thick skin” coat and take in the feedback and insights Schaefer is throwing down.

But perhaps the audience that will appreciate this book the most are small business owners.  Why? Because you can finally get off the marketing overwhelm bandwagon and do what you do best.  Your customers will thank you for it!

Image: Amazon

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