Small Business Marketing Growth Hacking Strategies | Small Biz Marketing Specialist
Small Business Marketing Growth Hacking Strategies

Small Business Marketing Growth Hacking Strategies

“Small Business Stacey” is interviewed by Muhammad Siddique where she shares her best business building and marketing growth hacking strategies.

Episode Transcript

Greetings. What do you do when you are under a half a million dollar debt and you don’t know how to come out of that? I don’t know about you however, my special guest today was under this similar situation and she cracked the code. What was a missing piece? She learned it and turned it around, made it a profitable business. She still owns that business right now and now she’s on the mission to share that recipe, what the missing piece is. Proven it works because she has done it on herself and the thousands of small business owners.

Hopefully, if that’s not you, bring that … share this right away, if that’s not you. Otherwise set aside all the distractions and you want to watch this, how to turn around your business with this one secret, one secret. In case you don’t know me, my name is Muhammad Siddique. I am the host of Growth Hacking Show and the co-author of New Success Secrets and today with me is Stacey Riska from Washington DC. She’s also known as Small Business Stacey and she helps business, small business owners with the one thing that’s called marketing and she has the proven steps.  She wants to share her secrets on how to get more leads and your phone to ring more to get you more customers and that’s my guest today actually specializes in, and that is because she has done it on herself on her own business. She knows the challenge we all face in business. I brought her to this show for my own selfish reason so I can actually learn, grab from her. I’m being very selfish right now, and you should too because you’re going to watch this video together, is that right?

Please join me to give a warm welcome to Stacey Riska. Stacey, welcome.

Thanks! Great to be with you and your community.

Yeah. Thank you.

Stacey, let me start with this. Where you are? What happened? Who were you were that got you into this half a million dollar debt. We want to know more about that.

Yeah. Well, it really all started with a midlife crisis. I’ve always been a serial entrepreneur, and my first business was an outsourcing business doing the back office work for associations and non-profits. It was successful. I grew it for over ten years. And I woke up one day realizing that I had two project managers running the day-to-day, and I just needed something fun and different to do. And I realized I could start another business, I could go work for somebody else or maybe buy a franchise. And I realized what I really wanted to do was work behind a tiki bar at the beach serving umbrella drinks. That would have been my perfect job.

So I bought a coffee and smoothie business that allowed me to do just that. And wow! Did I grow really fast. I had two stores at the airport, one store in a mall, ten mobile tiki bars going all around the DC area, and three food trucks in two years.

Well, the growth was great. But so was the crash and burn, because this was in 2008, and everything literally stopped. And I woke up one day five hundred thousand dollars in debt, and I did not know where my next customer was coming from. I mean, I was so broke I didn’t even have enough money to pay for next week’s inventory. And, you know, those were very dark days.

And so what happened was, I sort of had my come to Jesus moment, and I realized I was at that fork in the road. I could either fight to save my business or throw in the towel and give it all up. I was literally about to lose my house, my family. I had young kids at the time. I was never home.

So, I decided that I had a business that was worth saving, and when I looked in the mirror, I realized I was blaming everybody else: the economy, the customers, nobody coming in. But it was me, and I wasn’t doing, like you mentioned, that one thing, which is marketing.

And from that moment, I got into action, literally and figuratively, and put together a six-step, simple plan that I put into action and wow did it work! In two years, I transformed my business from five hundred thousand dollars in debt to a seven-figure profitable business that I’m still running today.

Wow. That is a complete transformation. Thank you so much. Congratulations. You did the hard work and never quit. Quitting is not the option. Never give up, basically, that’s a lesson too. Is that right?

I like those three words. Yup. Never give up.

Never give up.

I have not failed 10,000 times. I have successfully found 10,000 ways that won’t work.

Thomas. A. Edison 

So, Stacey before we ask you success secrets and everything else because we want to know that too, so, we want to know what are the top three missteps which others should avoid growing their business, because you already have gone through all that one.

Yeah, I have a lot of mistakes to learn from!

We want the top three. Top three what not to do, you know?

Well, here’s what I can say. There’s one thing that I learned, is that the misstep is not having a marketing plan, and so many small business owners don’t. They don’t have a plan. And Muhammad, here’s what I kinda see, that most small business owners fall into these five approaches to marketing, and unfortunately they get progressively worse.

Most people start with what I call Hope Marketing. “I hope my marketing works. I hope my marketing works.” Right? But we all know that hope and praying is not a marketing strategy.

And after Hope Marketing comes Spaghetti Marketing, where you’re just sort of throwing spaghetti at the wall. “Oh, today I’m doing email. Tomorrow I’m doing social media.” Just to see what sticks. And nothing sticks.

After Spaghetti Marketing comes Perfectionism Marketing because at this point you’re like “Ugh, nothing works. So this time I’m getting it right.” And you become a perfectionist, and it’ll take you three months to get a simple email campaign out because it’s just not perfect, right? Or you decide you’re going to redo your website, and your web designer is just about to fire you because you’ve made eighty-seven changes in the past two days. So Perfectionism Marketing doesn’t work because nothing is getting done.

After that is really what I think is the worst, which I call “Ant Marketing.” Have you ever seen a row of ants? They all just follow each other, but nobody knows where the other one’s going? Well this is what everybody does! They think, oh, “Susie’s Hair Salon sent out a coupon, so I’m going to send out a coupon too.” Or “Harry’s Air Conditioning but up a banner at the high school football field, so I’m going to do that too.” And everybody’s just following what the other one’s doing with no sense of common sense of if it’s going to work or not. That’s Ant Marketing, and that definitely doesn’t work.

And after Ant Marketing comes what I call Helpless Marketing, which is when we’ve tried all these different approaches, nothing’s worked, and you feel like you’re all alone on this deserted island and you’ve basically come to say in your own mind “marketing doesn’t work.”

Those are the missteps that I see that small business owners are making when it comes to their marketing.

Thank you for being so generous, Stacey, because I ask for three, you gave me more, so that’s good. Thank you.

So now we know your mistakes, what not to do, and what we should not be doing all this, so let’s now look at the other side of the table, which is your top three success secrets. What you have been keeping to yourself, we want to snatch it from you. So what are the top three success secrets to grow your business?

Well, here’s the thing Muhammad. It’s not secret. What I would say is you need to get your marketing into ACTION, literally and figuratively. ACTION is actually the six-step simple formula that I used to transform my business. So, each of those letters stands for a step in the process.

A stands for attention, which is defining your who. Who do you serve? Because so many small business owners will put their name up on a sign and run up and down the street naked. “Here I am! Come do business with me!” Well, yeah. You’ll get attention, but not the right kind of attention. Right? So, defining your who is getting crystal clear and really deep on who you serve, because you can’t be everything to everyone. So be something for someone.

The C in the ACTION system stands for connect. While most small business owners think that they can just sell to the first person they meet. “Hey baby, want to get married?” They just want to sell their stuff. But here’s the thing: people buy when they’re ready to buy, not when you’re ready to sell to them. So the C means that you basically just want somebody to raise their hand and say “yes, I’d like to know more”, which is creating lead generation. One you understand people’s pain points you can connect with them.

The T stands for transaction, and it may or may not be a monetary transaction because as I said, people buy when they’re ready to buy, not when you’re ready to sell to them. So it may be three months, six months, even a year down the road. So you need to build out a content funnel so that no matter where people are in the process, you are being a go-giver and helping them so that when they are ready to buy, the only possible solution they can think of is you.

The I in the ACTION system stands for invest, and this is about making smart decisions with your marketing. No more Spaghetti Marketing. When you know your metrics and what’s working and what’s not, you make smart decisions with your marketing. A good thing is that, when you’re talking about metrics, most small business owners think of vanity metrics. “How many Facebook likes do I have? How many Twitter followers? How many people are opening my emails?” Well here’s the thing: gross is for vanity, net is for sanity. You cannot deposit Facebook likes in the bank, so make sure when you’re measuring your metrics that they are the right metrics. That’s what the I in the ACTION system stands for.

O is for ongoing, and this making sure that you are doing something every single day to move your business forward so that you can grow. It’s not about doing a lot of things. I help my clients focus in on a strategy that usually is only three to five different things so that you can wash, lather, rinse, and repeat. It’s about doing a few things well, over and over again, so that you’re doing it ongoing.

And then the N in the ACTION system is for nurture, and this is so important because every time a new potential client calls me I’ll say “what is your biggest problem?” And they’ll say “I want more. More new leads. More customers. More clients. More patients.” And I’m, like “No, you don’t want more. You already have a pot of gold right there! You already have customers, clients, patients you serve. You just need to nurture those.” So the N stands for nurture, and when you put this all together you have the ACTION Marketing System, and this is how you help your business grow.

Wow. That’s a recipe. So, Yeah, that’s a recipe. Wonderful. That’s amazing.

So before I ask you how you’re growing your business right now, Stacey, I’m going to ask a very difficult question and hopefully you can answer. So, you know running a business is a roller coaster because you been through a half a million dollar debt a long time ago. In roller coaster, sometimes you’re up and sometimes you’re down. So when you’re in a down moment, how you keep going? What keeps you going?

You know, a lot of it is mindset. A lot of it. And I’ve learned to push myself. And the way I do that is actually being part of a coaching and a mastermind group, because what I’ve learned is one is the loneliest number. So when you hit those lows, sometimes you feel like you’re just so alone. And I found that investing in myself by being part of a coaching and mastermind group, it holds me accountable and I get the opportunity to hear different perspectives of people in different industries and professions. My mantra is to do the opposite, right. I can learn so much from somebody from a heating and air conditioning business, or piano company, or something completely different from what I do in my day to day world. And that has really helped me, so many times, go back up that hill on top of the roller coaster.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much.

So Small Business Stacey, how you are growing your own business right now? Are you just following your own Kool-Aid ACTION marketing?

I do. My Kool-Aid works really well. And again, small business marketing really is easy. I follow my own ACTION marketing system. I’m starting to do some new things now. I’m putting myself out there, so something new that I’m doing is Facebook Live. So I don’t know if others in your community are testing that out, but I’m having really great success with it. It allows me to share my expertise and build my community, because it’s all about a tribe. So Facebook Live has been working very well for me.

Great. Thank you. Thank you so much for sharing.

How the Growth Hacking community can support you? The people who are watching this, how they can support you?

Oh, well thank you for asking. I’m all about being a go-giver. What I really want to say, I guess, is that small business marketing is easy. I see so many people struggling, working longer and harder for less money. So I am on a mission, I guess you could say, to save small business one marketing plan at a time.

What I would like to do is offer everybody a free copy of my book, Small Business Marketing Made EZ, and you can grab your copy at

Wonderful, wonderful. Thank you so much. So go ahead and connect with Stacey on LinkedIn and I’m sure there’s a link here, you know. One second.


Great we are back on this. So small biz marketing specialist. This is the website, and while I open this one, so how many people can get the free book before break your bank?

Well, we’ll see.

OK, we’ll see.

I don’t plan on cutting off. I want to help as many people as possible.

Oh, this is great. See for that reason I am opening the page so they can actually see it and see…

Thank you.

Oh my god. Free copy of my book, just pay shipping and handling. And, OK. This is good. So you are giving away everything, the success secret.

Yeah, if they go to Amazon it’s going to cost them fifteen dollars, but because they’re part of your community, I will pay the cost of the book.

OK. Wonderful.

Thank you. Go ahead and get the book.

So, Stacey, as we’re about to wrap up, what would you say as parting words?

I guess as parting words, just reiterating what I’ve stated. Small business marketing is easy, and if you follow the six simple steps in the ACTION system, you will have the recipe to grow your business.

Thank you. Thank you so much. It may look easy, however not easy to do, let me tell you, until you put ACTION into implementation, that’s the key part. So thank you so much.

Muhammad, I think you’re absolutely right. I do want to add one more thing, because I do say small business marketing is easy, but that doesn’t mean that you can just push a button and tomorrow you’re going to wake up with ten million dollars in your bank account, right? You have to work at it, and I see too many people get caught up in what I call shiny object syndrome, right? They think that, oh, this shiny thing over here. Or, oh, this guru who’s never done it before preached that I can get, you know, ten thousand likes tomorrow.

So, be wary of those things out there. It’s easy to get pushed to the side. Just do a few simple things. Wash, rinse, repeat. And you will be successful.

Definitely successful. That’s the key what we all want.

Thank you so much, Stacey, for sharing your wisdom with us today. On behalf of Growth Hacking Show community and my entire team, we really appreciate you.

This Muhammad Siddique signing off. I wish you good luck, good sales, and may our path’s cross again with another amazing guest. Until then, best wishes.

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About the Author smallbizmarketing

Stacey Riska, aka "Small Business Stacey" is a serial entrepreneur who is passionate about saving small - and not so small - businesses one marketing plan at a time. She helps business owners become a #SmallBizMarketingWiz by teaching them marketing strategies that get MORE: MORE leads, MORE customers/clients/patients, MORE sales, and MORE profit. Stacey's in-demand "Small Biz Marketing Success Coaching and Mastermind Program" is transforming the businesses - and lives - of those who want wealth, freedom, and market domination. Her highly acclaimed book "Small Business Marketing Made EZ" lays out the 6-simple-step plan to get your marketing into ACTION - literally and figuratively. Stacey is also the creator of Cups To Gallons, the place where independent coffee, smoothie, juice bar, ice cream, dessert and snack shop owners go to learn how get into lucrative catering so they stop selling by the cup and start selling by the gallon. In this program she teaches from experience, as it was the key strategy that transformed her coffee and smoothie business from being $500K in debt to a 7-figure profitable business. When not saving the small business world, she enjoys sipping red wine, eating chocolate (who doesn't!) and spending time with her amazing husband.

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