The Importance Of Being Earnest (At Marketing)

Leah Davis
4 min readJan 22, 2021

Gwendolyn in The Importance Of Being Earnest once said, “My ideal has always been to love someone of the name of Ernest. There is something in that name that inspires absolute confidence.” I don’t blame her. Personally, I wouldn’t pass up a great guy just because his name isn’t Ernest. What does Earnest mean and why would a name like Ernest inspire confidence? Earnest means to show sincere and intense conviction. Marketing needs to be executed in earnest.

I live in a small community surrounded by other small communities. I’ve watched small businesses explode and others… not so much. I’ve seen businesses drop after the newness wears off. I’ve seen businesses continue to do well long after they opened.

The contrast between some small businesses succeeding while others fail makes you wonder: What is the key to a business’s longevity? I set out to tackle that question by taking a deeper look into small businesses in my town.

2020 was a rough year. Despite that, I’ve seen so many small businesses succeed first-hand.

One of our neighboring towns had a market this summer. A couple of vendors along one road turned into over 40 vendors all over a park! They built this market from the ground up — in the middle of a pandemic! It’s amazing what two ladies and a desire to help out other small homemade businesses can do.

In the next town over, a couple with a photography business bought the building next door and turned it into a bakery. They are a major hit. People will travel 40 minutes to get their donuts. I asked the owners if they ever anticipated doing this well and being met with this much support. They can’t believe it’s real. Here they are after a mind-blowing opening day.

Another couple of ladies love to bake so they started a Shopee. Whoever goes there, raves about their food to everyone.

I’ve worked at an agricultural tourism orchard. They started out with only apples and a couple of small buildings and are now blowing up. Trust me, you figure that out fast when you can’t find a place to park and the kettle corn stand can barely hold its own.

In contrast, there is a little one-room grocery in my town. They opened spring of 2020 and have already required a fundraiser. A fitness center is doing solid along with another small grocery. The fitness center is gaining members slowly while the grocery is barely hanging on due to incoming chain stores.

What could these struggling small businesses do to grow and fight competition? What did the previous businesses do that has caused them to skyrocket?

Creating value is necessary for any business. If nobody wants your product, you are never going to sell it. When it comes to small businesses, connecting with people and being good at sales is a must. What gets them to the next level? This is when the importance of marketing makes its presence known.

All the small businesses I know of that are doing incredibly well are marketing. They are getting in the paper, in the news, and most notably on social media. The businesses that aren’t doing those things are either growing really slow or struggling.

Picture this, you are going about your day and scrolling through social media. Suddenly, you see a post about a new flavor of donuts that the small local bakery is selling for this week only. Of course, you are now hungry for a donut and you want to go to get one. Say you are busy and can’t go get a donut right now. By marketing, that business just reminded you that they exist.

In the small and large business world, you could have a groundbreaking product. What makes or breaks your chances of making sales, is whether or not customers who would buy from you, know about you.

You could advertise your miracle anti-aging cream to a middle school but you aren’t gonna make many sales. If one of these small businesses advertised to a whole different state, they wouldn’t do so well. They go hard on advertising and updating the people who will buy from them.

Notice how I said advertising and updating? The best businesses are always changing. Trying new things to get their customers interested. If a bakery never made a different product, would you go? Maybe to have a flavor you have already tried. These businesses are branching out and trying new things. Would you like to know a secret?

Make sure nobody is looking over your shoulder. I’m serious!

Okay. The secret is: People don’t like to miss out. Crazy, isn’t it? For the marketing world, it is an important reality. Remember when I told you to imagine scrolling through social media and seeing a post about the new donut flavor? What if it was a post about the same donut flavor you’ve seen many times? Are you just as interested in going to the bakery? Yes, they reminded you that they exist. That is a very important first step. The step that takes a business even further changes.

Getting the brand out there and getting people interested is the difference between a good company and a great one. Never get stuck doing the same thing. That’s old school. Running a business is not easy. There are a million different things you can do to improve it. A foundational principle is marketing. Every successful business understands the importance of being earnest with their marketing.

Originally published at on January 22, 2021.