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Remember: Create Marketing Campaigns for Your Target Market….Not Your Team!

19 Aug

We love our new marketing piece….

I recently had a meeting to discuss marketing strategy with an extremely successful small business owner.  He was concerned about his most recent marketing piece  – it wasn’t generating leads.  The brochure looked extremely professional, complete with stock photographs and technical language that would make any English professor celebrate and break out the Carlton danceIt was slick.

His staff loved it and gave it rave reviews—his entire team thought it was a home run – so why was it a total flop?

The target market was thoroughly confused by the ad copy. The brochure was too professional. Also, his target market is price sensitive. When they looked at the slick design and professional, stock photos, they quickly determined that my client’s company must be way too expensive.

You need to speak the same language as your target. They likely won’t stop to look up that fancy lingo that’s only used only by the people in your profession. 

The lesson I took away: Don’t rely solely on your team for feedback.  Ask a few people, preferably your target market, what they think of the piece before you spend more money.  Do they understand the marketing piece?

Remember: You’re not trying to sell your products and services to your team; you’re selling to your target market. 

Good luck!

Why Building a Business is Like Building a House

25 Jul

Spend extra time working on your foundation!


I recently had a consulting project for a new business venture.  While any successful business relies on a strategy that:

1)      Offers the same product/service/value for a cheaper price

2)      Offers better product/service/value for a cheaper price

3)      Offers a completely new product/service/value that the market deems better than competitors’ offerings.

The new business venture already had its plan of attack to the marketplace (better product, cheaper price); in other words, it had a blueprint.  However, to actually implement the business idea, the venture required a solid foundation—exactly like building a house requires both a solid blueprint (plans) and a solid foundation.  Imagine living in a house with a faulty foundation—if/when it fails, everything else you’re trying to accomplish goes with it.

So whether you currently have a small business or you have dreams of one day opening your own business, remember to spend ample time creating a blueprint for how you plan to attack your target market, while spending even more time creating a sturdy foundation that you can build on. 

How do you build a solid foundation?  I like to start with thinking about every single step of sales process.  I call it, “What happens when…….”  What happens when a prospect calls and asks about our services/product/to schedule an appointment?  What happens when the prospect decides he or she decides to purchase something from us? Write down exactly how you want every single repeatable item to be executed and file each process in a folder so you can train and manage your staff.

Good Luck!

Should You Compete on Price or Customer Experience?

16 Feb

Create the Ultimate Customer Experience

Let me keep this simple: If you compete on price, your business will die a slow, painful death.  Price is the easiest marketing strategy for competitors to imitate. We see companies everywhere competing solely on price–just look at the airline and pizza industry.  Competing on price has several negative effects on your business, including:

1) Attracts price shoppers who have absolutely ZERO loyalty to you and your business.  The only way you to get them to buy again is to slash your prices.

2) Squeezes your profit margins. You have to compete by selling more volume to make up for the loss in margin–bad idea, unless you’re Wal-Mart.

A low price strategy is often the death of small businesses. As a small business owner, you have a unique opportunity to provide an unmatched customer experience.  Although it’s natural to assume every consumer buys strictly on price, studies indicate only between 5 percent and 10 percent of customers shop based on price.

Your strategy should focus on creating an unmatched customer experience for prospects and customers that interact with your company. How can you create a systematic experience that leaves people raving about your company? If you create that WOW experience, you will have loyal, raving, repeat customers who are willing to pay a premium for your products and services. More profits for your business equals more resources for you to expand and squash your competition.

Good Luck!

Want More Sales? Step 1: Referral Program

4 Feb

Encourage all your customers to spread the word

When I owned my first small business, I made the mistake of paying too much money for a yellow page advertisement–isn’t that what you’re supposed to do as a business owner? Advertise in the yellow pages….that’s what everyone does! Next, I made the mistake of advertising in the local newspaper: I really thought I was big time after I paid the paper $750 to place my business name and phone number in the sports section. I made lots of early marketing mistakes; however, I did something right: I tracked the source of every lead that contacted my office. My first question: How did you hear about us? The overwhelming response was “My friend told me I should give you a call.” 75% of my leads and new clients came from referrals.

So I pulled the yellow page ad when my contract expired. The yellow pages representative was shocked that I didn’t want to place an ad with him…his reasoning: “All your competitors are in the yellow pages.” That sealed the deal; not only would I not blend in with my competitors, but also I wouldn’t be wasting my hard earned money on an unsuccessful marketing channel. When I showed the yellow pages rep my “Source of Business” spreadsheet, he was speechless. I was armed with hard data, showing how ineffective the yellow page ad was for my business.

I immediately created a referral program for existing clients. The goal was to actively encourage my current clients to recommend my business.  If someone referred my business, the referrer received the following (regardless of whether I sold anything to the prospect):

1) $10.00 gift card to a local sandwich shop

2) Entered in monthly drawing for $25.00 Visa gift card

3) Entered in yearly drawing for 60″ flat screen TV

The message: The more people you refer, the better your chance of winning the TV. I printed the referral program on bright paper and included it in every piece of outgoing mail to my clients. I also attached the referral program on all outgoing emails. The results of my referral program were remarkable: My return on investment for the referral campaign was 4 to 1; meaning for every dollar I invested in the referral program, I got $4.00 back.

I learned two very important concepts:

1) Determine how people are finding your business, then actively promote that channel and eliminate the unprofitable marketing channels.

2) Create a reason for your clients to refer you. Reward them with small tokens of appreciation and make your business “top-of-mind” by promoting a fun referral program for your clients.

Create your own referral program TODAY, and watch your business grow!

Building a Small Business is Like Building a Nest

1 Feb

One task at a time!

Today, as I was working on a consulting project for a client, I watched a bird fly back and forth from a tree outside of my window. I was curious as to what she was doing. It turns out the bird was building a nest, one stick at a time. That got me thinking about not only my own entrepreneurial experience but also the entrepreneurs I’ve consulted with over the past five years. Starting and building a small business is exactly like building a bird nest: one needs to focus his or her attention on one important task, making sure that task is successfully completed before adding a new task.  Failure to complete your initial task will undoubtedly affect all other aspects of the business.

For example, most small business owners want to start acquiring customers immediately. However, without creating the proper foundation to handle customers- automatic lead generation systems, database to track leads, sales process, payment policies, customer complaints, employee and hiring procedures, marketing strategy, vision/mission statement, unique selling proposition- the entrepreneur is already playing catch up. My advice to those of you contemplating starting you own business: spend time focusing on the foundation of your business (the sticks of the nest) before you create a place for customers to visit. Pay special attention to every part of the foundation and ensure it’s completed before adding the next piece. Failure to establish a solid foundation will eventually result in an empty nest (sorry, had to) of customers.

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