Around the end of each year, many people start thinking about the NFL playoffs. Fans of other sports are consumed by playoffs at other times. There is a lesson here for everybody in business, even if you don’t enjoy sport!
Think for a moment how passionate the average sports fan is about ‘their team’ or ‘their player’. Nearly all fans are happy to broadcast their allegiance to anyone who will listen (and half of those who don’t!) and consider changing alliances something along the lines of treason!
Imagine if your customers thought about you and your business like that, or better – what can you do to create that depth of feeling?
To answer that we have to look at what the fan gets out of the relationship with their team. In simple terms they experience both the highs and lows of wins and losses. What experience do your clients get from doing business with you?
Can you expect that level of loyal fan if you treat customers merely as profit centres? Most sports people spend time, effort and money at ‘fan days’, and they attend other events that make them accessible to their fan base. What do you (and your staff) do to be accessible to your customer base?
Think of the major sports brands, those that are recognised world-wide. They are from all sports and every continent. What do you think their advertising/marketing or publicity budget is? Would it be second only to player payments? Most world brands promote themselves by events large and small, and not just in the town where they live.
They promote themselves everywhere they have real or potential fans. Do you promote your business everywhere you have actual or potential clients?
Most teams promote themselves in a positive way. Very few describe the opposition in negative values. They may promote a local derby, and emphasise the heightened competition between the teams, but rarely are the opposition insulted. (Yes, sometimes there is a fine line, and some individual players do sometimes stray – though who receives the most negative publicity? The player who made the disparaging remark or the team at which it was aimed?)
What would happen to your profits if your clients thought of your business with the attachment most fans feel?
What do you need to do to create that level of attachment? What might any business do to create that level of attachment?
Everybody is either in business or a customer, or both. Your ideas, comments, questions and perspectives are welcome – as long as they remain constructive! What do you think businesses you are associated with can do to create the same kind of aura as “your team”?
Most people avoid doing market research. For some reason they would rather start the intended business without sufficient information, then try to fix it as time goes by. That just takes time and effort away from actually running the business, and is something like changing the wheel of a car as it is being driven along.
Market research can be a simple, inexpensive exercise that provides specific information that results in a business that is best placed to make a profit from Day 1. What follows is a description of what to do and how to do it, and a template for you to use.
Begin by compiling a list of around 50 people who you might ask for an opinion, then from that list identify around 20 whose opinion you value more, then from that list around a half dozen whose opinion you really value and who you feel are predisposed to assist you.
Next, develop your story. This story is the tale of the business that you are thinking of starting, and that you would appreciate if they would read your proposal and give you some feedback on it.
Tell them why you think it is a good idea to start the business, what unsolved problem you identified and how you intend to solve it.
Ask them not to mention the idea, since you may not continue if you get negative feedback, and then ask specific questions designed to get at the information you really want.
Also ask them if you can add their comments and then send it back to them for further comment.
Now that you have composed your letter, send it to the group of around a half dozen. Wait until you have their feedback, then make whatever changes you think are necessary – either in the business model or in the market research letter itself, or both – and then send that out to the group of 20.
Repeat the exercise, making whatever changes you believe are required, and then send it out to the full group you identified.
When you have all that feedback collated and understood you will be able to make a reasoned decision about going into that business.
You will know if other people share your opinion that there is a requirement for that new business, you will know what they believe is important, and you will know what to say when you start to market the business. That’s a far better position than just starting the business and hoping that it is in the right place, with the right product at the right price.
What follows is a template that you can use, and an example letter created for an Accountant who wanted to offer their fellow Accountants some sub-contract services.
If you have any questions please just go to the Member’s Forum and let us know what is on your mind. Remember to search for your question first, we may have already answered it, and that will get you back up and running almost immediately.
Marketing is a subject that worries or frightens a lot of people, but really it can be quite simple. The difference is your level of knowledge.
We all tend to be more comfortable with things we know about, so here is a basic primer for marketing the simple, easy way.
The first concept is that unless the target person has a problem that you can solve, they aren’t listening. You don’t go looking for a mechanic unless you have a problem with your car, you only look for a hairdresser when your hair needs cutting or styling. And that’s how most people are – unless you can solve my problem, I’m not interested.
That just means start your marketing communication by describing the problem! That way, you get their attention straight away. Follow that immediately by making them a promise. Tell them that you will solve that problem for them. “Finding non-fattening chocolate can be difficult – unless you deal with us”. “Nobody in Real Estate Sales can be trusted! Until now.” It really can be that simple, you don’t need pages and pages of words and pictures to grab their attention. They certainly can help, but the main item of interest as far as your client is concerned is that you recognise their problem, and you can (and want to) fix it.
The next thing you need to do in your marketing piece is supply the proof. This is where you tell them about your satisfied customers, about your guarantee and all the rest.
The last section of your marketing piece needs to have an effective call to action in it. That isn’t necessarily an immediate sales pitch. Whatever it is it needs to be really easy, simple and take almost no time at all.
The first marketing communication is only to introduce your company and establish a relationship (that means that you now have their name and contact info, just like they have yours). The second message is where you sell the first ‘entry level’ item, and then you continue to sell higher priced items in subsequent communications. There is another way – if your first item is relatively expensive then you follow up with offers that each cost less than the last one.
Your first contact is NOT about ‘closing a sale’, it is about opening a relationship. This way will prove far more profitable in the long run.
That’s a different message, that’s all. Instead of “I want to sell THIS!”, which is all the normal advert says, yours should say “Here’s the benefit to you if you buy from me”. Convincing people to buy from you is as simple as demonstrating your value to them. You provide a better service, a better product, a bigger range (or maybe a more targeted range!). Demonstrate that you know what you are talking about, be likable and act in a trustworthy manner, and then show them how valuable you can be to them, and your future business is assured.
You also need to understand that different “Sales Channels” will have different requirements. That just means that different groups of customers will respond better to a tailored message, delivered to where they are.
For example you might target people who work for corporate companies with an offer and you might have a different offer for small business people. Even if it is the same basic product, the benefits are likely to be different for the different groups. That just means that you will get better results if you tailor your message for each group rather than just send out a general message to everybody (one reason mass emailing has such a low response rate).
Marketing doesn’t have to cost a LOT of money. there are many marketing ‘weapons’ that are free or low cost, and all are high effectiveness. For more information, look for Guerrilla Marketing, Bum Marketing, 30 Day Challenge, Stomper Net or just search for marketing on the web and be prepared to filter the results. Or just contact us and ask your question, we have distilled all of these and more because we’ve already done the hard yards for you.
Finally, here’s a bonus for you – you are always marketing. You are marketing when you are at work, on your days off, driving between appointments, at lunch, and every waking moment. People see you, evaluate what you’re doing, and make decisions about you and your business that may be completely off base. Always look and act professional.
We’d like to see your comments. Go ahead, and tell us what you think, below.
Nearly all companies have an online presence today. It’s pretty much like having a phone number; you can’t really be in business without one!
There are several major sections of a business that owners and managers must grasp in order to succeed. A simple list would be Production, Marketing, Sales, Logistics, Customer Service, Staff Morale and the special requirements of your local area. Add to that knowledge of online retailing.
The World Wide Web can be used for many different aspects of your business, and those in charge must understand each, in the same way that they understand any other area of business. Without such knowledge, they are hostage to an elite group who can tell them anything, and they have to believe it.
We all know that the web is a great place to market your product and service. Just as the techniques and methods that work best in a bricks and mortar business have evolved over time, so are the methods and techniques that work best in the online world.
Today search engines are much more selective about the sites that are placed at the top of the list. There is a new industry based around Search Engine Optimisation, and it is a fast moving topic, requiring regular study to maintain current knowledge.
The delivery of communications and digital product via the internet is also well known, and again the methods are becoming more and more sophisticated. It is no longer enough to have an information-only site, nor is it enough to have an online store by itself. A successful business needs to build visibility before establishing credibility, and it needs credibility before it can reach profitability. That means figuring out exactly who your customers are and what message to send them, then delivering that message. Delivering the message means finding out where your target market goes, and placing the message there.
The online world is very good at doing this, many online networks gather statistics from their members, and then use those stats to position ‘random’ advertising messages on pages the member visits.
Customer service can also be enhanced by the use of online facilities, for example a section of your site might present answers to common questions that your clients have. This, coupled with an effective method of searching for the problem will enable your clients to solve their problem in minutes, quicker even than is they rang your phone help line – and they can do this 24 hours a day!
There most likely isn’t an area of business that cannot be enhanced by the effective use of online facilities. It can even be used to deliver some products and services.
What areas of your business might benefit from an online presence? How might you improve the existing online facilities? If you don’t know then like any other area of business you need to educate yourself about what’s possible, so that you can direct the evolution of your online business. Apart from Results In A Minute, who do you know that you can ask? Got the list? Ask them all.
Is Online the New MLM?
It seems that online business is taking over from MLM business as something that everybody wants to do, believing that this is the way to riches. That may well be right, and yet there are secrets that nobody tells you about.
What Criteria Determines That?
First, we will establish the criteria that we will measure against. That would have to be something that is generally applicable, not subject to variation over time, and simple to use. In fact, you probably use these measures yourself already.
The first criteria is “Why” you are in business in the first place. That can be anything from wanting to earn a little extra to buy some new curtains or carpet, pay for a holiday abroad, or to make a million or more.
The next criteria is “What” business, meaning what industry, what is your target market, what problem are you solving? Mechanics fix vehicles, doctors fix people, restaurants fix hunger and your business solves somebody’s problem too.
Then we move to “Who” is helping you out? That is obviously your business partner, if you have one, and also the people supplying you, the logistics provider you use to deliver, the utility company and everyone else that you need to actually be in business.
“When” is the next criteria, meaning all things related to time. When are you open, how long to deliver and all the other date/time questions people ask.
“Where” is also important for a business. Where will the premises be located, either a street address or a URL. Where is your target market? Geography plays a big part in any business.
Finally we come to “How” will you do things? How do you order, process, sell and deliver to your customer?
Regardless of what business you are in, or you are thinking of starting, these criteria, answered in that sequence, will help you be one of the small percentage of new businesses that survive. Here’s a perspective on why businesses fail from Critical Care for Business. http://www.criticalc4c.com/step1_busfail.html
Different Types of Business
Your motivation for being in business is likely to be the same regardless of what type of business. You will operate online, as a Home based business or a regular bricks and mortar for the same reason. To make money, to achieve a certain lifestyle, to be free or any number of perfectly valid reasons.
What industry you select is most likely based on your background, training, experience and interests. Once again, that remains constant across all business types. Now some of you may be thinking that lions cannot be tamed online, to do that you must be there, in the cage with them. And you’re right, but that doesn’t mean you couldn’t use online or other techniques in your business. We’re a little ahead of ourselves, because we find out more about this in the section on how.
The main point to remember regarding what business to get into is that this too comes from inside you and your contacts.
Who Do You Turn To?
Who will help you in this venture? That would be the people that you already know, those you will reach out to, and those provided by the parent company if you join some sort of franchise. Mostly, the people who will help you are people you already know, and you need to know your customer before they will buy from you.
One person you need to find (if you don’t already have at least one) is to get a good coach. Someone who knows the pitfalls, and how to avoid them. The Carnegie Community put it this way http://blog.dalecarnegie.com/tipsforsuccess/why-is-training-important-to-a-business/
We won’t discuss when for long, because that depends upon the individual more than anything else. Some of us plan and make sure we do it right the first time, others jump in and fix it as we go. What I will say is that the timing of things is in a sense controlled by the type of business you start.
Bricks and mortar businesses need to wait for the physical item to be in the premises before they can sell it, or at least a demonstration version to sell orders from. MLM businesses usually have large warehouses full of product, so orders can be received and delivered very quickly, and online businesses can sometimes operate at literally the speed of light.
So there are some differences in timing, but they are controlled by the type of business rather than controlling the business type. The exception to this is that maybe you decide how fast you want to be able to respond and this criteria drives your choice of business type.
Where your business operates and where your customers are is also dependent on the business type, although your interaction with them will follow the same general pattern. For example regardless of where, you still need to know what problem they have and be able to tell them that you can solve it. You may place that message at a physical place or at a specific URL, but the principles remain the same. You have to get your message to where your potential customers can see it.
Some more differences creeping in, although the basic intent is the same.
This is the one you have been waiting for! How you do things will vary enormously depending upon which type of business you are in. You may even use techniques from every business type – you may have a physical location, operate a franchise, MLM or affiliate program, and deliver at least some of your message if not product online.
The real point of all this is: the basics of being in business haven’t changed for 2,000 or more years. We have different industries, different ways to communicate, and a more educated customer but we still need to deliver according to their requirements!
Let me put it this way – you probably like to shop from people you know, like, and trust. So do your customers. This is the core of any successful business, and the rest is just details!
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Do you have a situation that does not fit? Leave a comment and find out what others think. Here are some more thoughts to help you decide http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/5627.html