If you are the typical entrepreneur there is a very high probability that you always had the jitters in marketing your products or services. If you did, do not fret, for you are not alone.
Michael Gerber, a noted business strategist and author of the mega best seller “The E-myth Revisited” (the “E” here stands for Entrepreneur and not Electronic as is commonly understood), stated, “The majority of small and medium businesses are not owned by entrepreneurs, but by technical persons who had an entrepreneurial seizure”.
And when you study that statement you realize it is so true. A majority of those in small and medium business got into it because they were very good at doing something and decided it would be more exciting to be independent by getting rid of the boss.
There are others who have got into this because of what our friend Mike Boyd, who has had a long and successful career with McDonald’s, calls “lifestyle seizure”. It is when you have reached a point in life where lifestyle was more important and you see a business ownership as a vehicle to do more of what you want and less of what you don’t.
But do not lose heart. Marketing your business is not as tough as it seems. It falls into place when you realize that marketing is a noun and not a verb. (Yes, the dictionaries will support this) Marketing is nothing but a collection of activities executed brilliantly to promote and sell your products or services.
If you were to ask the majority of small and medium business owners what they did to “market” their business their answers may look like this:
- I place ads on the radio or in the newspaper (that’s not marketing ….. that’s placing ads)
- I network at a variety of events (that’s not marketing ….. that’s networking)
- I use direct mailers (that’s not marketing ….. that’s mailing)
- I cold call (that’s not marketing ….. that’s phoning)
- I blog or email (that’s not marketing, that’s ….. well you get the idea)
So from that rant, we draw three conclusions –
- In order to promote your business you have to “do” something.
- You can’t or won’t “do” something you don’t understand.
- You understand plenty and could use those things to promote your business.
It is that simple. Even as an entrepreneur (Gerber-style) you can achieve this without any sweat because it is what you are best at – executing a few, specific activities that you can do well consistently and measure.
And as the legendary Zig Ziglar once said, “You don’t have to be great to start, but you do have to start to be great.” Use your strength to create a Customer Action Plan that contains a few specific actions that will:
- Bring in new customers
- Encourage existing customers to make repeat visits
- Add-on to a sale, when it makes sense
Write down the plan activities and keep monitoring them rigorously. You can download a template for your use, if you require. MAP Template (1_4) If you need to jump-start your ideation process, check out the 200 Guerilla Marketing Weapons that noted author Jay Conard Levinson has put forward.
Now remember “keep the form simple”. And you can do this by restricting your immediate efforts to just three activities. It is perfectly okay if you have many more ideas for activities under each section. But commit to only three at a time. File the others somewhere easily accessible for you will definitely come back to them later. You will notice that as you proceed some ideas on your “committed 3 list” – ideas that seemed good to you – are not well received by customers or do not work well or wear out over a period of time. You will then have the flexibility to replace them with the excess activities you had thought of when brainstorming.
Once you have started the flow of customers in, it is in your interest to keep them coming back again. There are all kinds of statistics that prove the point. Remember marketing to your existing customers is more economical and productive than netting a new customer. By executing a sale you have already started a dialogue with the customer. Keep the dialogue going by having a robust contact program that reaches out to your customers at a regular frequency. Encourage loyalty.
By “active listening” you can almost certainly get more dollars per transaction on your sale. Suggest an additional product or service that would compliment what has already been purchased. Like a seasoned car salesman, move the customer to a higher quality version of the same item. Encourage customers to buy more pieces by giving price breaks. Remember, your product / service knowledge combined with your active listening puts you in a position to make both timely and useful suggestions.
So whatever three activities you have committed to, do them well, consistently and measure. Because as grandma told us all, with enough churning the cream will always rise to the top.