Business Choices that are Best for Business
Every decision a small business owner makes, no matter how large or small, affects his business, sometimes exponentially. Some new business owners sink because they invest far too much into a product that simply won’t sell well. Other businesses fail due to a lack of marketing. Sometimes it’s the way the business is marketed that leads to its downfall. All of these are very common business mistakes, so having a plan to avoid them will greatly benefit all business owners.
Make the business investment a worthwhile one.
All business owners are of course a huge fan of their own idea and they have absolute confidence that everyone else will want it too. But what if it really won’t sell? Too often too much money has been spent and lost and wasted. Potential business owners need to do significant market research on their product or service and talk to consumers they have no ties to, i.e.: not personal friends or family members. Give the product a test run. Is it really filling a need in your community or society in general? If the general public welcomes the new idea, that is the time to run with it.
Lay out a marketing plan.
It is critical for potential business owners to understand that marketing their product is the only way to ever find customers. It is the only way to continue to find new customers and it is exactly how to retain existing customers. Marketing is the only way to stay in business and that is why all business owners need a strong marketing plan right from the very beginning.
Consumers have to be able to find a new business if they can ever be customers to it. This is where the strong marketing strategy comes in to play. There are literally countless methods available to market your new business. Traditionally, marketing was kept within a local community and outlets including newspaper, phone books, flyers and mailers were great ways to get word out about a new business. Businesses with larger marketing budgets might even run an ad on television or the radio. Today we live in a digital world and that means all businesses that wish to thrive must be online. Local marketing is certainly valuable, but online marketing is vital. This means a business website is just as important as a securing a building to run a shop from, or even store product to be shipped to online customers. Digital communication also provides more marketing tools for small businesses. Using things like social media websites, blogs, SEO marketing, and banner ads, along with affiliating the business website with related small businesses will get your new business’ name and product out there. Determine which marketing tools you can afford to begin with and build on these as the business grows.
Simply having a marketing plan is not enough. All business owners, new or seasoned, need to actively market their products. Continue to update a business blog and regularly post on social media sites to keep your business in the front of the customers mind. Use these mediums to look for feedback too! Use any information that existing customers have to share about customer service or quality of products; this gives the business a chance to grow and best suit their customer base.
Business owners need to know who their target audience is and direct their marketing to that audience. If the new business and product will best suit active, retired people, make sure that all advertising efforts will reach these people, and appeal to them as well. While we’re on the subject of your target audience, business owners would be wise to be sure the people in this demographic can afford your product. Using the above example of active retired persons, remember that they are usually on a fixed income so it is important that they are able to easily pay for the benefits the business and product offers.
Once a business owner has selected some marketing tools and put them to use, he or she needs to carefully track the results each method is generating. This will reveal which marketing methods are most effective. Weigh the cost of the marketing method against the number of sales it is generating and decide if this is something worth precious time and money. If it is not, consider dropping that particular method. No business can survive by dedicating money to an unsuccessful idea. If however, a certain marketing method is doing most of the work for the business, keep it at the top of your marketing plan and stick with it. It is okay to use the same marketing campaign as long as it is generating sales. As they say “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” and this absolutely applies to all aspects of running a business. The last thing a wise business owner wants to do is spend money and change from something that is producing necessary results to something that may or may not continue to generate sales. When a marketing campaign is no longer attracting business, then a business owner can be sure the public has grown weary of this and it’s time to freshen things up; but only after sales start to dip.
Some final words of wisdom with any marketing plan are to keep the product and business unique by running a unique marketing design. It is good business sense to take note of highly successful marketing campaigns and use the design to inspire and make it your own. It is a terrible idea to copy a marketing campaign outright- especially if you are copying your competition. The problem here (aside from any possible legal issues) is that you continually remind consumers about an already existing product or business and you can detract from your own potential. Use the same innovative creativity you had in creating the business idea to come up with or adjust a marketing strategy of your own design. On this note be sure that your business offers something different from your competition. Perhaps you could teach classes to help customers find new ways to use your products. New businesses might consider offering product bundles. Think of something that sets you apart from your competition and use it to the advantage of your new business.
Retain customers and find new leads.
A new customer is only the beginning of a business relationship because you need them to keep coming back. Businesses need to continue to market to these customers in order to retain them. Some ways to do this include providing excellent customer service, using social media to acquire feedback and using it, and running promotions that might be exclusive to existing customers. It might also be a good idea to occasionally provide incentives for your customer’s word-of-mouth marketing. This will help find new leads which are another important part of staying in business.
New leads may seem like new customers but that is not necessarily the case. All marketing strategies can bring in new leads. Networking can bring in new leads. Some leads are only effective as networking leads, which means they’ll help spread the word about your business, but never actually purchase from it. These kinds of leads would be good to collaborate with for a large event in your community or a related-products sale. Other times they are simply good to affiliate websites with online. It should be noted that networking rarely brings in paying customers; rather it helps a business further network.
Any new lead a businessman can get is valuable and should not be forgotten. Unfortunately some business owners are so concerned about finding new leads that they drop the ones they have already acquired. Having a strategy in place to follow up with new leads is almost as critical as having a marketing plan. Make a follow up plan that includes how soon to follow up, how often to continue following up, and how far to push the new lead. Most importantly, stick with this plan! Ideally, businesses want to follow up with new leads almost immediately, while the lead is interested and likely excited about the product. This is when they are most likely to make a purchase or most likely to choose to network with this business. It’s also a good idea to continue following up with a lead (or retain them) until they are no longer interested, but don’t push your business or product or that will drive them away.
Decide now how to best apply these ideas to your new business venture. Decide where to begin and how to continue but expect to be flexible. Some decisions you make as a business owner will be the wrong one. Take that chance to learn what you can from the mistake and try again. Remember that nothing great was ever achieved without risk. Be brave enough to try your idea on the market with research, and then be wise enough to market your new business well, and be willing to succeed.