To Grow A Small Business, Get Back To The Basics
"I guarantee increased sales in 30 days or less." Sound familiar? The internet and late night T.V. is flooded with this nonsense. Unfortunately, now more than ever, new and established entrepreneurs look to these quick-fix sources for a silver bullet that will solve their business problems. There is no quick fix and that silver bullet doesn't exist. Tiger Woods is arguably the greatest golfer to swing a club. What is surprising is that when he feels his play is starting to deteriorate, the first thing he does is analyze the basics/fundamentals of his golf swing. The same principal need to apply to your business. But what are the basics/fundamentals of growing and maintaining a small business? This article will gives you a 4 step process that will help you successfully market your small business.
Establish short term, detailed business goals and put them in writing. When I say short term I'm talking the next 6-9 months. Long term goals have their place but they will do you no good if you are out of business after your first year, so establish goals that can be achieved in the next 6-9 months. For example, if you are a new business your goal may be to attract 50 new customers by the end of August, where an established business may want to sell 50 units of their new widgets to their existing customers. Trying to market your business without having detailed business goals is like trying to fish without a fishing pole. Now that you have established your business goals, it's time to develop a strategy to achieve these goals.
Identify Your Buyer Personas
I recently talked with a business owner who asked, "What is the best way to market my small business i.e. internet, yellow pages, newspaper, etc.?" After understanding her business goals, I asked her what strategy had she developed to meet those goals? There was a long pause before she said, "It's to use marketing and advertising to clean houses?"
A successful marketing strategy begins with identifying and building a specific target market(s) or what are called buyer personas. A buyer persona is a specific type of buyer who has a problem your product or service solves. In the above example, her target market was to "clean houses". This target market is too broad--if you target everyone, you appeal to no one. Good questions to ask yourself when identifying a buyer persona are: what problem(s) does my product or service solve and who specifically has this problem(s)? One of the best ways to help you identify buyer personas is to interview your existing customers. This can be done through a survey or a simple phone call asking 3-5 questions built around their problem(s) your product or service solves. Here is an example of how you can create your buyer personas:
Once you have an understanding and identified your buyer personas, you will now identify which personas you want to target and develop marketing strategies that speak to these personas individually.
Target Your Marketing To Your Buyer Personas
You will want to select the persona(s) to target that have the greatest revenue generating opportunities. When developing a strategy around each persona, it is critical that you understand the problems they encounter.
For example, a working husband and wife need their home cleaned because they don't get home until 8:00 PM every night. This allows them enough time to make dinner for their kids, help them with their homework and get them to bed. By the end of the week their dishes have piled up and the house is a disaster, forcing them to spend the entire weekend cleaning rather than relaxing from a hard week of work. Your marketing strategy needs to address these specific problems and how your products or services can solve them. To attract more working families you would have a specific page on your website for this them talking about solving their problem of a messy house and being able to relax and enjoy their weekends. If using the yellow pages, the ad will be tailored to this buyer persona by addressing the problem they have and how your product or service is going to solve it.
Evaluate and Adapt Your Strategy
The only thing worse than not having a marketing strategy is having one that doesn't work. It is crucial that you constantly evaluate the results of your marketing efforts and strategy to ensure that they are achieving your short term business goals. If your strategy is falling short of those goals, first go back and make sure that you have properly identified your buyer personas. Once your strategy achieves your business goals you can either increase your goals by continuing to target the same buyer persona(s) or establish new goals and target another buyer persona if you feel it has a lot of opportunity. Either way, using a surgeon's approach to target your buyer personas will not only help you sustain, but also grow your business regardless of what state the economy is in.
© 2009 eMarketing 4 Business LLC