Goals – What do you intend to accomplish with your business? What’s your monthly plan? Do you have an annual plan? How about a financially based 5 year business plan? What about your exit strategy?
These are all questions that you should have good answers to, if you are a small business owner or operator. There’s an old saying that goes; “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there. That’s certainly true and provides a small amount of comfort if you are just ‘winging it.’ Because hey; you’re getting to your destination. You just don’t know where it is until you get there. Although, you may not like it when you get there…
However, if you intend to succeed at your small business, and who doesn’t, then it’s essential that you set-up a target to shoot at in the near, mid and long term.
Without goals there is really no way for you to tell if you are succeeding or not. Frankly, if you’re not growing, i.e., accomplishing or exceeding your goals, then you are dying. As follows: the economy continues to expand, no matter the artificial propping provided by the Fed or, the sequestration and shutdown of our Federal government.
If you aren’t at least keeping up with inflation and cost-of-living increases, let’s say 5% per year, then your business will atrophy which, is a fancy way of saying dry up, wither and eventually die.
Want proof? The failure of Small Businesses in America occurs in epidemic proportions. How about the following statistics from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Census:
Small business failure rate:
Year 1: 85%
Year 2: 70%
Year 3: 62%
Year 4: 55%
Slowly reducing to 35% failure rate after 10 years.
Reach New and Current Customers – Here’s a great way to think about this; Penetrate and Radiate! Let’s say you’re pursuing a certain group of customers or a vertical market. Good for you! That’s exactly what you should be doing. As a small business you have limited time and resources so, use them wisely.
You need to work smarter, not harder. You can’t be all things to all people. So stop trying. You’re not WalMart! Frankly, if you’re going head-to-head with the 900lb Gorilla in your industry, you’re going to lose every time. So Penetrate!
Get focused on the answer to the following two questions: What makes you different? Why should your customers care? When you can answer both of these questions in a concise, compelling fashion, you are well on your way to defining your Unique Value Proposition (UVP)!
The secret to effectively penetrating a market or segment is in the message that you deliver to your prospects and customers, a’la the answers to the above questions.
Now that you’ve got them, keep them! Customers that is… What else can you do to provide more value to your existing customers? Don’t know? Ask them! They’ll tell you… Now Radiate.
Continue to stay one step ahead of your customers with your product or service offerings, ensuring that you are aware of their needs and that you are addressing those needs with your upgrades, add-ons, product enhancements or companion products. This is what is classically known as cross-selling and up-selling.
Open To learn – Oldsmobile once ran an advertising campaign with the following message, “This is not your father’s Oldsmobile…This is the new generation of Olds.” The objective of the campaign was to get new customers to think differently about the Oldsmobile brand. Namely, that it was a cooler, hipper, more sophisticated mode of transportation, than the Lead-sled Dad drove.
A moment of silence please in honor for an American brand, laid-to-rest. Judging by the outcome (Oldsmobile is no more), I’d say they failed. O.k., that was a cheap shot. It’s unfair to judge the brand on just one ad, but…
Unlike Oldsmobile, Internet Marketing really is a cooler, hipper, more sophisticated, faster, more efficient, cost effective, interactive, and just way better form of marketing than anything you are doing currently or, have tried in the past. I’m basing that comment on a career’s-worth of empirical data and the success of hundreds of existing small business customers.
You need to keep an open mind when it comes to marketing your business on the Internet. There is a lot that is changing about the way we go after new business. As a matter of fact, the only constant on the Web is change and it happens seven times faster online than it does offline. Change is traumatic, whether it’s good or bad. Frankly, if you are going to remain vital and prosperous in your small business, you don’t have a choice but to get with it on the Web. If you don’t, your competition will!
Work It – Be honest, if you’ve gotten less than stellar results from the Web in the past, it’s probably because you didn’t invest an appropriate amount of time or resources in it. Right? Simply put, you get back what you put out. So, invest wisely in a comprehensive Internet Marketing plan. But, it’s not going to happen in a vacuum. You are going to have to plan the work and work the plan, just like everywhere else in your business.
The good news is Internet Marketing is without a doubt the most cost effective means of marketing that you can use to promote your small business. The Web is also the only marketing medium that you can use that is truly objective. By that I mean, the results that you get are track-able and measurable (think Analytics), in most cases at an infinitesimal level. This makes the process of understanding your return on investment (ROI), what you get back for what you spent, that much easier.