Marketing & Sales



What Should I Do Before Starting a Business?

What are the essential things to do before starting a business? We identify three important components.

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New business: How do I get Visibility and Customers?

Ah, the proverbial question: how do you get customers. That’s what you want. Visibility, yes, but the only visibility you need is with people that will buy what you have to sell. Any other visibility is a waste of time and effort. In fact, visibility in the wrong venue can backfire: it may alert your competition, or inspire some other business to invade your space. So, you want to target your customers. Not with a shotgun, but with a rifle — send that message to the prospect and get them to buy. Too many entrepreneurs confuse noise with message. Noise is all around, does no good, doesn’t result in anything. Message is distinct, tailored, directed, and designed to emote action. So, how will you send an appropriate message directly to your target market in the most effective, efficient way? First you have to know a lot about your target market(s). You have to understand their demographics and their psychographics. Until you have this information, you are shooting in the dark. Then, you have to figure out how to reach those people directly. There is always a way. You have to understand the pathways of communication. Is it by social media? …

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What holds back a business from Scaling UP

What prevents most businesses from scaling up? Here are a few things: A personal service business where the owner IS the business. A business which is only successful because it has a unique location A business which has a limited supply of product. A business which can’t overcome the logistics of multiple locations/ increased sales either because there aren’t enough qualified humans or the business processes can’t or shouldn’t be automated. A niche business which serves a limited niche. Inadequate, ill-defined, or unworkable business systems, especially marketing, sales and customer service. Inadequate vision – owners can’t imagine scaling or comprehend what that involves. Inadequate funding Owners who know that being “big” doesn’t mean being better, and in fact being the “right size” is the best success a business owner can achieve.

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How does a New Business get Customers?

How does a new business get traction, get known, get customers? The answer is it depends upon your business… each business has a “most effective” marketing strategy. No two businesses have exactly the same approach. What you are in need of is a marketing plan. What follows is just a broad overview of some elements of a good plan. How do you attract customers? That’s the key. First, you have to know who your customers are or will be? Who are your target markets? What things are on their minds? What are their problems? What do they pay attention to? What are their habits? Demographics. Psychographics. How does your product or service solve their problem or need? Exactly. For example, you might say your coffee shop satisfies their thirst for coffee. WRONG. Your coffee house provides a certain ambiance, a place to meet people, relax, and enjoy a respite from the demands of the world. Ah, it is a refuge. You provide stress relief! ( I’m just making this up as I go along, the idea is to get you to thinking beyond the simple and into the subliminal and inferential.) Now that you know, what, figure out HOW. How …

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Can a Small Business Win Against National Companies?

How can small business owners compete & win when they are up against national companies? Direct, head on product to product competition: you can’t. They will smash you like a bug. Indirect, guerrilla marketing, niche specialty, solving un-met demands, appealing to consumers’ unique needs and desires: you’ll run circles around them, but you’ll have to be agile and nimble because if you are too successful or visible they will adopt your successes and roll over on you. (squished bug analogy again) You have to be clever. You have to be resourceful. You have to out-think them and out maneuver them. You have to go where they aren’t, whether it be location, product, service or customer demographics or psychographics. You also have to be constantly evolving. The only way same-old-same-old works is where the big guys are not interested in going. Example: a small retail store in a resort destination. You must keep your customers close to you, know them, understand them and market to and with them. Successful small businesses often share one thing in common: they have enthusiastic customers.

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How do I sell my consulting services?

This is an easy one! First, you have to know as much as you can about your prospective clients. What are their needs? What are the problems that gnaw at them and cause them to lose sleep? What things are just annoying and irritating that they have to deal with? Know your prospect. Understand what motivates them and where their “pain” is. Now, how will you, yes you, solve their problems in a seamless, easy, cost-effective way? What will you provide that will give them (almost) instant relief? What is your USP ( unique selling proposition)? Don’t give them some “generalities” or fuzzy answers. You have to be razor sharp on this. You have to be able to prove that you can solve their pain. Otherwise, why would they risk dealing with you? What guarantees or warrantees can you provide ( and remember, these have to be realistic… if you promise too much, they won’t believe you.) That brings us to the next issue: credibility. Why are you, as an individual, uniquely qualified to provide this “relief?” What are your credentials? What experience do you have? What references can you give? What case studies can you provide that prove your …

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What influences business cycles? Where are we on the Cycle?

Where are we on the business cycle? It depends upon a lot of factors, because there isn’t just one “business cycle.” There are many: 1. The economic cycle of the world 2. The economic cycle of the country 3. The economic cycle of the region 4. The economic cycle of any particular industry 5. The economic cycle of a particular firm. All of these cycles interact. Sometimes they are in synch, at other times each are at a different phase, and we experience a blended effect. It’s sometimes difficult to distinguish which is what and how they are affecting any one person’s investments or business. The factors which affect a business cycle include these factors: a. Capital availability and cost b. Markets – demand for products c. Innovation and competition – and the value propositions d. Psychographics of the population or target market e. Social narrative and outlook ( such as optimistic or pessimistic, anticipatory of some event, or even what appears to sometimes be a bi-polar attitude expressed by group think) f. Regulation, political and legal structures. Is this all complex? A lot more complex than your college economics class would lead you to believe. The assessment of where …

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What can I do to Promote my Business?

You didn’t state what your product or service was, so it’s difficult to answer the question. You also didn’t specify what the LVC ( lifetime value of a customer) was, so we don’t know whether a particular marketing approach might or might not be appropriate. The obvious sales techniques include media advertising,  direct mail (my favorite),  telemarketing (not my favorite),  direct door-to-door sales (brutal),  and signs on the business ( if you have a retail location.) Just doing one thing or another in an un-coordinated shotgun fashion is counterproductive and expensive. To be successful, you must come up with a compelling USP ( unique sales proposition) which leads to a strong “message” and a “brand” which then is used to create a coordinated, cohesive campaign. All that given, here are some ideas that others use successfully: Dinner seminar – you’ve gotten one of those invitations for a free dinner and sales pitch. They must work, because lots of people use it. Signs. Lots of them. Everywhere. Coupons. People LOVE to save money. Remember, the magic word “FREE” followed by the almost magic word “On Sale” Events – One financial planner hosted a showing of a popular movie —- and gave …

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How do I find a Good Sales Person?

Whoa! What all of us business / marketing types crave: a craftsman who loves to make things. OK. but you all be careful, y’all hear me? There are a lot of great builders who get burned big time. Ask anyone who was on the Windows development team, or the original Mac development team. If you are the engineer / builder, you must protect your skills and contributions. So, if you like building, and you are the one who is the driving force, then you are the owner. Now, you want to get some marketing talent. The problem is that marketing folks love to sell, and the first person they sell is you. For 50% of the firm, they will sell the hell out of it. STOP. First off, let me say I’ve started over a dozen businesses, taken two companies public, worked for many years as a CPA and adviser to many businesses, start up to middle market, to large public ( Aetna, Union Oil, etc type companies) My approach to management may be a bit German, but that’s my heritage, so it’s in the genes. There has to be a boss, and there have to be troops. Who is …

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How do you get your idea from concept to a business?

This is the proverbial chicken before the egg question. How do I know my idea will work? Let’s skip to the bottom line: you won’t and can’t know for certain until you jump in the pool and do it. Anything else is just speculation. What you can do is test your idea. You don’t need to incorporate your company or do any fancy stuff to test your idea. Several ways come to mind: You can test market the idea. So you start really small, make up a few prototypes and see if you can sell them. If your idea is a service, start it in a test market and try it out. See if it catches on. You can “focus group” test the idea, by polling people about whether they are interested in it or would purchase it. Sorry to say, but this is very unreliable. It does give you some “negative assurance” because if your focus group hates the idea and no interest is shown, well, you probably have a dud. You can begin the market the idea taking orders for future delivery. In the software business, this is known as selling vaporware. You have the idea, but the …

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