If you are a small business owner and you are not marketing, or marketing effectively, then you cannot grow.
Sorry to be so blunt.
Perhaps you will grow to some extent because you have a group of loyal customers, or you have a great product. But at some stage, unless you market your business, you will hit a very uphill slope to grow any further. In the business life cycle, this is called the “plateau” stage, and small businesses that do not market themselves get to plateau a lot earlier than other mature businesses.
The crux of the matter is that even as you grow slowly now, you cannot meet your own expectations – that dream you had for your business when you started it.
The answer is, you have to market your business.
But it need not be a massive project or an expensive affair.
Marketing is all about understanding what your product does for your target market and then telling them in an appropriate way.
There are seven steps to prepare your marketing campaign, designed specifically for your business – no bigger, no smaller.
These seven steps are:-
- To identify what your product really does for your customer – not what it is made of or what it is designed to do, but what kind of satisfaction, relief, and other emotions and benefits it can give them;
- To identify who you should really sell to – your target market, those people who share similar characteristics but especially who share the same needs and can therefore benefit from your product in the way you have identified;
- Tweaking your business and processes to make sure that you can meet the needs of your customers – in terms of customer service and support, delivery, access and so on;
- Adjusting your selling price so that it becomes a marketing factor – matching the expectations of your target market through more defined pricing, bundling products together, and so on;
- Knowing what your target market wants and knowing who they are, identify where you should reach out to them and prioritise the most appropriate marketing activities from passive advertising to running workshops, offering discounts for members, whatever;
- Put your marketing activities together into an annual “campaign plan” designed to reach out to the target market to inform them about you, to then entice them to look further at your product, and finally to have that sales conversation or to pull the trigger and buy;
- And finally to implement your plan while watching and evaluating for effect and outcomes – adjusting as necessary for better returns.
They are simple to implement and to know more, you can either get my book called SMART Marketing – 7 Easy Steps to More Sales, or you can check out our online training/workshop to help you prepare your marketing campaign.
As well, in these blog posts, I have written extensively about how you can take each of these seven steps in your business so you can refer to teikoh.com to find out more from this free but valuable advice.
I’ve also issued some challenges in this blog that you can follow:-
- Writing your marketing message to attract your target market
- Make sure your customer is completely fulfilled
- Finding your customer’s needs
This week I’d like to issue a 5-day marketing challenge to you about tweaking your business to match the needs of your target market.
In explaining the challenge, I will have to use the example of a hypothetical business, but you can take the challenge, knowing and using your own details.
First, we have to assume that you have identified the actual benefits that your product can give your customer, and that you have identified your target market as well as their characteristics and common needs and desires, and that you have come up with some cool marketing messages.
So, take our hypothetical business of a coffee-shop on a suburban shopping street.
They have decided that what they offer their customers in benefits – through their great coffee and other drinks, and their breakfast and lunch services – are:-
- a central place to “breakfast or brunch out” before shopping
- really good coffee to refresh tired bodies
- a place to stop, rest and re-energise after shopping
- a pleasant place for locals to meet up with friends
- a trendy place to be seen having a coffee and a meal
They have also identified their target market as:-
- 20 to 35-year-old men and women, married and single who live in or near the area
- They generally do not bring children with them
- They are professional or have a good disposable income
- They come for a leisurely brunch in the morning before shopping
- They come for a late afternoon coffee laden with shopping bags
- They need fast efficient service, good coffee and trendy meal choices (think smashed avo!)
- They like the time to sit and chat while eating and drinking and don’t like to feel rushed
Let’s be clear – those are not the only people who come into the coffee-shop, but they have identified these as their target market because they are the most in number, they spend more than other categories of customers, and they share the same “needs” so that targeting this category of customer, they can access the most people by meeting their common needs.
Their challenge – and yours for your business – is to take the next 5 days and tweak their business to meet the needs of the target market.
On Day 1, take stock of how your business operates and what processes it has, and then see how these meet the needs of this category of customer.
In our example, let’s say that through the day they notice that:
- They provide great coffee and good food, but sometimes the coffee comes out quickly and the food a moment later
- They notice most people like to sit near the window – to see and be seen
- Some of their customers visibly showed annoyance at some small children running around the coffee-shop
- Whether they come for breakfast, brunch or lunch, they order a limited number of favourites
- In the morning, when they are really busy, the wait-staff put the bills on the table without being asked, and some people ignore them until they want to leave in their own time
They draw up this table:
|Their Needs Not Met:||Our Business/Processes:|
|“Children free”||All families welcome|
|To see and be seen||Limited window tables|
|Fast efficient service||Coffee ready, out – but wait for food|
|Late afternoon, laden with shopping bags||Nowhere to put bags|
|Order favourite trendy meals all-day||Offers breakfast and lunch menus|
|Want not to be rushed||We rush them in the mornings|
So, for Day 1, you should watch as your target customers come into your business.
How do they react to some of the things you do? How do your processes and methods meet their own needs?
In your own case, don’t forget to consider your processes in sales and delivery, in customer contact and after-sales service, even in display and shop-front design.
At the end of the day, summarise your observations and come up with a similar table as above.
On Day 2, fix the easy things and design the fix for the more difficult things.
Our coffee-shop owners decide that they can quickly fix the problem of the coffee coming out at a different time from the meals, and to stop rushing their diners at breakfast or brunch.
The food is prepared in the kitchen and the coffee is prepared by the barista at the counter.
They decide to add one step in the ordering process – they ask the customer if they want their coffee first, or prefer to get it at the same time as the food – and the preference is marked on the ticket.
If they want the coffee first, no problem, it is served as usual.
If the ticket is marked to get the coffee at the same time, the kitchen knows to warn the barista (through the window between kitchen and counter) “Order #27 in 2 minutes” as they finish the cook and start to plate up, and the barista makes the coffee then.
They also change the way that a bill is placed in front of people who linger. Instead of placing a bill there, wait-staff are told to approach the table and ask if they would like another coffee or see the menu again? If the diners say yes, there’s the potential; for more orders and the lingering table is no longer a problem.
If they say no, the wait staff can return (after a decent interval) with the bill on the unstated basis that they had acknowledged they were “finished”.
Looking at your own table of needs not met – what quick fixes can you put into place on Day 2?
On Day 2, you should also take some time to identify fixes you can make in the next few days.
Our coffee-shop owners think that by Day 3 they can fix the seating of families with children, the limited window seats, and the issue of shopping bags in the afternoon.
To fix the first, they change the tables around so that the tables nearer the window are smaller and by looks, “invite” only 2 to sit (although they can grab another couple of chairs from elsewhere if need be).
They move “family-sized tables” to a corner into comfortable banquette seating. They are comfortable doing this because they know from experience that only 2 or 3 families dine there with children at any one time.
This also fixes, in part, the need for trendy millennials to see and be seen, but they know they need to continue to work on this.
Moving the table around also creates a “pocket” of secure space near the front. They decide to install shelves there to accommodate shopping bags, and in the afternoons, they invite shoppers to place their bags on the shelves.
So, on to Day 3.
On Day 3 they design and start to fix the more difficult issues.
There just isn’t enough space to fit everyone who wants to sit near the window to see and be seen. So they decide that they have to apply to the local Council for pavement seating. This will be a long-term project so they call the Council to find out the process and start the process.
They decide that their menu may be over-complicated.
So, they decide to cut their offerings!
To many, this sounds terrible, but if, in your business, you find that your customers buy only 2 or 3 products, then carrying the full range of 10 or so will cost you money in stock-room space, administration, extra processing, and so on – all for the one in a blue moon purchase. In situations like this, it is economic to cut your offerings.
With their cook, they design an all-day menu based on the favourites. This will be introduced next week, along with some new menus designed to attract the eye of their target market rather than existing unattractive menus.
On your own Day 3, your challenge task is to look at the more difficult issues and work out how you can fix them so that you can satisfy the needs of your target market.
List each issue and identify options and possibilities, eliminate those that are impractical (due to cost or other factors) and work on the remaining solutions. Prepare some action steps to take in order to arrive at your planned solution.
Then, Day 4.
Day 4 is about taking stock of the changes.
You need to do two things:-
- Check that your people are processing the changes in the way they are intended and correct or re-train them where necessary
- Check the immediate response from customers to the changes.
In the example of our coffee-shop owners, they first check with wait-staff that they are marking the orders to see if customers want their coffee at the same time as the food, and they check if wait-staff are using the tactic of asking “would you like more coffee or see the menu again?”
Where one or two are forgetting they re-emphasise to them the need to change, and on Day 4 they watch those staff more carefully.
They then check, with their own eyes as well as with wait-staff to see how the changes are being met by customers – especially their target market.
Their wait-staff report that asking customers if they want their coffee at the same time is a hit, as is the change to the placement of the tables.
They can see with their own eyes that at the end of the meal when they are asked if they want to order more, and are then given the bill, they leave more readily.
However, they also see that not many shoppers in the afternoon use the shelves to place their shopping bags. This has been a miss – but they are not overly concerned because, in the afternoons, they are less busy and shopping on the floor or on spare chairs is not a significant problem, especially as their customers appear not to care.
On Day 4, when you take stock of your changes don’t be afraid to score a “miss”. Some things will be trial and error. If one of your initiatives is a “miss” consider if it is still important and if so, what else you can do on Day 5. If it’s not that important to the customer, you can relax.
If, after taking stock, some things need tweaking, then redesign the change and implement the redesign in Day 5.
Day 5 is about trying options.
This is particularly useful if you acknowledged a “miss” on Day 4 and decided to try something else.
However, to avoid making too many changes too soon, you can make a conversation about it with your customers. Ask them what they think you should do.
Our coffee-shop owners may ask their afternoon customers if they minded having their shopping bags at their feet. Is there anything they can do to make the situation better?
Just asking will impress your customers that you are thinking of service to them, and, if they give you a few ideas, that’s a bonus.
On Day 5, if there are easily implemented options, you can make them. Otherwise, why not take the opportunity to get to know your customer better?
At the end of this 5-day challenge, you should have tweaked, or planned longer-term projects to tweak, your business model or business processes to satisfy the needs of your customers above and beyond the needs for your product met by giving them the benefits represented by the product.
Marketing is not just about telling customers why your product meets their needs – it’s also about the systems and processes around the sale of the product, that make the customer experience fulfilling. It’s about making sure they can access your product in the way they like, about how your product is delivered to them in a convenient way, about the packaging of your product to meet their needs and concerns, about how they will be supported after purchase.
Take the 5-Day challenge and make your customer’s journey totally unique to your business!
If you want to know more about how to market your business, here’s a great deal – for FREE, I am offering three training modules for you to win more customers:-
- Free Report on How To Win More Customers By Pressing Their Hot Buttons
- Free video training on How To Keep Your Customers Loyal By Loving ‘Em To Death
- Free video training on The 7 Easy Steps To Creating Your Targeted Marketing Plan.
You can get this FREE training here – https://members.teikoh.com/smart-program
Go get it!
Work on marketing your business, and grow the way you dreamt of growing your business.
See you soon.