The sad truth is that less than 30 percent of businesses last more than 10 years, and most failures occur in the first few years of operation. Some businesses are doomed from the start due to lack of planning or lack of working capital. Still others (the majority) fail from the owner’s lack of understanding in how their role can make a business a success. In my new book, The Facts of Business Life, I explore what’s required to operate a successful business, and the facts every successful business owner knows One of those facts is: If you don’t market your business, you don’t have one.
You have to spend money to ultimately profit. If you are a new business owner, you are faced with the challenge of letting people know about your product or services and about your business. Money is usually tight when you are just getting started, but those who put money toward marketing in the early stages, and invest it wisely by targeting their best prospects, will have an advantage over those who are afraid to spend money, or those who don’t spend the time targeting their marketing efforts, or who view marketing as an expense rather than a investment in the future of their business.The bottom line for marketing is — you can’t just exist; you have to let people know you exist. Getting the word out is essential. It doesn’t matter if you have the best product or service in the world — if people don’t know about it — your business doesn’t stand a chance. Not only do you have to get the word out about your business, you also have to be relentless about it. Marketing requires a well-planned and consistent effort to attract, sell and keep customers. It’s what marketing is all about. If you can’t or don’t want to market what your company provides, you should seriously reconsider being a business owner.
You have to attract the customer. Attracting customers means getting their attention and finding out where they are, which isn’t always easy to do, and that’s the good news because if it’s hard to do — most of your competitors won’t do it. And, if you do, you have created a huge advantage for yourself and your business. You have to identify your targeted market so you don’t waste time with marketing efforts to the wrong audience. Once you have your potential customers’ attention, the next step is to hit them with a powerful message that will motivate them into action. With repetition — repeated advertisements — your message can make an impact and prompt a prospective customer to go out and buy what you are selling.
Marketing to the customer requires analyzing which messaging was most effective and which media produced the most sales. Assessment of what worked to generate traffic and produce sales is essential in developing appropriate advertisements and choosing appropriate media in the future.
You have to sell the customer and you usually only get one chance at them. Selling customers is about paying attention to how customers are handled from the time they come into the store, open up the Web page or start talking on the phone to your business. When your company has an opportunity to sell, your employees have to be ready to do that — sell. And it won’t happen unless you train your staff on the value your business give’s the customer, and why your business is the best in the market to serve their needs and wants. Everything your business does is represented at the point where the customer comes in contact with your business and your employees. How well your business does selling each customer becomes the difference between success and failure. Creating a sale is so important it requires every owners’ attention — every day — especially in the beginning.
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You have to keep the customer. Too many business owners neglect to pay attention to keeping the customer — an area that could provide you with a competitive edge. An essential part of effective marketing is having a tracking system so you can contact customers or potential customers after they interact with or leave your business. Once they have purchased something from you, they become easier to market and sell to. They already know who you are, where you are, what you sell, and if your staff has done a good job attracting and selling them, a bond is formed.
If you aren’t marketing, keep in mind your competitors are. Successful business owners have to fight for market share and have to fight to maintain it. In order to be successful or remain that way, you have to continually focus on the market, react to it, and fight for what you believe should be yours. The marketplace is a war zone, and if you don’t think of it that way, your competitors will, and they will be the ones who win the war. As a business owner, marketing is a weapon you should take advantage of because of the potential to drive your sales and profits. And never forget, your gross profit is a competitor’s opportunity, as their gross profit is yours.
Marketing is the vehicle that connects your products to the customer. Marketing is a whole series of things, from offering products the public wants, to presenting and selling them profitably, to following up on sales, to making sure your employees are always knowledgeable and professional. If it affects your customers, marketing is involved in some way. It’s this kind of customer focus that owners have to instill at every level of their companies.
Marketing and advertising are business realities. Marketing lets your customers know you exist, allows you to shape customer perception, differentiates your business from competitors, enables you to develop brand recognition, and establish a competitive edge. Without marketing and advertising there are few sales, and without sales, there is no company. You have to continually focus on the market, react to it, and fight for what you should believe is yours.
© 2013 Bill McBean, author of The Facts of Business Life: What Every Successful Business Owner Knows that You Don’t