1. Understanding Your Customers
It’s simple logic really. Business Success requires Sales, Sales require Customers and Customers require a reason.
The first and most crucial step to starting or growing a small business, is understanding the customers that one relies on. Without a clear understanding of the audience one is selling to, one is operating blindly. The clearer and more accurately one knows their customers needs and desires, the more accurately one can meet them with products or services. Harness every piece of information available on your customers to meet their needs in a thorough and informed manner.
Here are a few suggestions for things one should get acquainted with:
1. Their behavior.
2. Their needs or wants.
3. Where they are currently going for products or services.
4. Demographics including in some instances: age, sex, race, location.
5. Where they are currently being reached by advertising (Billboards, Radio, Television, Social Media, News/Printed Advertising).
The information found here should be a driving force behind all of one primary business decisions and spending.
2. Know What Is Going On Around You.
It is highly beneficial for us to keep up to date with the changing economical and technological environment around us. Even slight changes to the economy, politics or tech available can present monumental opportunities or decimating decline.
Consider the following:
1. What is the first thing that occurs during a recession? People begin reducing spending and look for less expensive alternatives. Suddenly ones choices in entertainment may go from musical performances or nights out on the town, to renting a movie or grabbing some cheap snacks and playing a board game.
2. Their choices in groceries may also adjust, going for the less expensive products or purchasing less goods at one time.
3. New technologies allow for new products or services – and therefore, new niches to explore and new profits to be found (or lost).
4. New or changing legislation can have a broad impact also. What happens when a product is suddenly subject to an increased tax, or more stringent environmental laws impact the flow of a specific good or service.
Likewise changes can also create peaks in spending that offer small businesses opportunities to line their pockets a little bit before the next decline. Business simply is goods and money changing hands and anything that impacts that process is worth taking note of.
We must always keep a wary eye out for opportunities or threats to our livelihood.
3. Just Because You Build It, Doesn’t Mean They Will Come.
Don’t make a product and don’t develop a service just because you want to sell it. The worst business plan one can have, is to attempt to coerce customers into purchasing a product or service that they do not need.
Yes it can be done, but it requires great effort and a weak moral compass. Not a good plan.
Instead develop products and services that meet a need or desire within the marketplace. Meet the need and you will succeed (we did not mean to make that rhyme, but we will run with it). Quality products and services will actually sell themselves to a point, reducing the need for marketing dollars and easing the strain in ones budget.
Tailor it all for your customer base, from the product itself, to its packaging, to the means with which you promote it. This is where knowing your customers will be an asset. The more you can customize toward their wants, the easier the sale will be.
Sales are not difficult if you know who you are selling to. Know that and you will know what and how to sell. Tailor your products and services and eventually they will begin to sell themselves.
4. Be Smooth, Be Efficient.
How one conducts their business is nearly as crucial as the products and services that they sell. One can have an excellent products but quickly fail in business of their service and follow through lacks efficiency.
1. Customers must be dealt with professionally, in a friendly and thorough manner.
2. Answers to questions or concerns must be supplied quickly and courteously.
3. Customers must be made to feel as kings of the world. Greeted with smiles and genuine pleasure.
4. Supply and delivery needs to be prompt and accurate.
5. Returns, refunds or feedback should be accepted without grief and with apologies.
6. The successful small business sees customers leave happier then when they entered.
7. Go above, go beyond and shock them with service.
The common thread between happy customers and unhappy customers is that BOTH talk. Make sure that the customer has no reason to speak negatively of their experience with you and EVERY reason to share their great experience.
5. Know Your Employees & Work With Their Gifts.
Do not let the hidden talents and skills of your employees go to waste. 9 times out of 10 employers are shocked to discover what their employees are actually capable of.
I knew a young man who worked on the production floor of a busy manufacturing facility. It took him two years (and some brazen attempts) to get management to see his design and content work, but they gave him a chance and it paid off. After nine years with the company he was producing both the layout and the text of much of their marketing literature, installation guides and advertising.
Ensure they get the proper training, equip them with the tool and resources required, look after their needs and be mindful of their situations. Offer minor upgrades to their education through local courses, provide the occasional perk and give them reason to stay motivated. One does not lead by forcing consensus but by molding it. Lead by example.
Your staff likely harbor many skills that can benefit you and your business. How do you find out? Get to know them and allow them some flexibility in their day-to-day activities. Listen to them, work with them and develop trust. When they can trust you, they will begin to share ideas and skills, when you can trust them, you can begin to use some of those ideas and trust them to see them through.
This doesn’t mean being their best friends and there are boundaries that must exist between the employer and the employee, however they are the face of your business and therefore an invaluable part of your success. Make sure they understand their role they play in the success of the business and give them reason to push for that success.
Happy employees make happy customers.
Transition Marketing Services is a small business marketing firm in the Okanagan. Our passion Small Business Marketing. Educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how we’re doing or if you have any questions.