business success

5 Steps For Marketing Your Small Business

Image from Hillbillly Haven in Armstrong BC. A nice, clean shop front will assure consumers that they are not wasting their time.

Image from “Hillbillly Haven” in Armstrong BC. A nice, clean shop front will assure consumers that they are not wasting their time.

1. Keep Your Shop Clean, Professional.

This is absolutely crucial to success. Good, clean presentation is a must. Few consumers will enter a business that looks like a dive. Why would they?

A clean, professional shop front influences people. It provides customers with the promise that they will not be wasting their time by entering your shop. It builds trust that you and your business take pride in what you offer. What is more, it can motivate your employees to hold their heads up high and take pride in their jobs.

A messy store front will do just the opposite. It will strike fear and it will create discomfort in customers and employees alike. How could a customer trust you to provide them with value for their hard-earned money, if you cannot even maintain what is your own? and why would employees take any initiative, if you yourself refuse to?

No matter how chaotic things may be behind the scenes of your business, always, always, ALWAYS ensure your business image is immaculate.

Image taken at "Kanga & Roo's Children's Boutique" in Vernon BC

Image taken at “Kanga & Roo’s Children’s Boutique” in Vernon BC. Keeping displays new and fresh draws new customers in.

2. Rotate Your Displays & Get Creative.

When we walk past a shop, we are more prone to enter if the front displays are fun. The small business owner should take their pride in their business one step further by continually revising and re-creating the displays of their goods and services. This does not mean moving where items are kept (as that can confuse your regulars). Rather it means, changing how they are displayed.

Many businesses will do a special display for Christmas or other big seasonal events, but it does not need to stop there. Keep your displays fresh and fun, change them regularly and you will see an increase in store traffic. You don’t need an event to keep things colourful.

It is a labour intensive job to stay on top of, but it will generate sales.

If you are not the “create-pretty-displays” type of person, then consider asking one of your staff. You may be surprised at the talent they possess. By handing off a job like this to an employee you are accomplishing three things:

  1. You have filled their day a little more. Now when it is quiet and the floors are swept, they will have something to do.
  2. You have shown them respect and that you trust them.
  3. You are giving them a chance to use a talent to build your business.
Target Marketing is all about zeroing in an a specific consumer demographic

Target Marketing is all about zeroing in an a specific consumer demographic.

3. TARGET Your Marketing & Advertising

Small Business cannot afford to carpet bomb their advertising. It is too expensive to advertise to everyone, everywhere via every method and it is ineffective to just place a few ad’s here and there. Consumers are overwhelmed with the amount of advertising and marketing that is already in their faces everyday. The truth is that they hardly take notice of anything but the most directly engaging types of ads.

The average consumer is hit with hundreds of marketing messages daily. Advertising is everywhere you look. If you want attention you need to make it stand out, you need to customize your marketing to directly speak to your primary consumer base.

Get to know your consumer, learn what appeals to them and make a point of marketing to that. Ensure your message is clear, concise and creative. Bland ad’s don’t work. They must appeal to the people you are selling to on an emotional level and on a rational one as well.

Find out what stirs their emotions, use that to engage and cultivate interest. Then seal the deal by providing a logical reason to make the purchase.

4. Have A Pricing Strategy In Place.

A pricing strategy is much more than simply "Cost + Margin". Your prices will communicate your brand image to consumers. Pricing must be anchored within the rest of your marketing strategy.

A pricing strategy is much more than simply “Cost + Margin”. Your prices will communicate your brand image to consumers. Pricing must be anchored within the rest of your marketing strategy.

Pricing is a powerful tool. It must be used correctly if you wish to achieve your goals. Do not content yourself with setting a price based solely on production costs plus a margin. As a small business owner, you must decide:

  1. What are you trying to achieve with your pricing?
  2. What is the message you are giving people by pricing like you do?

Low pricing is a great way to break into new markets, or dominate existing ones at the risk of a lower profitability over the short-term. Whereas high prices, although you will sell less, can give the impression of a high-end product.

Your pricing is a direct line of communication to your customers and it speaks levels about your business. Your pricing strategy should reflect your marketing strategy. Whether you are targeting high-end consumers or the everyday public, ensure your pricing is in line with your overall brand image and marketing strategy.

5. Develop A Marketing Plan.

Sit down and devise a full strategy for your goals. Create a written marketing plan. This is the best way to ensure that you and all others involved in your business have a clear understanding of company direction. A standard marketing plan must be comprehensive, thoroughly researched and it must encompass every step required to bring your products or services to the customer.

Here are a few valuable questions to ask while developing this plan:

  1. Who are we now?
  2. Who do we want to be?
  3. What do we need to do to be that?
  4. Where are we now?
  5. Where do we want to be?
  6. What do we need to do to get there?
  7. Where do our most profitable present opportunities exist?
  8. What is the best path to these opportunities?
  9. Who will do what?
  10. What is required for each member to accomplish their task?
  11. How do we equip them?
  12. How will we know when we have achieved each goal?

Okanagan-Marketing

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.

 

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Brand Expansion, Diversified Marketing & Business Growth

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Angry Birds Are Everywhere!

It seems like everywhere you look “Angry Birds” is popping up as another product. Two years ago we saw plushies and various children’s toys enter the market, then shortly afterwards gummy candies begin popping up on super market shelves. Now we are finding their own brand of cola cropping up.

This begs the question, is this smart marketing?

One can argue that if they are selling and turning profit, then yes indeed it is. Yet one has to be careful, diversifying and attempting to place your brand into new market regions can be a risky proposition with long-lasting repercussions.

Take these “Angry Birds” for instance. Is the same demographic that the games, plush toys, candies and t-shirts appeal to, the same that would look at drinking this cola?

Probably yes and this could be a safe and smart choice.  However that is not always the case.

If one intends on entering a new market region with their brand, products or services, then they MUST do their research. History is full of examples of brands that tried – and failed – at creating new sources of profit. One needs to be aware of all of the variables that can affect their success and sometimes those variables are just about impossible to prep for.

There is always a certain level of risk when seeking new target markets to aim for. By doing the homework and paying attention, that risk can be greatly reduced. Whether you are a small business or a large corporation, seeking new markets is a key to growth. Searching out people who can benefit from your products & services, or adapting existing products & services to meet a new markets needs always merits investigation.

But remember doing it haphazardly could cost you big.

We will leave you with few examples of diversified marketing failures from the giants who should have known better:

  • Turner Broadcasting. Their attempt at Guerrilla Marketing quickly became a fiasco when their novelty glowing signs were mistaken for terrorist threats.
  • Coca-Cola. Everyone in the industry is familiar with the 1980’s “New Coke” failure.
  • Gap. Had a quick two day stint with a new logo before realizing it just wasn’t cool.
  • Netflix. Tried to hit two rival markets at once… oops!

Okanagan Small Business Marketing

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.

Customer Experience: The “NEW” Branding

Branding 2.0

Branding has changed over the past twenty years.

A Brand used to exert far more control over their image than they do now. Their image was dictated by their marketing team and it was presented via one-way communication channels such as Print, Radio and Television. There was no means for the consumer to talk back and no sharing “en-mass” of experiences. The worst a Brand had to fear was negative word-of-mouth referrals amongst their consumer’s family and friends. This of course was minimal and easy to drown out.

This type of “one-way” marketing communications made it easy for brands to position themselves with nothing more than a large budget and a savvy marketing team.

That has all changed. With the advent of the internet, the world became a great deal smaller. This is a truth that has been compounded even further by “Social Media”.

“Social Media has made every customer a “mystery shopper”. It has enabled every last consumer to weigh in on a Brand’s performance.”

Social Media has enabled anyone and everyone to share their thoughts on anything at anytime. Is this a good thing? Perhaps not in all cases, yet it is the truth we live with. Everyone’s hearts are now on their sleeves and now just about anyone across the world can view it.

This is a cold hard fact for Brands.

The Brand Image is no longer dictated solely by slick marketing, it is dictated by customer’s sharing their experiences with the world. Take for example this recent post to social media giant, Reddit:

This UPS employee deserves a raise for the good he has done for their brand.

This UPS employee deserves a raise for the good he has done for their brand.

A customer, or quite possibly no more than the NEIGHBOUR of a customer, witnessed a diligent UPS employee and shared it on Reddit. The post was instantly shared with millions of consumers all around the world.

Congratulations to UPS!  Thanks to this employee and the consumer who noticed it, they got excellent brand recognition and advertising without spending a dime.

Now as a point of comparison, have a look at this short video posted to YouTube. The video shows a FedEx employee casually tossing a package (containing a computer) over a fence. This is a video that went viral only months ago:

Ask yourself, which of these two elite carriers are consumers more likely going to use? Based solely off of these two consumer-shared posts I know who my choice would be.

Of course this isn’t to lambaste FedEx or endorse UPS, but to demonstrate the principles behind the new era of Branding. Simply put Brands must now exercise a new level of responsibility and engagement with customers. Any Brand seeking success in the 21st century must now focus less on shiny advertising and image and more on “Customer Experiences”.

A customer with a mouthful asked for a "Mapkin". This is what the clever employee provided. As a result it got great, positive exposure to 60 million users on a social networking site. Good employees are worth investing in.

A customer with a mouthful asked for a “Mapkin”. This is what the clever employee provided. As a result it got great, positive exposure to 60 million users on a social networking site. Good employees are worth investing in.

Customer Experiences.

Customer Experience (Definition): Is literally any part of the entire experience a consumer (or consumers) has during the process of making a purchase. This includes preemptive researching, sourcing, pricing, purchasing, taking possession of, installing and using, as well as any and all customer service related activities following. This may include warranty, returns, questions or comments.

Twenty or more years ago a customers experience with a brand was shared with only their immediate social circles. Feedback, bad or good, was restricted. These days customer experiences can (and are) immediately shared with hundreds, thousands or even millions of other consumers. For this reason Brands have begun to put more effort into their daily transactions with customers.

There are billions of customer transactions and experiences occurring daily around the world. They take the form of phone calls, emails, discussions with sales associates, deliveries, installations, warranty requests etc. Every instance of participation between you and a consumer, every interaction that your business has with a customer, is a “Customer Experience” and EVERY SINGLE ONE of these interactions could make or break your brand.

We as businesses have no control over which consumers will share what with others. That one negative experience we provide to a consumer could quickly be seen by anyone and everyone. Likewise that incredible effort on the part of your staff, could reach thousands on your behalf. This “unknown” is why EVERY interaction is crucial.

Social Media has made every customer a “mystery shopper“. It has enabled every last consumer to weigh in on a Brand’s performance.

The key point being made here is that EVERY business big or small, needs to invest in improving their day-to-day interactions with consumers.

Improving Brand to Customer Interactions.

As outlined above, there are countless interactions between customers and Brands every day. Whether making an actual purchase or simply looking for product information, it is imperative that every customer experience be as smooth, efficient and positive as possible.

“Always keep this one direction in mind: “How can I make this better for the customer?”

The sheer number of interactions and instances of “Customer Experiences” can be overwhelming. In this excellent post by Dr. Brian Monger. He outlines a far more thorough list of the various interactions that may take place between you and your consumers. To read through it, one can feel quickly discouraged! But take hope. This list provides the impetus for you to BUILD YOUR BRAND!

Instead of getting discouraged, go through the list and pick two or three interactions that you KNOW you have with customers and look at ways to improve them. For example, does your business frequently have to deliver to customers? How can that be improved? Can you offer it for free? Can it be sped up? Is your delivery guy providing them with a smile and a handshake?

The improvements don’t need to always be complicated and it is often the little things that matter most to customers.

Always keep this one direction in mind: “How can I make this better for the customer?”

Getting Social.

Improving customer experiences is a crucial step for the new era of Brand Image because customers are continually sharing their experiences via social media. Since this is the case, it only makes sense for Brands to also be involved on social media channels.

In past posts we have outlined some of the many social media sites available, what they do and how they work. The two primary reasons for a Brand to “get social” are as follows:

1. Engaging Customers: The purpose of social media is quite literally in its name: “SOCIAL media”. Many Brands have yet to truly see that success on Twitter, Facebook or any of the many sites out there, boils down to the ability to connect with customers. Using “one-way advertising” tactics and simply shouting your message without listening or replying to the customer base is a faux pas and it is one of the things killing Brands on social media.

Instead, make your time on social media, all about talking WITH your target market. Share insider info on tips, deals and sales, reply to their comments and start conversations. This builds your brands integrity and gives them reason to participate with you online.

2. Being Available To Listen: If a customer has an issue with your business and decides to share it via social media. How will you know?

There are a couple of different ways. The first is just BEING on social media. There is a good chance that if a customer has an issue with a recent experience and is going to share it online, they will seek out the Brand responsible (Tweet at them, visit their Facebook page etc). It gives them a chance to address it with you, which ideally results in dealing with the situation and improving their opinion of you.

“If a customer has an issue with your business and decides to share it via social media. How will you know?”

On the flip side, positive experiences may also be shared and should be highlighted and shared with your social media followers.

A Brand can also watch for  “mentions”. Platforms like Twitter allow for an extremely easy search of various words and terms. Simply plug-in your brand name, or specific terms that are associated with your business and hit “search” to see what people are saying. There are programs available to allow you to do this with just about any site and they can be customized to fit your business.

Closing.

We chose not to get into the details regarding many of the topics at hand above. The sole purpose behind this post was to educate small businesses on the growing importance of customer experiences. What they are, how they work and why they matter. We value feedback, did something in this post standout? Do you have an opinion, question or criticism? Share it with us and let’s get social!

Okanagan Small Business Marketing

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.

Attitude: The Unseen Key To Success & Business

That Aspect Of Success That Cannot Be Bought…

In previous posts we have discussed the many different tools and resources available for success in small business: Targetted marketing, branding, SEO, social media, customer service, communications and so forth. Yet one key factor in the success of any business effort is attitude.

Your attitude.

Yes knowledge, skill, effort, talent, connections and background all play a big part, yet the one thing that you have, that your competition does not, is your attitude. If you want to stand out, to set yourself apart and to lead the pack, then you need to have a grasp on how this crucial aspect plays into your business.

Success in business, as with art, athletics, politics and relationships is determined by attitude. Your mentality, your attitude and your passion are of absolute importance. This concept is demonstrated every time the underdog overcomes the favored opposition. It is what drives success despite the odds.

Attitude – Your Attitude.

Maintaining a good, positive, driven attitude, however, can be difficult. Here we will outline 13 key attributes that you can use to straighten out your mindset for success.

13 Attributes Of A Successful Attitude:

1. Passion – Possess It!

Why did you go into business for yourself to begin with? Work does not need to always be a drag and nor should it. Work should be fun and your passion is the key to this. Obstacles, doubts, moments of difficulty, can all be overcome with a passionate attitude.

Passion is infectious. It will persuade and win people to your side. It will draw people to you and therefore to your business.

This is an attribute that cannot be taught. If you are not passionate about what you do, ask yourself why? Keep in mind that difficult times will stress your passion, it will weaken it, and you may call it into question, you may call your entire business into question. During those times – take a break! – and remember all of the reasons why you do what you do, and why you will keep doing it. This break may take an hour, it may take a week, but regaining your passion for your business is crucial.

2. Believe – Have Confidence!

Possibly the most important attribute. You must believe in yourself, in your vision and in your business. People are drawn to confidence, it is a defining characteristic of a good leader. Exude confidence

Do not let doubts in. Squash them early on. Doubts will weaken you, they will cause you to avoid decisions and to eventually make poor ones. They will also push people away.

Believe in yourself.

3. Failure – Laugh At It!

It is a cliche to be sure, but failure truly is an opportunity to learn. The first impulse is to get mad and discouraged. You may even be tempted to give up – don’t. Shrug it off, learn from it and do not let it scare you from trying again.

Learn from it and figure out what went wrong.

  1. If it was in your control, change it for next time.
  2. If it was not within your control determine whether it can be adjusted for next time.

Sometimes situations are nothing more than the result of variables beyond our control. Do not count these as failures, but rather, as the storms you must weather.

4. Moral Compass – Own One!

People can and will always sniff out trustworthiness. Being upstanding and morally respectable will not only draw people to you, it will keep them there. People want to know they can trust you whether for their products, for their services, or for their employment.

Repeat business is based on consumer trust.  People are drawn to trustworthiness, so to are consumers. Give them a reason to follow you, to stay with you and you will do well.

Set an example of trust to other merchants and businesses. Be the example people refer to when they talk about service. Create a brand recognition of trust and remember that it is the little things. Create a brand that other businesses can learn from.

5. Flexibility – Use It!

Times change, plans change, strategies change and so too will your small business. Adjusting to new ideas, new products, new services and new competition is all a part of owning a business. Luckily small business is far more flexible and adaptable then its larger colleagues.

Adjusting is all a part of the equation, and your attitude should reflect that. The key here is to be flexible, yet  no matter how easy the sale, no matter how small the adjustment – never change your morals. Be upstanding and refuse to be anything less, even if it is the easier road.

The moment you bend your morals once, it will be that much easier to do it again.

Do not hold out against new ideas or opportunities. Always be open and give everything a fair chance.

6. Decisions – Make Them!

It is alright to go with that gut feeling once in awhile, (unless you ate a bad taco the night before, then give it a pass).

Planning and forethought are good, yet delay can mean missed opportunities.

Your Attitude Needs To Mean The Ability To Make Decisions

Your attitude needs to include the ability to make decisions

7. Value – You Have It! 

Working a 70 hour work week can actually damage your efforts. You are better to be well rested and making sharp, informed decisions for 40 hours instead. Keep your health in mind, take care of yourself. You are quite literally the brains of the operation and if those brains are drowsy, it is going to affect everything.

No machine, no computer, no app, nothing is more important to your business than you yourself. It should never come down to choosing between family and business, work or play, sleep or espresso (mmm espresso….). Maintaining your health is crucial to your businesses long term success.

8. Your Ego – Shut It Up! 

By spending your profits on toys and gear to impress the world you are setting yourself up for failure. Did you make a good sale this week? Skip the Porsche and set that cash aside. A few bad weeks and you could be handing that Porsche back – along with the keys to your business.

Instead, reinvest a portion into the business and set aside another portion for the unexpected. Having a nest egg set aside for a rainy day, or a great new opportunity is invaluable to long term success.

Transition Marketing - Reinvest Your Profits Into Your Company Not Your Toys!

Don’t be tempted into wasting profits on toys when your business could profit from and investment.

9. Mistakes – Admit & Accept Them! 

Create an environment that allows for the ownership of mistakes. You will make them, your employees will make them, your suppliers will make them and your customers will make them. By acting graciously towards others, they will return the favour to you. As long as humans are involved in anything, mistakes will happen, one is better off learning to deal with it, then stressing out about it.

It is better to encourage your employees to disclose mistakes then to have them attempt to hide them. For one thing, knowing the mistake early on means addressing them quickly.

This gracious spirit needs to be reinforced regularly. Stating it once and putting it in a generic company policy will not make a difference. People need to see it, and experience it.

10. Criticism – Take It! 

One of the most difficult attributes you need is the ability to accept criticism. Anyone with a fragile ego is tempted to get angry or even to lash out. This is the opposite of confidence and will quickly undermine your leadership. It will alienate employees and customers alike.

Learning to take criticism is all a part of growing up. It will reinforce relationships, build trust and heck, you may even learn a thing or two!

11. Strong Work Ethic – Exemplify It!

Show a strong work ethic and others will follow suit. As the head of the business, your example means the world to your employees. If you work hard, they will as well.

If the head creates an example, the body will follow and soon you will be outworking your competition. On the flip side, if you do not put your back into it, do not expect your employees to either.

12. Don’t Look Back – Bounce Back!

You will meet obstacles along the way. Building a business is not an easy task. Push forward, learn from mistakes and do not dwell on them. Until we have reinvented the DeLorian we will remain unable to change the past, so move on.

13. Your Comfort Zone – Get Out!

There will be opportunities that require you to step out of your comfort zone. It is the nature of business to have to change, adjust and evolve and this will require making difficult or uncomfortable decisions.

The key is to do it. Do not let your comfort zone prevent you from implementing necessary or high potential changes to your business. In order to grow, your business will need you to step up.

Take some time out of your day each day to remember what it is you are doing and why

Every business will have a certain level of skill, smarts, talent and background but none will have your attitude. Use this to your advantage! Become the boss you always wanted to have and drive the business you always wanted to be a part of!

Attitude – it’s what will lead you to success.

Transition Marketing Services - Okanagan Small Business Marketing Solutions

Transition Marketing Services. Our passion is 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 were doing or if you have any questions. TRANSITION MARKETING SERVICES – Small Business Marketing Specialists.