small business tips

The Top Six Small Business Owner Concerns

Recently Yodle released a report on the top list of worries for small business owners. The report was titled the First Annual Small Business Sentiment Survey and run last quarter of 2013, meaning the data was taken from owners as they prepared for the new year. Yodle drew samples for 306 Small Business Owners from throughout the U.S.

Here is a breakdown of the sampling (for more in-depth detail, please visit Yodle’s official report).

Small-Business-Marketing

Based on 306 Respondents

Based on 306 Respondents

Based on 306 Respondents

Based on 306 Respondents

Based on 306 Respondents

Based on 306 Respondents

Based on 306 Respondents

As you can see the samples were taken from a reasonably wide variety of owners. Most were the sole proprietors of the business and the largest number of respondents had only 1-5 employees. What was surprising was the age demographic for those polled, with over 70% over the age of 50.

Despite some common concerns, most small business owners polled seemed to be genuinely happy with their careers:

“More than nine in 10 of respondents (91%) are happy that they became SMB owners including over half (55%) who are “extremely happy.”  A majority of SMB owners (59%) also shared that they would likely not consider selling their business over the next few years, indicating optimism and satisfaction.” – Yodle.com

Based on 306 Respondents

Based on 306 Respondents

Based on 306 Respondents

Based on 306 Respondents

On top of that, over 50% reported being satisfied with their work to personal life balance:

“52% of SMB owners work 40 hours or less and almost three in four (72%) take at least two weeks of vacation per year.  More than one in four (27%) SMB owners actually take four or more weeks of vacation per year.  However, almost four in 10 (39%) SMB owners work 41-60 hours per week and almost one in 10 (9%) work over 60 hours a week.  Additionally, just 11% of small business owners don’t take any vacation.”

However it wasn’t all positive and many owners reported growing concerns related to both personal and professional strain.

The Top Six Small Business Owner Concerns.

Based on 306 Respondents

Based on 306 Respondents

Each of the concerns listed above is very real and entirely valid to the small business community. Let’s look at each one independently for a moment.

1. Finding New Customers.

It makes sense that this would top the list. For any business to succeed and to grow, they need to increase their clientele. For many small businesses the question is just “how to do that?”. The obvious “boxed” answer is through marketing and advertising, but with so many options out there, how do they know which is best and how do they maximize the bang for their buck?

There are as many different options as there are businesses. Specific business types can profit from specific marketing tools. However there are a few tools in the marketing tool box that apply for every business, regardless of industry and market.

  • Websites: First are foremost. Every business needs a website. This is in-arguable. Everything is online and that is where the bulk of consumers find thins now.
  • Social Media: It creates dialogue. It generates exposure. It breeds loyalty. It builds brands. Oh and it’s free.
  • Signage / Outdoor Advertising: This can range from sandwich boards to vehicle decals, billboards to bumper stickers.
  • Radio: An often overlooked avenue, local radio is still very much a player in the advertising world.
  • Trade Shows: Great place to network, to pass on literature and to establish yourself as a professional voice within your industry.
  • Email: E-marketing can get a bad wrap (often for good reason). However establishing lines of communication with current customs or leads via email newsletters or other materials, can generate sales and customer loyalty.
  • Printed Advertising: (including brochures, sales catalogs, posters, business cards etc.). Print advertising is, and will remain a leading tool for small business marketing. It is everywhere you look. Consumers still use and rely on it for much of their info. It is a necessary component for a well-rounded marketing strategy.

2. Affording Employee Healthcare & Benefits.

More of an issue in the United States where this poll took place (and in light of the Affordable Care Act). This is still a very real concern for Canadian business owners. I have spoken with many owners who struggle to understand and properly facilitate these items. It can range from not understanding the proper deductions and methods to simply not knowing whether or not they have to offer them.

Understanding your obligations to your workers and how best to facilitate them is a necessary step to building a strong team of employees – and a strong team of employees is a necessary step towards business success.

Small Business owners can profit greatly by hiring a knowledgeable accountant with experience in these areas. Of course there are online resources as well to assist in understanding the processes. The Canadian Government provides several pages on their site relating to small business including:

That said, we do also recommend speaking with an accountant to ensure you fully understand business obligations.

3. Keeping Current Customers.

Customer loyalty is a tough one and directly relates to competition. Why should customers be loyal to your business? Why should they choose you over the guy across the road or the big box stores? What will breed loyalty?

There are a slew of different answers and some will vary based on the type of business:

  • Price point: Are you being beat on it? Can they get the same or a similar item for less somewhere near by?
  • Service: Are your providing it? Are you the best? Can you be better?
  • Engagement: Do you know your customers? Are you on a friendly basis? Do you engage them and make them feel special? Do they want to come back?
  • Loyalty Rewards: Do you offer a benefit for them staying loyal? A punch card or a discount? Extra service?

There are many ways to win your customers hearts, but you have to make the effort. Woo them. Treat them like a hot first date that you want to see again. Treat em right (more on “wooing” customers here).

4. Paying Business Bills.

Of course this is directly related to income, which is reliant on sales, which is reliant on customers, which goes back to 1. and 3.

Paying bills is on everyone’s mind but no one more so then the small business owner. Lease (or rent) payments, utility bills, telephone, internet, wages, stock, delivery…. it seems like a nearly non-stop flow of money leaving the coffers.

Knowing how to manage your expenses verses your income is crucial. It is about far more than keeping up to utilities. Small business owners need to plan and prepare at all times. Learning how to maintain and balance a budget on a ever-changing income is not easy (and does require a certain level of “sticking ones neck out”).

The small business owner must be continually considering:

  • Next Months Inventory: Do you have enough? what will be a big item next month? how many should you stock? how much can you afford?
  • Existing Inventory: What of the old items? Do you discount them? hold onto them? liquidate them? how much have you invested into them? will you sell them at a loss?
  • Necessary Expenditures VS Non-necessary: Gas bill and rent are important but do you need someone cleaning in the evening? Do you need that land line or is a cell phone good enough?
  • How Many Employees: Goes back to #2 understanding all of the expenditures related to having employees. Do you hire one? two? one and a half?
  • Planning In Advance: Last month you bought a new til but sales dropped this month and oops rent and utilities took it all. Now how will you pay for this months inventory?
  • The Unexpected: It happens. Water main breaks, laptop goes down, delivery van needs a new transmission, swarm of amazon moths eat your inventory. What then?

5. Hiring Good Employees.

Your employees can make or break your business. Consider the Pizza Hut manager who was recently caught on security tape urinating into the main sink in the kitchen. He obviously lost his job, but not before the video went viral online and did damage to the brand.

Your employees can work for you or against you. They can drive customer loyalty up… or into the ground. It is fair to say this is a real concern for small business owners. Hiring good employees is a challenge and when doing so one needs to consider:

  • Wages: Are they in line with what others are offering? are they fair? why or why not?
  • Benefits: Are you in a position to offer benefits or other bonuses to employees (discounts on products, flexible work schedule etc).
  • Getting The Word Out: How are you letting them know that you are hiring? Where are you putting the word out to? Who is seeing the job offer?
  • What Are You Looking For: And what type of people do you expect to apply?
  • What Is Your Business Rep: How is your business perceived in the community? Do people want to work for you?
  • Do You Know How To Hire: You may not immediately know what the tell tale signs are for a good or bad employee, learn how to filter them out.
  • Don’t Rush: Are you in a hurry to hire? How badly do you need someone? Is it worth hiring that guy with that insisted on wearing rubber gloves throughout the interview? Know when to say no.

We cover more on Employer / Employee relations in a post here.

6. Competition.

Surprisingly number six in the list, competition directly impacts almost every other concern listed her. The competition can steal your customers, your sales even your employees! 

But remember you are someone else’s competition and it goes both ways.

Competition will always exist… at least until such a time as you have enough money to pull a Time-Warner / Comcast deal to basically eliminate the concept of competition altogether. For now however competition is real.

Your ability to out-maneuver the competition is crucial and it hinges on a great number of things. You’ll notice that this list is very similar (ok it is identical) to the list we have for #3 “Keeping Current Customers”. At the end of the day, keeping customers and facing down the competition are mostly the same thing.

  • Price point: Are you being beat on it? Can they get the same or a similar item for less somewhere near by?
  • Service: Are your providing it? Are you the best? Can you be better?
  • Engagement: Do you know your customers? Are you on a friendly basis? Do you engage them and make them feel special? Do they want to come back?
  • Loyalty Rewards: Do you offer a benefit for them staying loyal? A punch card or a discount? Extra service?

The edge you can get, is by knowing your competition. As Sun Tzu said “know your enemy and you will win 100 battles”. Understand what they offer, how they offer it and why. Reach out to those customers with better deals – with more value for their dollar – and with better service and they will give you their business.

It’s simple really. Give customers a reason to choose you. You will find it easier to do so if you know what others are offering them.

Transition-Marketing-Services

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.

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Facebook Ad’s For Small Business

Facebook Ads: Not really worth the money.

Facebook Ads: Not really worth the money.

Chances are if you are a small business owner, you have taken your business to Facebook… and why not? It is free, it is online and it has over 1.11 billion registered users (more than the population of Canada).

And chances are, if you are on Facebook with your business, you have either used, or contemplated using the “Facebook Ads” tool, their built-in targeted advertising tool. The question is, how effective was this advertising option. The tools are simple to use, they can be set to target specific ages, demographics and geographic regions and you only pay for the # of “Likes” you get. Seems like a good deal right?

We recently came across some startling information about the Facebook Ads option. Information that may change the way you look at it as a resource. Veritasium recently published this short, engaging and highly informative video that takes a close and scrutinizing look at Facebook Ads and the legitimacy of what they claim to do.

We at Transition Marketing have run similar tests on the Facebook Advertising options and come to similar if not identical conclusions. Facebook Ad’s are probably not the best fit for small business owners. Why? YOU MUST View Veritasium‘s video:

As you can see, it is not necessarily that Facebook is intentionally “screwing” its users. Rather it is that the system behind Facebook Ads is broken and Facebook seems to either be oblivious, or blatantly ignoring the issues at hand. The crime here is that they are publicizing their ads as a profitable option for businesses on Facebook and many of these businesses are small time owners like you and I who cannot afford to waste even a single advertising dollar.

We actually really like Mark Zuckerberg, his companies advertising options just aren't very good.

We actually really like Mark Zuckerberg, his companies advertising options just aren’t very good.

The way we see it? Facebook Ads are presently a dead-end proposition – specifically for small business owners who net zero profit from the audience they tend to gain. If you are a small business on Facebook and are looking to increase your audience, don’t risk what advertising budget you have. We recommend alternative tools and options:

Facebook Contests: Run monthly or even weekly contests that include draws once you reach a certain # of “Likes”. For instance, draw for your next prize at 200 “Likes” This encourages your current audience to get others on board in order to facilitate the next draw. (Be sure to familiarize yourself with the Facebook Terms & Conditions for contests).
In Store Advertising: Make sure the customers coming through your actual place of business know that you are on Facebook. Post it up on your signage, have a decal on you window and put a link on your website. You want to engage consumers at every turn so help them find you.
Encourage “Shares”: In a recent post we described how asking your audience to “Like” and “Share” your posts is a perfectly acceptable thing to do. When you post something on your page do not be afraid to ask your audience to spread the word.

There are many other tools for increasing your audience on Social Media. It is our professional opinion however that the Facebook Ads tool requires a great deal of further tweaking before it becomes the tool that small businesses turn to.

What about you? What have your experiences been with Facebook Ads? Good? Bad? Ugly? Comment here and share your story!

Okanagan Small Business Marketing

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.

7 Social Media Misconceptions

Transition-Marketing-ServicesSocial Media Marketing.

Social Media has quickly grown as a marketing tool. Several years ago there was a massive push by marketing consultants to bring clients of all backgrounds onto Social Media. This has dramatically changed the social media scene in both feel and usage. As corporations took to the Social Media “Airwaves” the content and type of usage has evolved.

The need to increase ad revenue has pushed the big contenders in new directions which has significantly impacted their content, the display of YOUR content and the overall reason for the average household’s usage. Not everyone has been happy with the changes, and many users have become disenchanted with the big Social Media platforms, seeing them as no more than Corporate shills. Yet usage continues to be steady.

Like it or not we will continue to see this push by Marketing & Advertising agencies for a few years yet, until the next big tech revolution occurs, or until our first big tech blackout happens. All indications are that advertising options will continue to grow as a must for many Social platforms.

This Social Media revolution has taken place over a little more than a decade. Over that time the platforms have evolved, the tools have adjusted and our methods have changed. Tips and tricks for optimal Social Media usage have come and gone like political promises.

In three previous posts we have outlined several Social Media misconceptions. Ideas, tips and information that simply are not true. These posts can be found here:

In the following post we will finish up with 7 final Social Media Misconceptions that business owners and marketers alike can (and should) ignore.

Okanagan-Marketing

7 Social Media Misconceptions.

1) Engagement Is The All Important Metric.

Let’s start by explaining. There are two key non-paying metrics involved in Social Media:

  • Number of Followers: Your number of followers or likes – essentially your Social Media audience.
  • Follower Engagement: Your engagement and individual connectivity with your followers.

Now both of these metrics are important, both will lead to potential sales and income. However neither by themselves will generate dollars. In our previous post we discussed why gaining followers is not the single key to success on Social Media. Engaging them is equally important, however one must note that “Follower Engagement” itself is considered a non-paying metric also.

Follower Engagement not only a non-paying metric, it’s also a fuzzy metric with many different interpretations. It is important of course. It establishes communication and relationships with potential leads and it provides insight into which of your content is connecting with your audience, which then impacts your future content and design decisions.

Follower Engagement however, is simply one more piece in the big-picture-puzzle. Your number of followers does not alone dictate your economic success, likewise engagement with those followers is just another in a several step process to generating sales interest.

2) Only Publish Content About Your Company.

Wrong.

I personally do not want to hear or witness a non-stop feed of propaganda about your business. If you are publishing only messages and content about your company, unless I am a stock holder, I DON’T CARE.

Ask yourself this: Would you want to sit and listen to someone you hardly know tell you all about how great they are? Probably not.

Why then would anyone voluntarily listen to you spout of a list of your awards, events, products, reviews etc? It is the exact same thing, and it is obnoxious. I will unfollow you quickly, as will the bulk of Social Media users.

Instead let your audience assist in dictating your content. The odd post about your companies recent achievement, or new product is great – but build the rest of your content based on what your audience wants. Think about it like romancing a first date. If you do all the talking, attempting to promote yourself, there likely won’t be a second date. Instead ENGAGE them. Find out about them, take an interest in their lives. Base your conversation around what THEY are saying.

Ask yourself (or rather ask them).

  • What are their concerns?
  • What are their problems?
  • What are their challenges?
  • What are they interested in?
  • What are they talking about?

Romance your audience. Pay attention to them and engage them with your content.

3) You Should Post A Certain # Of Posts Each Day.

This is a common misconception and it is actually rooted in legitimate research. There are in fact optimal times during the day in which to post, likewise there is an optimal frequency with which to post. There has in fact been a great deal of research done on the topic including this great report by Dan Zarrella.

However, this research is not carved in stone and it does not necessarily pertain to everyone. As with any data and research, this report was based on independent results stemming from multiple test posts over a large number of accounts.

Every Social Media platform is different and has different optimal times for posts. Similarly every independent Social Media user has a different audience with different schedules, browsing habits and agendas.

We recommend that users do their own research based on their own profiles and their own audience:

  1. Test the timing for each of your posts and see when you are receiving the best level of connectivity with your followers.
  2. Test the frequency and verify the same.
  3. Test your content and see what is engaging the most.

Remember, these are YOUR followers, they are custom to you and your post scheduling should reflect that.

4) Setup Your Facebook or Twitter or Blog (etc) Profile and The Rest Is A Breeze.

Wrong again. Very wrong.

Engaging in Social Media is just like any other “Social” or Networking event. It is not enough to just be there. You need to be involved.

Think about it this way. If you set up a booth at a trades show and sat in a chair in the corner for the duration and never spoke to a soul, what would you expect for results? Social Media is much the same. It requires constant vigilance, updates and response. It is called “Social” Media for a reason. The entire premise of it is to get out and connect with other users. It is about conversing, communicating and networking.

Social Media requires time and effort. It requires consistent maintenance and updates.

5) You Can Just Wing It On Social Media.Small-Business-Plan

There is a misconception that Social Media requires little planning, that one can just post to it as they see fit.

In fairness, Social Media does require a flexible and adaptable controller and the posts can be spur of the moment. When operating a Social Media profile the controller must be prepared for anything, you are engaging people over the anonymity of the internet after all, and that can result in some bizarre interactions.

However, while flexibility is a must, so is an overall strategy. A few things to consider when developing a Social Media strategy:

  1. Why are you on Social Media?
  2. What are you goals?
    • How will you achieve them?
  3. Who are you targeting?
    • How will you find them?
    • How will you approach them?
  4. What content will you need to develop and post?
    • Do you have the means to do so?
    • Who will be in charge of doing so?

Figure our you goals, then determine who you want to connect with to achieve them; how you want to connect with them and what you need to do so? Who in your company is responsible for what? Have a plan to ensure success.

6) Every Division Of Your Company Needs An Individual Account.

They don’t.

You don’t.

Big corporations often go this route. Many large corporate companies (Kohler, Apple, Coca-Cola etc) have multiple accounts. In fact a report by Altimeter indicates that the average corporation has 178 corporate controlled Social Media accounts. That is an overkill even for companies of monolithic proportions.

The fact is that for every additional Social Media account, you are incurring added costs, added drain on resources and another avenue that can jeopardize the consistency of your brand’s communications. For the small to mid-size business especially, this makes zero sense. In addition, adding multiple accounts divides your efforts, provides far more information to analyze and reduces your overall Social Media reach.

The best plan is to create and build up a single account on whichever platforms you have deemed pertinent. If you have multiple target markets, don’t create multiple accounts, rather diversify the content on a single account, to reach the different targets from one place.

7) Don’t Ask Followers To “Follow, Like or RT” You.

This is a bit of a fair presumption actually. It seems quite forward and rude almost to just come out and ask someone to “Like” you. Yet the truth is that it works. There won’t be any terrible fallout or heckling as a result. You are simply putting it forward to someone – already engaged with your content – to share it. It is a  polite call to action and it is in fact a recommended thing to do.

Don’t abuse it of course, if you are constantly badgering everyone to RT every post… well that may indeed get a little stale.

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.

Building Consumer Trust Through Consistency

Transition Marketing Services

Which is it? Consumers need to be able to trust a brand and it’s products / services.

Trust in business is absolutely crucial, no more so than for small business, where losing just a handful of customers can put you into ruin. To build a reputation of trust, you must be consistent in all aspects.

Consumers need to know what to CONSISTENTLY expect from you and your brand. They need to know that they can trust you and your brand to deliver properly and EVERY TIME. It is almost always the seemingly small inconsistencies that plague the small business owner, ask yourself:

  • Are you faithful in the little things?
  • Do you have a reputation for treating all customers equally well, regardless of purchase?
  • Is your service always good or is it hit and miss?
  • Do they wait until a specific employee is there or does your entire team consistently service them?
  • Can they expect better prices consistently on specific items or is it a waste to even check your store?

The main question to ask yourself is can they trust their hard-earned dollars to your expertise?

Or are they simply wasting their time?

Build customer trust through consistency and you will build an effective brand. Be consistent. Be honest. Treat customers with respect and always do the right thing.

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.

 

What’s In A Name? Choosing Your Small Business Name

Hairdressers always seem to have the best business names!

When starting a new business, put care and effort into choosing a name. Changing it later can take time, effort and wind up confusing your existing customer base.

Choose a name that will be easy to market, that has meaning and that engages consumers.

Do some research and see if the name is already used elsewhere. Will you have I compete with them for use of the name? Will you have to work around them for registering for a website etc?

20130712-100725.jpg

A creative name can add impetus to your small business venture

Target Marketing For Dummies

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

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

Target (Niche) Marketing Explained In Simplest Terms.

“Targeted (or Niche) Marketing is all about specifically and purposefully marketing to a distinct consumer base. Whether a specific age, gender, race or other profile, it is all about zeroing in on a specific type of customer. As big box stores continue to increase the array of goods they offer, it is becoming necessary for small businesses to appeal to “specifics”. By finding a “niche” they can then build their business supplying goods and services that big box stores simply do not offer.”

So how does one do that? Below we will examine just that by using a simple example – The sandwich board!

Now take the lowly sandwich board. Here is a tool that just decades ago was an esteemed part of any business’s marketing plan. Yet in this era of technology, instant sharing and online commerce, one must ask themselves… does the sandwich board still have a place in our marketing tool box and specifically for use in targeted marketing?

We are here to tell you that yes, yes it does.

In fact simple tools – like the humble sandwich board – can be some of the most effective tools available. What is more, they are ridiculously cost efficient.

“Simple tools are the most practical for small businesses. Small business cannot afford to advertise to EVERYONE via carpet bomb tactics and targeted marketing means nothing if it is off target or if their specific niche consumer base never sees the message. It is crucial for small business owners to understand what works and how to specifically address their target market. How do you do that? by understanding your consumer base.” – Miles Gunnar

Small businesses don’t have the budget to mass-market. Instead they must develop “smart-bomb” (targeted/niche) marketing by creating marketing content that targets the consumers of greatest potential. To do so they must first ascertain WHO those targets are by asking:

  1. WHO are the customers you want to target? (age, demographic, location etc).
  2. WHERE are they that they can be targeted? (where will they see the marketing).
  3. WHEN will they be available to be targeted (when is their attention available).
  4. WHAT is the most effective message to target them with? (what matters to them?).

Essentially you are determining where you need to be, what you need to do and what you need to say to get their attention (a lot like dating actually), then building your marketing content based on that.

“All marketing success is determined by the content and content is determined by knowing the target and specifically addressing them.”

Take this excellent example of a small business using the simplest of marketing tools (a sandwich board) effectively and specifically.

Some of the most effective marketing tools available, are also the simplest.

Some of the most effective marketing tools available, are also the simplest.

For those of you not in the know, this sandwich board has been creatively rendered to portray a slightly modified battle scene from the best-selling and wildly popular Pokemon series of games (which has a massive cult following). Anyone familiar with these games will instantly recognize this image. The sheer popularity of this game within the last 15-20 years of pop-culture makes it easily recognizable with a specific (and wide) demographic.

Let’s examine it’s target:

  1. Because of its “Pokemon” based image, it will likely resonate very positively with a consumer base that spans both genders, most races and predominantly an age group of 8-30 years old.
  2. Being an isolated board on the street outside the shop, it then narrows that targeted audience down to those passing by, which is precisely the consumer base most likely to immediately make a purchase here.

This little sandwich board, with an estimated cost of $100-$150+the artistic labour (likely volunteered by staff), has just addressed all of the necessary target parameters to effectively engage this specific demographic. As outlined above, its content was determined by taking into consideration:

  1. WHO? It knows who it is addressing (specifically those with a knowledge and affection for a widely popular series).
  2. WHERE? On the street outside of the very business it promotes. This means those impacted by this marketing, can instantly follow through with a purchase (as opposed to ad’s found online, on television, in magazine etc).
  3. WHEN? Likely during the lunch or dinner hours, when hungry people are more prone to purchase a taco.
  4. WHAT? The message clearly indicates that taco’s are on the menu, but does so via a creative, fun and insightful means.

This meager sandwich board is going to grab the attention of a specific demographic, one that is in position to immediately make a purchase. Would it be as effective on a website, or social media? YES! However it would then be addressing a slightly different demographic.

Why? is it because sandwich boards are truly that awesome?

No. The sandwich board is no more than the medium, it is carrying the message and in this case the message is what is so effective (Note that the Medium can impact and change the Message and vice versa. The relationship between Medium and Message is a complicated one. For more on that we recommend reading our post here and also familiarizing yourself with Marshall McLuhan and his writings here).

It is enough for now to say that the success of the example above is found in the specific, direct manner and the content being used.

It is true what they say: “Content is King” and it is the specific TARGETED content of your marketing that will make or break your efforts.

This rule applies for advanced marketing tools as well. All marketing success is determined by the content and content is determined by knowing the target and specifically addressing them.

Summary.

Whether you call it “Target”, “Niche” or “Smart-Bomb” Marketing, the philosophy is the same. Build your marketing and advertising content to address a SPECIFIC set of consumers. Don’t try to reach everyone, you will either run out of money, or build flimsy, ineffective marketing. Discern WHO the BEST consumer base is for your business and then apply yourself to getting their attention.

For more on HOW TO DISCERN YOUR TARGET MARKET we recommend reading this post.

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.