SMALL BUSINESS SERIES
"FOCUS YOUR MARKETING POWER"
It can be obvious but not apparent. At least not apparent to a busy entrepreneur trying to start or build or grow their business.
If you are a typical small business owner, you deal with a range of issues and each of them has their own level of priority. If you produce a product or deliver a service, it must be done on time and with a smile. If you have employees, they need tending and managing so they are both productive and motivated to perform well. If you have receivables, getting them paid is not just important but vital for your cash flow. If you have payables (and who doesn't!!!), getting them paid on a schedule you can meet that satisfies your vendors is also a must. And the list goes on and on.
You jump from project to project, event to event, call to text message to email, networking meeting to late night number crunching all while trying to keep things together for the week, month and year.
Yet in spite of all these tugs on your time and attention, I encourage you not to allow all that confusion and haste and frantic activity to get you to run around like the proverbial hungry dog in a meat house when it comes to your marketing and selling efforts.
A bright, enthusiastic and successful young man came in recently to discuss with me how to help him grow
his business. He was certain he was ready to proceed to the next level (whatever that means!) so he asked for my help. As always, I wanted to look back before moving forward so we reviewed his past marketing efforts, media choices, product offerings, pricing strategy and sales reports. We also discussed at length who he had targeted as potential new customers for both his product sales and his long term service contracts.
It did not take long for me to point out the obvious - that he was spreading himself and his ten employees
out in too many directions without any clear focus in any one direction. Oh yes, I fully approve and even recommend
clients diversify their selling efforts with about 70% of their campaigns focused on what they believe will be their most likely area of success while also testing about 30% in one or more other directions to see what else might
But before branching out and testing less likely but still promising fields of opportunity, there should be
one clear, concise and well defined marketing and selling focus.
In this case, the client had been frantically trying to grow so he picked up an assortment of products to sell that had similar functions but were designed and priced for two very different markets. He was scrambling around having his salespeople trying to sell to other business customers and to the consumer market without success in either area. It was clear he was not ready to grow forward until he regrouped, set a focus and priority for his business and then started again.
After a lengthy review he decided to focus on just selling to small business owners in certain specific geographic areas. That allowed him to sign on with a lead generating company so his sales team would not be doing cold
calling anymore. And he gave each of them a specific region or territory so they were not driving back and forth
across town chasing uncertain leads. Now his sales team and his installation people had a focus and could truly become experts on a more select group of products with well understood features and benefits. And he and his sales team would have the time to enhance each sale with the profitable add on service or maintenance contracts providing him the opportunity to have long term relationships with his customers so as they grow their businesses he can grow with them.
Very simply, he reduced his product offering, focused on a target audience of potential new customers in specific areas, provided his sales team with clarity and direction, reduced his administrative workload of supporting fewer vendors all with an eye to become bigger and better in a specific area of expertise. He now had a focus.
Next he discontinued his non-productive postcard mailing campaigns while he spruced up his website, upgraded his customer support software, scheduled regular sales meetings with his team, and reviewed his pricing to maximize his chance of getting the initial sale while also ensuring a good stream of profits through long term service contracts.
All of this brought him the sense of calm that comes from knowing he is again in control of his business. If you too have succumbed to the frantic search of growth by spreading out in all directions, it may be time for you to find your focus again. All the best wishes to you and your small business for a prosperous year.
Ben Tenn of Tenn Consulting provides small business management consulting and coaching with an emphasis on marketing and sales.
Tenn, after earning an MBA from UCLA, has enjoyed 35 successful years of business experience as a corporate executive and small business owner including 11 years at The Walt Disney Co., 13 years as a business consultant and as an Instructor at UCLA Extension. For more information, call 818 993 8222 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.