What Is Preventing Growth for Small Businesses?

As a small business owner or manager you will be faced with a great number of things to do to grow your business! It is likely that you will neglect some while focusing on others that perhaps you may be more comfortable with performing.

Did you know that more often it is the things that you may not be doing that will have a much greater impact on your business growth than those that you do? What are these? – read on!

  • Understanding your Customer Market
  • Adequate Planning
  • Managing Cash Flow
  • Operating a Marketing and Sales Development Process
  • Targeted Marketing Campaigns and Programs

Understanding your Customer Market

Every business must make a priority effort to truly understand their customers and what drives them to purchase your products or services. Without an ‘intimate’ understanding of your target customers you will be undermining ALL your efforts to grow your business.

Dispose of any shot-gun approaches you may have to marketing and advertising and use your smarts to achieve Better Marketing Results. Get started by developing your own ideal customer profile.

Make sure your ideal customer profile includes a description of the attributes of your target customers and the buying criteria that your ideal customer will use in selecting your product or service. This is a very crucial point, it is not your criteria that you consider important – it is what your potential customers considers important.

Find out what is involved in their buying cycle, what risks if any are perceived in their buying cycle and where your potential customers go to research and engage within their buying cycle.

Adequate Planning

“Businesses that fails to plan, plans to fail” It is a simple truth – you need to know where you are going to get there!

Marketing planning is crucial for small business owners and managers to maximise their company’s ability to succeed in the marketplace. The marketing plan does not have to be a large voluminous document that gathers dusk after it was developed. Be practical and prepare a condensed version of between two to three pages that you can frequently refer to in a highly visible location within your work area. This way your marketing document becomes a useful plan and guide to growing your business.

Marketing planning has several key benefits for your business:

  • Gives real focus that drives ownership and motivation to achieve success
  • It provides a firm foundation to evaluate priorities
  • It defines your market and matches the communications needed for your prospective customers
  • It is a definition of your business success

Managing Cash Flow

Many a small business owner will neglect this critical aspect of managing their cash flow. Small businesses that do not have positive cash flows will encounter significant challenges with insufficient funds to pay creditors severely limiting their business growth potential. Lack of cash flow management in small business is evident in “feast and famine” situations.

You must make cash flow planning a central element of your management priorities. As a business owner you must be able to identify your cash flow status on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis in order to make sound decisions for your business. Keeping your finances in order and your cash flow healthy is essential to growing your business.

Cash flow is the lifeblood of your business. Successful business owners always maintain a firm grasp on their cash flow and are able to describe and predict their cash flow situation for the week, month and year.

Operating a Marketing and Sales Development Process

Better marketing results are qualified potential customers or sales leads for your business. Sales development takes those qualified leads and works to convert them into paying customers.

Unfortunately, many small businesses do not have a structured process or procedure to manage these sales leads into customers. There is nothing more painful for an interested customer to be ignored because of a lack of prompt and professional follow through. All ‘hot’ prospects need your immediate attention before they grow ‘cold’ or purchase from your competitors. It is absolutely essential to formulate a process for follow-up and conversion of your sales leads into customers. For example, you could set-up a defined day of the week for all your sales development activities. For those prospects that are not yet ready to buy you must make them become part of your on-going nurturing engagement marketing until they are ready to buy.

Unlike traditional approaches to marketing where you specifically target prospects with direct response offers, engagement marketing allows your audience and potential customers to interact with you and shape how they would like to communicate with you.

Targeted Marketing Campaigns and Programs

In today’s business environment the customer will control when and how they would like to receive your marketing messages. Your marketing message must be highly relevant and compelling for your target audience. Your message must resonate with the ‘conversation’ that is happening in the minds of your potential customers.

Marketing is business development and must take place for your business to grow! Integrated marketing that makes use of the Internet with your web presence and social media is the approach that small business must implement for your marketing campaigns and programs.

Essentially, an integrated multimedia campaign allows a one to one personalised engagement with the recipient. It has the ability for the recipient to immediately accept the offer or secure additional information with readily available technology such as their mobile phone or access to the Internet.

If any of these issues are holding back on your business growth you must immediately take the appropriate action to remedy your situation. There are many sources of external expert assistance in the form of business consultancy firms like as PMZ Marketing that will be able to assist you overcome these issues.

Related Articles:

  • Conquer the Top 6 Small Business Marketing Challenges
  • What is the Profile of a Successful Small Business Owner?

Are You Making These Small Business Outsourcing Mistakes?

Though outsourcing seems an obvious choice to make, if debated on the cost and work effectiveness, mistakes can be made if businesses aren’t careful enough, defeating the purpose behind outsourcing. Here are the top 5 mistakes that small businesses need to avoid.

Under utilizing full vendor potential

Most small businesses are satisfied once their basic outsourcing objective is met. This sense of fulfillment blinds the very need of fully stretching your vendor to maximize your ROI. Full utilization may include maximum service benefits, supplementary services, add-on or value-added services. So do bother about extracting the best, you deserve that. Also explore all the other services offered by the same vendor and how you can take advantage of your vendor’s experience.

Anticipating extreme cost benefits

Though helping you save more is an outsourcing benefit, do not believe it to save you for an entire luxury summer vacation. According to a survey of more than 800 executives in the United States and Europe, cost saving is still the primary driver for outsourcing. This short sightedness may get businesses to tag outsourcing, “undesirable” if they fail to capture the anticipated cost benefits, and by simply ignoring the other crucial aspects like efficiency, professionalism, rate of growth achieved and so on. This could also lead to improper budgetary allocation, leading to further unhealthy situations.

Treating your vendor like your employee

Your vendors are surely your extensions and the overall picture should be that of a collective organization, but hey, do not get over board and start treating them like your employees, because there is a clear difference in the way work is demanded from an employee and a vendor. You also buy other difficulties like managerial challenges, excusing minor un-productiveness, schedule lapses, and so on. Instead, treat your vendor like your partner and let your vendor grow along with your business.

Lack of communication and customization

In a recent survey by a leading association, 28 percent of the 1,000 respondents had pointed out poor communication as the top reason for the failure of an outsourcing project. Failing to establish a reliable communication channel throughout your contract period with your vendor is extremely important. Clear communication brings more effectiveness to the fore and helps to have a healthy relation. This primarily leads to synchronized and customized service delivery and improves vendor’s readiness and cooperation to change within short time notices.

Failing to assess periodic growth and other milestones

As things are taken care of and as you get busy with your core work, you surely will fall into the careless zone when it comes to assessing the effectiveness of outsourcing. Most small businesses fail to set any growth milestones to compare and gauge the effectiveness of outsourcing and start treating it like any other human resource. This is where the initial excitement and promise is lost. A survey suggested that, outsourcing provider fails to invest in new technology, and productivity levels begin to decline after the initial years.

11 MONSTROUS Small Business Marketing Mistakes and How To Avoid Them

Increase your profit potential by identifying – and avoiding – these 11 marketing mistakes.

MONSTROUS Marketing Mistake Number 1: Sinking a Fortune Into an Unproven Product

Is your business idea built on market research or a hunch?

Entrepreneurs often fall in love with their products or services before they determine if there’s a real market, and they throw fistfuls of money into the venture. If you, your spouse, your uncle, and your neighbor think you’ve got a winning idea, that’s simply not enough qualified input to run to the bank and drain your savings account!

Avoid this mistake by:

  • Conducting your detective work (research).
  • Testing your business idea with the real marketplace.

MONSTROUS Marketing Mistake Number 2: Believing That “If You Build It, They Will Come”

Do you think you have a product or service that will practically sell itself?

Trust me – you don’t.

There is a misconception among small business owners that, with the right product or service, your customers will simply “find” you when you open your doors for business. Whether you have a physical storefront on a corner lot in the busiest part of downtown, or a graphically pleasing online storefront offering easy access to your hot products and services, your customers will not find you if you do not market to them.

The day you open for business is the day you put on your “marketer’s hat” and never take it off. You must consistently move product, or schedule service time.

To stay in business you must profit.

To profit you must sell.

To sell you must market.

The good news is that, with a marketing strategy, you take the control out of your potential customers’ hands and put it into your own. If you have a product that will “practically sell itself,” then your marketing job will be easy. Just remember that the job must still be done.

Avoid this mistake by:

  • Defining your niche market and USP (Unique Selling Proposition) that differentiates you from your competition.
  • Developing a marketing action plan and strategy to reach your niche market with your USP message.

MONSTROUS Marketing Mistake Number 3: Trying to Reinvent the Wheel

Marketing is an age-old practice with some very basic principles. Yet, I’m sure you’ve read many marketing information products that stress the importance of being innovative and creative with your marketing efforts. It’s easy to get caught up in the innovation process and forget that the REAL focus should be on results.

Avoid this mistake by:

  • Emulating success instead of trying to create something completely new. Please note that I am not saying, “copy” what others are doing. Look at the basic structure of a tactic, campaign, advertisement, or event and use the same formula as a basis for developing your own tactics.
  • Realizing great marketing ideas are used over and over again with just the right twist to make them fit a specific business. Focus on results, and choose imitation over innovation to create your own twist on a proven, winning technique.

MONSTROUS Marketing Mistake Number 4: Over-Preparing and Doing Nothing

The fear of failure can be powerful. So powerful that we do everything we can think of to prevent it. Yet, there is a point at which we are so busy preparing, organizing, and researching to prevent failure that we never get around to the actual marketing of the business. Here are two things to remember:

  1. Activity is not productivity.
  2. In order to sell a million of something, you have to sell the first ONE.

Avoid this mistake by:

  • Doing something! If you believe in your business and have done your detective work, it’s time to dive into the marketing pool. Start small, track results and build from there.
  • Not being afraid to make a mistake. Mistakes are the entry to success. At the very least, a failed promotion means you have SUCCESSFULLY determined what promotion does not work. And, to learn what does NOT work is a valuable tool in getting you closer to discovering what WILL work.

So, go ahead. Fail a little. It will make your eventual successes even sweeter.

MONSTROUS Marketing Mistake Number 5: Boredom

When I was working for an ad agency many years ago, I had one client that was running an extremely successful ad campaign. After about six months, I received a phone call from the client. He wanted to develop an entirely new campaign. When I asked, “why?” he simply said, “I’m bored with the one we have.”

What?

That client may have had the money to spend on a new campaign due to “boredom” but you and I usually don’t. Yet, I’ve often seen my small business clients switch promotions for the same reason. This is detrimental to your business!

“Losing money” is a reason.

“Boredom” is not.

Avoid this mistake by:

  • Remembering that, what is old to you, is new to an untapped target market. If you have a promotion that is consistently getting you results, stick with it until results show you its time for change.
  • Testing new promotions without abandoning the current one. Then track results. Never swap a current promotion with a new one that hasn’t been tested.

MONSTROUS Marketing Mistake Number 6: Relying on Networking to Generate Sales Leads

Joining the Chamber of Commerce and schmoozing at association meetings can put you in contact with vendors and possible joint venture partners, and will be invaluable exposure for you as a community supporter – but it will rarely generate substantial sales leads.

Everyone else who attends these “meet and greet” assemblies is there to do the same thing you are. You may be able to make some valuable contacts for future ventures and promotions, but one-on-one networking is time-consuming and results are unpredictable.

Avoid this mistake by:

  • Treating networking opportunities the same as any other marketing tactic. Track results by determining your costs and measuring your payback.

MONSTROUS Marketing Mistake Number 7: Doing What Your Competitors Do

It’s important to be aware of what your competitors are offering, but do not let it dictate the strategy you use for your own business.

If your competitor wants to be the low price leader, let him. Don’t try to become the “lower price” leader. Chances are this will lead you to financial problems because it will thrust you into an ugly price war.

If your competitor wants to tout low prices, then you focus on value. Bargain hunters don’t necessarily want the lowest price. They want the best VALUE. Make what you have to offer something of value.

Avoid this mistake by:

  • Finding an unmet need or want of your target market, and fill it to differentiate your products and services from your competitors.
  • Giving customers a reason to choose you over your competitors. Define your USP, and identify your niche market.

MONSTROUS Marketing Mistake Number 8: Not Targeting a Specific Market

If you believe your market is “everybody,” you will struggle to attract people who will buy from you. The value of target (niche) marketing is one of the toughest sells I make to my clients. They understand the logic of it, but the “fear of losing a potential customer” gets the best of them.

Avoid this mistake by:

  • Viewing the practice of niche marketing as inclusive, not exclusive.

Think of your business as part of a person’s support group. It’s logical to say, “Everybody needs a support group so my business should attract everyone.” But, will it? People – your customers – want to go to a support business that understands their specific concerns, needs, and wants. Make sure you ARE that business by targeting a niche market.

MONSTROUS Marketing Mistake Number 9: Targeting a Market You Can’t Reach or One That Can’t Afford You

Targeting a niche market is the smartest way to market. Yet, targeting a market that is too specific will limit your ability to succeed long term. For example, a market that might be too specific would be: female pilots under the age of 35 who fly ONLY New York to London flights. That’s a pretty narrow market to sustain your business in the long term unless you can capture the ENTIRE market with a product or service that has a high profit point and customers need to use or replace it often.

In that same vein, a market that is begging for the service or product you have but cannot afford it will also be a business impossible to sustain. Never compete for someone’s rent money. Your target market must have the means to buy your products and services.

Avoid this mistake by:

  • Creating your customer profile to identify characteristics of your potential buyers,
  • Identifying a niche market,
  • Examining the long term potential for new and repeat sales.

MONSTROUS Marketing Mistake Number 10: Focusing On Acquiring New Customers Instead of Promoting to Current or Previous Customers

When you first start a business you have little choice but to focus on gaining new customers. The cost of finding those new customers can be expensive, which is one reason it is so important to really target a specific niche. However, once you’ve made just one sale, you’re ready to start looking at other marketing options.

Wouldn’t you like to:

… slash your marketing costs by half or more?

… reach proven buyers for your service or products?

That little goldmine of proven buyers available to you “on the cheap” is already yours in the form of current and previous customers.

Any respected marketing guru, past or present, online or offline, will tell you that the biggest asset your company has is your customer base.

Avoid this mistake by:

  • Realizing that, when a sale is finalized, it is the beginning of your relationship with that customer, not the end.
  • Offering additional products or services to current customers. If you don’t have your own to offer them, then develop a referral, joint venture or product bundling program so you can reap profits from your already-interested (and buying) customers.

MONSTROUS Marketing Mistake Number 11: Not Systematically Following Up on Leads

The least expensive part of business is making the sale. The most expensive is generating leads – finding the people who are interested in what you have.

Once you find people who express an interest in what you have to offer – whether they buy from you or not – you MUST develop a follow up system that will keep marketing to those interested prospects. A person who has expressed interest in your products and services is far more likely to eventually buy from you than someone who did not respond at all!

Avoid this mistake by:

  • Curbing the tendency to become obsessed with generating more leads until you have exhausted the ones you already have.
  • Developing an easy, systematic follow up for leads, designed to convert a “maybe” into a “yes.”

For Overwhelmed Business Owners: How Online Marketing For Small Business Gives You Breathing Room

Online marketing for small business owners can be somewhat tricky, but, if done successfully, it can make running a small business simpler. Online marketing can make a business successful while, at the same time, allow a business owner an easier time running her business. So, how does online marketing for small business really help business? Does it really make things easier for business, or simply simpler?

Online Marketing For Small Business Or Fail

Well, let me put it this way, small business needs to be aggressively marketed, no matter what, or the competition will eat it alive. If your business is not marketed properly, it will fail — plain and simple. As it is, the never ending race for new business is exhausting and consumes the bulk of my time. I love courting great prospects and the challenge to convert them into great customers. What’s better than bringing a great customer into your family? How can business get any better than growing your family of great customers?

So, why should a business be marketed online as opposed to marketed elsewhere? Let me show you several reasons:

First of all, marketing online gives small business owners a greater sense of control over where and to whom the business is marketed. To whom ought you to market your business? Understand your two or three best customers intimately and coalesce that intimacy into buyer personae. Focus on your buyer personae. If you’re not selling Pampers or used cars, do not market to Pampers and used car buyers. Online marketing is much better than traditional marketing for laser focus on target markets.

Focus On Online Marketing For Small Business

If your business sells rare antiques, you don’t want teenagers to be the majority of people seeing your advertisements. With online marketing, a business owner easily chooses on which online media to market her business. She can monitor the demographic viewing her website to help determine whether or not that online media is where she wants her business advertised. Marketing to the right demographic is one of the most important factors in generating sales, because targeted leads are more readily closed. This is accomplished most easily marketing small business online.

Furthermore, online marketing for small business makes growing business easier because online media are more readily changed. They don’t need to be as on top of marketing strategies as they needed to be when they ran ads in print or some other offline media. Have you ever tried to change the color palette on a billboard? How quickly can you change from black-and-white to color Yellow Pages spread?

What does this mean? Well, I’m not saying that a business owner won’t have to monitor her marketing strategies closely. Whether they are online or off, one size never fits all. Some techniques will work and others don’t. Some strategies may work today and no longer work next year.

Measure Online Marketing For Small Business

Nevertheless, it’s far easier to monitor effectiveness online, and easier to test multiple alternatives simultaneously. With a simple click of a button, the business owner can see how many websites visitors she’s attracting from particular advertisements.

More to the point, it’s easier than ever to gather metrics and measure crazy stuff like visitors to leads to sales ratios. How profitable is your Yellow Pages campaign? Traditional offline marketing cannot provide clear cause and effect metrics. It’s exceedingly difficult to monitor how much interest in a business is being generated from TV commercials, newspaper ads and telemarketing calls. Online, these statistics are readily monitored.

Online Marketing For Small Business Is Smart

Overall, online marketing for small business is just plain smart! Making the business owner’s life much simpler is perhaps the single greatest benefit of online marketing.