Business Coaching – June Newsletter
Here’s June’s newsletter, slightly late, I know. I’m sending a long article that I wrote about marketing and how necessary it is for a small business to keep doing it, especially in straitened circumstances. We’ll revert to our structure that allows you to select the bits you want to read:
• Article about marketing
• Exhortation to do make contact with us – for some advice and free nagging about referral marketing
• A plug for one of our friend’s referral marketing campaign
• Pre-warning of a marketing campaign we’ll be sending you shortly
All the best
I’m sorry, I know I’ve been going on about sales and marketing for the last 3 months or more but…
It’s so important!
I’m a business coach (have I mentioned that before?) and so many of the businesses I’ve worked with don’t do a great deal of it and they are limited because of it. Many of them do rather more of it now and are better off because of it, too.
I’m going to follow the same format as my last article – some ranting about how important it is sprinkled with a few concepts or bits of evidence to keep you interested, then an example or two of some good marketing ideas that you can apply to your own business.
Picture this: a small business which provides a good service or product and has good customer service. They have a small but loyal customer base. These are the main pre-requisites for a good business right?
Right, I agree. If you don’t have this or nearly have it, you should not be there. Neither business coaching nor marketing work for bad businesses with products and services nobody needs or who annoy everyone they come into contact with (not for long anyway).
A business like the one above will sustain you – to an extent.
I’ve lost count of the number of small (and staying small) businesses I’ve met who say things like “we get our business through word of mouth” or “ I don’t want to market too hard because it will make us look needy” or “it might cheapen my business”
What a crock!
You need to market, you need to be active if you want to grow and make a bit more money (why read this stuff if you don’t want to grow your business?). These kinds of statement are excuses because you are afraid.
(Fair enough, too. We’re all aware of the shiny-suited salesman or marketer with few morals – watch the Gruen Transfer)
But you can market without being unethical and without everybody thinking you must be going broke or something.
You’re in business – it’s ok to want custom – don’t be embarrassed!
Here’s the trick……be appropriate.
If you’re proud of what you do (you should be – if not, please stop reading right now and go and do something else instead) you should also be ready to let people know what you do and why it’s a good thing.
Think of it like this – letting people know that your business is here and what it does (and what’s good about that) –not some kind of devious enticement – that’s bad marketing.
Be structured – think before you spend money
I’m passionate about being structured about your business, including your marketing – don’t just ring the local paper and place ad and then email me to say “I tried marketing once and it didn’t work” (someone actually said that to me).
So apply some structure to your marketing. Write a marketing plan. Obviously, you should call me and hire me or one of my colleagues as your business coach but try the following:
• Your value proposition – what your business does and why it is good
• Your target market – who are they and how could you get messages to them?
• The benefits they get from buying into your value proposition – could be money, satisfaction, kudos, savings – almost anything
Once you’ve invested in these and are clear in your own mind what these three are, you can plan some marketing activities.
Essentially, you need to think of a way of getting an appropriate message to your target market that explains why they should buy your product and what benefits they’ll get if they do.
It’s sort of like making sure they are clear what the business transaction is about. Only with an emphasis on the good bits.
So, if your business sells to small business owners, as mine does, think about how to get to them. Where do they go, what do they read, who do they talk to, what websites do they look for?
(I’ll write on web marketing later. I’m not a web marketing expert – CI Marketing helps me with that, but I’ve read some of the recent work by Seth Godin and it’s interesting enough to share here).
Once you’ve got some clarity around your value proposition and you’ve figured out a place where your target market congregates, put your business there and make it tell people about your value proposition.
Your messages should be consistent with your value proposition. In fact, if you have a clear value proposition, that is what you should say to your target market!
If, for example, you are not your usual accountancy firm and you are different to many accountants because you are proactive in helping your clients meet their compliance obligations – tell them that (can you spot the plug coming?)
Easier said than done, right? Wrong. It’s not that hard. Most people suffer only from not doing it enough – be consistent and persistent.
If you place an ad in the paper – remembering that you have already decided that you target market reads this paper and you know what you want to say to them, then place it on the same day or days every week for at least three months before you decide it was a waste of time. If you can’t afford this, don’t even start – do something cheaper instead.
One place you might find potential customers is where you would find your existing customers – that’s right, they could well be similar or like-minded and hang out in the same places (metaphorically speaking). Why not try to communicate with them through your existing customers?
You may know this as word of mouth, which it is. I’m talking here, though, about doing it on purpose – not just hoping that your happy customers will spread the word but asking them to. (Remember to get over your concerns about appearing desperate – do it appropriately)
It’s also known as referral marketing.
There’s a lot to this, so I’ll stop writing and invite you to make contact with Small Fish for a free discussion on constructing an appropriate referral marketing program for your business.
We’ll give you an hour of our time to talk about constructing a referral marketing program for your business. An hour isn’t long, so come prepared with ideas and come ready to go away and do the work. Further sessions cost money.
It’s always fun to finish with an example. A good friend of mine and an accountant, Jeff Banks, of Banks Consultancy has recently embarked on a referral marketing program. He offers selected people in his network – friends, customers and business contacts – a voucher worth $500. The bearer is entitled to a $500 discount from their accounting bill.
He asks his contacts to give the voucher to someone who they think will make a good, long term client for his business (he’s hoping most of them will be worth rather more than the $500, at least!). He’s careful to explain what sort of person or business makes a good referral – some accounting complexity and compliance requirements – turnover $500k+, local to the northern beaches.
He explains his value proposition – proactive in chasing you down, aggressive but legal in reducing your tax, speaks to you in your language. Not your usual accountancy firm.
Guess what? They don’t come thick and fast – but they do come. He’s getting a small number of well-qualified referrals – people who know one of the firm’s existing customers and know what they are in for. Most of them become clients and, although it is early days, it’s a pleasing and appropriate way for Jeff to grow his business.
Guess what else? He’s given me a few to find good homes for. I will only hand them over if I think you meet the criteria and if I think you’ll make a good client for Banks Consultancy, so click here if you think you fit the bill and your intentions are true.
Watch out for an email from us and a call from Jane. We’re offering a free strategy tool, hoping to tempt you into buying more stuff with real money, obviously.
It’s a genuine offer, the tool is very good (all our coaching customers use it) and Jane will be on the phone to ask if you are taking it up.
There are four ways you can engage with me:
1. Subscribe to these emails and get them once a week in your inbox so you never miss a video from me.
2. Join the Trades Business Toolshed Facebook Group where you can watch these videos, ask me questions or talk to your peers.
3. Attend my next Tools Down workshop.
4. Book yourself a 10-minute chat with me. We’ll talk about whether coaching is right for you now and if it is, we’ll go further into the process before you have to make your mind up.
See you later.