Building A Business Can Be Tough!
You Need A Plan!
Today there are so many options for marketing your business, that it can get very confusing. Digital, print, word of mouth, mail, radio, TV, the list goes on and on. So often today, we look at digital options thinking since they are the newest, they must be the best. Not so fast...
The Problem With Digital Media.
Digital media has many problems. We are inundated with it daily. Social Media, YouTube, our so called Smart Phones. We spend hours each day with our eyes glued to a screen on a device. This creates what psychologists are calling "Cognitive Load," which bogs our brains down with too much clutter.
When consuming online content, it's hard to stay on track and not be interrupted by links, flashing ads, pop-ups, email alerts, and other visual noise. Simply put, digital reading equals distracted reading.
So the challenge for every marketer is to 'break through' and actually get your message read and understood by your audience. Thankfully, science has proven that there's one medium that does this very, very well. Print.
Print is the Answer!
Using print media to attract and keep customers just make sense. There are tons of ways you can achieve it and you can tailor it to your own business model. While digital ads may, and I emphasize may, be cheaper initially, if you hook up with the right printer you can often do it for less with just a little effort on your part.
How Do I Identify My Target Audience?
The first thing to do is analyze your product and your target customer. Sounds easy, but it takes some time to work through.
You need to analyze your target market. First, who is your target market? Is it young people, old people, active, sports lovers... you get the idea. What do they like, where are they located, how can you engage them?
If I sell shaved ice, I need to think about who likes shaved ice. Is it just young people? If so, do they make the decision to stop and buy my product? If they don't how can I reach the decision maker? You need to think through the entire process of how and why someone will stop and buy your product.
That is as hard as it sounds, but it is something you can work through if you take the time to do it. I think small businesses often just don't take the time to think everything through. They love what they are selling and so as soon as the offer it, people will come.
Why Do So Many New Businesses Fail?
My wife and I have been in business for ourselves for over thirty years. We've been through highs and lows and just about every time we think we have it figured out, we get thrown a curve ball and have to adjust; Sometimes in major ways.
We have watched countless businesses come and go through the years and because of our own personal situation, we feel their pain when it doesn't work out. A recent example was a new Cookie Shop that opened in our area about a year ago.
We watched as they opened up and struggled. When we drove by there was seldom anyone there. In our minds there were some significant reasons it wasn't working out.
First, we drove by several times after they had opened and we were unsure what they were even selling. They were on a major busy street with lots of traffic. The location should have been great. But it took several times driving past until we could see what they were selling.
The logo they had designed was light and delicate. I'm sure on a letterhead it was probably very nice but I couldn't read it from the street. It was only after a few passes that I finally made out the fact that there was "Cookies" in the name. There were no banners, nothing more than this logo on the front glass that you could only read close up.
We were within a few short miles of this location and were certainly in the target market area. We never received anything in the mail; I never saw it on any of the local social media pages... nothing. From the time the business first opened until it finally closed down, my wife and I kept discussing all the little things they were doing wrong. Unfortunately, we weren't surprised when they shut down.
They had a dream… I suspect family and friends had told them how good their cookies were and that they should sell them. Cookies were a hot item (they still are) and so the timing seemed right. But even with a good product and a lot of work, they still failed. They just didn't have the experience and made too many mistakes along the way. They didn't look at the big picture as it relates to marketing, especially marketing a new business.
The film Field of Dreams had the ghostly words repeated over and over again, "If you build it, they will come". I think, too many new business owners believe that. Unfortunately, unlike the film, cars won't just magically appear and hand over money to get your new amazing product.
So What Can You Do?
The first step is to analyze your business, product and target market. Get into as much detail as you can. Brainstorm with people you know. Get their opinions on anything that relates to your business and product. Tell them to not hold back, you need to know the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Come up with a plan of how you can reach new customers. Where are they hiding, what do they like, what can you offer to get them to try you out?
Analyze everything your current business does. Is your message clear? Can they find you easily if they are searching for your product/service? If you have a store front, can they identify what you do immediately? Can you entice them with a discount or free sample etc. to try out your business? Ask yourself this, If you didn't know your business, how would you learn about it?
This sounds so basic but time and time again, I see businesses come and go because they just don't seem to understand marketing. A good product and friendly service is important but first you have to have the chance to let people experience that. You have to get them to try you out!
Make a Plan and then Execute it!
There are a lot of ways to reach people and a multiple pronged attack is usually best. It can also be very expensive. Advertising is probably one of the hardest parts of any business. If you don't do it, you will suffer but if you do it wrong you'll spend money without getting any return. I used to tell people that half of what I spend on advertising is wasted; I just don't know which half.
There is irony in that statement but it is very true. Unfortunately it becomes very easy to pull back on advertising because you don't want to spend money and get nothing in return. There was another popular saying years ago... "Without advertising a terrible thing happens, nothing"
I've heard many new business owners say "I just don't have the money to advertise". I was one myself years ago. If that is the case then you probably shouldn't have spent the money getting the business started in the first place. Advertising should be budgeted from the very beginning. If it isn't, then you have just increased the odds of failure dramatically.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), approximately 20% of new businesses fail during the first two years of being open, 45% during the first five years, and 65% during the first 10 years. Only 25% of new businesses make it to 15 years or more.
We need to beat those odds. Marketing is the advantage you are looking for. Check out all the different options below to help build your customer base.
Click on any of the buttons below to learn more about each marketing idea.