I was walking down the street at lunch today and saw the sad story of so many failed businesses on my way. Upended barber’s chairs in an abandoned hair salon, dusty stones lined along a chiropractic pain clinic storefront, the local Blockbusters I used to haunt obsessively when I was young and single and DVD rentals still existed.
It was a poignant reminder that as a small business owner, I’m among a growing population of people who are at all times facing the loss of my livelihood. I mean, the statistics certainly bear that out when they claim that 50-70% of small businesses fail within the first 18 months. What’s a gal to do?
Take A Step Back
When I asked “are you looking for new clients” to a million dollar accounting firm I met yesterday, the partner said “Of course! We’re always looking for new clients”. When I asked him what they’re doing to market themselves, he said “Oh, we’re hiring a new social media person”. I then asked him who his bull’s eye target was and he said the CEOs of $5 million companies. I then sadly regaled him with the statistic that only 47% of CEOs participate in social media. He was surprised.
Before you decide on a marketing tactic, make sure you have a strategy in place. This huge firm had no idea of how to reach their ideal client.
Shed The Fears
Truth be told, the partner I spoke to didn’t even really want to narrow down his marketing to one niche market, saying he’d run the risk of losing his other business if he concentrated on just one industry. He then admitted that changing an accountant is worse than changing your doctor and businesses rarely do it. How would current clients even know that you’re doing a keynote at an industry association that’s unrelated to his, it’s a ridiculous fear.
Spend Where The Fish Are
When you figure out that it’s the most strategic thing to pick one group of people to grow your business with first, then figure out how to get them to notice you. That of course means, spend your money where they’re frequenting. Be where they are. Lavish attention on their problems.
No matter what, make sure that your marketing dollars are of value to THEM. Each spent dollar should be in the form of a solution to your audience. For example, you should invest in a trade show booth and give them free advice at their industry conference. Spend money on creating a DVD or a booklet to address their frequently asked questions and spend money on getting it to them. This is the only way you’ll be relevant to them.
Stop jumping into your marketing. Think about why you’re doing it and what it will do for your business. Ask yourself if you’re in front of your ideal target client group. Then ask THEM if your marketing is even relevant to them.
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