Happy Monday everyone.
On Saturday, Kubae and I went into Portland for an Urban Hike. In all, we put in almost 10 miles (granted over 6 hours) and enjoyed an almost car-free downtown experience.
We even caught part of the Rose Parade, but mostly walked the Pearl District with brunch at the Brunchbox – Monte Cristo sandwich and late lunch at the Upper Deck on 13th. For lunch we split the Fenway Club (which was smart because it was enormous) and lots and lots of fries.
I really enjoy our urban explorations, especially when a city is kind enough to shutdown auto traffic.
In my years of practice, I have discovered that, for the most part, small business owners have been slow to embrace marketing as a means to growing their business. My observation is that there are two areas of the business which are typically thought about at the last minute when the owner strikes out on his own – accounting and marketing. I think this is because these are the two areas they were not exposed to in the previous position when they got the idea to go into business. These are also the two areas that protect the process – the business as you see it – by generating interest in your offering and then making sure that you are profitable.
There is the old saying, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” But what if you had along a “Horse Whisperer”, whose sole job was to constantly whisper into the horses ear – in horse language – “You are thirsty, you are thirsty, you are thirsty…” I think that by the time the horse was lead to water, it would be extremely difficult to get your horse to stop drinking!
This is the essence of marketing. Marketing is all about building awareness of your business; what you offer and how customers can buy. This should not be confused with the act of closing the deal – the sale. Marketing gets prospects in the door and sales does the easy part… provided that your sales message supported all the marketing you have done.
Marketing is the front end of your business. It is the telephone, your website, your email address. It is about how your business looks when a customer walks in the door. 10,000 things that come together to present your business. Marketing is all the things that give your prospects and returning customers that feeling you totally understand his situation and offer the right solution.
When it comes to marketing, think bigger picture. Ask yourself how prospects look for products/services you offer? Do they ask a friend or perhaps another trusted advisor? Is your prospects first stop Google? In today’s fast-paced world, you should consider that most new prospects and repeat customers, are going to search you on the internet so you need to be ready for that.
Since we are now at mid-year for most small businesses, I would encourage you to start your budgeting process for next year. I know, no one likes to budget but it can really help you determine how your limited resources are going to be put to use in growing your business profitably. By looking hard at what you have and what you want, you can start making better decisions about how you spend money to get the business you want.
Some things to consider:
- The demographic of your target customer
- What your target customer likes and dislikes
- How they find a solution to a potential problem
- Internet presence and searchability
- Company phone number versus cell number
- Email (domain) address – no Yahoo, Hotmail, or Google.
- 800 number
- Printed materials
Put values on these items, both their cost and their potential revenue. Be conservative on both sides. The low dollar investment with high potential pay-out might likely be the area you want to invest your money in to generate new prospects. But no matter how you want to invest in your marketing, you will definitely want to find measurements that help you know if your investment is working like you planned.
I strongly encourage you to work with your accounting professional and perhaps even a marketing consultant if you have questions. Remember, your accounting firm’s Principals and Partners have many years of experience marketing and developing their business and can be a very useful resource for you. And if you would like to have a second opinion or are looking for an Accounting firm that knows small business, feel free to contact us at Currie & McLain. We would be happy to sit down with you for a free no obligation consultation about your business and how you might find ways to grow profitably.