A couple of days ago we passed mid summers day, this means that six months of the year has already gone. What changes have you made within your business, where have you adapted and altered your sales process. What marketing have you stopped or started.
I reckon that if you are like most business owners out there you head is still firmly stuck in the sand and you are refusing to make the changes required in the hope that this recession will go away. It’s not and you will have to change.
Last week I was at the Barclays seminars for SME’s and the subject matter most pressing was the all firms needed help with marketing and finance as a priority. These are two things that are easily solved but you will need to take some action, make some changes or at least get some expert advice. You will be pleased to know that my 15 minute meetings will provide you with at least a starting point.
The ‘instant fix’(3 possible fixes) guide marketing and managing your businesses in the New Economy for SME’s.
Whilst it is easy for the popular press and economic pundits to talk about the “New Economy” there is without a doubt more similarities with the “old economy” than you might think.
Having spent an entire morning shopping in the local ‘big’ supermarket a couple of weeks back it’s clear that someone is expecting a rush of business as they clearly had more stock than required. Now as we know there are always cycles in any economic upturn or downturn, but I wonder how many of your reading this article have actually taken the time to really consider how your marketing presence fits in with what is going on out there in your customers world.
Fix 1. Have you planned a summer push, a sale or a charity event, no matter what your business is there is something you can do to improve relationships or to create a little excitement. Get on the phone find out what your customers want then give it to them.
It’s interesting that that for many in the marketing industry they have never sold more consultancy, and everywhere you look there is another Digital Media Specialist popping up, someone else who can tell you all that you need to know. What’s interesting is that many have never ‘run a real business’ and therefore do not understand business, or as Alan Sugar would say are “ a one trick pony”.
Most will not deliver, indeed they have not in the past. That all singing, dancing website has not delivered for you so far has it, and it won’t. Web Designers are not marketers. Web Designers are not responsible for sales. Before I get a load of hate mail from Web Designers, it’s not your fault. It’s the client expectation that is wrong. Without a strategy and supporting processes all websites will fail.
There is a point to this. The fact remains that your business is reliant on several things happening, customers making contact with you, and customers doing business with you. Your Googleability is important customers are more fickle than ever which makes your website important.
But jumping from one new thing to another will not deliver, however using your website, your social media presence and linking this to a conventional marketing campaign starts to make some sense, a process.
Fix 2.Just for a moment think about the last few sales you have made, where did the clients come from, which part of your marketing process got them into you in the first place, can you not do more of that?
What about your conventional marketing? Flyers, Newspapers, Local Press and other mediums, are you still doing it, are you spending money in order to attract new business ? Have you really taken any action in order drive new enquiries? Most business owners are so wrapped up in the business they forget, forget to attract the new customers, forget to cross sell (or upsell) and then forget to get paid on time.
Fix 3. If your business is still working on 30/60/90 or god forbid 120 days credit for customers WHY? The banks are reducing overdrafts like there is no tomorrow why are you still extending credit out to customers? Stop it, reduce it, discount but don’t wait to get paid. There is no need for it, in the time of Sweep Cards, and Instant Bank Credits, or even Credit Cards. There is no need to wait to get paid.
When we think about the ‘new economy’ Post Credit Crunch what are we talking about, tough times, lack of money, austerity, of course all of that and then some.
It is going to get worse and not better in the short term, you will need to adapt and alter your business to suit, which will mean finding new products and services and finding new ways of building client relationships. If it happens to get better at least you will have prepared for it.
There is not going to be any major change in Government policy or increase in bank lending or any other change that is going to make things better for you, only you can make it better. By adapting.
Have you considered different methods of engaging with and working with different type of customer, if you are currently working with the mass market, what about getting some more up market customers, and vice versa, some new services, new prices, a new business even (look all the Supermarkets have a value brand why can’t you?)
The Internet and Social Media has made a massive impact to this brave new world of course it means you will need to learn some new skills and get another set of new habits, but just look how easy it is to get a message out to a new market with a changed product or service.
Facebook has 500 million members not all of these will want what you have but look this market is just a click of a mouse away and you are only scraping the surface. The next considerations are vast, Youtube, Twitter to name but a few.
Just don’t think that setting up a limited social campaign will make any major changes to your business on it’s own but at least it’s a start.
Your best source of new business is often left alone. People who have done business with you before, your raving fans! When did you last have a conversation with them, you know really getting to know then? What problems they have, how much they are will to spend to get that problem solved? You never know that price may well suit you. Fact is, don’t ask don’t get. If you are not having the dialogue with them who is?
These people should be your first port of call when putting together a marketing plan. Assuming of course you have a marketing plan without a plan you have no idea what to do next.
For those of you with Salesteams, when was the last time you sat them down to brainstorm some of the issues your business is facing, what help do they want with product development (or service) what about making sure they are supported fully with internal support from marketing, remember Marketing and Sales are different – if your marketing was good you would not need a sales team.
It is always good to get your teams together once a month, over a curry or a pint and thrash out what needs to change, what the competition is doing. Far too many sales managers are sitting in ivory towers barking commands and not getting what is happening in the street until it’s too late.
On the subject of Sales Staff, how many of you have £30k per year staff, in a 3 series BMW covering 50k miles per year delivering brochures and £30 orders because the client said it was urgent – let me tell you, if the client needs stuff that urgent they have something wrong with their processes and you either need to sack them as clients or make a plan b today not tomorrow. You cannot afford to work with clients like this.
On the subject of profit and what is profitable lets consider this, when was the last time your popped in to local Pub/Diner for a Lunch? If you have done it recently you may have noticed some minor changes. Like Sauces – go an order a £9 Steak (or whatever) and you will be offered “a sauce” something to spice up the main course (or not), these are always priced at £1.50 – £1.80 a seeming inconsequential amount.
The cost to the supplier of these is minimal – pennies and no more. But what does it do to the top line profit, it makes £9.00 – become £10.50 which is a 16% increase in turnover. But more than that if the profit on the main course is 40% and the cost of the sauce is pennies, you have just turned a £3.60 profit into £5.10 (or so) which is more than 50% gross margin – a 10% increase in profit by asking a question.
What sauces are you adding to your Products and Services today?
Come on get real with what you are doing, there is a brave new world coming and it is here for the taking provided of course you make a start and soon.
There is loads you can do, only my thinking is that most of you reading it will not make any changes, will not consider carefully your options and will sit tight hoping it all goes away. It won’t.
Have a great week and let me know what I can do for you.
Richard Smith – dedicated to growing your businesss by 30% – 100% in 90 days or less without increasing your spend on marketing. Call me today on 01293 885 940 for a no obligation chat (if your business is facing tough times we do have access to some Angel Funding’.
Thank you for getting this far. I hope this article helped.
I work with small firms, micro businesses and start ups. Those firms that are stuck don't know what to do next.
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