Jump Start Your Sales in a Tough Economy
by Joan Holman / copyright © Joan Holman 2010
In a tough economy, a business approach that was effective in a good economy may become ineffective, and you may need to re-think both your business strategy and your marketing strategy.
BE STRATEGIC, ANALYTICAL & SYSTEMATIC
Business success comes from being strategic, analytical and systematic. It all starts with the vision for the future of your business. You need a clear focus of who you are, where you want to go, how you can stand out and how you can compete in today’s marketplace. Jump starting your sales may be as easy as improving your website or your direct mail copywriting or increasing your referral base. Or it may require: (1) changing your underlying business or marketing strategy; (2) creating new products or services; or (3) establishing strategic partnerships.
BE HIGHLY FOCUSED ON KEY MARKETING GOALS
To optimize the use of your time, energy and resources, you should focus only on what will help attract and convert ideal prospects into customers and keep them loyal to you.
KNOW YOUR CUSTOMERS
Do research about your existing customers. The more you know about your customers, the better. Important information includes demographics (i.e., age, gender, income, marital status, income level, geographic market, job title, number of children, etc.) and psychographics (i.e., values, attitudes, interests and lifestyles.) You should also create examples of customer profiles to use in your marketing planning. For example, what publications do you your customers read? Do they use the Internet and how do they access the Internet? What are their problems and challenges? Their wants and needs?
KNOW YOUR COMPETITION
You should also do research about the competition so you can best position yourself against your competition. And you may have to develop or change your products and services in order to offer something unique that differentiates you in some way (i.e. product differentiation).
YOUR UNIQUE SELLING PROPOSITION
You should know exactly what your ideal customer wants and how you meet or exceed what they want. Then you should create a powerful statement that explains what your business does and how it benefits the customer. This is the unique selling proposition (USP). It should be used in all your marketing communications and it can become like a beacon to attract your ideal customers. The best USP addresses a void in the marketplace that you can fill. It promises a special value, benefit or service and it is much more than a tag line. It conveys what your business is all about, not only to the outside world, but also to your employees, investors, and suppliers. (For nonprofits, it would be your stakeholders.) An example of a successful USP is: "Federal Express: When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight."
SELECT & TEST MARKET DIFFERENT CHANNELS
You also need to decide which channels will have the greatest chance of success for promoting and selling your products and services (i.e., direct sales, advertising, referrals, web site, direct mail, public relations, etc., or a combination of all of these). You should test different distribution channels and evaluate which one(s) bring the greatest return on investment.
SPEND YOUR RESOURCES WISELY
Although large companies spend enormous amounts of money on image and brand building, smaller businesses must concentrate on getting more immediate returns on their investment.
FULFILL THE MARKET’S WANTS AND NEEDS
If you are not offering a great benefit that fulfills the wants and needs of customers, you should focus on creating products or services that do fill these needs. Ask yourself these questions:
• What is the problem in my target market for which I provide or can provide the solution?
• What benefit do I provide?
• What value do customers get from my services?
• How are my customers better off from doing business with me?
• Is there something that makes my services different?
THE FIRST STEP: A MARKETING AUDIT
A marketing audit is the first step in helping you evaluate and improve your marketing and the success of your business. It can also uncover hidden assets and opportunities. The audit will determine if you can just adjust some of your marketing activities, or whether you should consider creating a new marketing strategy or changing an existing marketing strategy.
Contact Joan Holman at 952-595-888 to request information about her fees for phone consultations to help you assess your online and offline marketing. (This includes your web site. She can help you create or improve your marketing strategy and marketing activities to achieve better results.