As human beings evolve, changes in behaviour and lifestyle will cause needs and wants to also change. A product or service that was effective in meeting customers’ needs in the past may not be as effective today. In order for a small business to stay truly competitive, it must understand that change is a normal part of business growth and continuously seek ways to maximizing the effects of change to its advantage. Without the right products or services for your ideal customers at any given time, your marketing efforts may generate interest, but not sales you desire.
One of the most frequently used terms in regards to growing your business is marketing. If you are like me, you have heard the word so much it’s almost begun to lose its meaning. But don’t give up just yet; marketing is simpler than you think.
The simplest definition of marketing which I personally like is the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising. Now that we know what marketing is, how does the process apply to a small business? Basically marketing for the small business comprises the following steps:
2013 is almost over and a New Year is dawning on us- a perfect time to rethink and strategize. Just the other day I was brainstorming new ways to give my house a facelift for the New Year. I contemplated changing the blinds, repainting the walls and rearranging furniture. Doing this got me thinking, how can a small business prepare for the New Year? Same answer- A Face Lift! Making small changes in your business not only activates existing customers but also makes your business memorable to new visitors. It tells your customers that you care about them and gives them confidence that you will also seek innovation in the products and services you are offering them. I have drawn up a non-exhaustive list of five small changes you can make to bring about bigger improvements.
Most entrepreneurs’ will easily tell you that the greatest obstacle standing between them and perceived success is funding. True, some businesses may require additional funding but for majority, they usually have what it takes already. The problem is mostly the strategy for growth. Accepting funding from external sources comes at a cost which if most entrepreneurs thought deeply about they may likely reconsider. The process of obtaining external funding is stressful and tedious and can be a huge distraction for entrepreneurs.
It is not uncommon to find Small Business Owners who are so eager to launch out their brands; they barely take time to understand the implications of what establishing a business means. There is a marked difference between producing a product and building a business out of a product you have produced. One demands a higher level of commitment than the other.
Entrepreneurs are often overwhelmed by the many hats they have to wear. It is not uncommon to find a Small business owner who is the receptionist at their business, the accountant, office manager and also doing the actual work the business is about.Performing all these duties rarely leaves time for strategic thinking and planning.
Walking around shopping centres, you will observe many shops with signs such as SALES, ‘50% OFF”, BUY ONE GET ONE FREE etc. Price cuts are common and usually a tool for boosting sales especially in a recession.
However reducing your prices may not always be the wise option. Some other factors can be improved to boost customer patronage such as:
Imagine this scenario, a sales man walks up to you, introduces a brand new product that can revolutionize the way you communicate. He tells you of the wonderful features of this new device, how it can send emails, text messages, instant messages etc. at the touch of a button. At the end of his pitch, he has got you tied around his little finger wanting more. You don’t bother thinking too deep about his offer, after all who would say no to a device that can send SMS messages without actual typing? So you commit! You make the purchase!
One thing a serial entrepreneur will tell you is that often, the first idea is rarely the winner. Even after market research, feasibility and viability studies they often find that when the business is in actual operations, things do not go as planned. You often go through a series of early setbacks until you come to that point where you have the perfect product, price, target market and business model.
So while you are going through those stages, here are some things you can do:
If there was one small improvement I could make, that will significantly impact my life, it will be managing time. As a wife, mother and small business owner, my head was always crammed with things to do and places I need to be. Most days, I would complete 60% of my tasks while the other days I would achieve a meagre 20% of what I needed to do.
Businesses are very much like human beings. If you feed, nurture and care for them properly, they grow and blossom. If we neglect vital aspects of our lives such as exercise, diet, sleep, etc. our bodies become weakened and susceptible to attacks (disease). We may not notice that something is out of place at first, but as time goes on, our body begins to wear down and we are finally where we don’t want to be- the Doctors office.