Do you know a small business owner who dreams of getting more clients, but is earning peanuts? More often than not, instead of educating herself about marketing and business development, the owner is copying what others are doing. And you know who gets paid peanuts…
“Everyone has a blog – I must get one too.”
“Hey, look at her – she’s doing video! Video must be the answer to getting more clients.”
“They got so many clients through Facebook! How much would a Facebook campaign cost anyway?”
Ever hear any of these? Of course you have. It is so much easier to mimic what someone else is doing instead of investing time and money into finding the unique challenge of one’s own business and then finding a custom solution for getting more clients.
That’s one costly mistake. In 2011, Need a Cake bakery almost went bankrupt, because it blindly followed the Groupon advertising craze in an attempt to get more clients through the front door. The owner ended up making some 100,000 cupcakes at a loss of over $50,000 to fill the unexpected demand. And while she blamed Groupon for the failure, it was her own copycat approach at fault. After all, many companies used Groupon successfully because they had a plan. She got her clients alright, but almost lost the business in the process.
There is nothing wrong with learning from other people’s success. It’s a great way to get new ideas. But the operative word in that sentence is LEARNING, not blind copying. The difference is in analyzing both the business and its surroundings and taking actions that match the problem. Otherwise, you end up doing something just to do something. Sort of like John Kerry Solutions Inc.
Each business is unique; cookie cutter solutions never work. There is simply no way to build a successful business without learning how to operate it. It’s like a water pipe – unless all parts of the pipe fit snugly, you end up with a water leak and ultimately lots of damage in all the wrong places.
If your business does not attract enough clients or does not bring in enough money, the following 5 steps will help you figure out the problem and find the right solution.
- Diagnosis – have you ever walked into a doctor’s office and asked for a prescription like the one she had given to your cousin? Of course not! Before a doctor will give you a solution, she will first diagnose the problem. The same is true in business. There is no one-size fits all marketing plan. Before you can decide how to expand your business, you actually need to understand why your business isn’t getting more clients the way it is right now. Look at your business as if it were an assembly line.
- Are you getting lots of initial calls but not enough people become paying clients? Do clients get service once or twice and then leave? Do clients refer others or not? Do you get paid on time or is there a cash flow issue?
- Are you scaring clients away by being too pushy or failing to enthuse them because you lack assertiveness? Are you gaining too little exposure or is your exposure getting lost because potential clients don’t turn into paying ones? Are your prices too high or too low? Is your niche too competitive or not worth the time of day?
The answers to some of these (and similar) questions should point you in the direction of the problem.
2. What needs to be done – once you identify the problem, you can brainstorm many ways to solve it. The standard solution may not be the best one for you. Instead of pouring your limited money into a glossy marketing strategy that “everyone is doing,” you may be better served by finding a low (or no) cost solution others have overlooked. For example, in recent months I filled several seminars without spending a single dollar on newspaper advertising. For the price of a single one-time ad, I developed a targeted list of relevant business owners and sent them invitations along with valuable marketing tips and information.
3. Understanding how things work –Most marketing plans don’t work exactly as planned. Things happen; mistakes happen. You need to know how this marketing effort works in order to make the necessary changes as needed. You can evaluate what is working and what is not working. Even if you are working with a marketing company, unless you understand the process, you cannot keep track of the work they are doing for you.
4. Consistency – even the most successful marketing campaign can turn into a disaster if implemented alone. Remember the pipe analogy? Let’s say your phone starts ringing off the hook with all the new inquiries. Do you have the resources to answer all calls and follow up with all clients? Can you actually service all these clients? Do you have a system to collect payment? If any of these parts are missing, your business may gain a notorious reputation for bad service and that’s the last thing you would want to do.
5.Commitment – finally, being educated about your marketing creates a commitment to see things through. Otherwise, you are left chasing each new fad. All this running around is both tiring and expensive. And the worst part – there are no results to show for all that effort.
Your business is a reflection of you. If you want to get more clients, you have to figure out the strategy that works for your business. There are no other ways to grow.