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5 Sure Fire Ways To Keep Your Small Business From Growing - Articles Surfing
1. Keep Doing (Only) What You*ve Been Doing
Contrary to popular opinion, it simply isn*t true that *If You Keep Doing What You*ve Been Doing, You'll Keep Getting What You*ve Been Getting* . . . at least not in the world of Small Business Marketing.
If it were, many of us could have put our organizations on *auto pilot* some years ago. In the volatile world of Small Business Marketing, if you keep doing (only) what you*ve been doing, you'll actually get less . . . a lot less.
- Our prospects are becoming more sophisticated and less accessible.
- Our customers are becoming more demanding and less loyal.
- Our competitors are doing good work and earning more business.
Our market is changing . . . and if we*re not changing with it, we*re dying.
**GROWTH CHECK**: What Have You Done Differently * Really Done Differently * To Meet and Serve Your Market More Effectively In The Last 90 Days?
2. Stop Doing What Works.
Why Do We Do This ?
I*m sure there's some deep-rooted psychological principle at play here. But candidly, I don*t have the appetite to research it, and then try to explain it to myself or to you.
What I do know is this: If it works, it's good.
If it works, you should keep doing it. If it use to work, but you stopped doing it * for whatever reason, maybe you should try it again ?
I realize that many an inspirational speech and best-selling book have suggested that we blow things up and start all over again if we want to see breakthrough results and reach that next level of success.
The people telling you this are pure of motive. They really are trying to help you * but they don*t live in our world. They haven*t been faced with the threat of putting payroll on their personal credit card, or not taking a salary this month * not in a long time, if ever. Many came from large consulting firms, academia, or salaried corporate positions * secured healthy advances for their books, and then built large Distributor networks to market their speaking and training.
The people telling you this are using a tried and true tactic themselves *something they know works (shock value) * in suggesting such a radical move . . . knowing that for most of the people they reach, this will simply prompt a modest shift * a shift that does often need to be made * in both thinking and behavior.
This doesn*t make them bad people * or even bad practitioners * it just makes this particular suggestion less applicable for most Small Business Owners and Professional Salespeople, than perhaps the stagnant manager at XYZ corporation or the downsized Exec who can*t seem to get off the couch and start crafting his future.
The rest of us * those of us who have to produce consistent results, or we don*t eat . . . When we find something that works, we need to keep doing it until it doesn*t work anymore.
And even then, we should be very careful not to throw the good out with the bad. Maybe there's just one small aspect of an idea we were once using very successfully . . . that if *tweaked* just a little to meet the demands of a changing marketplace, would be every bit as effective today as before ?
**GROWTH CHECK**: What Did You Do For A While That Worked * Really Worked * And Then Stopped Doing. Why ? Could It Work Again ?
3. Keep Trying To *Brand* Your Product / Service.
Three "ABC's" (Practical Recommendations & Resources) On Branding:
A)Stop Trying To Brand Your Product / Service. This is an exercise in futility.
B)Read (and Apply) anything you can get your hands on by Stan Slap. (http://www.slapworld.com)
To quote Stan . . .
*Branding is a tribute, not a verb. Your company can*t claim or demand to be branded; it can only be given to you. It can only be given to you by customers. And customers will only give it to you if you provide them with something of uniquely high or consistently high value.*
*Your company, like every company, sells two things. You sell a product, and you sell a process * a service experience * that a customer goes through to buy that product. Your product doesn*t stand alone; it combines with the process to determine a customer's decision to purchase, repurchase and recommend to others.*
(Source: *Fix The Future* Off-White Paper by Stan Slap http://www.slapworld.com )
C) Call / Write Steve Winokur at Turning Point Strategies NOW.
If you truly want to grow your business . . . Stop Trying To Brand Your Product or Service. Brand Your Process * that is, make the customer experience of working with your organization what the gurus call *signature* . . . something your competitors can*t replicate, something your customers can*t get somewhere else or simply choose to do without.
Helpful Hint: This experience starts well before anyone ever reaches into their wallet to exchange their hard earned money for your great product or service.
I*m sure your products and services are marvelous. So are mine. So are Jim*s, Bill's and Sally's . . . if you don*t believe it, go to their websites that explain in grand detail just how marvelous they are.
Unless you*re selling tennis shoes to teenagers (and even that typically requires celebrity endorsement), no tag line, no commercial art, no brochure, no magazine ad, no website, no sales presentation, no anything . . . is going to help you grow your business like branding your process will.
And even this (an earned Brand via *signature* process) is still solely up to the customer. Your only choice in the matter, your only real source of influence, is the customer experience you choose to provide * in generating the initial interest, cultivating the relationship, meeting the need, reinforcing the value delivered . . . and replicating the opportunity and fueling the desire for the customer to have that same high quality experience again and again.
**GROWTH CHECK**: What Is * Or Could Be * Truly *Brand-Worthy* About The Customer Experience You Provide?
4. Sell Your Product/Service Instead of Solving My Problem
In 1999 I went shopping for a used 4 Door Ford. I bought a brand new Chrysler minivan.
I was looking for a 4 Door * a used 4 Door. I wanted a Ford. My Uncle was a Ford Exec. My family always bought Fords. The Ford sales guy was much better trained in all the classic sales skills. (I*ve trained sales people for over 20 years, so I look for and appreciate that sort of thing.) The Ford guy was well dressed, very articulate, and really knew everything there was to know about his cars.
I got his card and promised to come back the next day. Then, at my wife's prompting, we went to the Chrysler dealership. (I wanted to go to lunch.)
I think maybe the Chrysler guy hadn*t been to the company sales training yet. He met all of my objections with a shoulder shrug. He wasn*t too sure about the mileage, the safety ratings or anything else. We never opened the hood on a single car.
He did ask me a few questions though * questions that caused me to reveal that the 10 hour trip to our Pennsylvania cottage the previous summer, and the last couple of 5 * hour rides to Grandma's house were miserable.
At which point, he asked if the kids were hungry. The next thing I know, we*re piling into this monstrosity of a thing with tinted windows, Gameboy hook ups and mood lights. He put a Disney video in, and we went for a (longer than usual, I think) demo ride. We stopped for Happy Meals. He paid.
He never said anything about the minivan. We talked about this summer's vacation plans. We talked about carpooling. We talked about soccer, band, gymnastics, dance, and volleyball. We talked about me and mine.
I bought the Chrysler * and essentially paid a $10,000 premium to get a minivan with a $70 TV and VCR unit * instead of the 4 Door or even the standard model minivan . . . because that guy solved my problem.
He was a Father. He was 8 hours away from Grandma himself. He knew my problem, and he solved it. I wrote a check. He got a commission * and had he done any of the things we teach to cultivate relationships and secure referrals, he would have likely sold several more through me since.
**GROWTH CHECK**: What Problem Do You Solve? Do You Even Know What My Problem Is?
5. Shop When You*re Hungry
We*ve all had the experience of buying much more than we needed, and going way *off list* when we enter the grocery store hungry.
Small Business Owners * especially those in the professional services arena (Consultants, Brokers, Speakers, Trainers, Financial Advisors, etc.) * so often fall into this very same trap in their professional lives.
It's so easy to do. We get busy with the day to day challenges of running our operations, or we*re out practicing our craft . . . and we don*t *shop* for new customers * or even new business from our existing customers * until we get hungry.
Of course, this leads to some pretty squirrelly approaches to getting new business and trying to secure referrals * like, *Uhh . . . Yeah, I know we haven*t talked since the last time you wrote me a check, but we have this new thing now . . . By the way, who do you know . . . ?*
So why don*t we shop for new customers before we get hungry ? Why don*t we shop for new customers when we*re *fat & happy* ? Why don*t we shop for only those customers that are on *the list* (the list of people and organizations we really want to work with) ?
Because . . . *It's time consuming.* *It's expensive.* *I*m not very good at it.* *If I do good work, the business will follow.* *High caliber people in my arena shouldn*t have to market.*
All mis-beliefs. I*m not challenging you*re personal experience here. I have no doubt that all of the above is true for you if you say it is. I*m just suggesting, no * declaring * It Doesn*t Have To Be.
**GROWTH CHECK**: What Could You Start Doing * Right Now, Today * to get new customers, new business from existing customers, and consistently secure referrals ?
Before you answer . . . Remember you*re looking for strategies and tactics that are:
- Not Time Consuming
- Not Expensive
- Don*t Require Special Marketing Skills
- Ensure That Good Work Translates To More Business
And recognize that you don't have to tackle this challenge of Growing Your Business all by yourself. There really is a wealth of competent, committed help available to you.
(At MarketMate*,we personally know and work with some of the best -- so if you're having any trouble at all in sourcing the help you need, give us a call. We'd be delighted to serve you directly, and / or get you connected with the right resource.)
Copyright © 1995 - Photius Coutsoukis (All Rights Reserved).
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