Posts Tagged ‘Marketing’
By: Stephen Novak
I remember when starting a new business was as easy as…
- The IDEA.
- Acquiring some powdered lemonade.
- Mix it up in a pitcher with water, sugar, and ice.
- Put up a card table by a busy sidewalk.
- Painting a sign that reads, “ICE COLD LEMONADE .35 CENTS A GLASS”.
- Smile and say hello to people.
- Make sure that the lemonade doesn’t get too watered down from the ice melting.
Come to think of it…starting a business today requires very similar steps. Just on a larger scale. Let’s look at some key points compared to our theoretical lemonade stand.
- The idea = the visualization stage. This is usually the most exciting part. One can explore the possibilities of taking a raw gut feeling and transforming a dream into something innovative, rare, and successful. Enjoy this stage but don’t linger in it – once an idea is revealed, it quickly starts to accumulate dust and lose its luster.
- Acquiring some powdered lemonade, sugar, water and ice = The acquisition of the materials and concepts that lay out the building blocks of the product or service that you want to sell. This may require financing: please read one my earlier posts “Starting a small business” (July, 30th 2011) for more information on this topic.
- Mix it in a pitcher = the manufacturing, making, or developing your product or service. This is the nuts-and-bolts of your operation. If you are predominantly a service oriented business, how you do what you do is more important than what you do. It’s your know-how and skill that will differentiate you from your competition. If you will provide a product, will you manufacture it yourself or have it built for you? What will be unique about its nomenclature?
- Put up a card table where people can see you = the location of your business. This could be a standard brick and mortar or web based site.The U.S. Small Business Administration has an excellent page that discusses this topic in great detail. http://www.sba.gov/content/tips-choosing-business-location
- Paining a sign = advertising. This is your declaration to the masses: who you are, what you are about, and what you can do for them. This proclamation could be as subtle as a handing out business cards, or as obvious as a flying around in a blimp with your name plastered all over the side. There are literally thousands of new and innovative ways to get you name out there. Explore. Have fun.
- Smile and say hello to people = customer service. This involves hiring, training, and holding accountable qualified customer service artists. Without a proper customer focused business strategy, you will be out of business in no time.
- Make sure that the lemonade doesn’t get watered down = Quality control. This may be one of the most overlooked areas of any small business. Big businesses have processes like Six Sigma in place to measure and improve their products or processes. It may not be practical or cost effective for a small business to have a whole quality control department; however, it must be the responsibility of everyone in your business to make sure that by the time your product or service contacts the customer, it represents what you need it to. Any business must continually ensure that the products or services that they are offering exceed their customers’ expectations.
So we’ve had the vision, got the startup cash, created our product or service, picked our location and got the word out…whew…that was hard work. I think I’ll have a glass of that lemonade now.
Copyright © Stephen Novak 2011 Rising Moon Publications. All rights reserved.
If you have an online business here are some sure fire ways to get and keep your customers. One of the best ways to start off is to ask questions and to encourage them to ask questions also.
This way you have more of an idea of what the really want and where you can tweak your business to meet their needs. You will also want to look into how your business will benefit your customers. The homepage should talk about how your product will benefit them, make sure you have a list of benefits and main selling points but keep the details of the product for the second page.
How did your potential customer find your site? They were obviously looking for a product like yours or very similar otherwise they wouldn’t be there. Give them some information but not too much, don’t make them over think, but give them a reason to keep reading. If your description is enticing enough they will either purchase right then or they will come back.
Most buyers will come back to a site that interests them a few times before they make a purchase, so give them a reason to keep coming back to yours! Buttons for adding their email, bookmarking and telling a friend are great ways to do this.
Maybe your potential customer has a question, make sure you have a FAQ page or a place where they can email you to ask their question and make sure you answer them back asap. The quicker you can have an answer for them the more likely it is that they will buy your product AND tell their friends about it and your business!
Make it easy for your customers to purchase your product. Don’t have them fill out form after form and answer questions that will take them so long they just decide not to purchase after all. Go with the bare minimum to make it quick and easy and something they will remember the next time they are in need of one of your products.
Remember, it’s all about the “NOW” society, people want their questions answered, orders put through, information and so forth NOW, they don’t want to have to wait, so the better you can fulfill these slots the more likely you are to have a repeat customer, and one that will tell their friends.