Whether your dream is to run a small local business or grow a business empire, it’s not the easiest step to take moving away from the comfort and ‘safety’ of a steady income to the stress, responsibility, expense and risk to run your own business. Note I’ve not mentioned rewarding as all the aforementioned usually come ahead of the rewards!
There will be days of utmost confidence, motivation and excitement to conquer the world, but also those of fear of failure too. Doubts in yourself, your product or service and the fear of losses in both your precious time and cash.
So how do you unlock your potential and maximize your chance of success in an ever growing competitive world?
Your product or service may be top-notch but how do you showcase and communicate that to an audience?
I’ve walked in and out of businesses, a beyond satisfied customer eager to revisit and extremely excited to have discovered it – by chance. It was shocking to learn that the local business in question had been there, running for years, and to this day still struggling to make ends meet.
How did I not come across such an amazing product right on my doorstep? How is it that I’d not seen or heard of them?! I think it’s safe to assume that I am just one of thousands of potential customers who didn’t (or don’t) know they exist.
It’s evident that one of the first budget cuts in small/medium businesses is the marketing budget. After an initial launch of a business or after a few good months it’s the first to go. Hey, who needs marketing when business is great right?
If you are a small local business with a limited budget, speak to a local agency or one that specialises in small businesses. You can find the right service at reasonable prices to help your business grow in the local community or at least, help your potential clients find you. Make more effort to tell people who you are, what you sell and why they should buy from you. It doesn’t have to be expensive, promotional ideas can range from posters in your local community to campaigns on social media, an agency can help, whatever the budget.
Set a marketing budget of between 15-20% of your net profit margin. If you are a more established business, aim for 10-12% of your net profit margin. Don’t compromise. Don’t cut corners. Don’t try do it yourself. We can all attempt to service our own vehicles or diagnose our symptoms when feeling under the weather (we all do it J), but that doesn’t make us vehicle mechanics or doctors. It only prolongs the inevitable, eventually, we will have to see a specialist or it just won’t work – in fact, by prolonging the inevitable will usually make things worse and sometimes, to the point of no return, the damage is done. No matter how good you think you are in someone else’s field, you’re not.
Work with a marketing agency that understands you and your business, the sacrifice you have made and the hard work you have put into your business. There’s not many who care, find one that does.
A Marketing agency will save you money. That may be hard to believe, but it’s true. Many businesses who know they need marketing assistance assume they’re better off hiring a marketing employee to their staff. However, it is unlikely that one or even two employees will have the broad knowledge and the skills required to handle all marketing aspects across the board. The employee will bring your business some results, but by the time you consider salary and benefits as well as having to fill the missing gaps with external specialists anyway – a full time employee is going to cost your business a lot more than you think. If you pay that to a marketing agency, you have at your disposal not one or two but a team of experts assisting your business. You’re almost guaranteed the results you’re looking for at the budget you’re willing to spend anyway.
No brand No Business.
It’s so important to understand that your brand is fundamental to your success. Having a strong brand identity will give you an advantage when customers are ready to make a purchase. A strong brand will also increase customer loyalty and trust. This doesn’t happen overnight, it must be protected, nurtured and developed. Your brand must also be represented in a way that truly displays who you are, what you do and why your clients should choose you. There is no room for misrepresentation or error. It can take years to build brand identity and loyalty, and just a single error to destroy it. Choose wisely whom you allow to represent it as the damage it can cause you if it’s mishandled can be detrimental to your business.