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New year business marketing

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Winning customers and keeping them is the number one strategy for businesses determined to have an impressive and long track record — but there are some important lessons we all must learn or remember.

I love business being reduced down to core foundation stones or pearls of wisdom. Sure, success requires a bit more, however, if your key building blocks that hold up your business are sound, it’s a great start.

Good ol’ dad

A few years back I heard David and Cathy Harris, who founded Harris Farm Markets, talk about advice that David’s dad gave him when he was looking for a start-up business proposition.

The three bits of advice were:
  1. Find a business that the big boys don’t do well.
  2. Make sure it’s not expensive to start up.
  3. And make sure it’s a good cash business!

Death or vegies!

This wonderful triple play is not easy to do and Cathy reckoned David’s research pointed to either a fruit and vegies business or a funeral business! Cathy insisted there was no choice.

Eleven tips

American business brain Peter Drucker told us years ago that a good business is into innovation to give an edge and this is exploited by great marketing. These two goals are a great start to any business.

Andrew Griffiths wrote the well-received books 101 Ways to Market Your Business and 101 Survival Tips For Your Business.

Andrew advises small business owners that there are 11 survival steps for smart advertising marketing:

1. Develop your marketing philosophy

You might be a quality repairer, a fast worker or a money-back guarantee operation or whatever — but let the market know as it builds business.

2. Do a course or read a book

Marketing your business is vital to your success and so getting educated is simply good sense.

3. Take small steps to market your business

Don’t bust the bank. Set out a simple plan and build up your marketing exposure gradually.

4. Develop a strong corporate image

This is about “advertising” a professional image. It could mean uniforms, quality signage, polished cars, groovy offices, a professional website, trained staff and being super customer-focused.

5. Don't be pressured into advertising

Make sure it’s right for you at the right time. Make sure it really will suit your business and that it will work.

6. Market your business to a simple plan

Have objectives, describe your customers, your products, list your marketing strategies, work out a budget and a time frame, allocate responsibilities, establish review dates and list ways to monitor customer satisfaction.

7. Don't lose touch with your customers.

Griffith’s recommends that we don’t make the mistakes of many big businesses that implement cost-saving processes to the annoyance of their customers.

8. Don't stop marketing just because it’s booming

Just as it’s logical that you’d be restricted in your outlays in tough times, in boom times you have the money to build your brand.

9. If you have no time to market, find someone who does

There are no excuses to not marketing. If you can’t do it, pay someone to do it for you.

10. Talk to others

Network and build up strategic alliances — they not only do ads for you when they talk about you, they’re also customers. Go for this during tough times.

11. Find a business you admire

Many successful franchises have simply copied McDonald’s as best they could. If there’s a small business you admire, try to learn from it.

Stop the whispers

Before concluding let me remind you of the market research work of Michael LeBoeuff, who wrote How to Win and Keep Customers. He came up with numbers we all should never forget.

"A typical business hears from only 4 per cent of its dissatisfied clients. The other 96 per cent just quietly go away and 91 per cent never come back. Many customers are conflict avoiders and walk away from your business and talk badly about you if you rough them up.”

And there’s more bad news from LeBoeuff.

"A typical unhappy customer tells eight to 10 people about their problem. One in five will tell 20!"


Important information: This content has been prepared without taking account of the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular individual. It does not constitute formal advice. For this reason, any individual should, before acting, consider the appropriateness of the information, having regard to the individual’s objectives, financial situation and needs and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.

Published on: Tuesday, January 05, 2010

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