Most all businesses want to grow their customer list, increase their sales, and profit more. The first part of the problem is that most businesses don’t slow down enough to think their marketing through to the potential results. Too often a tactic (marketing activity) gets their attention and they decide to use it without considering anything other than the possibility of it producing sales.
This can result in not getting the full benefit of the tactic and possibly even doing more damage than good.
Often the reason for moving too fast is that many get in a financial bind (again, because they may have not thought things through) and are so pressured that they just want to get more business. Pushing harder without stopping to do some planning just digs the hole deeper. At some point it has to stop so a better plan can take over.
Companies go out of business because they realize this too late – or not at all.
The second part of the problem is that the decision-makers in many businesses don’t really know how to think things through, at least in the area of marketing. So unintentional mistakes are made, money is wasted, and the needed results don’t happen.
After a while money can get tight, fear of another bad decision can take over and a business might pull back and reduce it’s marketing efforts. This is another sign of trouble that can be avoided or corrected if acted upon soon enough.
Today’s technical revolution and evolution makes critical thinking crucial to business success. More than ever the world operates in cause and effect mode. So you must be able to extrapolate and anticipate what will likely happen as the result of decisions.This is often possible based on experience, awareness, research and a few other factors.
If you can’t do that thinking or realize you don’t have enough info to think with, you either need someone who can lay it out for you, or you need to minimize the potential loss of making that decision BEFORE you make it.
Businesses that find themselves in this position without a solution are on the way out unless they quickly stop doing what creates the problems: making uninformed decisions.
When it comes to marketing and advertising, the most important activities you need to focus on are those that grow the business – getting new customers, making sales, and generating profits. There are really only three basic ways to do that.
1) Get more new customers.
2) Sell more to your customers when they buy.
3) Get your customers to buy more often – increase their lifetime value to your business.
Don’t get confused – there are many, many ‘tactics’ and things you can do as marketing activities to work toward these three goals. But most everything boils down to something in one of these three areas.
Working the numbers
These 3 ways to grow any business is also important because of how you think about your business goals. Most companies want to grow and not just survive. In either case they often think that they just need to get more new customers. This only 33.3% correct per the above.
You can use these three growth concepts to help you focus your business goals toward measurable, trackable, improvable results. Focusing on only one of the three makes it three times harder than it needs to be and if your business is struggling, that’s part of the reason why.
You start by asking yourself these questions:
How many active buyers do I have? How many people (or businesses) are consistently paying me money on a regular basis? What’s the actual number?
What is the average purchase price (and profit) for my sales? Do customers, on average, make a one-time purchase totaling $50, $100, $500, or $5,000, or more? It’s an average – what’s the number?
How long do customers stay actively buying from me? Do they make a one-time sale, are they repeat buyers over months or a year, or do they stay with your business for 3 years or 5 years or longer? What’s the number?
If you can’t come up with these numbers, you cannot systematically improve your business with the least amount of effort and headache. Again, these must be averages or you’ll find yourself swimming in confusion with too many numbers and details.
The point is to make all this confrontable so you can work with the info to make improvements. You can get much more detailed later and that’s a big part of what really successful businesses do.
Narrowing it down
From here, you look at what you are specifically doing to grow or maintain your business. Each of your marketing activities will fall under one of those ‘three ways’. Figure out those numbers.
How you work the concept of ‘the three ways to grow a business’ to your advantage is simple. List everything you do to market and promote your business and place them under one of those three ways to grow a business. You have the averages for each and those are the baselines you measure from for making improvements.
If you are advertising in a print publication, using Facebook posts, or networking with your local Chamber of Commerce, you are only focusing on one way to grow your business – getting new customers.
You can and should do better.
If you’re not doing it already, someone in your organization needs to look at how you can offer existing customers additional products or services. Notice that we didn’t say, “sit back and wait to see if they buy additional products or services that you list on your website or brochure”. You need to make the proactive offers.
Ideally those offers align with the potential individual needs of the customers – maybe even what they purchased last. If the purchase price is low it’s probably more cost effective to group customers into different offers or provide multiple offers for them to choose from.
If the purchase price is high, it might be worth the time to customize the offer to individuals or smaller groups of individuals so that the offer has a deeper impact.
Your easiest ‘next sale’ is from an existing customer and often from a customer that just bought. The higher the purchase price of their initial purchase, the more inclined they will be to protect and enhance that investment.
So if you just got your nails done at a salon, you might want to spend a little more and get the protective coating. The same concept applies when buying eye glasses or getting your car painted.
Look for up-sell opportunities specific to what you offer and make sure they provide real value. Sometime you need to test different offers to find those that resonate in a meaningful way with your customers.
The mistake many businesses make is in trying to sell the same thing to everyone without considering the various levels of interest or need. After a while you’re just beating customers down with offers and they no longer feel special.
This is where your marketing needs to do its job and segment your messages and offers to specific groups and personas with the appropriate content. Doing this feeds back into your Integrated Search Marketing and greatly works to your benefit.
A big reason your content is so important is because it’s reuseable and future customers will likely pass through the same buying processes and be exposed to it at a later date – if you have it to begin with. Perfecting these purchase paths can produce dramatic increases in customers and sales.
You might need to update content from time to time or test different versions of it to make it more effective, but not generating specific content to help achieve your marketing and business goals limits the success of your business.
It should go without saying, but to be clear, creating just any content is not the point. Your content choices and topics need to connect with your marketing and sales. It all loops back to Integrated Search Marketing because your customers are continually SEARCHING for answers and solutions.
You need to already be where they go to find those answers and solutions before they go looking.