Notes from Jeff York

Small business marketing thoughts from a marketing small business owner

Posts Tagged ‘growth

New opportunities

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cheese2hqThis week, a completely new opportunity opened itself to me. It scares me. It comes at a time when the economy has everyone on edge.

It’s an opportunity that I’m going to grasp with both hands.

If you have not read Spencer Johnson‘s book Who Moved My Cheese, but plan to, then I apologize. This week’s blog post is going to be a spoiler for you. If you don’t plan on ever reading the book, then I apologize again. This is going to be one long ad for the book.

The book itself is short and easy to understand. It’s one of the few books (along with Jane Bryant Quinn’s excellent Making the Most of Your Money) that I kept after reading and refer back to time and time again.

There are different times when we are given opportunities to move beyond our comfort zone. The safety of our current position and situation makes looking at change a little daunting and downright scary. However, moving beyond our comfort zone is often an excellent way to blast through professional barriers that we sometimes find ourselves behind. Taking advantage of new opportunities is also an excellent path to new experiences that will allow you to grow as both a professional and as a person. Sometimes we get too comfortable and starting thinking of cheese as Cheese.

While I don’t advocate hopping from one situation to another and instead hope you would practive careful deliberation before making decisions, I submit (while borrowing heavily from Johnson’s book) that you continue to make yourself open to the “cheese” being moved, adapt to the change quickly, and enjoy the change!

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Written by Jeff York

March 28, 2009 at 9:09 pm

Fixing a broken belief system

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“I tried that before and it didn’t work.”confused_man1

Think about that statement for a moment. How many times and how many ways have you heard that statement expressed. Since this is a blog about marketing and business, I’m sure you know where I’m going with this, but let’s take it out of context and examine it.

Ever pick up a remote and try to change the channel on your TV, but the batteries were dead? Did you resign yourself to manually changing the channels from then on or did you examine the problem and find a solution? New batteries means you fixed the situation. The problem wasn’t with the remote.

What about hiring a bad employee? Unfortunately, many of us have been in that situation before. It’s a difficult solution for all concerned, but once the remedy was executed, the situation was fixed. Does that mean hiring employees is a bad idea or did I mean that you just had to examine the problem?

The same ideas apply to marketing. Time and time again, I’ve encountered people whom might have “tried TV” or “did marketing” before and whatever they did had failed. Therefore, they jump to the incorrect conclusion that marketing doesn’t work (for them). Instead of spending the effort of finding out why it didn’t work or determining something else that might work for them, they walk away from marketing their business and handicap their business’s growth.

I highly respect the business owner that I work with who calls me up to tell me that their current spot or ad isn’t working. That gives us (both the marketing firm and the client) the chance to reexamine the messaging. Is the wording strong enough? Are we appealing to the right audience? Are we even reaching the right audience or are we using the wrong medium? This is a far better path than simply pulling the plug on a campaign and walking away from marketing altogether. Sure it harms the marketing firm some. But the biggest damage is done to the business itself. The owner no longer believes in marketing and therefore limits that business’s growth potential.

Take a look at the list of Fortune 100 companies. One of the things that they have in common (with the possible exception of Berkshire Hathaway) is an expansive marketing effort. They know and understand that growth comes from reaching new customers, announcing new offerings in the most effecient way, and branding themseleves against their competition. Even at the small business level, growth must come from telling people that you exist.

Do you have a story you can share in which your marketing efforts were falling short and you did something to turn it around? What can we all learn from examples that you can share about your business’s marketing successes?

Marketing in a difficult economy

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As a business owner, current economic times provide you with endless challenges and possibly sleepless nights. When you’re worried about dwindling sales and if your bank is going to pull your credit line, it’s hard to think about growth. Ever wonder what the smart business owners are thinking about during these turbulant times?

How do I grow market share?

There it is. The smart businesses around us are thinking about turning these challenges into an opportunity. They are getting the message out there about their goods and services. They are developing top-of-mind awareness in the public at a time when their competitors are pulling marketing dollars off the table. Why? Exactly for that reason. The best time to build market share is when there’s no opposition.

In the past, I’ve written about cutting through the clutter and getting your message heard. Times like these make that task much easier. Fewer messages mean it’s easier to remember yours. Put your message out there. Repeat it over and over. If you do that, what do you think will happen?

In a recovery situation, you will be miles ahead of your competition. You will have built tremendous value in your brand and increased your opportunity to gain market share.

I know it’s hard to think along these lines when it seems like the sky is falling and money is tightest. But this truly is an opportunistic time. If you’re thinking about cutting back on your marketing budget, I would caution you to perhaps examine your strategies and concentrate your efforts to maximize success. If you’re thinking about cutting your marketing budget altogether, I have a message for you from your competitors:

Thank you.

Are you the right customer for me?

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Much is made of marketing customers searching hard for the right marketing company to help them grow. As there is a huge number of marketing organizations out there, customers/businesses must work hard to vet each one to find that special organization that has a mix of experience and expertise to help them move ahead of their competitors and grow.

Internally to the marketing companies, sales representatives spend enormous amounts of effort prospecting, qualifying, and landing leads and turning those leads into clients. The future of a marketing company depends on the ability to generate new project work.

However, smart marketing companies take that extra time before pitching a client to ask themselves “Is this prospect a good fit for us?” We’ve all heard of the 80/20 rule. As it applies to this former Production Manager, it means that I had to spend 80% of my time holding the hand of 20% of our clients. This is a reflection of finding a client that’s smart enough to know that they need marketing to grow, but is somehow uncomfortable with the cost they are spending or perhaps they don’t fully understand the process. Or maybe their superiors are directing pressure on them for the same reasons. Innocently, these clients place a drag on the process by not trusting that the agency they hired isn’t working 100% in their best interests.

Or worse. A green sales rep at the marketing company signs a client whom believes they know marketing better than the agency. Maybe they think they know graphic design because they own a pencil or web development because their son used iWeb. In any event, endless rounds of changes ensue dragging the process to a halt and raising expenses on both sides of the equation.

The bottom line here is knowing the importance of spending time analyzing your ideal client profile and targeting potential clients that fit that spec which will pay you dividends in the long run.

Do you spend any time determining who your ideal customer might be? How do you turn away business that might not be a good fit, especially if times are tight? Do you have any strategies that you might be able to share?

Written by Jeff York

June 28, 2008 at 1:03 pm