There is no Status Quo in business

There is no such thing as the status Quo in business. Your revenue/profits/costs will not continue at the same level if you continue to do what you have always done. You know:

  • The same old marketing
  • The same old prices
  • The same old competition
  • The same old… you get the picture don’t you?

Except that it probably isn’t the same old competition. Your competition has moved on. They’re looking for new ways to attract your customers. They’re under-cutting your prices, offering tempting bonuses and creating new products or services. And there could be new competitors too.

Your customers will have moved on to. They could be looking for something new, something different.

Even if you’ve kept you prices the same, your costs will have changed so your profits will have changed too.

It’s a bit like a tug of war – you trying to pull revenue and profits one way and your suppliers and the market pulling against you.

It feels like a huge battle just to stand still, just to achieve the status quo in business.

 

But I want to grow

But what if you want to grow your business, to really take it to the next level? The ‘same old, same old’ just isn’t going to hack it. To overcome that inertia you need to make a step change. You need to think different, think ‘outside the box’ (I normally hate clichés and business speak, but this one is on the money), because the same old marketing will bring the same old results – declining revenue and declining profits.

 

1-4-15-60-20

These are the five key numbers in any market, segment or area. So in your business, in your area:

  • 1% are super successful. They are the Richard Bransons or Apples for that business/area.
  • 4% are doing really well and aspiring to join the 1%.
  • 15% doing OK. There’s room for improvement, but they are winning more than they are losing.
  • 60% are getting by. They are the businesses I described above. The one’s struggling to achieve the status quo in business.
  • 20% are really struggling or even failing.

That means at least 80% of the business like you, in your area are GETTING IT WRONG! They are stagnating or declining. They are trying to maintain the status quo in business and it just isn’t working. Do yourself a a favour – don’t copy the 80%.

 

What can I do Allen?

If you look at your market you’ll realise that most of your competitors are doing the same sorts of things. Similar marketing, similar prices, similar offers, similar services. But the standout leaders – the 1%, 4% or 15% will be different. It may not be immediately obvious how they are different, but they will be different. They probably charge higher prices and you’ve never quite worked out how they get away with it. They achieve customer loyalty you can only dream of.

How do they do it? It boils down to two core things.

Positioning

The best businesses position themselves as just that – the best at what they do. Through a combination of innovative marketing, excellent service and being well, just different. Look at Apple. Their core markets are computers and phones – two very crowed markets. Yet Apple created the Mac and split the market into two. The Mac market that it owns and the PC market where every other company fights it out.

Likewise with smartphones. They created the iPhone – a market they own, and everyone else fights it out on android/Windows/Blackberry etc.

So how can you make your business the best at what it does in your area or segment? How can you position your business in the eyes of your market? The first part is about you and your business. What is your unique selling point – your USP?

Systems

To be the best in what you do it means you have to deliver to the highest standards day in, day out and in a way that is consistent with your business’ brand and image. That requires systems. Good systems allow you to run your business efficiently and with the knowledge that what is delivered will almost always be of the right quality. And on the odd occasion when something goes wrong, you’ll have your best system there ready to deal with the problem and wow the customer with how much trouble you have taken to put things right.

It’s these systems that are often hidden from what you see in successful businesses.  You will have seen the positioning, but it’s the systems that give the substance to that positioning.

 

How can a small business achieve all this?

Let’s tackle the two areas in reverse order. Putting in place great systems is neither hard nor expensive. The hard part is deciding what the system needs to do. In other words, what are the detailed elements of the product or service that you deliver. Once you have that you can create systems and processes to help you and your team deliver to the desired quality. It might be as simple as a set of paper based checklists. It could be barcoded stock and handheld barcode reader.

Whatever system you design needs to simple enough for you and your team to implement and work with consistently. It’s then down to training people how to use the system. Don’t forget to explain why the system is important and what it is trying to achieve. The more context you provide, the more accepted and adopted the system will become.

Getting your positioning right can be a little trickier. Many businesses try to position themselves by talking about themselves and their products:

  • We are the leading company in…..
  •  We have been serving this market for over 20 years….
  • Our range of products is second to none…..

And so on. But this is all about them and not about their customers. The latest ads for Microsoft Windows 10 and the related Surface Book and PCs have been all about what the end users can do with the products and not about the products themselves. Your positioning needs to be about what your business does for its customers. Show you understand their needs, their problems, their desires. Then show them how you can meet those needs, ease or remove that pain or satisfy that desire. That is great positioning.

 

How can you do all this on a small business budget?

Social media.

Social media has been the great leveller for businesses of all sizes. For little or no money you can position your business for what it does for its customers and get that message in front of those customers. And LinkedIn should be at the core of what you do on social media.

Whatever business you are in you, the business owner, should use LinkedIn to position yourself and your business. It is the first place anyone doing business with you is going to look to check you out. If they find a rubbish profile that looks like a stale cv you’ve already missed a trick.

Instead, you need a profile that screams the values of your business. One that is packed with value-added information that delivers useful information to the customer. One that has videos and articles about what you do for your customers. One that is packed with glowing recommendations from existing clients.

Whether you are business-to-business or business-to-consumer, a powerful LinkedIn profile is the number one way to position you and your business. Now you can use the appropriate social media channels to get in front of your target market and guide them to your profile to show them why they should do business with you.

If you are selling business-to-business then LinkedIn is almost certainly the best social media channel to find and get in front of your ideal customers. With over 450m profiles worldwide and over 20m in the UK along, your target market is on there. Their profiles are packed with the keywords you need to search for and find them and with the right non-salesy approach, you can develop strong business relationships that ensure they come to you to meet their business needs.

 

Get free advice on positioning your business with LinkedIn

If you would like to find out more about using LinkedIn to

  • position your business and
  • find and engage with your ideal prospects

book a free business review call with Allen today. Just click on the button below

Book a review call now

Marketing or Product 1st

What comes first, marketing or product? That was the subject of a passionate debate at one of my networking groups this week. I’ll keep the outcome back until the end of the post because I think the value is in how the debate went.

 

Google the answer

Whenever there is a question, lots of people immediate reach for a browser or app and pounce in the question to their favourite search engine. If you do that with product verses marketing you’ll get a lot of pro-marketing articles in your results.

That’s probably not too surprising as the exponents of marketing are pretty good at marketing what they do. The marketing 1st team obviously did the same as me as they quoted from many of the articles I read in their statements.

 

Product failure visibility

One of the arguments put forward by the marketing guys was that a lot of people have what they think is a good idea for a product but end up failing because there is no market for that product. They sp[end hours, days, weeks or even years perfecting something that nobody actually wants to buy. The marketeers argue that if you start with the marketing you find out if there is a market before you develop the product.

Dragons Den – the UK TV show where entrepreneurs pitch their products to get backing from investors was cited as the prime example. Most pitches get rejected ted because there isn’t a market.

Product failures are visible and, often painful for the inventor-entrepreneur.  But test marketing fails just as often, if not more often. But because the marketing gets lost in the mass of daily messages we face it is pretty near invisible.

Product failures being more visible than marketing failures does mean that the marketing first approach is therefore right.

 

The common ground

The biggest thing to come out of the debate was the amount of common ground between the two sides.

  • You must have a clear concept for your product as a minimum starting point.
  • Market research is a fundamental ‘must have’, whether that is part of product development or marketing, or both.
  • You need to have a clear target market – the idea that you could sell to everyone will only result in you selling to no-one if you don’t segment.
  • Marketing can sell a bad product if there is a valid market.
  • No amount of marketing will sell a brilliant product that doesn’t have a market.

 

The result

The hour long debate concluded with a vote by the audience. And the winner was…..

Product 1st

Probably by around a 60:40 split

 

The reality

The reality is that the most successful businesses have great products, great marketing and phenomenal customer service. And to get there the plan builds in all three from the outset. If you focus on one aspect to the exclusion of the others you are likely to fail. That’s how visible product failures and hidden marketing ones occur.

When I talk to clients about how to leverage their LinkedIn profiles to grow their businesses I ask them what benefits their clients will get from buying their product or service and who those ideal clients are. We focus not on what the product or service is, but what it gives to the client. Product first but closely followed by who the product is for and the problem it solves.

If you’d like to have a chat about how you LinkedIn profile can position your product to your ideal target clients click on the link below and book a free 15 minute profile review. It could just change your perspective.

Book a review call now

Getting to grips with social media marketing

social media apps questionBefore the internet and social media marketing was pretty straight forward. And he with the biggest budget usually won. Nationally it was about big and expensive TV ads, newspaper and magazine spreads in the most prominent places and all the best billboards. Small business would go local but even then, if you could afford a bigger, more prominent ad in Yellow pages you probably won. After all, Yellow Pages only published once a year.

The internet and social media have been a great leveller. You can now compete with anybody at a local or national level and often get higher in the rankings for less money than the big boys all by knowing your stuff. The Scottish Shutter Company regulalrly ranks No.1 in Google Adwords listings and pays less per click than it’s much better funded national competitors. All because they became masters of the art.

But with so many tools to choose from, how do you know which one is right for your business. It can be as confusing for you as for the Point Haired Boss in the Dilbert cartoon below:

dilbert social mediaDILBERT © 2015 Scott Adams. Used By permission of UNIVERSAL UCLICK. All rights reserved

How do you work your way through the confusion? I recommend starting with the decision tree shown in the infographic here:

Internet & social media marketing tree Infographic

If you are targeting people that are ready to buy, they are probably searching for products or services like yours. So you go down the left hand side of the infographic, choosing the tool most likely to be used by your target audience.

If you are trying to prompt people to thing about your product or service it’s a very different proposition. You still need to choose the tool that best fits your target audience but a large proportion of them won’t even be contemplating buying from anyone, let alone you. Here you need to think about building a relationship so that when they do think about buying, your product or service is front of mind.

For business to consumer, or B2C, you should follow the right hand side of the infographic. Understand where your target audience hangs out. Photographers are great on Pinterest or Instagram for example. You can sometimes prompt a buying decision with the right offer. For example, a local restaurant that finds Mondays to Wednesdays quiet might use geographically targeted tweets or Facebook ads to suggest people eat out rather than cook and enjoy 20% off or a free bottle of house wine if they dine Monday through Wednesday.

For business to business or B2B, it’s straight down the middle. There is some limited targeted marketing you can do with Facebook and Twitter, particularly using lookalike audiences for your ads, but first you have to have an audience for those tools to mimic. For me, the only place to get or build that audience is LinkedIn. In the B2B world the vast majority of your ideal clients will have a profile on LinkedIn. If you have the right style of profile that offers value and invites connections, it is the single most powerful tool to enable you to find and engage with your perfect clients.

LinkedIn webinar Bootcamp

If you’d like to a magnetically attractive LinkedIn profile and learn how to find and connect with your ideal clients join my three part LinkedIn webinar Bootcamp. Click LinkedIn webinar Bootcamp or on the screen for more details.

 

Want More Referrals?

Do you want more referrals? What would you pay for a system that provides a steady stream of referrals straight to your inbox? No set up costs or activities, no maintenance fees or activities and all you have to do is ask politely?

What if I told you the system exists, already has over 360 million users worldwide including most of your best clients and is FREE.

You want that system don’t you?

Well you probably already have it – it’s LinkedIn.

I want my share of referrals
So why aren’t you getting your steady stream of referrals? It’s probably because you’re like most of those 360 million users who think LinkedIn is pretty much an online cv used by recruiters and job seekers.

I’ll let you in to a little known secret – it’s not. LinkedIn is the single biggest and most under-used marketing weapon available to any business owner or professional in the B2B marketplace. And it’s FREE!

How do I get my share?
Did I mention your best clients are probably already on LinkedIn? Are you connected to them? They’re hardly going to refer you if you’re not. Once you’re connected you are just a simple, polite message away from getting that referral.

Danger alert!
But hold on. If somebody sees a referral recommending you on LinkedIn the first thing they are going to do is look at your profile. Is it up to scratch? Does it tell your prospect what they need to know? You see, if you thought LinkedIn was just an online cv, then that’s probably what your profile looks like. But you don’t want a job, you want to sell to your prospects.

Help is on hand
That’s where I can help.

First of all there’s my ebook ‘9 Points to Creating a Powerful Personal Profile’ . Click on the link, sign-up and get a free copy straight into your inbox.

Second – you’ll have already done this if you did step one – sign-up for my blog and get a regular stream of useful tips to help you market and grow your business.

Third – talk to me. Call me on 01483 387052. If I’m not around my support team will agree a time when we can talk about how I can help you set up your referral machine.

Why Allen?
I really care about helping people get more out of their careers and out of their businesses. As a project manager for 30 years I have lead, coached, mentored and trained project and line managers and teams to deliver more effectively. As a business owner and coach I have built a successful consultancy and training business and, with my wife, built and sold a successful local care business for a substantial 5-figure sum. In that time I have successfully used LinkedIn to connect with my target clients to develop business opportunities.

This strong background in delivery, training and coaching, mixed with developing small businesses, means I know how much potential there is for most people to market themselves and their businesses so much more effectively and more personably. Through the 3 degrees Social network, the Entrepreneurs Circle and various mastermind groups, I’ve accessed a whole host of tools and resources to help people work smarter, market themselves and their business more effectively and have the time to do and enjoy the things that are really important to them.

LinkedIn is one of the most under-utilised resources I’ve come across. That’s why I love being part of 3degrees Social. We specialise in helping you halve your networking time and take the ‘6degrees of separation’ down to just 3degrees with effective use of LinkedIn. I have a variety of ways I can help you with this – from half day and full day workshops (open and in-house), through online programmes to hands-on 1:1 three-month programmes tailored just for you.

Don’t miss out on your opportunity to grow. Connect with me today, book that call with me, and let’s start to explore how I can help you grow your business.