Read an Excerpt
101 Ways to Market Your Business
By Andrew Griffiths
Allen & UnwinCopyright © 2006 Andrew Griffiths
All rights reserved.
People generally start a small business or buy a small business for different reasons. Sometimes it is because they are good at their chosen profession and feel that they can make a better living working for themselves, sometimes it is a lifestyle change and sometimes it is simply a lifelong dream.
With the advent of retrenchment and redundancy packages or early retirement payouts there are many more people facing retirement long before they are actually ready. They have cash and they have the energy and enthusiasm to start their own business. The problem is that they rarely have the experience required to run their new venture and to make money.
Running a business requires many skills that take time to develop. The question is how much time do you have to develop them?
We are often reminded that many small businesses fail within the first few years. From my experience the two main reasons are a lack of initial capital (not enough money) and a lack of marketing ability. The people running these businesses work very hard, generally have excellent products and often are completely dedicated to making their business a success, but they just don't know how to find new customers or keep existing ones.
So where do you turn for marketing advice? You can engage the services of a marketing consultant to help develop specialist marketing plans and to give you plenty of ideas and suggestions on ways to attract more business. This is what thousands of marketing consultants, including myself, do around the world every day. Generally our clients are larger firms that have the budget to call in specialist advice.
However, the vast majority of businesses are small one-or two-person operations that have very limited funds. They can't afford to have their own marketing consultant on call. Their needs are more immediate and their resources, including time and money, are generally limited.
The upside to this is that most of these small businesses normally only need a gentle nudge in the right direction to produce dramatic improvements in their business. Based on this need I decided to write this book. My dream was to create a clear, easy-to-read manual that any business operator could pick up and start using immediately. I wanted to offer a lot of simple marketing ideas that were tried and tested. They had to be logical, easy to implement and affordable.
The ideas and strategies suggested do not require any special skills and they will not take up a lot of your time. Business operators want to be able to do things straight away, not plan for ten years' time. If business is quiet they want to be able to do something about it immediately. This book will provide the opportunity to be proactive about marketing today.
Marketing ideas are important for success; however, I also believe that having the right attitude is essential. I have been fortunate enough to work with a lot of very successful business operators. They all have similar attitudes and thoughts on doing business and I believe that is what sets them apart from those businesses that always seem to struggle. I have included many suggestions that are based on my observations of these very successful business operators.
If the ideas and suggestions detailed in this book help just one business to stop struggling and to become successful, I will be a very happy man.
How to get results fast using this book
Most business books offer chapter after chapter of complex information, graphs and catchy buzz words that you need to work your way through before you can get started. Not this one. If you are getting edgy and you want to get started turn to the 101 Marketing Ideas section (page 27) and go for it. Choose an idea that you like the look of and get started today.
The best way to get results fast is to implement a new idea each week, depending on your budget and the time that you allocate to marketing your business. If you can implement one idea per week, you will have initiated fifty new marketing ideas within a year, each one generating more income for your business.
If you want more information about the ideas and the philosophy behind the simple marketing ideas discussed in this book, go to the introductory section 'What do you need to know to get started?' (page 4). This section outlines some of the ideas and philosophies behind marketing any business.
Some ideas and themes are repeated throughout the book. The reason for this is that they are very important issues that really need to be emphasised to improve your chances of success. The other reason is that this book has been designed to offer practical marketing ideas on virtually every page. Some ideas need a little background to illustrate the point that I am trying to make, so don't look at it as a repeat, look at it as me nagging.
There are also a number of sample forms that illustrate the ideas suggested. These can be found at the back of the book. One of the most important forms is the 'Marketing activity report'. Basically all you need to do is fill in the blanks as you start on a new idea and then update it as results start coming in. Put them in a file and you will have an accurate and detailed account of your company's marketing activities. This will prove to be an asset the day that you decide to sell your business as you can show prospective buyers exactly what you have done to promote the business.
What do you need to know to get started?
This part of the book is designed to give you a broad overview of marketing any business. It will provide the answers to many of the commonly asked questions and it will provide these answers in a simple, easy to understand format.
The questions that will be answered and the topics covered include:
how much time you should spend marketing your business;
how much money you should spend on marketing;
why it is important to understand your customers;
what type of promotional material you should be using;
ways to stay motivated; and
tips for running a successful business.
I recommend that you read this part at some stage, whether before or after you have read the 101 Marketing Ideas. The information contained in the next few pages forms the basis of the marketing advice I give to all of my clients. Without a doubt it helps to build successful businesses.
How much time do you need to devote to marketing?
Most of the marketing ideas recommended in this book will take less than 30 minutes to implement. The big question that you need to ask yourself is how much time can you devote to marketing and promoting your business? You may be able to spend 30 minutes per month or you may be fired up and ready to commit to 30 minutes per day. It doesn't matter how much time you allocate as long as you make the effort to implement new ideas on a regular basis. You be the judge on how regular the basis needs to be.
The time that you devote to marketing your business needs to be quality time. It is no good trying to squeeze it in among the thousand and one other responsibilities that you have to deal with on a daily basis. I am a firm believer in doing your marketing away from your business, in an environment where you won't be disturbed or distracted. At least use this time to plan your strategy and then do the actual implementing of ideas at the office.
Many business operators feel that marketing is like doing book work — it is something that you have to do rather than something that you want to do. We all know what happens if you don't do your book work. At the end of the financial year you sheepishly take the shoe box full of receipts to the accountant who gives you 'the look'. You throw the box on the accountant's desk and run out the door. A few months later the tax man rings asking a few 'please explain' type questions and eventually you will have to pay someone a lot of money.
Not doing your marketing on a regular basis can have a more dramatic end result — your business goes broke. The moral is simple — you need to be disciplined and you need to set aside a realistic amount of time to market your business on a regular basis.
How much business do you need to survive?
This is the start to any marketing campaign or plan and unfortunately it is seldom considered in small businesses. You need to ask yourself the question: how much business do I really need?
There are two reasons to ask this question. The first is to give you a daily target to aim for. If you don't know how much business you want you will never be satisfied. The other reason is to try to eliminate the risk of getting too much business — yes, that's right, too much business.
The important thing to do now is to take a few minutes and work out exactly how much business you need to cover all of your costs. Be honest and realistic and overestimate rather than underestimate. You can work out this figure for a year, a month, a week or a day. I like to work it out on a monthly basis, as most of our customers pay once per month.
Once you know exactly how much business you need to cover all costs you know exactly how much business you need to survive. This is what it will cost you to open the doors every day.
The next step is to decide how much profit you want to make from your business. Add this to your survival figure and, presto, you now have a figure to aim for. This tells you exactly how much business you want.
It is amazing how clear everything becomes when all of a sudden you know how much business you need to survive and how much business you want to make a profit. Very few businesses take the time to figure these targets out, but successful ones always do.
The second point, generating too much business, brings to mind the following stories. A friend of mine was involved in building a large oceanarium. The launch of the attraction was very big with hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on enticing crowds for the opening day. Well the crowds came — far more than the oceanarium had allowed for — and the result was that the day was a disaster. People were stuck in queues for hours, the crush of the crowds was crazy, the restaurants ran out of food, children were lost, people fainted and so on.
It took a long time for this attraction to rebuild its reputation. The grand opening was a financial success but a complete failure in terms of long-term marketing. The crowds left after a disappointing experience and consequently they told their family and friends not to bother visiting the attraction because it was a shambles.
Another short story that I have found fascinating has to do with smoking. A friend recently tried to stop smoking following an intensive advertising campaign from the QUIT line (a number people could call for advice and support to quit smoking) on television. The graphic blood and gore advertisements were too much and the QUIT line seemed to be a fabulous support for anyone trying to give up the dreaded nicotine. The advertisement worked and my friend made the decision to quit on the spot.
After a week without cigarettes she had a moment of weakness and decided that she needed help quickly — no problems. A quick call to the QUIT line and everything will be OK. She called the line, was put on hold for ten minutes and then a rather rude lady said that she couldn't help now but someone would call back soon.
Seven days later someone called, apologising about the delay and protesting that the extra advertising had made them so busy that they could not cope with the thousands of calls they were getting every day. By this stage my friend had given up trying to quit and she still smokes.
There is a valuable lesson to be learned. If you start to do a lot of marketing make certain that your business can cope with the increase. All businesses want the phone to be running hot but few can cope with a sudden increase in business without making at least a few operational changes. New customers that come to your business as a result of your marketing activity will be testing you to see if you can deliver what you promise. If you don't impress them the first time around you may never get the opportunity to try again.
Why is it important to be different?
Imagine if you had a dose of the flu and you decided that you needed to buy some medicine. Imagine you go to the shops and find ten individual pharmacies next door to each other, all in a nice neat row and basically all the same. How do you decide which pharmacy to purchase your flu medication from? Do you look for the cheapest, the one with the most helpful staff, the biggest, the smallest, the longest established, the one that you have visited before or simply the one closest? These are the kinds of questions that we subconsciously ask every time we go to purchase an item.
The big question is: what makes your business different from your competitors? If your customers are trying to choose between your business and your competitors' businesses, why should they use yours? You need to come up with the answer to this question and it needs to be convincing.
Several years ago the very famous company Federal Express found themselves struggling in the highly competitive world of freight. They decided that they needed a policy or a statement to explain why people should use their impressive range of freight services, which were basically the same as every other freight courier in the USA.
The advertising agency came up with the slogan, 'If it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight use Federal Express'. A large campaign was launched to promote this new company slogan and the rest is history. Federal Express has grown to become one of the largest freight companies in the world. The main reason attributed to the success of this slogan is the fact that it identified what makes Federal Express different from their numerous competitors by stating that if it really needs to get there you had better use Federal Express. It implies that if your package really has to get where it is going by tomorrow, Federal Express are the only ones that can get it there.
Some of the most effective words to use when trying to come up with one simple slogan that will differentiate your business from your competitors are the biggest, the largest, the longest established, the freshest, the best, the most, guaranteed, the perfect, the finest, the leading, the right, the highest and the foremost.
The one thing that is certain in business is that competition will continue to increase. There will be more people trying to sell similar items to the same number of people. For this reason it is important to identify what makes your business different to and, ultimately, better than your competitors.
How much money do you need to spend on marketing?
Finding the money to market and advertise a business is often not easy. When times are tough people tend to cut back in the area of advertising — this is the time that advertising and marketing should be increased but it rarely happens that way.
Most businesses that come to me for advice have very limited budgets — sometimes as little as $20 per week. My advice is always the same. The size of the budget doesn't matter but how you use it does. It is all relative. A company with a $20 per week marketing budget probably needs to generate a few thousand dollars per year. A company with a million dollar marketing budget needs to turn over tens of millions per year.
Determining how much money you should spend promoting your business is a difficult decision. The accepted way to arrive at a marketing budget is a percentage of your total turnover, anywhere from 5 per cent to 20 per cent. If the figure you picked was 10 per cent and you turn over a million dollars a year, you are planning on spending $100 000 per year in advertising and marketing.
It is always wise to talk to your accountant or financial advisor when it comes to setting a budget, but remember, marketing should be a fixed cost like rent or electricity. If you don't actively promote your business it will soon disappear. If you wait until you are desperate you are under a lot more pressure to get the results.
I recently had a jeweller approach me to do some marketing for his company. He had been operating for over fifteen years and he had never spent a cent on marketing. This man was very successful but in the last five years competition had increased, tourist numbers had dropped and business had suddenly got tough. He was very humble and it was obvious that he had done a lot of soul searching to understand why his business was failing. His greatest realisation was that he didn't take an active stance in marketing his business because he thought that the customers would always be there.
Having said that, don't feel that you need to have a marketing budget of hundreds of thousands of dollars to produce results. There are thousands of small businesses that have advertised very smartly for very little financial outlay.
Look realistically at what you can afford on a weekly basis, set this money aside and assess your marketing options. Try not to be stressed about the amount of money that you have available — spend the time and energy deciding what to do with it.
Excerpted from 101 Ways to Market Your Business by Andrew Griffiths. Copyright © 2006 Andrew Griffiths. Excerpted by permission of Allen & Unwin.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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