We all need to focus on three key pillars for success: marketing our businesses to build clients and income; management practices and procedures to establish the framework for our business as it grows; and mentoring support to keep us on the right track, and provide different levels of support as our business grows.
1. Marketing to Build Your Business
The following table provides a checklist of fundamental activities you can either do yourself, or outsource to a specialist provider. If you work with other small businesses, these services need not cost you a lot. Get creative and look at providing your services in exchange for their services, or even payment terms in instalments over a period of time.
Remember to do what youâ€™re good at, let other people focus on what they do best, and if you canâ€™t afford them, wait until you can.
Always have an objective or an intended outcome for your marketing, otherwise it will have no focus and minimal results.
Marketing Options and their Objectives
Opt 1: Speaking engagements (Conference, special interest group, radio, business groups)
Doing it/Plan to do
- The more â€˜doing itâ€™ the better! If not, then plan quickly & do it!
- â€¢ Raise your profile in target market
â€¢ Establish your expertise
Opt 2: Direct marketing
- â€¢ Present an offer & call to action
â€¢ Raise awareness of your product/service
â€¢ Generate leads
Opt 3: PR
- â€¢ Raise profile
â€¢ Create awareness
â€¢ Establish expertise & credibility
Opt 4: Exhibitions & conferences
- â€¢ Establish positioning in market
â€¢ Network â€“ identify opportunities
â€¢ Showcase products to captive target market
â€¢ Establish credibility if speaking at conference
â€¢ Generate sales leads
Opt 5: Industry & business publications â€“ submit articles
- â€¢ Establish credibility & expertise within target market
â€¢ Position yourself as specialist
â€¢ Raise profile
â€¢ Generate enquiries
Opt 6: Telesales/telemarketing
- â€¢ Prospecting for new business
â€¢ Build leads
â€¢ Customer service
â€¢ Case studies â€“ explains the client problem or need, and your solution
â€¢ Testimonials â€“ statements of endorsement from satisfied clients
â€¢ Press releases â€“ use them to send to media, or to customers or placed on web site
â€¢ Award entries/winning awards â€“ winning awards sets you apart
â€¢ Newsletters â€“ printed or electronic; write them yourself or ask for contributions
â€¢ Company profile â€“ also a â€˜credentialsâ€™ document to establish your credibility
â€¢ Website â€“ make it work for you
â€¢ Brochures â€“ try not to change these too often (requires time and $$), but donâ€™t let them date
â€¢ Video/CD presentations â€“ particularly if you are in the creative field
Start marketing now and donâ€™t stop!
2. Management Practices & Procedures
Make sure you address each of the following key areas as your business grows, otherwise it will become extremely difficult to manage once you have staff, more customers to manage, higher revenue and profit targets, and more priorities to manage and set.
- A top priority for any business in growth mode. Face to face selling, telemarketing, sales through agents or distributors will build your network, generate leads, and ultimately result in revenue. Sell, sell, sell!
- If you donâ€™t feel comfortable selling, then pair up with someone who does. It may be a business partner, or commission agent, contract salesperson, or telesales organisation.
- Track your sales efforts and follow up. If people are interested in your products or services, or want more information, or are expecting you to call them back, then do so. A lost opportunity is just that, but it is also bad for your reputation as a professional.
- Make sure you can deliver.
- Use templates for your database, for tracking sales, doing forecasts, and reporting weekly sales activity for a team. If itâ€™s organised itâ€™s easier to manage.
- Refer to point 1 of this article.
- Use templates, record your marketing activities, record outcomes to measure effectiveness.
- Use document templates where you can, and develop a schedule of activities for the year ahead.
- Have a well thought through plan. Prioritise and stay focused!
Goals & planning
- Know what your big picture is.
- Have a vision of where youâ€™re going and where you want to be.
- Set realistic, memorable and achievable goals
- Break down the big picture into achievable components â€“ the next week, month etc
- Follow up and track your performance â€“ if you donâ€™t achieve your goals, what are you doing?
- Get it right from the beginning.
- Recruitment is critical in attracting and retaining the right people. Pay attention to the process.
- Have an induction program for new people. Donâ€™t just let them try and work it all out for themselves. Help them become productive quickly. That makes everyone happy.
- Manage their performance and their development. Provide performance reviews, and appropriate development training when required. Provide feedback. Encourage and support.
Systems & Processes
- Document your processes wherever possible.
- This doesnâ€™t happen overnight but it is an extremely worthwhile exercise. It helps organise the business, makes it operate more efficiently, and makes it easier for you to start removing yourself from day to day operations as the business grows.
- Start anywhere, such as HR for example â€“ how you recruit, induct, review and manage your staff can all be systemised and documented for easy reference by you and by your staff.
- A well-organised business has more value to potential buyers, investors, business partners. Itâ€™s also easier to work in!
3. Mentoring for Support
Last, but not least, is the Mentoring pillar. Business mentoring from an individual or a group, formal or informal, is invaluable. A business mentor or mentoring program can:
- keep you on track
- help you through the rough times
- demand that you celebrate your successes, however large or small
- provide another point of view
- challenge your approach
- share experience
- help you to reach new heights with your business
- provide support and encouragement
- most importantly make you feel that youâ€™re not alone, and that you have someone else to talk to about your business when you need it.
Marketing facilitates growth, management provides a solid foundation to build on, and mentoring fires your enthusiasm and encourages your development.
What is stopping you?