Many business owners never develop a marketing plan for their companies, usually because they are too busy. However, armed with a pen, paper, and the right questions you can give yourself a huge edge in an hour or less by creating a simple marketing template.
Step 1: Determine where your business is now.
• How many clients do you have?
• How much money did you make last year?
• What is the size of your potential market?
• What did you spend on marketing?
Step 2: Write down your goals.
• How many clients do you want?
• How much money do you want to make?
Step 3: Determine how much you are willing to spend on marketing. The typical answer I get to this question is “as much as it takes,” which of course is never true. Other answers include “I don’t know” or “I’m willing to spend it if I get a return.” However hard it is to come up with a marketing budget, you have to do this in order to have any chance of measuring your results. Despite what you may have read, there is no typical percentage or formula. Budgets should be based on what you want to achieve. If you want a 50% increase in business, it’s not going to be achieved from a percentage of last summer’s miserable income.
There are lots of concrete things business owners can do to measure the performance of their businesses. You can measure profit and loss, the number of clients you have, your market share, or the number of widgets that you can produce in a day.
These are all important measures that can be seen in black-and white reports, but there are other less tangible items that should be also be measured.
Most business owners have a feel for how some of the more intangible factors are helping or hindering their performance. The problem is that a feeling is not an accurate enough measure of important factors like:
- brand/name awareness in the community
- customer satisfaction
- employee morale
- systemization of your business
- cutting edge ideas
Of all the things that will test your patience and resolve, change is perhaps the hardest to deal with. Yet change is the one thing in business that is constant. Change will always affect your business, be it changing tastes, changes in competition, changes in technology, or changes in the general economy. Sometimes that change may help your business, other times it will hurt it.
Imagine being in the video rental business in, say, 1984.
Gold Mine!! You could open a video store on any street corner for the cost of the videos and be profitable by the end of the month.
Imagine being in it in 2017.
Adopt these seven resolutions and watch your business grow and thrive.
Resolution Number One. Spend the first hour of each day on marketing. Send emails, write letters, make phone calls—do something that has a chance to generate business! I would credit this one factor above all others in business success. If you just get in front of the right people every day, you have a chance to make a sale! Too many business owners are so busy being busy that they never have time to market! How much time do you spend on marketing per week—really spend?
Resolution Number Two. Spend at least three hours a week (more would be much better) working on your business, NOT in it! That means taking the time to write procedure manuals, business plans, and the other cornerstones of duplication and long-term success. Few people enjoy this, but it is a very important factor if you are ever going to maximize the potential of your business. The more systematized your business becomes, the easier it is to run and the more time you can spend making money or playing golf instead of putting out fires.
Resolution Number Three. Outsource everything you can that is not critical to your core success. That means bookkeeping, cleaning, mailings, and so on. The more time you spend selling and marketing your business, the more money you will make. Look at Nike, a giant of a business success. They outsource everything, they make nothing. Instead, they focus on sales and marketing. There is a powerful lesson to be learned from this!
When you are faced with a difficult problem to solve, it is important for you not to allow yourself to be governed by rigid or straight-line thinking. Most people think rigidly because that is what they have been taught to do. You must allow your mind to wander in all directions and throw out any kind of wild and crazy solution that it cares to. You can then write down each idea as it comes. (This is like brainstorming without the group.)
When faced with a particular problem, take out a blank sheet of paper and write the problem at the top of the page. Then write down all the ways in which this problem could be solved. Do not think over your answers; just write all your thoughts and ideas down, no matter how silly or unlikely they seem. You can go back later and rate each on its particular merits.
Other than the very obvious problems of stretching themselves too thin, both from a cash flow and talent point of view, the number-one reason that causes second locations to fail is simply the lack of business systems. When an owner opens up a second store, he or she naturally assumes that the second store will be run just like the first. The only problem is they forget that you can’t be in two places at once.
Business methods and protocol that the owner takes for granted are not followed at the second store, or if the owner opens the second store, they soon go by the wayside at the first location. With systems, this cannot happen.