Marketing — Liber8me

Which is more important… delivery or sales? Should you be in doing or out selling? Learn the 5 steps to the ‘The In-Out Dance” here…

sync swimmingAs a small business owner you’ll be familiar with ‘The In-out Dance’ I’m sure.  It goes like this.  You are busy in the business, delivering your service or product, working hard, working hard.  There’s too much to do and you need help.  So you hire some people and now you have to spend more time training them and managing them as well as doing all the work you already have on your plate.  There’s no time to think about getting out there and selling your wares.   Busy in, bum down, doing it, doing it, doing it.  You’re working hard, putting in the hours, no time to sleep, worrying about dropping balls and hoping your delivery meets client expectations.

Then suddenly the work dries up.

You’ve got the team, but no income on the horizon.  So you have to get OUT there and sell you butt off.  Out, out, out, sell, sell, sell.  The pressure is on, there are mouths to feed and everyone is relying on you to bring home the bacon.  It’s a frightening and stressful time and the buck stops with you.  Now you’ve got time to sleep but you can’t because you’re worried about money. So out you go.  Pick up the phone, network like crazy, press the flesh and try to keep the desperation out of your voice when you talk to people.

Hopefully your efforts pay off.  The orders pour in and back you go to the coalface.  Doing it, doing it, doing it.  Work, work, work.  Late nights, no time to sleep, on and on until…

Suddenly the work dries up.

And out you go again.

You get the picture.  It’s ‘The In-out Dance’ and very exhausting it is too.  It can be really, really stressful – especially when you have to lay people off because you can’t afford to pay them in the quiet periods.

So what do you do to change this pattern?

You need to learn to dance better.  You’ve got the steps all wrong.   Instead of in, in, in then out, out, out, the dance needs to be more like in, out, in, out, in, out.  A gentle rhythm set to an even beat.  You must be out as much as you are in, or at least have a marketing system that allows for constant out focused activity.

 Here are 5 pointers to Strictly Come Dancing In-Out Style:

  1. Understand the in/out balance.  Business is a balance of sales and delivery – you cannot have one without the other.  If you put all your focus on sales but not delivery you will disappoint customers, damage reputation and lose business.  If you put all your focus on delivery and not sales, you will run out of business and the best delivery in the world won’t matter.  So you must ensure you dedicate time to both no matter how busy you are.
  2. NEVER take your eye off sales.  When you are too busy to think about sales, this is the time to think about sales.  Ensure sales and marketing activities are in your weekly work in progress and given equal priority. Try not to bump the sales activity off the to do list because you and your team are too busy.
  3. Keep the pipeline full.  You should always have a number of hot prospects waiting for conversion, a number of proposals in progress, a number of leads to follow up, a database to make irresistible offers to.  This can only happen if you keep the pressure on your sales and marketing at all times.
  4. Have a marketing system.  Create a marketing process that happens every week.  Make sure you have a hot list of potential clients you are targeting and a regular campaign underway.  With a system in place you can get other team members to help with the logistics.
  5. Hire people out of cash flow. Don’t hire new people on the basis of today’s busy period alone.  This can lead to disaster down track if the work dries up.  Try to use contractors to start with if you can until the workflow is more certain.  Ideally you’d be hiring people you know the business can afford, or at least ensure you have money in the bank to cover salaries should there be a quiet period on the horizon.

There is a reason that marketing and sales make up the important pillars to business growth.  You can’t grow without them.  Life for a small business owner is a constant juggling act in the early years.  Your job is to remember to keep both sales and delivery balls firmly in the air.  And learn to be a champion ‘in-out dancer’!

Dance on!

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From the desk of Liber8me.  Business mentors and publisher of Liber8 your Business:  The revolutionary business planning technique that will set every business owner free

 

Business Mentor tip # 80 – The incredible power of partner marketing… and how to sell glasses to people who don’t need them!

No problem with the marketing vision for the folk at Specsavers.  Not only do they have a very funny ad campaign – the ‘Should’ve gone to Specsavers’ series (my favourite is the father on the finishing line of school kids running race where he thinks the kid who comes first is his and goes crazy hugging him, while his own son plods up last).  They also do some clever stuff with their marketing and sales strategies behind the scenes.  On Friday I got an email from AA (automobile not alcohol version) offering me a free sight test with Specsavers plus $50 of their two for one deals.  I started needing glasses for reading a year or so ago and whilst being content with my $50 pair of reading specs from the pharmacy, I thought an eye test could be a good idea.  So I booked in and today went for my test, which was very thorough and examined my eyes from every angle as well as my near and far vision.

The good news for me is that my eyes are very healthy, my vision is pretty good for an old gal and the cheapo pharmacy readers are all I really need.

The good news for Specsavers is I spent $319 on two new pairs of reading glasses.  Well, it was $50 off a $299 two for one deal.  Plus of course I needed to spend the $70 on non-reflective coating naturally.  I walked out of there somewhat dazed yet bemused by my own shopaholic tendencies. Good eyesight does not necessarily equate to good judgement obviously.

However, I was impressed at the marketing process that got me to spend this money on items I didn’t need.  Let’s just recap:

Firstly the email from AA offering a free eye test.  Specsavers have clearly have a partnership arrangement with this organisation, which has opened up one of the largest databases in New Zealand to them.

Then the offer of $50 off.  I didn’t need to buy glasses.  I was told as much by the professional who tested my eyes.  But she did guide me towards the rack showing the lovely range of glasses they had, whilst telling me how much I’d enjoyed the extra comfort of an anti-glare coating.  It was hard to resist.  I mean $50 off.  Come on.  And the $299 options did look so much nicer than the $199 ones…

And to top it all off, the sales.  Oh the sales.  Yes by all means look at those ones, but have you seen these ones.  And are you sure you don’t want anti-glare coating?  Let me show you the difference, take a look through these glasses.  One lens has the coating the other doesn’t. Have a look in the mirror.  What a difference!  Of course I bloody want the coating. Bring it on.

Sold to the lady with the trembling credit card!

Well done Specsavers on a job well done. Am so looking forward to a life without glare and the best looking readers in the cafe next week!

 

From the desk of Liber8me.  Business mentors and experts in small business exit strategies. 

 

Business Mentor Tip #78 – Watch for changing paradigms

Although I teach business owners to set an end goal for their business and plot milestones back today, I always add the rule that you must stop and review your plan every year.  Yes do the macro work and aim for the big picture.  But keep your detailed planning for each year ahead. Attempting to plan action steps with any accuracy any further out than twelve months is not realistic, in my view.  Things are changing too fast these days and we are not supplied with a crystal ball.  Technology in particular is changing the business landscape faster than we can keep up with – the way we do things today will not be the way we will do things in a year or even in six months time.

Just look at good old telephone directories.  When was the last time you used a physical copy of a directory to find something?  If you are anything like me the answer to that question would be ‘years ago’.  Why would you bother with a hefty directory when you can ‘Google’ what you are looking for and have the answer at your fingertips in seconds, without getting up from your computer.  Printed directories have been money for jam for years and years, charging exorbitant amounts to advertisers to promote their business within the hallowed pages.  But now we don’t need them anymore.  Search engines such as Google have created a new paradigm for finding the person or business you are looking for.  Phone directories must now re-invent … and it isn’t easy.  They have been slow to realise their targets were based on a dying market and have a lot of work to do to ever find that lost market share again.  It’s the same story for the traditional post office.  Just take a look at the dramatic drop in mail volume for the United States in 2009.

This decline is continuing.  Of course we all use email now for our personal and business communication. I have not sent an invoice in the mail for years, have you? To survive, postal companies all around the world have to find a new model.  Any business plan they may have had prior to 2009 must be changed dramatically.

So look to the future and build a broad plan to get there.  But be sure to review your plan every year and keep an eye closely on the trends.  Always ask youself what the paradigm for your industry is and how could it be changing?  Better yet, find a way to be the one to change the paradigm yourself!

From the desk of Liber8me.  Business mentors and experts in small business exit strategies.

Business Mentor Tip #73 – If you build it will they come? @drrobadams

 ”If you build it will they come?” is the title of a new book by Rob Adams.  I attended a workshop taken by Rob last week and was impressed enough to make it my next business mentor tip.  Forgive me Rob if my interpretation of your material in any way undersells it!

The key to successful business is having a product or service that enough people will buy to meet your financial targets.  Many (dare I say most) business start out with what Rob calls the ‘ready, fire, fire,fire, aim’ approach which typically goes like this.  Think of a product/service idea that you think people will love, get it ready for market, dress it up in the way you believe your target audience will find attractive and then attempt to sell it.  When sales don’t meet targets you re-visit your sales strategy and try again.  And again.  Sound familiar?

Well think again.  Surely a way to increase your chances of selling people what they want will increase if you ask them what they want and then deliver it to them in the way they want to receive it?  Or in other words as Rob Adams says … ’ready, aim, fire’.

This is called market validation.  In essense this means that you go out to your market and find out what their problems are first.  Then you develop the product or solution that will meet those problems better than anything else out there.  You get it right before you invest in development and marketing.  It sounds so logical doesn’t it?

So how do you validate your market?  In Rob’s book ‘If you build it will they come?” he takes you through the methods and steps involved.  But before you rush off and buy it, I’ll share the tip he gave us at the workshop:

Before you launch anything new - a new product or service/a new brand or a new campaign – call up 100 people who represent your target market and ask them what they really need.   In Business Mentor Tip #63 – Gather Your Insights I gave you a list of questions that a someone developing a new business planning tool might ask.

In these questions you are looking for the problem to solve.  What frustrates people?  What annoys them with current options?  What are they trying to do that your product or service could make easier for them?  It’s all about easing pain.  Find the pain and offer the solution.  Ask questions that give you meaningful answers to help design your products and marketing campaigns to meet the need.

The added bonus is that people will pay more for something that makes them feel better.  If you can give them what they really want, they are happy to pay for it.

So… as you think about your product development and marketing from now on, remember, Ready, Aim, Fire!

You can buy your copy of Rob’s book here: http://www.amazon.com/You-Build-Will-They-Come/dp/047056363X

 

From the desk of Liber8me.  Business mentors and experts in small business exit strategies.  Based in Wellington, New Zealand.