Savvy business owners realize that they need to work on their business not just in their business. Not only in good times but especially in a fluctuating economy, it is important to continuously fine tune your business planning. Some business owners feel that their customers aren’t spending money but, first, take a look at your own personal economy. You’re purchasing things but your approach may be selective and strategic. Taking a selective and/or strategic approach is a common behavioral reaction with some customers when there is an economic downturn.
As a business owner, remember these tips in your business planning process:
- Identify your target market and preferred customer/client
One of the most important items to solidify in your planning process is to specifically identify who you serve. There is a tendency with business owners to throw up a shingle and toss a wide net hoping to catch some customers. If you try to be everything to everyone, you’ll be nothing to nobody.
When you consider specific niches or specialties, you are able to market to that niche and create specialty programs, products and services that draw in customers. Customers will seek you out and it creates focus for your business often creating a win-win situation. Win for your business because you draw in more customers and win for the customers because you have a solution they seek. When you define such a specific niche, you may not have competitors. If you need heart surgery, you’re going to seek out a heart surgeon not a Pediatrician, unless your child needs the heart surgery then you would seek out a Pediatric Heart Surgeon. The premise is the same for business. By identifying a specific market or submarket, you can create a lucrative following by the nature of the niche. It is important to research your market and learn where to find them. There is a two-fold approach: find them and help them find you.
- Consistently Market
One of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs leave off their business planning is to consistently market. Numerous studies have revealed that entrepreneurs who have consistently marketed even during economically down times, have better results in the long term. One of the most important changes in today’s economy is a shift from push marketing to pull marketing; that is, to pull in your clients, create a relationship with them, and build trust over time. Yet, many business owners make the mistake of push marketing: continuously “pushing” or hard selling their products or services.
One of the biggest frustrations of today’s entrepreneurs is bringing in a continuous flow of prospects. But when business owners systematize their marketing to continuously bring in prospects, such as through a Permission-Based Marketing System, this frustration can be alleviated. A Permission-Based Marketing System is an automated system that starts building the relationship with your prospect and helps your customer find your products and services. If done correctly, it also collects data that you can use as the business owner. It also acts as an aid to other networking and advertising strategies.
- Create Agile Infrastructures to Respond to Changing Conditions
While there are pros and cons to allowing employees to have access to social online sites, these online communities are here to stay. It is important, however, when new technology comes into play, that business owners look at how they are responding (or resisting). The concern of allowing access to these sites often stems around productivity. Business owners stuck in the Industrial Age processes and systems may also be stuck in managing tasks rather than in managing outcomes and believe that by isolating employees from these sites, they will increase or maintain productivity. On the contrary, savvy Business Leaders realize that they should manage outcomes. These social online sites are hubs for doing business and connections on these sites can increase business exponentially. It is important to look at the sites strategically and select the ones that best meet your ideal customers. But remember to continuously look at the demographics of these sites. While Facebook started out with college students, one of the fastest growing segments became 50-60 year-old women. Demographics of these sites are continuously changing so it is important to evaluate and re-evaluate which sites are providing the best outcomes.
Begin to look at things strategically and selectively just like your customers will when seeking out your services and products. For them to be clear on what you offer, you need to be clear on your preferred client or customer.
Lisa Mininni is Best-Selling Author of Me, Myself, and Why? The Secrets to Navigating Change and President of Excellerate Associates, home of the sought-after Entrepreneurial Edge SystemTM that helps entrepreneurs systematize and monetize their business. To get your copy of her free eBook, Get Ready, Get Set, Go! visit www.freebusinessplanformat.com.