The last quarter of the year is incredibly important and exciting time of the year. You probably have a lot of things going on.
Crisp autumn air brings people outside and engaged in activities.
School is back and adding to your time commitment and scheduling stress.
Your small business has probably seen an uptick in sales compared to the doldrums’ of summer.
You begin planning for your business’s new year in earnest with updated strategies, budgets, and calendars.
Wait. What? You haven’t begun to think about the New Year?
Well, to be honest – that’s normal. Many small business owners know that January is not the time to do your business and marketing planning and updates, but still do nothing.
But let’s be crystal clear: the great time to think about what’s working and what’s not is at the beginning of Q4 – right now. This will give you ample time to identify the small and large changes that are needed and give you time to work on those, before you hang that new calendar on the wall.
As you think about your New Year, I challenge you to honestly answer these four questions and determine if you are ready to make some tough decisions.
#1. Are you being honest about the results and impact of your marketing?
Do you know what’s working? What’s not working? And what to do about it?
Many business owners are not measuring the results of their marketing and will have a tough time determining where they should invest more and where they should stop spending wasted time and money.
I’m guessing you would know immediately what to eliminate if you had to immediately cut your marketing budget in half.
It’s that areas of spending and effort that you know aren’t working or you can’t tell if the effort is actually moving the dial. You continue to spend dollars and time in these areas simply because you always have. It’s just what you’ve done in the past and you hope it will work in the future.
If you think the world of marketing hasn’t changed and you can continue to do the same things year after year, I’m afraid you’ll see the same declining results year after year.
#2. Do you have the courage to narrow your marketing focus and concentrate on attracting your ideal customer?
Narrowing your marketing focus to just your ideal customer takes courage and intestinal fortitude. Most business owners have a (fear of missing out) FOMO-like reaction when asked to ignore the majority of the market and concentrate just on the prospects that closely resemble their ideal customer.
It seems counter productive to concentrate on attracting fewer leads and prospects in order to gain your business. “I can’t turn away customers” is a typical excuse for not making this hard choice.
The reality is that even though you may be trying to attract a larger audience to your business, by concentrating on ideal customers (the few) you will actually have a greater impact.
Here’s why: a prospect that closely resembles your ideal customer profile, has similar problems to solve, and appreciates the way that you do business will become a customer far easier and faster than someone that does not.
#3. Are you afraid to fire your worst customers?
Most small business owners want to fire their worst customers. You know the ones: they complain about everything, are the “exceptions” to all of your normal business practices, always want to haggle over price, and probably pay late.
These bad apples take a lot of energy to serve. And create negativity in the process.
You probably tell yourself that you keep these bad customers because they are part of your long standing customer base, they eventually do pay their bills, and you are afraid of what will happen if you tell them to leave.
The truth is you also fear that you won’t be able to replace them. You don’t have confidence in your marketing system to generate the right type of leads (see comments on ideal customer above) and your ability to convert that lead into a paying customer that will make up the difference in lost revenue created by telling your worst customers to buzz off.
In this situation where you and the customer are not a good fit both of you are losing.
The customer may sense you are not able to satisfy their every need and the price they are willing to pay and witnesses your discomfort when dealing with them. They are not getting your best. And because they are not getting your best they aren’t very likely to refer you to others – which is one of the primary outcomes of a well functioning marketing system.
Letting your worst customers go will free your business to serve those that really “get” what you do and the benefit you provide.
#4. Can you admit that you need marketing help?
There was likely a time in the life of your business when running your business naturally included the marketing too. The process was easy: you run an ad here, you discount this thing, you ask for referrals from friends and family. That was the extent of your marketing and it may have served you well for a time.
But times they are a changin’. There has been a power shift in the buying process and it means you have to step up your game. In the past the seller had the majority of the power. The seller held the “inside information” and controlled the release of that information in the effort to control the sell. But that is no longer the case.
The buyer now has an abundance of information right in the palm of her hand. She can research products and services, compare offers, investigate your business, and have an idea of pricing all before contacting your business or calling your sales rep. She now has the power and is looking to you to guide the buying process, not manipulate it.
This shift in power has created the need for marketing systems that supports and guides the customer on their buying journey.
The advance of marketing tools and channels has created an overwhelming number of choices that many business owners are not prepared to manage. Attempting to control and execute your marketing will cost you more in terms of dollars and time than it did in the past.
If you are honest, you may acknowledge that getting results is better than trying to do it yourself.
It’s time to consider hiring professionals to get the results you want without the headache and hassles of getting marketing done.
By answering these four questions, and taking the action steps that results from the answers, you can be prepared for 2017 and the improved results of a better marketing system.
If you recognize the need to get help with your marketing please consider Valens Points’ done-for-you marketing packages. Our Marketing Jumpstart may be just the right amount of activity and investment you are looking for.
Check out the Marketing Jumpstart here.