Turn Your Plan into PROFIT!
By Saralyn Collins
Everyone knows and most will admit that a comprehensive growth strategy is crucial for every business. But somehow, knowing this doesn’t always translate into reality. There are entirely too many businesses barely getting by and then wondering why growth has not reached the level they desire.
So let me tell you a story. You decide to throw a party. You want it to be the type of party that people remember fondly and talk about for years. Imagine that you will serve an amazing meal and that your guests will rave about the delicious food, the great atmosphere, and the wonderful conversation.
Now imagine throwing it all together without a plan. You won’t plan the menu. You won’t plan the decorations. You won’t even plan the guest list.
Instead, you just go to the grocery store and pick up whatever is on sale that day. For the guest list, you figure you can just tell one or two people and count on them inviting everyone they know.
Given this scenario, I want you to imagine the type of party it will be now. Do you think you’ll be serving a delicious meal? Do you think you’ll have the best guests – and lots of them?
You’d NEVER do this – would you? If you would not do this for something as inconsequential as a party, how in the world can you justify doing this in your business?
Yet, that is exactly what small business owners do every day. They have a vision for a business: offering the very best product or service, standing out from the competition, and serving lots of happy, satisfied customers who talk about their business for years.
But instead of mapping out a plan for achieving all of this, they go to work every day, work IN their business, deliver the best they can handle, buy whatever advertising is cheap or on sale, attend events because they think they should – all the while hoping to attract the right kind of customers who appreciate their work and are willing to pay a decent price for their product or service. And then they expect those customers to tell anyone and everyone about them, without teaching them how to refer the right kind of customer.
A plan to grow your business is essential! If you can answer the following, you are well on your way to profitability!
• What SOLUTIONS do I provide? It doesn’t matter what your product or service is: you must provide solutions of some type that will answer concerns and solve problems great enough that people will actually spend hard earned money to solve them.
Do you help me attract more customers? Do you help me reduce employee turnover? Do you give me a way to increase my strength and lower my weight? Can I reduce my unbelievable stress level when I get your massage or do your workout? How is my business stronger and more profitable by using your service?
This is all that matters! If I am going to spend money with you, then you must know what solutions you will provide me.
• Now that I know clearly what solutions I provide, exactly WHO needs these solutions? Can I define and explain who my TARGET market is for these solutions? What are their characteristics?
So much time, energy and money is wasted because people cannot clearly identify their target market. Once I have clearly defined my overall target market, then can I narrow it down even more by defining the “ideal” out of the entire target? Both of these are important for you to have clearly in your mind because when you design a marketing plan, everything you say and do has to be aimed directly at this target and the “ideal”.
• Now, once I know what solutions I provide and who needs them, can I quickly and briefly explain that to others so they instantly know what I do and why they should connect with me?
I’m sure those who know me well get weary hearing me talk about this step so frequently. But surely you realize there is a reason it comes up over and over! That’s because I go to networking events regularly and hear people try to tell the group what they do and so often, when they sit down, I still have no idea what they do and why I should even care about that!
Don’t expect me to figure it out. I want to know clearly WHY I should do business with you!
• How do I design a comprehensive overall marketing plan that will showcase my solutions and be aimed directly at my target market?
This is often a point where things begin to fall apart for many small business people. Most people have a general idea of WHAT they should do but rarely know HOW to do those things.
You know your marketing plan needs to include personal marketing like networking and meeting people face to face. It should include various types of social media. Writing blogs, articles for local publications (ahem!) and other forms of the written word must be part of the plan. All the avenues presented by technologyadd to the power of your promotion.
Just make sure you are not dependent on any one form of promotion and marketing but have a well rounded plan of action.
• Have I put into place smart processes for actually delivering what I promised? It is not enough to figure out what solutions you provide … you must then be able to implement them and provide quality processes to answer your customers needs.
Your goal is for any customer to become your “raving fan” because of the quality service you provide. You cannot afford to wait until you have customers to figure out how you will best serve them.
• Do I feel comfortable with the idea of selling and “closing a sale? Marketing is the process of identifying and bringing the customer’s interest in what you do as close as possible. But once there, you must know how to “sell” your solutions and then how to close that sale.
I have never figured out why women in particular seem to bristle up at this point and start to back step. Ladies, you are NOT IN business until you HAVE business and the main way you GET business, is to attract a prospect and learn how to turn them into a customer!
• Finally, do I know how to keep the customers I already have? It is a proven fact that current customers usually contribute more to your bottom line than having to constantly attract new customers. Regardless of your products or services, outstanding customer service and retention is a powerful move toward greater profitability!
Don’t let this overwhelm you. It is really not terribly complicated and there are plenty of resources out there for you today. Find them and use them!
Join us the 3rd Thursday of every month for a “Business Magnet Lunch ‘n Learn” where we discuss these very strategies and develop a plan of action each month. For more info, check out the link on www.WNCWoman.com each month. Or contact Saralyn Collins at 828-649-8011 or Saralyn@SaralynCollins.com.