FOCUS is the key to business growth. Don’t push yourself too far out of your comfort zone or try and do too much. Keep your focus on what you know and do best, and leave the rest to staff or contractors. Your bottom line will thank you.
It is a well known fact that smaller businesses do try and perform all the roles/functions required to run a business. Some may get part time help with admin/accounts but it is not often a smaller business will seek marketing/communications, human resources, recruitment or project management support from the 'outside' - let alone have specially trained staff in-house.
Be it social media, human resources and recruitment, book keeping and general administration or PR and marketing, if you don't have enough experience in any one of these areas you may be costing your business - both in the time you spend trying to fathom out the accounting software, to write a 'stand out' press release (and send it to the appropriate media) or create a social media marketing campaign, and in lost production or service due to you trying to do everything!
Let's look at the various areas vital to a business (big or small).
Firstly (and this is often overlooked as the starting to point to all business) is MARKETING.
Marketing is the start of/the key to all business. It should come first even before operations. However, in smaller businesses (and even some bigger ones) it can be an afterthought, or at least done but halfheartedly due to lack of time, experience and skills.
To ensure your communications are first class, effective and, most importantly, measurable, it is well worth looking at contracting out this absolutely necessary part of your business (not the necessary evil many call it, due to lack of understanding and reluctance to part with money that they often don't see a return for) to a professional consultant.
A communications campaign has one key aim and that is to make an impact or an impression. This can be done in a number of ways – loudly or subtly but the end result needs to be measurable and successful, and hopefully cost effective.
Take social media, if this is handled well, you can reach audiences you had never imagined. However, this ever-changing 21st century marketing tool needs to be treated with respect. It needs to be loved, nurtured and refreshed on a very regular basis. This is time consuming, but a must. Leave a facebook page without a post for a couple of weeks, or worse still six months, and it will be no use to you. You might as well delete this lifeless page. The same goes for your web site. If it doesn't work for you (i.e. attract potential clients or stakeholders and keep readers up to date with what your business is doing or can do for them), then you will have simply wasted a good part of your 'marketing budget' (got one of those?!)
This is a good time to say - don't be alarmed, all is not lost, things can be rectified. A good hard look at your marketing activity (or lack of it) certainly should be on the agenda and so should the appointment of a consultant who can realistically assess your needs to suit the marketplace you are operating within. Someone local has the advantage of knowing the marketplace within which you operate but who also has the national and international networks and capabilities.
The first step I would recommend is have someone assess your actual needs and then help you write a workable and proactive marketing plan that you WILL keep on top of your desk and not in a drawer. Delegate within the business (and outside) to ensure actions are met. Have regular meetings about marketing and communications with your staff (and contractor - if you do chose outside help).
Keep on track - keep focussed.
If using internal staff to handle social media, web site updates, targeted marketing, sales and PR, send them on relevant training courses or organise in-house training. Make sure you (the business owner) attend general business and basic marketing and sales courses so that you have a good overview of what your company should be doing to run profitably and effectively.
Be involved, generate the ideas, but don’t go it alone.
Before I give you some tips (courtesy of New Zealand's leading sales and marketing training provider, The Marketing Company) for improving your business this year, here are a few words from a true motivator, Anthony Robbins;
“REMEMBER - a real decision is measured by the fact that you have taken new action. If there is no action, you haven’t really decided.
FIVE SIMPLE SALES TIPS FOR 2015!
By Ambrose Blowfield - The Marketing Company
1. Identify your top 20 customers for 2014, and phone/visit them personally to thank them for their support over the year.
2. Identify three customers who haven’t performed for you in 2014. Visit/call them to learn all you can so you can improve.
3. Identify your best two customers in 2014, and analyse why they have done so well. There could be things to replicate.
4. Thank your operations/production/dispatch/accounts team for their support in 2014: they deliver on your promises.
5. Pick three large target customers for you in 2015, and do one thing this year to start the ball rolling.
By Mike Clark - The Marketing Company
Have defined, deliberate & intentional goals.
Have a clear plan that is well understood by everyone and broken into realistic and achievable steps (oh & then follow the plan!)
Ensure you maintain brand consistency across all forms of marketing.
Know where your customers are and direct your marketing efforts there - (web and mobile devices should definitely be part of your strategy!)
Follow the basic marketing rule of thumb for all marketing efforts and ensure you capture attention, stimulate interest, build desire and have strong calls to action.
Network and build relationships. Business is not done between companies but between people at those companies.
Be aware of what your competitor is doing and, most importantly, know your USP/POD (unique selling point/point of difference).
Mix and match marketing effort ensuring you plan campaigns and have a strategy - one off sporadic marketing is typically expensive and ineffective.
Measure your marketing and analyse success so you can repeat it and analyse what is not working so you can stop it or tweak it.
Marketing has the role of creating leads - Work WITH sales to turn all this effort into meaningful revenue.