Smart Strategies For Small Business Growth

Smart Strategies for Small Business Growth

Many small businesses go through frequent cycles of feast and famine when it comes to customer demand. If you own and operate a small business, you’ll know exactly what that is. If you wonder – it’s mostly down to lack of marketing. In this article, I’m going to give you some smart strategies for small business growth.

Why small businesses struggle.

With family run businesses, this is a particular problem- especially here in Ireland. This week, you struggle to keep up, next week you might be desperately waiting on the phone to ring… Not only can it be a physically demanding, but it’s also a mental and financial struggle. It’s difficult to manage cash-flow with sudden peaks and troughs in demand. And cash-flow is the life blood of any business.

So why do small businesses struggle more than larger? Lack of marketing is one of the key reasons. Marketing is the activity that creates customer demand. That sounds pretty important – doesn’t it?

 smart strategies for small business growth

So, if marketing is so important, why don’t small businesses do more of it?  After all, getting customers is pretty much a key part of running a business.

There are a few reasons, but here are the big ones:

  • Lack of understanding of the need for marketing
  • Lack of marketing skills
  • The owners have the belief that if they are good at their trade and provide good service – the customers will come.

Most small businesses were created by the owner – who is or was the doer of the service. Lets take an electrician or plumber as an example. The owner served their time in their trade. they learned their “tool” skills and at some point, they left their employer and went out on their own. The reason given by many, is that they wanted to make more money.

Where does it all go wrong for them?

It starts with the belief that if they do better work than their competition and provide a better service, or lower price – they’ll get customers. Many truly believe this, and think that marketing is only for big businesses.

They also lack any helpful skills or knowledge about marketing. Many believe that marketing is just advertising. Many will become advertising victims, because they’ll buy advertising space without really knowing what to do with it. Often there will be poor or no returns on their advertising spend, and they’ll blame the marketing for failing and declare it a waste of money.

So what is the answer to this problem?

You should start with some smart strategies for small business growth. Specifically marketing strategies.

At the very least, you need a marketing strategy for getting new customers for the business. Not tactics, but a strategy. That means identifying who your ideal customer is, where they are and how you will attract them.

Another strategy that you should have is a referral strategy. This replaces the random word-of-mouth that you previously relies on.

There should be more – but these two are the bare bone essentials. The strategies will determine what tactics you should use and how much you can and should send to attract a customer.

The very mention of the words marketing strategy is enough to give many small business owners the shakes. Don’t let that be the case for you.

If you’d like more information on creating your smart strategies for small business growth, drop me a line at Adrian@FMBIreland.com

Why me? I’m a small business marketing expert in Ireland. I’m certified consultant within the famous Duct Tape Marketing Network. On top of that, I’ve owned and operated several successful construction businesses for the past 20 years.

Go ahead and contact me to arrange a free, no obligation chat about how you could use a little marketing to help grow your business. Adrian@FMBIreland.com

 

Small business marketing to make more money

Small business marketing to make more money

You may think that marketing is a waste of time and a load of B.S.? If you do, you aren’t on your own. In fact, most tradesmen and small building companies feel that way. Regardless of what you think. I’m gonna telly you why you need small business marketing to make more money.

So go ahead, have a little smile. You’re part of a big gang. And sure, ignorance is bliss….

I don’t mean that as a jibe or insult – definitely not. In your world, marketing means advertising – and you’ve gotten nothing out of advertising. It’s been a complete waste of your money to now – so why waste any more on it? I agree completely. Most advertising that small, local businesses do, if a complete waste of money. Want to know why? Because you were sold a pup!

The truth is that you’ve been a victim of the advertising salesperson. And they aren’t bad people. It’s their job to sell advertising space – not to make it work for you. They’ll sell you a 1/4 page for €500 or a credit card sized ad for €120 (or whatever). They don’t care what you put in that space.

More than often – to get you on board in their paper – they offer to create an advert for you. They have graphic designers in the paper who will create the advert for you for free. A nice little bonus for you, if you buy the space from them! Or so you think…. You’ve just become their next victim!

To be fair to the graphic designers, they know their trade. They’re probably good are creating nice looking layouts in the paper. But they’re terrible at creating adverts. Woeful. When it comes to creating adverts that make money get the phone to rng or the door to swing – they’re useless. And it’s not their fault. It’s not their job.

Seriously. It isn’t their job. It’s yours. It’s up to you to take responsibility for it. But hardly anyone in business realises that. They think that because they’re paying for the space – that the space will bring them customers. For most – it might as well be an empty space.

So enough of that..

Why you need small business marketing to make more money.

You can’t grow a business without getting more customers. A constant flow of new enquiries and customers is a must.

Most tradesmen and small builders think they can rely on word-of-mouth to keep the lights on. As much as word-of -mouth is a good way  of getting customers – it’s not reliable. Or at least it’s not reliable in the way that most businesses use it. You need to do some real marketing. even a little bit will be more than your competition is doing. You need to be doing something. Even a few activities of small business marketing to make more money.

Here’s a few things that will help you.

  • Have a decent website that’s ranked on google
  • Have a referral network
  • Have a managed referral system
  • Pay per click advertising
  • Display advertising
  • Direct response advertising
  • A loyalty scheme
  • Manage repeat business
  • Video marketing
  • Direct mail
  • Neighbourhood marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Retargeting advertising campaigns

Some of these will require that you spend a little money. Some are free. All require a little effort and a bit of thought.

Here’s a little rule of thumb. The more that it costs to use – the better the returns will be. If you spend money – you make money – if you do it right. Free is not usually the best. Free is what everyone else does – if they do anything.

Before you do anything – you should look at what everyone else around you does – and think about what you can do differently.

If you want to have a chat about how you can do some small business marketing to make more money, then give me a call for a free chat and advice.

Call us on 01-4851177 or email me at Adrian@FMBIreland.com

Bye for now

How to create your small business marketing strategy

How to create your small business marketing strategy

In one moment, I’ll tell you how to create your small business marketing strategy. But first, let me ask why you need a marketing strategy in a small business? Isn’t strategy something that only big businesses do?

Well kinda… Or rather, it’s only big businesses that actually talk about strategy. It’s normally something that’s put together at a high level and then forced upon the “little people” further  down the organisation.
But small businesses need a strategy too. Why? Simply because in a small business we have limited marketing resources – both money and time are limited. Without a though-out and written down strategy, we can be tempted to chase every new shiny object that comes along. We’ll hear or read about how the latest new social media is the place to be… Or that someone is getting loads of business with Google. Or the Golden Pages rep calls us up and tells you about the great deal he can do for you….

Without a defined marketing strategy to follow – we can easily become advertising victims!

Creating a marketing strategy may seem like over-kill for your business – but t will help you to attract the type of customers that you want. It helps keep you focused and doing only the type of work that you want. And it will help make you more money – which is the most important…

Now I’m gonna tell you how to create your small business marketing strategy.

There’s three simple steps to follow.
1. Define your ideal client or customer.

This means you need to think about how your best customers have been in the past. Those who were the easiest people to work with. Those who didn’t haggle on price. those who paid on time. Those who referred you to their friends, family and colleagues.
This is the general criteria for an ideal customer.

2. Create a marketing message that will attract the attention of your ideal customer.

This is not about being the cheapest guy around. The whole purpose of creating a marketing strategy is that it automatically makes your business more profitable and less stressful. the alternative is serving customers who are a pain, and working for low prices. I hope this is an incentive for you to do this bit of thinking…
Think about the best customers you’ve had. What was most important to them? What did they value most? What could you say that would appeal to them?

3. Decide how best to get your newly created marketing message in front of your ideal customers.

Part of the process of defining your ideal customer should have got you to think about how your past customers have found you. did they see your advert somewhere? Did they find your website? Were they referred to you? Was it a flyer that got their attention? This is probably something that you haven’t given much thought to before. But doing it now will save you lots of time, money and more importantly, bring you more customers.

Now this is a high level guide on how to create your small business marketing strategy. There is obviously a bit of work to be done to create this and a bit of thinking. the more effort you put in to doing this – the more you will benefit. You’ll attract better customer, more customers and make more money. You’ll also have a business that’s more fun and less stressful.

If you think that this is all a bit daunting or troublesome – fear not. We run a workshop for all our new members on this very subject. The good news is that by the time you leave the workshop, you’ll have your strategy more or less completed.

If you’re interested in learning more, contact Adrian at Adrian@FMBIreland.com or finn out the contact form, and I’ll be happy to help or point you to some free resources that will get you started.

How to create your small business marketing strategy

Why you should differentiate your business

If you’ve been in business for any longer than a week, you will have had the feeling (at least at some point and maybe quite often), that the lowest price seem to win all the time? Do you feel that your regularly competing on price?

You might feel like you have a better product or service than your competition, that you’re more professional, you’re more reliable and lots of other reasons – yet you still have to compete on price with them?

There are a few reasons why this happens. But chief among the reasons is that you haven’t give your customers enough information to show that you are different.

Okay, now I can hear you say that I’m full of bs.. and that’s kinda understandable. I know. I’ve been there before and actually had the t-shirts printed!!

But here’s the thing. Lowest price does not always win the day. People might tell you that they don’t have any money. They’ll tell you that, but go into their homes. Even in the roughest of housing estates.

Look at the Sony and Samsung TV’s hanging on the wall, the Xbox games, the latest Iphones and Ipads. They mightn’t have enough money to feed their kids, but they’ll always find money for the things that they want.

Go out onto the roads. Just watch the cars on the road for 15 or 20 minutes. Do you notice how many of the cars you see are Audi, BMW and Mercedes? And they will tell you that there’s no money? Don’t believe it for a minute.

If all people wanted was the cheapest of everything – we’d all be driving the crappiest, cheapest cars available. But we don’t.

If you decide that you just want to compete for the low cost work, then that’s fine. But just know that even if you think that you can out price and out work the competition now – that’s a very short sighted approach to business.

If you’re 21 years old, fit and healthy and don’t have a mortgage to pay or children to feed – the you can happily work 12 hours a day and price yourself lower than the competition. Heck, you might even feel like you’re making a small fortune! I’ve been there…. When I was 20/21, I was selling and installing home alarm systems for about 100 (pounds at the time) less than any of my competitors. I was working a full time job and fitting the alarms on the side. It was a great time for me. I worked all the hours available, 12 hours on a Saturday, but I was doing about a grand a week on top of my salary at the time.

My competition hated me though! But i didn’t care. However, if they had been smart, they could have taken that business themselves and closed me out. But they weren’t smart. Most were big, dumb lazy businesses.

Unfortunately, many small businesses, even though their intentions are good, act in the same way as the big dumb, lazy businesses. They look around them at the competition and they do exactly as the competition. If the competition drops their prices – they drop their prices. That’s a downward spiral that there’s no way out of, until someone goes out of business…

So, why differentiate then? Differentiating allows your business to stand out from the crowd – from the competition. Differentiating your business gives your customers more reasons to consider doing business with you – other than just basing a decision on price.

In the absence of any other information – the customer will almost, always revert to the only comparison that they know – and that’s price. If your business chooses to behave like a commodity – then prepare yourself to be treated like a commodity.

Give your customers a good reason to believe that you are the best choice and you can win more business  and get more customers – even at the higher price.

 

 

 

Why your business needs a website

Why does your business need a website?

Once upon a time business owners were led to believe that all they had to do was put a simple site on the internet and the phone would start to ring! Oh, to be back in those days again!

But life isn’t that simple anymore – hasn’t been for a long time. So what’s so special about a website for business?

It always surprises me that there are still so many small businesses that don’t yet have a website. Why is that? Is it because the owners think that it’s an expensive luxury? Most builders and tradespeople still think that it’s too complicated to have…

https://youtu.be/4AQAa8YRoCE

Maybe at one time that idea could have been justified, but not now.

Regardless of your business, its got to be a necessity – unless your business is in MLM or it’s just a little sideline hobby…

No doubt, someone will prove me wrong – or try to, just to make a point. But realistically it’s nigh on impossible to grow a business in any meaningful way these days without a good website.

Okay, so back to my initial point. Won’t any old website do the job? Most businesses that have a site rely on a brochure type website. Its basically an online version of the paper brochure that you have have in a drawer in your office.

Here’s who we are, here’s what we do and you can contact us if you like on this hotmail account and this is my number in case you want to call me! Oh, and thanks for visiting our site!

It’s a pretty common structure, fairly basic format. It’s better than no site, but its to be though of as entry level.

Consider your business from the customers point of view for a moment… If you will, you’ll soon realise that you need a website for business!

There was a time when the customer picked your number from the yellow pages/ golden pages phone book – or your website. They would call you up with a few questions and ask you to send them “something out” by post or email.

Today, the customer has most of their research done on line before they ever pick up the phone, or email you. They have most of the answers to the questions that they’d though of.

By the time they contact you, its just a matter of who has the best price – and that usually means the lowest price. That is unless, you educate them in advance on why you are the only choice, that you are different than the competition – you are the trusted expert!

So how do you do that? Well your website is the starting point. first impressions count as they say – and i’m not referring to the nice photos that your web designer tell you about or their award winning graphics! That doesn’t matter. It might matter to them – but not to you or your customers.

It’s the content on your site that will make the difference. For two reasons mainly – but there are more. The main reasons are (a) to educate and inform your prospective customer, and (b) to make Google your best friend.

Any why do you need Google on your side? Thats a question for another days work…

Ahhh… I think that’s enough to think about for now. don’t you?

By the way, we’ve got a great deal with one of our suppliers for our members who want to build a website for the first time, or want to replace their old, out of date site. Just ask us about the websites for builders discount. It’s a voucher worth €225 for the month of February.

Are you in Prison? Small Business Marketing is the way to escape!

Hi there business owners,

In case you are wondering – I’m not referring to Mountjoy or Portlaoise….

Many small business owners are trapped in a prison of their own making. Sounds dramatic?? Well, unfortunately it’s all to true.

For many, there may be a sense of hopelessness about their business. That no matter how hard they work, the results they get are – at best nothing to get excited about – or at worst on a downward spiral… Why s this? Well, most small businesses don’t have a plan… A small business marketing plan! And why would they – sure marketing is only for big businesses – with big budgets for advertising….

That’s a big assumption that most business owners make – and a very wrong one. You see, marketing is everything that you do in your business to attract your ideal customers – and almost as crucial – to repel those customers who are not the type of business that you want to be working with.

And it’s not all about advertising either – nor about big budgets.  Smart marketing is about identifying who your ideal customers is, and about where you will find them. Its about targeting you limited resources at these ideal customers in a laser focused manner and having them respond to you. Effective marketing can be done on a tiny budget – and some of it on no budget at all.

 

The best part about our type of marketing is that most business owners are too comfortable in their current (prison like) situation to make any changes – or their too lazy… This means that for those businesses who do implement some smart marketing tactics – the rewards can be great. And the more marketing that you implement – the greater the rewards and success.

Small business marketing is our passion here at FMB Ireland. gone are the days of relying on a few old fashioned stickers from the Guild to bring in business. We don’t even go down the sticker route – because we know that your customers – or at least those who matter – are smart enough that they won’t fall for the van sticker.

 

You need to be doing a combination of on-line and offline marketing, using genuine testimonials, making use of the grey matter between your ears to differentiate yourself and your business. Small business marketing and working smarter on your business (not in it) will pay handsome rewards. Devising a smart marketing plan and then implementing it will bring greater business success that you can even guess. Why – because you can bet that your competition won’t do it.

Someone at one of my training sessions a few weeks ago, gave me the nickname – “Action Jackson” not because my name is anything remotely like that – but because of my continuous focus on taking action to differentiate and implement. I suppose that I do preach it a bit – but I also walk the talk.

 

If you feel helpless and hopeless about your business prospects – you are trapped in your own prison! Only you can break free from it. You can’t rely on anyone else to change your circumstances.  You have to grow your business yourself and learn to make more sales.

Every week, prospective members ask me – What can your membership do to bring me more business? and my answer is always going to be the same. We will give you the tools to learn how to get good and marketing an sales. we will teach you how to attract more customers. We’ll help to motivate and cajole you into action. But it’s up to you to take the action that will change your fortunes. You are solely responsible for your own fate.

If you want more from your business and your life – you have to take action.  Take responsibility for your own success. Take control of your own life and do something different to grow your business.

Until the next time, have a great day.

Adrian

 

Annoying Your Competition?? Your doing a great job!

Just a real quick note.

How should you feel about someone complaining about your service and giving out to you….. Not because your service is poor, or too expensive, or you’ve let them down! Nothing like that at all…

We had several phone calls today from one of our competitors – complaining because they don’t want to compete with us and (not blowing our own trumpet) but because we do a really good job for our customers, we’re highlighting just how badly our competitor is treating their customers.

How do you think you would feel about that?

At first I was annoyed, then a little nervous, because they started threatening us (only for about 2 minutes, okay maybe 3), then I realised we should be really pleased – because it re-enforces what lots of our customers tell us – we do a really good job for them.

So the moral of the story is… don’t be put off by the competition.
If you believe that what you are doing is right, and your service is much more superior – keep going.
Don’t let the competition bully you out of their market.

Our competition is much larger, more established – but the’ve gotten… well lets leave it there!

It’s not our fault that we work hard for our members and give them what they want and need – or is it??

Answers on a postcard please…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The FMBI is set up to help small businesses in Ireland to get more customers and grow your business. We do this by teaching you about effective small business marketing – the way that it should be done to get loads of customers and not spend a fortune on small business advertising. Someone taught you how to do your trade well – but no one told you how to get customers – because they didn’t know either.

Every small business owner is a salesperson whether they know it or not. Hopefully, if you’ve been in business a while – you will do a decent job at sales. But how do you generate leads and prospects for your business. Do you have a lead generation website?