We have two problems that I think are related. I often hear people say, “I didn’t know you did that.” And I feel like we’re guessing about what our clients need from us. It would be nice to know what clients really think about us, so we can do a better job of telling people what we do.
Thoughts of the day: Communication is a two-way street. And it can be conscious or unconscious. Clients are the easiest to talk to since they already have a relationship with your company. Make sure the world knows what you do — that way people will be more likely to find you when they need your company’s product or service. Build a budget and assign activities to get the word out and make inquiries. You’re correct: the two do go hand in hand.
Think of your company as having a voice, just the way people do. Your company is talking all the time about what it does. Every time you deliver on a sale, every time an invoice goes out, every phone call and every visit with vendors, prospects or clients create an opportunity to tell the story about what you do. Likewise, every contact you make creates an opportunity to gather information about how your company is perceived in the larger world.
What makes your customers happy enough to get them to spend money and then rave about how satisfied they were with their purchase? You need to know the answer to that question. Know that and you’ll know what to emphasize and de-emphasize when promoting your company’s goods or services. Switch from making assumptions to inquiring about what the world wants, and why.
Looking to gather intelligence? Start with information that’s already available. The government has a wealth of useful research. Go to Archives.gov, click on the search function. Check in with your local library’s research desk. You’ll be amazed at what resources are available.
Want to confirm what you think you already know about your target market’s desires? Ask people who already do business with you. Put together a few questions. Call both best and worst customers. Ask the same questions over and over. As you work to develop your company’s message, skew it to match what customers in the “best” category have to say.
Think you have a good message, but not enough people are hearing or responding? That’s a common problem. Quantity is important.
Marketing is about getting the message out to a broad audience and keeping it out there until your next potential customer is ready to listen. Do everything you can to reach potential buyers long before they’re ready to buy. Getting the word out to a broad audience can be relatively inexpensive thanks to Internet marketing tools.
You still need a budget for marketing. Set a budget and create goals to regularly engage with the marketplace — clients, prospects and vendors. Resolve to put away five cents out of every dollar that comes in to support marketing efforts or whatever amount works for you. But be consistent. As the account balance builds up, research vendors and services that could be helpful. Ask business associates selling to similar types of customers for advice on who they’ve worked with. Look at your competitors; see if they have especially good marketing resources backing them up.
Test ways to get your message received by a broad target audience. Each year look to build a few campaign tools that work and eliminate any trials that fall flat. Refine one to two ideas that have potential but haven’t yet become productive. Work on both.
Refine your understanding of what buyers value about your company and get the message out to future buyers that you have what they need. Make marketing a priority and carve out time to work on it steadily. Think of marketing as the ever-expanding tool that leads to your company’s future.
Looking for a good book? Try “The Market Research Toolbox: A Concise Guide for Beginners” by Edward F. McQuarrie.
Andi Gray is president of Strategy Leaders Inc., strategyleaders.com, a business-consulting firm that specializes in helping entrepreneurial firms grow. She can be reached by phone at (877) 238-3535. Do you have a question for Andi? Please send it to her via email at AskAndi@StrategyLeaders.com. Visit AskAndi.com for an entire library of her articles.