The Marketing Company President Vern Eswine offers up a few tips to help build business success
PHOTO BY CHRISTIAN WATSON
Each year, more than 627,000 new businesses open and around 595,000 close, according to the Small Business Association. The survival rate is tough: Just about half of all businesses will fold within five years. So, what can you do to ensure your start up has a fighting chance? Here are a few tips from marketing guru Vern Eswine.
MARKET AND DELIVER
Probably as long as I have had a career in the marketing field I have heard clients tell me that Word of
Mouth is the best form of advertising. This is usually in justifying why they don’t need my help or an excuse not to invest in a media buy.
While I cannot argue with the truth in this statement, I do ask the question, “If no one knows you exist, how can they refer you?”
It’s like arguing which is most important, the chicken or the egg. Each bring something to the table (so to speak). Each bring a value and like the chicken and the egg, there is no separating the connection they have with one another. That is true when setting out to drive a referral base or word of mouth.
Marketing is a series of elements that when planned and executed successfully can make people aware of your existence, bring people in and make the phone ring or the emails pop. But there is an equally if not more significant element in marketing that will actually perpetuate that word of mouth and that is delivering on what you promise.
Too many businesses work with an agency, a radio, television, billboard, magazine or direct mail company with the idea that all they have to do is tell people and the money will start rolling in. The problem with this kind of thinking is that while the front end of this effort may indeed bring people in, your role as a business owner truly is on the word of mouth. That means answering the question- what will the customers think and say about their experience?
In today’s world of social media and internet, word of mouth spreads faster than anyone can even imagine and that means if there has been no thought put into how to handle and deliver what you promise, the positive word of mouth will not be generated. In fact, word of mouth can be incredibly negative and now you are forced to defend the experience.
So, while it is true that word of mouth is the best form of advertising, it is also true that most business owners place the importance of this word of mouth on customers telling their friends and neighbors about their business when in fact, they tell them about their experience. They tell them if you were nice, friendly and accommodating. They tell them if the food was good, the atmosphere to loud or the price too high and in today’s world this all happens instantly and overnight.
Marketing, as we have said since we began, is an internal and external effort. The consumer is receiving thousands of communications a day and you, as a business, need to plan a way to be heard and become known as an option for people to consider in your field or industry. You also, as a business owner, play a crucial role in your marketing investment and that is to make sure you, your staff, your service, your price and any offers you make can deliver. That’s on you!
“ IT’S LIKE ARGUING WHICH IS MOST IMPORTANT, THE CHICKEN OR THE EGG. EACH BRING SOMETHING TO THE TABLE (SO TO SPEAK).”
MARKETING 1, 2, 3
Marketing any business it is crucial to know and understand three important things:
• Who is your competition?
• What makes you different?
• Who are your customers and where are they?
These three questions will ultimately drive you to plan what modes of communication and what increments of your investment will be used in telling people you exist and inviting them to come.
For many people today, they have embarked on a path that has decided to drop all forms of media and to embrace social media because, in their minds, anyone can do, it’s easy and it’s free. However, much like anything in marketing, perceptions like this can end up costing you money in lack of customers, lack of proper communications and most importantly knowing how to follow-up.
Any media buy should be driven by the top there elements mentioned above. While there are other important factors that also need to be considered, these three are crucial in beginning any marketing effort. In regards to your audience, if your customers are primarily 55 and above (an age group that is expected to double in the next 10) years) deciding to place all your efforts on Snapchat, Instagram or Twitter may be misplaced. Dropping efforts in using media such as print media, radio and television could also be a mistake when it comes to placing your assumptions that traditional mediums are no longer relevant.
PLAN FOR TOMORROW TODAY
Let’s face it: Today’s world is filled with a great deal of expectations. We have a passion for doing something, so we start a business and expect others to share in that passion. We rent or buy a place on a busy street and we expect people to stop in, shop and buy what we have. We develop a website, establish a Facebook page and maybe an Instagram account, and we expect potential customers to start following us in droves.
However, the expectations do not always relate directly to positive results.
Unless you have an unlimited bank account that will cover your mistakes, most small businesses do not have the luxury to just wing it. And they don’t have to.
Do a little legwork to find free small business resources, including SBDC, SCORE and some chambers of commerce. Seek out entrepreneur hubs and working spaces you can use at little or no charge as you develop and perfect— plan — your concept.
Planning ahead forces you to address your competition and makes you answer questions about how you are going to be unique or stand out from others whether in product, services or price.
The planning process also makes you look at something many business owners never think about – sustainability. It’s a great feeling to get a place, decorate it, have the ribbon cutting and open the business you dreamed about opening, but what will it take to keep your business thriving?
Hope is nice and meaningful, but it has never been a worthwhile strategy. When it comes to investing your time and money, give yourself the best chance to succeed by thinking through and planning for that success.
Vern Eswine is president of The Marketing Company in New Albany. The brand marketing firm has been in business since 1982. For more information go to marketingcompany.com or call 812.944.7728.