Having worked with many businesses of varying shapes and sizes, I have noted recurring themes and messages emerging. These nuggets of information have helped inform my own business practice as well as that of my clients. Over the next three blogs, I will share some of my business tips to do with three key areas: sales and marketing, operations and administration.
A good way to think of these areas is to look at your business as a home with three gardens:
The front garden is sales and marketing – where creating curb-appeal and ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ matters.
The back garden is operations – a space with privacy created to suit your own needs and where you spend the most time.
The vegetable garden is administration – a space that is practical and fit-for-purpose where you plan and cultivate your future nourishment.
In this first blog, I will focus on how to cultivate the front garden – sales and marketing.
You can have the best product or service, but if you don’t tell your customers they won’t know. It really is that simple. Start-up businesses should be looking to spend up to 25% of their annual budget on promotional activity to establish their presence in the market. This may change as your reputation grows and referrals start occurring, but never neglect your marketing efforts.
Think long term
Investing in promotional activity will rarely result in an instant growth in sales as, at the end of the day, the customer will only want your product or service when they actually need it. However, establishing your brand in the forefront of their mind – and keeping it there – will mean they are more likely to come to you when the time is right.
Timely, considered communication with customers is essential to create quality engagement and build trust. Communication creates relationships and it is relationships that create sales.
Know your channels
It’s essential that you know how to effectively reach your potential customers. Where do they work, live and play? Advertising drainage-laying services in a cooking magazine may not give you the best return on your marketing investment.
One size rarely fits all
Tailor your messages to your specific audience and market. Don’t ‘spray ‘n’ pray’ - as the way you talk to a teenager is unlikely to be the same way you would talk to their parents or grandparents.
If it is cheap, it probably looks cheap too. Don’t put your customers off at the first sight.
Nothing says novice/rookie/hobby more than using Gmail or Yahoo email addresses for your business. Invest in a proper business domain and email address. It’s not expensive to do and first impressions count.
Whilst it is important to create your own network of followers, it is quicker to leverage off existing, established audiences. Join groups and forums already talking to your target customers.
Please get in touch if you need some help applying these ‘front garden’ principles to help your business bloom. (We can meet down the garden shed for a brew and a chat!)
In the next blog we’ll explore the back garden – operations.
NCBIZ provides specialist support and coaching to help start-ups and businesses across Christchurch and Canterbury establish a solid foundation, overcome challenges and perform at their best.