Marketing and business development is - to be honest - a black art. While structure can be identified as below, its operation is less science and more practice. None the less, we all try and set out a framework on to which we can graft a plan, so that we feel we have some control.
For owner managed businesses the four steps are:
- Customers, who are they? Think about who your customers are. The more specific you are in your thoughts the more likely you are reach them. Are there enough of them? Are they able to afford your offering? Are they accessible? Are they ready and willing to move to you? Once you know your customer groups all efforts can pointed in that direction. Everyone is not an adequate description of a customer group. Be specific be brutally specific. If you cannot be specific on who your customers are then decide who they are not? Sometimes by eliminating some the remainder will present as a valid group
- Make yourself known. If they don’t know you they cannot do business with you. Decide how this is going to happen. Form a strategy to broaden the number of suitable people who know you. Some people find this step so easy it is invisible for them. The rest of us have to be a little more deliberate.
- Be liked. This is easier said than done but it is vital. Even if people know you they will not do business with you if they don’t like you. If you can’t get people to like you try not to get them not to dislike you! We all harbour negative views of people we don’t really know and have no wish to know. Given the choice when doing business we will -all else being equal- go to the provider we like the best (dislike the least). Carry on your business in a manner that offends the least number of people. Be alert to comments that may give you an insight into building negative comments and respond appropriately.
- Build trust. Even if you are known and liked if you are not trusted you will find it difficult to progress. When a customer engages you they are making a decision very often from a exposed position of some ignorance. Although they know a little about how you do your work they have trusted you to do it correctly, on time and on budget. Don’t let them down leave them feeling they made the right choice.
Customers will not reach the point of engagement unless you are known, liked and trusted. Over future blogs I will expand on each of the steps above.