Boost Your Business by Understanding Your Why
Successful business people have a wealth of insider tips and insights that Hillsborough County can help you tap. We've asked local business experts to share their experiences and expertise on the entrepreneurship journey. In this edition we discuss growing clients and revenue by telling your business' story.
Sheila Hooper Neisler
Owner, Catalyst - A Marketing Company
What are some of the bigger challenges that business owners face when trying to market their products or services?
Many people think marketing is a specific and finite tactic: a grand opening, a website launch, a social media campaign, a sales blitz, delivering promotional items, etc. In reality, marketing is a conversation about your product or service with your prospects; it takes between five and 12 contacts (sometimes more!) to make that sale. As a result, business owners become frustrated. They feel they've used up limited marketing resources on a "big" investment, and it didn't work because they didn't get an immediate result (a lot of sales). Marketing is about telling your story - more than one time - and through a variety of channels.
Another challenge is their marketing is focused inwards versus appealing to what their customer wants to know. Business owners get too close to their product or service and focus on the features and benefits instead of communicating what the prospect needs. "Everyone's" going to tell you they've got cutting-edge technology, great customer service, caring people, an educated sales team, yada, yada. However, what the prospect wants to know is "Why." Why do they need you, why you are in business, and why you are different? Because everything else is, well, "yada, yada."
Part of the marketing "noise" also includes an understanding of the world we all live in today. It's called the "Times Square Effect": it's a loud and crowded world trying to get your product or service front and center of your prospect. Daily, Americans see more than 16,000 branding messages and 4,000 ads. They get 121 emails and spend 40 percent of their day just responding to emails. They spend 90 percent of their time on the internet just browsing, not engaging. You can end up spending a lot of money to get your name out, and it can get lost.
Also, we need to take into account our own humanity (tribe culture). 84 percent of people trust recommendations from people they know - it's the single biggest "go-to" when making a buying decision. We have a tendency to forget that for most small business owners, their clients are within 25 miles of where they live and work. We spend lots of time and money telling the internet world about our business and ignore our prospects who are just down the block.
Okay, so what are some solutions to these marketing challenges?
It's simple - and hard. After determining your "Why" in business, hone in on your "Who" - who's your best client, your target decision maker, who could really benefit from your product or service. Perhaps that means spending some time with your current clients as well as talking to prospects about what they need, versus what you want to sell. Current clients will share with you their own perceptions on the best way to reach them - and their peers (your prospects).
Once you have a better understanding of who your best prospect is, then create a five to 12 point communication plan to engage them, using a multi-channel approach. It could be an in-person sales call, a charity event you're involved in, an organization that they are involved in, an article about their industry, a thank you note, a special event you are hosting, an email, a newsletter - printed or electronically, a brochure, a social media post, a phone call inviting them to an event which may have prospects for them, or even a direct referral of someone who could benefit from their business.
Think of your marketing efforts like you are an orchestra (or band) conductor. If you play the same instrument over and over, the audience will get tired of hearing the same thing, the artist will get tired of playing and the other people (instruments) in the band will just quit - or worse, not be engaged. It's when everything comes together with highlights (solos) that you have a successful concert with opportunities for future performances (i.e. sales).
Marketing is an investment in the long-term success of a company. The first investment is your time - (that's the hard part) - strategic thinking about your "Why" (and why they should do business with you) - "Who" - the person who's needs your product and the "What, When, Where, and How" they want to hear it. Once you've answered these questions, the rest is "relatively" easy.
Continue Your Journey with these Resources:
- Entrepreneur Collaborative Center
- Florida SBDC at Hillsborough County
- 1 Million Cups Tampa
- Operation Startup
- Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative
- U.S. Small Business Administration
Our Expert Contributor
Sheila Neisler, a SCORE mentor and owner of Catalyst - A Marketing Company, has helped business owners for more than 15 years achieve double digit sales results by implementing a 360° marketing strategy. With a Bachelor's degree in finance from Florida State University and corporate banking experience, her work process melds bottom-line banking experience with a top-line sales and marketing passion to drive results. Her philosophy: It's not about spending more, it's about spending more effectively!