Have you got a great idea? You know – a product or a service niche that could help people, grow businesses, automate work or bring relief, security, pleasure, delight, entertainment or adventure to people’s lives? You’re not alone. There are millions of great ideas generated every minute. For an adventurous few, their ideas evolve into a business, and that’s where the real fun begins.
Whether you’re established or a startup, you’ll know a business takes time, money and energy to start, to grow and to sustain. What started as an idea becomes a living and breathing machine with production, staff, products, service offerings, premises, collateral, warehousing, logistics, accounts and admin.
The grim reality is that almost 50 percent of new businesses don’t make it to four years. Those that pass beyond four years are not guaranteed to succeed forever. Though there may be complex algorithms to calculate the ‘why’, the answers pretty simple:
No customers = No business.
The fundamentals of attracting and retaining customers
Customers (and the income they generate) are oxygen to your business. Without oxygen, we die. So how do you get your first customer, your next customer and your next. Then how do you keep those customers, fight off competitors and stay relevant in a market landscape that is moving at warp speed? It doesn’t matter if you are a global enterprise, an established business or a corner shop, there are two basic fundamentals to a successful business:
1. Have a bloody excellent value proposition
2. Tell people about it, repeatedly
Most businesses have a good value proposition. Your business might be faster, smarter, cheaper or better than your competitors. Or you might deliver something unique, new, market leading, or innovative. Whatever it is, point number one is rarely the problem, its point two. If you’re not telling your customers that you exist and (continually) communicating why you’re better than your competitors then HOW DO YOU EXPECT THEM TO CONSIDER YOU?
Insert Marketing. Hurrah!
How to make your business thrive
Marketing is the missing link between a great business idea and your potential customer base. Its purpose is to rally your customers, drive sales and, in turn, fuel your business growth. But many business owners fail to understand and invest appropriately in marketing. Most owners focus all of their capital into building their business and little is left to tell people about it. Marketing (in its many forms) should be viewed as an ongoing daily necessity of every business. In today’s crowded global economy, effective marketing may be the difference between life or a slow painful death.
The 6 steps to marketing success
If you’re a business owner, manager or entrepreneur, take control of the following 6 steps to ensure your business is thriving not just surviving. In March 2017, I presented these insights at the Thirst Creative event, “If you build it will they come?” to a room full of small and medium size business owners and marketing managers, but of course, I didn’t want our online readers to miss out!
1 Understand your customers:
Don’t make assumptions here, your business exists for the purpose of your customer and meeting their ongoing needs. You must understand what their pain points are and how you will alleviate them. Outline how they will find you and answer why they would buy from you over the competition. Take the time to do the research, it will be invaluable to informing your entire strategy and achieving your goals.
2 Establish your brand:
Your brand is not your logo. It is how you are positioned and perceived in your customer’s minds. While having a well-designed logo will contribute to your perception, a concise set of brand guidelines (from design to what you say and do) will ensure consistency and continuity at each touchpoint. Start by exploring how you WANT to be perceived then determine what actions you need to take to get that message across. Think about it, if you want to be perceived as professional you don’t dress in your tracksuit – the same thing goes with your brand.
Read more: The top 10 secrets for brand consistency
3 Build your marketing strategy
Create your plan, write up your purpose, your vision and how you’re going to get there. Your strategy is there to guide and align your business to ensure you get to where you want to be. Start by focusing on what sets you apart and outline what markets you are in and the competitors who exists. Then align your strategy to your business goals and address how each business function will contribute. Next, evaluate your audience, select the channel that suits them and tune the message to create the best result. Don’t forget to measure, evaluate and optimise your performance, repeatedly.
Read more: Why strategy is important for growth
4 Align internally
A strategy only works if everyone and everything in your business is onboard. Consult, compensate and collaborate with all your business departments. Make sure everyone understands your business’s strategic direction and their role in reaching it so that you are able to work together to achieve the one common goal.
5 Create your tools
Create your visual identity, create your content and roll it out. You will need a style guide and a content strategy to make sure everything your brand touches is consistent, from your website to brochures, to the uniforms in your stores. Make sure each and every tool is optimised and measured to ensure it is doing its job.
6 Integrate your communication
Consistency is important when you are putting your message out there. Don’t confuse people. No matter the channel, keep your brand’s voice consistent, the message clear and your branding guidelines executed.
Ready to take action?
With the new financial year approaching now is the perfect time to act. It is essential to have your business goals prepared and your marketing strategy aligned to achieve them. You need to start crunching the numbers with your marketing budget and determine how much you need to invest to get the results you want. You need to align your sales and marketing processes internally, select the right channels to reach your audience and the powerful key messages that will create an impact and drive sales.
If you need some help getting started, Thirst Creative have an experienced team of strategists, designers and web developers ready to make sure your brand gets more results and creates an impact on your customers.