9 Critical Tips For Growing and Marketing Your Small Entrepreneurial Business

Most new entrepreneurial small businesses rely entirely too much on word of mouth and referral marketing. It’s an easy trap to fall into because many small businesses get their start using word of mouth and referral marketing as friends, family and associates fuel growth motivated by the excitement of the new business entity’s birth.

Unfortunately, the new entrepreneur will most often get caught up the excitement of doing the business as opposed to running the business. Reality sets in with the realization that prospects and customers are not knocking the door down or making the telephone ring.

The entrepreneur recognizing the dilemma switches to marketing mode or at least they think their in marketing mode. Experience reveals they know little about marketing and will pour generous amounts of time and money down the drain before seeking help.

With a full blown recession in progress and people pulling back on expenditures it’s critical that you have a well planned marketing plan. Because you are not only competing with your competitors, you’re competing with everyone looking for a share of your customer’s wallet.

1. Clearly define the purpose of your marketing
Effective marketing is a combination of repetition and channel mix. Each piece of marketing material needs a clear objective and each piece should build on the previous pieces culminating in a sale.

2. Define your identify (brand)
Craft the marketing campaign with a clear identify that is direct response marketing oriented. Focus each element on benefits and a clear call to action.

3. Establish your budget
The budget will dictate the size of your marketing campaign. It doesn’t mean that you can’t get very creative and utilize the web and email options.

4. Clarify your USP (Unique Selling Proposition)
Your USP answers the question WHY? Why should I, your prospect, customer or patient buy your product or service when I have several other options, including doing nothing?

5. Define your target market (niche)
Know your ideal customer. Do not make the common mistake of trying to be everything to all people. Think niche and niche down to a clearly identifiable target market.

6. Create your marketing plan
It will take 7-9 touches to convert the average prospect into a customer. So you’re going to need a 7-9 touch marketing plan to maximize your campaign. Carefully layout the campaign sequence which could look like: 1st Direct Mail Piece, 2nd Direct Mail Piece, 1st Postcard, 1st Telemarketing Call, 1st Email, 2nd Email, 1st Voice Blast, 1st Fax

The campaign should also be supported some of these marketing tools: radio, television (cable), vehicle advertising, flyers, door hangers, etc. if possible. What is critical is to develop the plan and execute it and then evaluate the results and tweak the campaign to make it better next time.

7. Create the copy for each piece
Resist the urge to write all the copy yourself unless you are a copywriter. One of the biggest problem entrepreneurs and small business owners have is that their pieces do not get read and hence no sales. There a lot of copywriting resources on the web.

8. Layout your marketing calendar
The marketing calendar is the most overlooked marketing tool in your toolkit. The calendar is your schedule and it should be carved in rock. It is critically important to maintain the sequencing of your marketing pieces. It creates an image of your company and your products that if done correctly will greatly enhance your brand and increase the probability of closing the deal.

9. Measure the results of each element
Lastly measure the results of each element and evaluate what worked and what didn’t and make the modifications in the next campaign.

Adhering to these 9 critical tips will ensure a coordinated and focused marketing plan and put you solidly on the path to success.

Balance Your Business and Personal Life

Is balance an attainable goal?

Business is one aspect of your life and not the only one. However it doesn’t always feel that way does it? Running a company is a huge commitment and can be very rewarding but it can also dominate your life. When things are going really well there are always demands on your time that go with a full book of business. When times are harder there are increasing demands on your time to market the business, work a little harder, reach out to existing and past clients and so on.

It is easy to get sucked into the business to the detriment of other aspects of your life. This is a complex area that is different for everyone but the following tips may help you begin to get some of that elusive quality in your life – balance.

  1. What are your passions in life – what do you feel you were put on Earth to do? This is important in business as you will spend so much time there, but what about the rest of your life? If you say family, what do you love about your family and how are you honoring that day to day? Write these down
  2. List what you have to do - think about as many things as you can that you need to do daily at home, and in business. Also list as many things you can think of that you would love to do – things that feed your passion. There may be some overlap – hopefully there will be.
  3. Saying yes/saying no – write down these things on one side of a piece of paper under the headline: YES. Draw a line down the middle of the page and write the headline NO on the other side.

Look at your page. For every item in the YES column, assume that to do that, you have to say NO to something else. List those other things in the NO column. For example: When you say YES to working late at the office, you may be saying NO to reading to your kids, taking in a movie with your partner, playing tennis and so on. Conversely playing golf may necessitate you making sacrifices at work.

This is a very simple exercise that helps with a few things.

1. Connect with what really matters to you – in the rush of business this may become cloudy. It always helps to have it in front of you

2. Gain an appreciation for your tasks – seeing these written down may be surprising and some may immediately appear superfluous

3. Make some simple decisions – When you see the trade off between two activities it makes the decision much easier than when trying to sort through all the things in front of you.

4. Turn tradeoffs into conscious action – by linking business activities to those in your personal life, you can consciously decide between them at any given moment. This can change over time. For example when you have to work late and sacrifice putting your kids to bed, you can make the decision to ensure you spend time with your kids at bedtime tomorrow – what will you have to give up at work to do that? You are then able to prioritize and reschedule the work event for tomorrow

5. Eliminates tasks, saves time – you will be surprised that some of the sacrifices you face are not worth it. When you look into it you will find many examples of tasks that can be outsourced, reduced or even eliminated.

By looking at these simple trade-offs for most things you do you can begin to take back control of you like in areas that really matter to you.

How Forward Planning Could Save You 50% Off the Cost of Your Business and Promotional Gifts

Most people don’t order their business or promotional gifts until the last minute. They normally know months in advance the date their annual conference, the major launch of a new product or their golf day. They plan their marketing and advertising campaigns months in advance. They plan their design of packaging and distribution months in advance. However, they nearly always leave the ordering of a business or promotional gift to about two to three weeks before they want them delivered, WHY?

Obviously a business or promotional gift is not as important as the marketing, advertising, packaging design and distribution part of a project. If they only allowed 12 to 14 weeks they could order products from the Far East and halve the cost of ordering them in the UK or Europe. Especially, if they are ordering large quantities of products.The way to order products from the Far East is as follows:

A) Allow an extra day for your UK business gifts company to get a quote from the Far East because of the time difference.

B) Once you have approved the quote and supplied your artwork, (ideally as an eps file for PC with all fonts outlined), then allow two weeks for the manufacturer in the Far East to print and fly in the sample of the product chosen.

C) When you have approved the printed sample it will take approximately four to six weeks to manufacture the bulk order.

D) It will then take five to six weeks to arrive in the UK by sea.

E) You can fly them in but this costs far more than sea freight.

F) Customs clearance in the UK normally takes two to three days.

G) Once they have cleared customs they will be delivered to you the next day.

Very rarely you may have the reject the first printed sample. However, you should build this possibility into your planning “just in case”. British Revenue and Customs officers have more powers than the Police and they normally take one to three days to check a ship once it arrives in the UK. However they can take longer and there is not anything you can do about it. If you can allow yourself 12 to 14 weeks forward planning you can save a fortune for the company you work. Think of the “brownie points” you would get from your marketing, sales or managing director if, by your forward planning, you save vast amounts of money for your company.