This is a busy time of the year with businesses planning for next year, which for me means lots of conversations with organizations and businesses attempting to change. Some people have their ducks in a row, they know where they are going and they have a strategic plan in place to get there. They are looking for help on tweaking their plan to make their business even better. Others are looking for a magic pill to quickly solve their problems, many of these conversations start out by “I need help in generating more sales” or “how can I better market my business.”
My apologies to all my marketing friends but many businesses think marketing is the fix for all their problems. I’ve witnessed great marketing and sales companies struggle because their systems and management are so poor they are constantly having to find new customers because they can’t hold on to the ones they have. In order to realize real sustainable growth you must fix the internal problems that exist within your company. The process starts with self-examination. In many cases hiring an outside consultant can help define the weaknesses in your business and provide systematic solutions. No consultant worth their salt would throw a marketing Band-Aid at a problem that marketing can’t fix.
1.) Undefined Competitive Advantage
2.) Poor Sales Performance
3.) Lack of Vision
4.) Inability to Change
5.) Cultural Bankruptcy
1.) Undefined Competitive Advantage. What is your business’ competitive advantage? Can you or does your marketing message clearly communicates the value you provide for your customers in ninety seconds or less? Statements such as “We offer great service”, “Thirty Years of Being in Business” or better yet “We’re just better”, are not actually an advantage- it’s the outcome of an advantage. These types of statements can also be asserted by many if not most of your competitors. If you can’t come up with a clear, defined advantage its time to dig deep enough to discover what makes you better. What do you do well? When customers compliment you what do they say? When customers leave your business why do they leave? Why do you do business the way you do? What do you sell or offer to your customers that competitors don’t? These are all questions that can help you define your competitive advantage. From the answers to these questions you can craft a marketing message and communication plan to clearly give your business a competitive advantage?
2.) Poor Sales Performance. Marketing is about generating leads, but the sales process is your closer. The best marketing in the world can’t close the sale. Uninformed and unprofessional sales representatives, ones that love to hear themselves talk, super smart sales reps being condescending to customers or sales prospects, and unmotivated sales reps who don’t want to interact with clients are a management problem – not a marketing problem. Cultivating sales leads for a sales team who can’t close the sale doesn’t help grow or even sustain your business. Most businesses naturally lose 15% of their customer base each year through natural attrition. Customers move, choose another vendor, or simply no longer have a need for your goods or services. Your sales team must generate 25% in new sales each year for your company to grow by 10%. Boost your marketing efforts and your lead to close ratio by sharpening your sales team’s skills, your sales training, and your management skills. It will make a significant difference to your bottom line.
3.) Lack of Vision. Marketing cannot be effective is there is not a clear vision for your company. Why are you in business and what is the value proposition you are offering to the marketplace. If you don’t already have one, putting a strategic plan in place with a clear set of goals will help you build a marketing plan to match your plan and achieve your goals . If you’re not good at it or don’t know where to start call Beartooth Business Consulting, that’s how we help companies like yours. A business plan and a strategic plan are much the same thing, if there is a difference, it is a business plan is often for only one year where a strategic plan can look out for as many as three to five years. These plans will change and adapt as time goes by, however they provide you and your management team something to refer to when making decisions and a benchmark for your progress and performance. Marketing will put wind in your sails helping you get to where you’re going, however marketing is not a roadmap on how to get there.
4.) Inability to Change. Several years ago the hot buzz word in the business world was a paradigm shift. Paradigms, old habits, comfort zone, are all synonymous with the inability to change. Change is what grows business, creates innovation, and excitement in business. This inability to change may be what’s holding you back; the inability to attract new customers, retain good employees, or find new ones. Change for the matter of change isn’t always a positive thing however taking a realistic look at how you’re doing business and why you’re doing things a certain way will lead to positive change. Involve your employees, key customers, if appropriate, and key vendors in this process. Communicating positive change is a marketers dream.
5.) Cultural Bankruptcy. People who work in a bad culture know what I’m talking about. Your boss, your co-workers, and even the assigned work can become an energy vacuum, sucking the life out of you and the company. There are a host of reasons for a negative culture within a company however in most companies the culture and leadership, or lack thereof, is a direct reflection of the owner(s) and/or senior management. If you think a negative culture is not noticed by your stakeholders, customers, employees and vendors think again. A negative culture cannot be masked by a smile at the counter, or a cheery “good morning how can I help you” telephone greeting. This bad culture is quickly transparent in the quality of the work, the delivery of the work and the ongoing interaction with the customer. There is an old adage that states, promise a little and deliver a lot. In most culturally bankrupt companies, it’s just the opposite, marketing promises a lot and the people and systems within the company deliver a little. Make marketing your company easy by creating a vision and culture that celebrates success and promotes great service to your customers, employees, and ownership.
Being in business for yourself or leading a team of people is not easy however you have the ability to change and create a positive culture that leads to greatness for you and your business. When these changes happen marketing your business becomes easy and is the propellant to success.
If you need help getting started with your plan or strengthening your plan we can help, call or email Beartooth Business Consulting at 406-690-5988, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.