But The Other Guy Is Doing It…

Have you ever seen a business which seems to be advertising every where you look and you think, “They must really be successful.  They must really know what they are doing.  My business is similar to theirs, so if I do what they are doing, it will work for me too.”?

Seems to make sense on the surface but if you really think about it, you know nothing about their business.  You may know that they do something similar to what you do, for example, a plumber and an air conditioner service company.  They take care of an important part of your home infrastructure.  They do emergency service.  They come out to give you an estimate on a contracted job.  They do commercial and residential work.  They get referred by neighbors and friends.  They drive service trucks around and you see their name and phone number painted on the side.

When looking at a comparable business, you can not know some of the important factors which have them marketing the way they do.  You do not know their business strategy for growth, what their financial situation is and how much risk they are willing to take.  You do not know which segment of their business they want to build.   What is their rate of converting one type of business into follow up business?  What percentage of their business comes from referrals?  Yellow Pages? TV ads?  Most importantly, you do not know if they are ‘marketing smart’ or just advertising a lot.

What are the things to consider when you look at what someone else is doing for their marketing?

1 – Is their target market the same as yours?  Don’t just look on the surface.  Even though it appears that you service the same target market, you may be trying to focus on a different customer than they are.   Our plumber may decide that he wants to focus on getting the emergency call segment of the market.  This is different than trying to attract jobs to build new construction.  It doesn’t mean that he is giving up the new construction jobs, just that he does not need help in attracting those jobs at this time.

2 – Is my core business different from theirs?  You really have no way of knowing what they consider their core business segment, but you can take time to define what yours is. This part of your business will be defined by various factors.  The importance of each factor will depend on the business and the owner.  Consider how much money it contributes to the bottom line.  How much do you enjoy this part of the business?  How easy is it to staff?  How much capital does it take to support it?  Is it easy to plan for this part or does it complicate everything else?

3 – For my core business, what are the ways that I get business?  Is it through advertising?  Personal referral?  Giving speeches?  Networking?  Presence on Social Media?  Up-selling?  I suggest that you take the time to look at where your current customers come into your business.

If you look at where the customers come into the core of your business, you will start to see interactions between your business segments.  For instance, our plumber may find that most of his core customers come from referrals from other contractors.  He has a great relationship with contractors and does not need to advertise to them.  But, he also finds that there are many customers that come into the core business through Emergency Service Calls.  If he can do more emergency work, he will start to increase the flow of customers through that pipeline.  In this case, advertising his emergency service call work is the place to focus.  He can then choose the best way to reach them and really focus his message.

Many small business owners get stuck with the marketing of their business because they think that they have to do what everyone else is doing.  It all looks overwhelming, confusing, and expensive.  If you take the time to really sort out your business, it becomes simple, clear and empowering.

Marketing Roundtable

For those of you on Long Island, I am facilitating group sessions for small business owners.  The focus will be on your marketing material.  Each business’ marketing material will be displayed for others to view and give feedback.

It is a time for learning more about marketing, getting specific information about your own marketing material, and supporting your fellow business owners by reviewing their material.  Please read below for the details.

Small Business Owners…

  • Do you keep saying that you are going to take time to focus on your marketing materials, but never get around to it?
    • Would it help you to hear what your marketing materials are saying to others?
      • Would talking about marketing with other small business owners help you to get more ideas for your own marketing?
        • Is the marketing of your business worth getting up and out a bit earlier than usual?

          If you answered ‘yes’ to these questions, then you are invited to attend a free

          Morning Marketing Roundtable


          Here is the concept:

          A group of 4 – 6 small business owners bring their marketing materials (business card, brochures, flyers, ads, website address, etc.) to share with the others.  Each will receive input from the participants on the impact and impression that the materials make.  Each owner takes away ideas for improving their marketing.

          Here is the structure:

          Each participant must register in advance.  Only one business category per session is allowed.  This ensures the participants that they will not be sharing their strategies and concepts with competitors.

          Each business may attend the group up to 2 times.

          The group will be facilitated by Beth Schecher of Schecher Management Consulting.

          Here are the details:

          Roundtable discussions are held the first and third Thursday (7:30 – 9:00 a.m.) of each month.

          Held in the Moriches – Eastport area.  Directions will be given upon registration.

          “No Shows” will be excluded from any future meetings.

          Email beth@schecherconsulting.com to request a space (or call 631-603-7854)

          Groups without a minimum of 4 will be cancelled by noontime the day before.

          Get your marketing kick started

          and help your fellow small business owners at the same time.  There is no charge to attend. (bring your own coffee!)

          Call or email today to reserve your place at the roundtable




          Authentic Marketing

          Twice, before 8 o’clock this morning I ran into the term “authentic marketing”. This really caught my attention. I am always thinking about living authentically, but I have never thought to attach the word ‘authentic’ to ‘marketing’. I actually love this concept and I hope that it will start to shine a different light on marketing.

          I define authentic marketing as “informing others about how you help your clients, the type of clients that benefit from your help, and how you do it differently.” There is no hype and no tricky slogans. There is just honesty and clear communication about your benefit to the customer.

          Many small business owners do not like to market their business. They do not understand that it can be simple and (dare I say) authentic. Will these owners start to appreciate what marketing provides them if they see it as an opportunity to express the true value of their business?

          Each business has the choice on how to inform the public about what they do. If you are someone who wants to market in authenticity, consider the following:

          • What is the need or want of the client that I serve best?
          • What is the result that they get after buying my product or service?
          • Why is my business different than others that seem to be my competition?

          WARNING: Answers to the previous questions do not necessarily come to you in a short amount of time. You may need to really think about them.

          Authentic Marketing!   A chance to think about who you really help, how you truly help their lives to be a bit better, and how your business makes it happen. Go for it!

          Write Your Own Interview

          Here is an exercise for you to bring some real clarity to your business.

          Write out questions that an interviewer would ask you about your business. The goal of the interview is to get your ideal clients to become engaged and sit up and take notice. You want to answer most of their questions about what you do and how it would benefit them so that they will take the next step in order to work with you or your company.

          Make sure the questions address these areas:

          • The issue that the ideal client is having, feeling, or dealing with
          • The results that the client can expect
          • How you solve their problem in a different way than others
          • What the customer has to do in order to do business with you
          • How long it will take to get results
          • The costs involved
          • What the next step is

          You can also add your personal story, if it will add to your credibility.

          Now that you have the questions, it is time to write out the answers.  You might be surprised when attempting to answer the questions that you do not have a clear way of responding.  I am sure that for most of them the answers will be automatic, but there will be one or two that may just stop you in your tracks.  It is then that you will realize how important it is to have clear answers to any of your potential client’s questions.  Many times, getting that answer written out clearly will only happen after you have taken the time to really clarify your process or offering,

          Once again, it is the process of putting together these interview questions and answers that will provide great value.  In addition you now have some great FAQ’s surrounding your business offering.  You can use these on your website to help prospective customers to pre-qualify themselves.  They can be finding out about your business in the middle of the night while you are sleeping.  If they like what they see, you will see an email in your inbox the next morning from a serious prospect asking for more info.

          You can also use these questions to stage an interview.  Have someone interview you, record it, and ‘presto’ you have a  free CD or MP3 download that you can send to prospects.

          My goal for you with this exercise is to not only make sure you are crystal clear about your offering, but also that you are able to express it with confidence and enthusiasm.  Give it a try and let me know how the process helps you.

          It is about the Process, not Just the Outcome

          I want a tag line.  I want an elevator speech.  I want a clear articulation of my business purpose.

          Sound familiar?  I think that all small business people start out knowing that they would like these things to help their business, yet getting there seems like climbing a series of unending mountains.  They think, “wouldn’t it be nice if I could afford to hire someone to clear all of this up for me and just hand me the statements on a couple of 3×5 cards.” (Yes, I know, I am showing my age.  What do they use now a days?  Text messages?)

          I have found that it is not so much having the statements at hand as it is feeling really committed to them.  The best way to get committed to these and any marketing message is to go through the process of figuring them out.

          During the process you will:

          • Be able to sort out what it is you do and what it is you don’t do.
          • Find what really jazzes you up when you talk about it and what just leaves you flat.
          • Focus on what you enjoy and do the best.
          • Focus on how you are able to impact the lives of your customers.
          • Figure out how you are different from your so-called competitors.

          And perhaps most of all…

          You will become totally committed to your customers, their needs, and the results that you can bring to them.  The tag lines and elevator speeches may come from this process, but the bigger benefit is that you will have a new clarity and confidence about what you do and why you are in business.

          Don’t skip over the process.  If you want to be able to express your business message clearly, with confidence, and enthusiasm, take time to work it through.

          Why smaller is better – Getting More Clients

          Would you rather be in the small, calm center or out in the storm?

          You have heard about focusing your business on a niche market.  The concept is to narrow what you provide, do it really well, become an expert, and have customers beating down your door.  Sounds great, but becomes scary when you think of all of the other things that you could provide or the customers that you could service.

          One of the reasons to narrow your focus is that you will attract more customers.  Here are some of the reasons that you will get more customers:

          You become the expert

          Because you are able to focus on a smaller amount of things to know and do, you are able to drill down deeper into the understanding and delivery of this product (be it a physical product, a service, or knowledge).

          Once you have have a reputation as the expert in your field, you become the ‘go to person’ for those who have the problem for which you provide solutions.  It then becomes easy for people to know when to refer you to their friends, business partners, or customers.  Other business people then know when it is appropriate to collaborate with you.

          Your message is clear

          When you focus, you are then able to clearly state what problems you solve, what you do, and the change that the person will feel by doing business with you.  A clear message allows potential customers to self-select you as the answer they have been looking for. An un-clear message creates uncertainty so that even the customers who would benefit the most will pass you by.

          You can target your message

          Part of focusing is knowing your ideal target market.  This allows you to get your message to the areas where they ‘hang-out’.  No more ‘shot gun’ marketing.

          There is so much more to narrowing your focus in business.  These are just a few things to consider, especially if the whole concept just seems counter intuitive to you.  Let me know if you have had experience in this area and how you made out.