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Marketing Consulting

It is so amazing how simple it seems. Almost all business owners who lack money consider that they have one problem: marketing – at least that’s what they think. Every business owner who contacts me and tells me “I have no money” immediately goes on to argue that his problem is not having enough clients, which is “of course” the result of a marketing problem, usually accompanied by other symptoms like “advertising does not work in my field.”

This is so not true it’s ridiculous. It’s just like going to the doctor with a fever and thinking the problem is being hot or that you have a head. It has nothing to do with the heat – the problem is somewhere else. A fever is a symptom indicating that there is a problem elsewhere in the body, the heat itself is not the problem. Likewise, with the lack of money, clients or work.

There are 156 different reasons that can make any business fail. It is true that when there’s no work and no customers it usually results is no money, but let’s looks at the other areas of your business that might be the source of this problem.

Bad sales people – whether you’re dealing in a retail or commercial market, whether you’re selling door to door or they come to you, you still depend on sales people. An incompetent salesman who doesn’t know the attributes or benefits of the product or service they sell, or one who has an unwillingness to sell will explain to you every time that the problem is marketing – if only they’d get some more customers coming in the sales would be better. Of course the real problem is the salesman himself! The success rate from industry to industry varies.  There are some businesses where a salesman is doing well when he or she  can close 5 % of their customers and other businesses where this would be extremely low. As a manager you need figure out what the average closing percentage should be for your industry and then check whether the problem really stems from incompetent salespeople. It might be that you don’t have any problem with your marketing.

Sales Strategy – when a good salesman can’t sell I don’t immediately blame him. I check into what he’s trying to sell, it’s price, if it’s an introductory service or subsequent offering to an existing customer, is he cold calling over the phone or is the customer showing up after seeing an ad that created a strong desire for the product. Sales may be dropping off simply because the sales strategy is wrong. Many businesses try right from the start to sell a new customer a major service, before ever having established any credibility or trust.  The relationship with a customer is something that needs nurturing. If you want customers to buy your most expensive product, build a long term relationship based on trust. Develop a product line that allows the customer to experience the value of what you have to offer in increments that they feel comfortable purchasing. As their confidence in you business grows so will their willingness to invest in you products and services.

Shopping List – there are some businesses where you need to spend a week doing calculations to figure out their sales proposal or go to work in their company for a month to understand what they’re trying to sell you. I have seen proposals that would need the computer they used to split the atom to calculate the pricing. Proposals should be simple, clear and easy to understand. Proposals that contain too many variables and options will be set aside for a more expensive proposition that is easier to understand simply because the customer doesn’t know how much it will cost him in the end. A good example is the field of computers. In the past they would include an extensive component list to show off the new computer, but it was so involve that you could never figure out a final price. The most successful company in this area was “Ivory” who published a Weekly List of Computers showing very specific features at different price levels that allowed any customer to easily select a computer based on how much he was willing to spend and what he would receive in return. Make sure to write clear offers. Remember that the up-selling phase comes after the customer has been reached to purchase the product. Don’t try to show all the up-sell options in the proposal expecting the customer to increase his own sale.

If he wants it, he knows how to find me – It’s funny to hear a client say he has a problem in marketing, particularly when you ask him the question “what do you do after you send the customer a proposal?”, and he says “if he likes it, he knows how to find me.” I’ve checked it out and more than 30% of proposals fail only because nobody followed up. People tend to choose the easy solutions, the one’s most available, the simple ones that don’t require much effort. More than once I’ve chosen the supplier that made sure to call again and again, consistently and without being angry and upset about the fact I hadn’t yet looked at or decided on the quotation they sent me. Making that choice felt much more comfortable than doing a survey of the market or haggling with other suppliers – the ones who didn’t bother to get back to me after I asked them for a proposal. Moreover, his consistency gave me the feeling that his business was organized and serious. So, even if it was a bit expensive, I’d pay a little more to work with such a business. Many people have a little confusion about this point. It’s not like a personal relationship where the girl who’s chasing after the guy comes across as desperate or someone that no one wants. In business it can be just the opposite. If it’s done in a friendly and consistent way it’s indicative of an organized and professional business. Make sure to build a permanent monitoring system, don’t give up on any clients, and follow up on every proposal until you get a yes or no answer!

I have outlined here only four areas out of 156 that can actually cause a business to lose income. I recommend that you, as a business owner, check where the problem comes from before jumping to conclusions that there’s a problem in marketing or advertising. Your business is a machine with 156 parts and, just like that, if your vehicle gets stuck in the middle of the road it doesn’t always mean that you ran out of fuel.

If you become desperate looking for the reason try to take an exterior viewpoint of your business and look at the bigger picture or have a professional do it for you. Locate the true solution and don’t just fill the business with strange solutions based on false ideas. It will usually cost more money and sink the ship even faster.

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