Lynda was clearly upset and angry when she emailed me. It’s easy to see why. Here’s what happened, shared with Lynda’s permission. It contains 2 extremely valuable lessons for every business owner.
In her email, Lynda explained that until recently, she was the owner of a chiropractic practice. Just over a year ago, a new competitor arrived on the scene. The feedback she received regarding them was that they weren’t very good. So, she didn’t take much notice. When she saw her monthly turnover slowly drop, she assumed it was the economy.
Then things got progressively worse.
In total, Lynda’s business lost 68% of its revenue over the following 14 months. It was an unsustainable loss. Last week she closed the doors on her 7 year old business for the last time. And because she wasted thousands on advertising in a final attempt to save her business, she’s now heavily in debt. It’s heartbreaking.
Lynda said: “Ever since the beginning I used Facebook and Instagram to promote the business but looking back I wasn’t taking it seriously. I was posting photos and doing some special offers, all the things everyone says you need to do. They [her competitor] always seemed a lot more polished but all I heard from people was that they were crap so I didn’t think people would fall for it. It turns out they did.”
There are 2 lessons from Lynda’s experience, which I’d like to share with you. Because whilst her story is extremely sad, it’s totally avoidable.
- An average service that’s expertly marketed will crush a great service, which isn’t. It doesn’t matter how good you are, if too few new people know. An expertly marketed business will reach the right people, with the right message. They will motivate people to hire them or buy from them, attracting a huge slice of the marketplace. The typical small business struggles to get attention. They rely on word of mouth, which dries up, when an expertly marketed competitor becomes the talk of the town.
- People tell you what they think you want to hear, rather than what they believe. This is especially the case when it comes to friends, family and existing clients. It’s why Steve Jobs famously refused to use focus groups. Lynda’s feedback was from people who thought they were saying the right things, to support her.
Here’s what we know
The vast majority of small business owners rely on ineffective marketing or no structured marketing whatsoever. They all look and sound just like their competitors. That’s how a business can survive for years, on hard work and great service alone.
The challenge comes, when a savvy competitor captures the attention, the interest and then the business of your clients and future clients. As Lynda discovered, hard work and a great service are no match for expert marketing.
Every business owner is presented with 2 choices.
- They can wait for a professionally marketed competitor to destroy their business.
- They can become a professionally marketed competitor and build a massively valuable slice of the marketplace.
It’s no choice at all, really.