Easy come, easy go… at least when it comes to business.
Gain a new client because your fees are lower than their current provider, then lose them as soon as someone undercuts your fee.
Add a pop-up box to your website to increase sign-ups and you’ll attract people, who can’t resist pop-up boxes. So, your newsletter gets sent to an overflowing inbox and is seldom read. Why? Because it’s in there with hundreds of other pop-up subscriptions.
That’s the problem with focusing on the easy wins. Their attention is easy to capture and just as easy to lose. Growing a business that way is like trying to fill a bucket, which has a hole in the bottom.
The sustainable alternative
Long term business success comes from learning how to attract the kind of people who need convincing. These are intelligent people. So, their attention is harder to earn. They don’t fall for gimmicks. They don’t fall for pop-up boxes.
Yes, it takes a little more work than attracting the easy wins. However, isn’t that a small price to pay, for growing a sustainable business?
I’ve given 4 pieces of important business development advice recently, which I’d like to share with you. Hopefully, it will help you or someone you know, to avoid making some costly mistakes.
Think long and hard before you do any of the following…
Take advice from a self proclaimed guru
Self-proclaimed gurus are exactly that: Self-proclaimed. There’s a world of difference between the fakes and those who other people proclaim to be a guru or thought leader.
How do you spot the fakes? Genuine thought leaders never use those words to describe themselves. Why? Because they know it’s not required. They are the real deal.
It reminds me of that saying: The guy who tells you he’s the cleverest person in the room… isn’t.
Don’t assume someone knows their subject, because they claim to be an author, radio show host etc. Why? Because it no longer means anything.
Anyone can claim to be a published author, thanks to services like lulu.
Anyone can claim to be a social media expert, when they can buy 50,000 twitter followers for $100 and as many Facebook fans as they can afford.
Anyone can claim to be the host of their own radio show, thanks to services like blogtalkradio.
For peanuts, anyone can be a published author, with 50,000 Twitter followers and legions of Facebook fans. Anyone.
Take traffic building advice
Be careful taking Internet marketing advice from someone, who talks generally about building traffic. General traffic is not only worthless, it can waste your time and suck up your bandwidth. As a business owner, you need targeted visits from people, with an interest in (or need for) your services. Not general traffic.
The difference is huge. Really huge!
Mistake a marketing pest for a marketing professional
Never hire a marketing provider, whose own marketing isn’t working. Here’s an easy way to tell the successful marketing professionals from the rest.
Ineffective marketing providers have to pester people for leads. So, we see them pester people for leads at networking events. They pester people with emails they never asked for. They pester people on social networks.
Some years ago, the marketing team behind Toys ‘R’ Us in the United States, had a great idea. It provides a lesson, which everyone reading this can benefit from.
Here’s what they did
They sold Pampers, in store, at cost price. Clever eh? These were easily the cheapest Pampers anywhere. So, eager parents went into Toys ‘R’ Us to buy them. These busy parents usually went along with their kids, who would head straight for the section with their favourite toys and then ask their parent for a toy — often with extreme conviction!
Did every parent cave in and buy a toy? No.
Did enough parents make additional, high profit purchases as a result of the zero profit Pampers offer? You bet!
So, here’s my question for you
When was the last time you did something creative with your marketing?
One of the reason so many small business owners find that their marketing is ignored, is because it’s too linear… too predictable.
Here’s a suggestion for you: Have a think about the magic behind that Toys ‘R’ Us Pampers offer and see if it sparks an idea, which you can adapt for your business.
I have some news for you. It’s about your competitors. I did a little research and it seems they have really improved the quality of their customer service.
As a result, you now need to improve your customer service significantly, just to be at the service level, where you thought you already were.
So, take time out today — right now if possible, to figure out more ways to delight your clients or customers. Look for opportunities to show how much you care about them.
Sorry, I was wrong
I just looked again and it seems your competitors have not improved their customer service after all. So, your investment in extra customer care could now pay you a huge, windfall dividend. It could encourage massively more of your clients to talk about what an amazing service they receive from you.
It’s my birthday next week… a great time for a little reflection.
On Thursday, I will spend a whole day working on my personal and professional development.
Because I want to get a year better, not just a year older. So, I will spend the day figuring out how to invest everything I have learned so far, into the next year of my life.
Business and planning
As we approach the final quarter of 2013, some small business owners will be reflecting similarly. They want their businesses to get a year better, rather than plateau for a year. Of course, most small businesses won’t do that. For them, January 2014 will not be the start of a New Year — it will just be another chance to relive the same year over again.
In business and life generally, success seldom interrupts us. It requires deliberate planning. If you want to see better results in 2014, the time to start planning is now.
One of the keys to a successful business, is to pick the right clients or customers.
Many small business owners make the mistake of working with anyone, who has the ability to pay. They then end up with a random client list, ranging from wonderful people to rude and over demanding, toxic people.
The challenge with accepting toxic clients, is that they drain your energy and resources massively more than great clients.
You enjoy working with a great client and look forward to your next meeting with them.
You dislike working with a toxic client and dread your next meeting with them. So, as the date of your next meeting approaches, their toxicity poisons your work flow.
In other words, toxic clients are massively more emotionally draining than great clients.
Your clients deserve your best work
You deserve great clients. You do not deserve to have clients who are rude to you or who demand more from you than they pay you for.
Just as importantly, your great clients deserve your best work. You can’t do your best work, when your thinking and work flow is regularly interrupted with toxic clients. The only winner here is the toxic client — you and your great clients pay the price.
The solution is as easy and as hard as this: Market your services to the kind of people or businesses you want to work with. Then, only accept clients after you’ve spoken with them and are satisfied they fit your client profile.
It’s easy, because it’s under your direct control. It’s your choice who you work with. Your decision.
It’s hard, because many business owners find it difficult to turn a new client away — even a bad one.
In business, we find that we get the type of clients that we deserve. If we are prepared to work with toxic clients, we deserve to pay the hefty price.
However, if we market to the right kind of prospective clients and choose only to work with them, we deserve the joy of running an exciting business, which rewards us on every level.
Remember: You choose who you work with. Not the other way around.