Use a Consultant to Overcome Small Business Marketing Challenges

20 04 2013

When you are starting, revamping, adding a new product line, or rebranding your company, there often comes a time when you look at your marketing strategy and wonder, “Is this right? “Have I looked at all possible options”?  These questions do not arise because of lack of experience or education in marketing. In fact, many small business owners do have either a business background or higher education in the subject.  According to a poll done by the National Federation of Independent Business nearly half of all small business owners possess at least a bachelors degree, with nearly half of those having majored in business.  Having an education in business or even a background in marketing is a strength, and can provide you as a business owner with some advantages.

However, whether or not you have a business degree or background in marketing, as a small business owner you will still have several common challenges to successfully implementing a marketing strategy for your business. These challenges are why it is imperative to either contract a marketing consultant for their expertise and specialization, or hire a full time marketing director.  The most common challenges are: Time, perspective, research, current marketing trends, and implementation.

  • Time is the biggest obstacle to many small business owners. With so many parts of a business to run, trying to handle all aspects of it on your own is very overwhelming. Unless you can honestly dedicate the necessary time to your marketing effort, without hampering other functions of your business, you need a marketing consultant.
  • Perspective is an often overlooked challenge in the marketing field. Typically business owners look at a product and how it will be branded, promoted, priced, and placed through what we want, not as how the consumer desires or needs it. Having an expert in marketing who is in touch with the needs of your target market is critical to optimizing the ‘four P’s’: Product, Promotion, Pricing, and Placement.Marketing Mix
  • Research is a critical measure to undertake to understand exactly who you are targeting, what methods of marketing work best to reach them (do you use traditional, social, video, word of mouth, or some combination of these advertising components), and who your competition is.  This is important whether you are a start-up or an established small business expanding locations or product line.
  • Marketing Trends are similar to perspective, however the difference in marketing trends is in planning for future events. A good marketing strategy will use a SWOT analysis to measure your companies strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to help with forecasting various internal and external trends that will affect your business. For example, if you are in the roofing business, your market depends on many factors: the building industry, the environment and climate changes, economy, and government regulations. A good marketing consultant will help you to plan for most foreseeable events, so you can have a contingency for best or worst case scenarios. If there is a market trend that shows a shifting from shingles to Spanish tile in your area, you want to be prepared for that, and know who your potential suppliers could be. Or maybe there is an increased interest in PV solar installations, so you would be wise to co-market and work with a solar contractor for additional opportunities in that industry.
  • Implementation. OK, so you finally have taken the time, done the necessary marketing research, looked at marketing trends, and have gained an outside perspective on your customers needs and wants. Now what? Now, you need to formulate a marketing strategy and implement it into your daily business operations. This is where it gets hard, because this is where the time factor really comes into play.  You have done all this work and to not use it is not just wasteful, it can ruin your business.  A marketing consultant will help you draft your marketing strategy, and then if you desire, they can either implement it for you, or find the right person to do it.  Implement your Strategy

The goal of any marketing plan is to do two things: Increase your brand awareness and increase your conversions. If you are simply getting the word out about your product, but not gaining more customers, there may be an issue with pricing, placement, or even the product itself. Your conversions are great but you find that they are mostly repeat clients or you are not reaching the percentage of the target market you desire, you may need to alter your promotional methods. Again, working with a marketing consultant can help you achieve this, but there is one final piece of advice to offer. Make sure whomever you work with as a consultant is a willing team-member and has a buy in to your product.  If they cannot empathize with your passion and share in your desire to be successful, then you may want to look elsewhere. They may be a great consultant, but perhaps your particular industry is just not the right one for them to consult on. Do your due diligence and find your success!

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Teamwork = Customer Service Excellence for Small Businesses

20 03 2013

TEAM: Together Everyone Achieves More. This is the message corporate managers try to convey to their employees.  That customer service is not just the right thing to do; it is a part of your job requirement.    Yet, we all have been to the local restaurant,  shopped at the small mom and pop retail store, had work done by a local contractor, and after a terrible customer service experience, we shook our heads in wonder of how the heck are they still in business!

If you are a small business owner and have just one or a couple stores, excellent customer service is of utmost importance to you.  Why?  Think about it, and the answer should be clear.  If you go to a Target or Pizza Hut and the service is terrible, chances are you will blame it on just the employee or that store.  You will often hear from friends and family in different areas that they ‘hate’ a certain brand because of continued bad experiences at that store, yet your own experience is good with that same brand locally.   With hundreds or even thousands of locations, national franchises and brands can, unfortunately, afford to have the occasional bad store and/or employee experience.  Yet if you are a business with one or two retail storefronts; a local contractor with only a handful of clients; or just one restaurant; your reputation is ALWAYS on the line.  One bad experience and the damage can be done, permanently. With reviews easily available on Google, Yelp, Foursquare, and many industry specific sites, all it takes is one pissed-off customer to downgrade your customer service rating. We have all heard the saying that a happy customer will tell ten friends about their experience, but an upset customer will tell a hundred.  With the ease of submitting an online review, that hundred can become thousands very quickly.

Teamwork

So now that we know the downfall of bad customer service, how do we prevent it?   The best way is by creating synergy and making sure all your employees have ‘bought in’ to your company. You will know when your employees have bought into the product and you as the owner.  Tardiness, turnover, gossip, laziness, and negative reviews will lessen, while teamwork, volunteerism, going the extra mile for customers, and energy will be displayed.  The return of investment (ROI)  in training and creating a teamwork atmosphere is easy to see, but only after it is implemented.  However, this strategy is not something to be done just once.  To successfully implement a teamwork environment, you must make it a continuous effort.  Here are some suggestions on how to drive your team to success by creating synergy:

  • Short, yet informative meetings (if there is nothing new to share, do not have a meeting just to have one!).
  • Training on new products and services done by employees, with supervision by the managers.  You want to create a team of superstars, then have your new workers do a training session on a product or service for the experienced workers.  Again, this should only be done when there is something new to share, or at least once every couple of weeks.
  • Training can also be cross-promotional.  Have your employees teach a different division on what they do.  If you own a restaurant, have the waiters teach the hostess, the cooks train the waiters, etc.  By having an understanding of the other personnel’s duties, it will create greater appreciation for that position throughout the organization.
  • Team outings during work hours.  That is right, shut the business down once every quarter for a team outing on a Friday afternoon. You may lose a couple hours of production (do it by department if you have to), but again, this is about long term rewards.
  • Recognize! If someone does something above and beyond, give notice to the employee.  If someone is promoted, do a simple press release and spread the news.  Everyone loves to see their name in print…well most of the time…and what better way than a simple press release that will give kudos to those who have helped your business grow.

The most important thing to do is to create an atmosphere that is rewarding and fun. Remember, all employees do not have the same motivators. Some may be energized by money, some by extra time off, some by just a simple “thank you” or “job well done”.  Have discipline and consequences for poor performance, but know that most customer service issues are preventable if your company’s employees have the right attitude.

What is it that makes a good Real Estate Agent Great?If you are ready to create a teamwork environment and would like more details on how to implement different team strategies,  please do contact us! From press releases to marketing plans, we can help your small business.   For more information, Tayloe Marketing WhitePaper





Understand your Consumer’s Behavior

5 02 2013

As a small business owner, you have probably desired to know how to reach your consumers. What are they thinking? Why did they choose your product, or a competitors, or decide to just not buy at all. Understanding your consumer’s behavior is not rocket science, but it is scientific.  The definition of consumer behavior is complex enough: “Consumer behavior is the study of the processes involved when individuals or groups select, purchase, use, or dispose of products, services, ideas, or experiences to satisfy needs and desires” (Solomon, 2009, p. 7).

Consumer Behavior  So what do you take out of the definition? The most important takeaway is that consumers behave the way they do based on their needs AND desires. I think it is important to break those down even more. Humans have many needs, and even more desires. An example I like to use is this. I love Chevrolet  Corvettes and the Chevy Silverado. This sports car and truck combo is my ideal garage stuffer. However, I have one year old triplets. So unless they want to ride in the ‘trunk’ of the ‘vette, or in the bed of the truck, my desired vehicles are not exactly what I need. Just not practical. So I happily drive an Oldsmobile version of the “SwaggerWagon” and get my girls and wife where I need to. My consumer behavior would desire to own something that is not practical for my family needs, so I purchase what is needed.

When it comes to your small business, you must put out products and services that your consumers will both desire and need.  If you are a book store, you are competing now with a multitude of electronic devices that allow convenience and often free books online.  So how do you compete with this consumer desire to read the latest novels, but has a need to save time and money?  The key is in offering something that an e-reader cannot, such as book clubs and groups, a 30 day money back guarantee (think about this one, how many actually buy something and return it, even if they do not like it!), have a nice reading room, etc.  If you are an independent mechanic, how do you compete with the consumer behavior of taking it to the chains and dealers? Again, you must differentiate yourself from them, and the other independents. Have an online presence, do maintenance workshops, offer discounts for local residents, and offer courtesy transportation within say 5 or 10 miles of your location.  The consumers desire is often to do business locally, but out of time or knowledge of what and who can assist locally, they go to the chain store and dealers.

Capture the Consumer

Take the stress out of the equation for the consumer and make yourself visible. In real estate, there is a term called being a secret agent. This is someone who does not hand out business cards, have an online presence, network with other small business owners, or advertise at all, or very selectively.  This is YOUR business, you have to promote it, and again, make sure that your product is meeting both the desire and needs of your target market. Again, it can be something as simple as convenience that makes a different to a consumer. If you are a restaurant owner, and your competitor is bringing in more business, why is that? Chances are you both have quality food, an appealing curbside and interior, along with a pleasant staff. The difference could be something as simple as one has their menu available online, which allows the on the go parent an chance to easily see what to bring home for dinner, or who has a special going on that sounds appeasing to their family.  The desire would lead the potential customer to either of your stores, but the need to know ahead what their costs and choices are led them to another store. If all things are equal, all it takes is small difference to change the behavior of the consumer. Obviously branding, reputation, advertising budgets, and location are all important. But if you have made strategic decisions to set your business up with a good brand, strong reputation, and have spend money to make sure the community knows about, yet are still missing business, look at the little things. You may be surprised what a little extra effort can produce!

REF: Solomon, Michael R.. (2009) Consumer behavior: buying, having, and being. 8th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall

If you have questions on how to better reach your customers, increase your brand awareness, and develop a winning inbound marketing strategy, please contact me: info@tayloemarketing.com Thank you for reading and “Make it a gread day”!





We are the Light to your Marketing Plight!

15 05 2012

Tayloe Marketing was founded on February 10th, 2011 by Bradley G. Tayloe. He has  a Bachelors degree in Public Relations and Marketing along with over 15 years in marketing, sales, promotion and research experience. Mr. Tayloe recently brought together a team who believe in principled relationships, strong ethical values and a desire to under-promise and over-deliver. This team has a deep belief that it does not matter where or when a person, a company, or an organization starts, it matters where they desire to finish. With this strong conviction, Mr. Tayloe puts his personal guarantee on his teams work to finish what they start, on time and with the quality expected.








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