*The last three years have been a tough time for entrepreneurs, with an unsteady economy and demand often reduced by widespread unemployment and a tightening of consumer credit.
But some entrepreneurs have soldiered on. In many cases, business owners have no choice but to continue to make their businesses work, since there are few jobs available.
Be that as it may, some entrepreneurs are successful anyway. This success comes from business owners who focus on those key strategies that guarantee success.
Here are some tips on how to grow your business in a slow economy:
- Identify your 10 sales balloons. The 10 sales balloons represent the different methods a business will deploy to generate leads and increase their brand awareness. These strategies will vary from one business to another, but the key here is to do some of everything, all of the time. Here are some examples, purchasing lists, referrals from customers, workshops or seminars, networking, strategic alliances, website, newsletter, data base follow up, client appreciation events, speaking engagements, public relations, community service volunteering and traditional cold calling. These are all strategies used to reach potential customers. Entrepreneurs need to make sure their business uses all 10 of their strategies and not just one or two. You have to use all of them, because you never know when a potential customer might hear a marketing message. Some customers make buying decisions based on mass media, while others stick to word-of-mouth. If you focus on one channel, you will miss out on certain opportunities.
- Target market. In a tough economy, it is even more important to focus on who your target market is and the marketing message. You need to make sure you are talking to the right customers. And that is why you need to understand your target market. If you are starting a business, doing market research before your product launch is essential. And if you are an established business with flagging sales, it may be time to update your market research. Some of your target markets demographic may have changed.
- Do you have the right product offering? How often do you get open and honest feedback from your customers about our products? Again, this goes back to market research. Customers can be very fickle. The wrong packaging might sink the right product. Sometimes customers like a product, but if they are turned off by something in the presentation, they will pass on making a purchase. You have to make sure your product fulfills a need in the market. Remember, understanding the needs of the customers is speaking to them in language they understand.
- Strategic alliances. Many business owners don’t fully understand the concept of strategic alliances. Here is a quick explanation. A good alliance is a non-competing organization that serves the same market as you, but has a different product or service. These alliances have trusted relationships with their customers and a referral from them is like gold. Selecting the right strategic alliances is the key to success with this strategy. In an ideal situation, both companies will leverage their relationships to refer each other business leads. And it’s a lot easier than making cold calls.
These are some strategies that successful entrepreneurs should be using anyway. However in a sluggish economy it is important to make sure you are following the right strategies to reach new customers and grow your business.
Yolanda Mason is a CEO Coach for Estrada Strategies. For more information call 909.489.5708 or [email protected].