Many of my private clients make this statement to me almost word for word: “Marketing doesn’t work!” And I agree with them under certain conditions. Unfortunately, most of the women business owners I coach privately have this condition. I call it, lack of customer value. In my opinion, customer value is the most critical measure in any business plan. Yet, just about every small business I work with ignores this metric. If you are not sure what the value is to your customer for your product or service, please ask them! If you are starting a new business, begin your market research by asking those who could be potential customers.
Small business owners typically do not have the capital to spend on extensive market research. So the next question I get is, “How do I handle my own market research? Where do I go?” I suggest you do not begin with your friends or family unless they are totally honest with you. You can ask them for referrals, any groups where you are a member, associations, attending trade shows, community forums, are just a few suggestions. But also beware… just don’t ask people who may not be the profile of your customer.
Once you understand the customer value you provide, it will be much easier to create an affordable, effective marketing campaign. BUT BEWARE… This exercise can be an excruciating process. Many of my private women business owner clients struggle with this exercise for weeks…sometimes months. But it is a complex process that will make managing your business so much easier.
Once you have your customer value, you can begin creating your:
- Elevator message
- Graphics that depict this value
- Provide your customer with a better understanding of your differentiators related to this value
But once you have your value message, never stop asking yourself: “What value am I providing my customers today?”
The next question I typically get is, “But I sell a commodity. Now, what do I do for value?” Whether you are in a multi-level marketing business, selling insurance, hairstylist, dry cleaner, etc., etc., you must begin to think creatively on how you can ADD MORE VALUE to your customer.
Adding more value is the most cost-effective way a small business owner can create market differentiation and hence… a more effective marketing plan. This question is a hot topic that also comes up quite often in my open interactive coaching webcasts. I believe it is the most challenging condition business owners must face.
Begin the process and return to test your value message. I host open forums where business owners can join in from their home’s convenience to test their business ideas and learn from those who did it before. Have you signed up for one of my interactive workshops?
About Darlene Ziebell
Darlene Ziebell brings over 25 years of experience in business management consulting and entrepreneurship. She bases her methods on a unique blend of large enterprise strategies and the battle scars she acquired in four businesses, including startups, mergers, ESOP, acquisitions, partnerships, and legal challenges. One of her many endeavors is a management consulting firm with a client base representing 20% of the Fortune 1000. She is an advisor to business owners, helping them achieve successful growth strategies with her proprietary Quick-Start Operating Profit (QSOP) assessment tool. Darlene earned her MBA from the prestigious Kellogg Graduate School of Management.