All I need are more customers

So, is that a marketing issue or a business issue?

Let me start by saying that marketing is a big business practice and is best left to the pros. We know that a small business isn’t a little big business, it is a whole other animal. Marketing, and for that matter, finance, HR and operations are functional areas for big business. Businesses big enough to have groups of people with those specific responsibilities.

Your job, as a small business owner is to make your customer ecstatically happy. That’s it.

How you do that is:

Work from your Sweet Spot

When you can give the best of yourself (and your team), you can’t help but put out the best service. When you work from your strengths and your passion, you live and breath what you do. You gain mastery.

Be who you are. If you are trendy and cutting edge – own it! Don’t let anyone tell you that you need to ‘tone it down’ or your customers can’t keep up. You will attract the customers that appreciate you being out there on the edge and sharing it all with them. If you are comforting and helpful – own it! Make tea a part of your service, make your space cozy, explain what to expect so your customers are comfortable. If you are utilitarian and to the point – own it! Make transactions seamless. Stay out of the way and let your customers do it.

Help your customers get what they really want

Your customer doesn’t want to just buy a sweater. She wants to know it is the latest trend, show her pictures of that sweater on the catwalk or worn by trendsetters. It is important for her to feel on top of what is new, help her do that. Or she wants help buying it, choose several that will look great on her and help her see why they are great for her. It is important for her to feel less stress about the choosing and buying process. Or she knows exactly what she wants and you need to make the transaction as seamless and quick as possible. It is important for her to be done with this task.

This applies to restaurants, accounting and car repair, too.

Tell that story in everything you do

AKA Marketing. From the moment someone comes across your business, you want them clear on what they can expect from you. Your advertising tells that story, your place exudes that story and the experience is exactly what your customer would expect.

Your environment, from your premises, to the phone experience to your packaging all tell that same story.

Your team is clear on that story, they buy into it and they share it, too.

The experience is set on autopilot. Of course each person is treated as an individual, but the routine is set up to be, well, routine and automated.

The value exchanged on both sides is sufficient that your customer is happy and you are able to build capacity to continue to add to that experience.

Your customers become your raving fans

Who needs marketing when you have a team of raving fans telling everyone how awesome you are?

 

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A couple of things I learned while I made this series

Endless summer Summer is a great time for thinking and planning but not really for doing. I followed along, too, not just with Janet’s business, but with my own. I thought a lot about what we were doing in my other business, but I was distracted; it was a lot of material and it went by pretty quickly; people were on vacation.. Those are all the reasons I didn’t apply what we did right away.

It did work, because since then I closed one business and opened two more.

The information is not enough. We need support to help us get past some of those things that trip us up. We need accountability to help us keep moving forward.

I need response and feedback. This was a tough one for me. The hits on the website went down as the series progressed. That was disheartening. I kept going because I said I would and because I wanted to create the material, but it was hard to do while I was thinking that no one cared. I got over it.

Now I have the basics for a workbook for Your Effortless Business and the start of a novelette about Janet’s Business.

The scheduling feature in WordPress is very slick. I took the kids on a 2 week adventure in the middle of posting the series. One caveat: the time is EDT not your geographical time.

Plan your work and work your plan works. Knowing what I needed to write every day, kept me on task. I need to free-range write at times, too, but having a plan for a while and especially in the summer made for an easier summer.

I enjoy writing fiction way more than I thought I would. It’s like Steven Pressfield and Anne Lamott say, the story comes; place your hands over the keyboard and wait. Before you know it, the story comes. In this case, I did direct it somewhat because the story had to follow the 8 week course. Try it, you’ll see.

This was a wonderful experience for me. I am not a structured person, so it was a new experience as well and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

What task have you taken on lately that is out of your ordinary way of doing things? What projects have you started and finished that made you feel great about them?

Janet Gets Scared

Janet rolled out of bed, grabbed her coffee and sat on her deck. Usually she was at her desk by now – checking email, reading the news and seeing what was happening with the world. Today she felt like she didn’t care, that she couldn’t take in any more information. She needed to think.

A lot was happening and happening fast. Sometimes she was scared. Her heart beat fast, her stomach churned and she just wanted to go home to bed. Other times she was thrilled, proud of herself and her team and happy with the way things were working out.

She felt like she was wobbling along on a tightrope. She felt dizzy, things were happening around her faster than she could deal with them.

She felt an underlying vague sense of unease, of not being in the right place all the time. She felt things weren’t right. She felt uncertain, that she wasn’t sure how things would work out in the end and she didn’t like feeling this way.

Was it worth it? She thought back to a year ago when it was just the three of them. They were doing all right. Wasn’t that enough?

 

Mike helps Janet start

Mike knocked at Janet’s door at 9:30 in the evening.  “Have you been at this all day?”

“Just this evening. Most people aren’t home through the day.”

“Then, why did you need the estimates done this morning?”

“I needed to work on them today and I knew that once you got into your day, you wouldn’t have time until this evening.”
Mike handed Janet a folder. “What’s this?” Janet asked

“Your estimate. I had a friend of mine work on it to make it look more professional.”

“Oh?”

“It’s important to look professional while running a business.”

“Mike! What happened to the estimates I did?”

“I told you to add 20%.to your costs.”

“But that’s a big job. Twenty percent is a lot.”

“So I did it for you and I added some for me, too.”

“Well, we can get the next job.”

“We got this job.”

“Are you serious? They are willing to pay that much for it?”

“Of course they are. The next bid was even 20% higher than this. I had to do some fast talking to convince them you can do a great job for this price.”

“I usually don’t get these kinds of jobs. I always thought it was because I bid too high.”

“No it’s because you bid too low and you don’t come across as a professional. Here are the cheques for the deposits.”

“Deposits? Cheques? What did you do?”

“I did the same thing with both of them. I added 20% and my fee and enough to pay my friend for his graphic work on your proposal packages. We mocked these up, but you can get them printed. My friend has some ideas about estimate templates, too. As we were working through these we noticed you had a line for travel for one, but not the other. If you have a template you can make sure you never miss anything.”

“Mike, how am I going to do these jobs well enough? For these prices, they are going to expect, well I don’t even know what.”
“Janet, you are a great roofer. Your crew know what to do. As for expectations: The first people want you cleaned up and out of the way by the time they get home at about 6:30. The second family would prefer you do the work next week while they are away. Their neighbour has a key if you need anything and the cheque when you are done. Watch out for him, he’s a retired engineer just itching to do something. You may find he wants to help.” Mike said with a smile, It sounded like Mike really got to know these people.

“And they even paid deposits. I hope we can do a good enough job for that price.”

“You’ll do a great job.”