Looking for some quick ways to boost profits?
Today's tips are proven winners for every kind of small business -- and you can start applying them immediately.
Marketing flipped upside-down
But before I get to the tips, let me tell you about an important marketing concept that can help you dramatically improve your results.
When my oldest son was in college he took a few marketing courses that exposed him to a number of ideas on marketing that I had to shake my head at.
One of the ideas he heard was that marketing and advertising in particular was designed to manipulate people into buying things they didn't really want.
One example they used was that women purchased and wore makeup because they were tricked or fooled into thinking that they needed it, when they really didn't.
I have heard notions like this before.
Obviously, the course he was taking was being presented by someone who didn't believe in our commercial way of life, and had a severe distaste for marketing in general, and advertising in particular.
That concept simply isn't true.
Can you hypnotize people into buying??
You can't hypnotize, or force people to buy things they don't want through marketing and advertising. Gosh, it's difficult enough to get people to buy things they do want.
That doesn't mean that someone can't lie to you about the benefits of a product or service, and then run off with your hard-earned money. But people who do that aren't legitimate business owners or honest marketers. They are con-artists.
In fact, advertising doesn't control us, we, the consumers, actually control the marketing world. We do that by demanding certain products with certain characteristics and benefits. When you offer us what we want, we buy, when you offer us what we don't want, we don't buy.
Good advertising simply tells us what the company has for us. We then make the decision if we want it or not.
How about a Red Widget instead?
'Uh -- No Thanks!'
If you wanted a blue widget and a business advertised red widgets, you wouldn't respond to their advertising. You would ignore them, because they wouldn't be offering what you wanted.
But then if you saw an ad for the red widgets that you did want, for the price you were willing to pay--another element of what you want--you probably would respond to that advertisement.
If most of the marketplace wants red widgets, then the blue widget marketer will be forced to change their advertising to 'match' the desires of the red widget purchasers in their marketplace.
The buyers would force the business to change their ads!
Marketing is all about helping people get what they want, not forcing people to buy what you want to sell.
Here's your most important job
Your job as a marketer is to first determine exactly what your target market wants, and then do everything you can to give it to them.
For instance, let's say that you offer a service and currently you and all of your competitors only offer this service Monday through Friday.
But you discover that a large number of prospects 'want' your service to be offered on the weekends because they can't avail themselves of your service during the workweek.
You have just discovered what your potential customers want. If you decide to give it to them and then promote that fact in your advertising, your business will increase immediately. Why? Because you gave your target what they wanted, and they always respond when you give them what they want.
What do they want?
I don't want to mislead you, so you need to know that when I talk about giving your customers what they want I'm not just talking about your product or service, I'm talking about everything related to your business and the interaction between your business and your potential customers.
If you and your competitors only accept checks, and your market wants to pay via credit card, then all other things being equal, the business that listens to the market and gives the market what it wants by accepting credit cards will be the one to attract those customers.
I know the power of that particular case first-hand. Years ago when we first started our Internet business we only accepted checks early on. Our sales went through the roof when we began to accept credit c's. It's amazing how quickly your customers respond when you give them what they want.
To apply this powerful concept to your business follow these 5 simple tips:
1. List the Critical Elements: Look at your business and make a list of every element that could possibly affect your customers level of desire to do business with you.
-- your product or service
-- the features of your product or service
-- your location
-- the look of your business
-- the culture of your business
-- your employees
-- your prices
-- your offers
-- your bonuses
-- your guarantees
-- your ads and promotions, etc.
2. Look at Success: Look at your more successful competitors and see what they are offering to the marketplace in all of those areas.
See what you can improve upon, and/or see what you can add to your business to make it more appealing to the marketplace.
3. Use Surveys: Ask your customers what they want with simple surveys, and then test those ideas to see which ones produce the biggest increases.
4. Brainstorm: Brainstorm with your team or key customers to determine what kinds of things your customers may want. Could it be that your customers would feel better about buying from you if your employees wore uniforms? or if you performed your service in their homes? or if you offered Good, Better, Best options?
5. Continuous Improvement: Never stop asking 'What else do they want?' or 'How else can we improve?' It's called continuous improvement, and it's the best way to grow.