Being in business the last 10 years has let me experience three bubbles, two major recessions and two booms that show me one simplistic thing – provide something that people will need and if you stay competitive, you should be able to stay in business.
One thing I always say to people is that “people buy what they can’t live without, what they need and what they want in that specific order”. So in tougher economic times, many people scale back and only buy what they need and if things are really tight, just buy what they can’t live without. Now this can be subjective but I would generally put food, fuel and shelter in the “can’t live without” category. Things like cable TV, Internet, cell phones and other things that may make their life more convenient can float between feeling they need it or want it.
Regardless of these economic factors, you have to market in some way to attract new customers and stay top of mind to retain those you worked so hard to get. As your small business markets to the world, there are a few do-it-yourself lessons I have learned and would like to share so you can implement them today.
Lesson 1: Engage your current customers – You can use your web site or blog along with ad campaigns to get your current customers to let you know what they like and dislike about your product.
Lesson 2: Do a campaign around an events – Events can be new product opportunities but events get alot more buzz and press from the media which is a great way to plug and build buzz around your company and launch the campaign.
Lesson 3: Do Leverage the newer social media channels – These are emerging channels that are mostly free to join and going where your customers are to drive them to your web site is a good thing. Keep in mind that this involves a commitment to creating content and engaging those who are on these channels.
Lesson 4: Avoid Social Media “Experts” – Yes, I know, every says they are social media expert. In fact, there are 10,000 people on Twitter who have this in their profile. Beware of those who profess this because they have lots of followers on Twitter and really know how to play Mafia Wars or Farmville on Facebook as demonstrations of their expertise. Real experts should have been doing some sort of activity for their employer or clients for at least a year now.
Lesson 5: Study your competitors and take advantage of their weaknesses – This does sound very Sun Tzu “Art of War” but nobody ever said capitalism was sunshine and lollipops. In many cases it can be considered a blood sport but you probably already know that. Studying your opponent just like you would in any sport and look for a chink in the competition’s armor and use it to your best advantage. This will eventually expose areas in which you can be better than them showing customers that you are the one to buy from.
Lesson 6: Fail fast and tune it as you go along – I always say “Show me a person that hasn’t failed, and that is a person that has never tried”. I am so much of a planner that I learned that you need to stop planning and just do it.
What Lessons Have You Learned Along the Way?
These are some good basic lessons and there are many more to share in the future. What lessons have you learned so far with your small business? Please share it with us in the comments. We would love to hear from you.Google+