When over 50% of small businesses fail in the first year and 95% fail within the first five years. What sets apart the winners and the not so fortunate? With just about 1.2 million small businesses in Illinois alone, small business is the backbone of our economy. Entrepreneurship is not for everyone, while most people imagine a life of being their own boss, having their own schedule, and endless vacation time, that is not the case! As small business owners know, it takes blood, sweat, and tears to simply get off the ground!
Everyone’s goal is different. The keys to making your goals a reality is planning and implementing! You should be planning on the short term as much as the long term. One thing in common among the businesses who have lasted over the 5-year mark is they know the importance of marketing & advertising. Whether you are trying to be the dominant business in your local market or becoming the next nationally recognized brand, marketing is crucial!
“If you build it, they will come”, if only it were that simple! Ever hear of a little friendly competition, Mcdonald’s needs its Burger King, Shell needs its BP, Apple needs its Microsoft. This level of competition keeps the market fair and innovated. You need to stand out from the competition. Having a clear and long-term marketing plan should be on every business owner’s mind. The U.S. Small Business Administration recommends spending 7 to 8 percent of your gross revenue for marketing and advertising if you’re doing less than $5 million a year in sales and your net profit margin—after all expenses—is in the 10 percent to 12 percent range. While everyone’s budget and needs are different, what it should tell you, is you need to be marketing!
Identifying your goal is the first step to having a successful business. What is your goal this month, quarter, or year? Write it down and hold yourself accountable. Most importantly, make it real and tangible.
Now that you have that figured out, next is the how. With the world moving at such a high speed and a new innovation coming out, every day, it’s important to stay up to date with your marketing efforts and reach your target audience where they are. Is it social media, print, SEO, referral, or email marketing? The best way to figure this out is through customer data and previous purchasing experiences. Ever wondered how the top YouTubers gain their millions of followers? It’s simple, they ASK! Usually, in the beginning of every video, they will ask you to subscribe and give them a thumbs up. You must be doing the same, see where your customers are coming from, how they found you, and why they chose you.
Maybe, try implementing a questionnaire you send to their email, ask them at check out, reward them if they take the time to help you. Not only do you gain more information, but you develop a relationship with your customers. Showing that you care and want to know more about them and what made their experience great, will help you achieve your goals.
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