Recessions can bring out the best in people. I know many successful entrepreneurs that started their businesses during recessions, and they said it’s the best decision they ever made. Some have developed companies that generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. Admittedly, though, a lot of those people say their companies are surviving, but not thriving. Many will chalk it up to the economy, or changes in the marketplace, or the cost of raw materials, or increased competition. Some of these factors may be true, but after consulting for several of them I realize that there are reasons why they haven’t achieved the level of success they wanted. Here are some of those reasons:
- Not knowing your limitations. We cannot know everything, nor can we do everything. Realize that you have a well-honed set of core skills, and focus your efforts to take advantage of them. Here’s an analogy that all you baseball fans will instantly understand: have you ever seen a National League pitcher try to swing a bat? It’s one of the more painful sights you’ll ever see, because it’s beyond the pitcher’s limitations. Let your batters do the batting for you while you focus on your pitching.
- Not understanding the difference between market sizing and market segmentation. In other words, don’t bite off more than you can chew. You can read all about this from my previous blog entry on the subject. Business is hard enough without trying to conquer the whole world all at once.
- Not seeking help from experts. Whether it’s a marketing company like Aximum Marketing, or a full-time employee, recognizing the need for a particular skill that your company doesn’t have is not a sign of weakness or ignorance. Not only can experts give great advice and a different point of view, but they can free you to do what you do best. Again, whether you buy a piece of equipment, or office space, or specialized experts, they will all maximize your return on investment.
- Not avoiding the temptation to act in haste. It’s easy to get ‘happy feet’ when you’re not achieving the results you want. However, it will be best to fully think it through before pulling the trigger. Having fellow experts (see #3 above) can act as sounding boards, enabling you to make better decisions.
- Not understanding that marketing is an investment, rather than a cost. “I can’t afford to spend money on marketing right now.” If I had a nickel for every time I heard this, I’d have a boatload of nickels. I’ve spoken to many clients who initially look at marketing as a cost, but after I help them focus on their goals and run some numbers with them, they soon realize that all quality marketing activities have an expected, measurable, positive ROI. If you could invest $100 on marketing activities, and receive $1,000 in revenue, how much would you be willing to invest? Every penny you can get your hands on? That’s the beauty of an investment.
Success is most assuredly not defined as the absence of failure. We all work hard, and we deserve to maximize the reward for the effort we put forth. If you avoid the five pitfalls listed above (and I’m sure there are many others you can think of), you’ll unleash your potential and take your business to new heights, whether it’s a startup, a small business, or a multinational corporation. Aximum has some great success stories that illustrate this point very well, and we’ll be happy to help you thrive, too.
May 26, 2009 at 1:42 am
Build it and they will come.
If only that were true.
Too often, marketing and product teams fall prey to what I call “Field of Dreams” marketing. Whether it’s a slick new website, or a shiny new product, or a fancy new advertising campaign, many companies will rely on their internal ‘tribal knowledge’ and fail to research, survey, measure, and test new marketing/sales/product ideas. There’s an assumption that, if there are enough people that believe in it, it will inevitably become successful. Even worse is the idea that so much time and money has been sunk into something that there’s no turning back. These thought processes can prove fatal for companies, especially during a recession, when cash is tight and customers are hard to find.
I have a dirty little secret to share: using good processes on the front end can actually help save you time and money on the back end. So how can you avoid stepping on the Field of Dreams? There are several things you can do to sidestep the pitfalls… let’s focus on the three examples above:
- A slick new website – good websites are expensive, and if they aren’t done right they can actually act as a barrier to customer acquisition (for more on websites, read my entry “Your website is your strongest sales tool“). Ask your customers about your ideas to change the site. Develop a clear plan for what you want your site to accomplish. Hire an experienced expert.
- A shiny new product – CEOs and VPs love to use their “instincts” to determine the next generation of products and services. Resist the temptation or the results can be disastrous. Use honest-to-goodness focus groups, advisory panels, and marketing research to complement the internal knowledge.
- A fancy new advertising campaign – alas, marketing teams just love to develop new ideas for communicating to a company’s audience, but that can be dangerous if kept unchecked, leading to groupthink marketing or even worse (yes, that’s a real McDonalds ad). Remember your audience; if your communicating with software developers, for example, you wouldn’t want anything over-the-top or cheesy because they would resist it like the plague.
You get the idea. By applying best practices, like the Aximum Marketing Success Cycle, you can make sure your efforts are focused and on-target. Just keep your eye on the ball and you’ll be fine.
May 18, 2009 at 4:07 am