My last marketing blog discussed the importance of your company vision, mission, and culture on both your marketing and overall business. Now you need to separate your business according to your 3-5 primary revenue streams. More streams then that and you’re probably diluting yourself and not effectively controlling each. Reference Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t by Jim Collins and Winning by Jack Welch for more reasons to keep focused on a few key revenue streams.
Separating revenue streams is relatively straight-forward, however developing your Strategy and Clarity for each stream is a bit more work. The reason for separating and developing a unique strategy for each is that, more often then not, each stream has a different type of customer. As quick and obvious proof of that fact, if your business caters to residential, commercial, and industrial clients, you’re well aware that the way you handle, communicate with, bill, and market is different for each one.
For each revenue stream, the Strategy/Clarity stage include 3 things:
- Target Customer – Who is your ideal client?
- Unique Selling Proposition – What separates you from all competition so you no longer can compete on price?
- Positioning Strategy – What position do you currently occupy in the consumer’s mind? How do they view your business?
Of the 3, defining your Target Customer is the easiest. To do this, go through your database, pick out your top 10, 20, or 40 best, most profitable clients, and figure out what they have in common. Even better yet, pay them (in goods and services or even cold hard cash) to answer a detailed survey to give you an excellent picture of who they are, what they do, and where else they spend their money. Once you have this information do 3 things:
- If a non-competitive business regularly pops up as a place where your top customers spend their money, approach that business owner and try to setup a partnership.
- Develop a simply, yet crystal clear “picture” of your perfect client similar to Trader Joe’s, “unemployed college professor who drives a very, very used Volvo.“
- Empathize with and put yourself in that target person’s shoes before developing any marketing. Talk to him directly.
Once you have that picture of your target customer, gather information from all of your competitors via their websites, public marketing, and a mystery shopping service like teleXpertise. Gather all of that information and determine where the hole is… In other words, what do your perfect customer’s want that none of your competitors are offering? By now you see where this is going; this will be your Unique Selling Proposition. Simply put, your USP makes you so unique that you no longer have any businesses who can compete with you on price. You can often do this by offering additional services, warranties, products, guarantees, or features with your package that your competitors can’t match.
The final step is your Positioning Strategy and this one is the most challenging as we’re literally trying to read people’s minds. Right off the bat, you need to separate these (in addition to revenue stream) into people who are currently customers and people who are not. An existing customer should have a better picture of who you are and what you do and so have a more defined position in her mind than someone who has never purchased from you. In your customer survey of your top 10-40 customers, you need to ask questions about why they decided to work with your business and how they learned about it. Ask what they tell friends and family about your business. That’s the true picture of how they perceive you… Not by what they tell you, but by what they tell others. As for finding out what non-customers think about you, you have to ask them. That includes prospects and complete strangers you meet. When you meet someone new and they ask what you do for a living, once you tell them your business name, ask them what they’ve heard about it. Most people aren’t going to tell you anything negative so keep that in mind. To find the negative, search Twitter, Yelp, Ripoffreport.com, and Google for your business. Within the constraints of a small business marketing time and budget, we don’t really have the ability to get beyond those few pieces. However, if you’re interested in learning more about positioning check out Jack Trout and Al Ries’ book, Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind.
Now that you have an idea of what position you occupy in the minds of others, do 2 things:
- Determine if your Position Matches the needs of your target customer and your USP. In other words, if people see you as the low-cost solution and your USP is to be the best service provider, there’s a disconnect. Your options are to either revise your USP to match the position of your business (which is the far simpler and easier option and what I recommend) or start re-positioning yourself (which is complicated, costly, and takes a lot of time).
- Consider the position you occupy in your customer and potential customer’s mind when developing any new marketing. In other words, you know everything about your business and all of your competitors and you need to forget all of that. It’s called “the curse of knowledge” and you have it.
Here’s the bottom line… As a small business owner or leader, you don’t have a $100 million marketing budget or even a $1 million marketing budget so you need to make every dollar count. To get the most out of your marketing dollars, you first need to track everything, beyond that if you know and talk directly to your target customer, from the position you occupy in her mind, with a Unique Selling Proposition that will be important to her, you’ll be far ahead of your competitors.
To your Targeting, USP, and Positioning success, Bryan