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Nov 04, 2016

The Surprising Secret to a Successful Business

Three essential steps to maximise profit and create sustainable growth within your business

What makes your business money? Is it a product you sell? A service you provide?

If you found yourself thinking about all the things you sell to your customers, think again. What if I told you that making the most money for your business has little to do with what you sell?

In fact, if you want your business to flourish, there are three things that you need to focus on besides your product or service:

  1. Marketing (to attract potential clients)
  2. Sales (to convert potential clients to actual clients)
  3. Customer service (transforms actual clients to repeat clients)

It doesn’t matter what your business does. If you neglect these three principles, you won’t get very far.

I’ve been working with clients such as hotels, wedding venues, holiday resorts and adventure centres for over ten years and it never ceases to amaze me how little attention some of these businesses are paying to their marketing. It seems to be an attitude particularly common with hotels and other accommodation businesses such as holiday rentals.

Most of the time, especially if the hotel or wedding venue is a little smaller, when I start to look into their current marketing strategy, I find dated websites that aren’t mobile friendly, featuring dated designs and layout.

Sometimes, they’re using an amateurish WordPress site put together by ‘the owner’s nephew who knows about web stuff’ or they’ve gone to the other extreme of a flashy website built by a web developer so it looks good but hasn’t paid any attention to SEO optimisation and quality content. This is then supplemented by slightly clumsy social media efforts, such as a Facebook page with 20 likes, updated once in a blue moon.

Such businesses seem to love print marketing over online marketing, producing glossy flyers and brochures to leave in reception (which makes me wonder how potential clients ever get to see them), but neglecting to put together consistent branding or emphasise their value proposition.

I’ve dealt with businesses where the receptionist has been put in charge of marketing and ‘look after the website’ or interns have been asked to take charge of Google advertising and social media. Meanwhile, massive investments are being poured into developing new products and services or building new buildings and facilities – with no budget left over for marketing.

Then the business owners wonder why all this expenditure isn’t bringing in new business and bookings. It’s like a bride all dressed up but without a groom!

What creates this attitude? I honestly don’t know. I can only surmise. My best guesstimate is that 1) a new product, service or improvements to facilities is more tangible than marketing to the people in control of the purse strings (business owners, hoteliers, etc.). When there isn’t an obvious immediate benefit, it can take time to understand the value of investing in marketing and 2) marketing has grown and developed extremely quickly over recent years and has changed in its nature. There’s a world of difference between modern online and digital marketing and what marketers used to do a decade ago. Modern marketing has morphed into something complex and perhaps a little intimidating, so for those business owners who’ve always struggled to focus on marketing, it becomes simpler to post a bit on social media, update their website with any special offers and keep churning out flyers and brochures so they feel like they’re achieving something when really they’re wasting what little money they’re spending on marketing.

Are you guilty of this kind of behaviour? Are you one of ‘those’ business owners?

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that marketing should bring instant gratification. A good marketing strategy shouldn’t promise immediate results. Instead, you need to be focusing on reliable, steady results you can build on over time. It’s a long term approach that really pays off.

So we move onto sales, what many see as a necessary evil. If you hate the sales aspect of your work, believe it or not, you’re on the right track.

You shouldn’t be trying to sell at all costs. If you want your customers to be happy, if you want to build trust with them so they come back to you again, you should be advising them, helping them, providing them with enough information to make the best choice for their needs.

In short, shift your mindset from selling to your customers and move it more towards protecting them from substandard service and products and making sure they get the right solution to their problems. Again, it’s a long term approach that really pays off.

Finally, we come to customer service. If you have two businesses side by side that both sell the same thing, which one will customers flock towards?

That’s right. The one with the better customer service. If you build a rapport with your clients, they’ll want to make you happy as much as you want to please them, which means they’ll come back to you time and again.

But how do you make sure you’re providing the best possible customer service?

Ask your customers!

Send out surveys, ask if they were happy at every step of the sales process, find out if there’s any way you can improve your service even more. With so much choice out there, you need to do as much as you can to stop your customers going to the competition this time. An unhappy customer might not tell you what’s wrong if you don’t ask – they just won’t come back to you again or recommend you to their friends.

Once more, providing top quality customer service is a long term strategy that really pays off!

So that’s it. If you’re serious about growing your business and maximising your profits, you need to think about marketing, sales and customer service and you need to be thinking about it not just for now, but for the long term.

It’s hard work, but if you need any help in developing your marketing strategy or you’d like some support in a specific marketing activity, I’m always here for you. Just get in touch.

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