Small Business Achievement – Thinking Through Pre-Action Not Reaction

You want to be one step ahead. Small business leaders often need to work incredibly hard to maintain everything. Reaction to events is commonplace, but it is pre-action that is truly the way to grow your small business. Pre-action is a great strategy to grow your small business.

Anybody can react to a situation. The truly exceptional people will take positive, preemptive action: pre-action. You want to take action before your competitors. Rather than reacting to market conditions, you want to predict marketing conditions. By taking the correct action before your competition does, you will create a competitive advantage for yourself.

How can you do this? Educate yourself about your industry. Stay knowledgeable about trends. You can do this by doing research yourself, hiring a researcher, or directly asking your clients. Let me provide you an example of how I did this for the creation of my Aspirations book.

I directed my book designer by providing them a general theme for the creation of sample book covers. I really liked one more than the others, but I am market focused. I wanted to create a book cover that people would like. A reactive person would have published a book with a specific book cover, and if it did not work, they would have tried another cover.

I created a simple website and slides of the various samples that I had. I emailed my client and potential clients and had them participate in an online survey. I showed the slide to my business college students and had them comment as well. People appreciated the opportunity to participate in the creation of a book. With their comments I was able to make a pre-action oriented decision.

By substituting pre-action steps for reactive, you are creating a powerful strategy to grow your small business.

Online Marketing for Small Business Websites in 2012

Well, 2011 is over and 2012 is here. And unless you believe in the Mayan prediction that the world will end later this year, as a small business owner you are probably going over your sales and marketing strategy for the coming year, making sure you have covered all of the bases and beginning to implement it in full force. All signs point to virtual double-digit growth in online sales volume in 2012, so hopefully your small business has online marketing as a significant part of your overall strategy. Below are a couple of areas that all small businesses should be focusing in on to maximize their online revenue stream.

Mobile Sales

Mobile sales are any sales where the actual purchase derives directly from a cellphone, smart phone or tablet device. Sales from mobile devices are a boon to small businesses because they break down the traditional geographic barriers and increase their potential customer base. They are also important because in today’s world, where decisions are made on the go and consumers are constantly being bombarded by additional input, small business owners need to capture sales at the time when the customer is ready to buy. If they don’t, life will intervene and delay that purchasing action or worse, drive it toward your competitors.

Estimates predict that mobile sales will account for a whopping $11.6 billion dollars in revenue in 2012. Are you positioned to get your piece of that pie? Taking advantage of mobile sales means using all of the tools at your disposal to convince customers to buy and then giving them the power to act on that decision immediately. It means designing your website from A to Z for useability and readability on smart phones and tablets. It means choosing typography that is attractive and readable on smaller screens as well as large home computer monitors. It means having an overall website design that is fluid… one that looks and works great on any screen no matter what the size. It means having navigation that works just as easily with thumbs and forefingers as it does with a mouse. It also means taking advantage of the power of Social Media to present your company, brand and products in a timely and effective way.

Social Media

It should be no surprise that the rise of Social Media Marketing and Mobile sales are closely related. Last year, Facebook estimated that 350 million of its 800 million users (40%) accessed the site via mobile devices. More and more consumers are using Social Media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter to research different products and make buying decisions. More importantly, Social Media provides THE SINGLE BEST opportunity to engage with your customers and potential customers on a regular basis. Social Media networks are available 24 hours a day, meaning that you can present marketing to your potential customers 24 hours a day. Just as important is the opportunity to increase your brand awareness, and build and reinforce your relationships with your customers. Offering discounts, coupons and other promotions to people that visit your Facebook business page on a regular basis is a great way to get people coming back over and over again. Is your business on Google+ yet? Don’t discount the potential power of this relatively new social network. Many are speculating that companies who utilize the new platform will automatically do better in Google’s search engine rankings, regardless of how many people actually visit the page!

Replicate the Retail Experience

I believe this is one of the greatest opportunities for small businesses to capitalize on the mobile and social marketing trends of 2012. While many customers will continue to shop online for the sake of convenience (among other reasons), they still want the responsiveness and service available from taking to a live person. The traditional customer service vehicle of a small business online presence has always been email or the website form. However, there are a variety of live chat options available that can greatly improve a small business’s response time for customers, which will lead to greater sales now and better customer retention in the future. Given the relatively small cost of some of these options (some are even FREE), the Return on Investment is phenomenal. Any time you can give the customer what they want, when they want it, you are putting yourself in a great position to succeed! Finding ways, like implementing a Live Chat system for both and pre- and post-sales situations is just one way to provide the best possible customer experience.

2012 – Great Promise for Small Businesses

Those small businesses that learn how to effectively extend their traditional brick and mortar presence into the online marketplace will enjoy the greatest success in 2012. A seamless integration of these strategies will produce more customers, greater customer retention, and open up even more opportunities through word of mouth, links back to your website and more followers on your social marketing accounts.

Small Business Growth Through Market Research

You need to know numbers. Small business owners are often very excited about their product and how they can help the market. But, does the market want or need your product? You need to know the numbers behind that question. Performing market research is a powerful driver for small business growth.

First of all, let me explain what market research is. This is the process of going to your target market and asking questions, interviewing, reading and researching to gain knowledge about what they want and what they are willing to pay for. This data should be in numeric form so that you can more effectively make decisions from it. 

Let me provide a simple scenario that supports the idea of collecting number centric information. Suppose that you are selling a revolutionary product that will change the way that people make french-fries all across the world. Your new french-fry-omatic allows people to specify the size and shape of their fries when they are ordering them. 

If you go into the marketplace and ask if people are interested in this, they might say that, yes, they are excited about this product and you might even find hundreds of potential customers at restaurant trade shows who want to buy these machines right now and put them in their restaurants. You could go to the bank and other business stakeholders and show them all of your survey forms where restaurant owners have shown how excited they were for this idea. 

However, this is not the information that you need. The banker will ask you what the machine costs to produce and how much you plan to sell it for. Suppose that it costs $500 to make and people will only buy it for $300. You will go bankrupt selling a product that everybody is ‘excited’ to buy. In this example the market research performed was inadequate. You never asked what people were willing to pay for this machine. Imagine if your survey forms indicated the restaurant owners would pay $1000 for this machine. The bank would feel very confident in giving you a loan to build your machines. Focus on the information that is most valuable to you and the successful growth of your business.

Conducting well-through-out and effective market research provides you a powerful tool to help you grow your small business. Performing focused market research is a great way to gain more clients, increase sales and grow your small business.