Always Do What It Says On Your Tin
Business is a matter of selling either a product or a service for more than you pay for it after deducting all costs, such as marketing, administration, tax, vat and such like.
In my opinion though, there is one non-negotiable issue which should always take priority regardless of anything else, and that is doing exactly what you claim your service or product will do.
The most powerful customer you will ever have is the one you already possess so retaining his or her custom is vital to your business success.
Many businesses forget this very simple fact and ultimately struggle. Sometimes they appear to succeed for a while because they are in an expanding sector such as mobile phones throughout the last 20 years or so but ultimately unless they truly care about their customer and tell the truth about their product, they will fail.
The old saying “It Does What It Says on The Tin” has never been truer. Making outlandish claims which have no resemblance to reality is a mistake but telling everyone your product is fantastic is perfectly fine, as long as it is.
It’s worth remembering that without sales you have no business so selling is ultimately your success or your nemesis depending how good you are at it.
My tip is to make sure that your product or service is as good as it can be and then shout the fact from the rooftops. Networking is always easier and more productive when you know that you are telling the truth.
Marketing is the function of delivering leads, selling is the function of closing a deal. They are part of the same process but distinctly different. Marketing takes in things like, advertising, public relation initiatives and even mundane things like handing out business cards whenever possible.
Networking is as essential these days as it always has been and making sure people know what it is you do is essential.
At Fear Group this is an issue always under discussion because we are involved in so many different things which make getting our message across more challenging. Essentially this is because we are private equity investors and entrepreneurs who are always looking for the next hot business idea or concept. In a way our website (www.feargroup.com) is a reference point for people to refer rather than somewhere one can visit and buy something.
If you sell soap for instance tell everyone you meet that you sell soap. Tell them you can gift wrap it and deliver it anywhere in the World if that’s what you can do, but don’t say that unless you mean it and will follow through because customers are often just as keen to say your service is rubbish as they are that its fantastic, rarely will they view it as “adequate”. Make sure they can only say good things about your business because satisfied customers are your most powerful marketing tool and will deliver those all-important leads to your door.
Talking of delivering leads brings me onto the issue of PR or Public Relations to give it full title. Public relations can be a very effective tool in your armoury but only if it is controlled and delivers, otherwise you can waste a lot of money.
It is worth remembering that PR is a marketing function not a selling function and as such results can be ambiguous. If someone reads about your business in the national press and then contacts you to buy your product that’s easy to assess, but mostly it isn’t that simple. They may have read about you months ago and never tell you that’s why they made contact.
Advertising is much the same so it is important to make sure that you monitor all sales so that you know where to spend your dollar. Ask every customer you have why they chose you and where they first heard of you and keep detailed records, then increase spending in that area and reduce it in non-productive areas.
If you instruct a PR agency make sure you give them proper instructions and that they know your ultimate game plan. Monitor what they are doing and don’t be afraid to insist on results. How many times are you mentioned in the press? are they being proactive without you having to chase them all the time? are they coming up with publicity ideas or is it you that’s doing that and they are merely following them up.
Good PR agencies should be coming up with publicity ideas constantly and if they’re not my advice is to replace them with better advertising or another PR agency. There are plenty out there. The UK, Canada and the US are well provided for with both PR agencies and Social Media professionals so you have plenty to choose from.
There is one non negotiable issue which should always take priority regardless of anything else, and that is doing exactly what you claim your service or product will do.
Original article for the Urban Times September 2013.