Archive for April 2013

You Have to Be Easy

April 30, 2013

Making it as easy as possible to do business with your company seems like a logical and simple concept, yet many businesses unwittingly create hurdle after hurdle for their customers to jump just for the privilege of doing business with them.

Customers are already overburdened with complexities, rules, and regulations. Companies that deliver with the least hassle win more business than others.

To be sure, there are some necessary steps and processes for each business transaction, but the task for every business should be to do away with as many of the unnecessary ones as possible.

Let’s take Apple computers and their packaging as just one example. An Apple product comes in a package that combines elegance, simplicity, and art. When you hold the typical Apple product package, you realize before even opening the box that this is a different kind of product. Everything has a place and reason. Much thought has gone into what is usually an afterthought with most companies.

Steve Jobs was known as an obsessive person. A big reason for his success was his obsession with removing complexity and simplifying. He knew that the company which removed the most confusion actually ended up gaining the most customers. Jobs wanted his products to be so simple and intuitive that they didn’t need an owner’s manual.

If you want to grow your business and for your clients to actually enjoy the buying process, you must obsessively work to continually remove as many obstacles as possible, while at the same time simplifying how customers buy from you.

Start by regularly asking yourself: “How can we make ordering from us even easier?”

It’s a process. You’ll know you’ve arrived when your customers actually have pleasant thoughts and smile when ordering instead of the typical angst most experience. Being the easiest to do business with will bring many long-term rewards.

Are You Building Your Business Like a House of Cards?

April 17, 2013

You know the game.

You start with a deck of playing cards and slowly begin to stack them together, carefully leaning one card against another at just the right angle, until you’ve created a solid wall of cards. You build the house higher and higher, one card and one row at a time, all the while moving around carefully so the whole thing doesn’t come crashing down.

Building and growing a business can sometimes feel like building a house of cards. If you have one or two clients providing the bulk of your revenue, your business can begin to feel as precariously unstable as that playing card wall.

Wal-mart is a giant corporation. Stories abound of how they’ve made and also broken some of their vendors. But you don’t have to be a Wal-mart vendor to find your company in this tricky situation. No matter how safe you think your relationship with a large account might be, life tends to throw you curveballs. There are no guarantees. If that one large account leaves for any reason and you face ruin, then you have built a house of cards.

After the initial start-up phase is over, running a successful business becomes a matter of managing risks. Having a few clients account for the bulk of revenue can happen slowly over time, or it can come about in a flash. The role of the owner and directors is to recognize the inherent risks, then go about managing them.

The obvious solution is to find more clients in order to broaden the customer base. The trick is to do this while managing larger customer expectations and not failing in product and service delivery.

No one said being a company owner is an easy thing to do.

In financial circles, astute financial planners recommend owning a predefined percentage mix of stock and bond funds based on your age and risk tolerance. As you add more funds, the percentages can get out of balance in one part of the portfolio. A periodic review shows which part is out of balance. The solution is to sell the overloaded part and buy more of the other in order to bring the portfolio back into balance.

Owning and running a business correctly is similar to having a financial portfolio. You must understand and realize what your goals are at the beginning and review them regularly. Successful owners realize when one metric has gone out of balance and take immediate action to bring it back in line.

A business built like a house of cards will have no choice but to crash back down to earth no matter how high the stack has grown. Broadening your customer base while providing excellent customer service and product delivery will ensure that no wind of change will affect your business.

When you do that, you will have the added bonus of sleeping much easier at night.

The Power of Partnerships

April 3, 2013

If you’re looking for a creative way to grow and create new business opportunities, you may want to consider a marketing partnership. By bringing two (or more) complementary companies together, businesses can tap into audiences they may not normally reach, providing exponential marketing exposure and increasing their customer base.

When considering a marketing partnership, it’s important to choose a company that aligns with your product quality, reputation, and overall business strategy. By partnering with a company that has a high reputation of providing quality products or services, you can not only increase your perceived value, but also provide customers with additional reasons to purchase from you.

Rather than joining forces on all aspects of marketing, many businesses create a marketing partnership that is targeted to a specific market sector or audience. They typically maintain their individual identities and continue to sell outside the partnership.

One example of a potential marketing partnership might involve a financial institution partnering with a real estate agent and/or title company to target home buyers in their area. By combining forces, both partners can offer potential customers a smoother path to home ownership.

If you need ideas for creating a joint direct mail marketing promo that can help you reach into new markets, build relationships, and increase sales, give us a call today.