What Can A Small Business Marketing Consultant Do To Help You Grow Your Business?

Think back to the time you started your business. Chances are it was because you enjoyed being in a particular industry – you had a passion about your product or service, and wanted to share it with the world. But did you ever stop and say to yourself, “I can’t wait to market this business”? Probably not. That unfortunately is why many of today’s small businesses fail. The owners try everything they can think of to save their business, yet they miss out on the one opportunity that can turn their business into true success: hiring a small business marketing consultant.

A small business marketing consultant specializes in learning the top ways to market a business; creates strategies that will help businesses double, even triple their current profits; and teaches the most effective methods for increasing the bottom line of any business.

In today’s business world, there are two types of small business marketing consultants:

* Traditional small business marketing consultants

* Online small business marketing consultants

A traditional small business marketing consultant can help you create a marketing strategy using traditional tools. They understand how to advertise your business. They understand the importance of branding. They can help you write copy, and create dynamic promotional pieces. In short, they understand how to marketing your business well in the traditional environment.

But if someone has been in the marketing field for a number of years, and understands traditional marketing venues well, what they may not be good at is making the transition to the online world. And there is a world of difference between traditional and online marketing.

An online small business marketing consultant understands the same strategies used in traditional marketing. They understand advertising. They understand branding. They understand the importance for creating dynamic promotional pieces. But from there is where the differences begin.

An online small business marketing consultant realizes that you sell differently online than you do off. It takes different strategies, different copy, and different promotional materials to succeed online. Not only should a consultant provide you with traditional methods, but they should make sure these methods feed the online world as well.

For example, a postcard sent out direct mail has always been a successful tool. But if you send out that postcard asking for the reader to take one action step – heading to a website to sign up for a free report – you success rate for that postcard will improve dramatically.

While this technique may seem simple, there are many techniques just like this that can bridge the traditional and online world together, and make your business stronger and more profitable. It’s all in what you know – and whom you ask to help make it a possibility.

Copyright 2006 Vision Business Concepts Inc

Small Business Marketing – The Power of a Market Review

Conducting a market review is one of the most important steps in the small business marketing process as it provides together with a business review the information you need to create a dynamic marketing plan. All big businesses conduct these reviews as they know it can save time and money for their business.

A market review does not have to be complicated and a lot will depend on what information you can source. The important factor regarding a market review is to understand the key elements of your market and how these elements can affect your business now and in the future.

The key elements you need to look at when conducting a market review for your small business include:

Size of Market
Your market is simply the overall industry in which you compete. For example if you sell juice then you compete in the Beverage Market. If you sell holidays as a travel agent then you compete in the Tourism Market. Analyzing the size of your market can tell you whether it is growing or declining, help you to identify growth opportunities and for a new small business can determine if the market is large enough to compete in and operate a profitable business. There are many sources you can use to gather information on the size of your market and these include trade magazines, industry associations, search engines and local government websites and resources.

Market Segment Analysis

Segmentation is a process that looks at the total market and then divides the products or services into broad groups that have similar characteristics. In the examples above, whilst the total market is beverages, the segment that is the most important to a juice manufacturer is the Juice Segment. Looking at the total beverage market today throughout the world the leading soft drink manufacturers have entered many of the market segments such as bottled water to expand their business. Market segment analysis also helps you to determine where your small business marketing efforts should be concentrated.

Distribution Channel Analysis
A distribution channel is the way in which your product or service is made available to your customers so they can purchase it. Examples are supermarkets, personal selling (face to face selling), distributors and the internet. Analyzing the sales of each distribution channel in your market enables you to identify which channels are the most important for you to compete in to grow your business.

Market Trends
A trend is any significant change to your market that your business may need to respond to. Examples of market trends include changes to the economy, changing customer demographics, social and global factors (to name a few). If you conduct business in the USA at the moment or are intending to compete in the USA then the concerns about a possible recession and how it could affect your small business needs to be identified so action plans can be put in place to minimize the impact.

Market Seasonality
If a product or service is seasonal it means that the majority of the sales occur at one or a few times a year. Tax accountants obviously have increased sales when the end of the financial year occurs and tax returns and other government reporting are required. Understanding market seasonality factors can lead to your small business maximizing sales through this period and also may highlight opportunities to spread your sales throughout the year.

Competitor Analysis
Your key competitors need to be analyzed in order for you to identify their key strengths and weaknesses and how they compare to your own small business. Reviewing this area means that you can be smarter with your marketing efforts and be proactive against their weaknesses and of course defend against their strengths. One tip that all big businesses do is to have a competitor file with examples of their marketing activities, products or services.

Big businesses know the value of reviewing the market in which they compete and you can to. Remember you can start slowly and just review one section at a time and then put in place activities or make business decisions based on the review to grow your small business.

© Marketing for Business Success Pty Ltd 2008

First Time Small Business Buyer

WHY BUY AN ESTABLISHED BUSINESS?

The best way to answer this question is to keep it short, simple, and to the point!

In most instances small businesses are acquired by first time business buyers. And this question comes up to them almost all the time. “Why not start my own from ground up?” Well, because it’s too risky! Buy an existing business, “because it is established,” you don’t have to start from scratch and advertise and hope to get clients. Most new businesses fail in their first year, and this is not news. Established businesses have a track record. When you buy an established business you’ll start profiting from day one. There will be no guessing, hoping, wishing, or waiting.

When you buy an established business the previous owner trains and prepares you for that business. Because guess what? The previous owner knows how to squeeze every dime out of that business to maximize profits. More often than not, mandatory training is a contingency when you make an offer to buy an established business. Something that is very well worth to take advantage of and learn and ask as many questions as possible to insure future stability and growth.

A PROFESSIONAL BUSINESS BROKER

First time small business buyers have a much better chance of finding the right business if they team up with a professional business broker. It just takes a lot of the stress away. Your business broker will show you businesses, advise you, do market comparisons and come up with the real value of the business you are considering purchasing.

But don’t be fooled. Finding the right business broker takes some homework. I recommend never to settle for less. Call and see at least a few business brokers before you make up your mind. Once you know your budget for your small business purchase ask the brokers if they will work with that budget. Sometimes they have general price ranges that they work between. For example, they only sell businesses prices between 500k to 5million. So in this case it is probably a waste of time to talk with them if your budget is 100k. And please try not to get stressed out in this entire process of buying a small business. It’s not as hard as it sounds. And in case you feel it’s not for you don’t be sad because it is not for everyone.

HOW MUCH TO PAY FOR A BUSINESS?

Since most of small businesses are sold to first time buyers, this is a question that comes up quite a few times. Most times even the owner or seller doesn’t know the true value of his/her business. They may say, “It has got to be at least 10 x my gross sales…,” or “I bought this business for this much, so now it has got to be worth this much.” These kinds of scenarios happen a whole lot. And it may not be the seller’s fault because that could be what they were told when they bought the business in the first place. So it’s fair to say that some sellers are completely out of touch with reality. But keep in mind that sometimes it’s possible to buy a business below its market value for various reasons. For instance; the owner want to get rid of his/her business and do something else, the seller has not consulted with a professional business broker, health reasons, emergency, hospital bills, other business ventures, etc… Below market priced businesses should accurately be investigate and appraised carefully to be able to figure out whether it is worth buying or not.

With all of these things being said, no one should be confused about how much to pay for a business because there are industry standards and market comparisons. If you are someone who is working with a professional business broker then you probably should not have any problems appraising a business. Working with a professional business broker makes life a whole lot easier, and is something that I would recommend to anyone who is searching or considering buying a small business.

PRICING NEGOTIATIONS

The endless inverse relationship between buyers and seller. But this does not matter to the informed buyer/seller. Meaning that if the seller/buyer did their homework and came up with the right market value price for a business then there is no further problems or questions. The considering party now know what the next step would have to be. That is where or not to accept the offer. My recommendation is to be true to the market and not waste irreversible time.

Not knowing the current market value of the business is where the problems begin. For example; just because a seller is lowering the price doesn’t necessarily mean you are getting a deal, or let’s say as a business broker you appraise a business for “x” and the seller wants “y” amount and you take the listings in hopes that they will come to their senses and lower the price later.

It’s not easy. But it’s the only way. “He said, she said, they think.” All that is nonsense. Don’t waste your time and get the true market value of the business. This will save a lot of time and nerves, and would make it easier to buy or sell.

READY TO BUY AND RUN A BUSINESS?

Of course the primary requirement to purchasing a business is financial ability. But let’s not leave another important factor alone. I’m talking about whether or not you have the ability to learn and run a business. It’s very different compared to just working for someone and getting a pay check every other week.

You need to ask yourself these questions; Are you ready to make business decision on a daily business? Can you withstand the pressure of being responsible for everything? Because at the end of the day this is what it comes to. Do you have the ability to engage in effective communication with your vendors, staff, client, etc…? Are you computer savvy? Are you able to properly write emails? Are you on time? And many more questions like this.

The fact is that you don’t have to be perfect at these things, but if you realize early on what you need to improve on or who you need to hire to help you, then you will save a lot of nerves and perhaps money and time. Being in business for yourself is not easy. But owning a business of your own is still a big part of the American Dream after all. And you should definitely be honest with yourself and follow your heart.

BUSINESS GOALS

The point of being in business is to be profitable. There are many successful business models. Which one is the right one for you? This is a great question to ask yourself early on because time goes by fast and you don’t want to be jumping from one idea to the next. It’s always good to formulate a plan, one which is based on reality and availability. A lot of first time business buyers fail to buy a business because they wait too long for the right business to come along and eat away their savings and lose the ability to be a business owner because of this.

There are industry standards to pricing most types of businesses. Once you know what type of business is most compatible for you, then at this point you may ask a professional business broker to assist you finding what you are looking for based on price, profitability, affordability, and location. It really takes the guess work out of figuring out what the market value for a certain business is. Once you are sure about what type of business to buy and the price you are willing to pay, then it’s just a matter of time to find it. Patience goes a long way, but being too patient and hesitating to buy at the right moment could become a problem because time may start eating into your savings and prevent you from buying any business.

CONSIDERATION

One great aspect to think about is your time. How much time do you want to spend on this. Are you a workaholic? Regular 9 to 5 person? Morning person? Evening person? These are all good question to ask yourself before you start your search. Do you know how you want to divide your time. It would be sad to get into a business and then figure out it’s not for you. Plus, know this will be useful in picking the types of businesses that might interest you.

WORK AND TIME MANAGEMENT

Time passes fast, but you already knew that. Are you getting the most out of your time? Are you involved in activities in your business that perhaps someone else can do for you? Do you trust your team? Are you addicted to controlling every aspect of you employees work? These are all good question to ask yourself, which in turn may save you some time so you can concentrate more on how to further develop your operations.

A big part of success comes from having the right people working with you. You want to have people who are motivated, and not just doing the bare minimum. For this you need to take time to assemble your team based on stringent qualifications, and then treat them nicely and keep them motivated. Because if they see that they have a chance and a future with your company, they will most probably help you get to your goals faster with much less stress. When the right employee is treated properly, most likely he/she will go the extra mile for you every day.

EVALUATE YOUR PHYSICAL HEALTH

Being in business and profiting from it is fantastic, and you must be physically healthy to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Evaluating your physical health condition is an absolutely critical issue when you are considering buying a business. Or if you are not healthy enough, is there someone that you like, trust, and capable enough to help you out. Again, you must be sure you have got this base covered just in case. Small business can be extremely fragile object to handle, and you need to do the job the right way.

DISCLAIMER: The contents of this page are for entertainment purposes only. Please seek the advice of a lawyer/accountant/etc. before investing in a business. We will not be liable for the information displayed on this page in any shape or form. Buying a business involves risk.

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