Wake UP Business Owners!

Business Owners – WAKE UP! Build on Your Marketing Awareness

The truth is rather simple, the market place is changing in ways we never seen before, the paradigm shift is occurring now. And how is your business prepared to survive and even flourish?

If you are listening to the news and waiting for the economy to bounce back, well, let me begin by telling you you may be waiting for a while. Last year our printing business was feeling the effects of the economy, and I was asking around, “hey are you guys slow?” And the response was, “no were doing fine.” To my dismay, I was frustrated, wondering what “I” was doing wrong, and feeling that if I am suppose to be a marketing expert, I better sharpen my pencil and do some research to figure out what is going on.

My studies came fast and furious, there is so much wonderful information at your fingertips on the internet. So I thought I would share some of these things with you. My conclusion is that yes, maybe some businesses are doing well, however, my feeling is that most business owners are not in touch with their balance sheet as they could be, and this is a recipe for disaster. Just like Chrysler and GM, during the gas price hike in summer of 2008 that created a flood of requests for hybrid cards, they were producing SUVs and big rigs, and it was too difficult to change their production lines to meet the new demands. Reacting too slow, maybe too late, and not understanding what is really going on with customers needs and wants has been costly.  Even when I consult my customers, the behavior style of a entrepreneur is that they don’t like to be told what to do, and/or they have worked so hard to get where they are, they are not going to change it. After all, it has worked  before and they don’t want to learn something new, it is too hard.

I learned that 80 million baby boomers are reaching retirement in the USA, their purchasing behavior decreases dramatically, especially since they have lost much of their nest egg. The peak age of purchasing power is age 42,  and that falls on the upcoming Generation X’ers. Born between 1965-1984, they reach the count of only 65 million, which is 15 million less people that are out there purchasing during their peak buying power.

Not only are the businesses in the United States dealing with a smaller market place, they are finding themselves competing with China and India, as they have become global market forces intoxicating consumers for major American Corporations, and these corporations have failed to recognize this fact. The current American demographic paints a bleak picture, as China and India are emerging as extremely powerful consumer spending markets. India has more honor students than America has kids. With so much out of our control, how do we grab control of survival for our businesses? It is imperative that businesses are flexible enough to change the game quickly to remain market relevant.

There are 339,000 businesses in Washington State, and only 19,000 of them have 5 or more employees. Yes, do the math, that is 320,000 businesses only have 5 or less employees. Truly, how does your business differentiate themselves and thrive in the new communication market place? It is about trusted relationships, not numbers, it is about communication, that is honest and trustworthy. Businesses have flooded the market place with platitudes that no longer mean anything. We as consumers do not trust what we read anymore. We want to research and dig deep into understanding what it is we are purchasing. There needs to be complete authenticity that is transparent to the consumer world that is reliable. The 4P’s; Price, Place, Product and Promotion are no longer valid.

As a print shop owner for 17 years, I ask this question to my customers all of the time. When it comes to designing a postcard or brochure, what are your customers wants and needs? And it is astonishing how many business owners don’t even have a clue what I am asking, or a thought of a marketing plan. I am often told, “Just toss some photos and text on there so they know about us, and call it good!” WELL FOLKS, THAT WILL NOT WORK!! Careful thought and consideration needs to go into all aspects of marketing to get the whole picture, the goals and the customer’s needs.

If we provide a direct mail piece, a brochure or a beautiful website, that is successful and worth the money you put into it. They are working for you because you have defined the correct target audience, powerfully, with words and images that are count-on-able, making it simple for the consumer to understand and trust you because you understand their needs. You’re market savvy, because your business structure internally, the branding, and message matches your convictions. This is the foundation of relationship building. If the business owner does not understand this, the outcome is unavoidable demise.

The truth is rather simple, the market place is changing in ways we have never seen before, the paradigm shift is occurring now. And how is your business prepared to survive and even flourish? Because you can’t do it all perfectly, we must work together and share our strengths, our experiences, and forward each other. I have developed a workshop, covering all areas of marketing the business, including internal marketing such as employee training, procedures and POS systems, to mission statements.

Are you prepared? Ask yourself these questions:

1. Do you have a mission statement? If you do, what is it? Well, if you don’t know, it is not working for you.

2. What grade would you give yourself on your internal controls and procedures for order processing, training and quality control?  Why spend any money on marketing and advertising your product, if you can not satisfy your customer. They will walk out the door disappointed.

3. List 5 competitive advantages (or Unique Selling/Value Proposition) that you have over your competition. Do you know what your competition is up to? When was the last time you surveyed them, and how do you fair with their services to yours?

4. Do you know who your top 10 customers are, what they buy from you and why? Understanding the buying behaviors of your customer, you can fit and match their wants and needs more specifically, thus not wasting either you or your customers time.

5. What is your marketing budget? And do you know what the returns (ROI) are on your efforts? Understanding where your costs are being spent wisely or areas where it is not,
gives you power around decision making time.

These are just some of the areas that my marketing class will discuss and process with you so you will have power around your business branding and get the results you have always wanted. Remember: As Whatcom County / Washington State prepares for the 2010 Winter Olympics, we have so much to offer the guests coming through our area, but if you are not prepared for the current business, you will not take advantage of the future business.

To learn more about the classes “Marketing Symposium” visit our website: www.printcopyfactory.com.

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