3 Things Every Business Owner Should Know
Your employees operate your company. If you have more than five employees, it’s likely that you aren’t doing it all yourself. You’re probably focusing more on the marketing or the books. Your employees might not manage your company, but they are operating it, pulling the levers, pushing the buttons, talking to customers.
Because the face of your company and the performance of your company depends in large part on your employees, you need a team whom you can trust and who trusts you. This is done, in part, by hiring more based on character than résumé. Of course, you need to know your employees have the skills to do their jobs, but beyond requirements, focus on finding people who are enjoyable to be around, who customers will remember, who will bring the team up, rather than be a drag.
Part of having a team is creating a team. Cheesy, corporate team-building exercises are almost worse than not having anything, because they seem insincere and everyone knows it. If employees are motivated by an iron fist from management or an empty incentives program, it won’t be much of a team. Ensure that the culture of the company is based on trust, mutual respect, and even fun breaks (ideally that don’t involve trust falls). Sincerely recognize hard work. Ask for and utilize employee input. Hand out periodic awards and throw regular pizza parties.
Marketing means money. If you’re not willing to invest the time or the money to deliver a clear, consistent message to the right people, your customers will be by chance. If you’re relying entirely on word-of-mouth, or you toss up a DIY website and hope for the best, you may as well have your store on Mars. Building a brand and reaching the right people with the right message takes investment and the return on investment is big, if you’re putting in the effort.
You don’t have to hire professionals for every marketing tactic, or even for the marketing strategy, but ensure that you’re either putting in the hours or hiring an expert to do it for you. Do you know how to use Facebook Ads Power Editor? Does your website have the right metatags for good SEO? Do you know how your customers are finding you and what devices and social media platforms they use? If you’re putting your ad in print, does it have a clear call to action? Have you calculated your expected ROI on the print ad? Do you have a way to track effectiveness?
Set clear marketing goals, objectives, timelines, and tactics, then track your campaigns. Figure out your customers, where they are (online and in life), and how your competition is marketing to them. If your marketing approach isn’t specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-constrained; it won’t perform well and it can’t be improved.
Experience is everything. This brings the first two items together. Your brand is the story of your company. It’s the story other people tell, as much as your brand identity, which you tell. It’s your messaging, your customer service and support, your products’ quality or price. If your story is getting to the right audience, your marketing is doing its job.
If the message is consistent and the visual identity is, too, then people will remember your brand and start to associate emotions with the experience of your brand. If they’re in your store, the decorating, the signage outside, the interaction with your employees, and the shopping process create a big impression on your customer. Then, when they’ve used your product or service, they may tell their friends and family–especially if you follow up with an email, or on social media, and make it easy for them to remember you and share with others.
The whole process of finding your company and buying your widgets forms the story that your customers want to buy. They can get widgets anywhere, but they pay the experience.