During a recent google search, I found an interesting article that listed the top 50 questions asked to “Consultants in 2016”. Literally 48/50 were related to some form of Marketing, Social Media or SEO. While those are very important reasons to look for an expert, I am concerned(and my business shows) that many businesses are missing out on other fundamental ways to help their business. Given National closure rates are so high for Small/Medium Businesses, do people think Marketing will save their business? What are the top reasons a business fails and how does Marketing help avoid that?
The number one concern a business owner should have is how to maximize their businesses ability to generate revenue.
Marketing is one of the 4 most important areas to develop and can not be overlooked. But not developing the other three can jeopardize the sustainability of a business. I have seen too many instances where an organization improved efforts to increase the customer base through Marketing, only to find the business couldn’t capitalize on the new found popularity or volume. If your first reaction to this is “that’s a good problem”, you are wrong. It is a problem that may hurt your business more than it helps it. To increase revenue in a sustainable way, you need to consider building on all 4 key areas.
The 4 key areas (we call them Pillars)
Products – People – Operations – Marketing
Case in point –
A classic example is the restaurant that creates a great coupon that is hard to say no to. People come in droves and crowd the restaurant. Tables are full, the Bar is crowded and there is a wait list as long as your arm.
Successful Marketing right?
Then things start to go wrong, the food comes out late, servers become overwhelmed, orders begin to get switched around and as a result the tables don’t turn. Then the customers at tables start to become frustrated and before you know it, they have such a bad experience, they don’t want to return. People waiting for a table end up waiting twice the time they were quoted.
Perhaps the house buys a drink or dessert to appease, this calms many people but that may not work on everyone. Customers take out frustration on your staff. Your staff takes out there frustration on each other. All in all, it turns out to be a tough night for that restaurant.
But the pain continues because customers who want to vent are just getting started.
Customers proceed to tell there friends what a bad time they had when they’re at work or through social media and this can linger for some time. So while the coupon brought increased sales initially, the other areas of the business that weren’t ready for this suffered. The servers don’t make($) what they expected due to the restaurant failing, the kitchen crew is frustrated because they weren’t set up for that kind of business, and the product quality suffered due to the volume. Marketing people call this a successful campaign and while sales were up temporarily, they then slumped even lower than before the coupon was sent out. Damage has been done.
We all know this story, and it can happen in all industries.
This problem was created by an over emphasis on Marketing and not insuring that other important components needed were addressed. Generally this is a type of ad hoc marketing, and don’t confuse it with “strategy”. A Business Strategist would not only look at ways to get more people through the door, but make sure the business was equipped to handled the increase. I have literally seen Groupon tactics destroy businesses, they will get people to your business, but it is unlikely you will make money off the new business or create repeat customers (which is what every owner that signs up for that service wants). I am all for Marketing. Marketing/Advertising is to increase demand or volume, just make sure your business can meet the demand you create.
So if Marketing won’t save my business, what should I look at?
90% of business fail due to lack of quality management
48% due to incompetence
42% due to inexperienced leadership
-International Management Consultants, USA
The SBA, SBDC, Dunn & Bradstreet, IRS & Census bureau will also show similar statistics.
4 ways to achieve a sustainable growth in your revenue
- Learn to evaluate your business. When you are in a position of growth, expansion or even for a limited promotion like the coupon in the case study above, make sure you look at the 4 key area’s needed to generate revenue for your business. If any of those area’s slip during a period of increased advertising, understand it will jeopardize the results you had planned. Maintaining product standards, Quality Assurance measures, and Brand management are the tip of the iceberg to insure daily execution. Daily execution is what your customer base will judge you by and ultimately determines everything from customer loyalty to profitability. Much more information on these 4 areas (Pillars)can be found on our website.
- Don’t confuse sales with growth. Sustainable businesses create strategies that take all 4 areas and develop each of them to meet desired goals. Top line sales don’t always translate to growth especially if you can’t sustain that level of revenue. Training everyone in the company to focus on all 4 areas can lead to rapid, organic growth for a company that is sustainable. In short, develop your people and they will develop the business. Give them systems and tools that help them achieve their job. When systems, tools, training, and goals are all focused on developing your products, then you have something to Market. Never Market under the “Strategy” these others will “fall in line”. This is a common mistake and they seldom do.
- Don’t over rely on online development. Unless you are strictly E-Commerce. As mentioned above, 98% of the questions searched about consultants were for Marketing based consultants. Yet, Marketing usually doesn’t make the top 5 reasons why businesses close. Marketing Consultants are important in today’s business world and C.S.Simons Consulting works with several extremely valuable Marketing experts, but there is more to developing your business than a Marketing Expert can offer. They are part of the solution, not the whole solution.
- Know how the pieces connect. The business “Pillars” I refer to have overlap and it can be confusing as to how they fit together to build a business. Further more, what is needed to support each pillar can change by industry, by business size and even business age. Knowing what is needed to get you to the next stage is the key to growth & sustainability. If you think all your organization needs to grow is better or different Marketing, I strongly recommend you look at the other pieces of the puzzle to.
All businesses need to Market. Many outsource this for a variety of reasons and many of them are good reasons. The point is to understand the impact of the marketing tactics to the other sides of your business before they are launched.
If you really want to increase your revenue or strengthen your business make sure you are defended against the top reasons business fail in the first place!