Friday, August 17, 2001

George Mindling Column 8-17-2001 - Method of Advertising

Address Your Method of Advertising

Networking is one of the most substantial methods of marketing for individual consultants and many small businesses in the services area of business. Niche or specialty services are usually offered by individual consultants or small businesses as an alternative to the services of larger firms.

Specialty advertising or, specifically, targeted advertising, such as specialty magazines, become the prime method of attracting new customers. Web positioning for Internet search engines offers "top slot" response to specific online queries or searches, but often the Web is far too global in scope.

Repeat customers, and their references, make up a good portion, if not the bulk, of the work. Word of mouth becomes as important as any other form of marketing. Advertising to the public may become a moot point if the market for a given service is so minimal as to not offset the cost of the advertising. But with lack of exposure, one of the gremlins of being a small business may attach itself to your logo .

One of the major problems with being self-employed often occurs without any sign of trouble. It comes in gradually, unnoticed until something happens and one day you realize your customers don't know the scope of services you really offer.

If you start your business by advertising certain services or products, then find over time you are no longer doing those things as a core business. you need to reevaluate your business plan. Most certainly your advertising will need to be addressed. If the profit from the change in your services is greater, then modify your plan to gradually move your advertising to the new area where you can maximize your profits.

If, however, you find you are becoming tied to non-profitable or less profitable services just as a by-product of being in business. start cutting out the time- wasting services.

You need to understand your customers probably may get confused if the "snap-back" is drastic. If services you offered are suddenly removed or reduced, your customers may feel abandoned, even hostile. The weaning period doesn't have to be as drawn out. as long as the time span that caused the problem. But if it happens immediately, be prepared for customer confusion and complaints. If you sell mouse traps that generate most of your profit. don't get caught spending your time trying to teach people about how to catch mice unless there is more profit from the teaching.

If you are teaching about catching mice for free, you will soon have standing room only with people who may just buy their mouse traps somewhere else. Should you have "value-add?", to use an old, overworked cliche? Yes, but not at the expense of losing sight of your business.

If you spend all your time teaching for free, instead of selling at a profit. you will soon be out of business. Even if you have a warehouse full of mousetraps.

George Mindling © 2001

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