Forbes, who by 2013 had collected information from their 38 million members over a period of six years, reported that 543,000 new businesses are started each month but… more businesses close their doors than are opened.
Out of the companies that startup, only a quarter end up staying in business for 10 years.
These are grim statistics. But as the saying goes, “if it were easy, everyone would be doing it”… And so many try, and most fail.
Why? Well, research shows that the top reasons small business owners fail are:
- Unrealistic expectations.
- Poor business skills.
- Lack of capital.
- Lack of planning.
If your business is less than 5 years old, chances of failure are high. But there is positive news too – if you don’t give up, use the money you make wisely, learn the best way to run a business, and plan properly, you can be one of the few who makes it, even if it may not feel like it sometimes.
Although both of these methods are by no means quick-fixes, if you’re looking for ways to grow solidly, these two ideas will maximize your efforts, and set your business apart from your competitors who couldn’t be bothered:
#1: Track Social Mentions
Your marketing foundation should start with knowing – on a very intimate level – what’s important to your target audience. It makes no sense to plan marketing activities that gain the attention of everyone, excluding the people who most need your business services.
One way to get to know your target audience on an intimate level, is to track social mentions.
How better to know what you should be planning for your marketing strategy, than to learn from listening to the conversations of your customers, or potential customers on social media?
The primary benefit to track social mentions is to optimize your marketing strategy by basing it on the people that are already interested in what your startup service business has to offer, instead of trying to market to people who are not interested, which is like trying to get blood out of a stone. And costs a lot to boot.
The main benefits of social tracking tools are to:
- Make your marketing plan more effective, so that your content is more relevant to the right people.
- Enable quick response to customers who mention your brand, or service, even if they don’t direct the message to your business.
In the above example, by tracking social media mentions with a tool, McDonald’s was able to respond to a customer’s statement even though it had not been directed to McDonald’s itself.
- Find opportunities to engage with potential customers. For example, if you are a graphic designer, and the tool finds a comment made by someone saying how frustrated they are with their current graphic designer, you can carefully find a way to respond, in order to lure them to your services.
- Understand what’s working and not working for competitors, so that you can do better.
- Dazzle upset customers and win them back.
#2: Secure Better Paying Clients
Your aim should be to secure bigger fish, because bigger fish mean more profit, for less work. The longer you stay with smaller clients, the less money you’re going to earn, and the harder you’ll need to work for it.
Just one big corporate company can mean stability, security, less working hours, and a dramatically increased profit.
But how to get better paying clients?
- First, change your mindset. You are worth better paying clients, but your approach needs to change, because the processes of bigger companies will be very different to the smaller ones.
- Make a list of potential companies to target.
- Research the company so that you have a good understanding of what they stand for, and gain ideas as to how best to approach the right person.
- Make contact: you could try a networking event which is ideal, or email or even social media. Bear in mind that this part needs strategizing because a sales pitch is not likely to get you anywhere. You may want to start off the process by networking, which makes things easier. How can startups network with people from big organizations?
- Attend events, exhibitions, and conferences. Joining your local business chamber is your best bet, or check for events online using Eventbrite or your local Meetup.
- LinkedIn is an excellent way to find people and groups, in which to start conversations.
- Try Twitter tweet chats. Buffer offers a step by step guide to Twitter chats.
- Follow up with how your business can help them achieve their goals (which is why you need to conduct research of the company).
- Once you have somewhat of a relationship going, or if they request it, you can now submit a proposal. Using a proposal software simplifies the process, as it provides templates that have been written by professional copywriters, for maximum impact.
- Be sure to demonstrate credibility as to why a big corporate company should trust a small startup business to fulfill a service.
Bear in mind that securing large corporations could take months, and is no quick-fix.
You don’t have to go for corporates, but you can still insist on servicing better paying clients, so long as you provide quality service. Find smaller, but smart companies who work with integrity and understand the value you provide. This means less stress and struggle for payments, and possibly more business in the future.
To accelerate growth and profit, with perseverance and tenacity, these two methods will work to optimize your sales efforts:
Find out what customers and potential customers are saying on social media and learn what’s truly important to them, so that you can make your marketing campaigns as effective as possible.
Secure better quality clients, whether in the form of large corporations, or simply those who understand your value and appreciate the service you provide.