South Africa is in the middle of a 21-day lockdown, and while some businesses are continuing to work through, others physically closed their doors for 21 Days. But one thing you will have, more time on your hands. Calculate your driving time and allocate this to your study time on your business.
Now, what if I told you that the 21-day isolation could make your business stronger? You probably say that I am out of my mind, but before you make that call read my article and then let me know if I am.
Over the last couple of months, I have worked with many small business owners and mentored them on their business. The most common problem kept raising its head when asked to implement change to scale their business, and this was that they did not have time. When analysing their schedules, there were one or two businesses that did not have time. Still, for the bulk, it was fear, having to look at a fast-moving market and online world that keeps changing and to have to keep adjusting your business model can be pretty scary for a small business.
As the Millenials (in the US 51.49%) are now the largest consumer group and Gen-Z (25.74%) are entering the consumer market, it becomes crucial that all companies take a multi-level and cross-medium marketing approach. But how will you find out where you have to spend your money? If your business is not moving with the current changes, you will soon find ourselves left behind. So, take out your business plan, dust it off and start with the following few steps:
1. Reidentify your audience
Most small businesses start with a more organic audience plan, this is done with testing, word of mouth and knocking on doors, and yes, this has brought customers, but now you have hit the wall. You have a stable, loyal consumer base, but you are not growing. Most of your current clientele is the once that were there from the very start and you may have gotten a few through referral and even through advertising.
With the current retail trends changing, your marketing strategy will need to change too, as it will bring global competition and more choice for the consumer. As a business, after pinpointing your customer personas, you be able to apply their needs to your business.
What are consumer personas
This will contain essential information about the person
- The size and kind of company this person works for
- What is their job, and what role they play in the company
- Salary or combined household income
- Location: are they urban, suburban or rural
- Level of education
- Family size
Goals and challenges
- Main goal
- Secondary goal
- Can your business or product help reach these goals
- Primary challenge
- Secondary challenge
- Can your bus/product assist in resolving these problems
Values and fears
- Main personal values
- Main fears
- Common objections during the sales process
You will need to create 2 to 3 Personas that match your current and future consumers, these personas will make up 90% of your business success, be honest and realistic with your current business personas, give them names to create a human element.
Now you have identified them, what are their common challenges? What possible solutions can your business offer? You may be in a specific product-market and over the past few years, there has been a lot of interest, but these have not unlocked sales. Your challenge may be in the following areas;
- Staff or businesses may not be adequately trained in the products
- An increase in competitors, creating saturation in the market
- Conflicting sales promises across competitors are confusing consumers
- Stigma may make customers reluctant to purchase products
2. Tweak your business processes
When you launched your business, what was your post business plan positioning? New discoveries, technology and global markets may have had an effect on your internal/external business activity as well as your offerings? This also impacted your marketing as well as product and service delivery.
3. Investigate your business resources
With business growth, the day-to-day needs in your business will change, are these been addressed? With unexpected global changes, are your business goals being addressed and adjusted?
Set up a list of business needs that is set for growth. Then create a roadmap to meet these goals and adjust your business plan. Some examples may be website updates, going from a basic to selling online or even the other way around. One that is on everyone’s mind raising capital, updating and streamline your customer lists just to name a few.
4. Develop a strong value proposition
Every business has one, but what is it? Value propositions are the innovation, service, feature or a combination of any of these and are intended to make a company or product attractive to customers. As the industry landscape changes, you may need to keep adjusting this to match the demand and external market growth. This is important, especially right now, it is the glue that creates customer retention. Utilise this time to create messaging to your customers to instill these values, this can help with customer retention, manage losses and set your business up for long-term growth.
5. Current & future business partners
Partnerships are the backbone of a business, they can come in suppliers, strategic partners, alliances, marketing and advertising partners. These relationships are built through ethos, growth and loyalty. But what happens when a business grows? We are creatures of loyalty and habit, but at some point, you do need to analyse if these partnerships are growing with you or are you outgrowing these partnerships. Through a needs analysis, you will find the gaps, and you can look at how these gabs can you filled, whether it is through partnerships or adjusting internal structures. This exercise could change the dynamic of your supply chain and could also streamline revenue if appropriately planned.
6. Create a demand generation strategy
As your business grows, you would have followed a strategic plan on creating awareness for your business. You now have a strong understanding of which personas impact your business. Is your marketing strategy still in line with the personas that you have identified? Do not just look at addressing for now survival. Your marketing plan needs to be set out to gain a long term brand loyalty, and it is vital that you now spend time and revenue on brand awareness. Your three personas may be on three very different platforms and may need three different approaches. This may sound very daunting, but it is simpler then you think. B2B wants to know more about your product and where it is positioned in the industry and consumer market. Consumers want to be informed about the product, be educated. These personas also mostly want to know what your brand lives by and how you are your global/local and environmental impact.
For all the personas, communication will be the key that will unlock the value of your business. It is also essential that you communicate to these personas in their own language, meaning, business needs to be factual and informative consumers relate to storytelling, something they can bond with. Because they live on different media platforms, you may need to look at producing material that matches these platforms. For prospective consumers, online platforms to consider are Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok and Youtube. Printed communication will also play an important role, especially if your consumer is interacting with your product through a third party.
For your current consumer, all of the above will work well, you do have an asset that you can utilise, your client list. Create newsletters and inbox your clients through social media, email and even with WhatsApp. The most important objective is not to spam your clients but to keep them informed.
Special thanks to Angela, tel +27 82 7352169 or email [email protected]