There was a network news story yesterday announcing the retirement of Apple’s support for the first- generation iPhone. In six short years, this huge innovation in communication has almost completely transformed many of our lives and culture. The strength of the Apple brand and the subsequent launches of improvements on this technological marvel have been the subject of both scrutiny and anticipation, and have led to the launch of competitive “smart phones”. Consider all the ancillary products to support the launch, cool apps, cases, covers and charms to bling out your iPhone.
Thinking about how Apple manages their brand gives the small to mid-size business owner a case history to study and apply to their own business’s product or service. Think of your business and how it has changed in the past six years. Better yet, revisit those aspects of your business that have not changed. They may be obsolete.
Cutting Edge – Current or Obsolete – Six Point Checklist
- Website – when was the last time you updated your site and optimized its content to be seen by your target market and the search engines? If it’s been more than six weeks, you may be current, but are you actively managing your website to be found by search engines? Given the constantly shifting methodology used by Google to determine search ranking, lacking regular updates to your website can cause you harm as your competitors can land higher in Google’s search results.
- Business Cards & Printed Collateral – if your business card has not changed in the past several years, you are missing the opportunity to integrate your business and your brand with social media. With over 1 billion users on Facebook and 200 million Linked In users, the chances your prospective market can be found on social media is all but rock solid. Give your calling card with information about how you can be found and followed. Fax numbers are out; links to social media are in. If you’re not present on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube, you are missing out on a great opportunity to expand your exposure.
- Communication – pay attention to how you communicate with your customers. If you are in an industry with critical timelines, then sending an email without a follow-up phone call can be fatal for your project and relationship. It is prudent to find out the best way to keep in touch with your clients. If you haven’t developed a good communication flow, it’s not too late to start. Let your customers know when and how you will communicate so they know what to expect. If you are in a heavily regulated industry with compliance for distributing communications, don’t expect your customers to know, care or understand what you want to do. It’s up to you to find out how you can make it easy for them.
- Marketing Plan – do you regularly review your plan and the allocated budget to implement the plan? The plan should be reviewed and updated at least annually. Take a look at the objectives from last year and the actual results. How many leads were generated and converted into sales revenue? What one thing did you do to provide the most leads? Many business owners will tell me anecdotally what works; few businesses have the statistics to back up their performance. Has your ideal customer profile changed since your company’s products and services have shifted to align with industry trends?
- Product, Pricing, Promotion & People – whether your business produces a product, delivers a service, or both, having a grasp on your competition and industry trends will highlight threats and opportunities. If your industry is ultra-competitive, such as real estate, then you need to find a way to set yourself apart from and above the rest of the pack. Differentiation, niche marketing, and using your unique selling proposition to your advantage will keep your business from being obsolete. Don’t offer another vanilla ice cream or shade of black onto the market without making it compelling and unique.
- Integration/360o Marketing – look at all of the ways you can touch your customer or prospect. Each method should relate and support one another in order to get the most “bang for your buck” of investment. Make your message consistent, from branding to customer service, from direct marketing (TV, direct mail) to you online presence (web, SEO, blog) from social media to mobile marketing and public relations.
It’s always the right time to take stock of your business, review the numbers, pick your business apart and focus on the ways you can uncover ways to improve your sales revenue. If you find you are too busy working in your business to work on your business, help is a phone call or email away. Our mission is to help business owners become more profitable with their business. Consultations are free, call us today at 888-235-3088 or email Marketing@1st-Straw.com[/box]