One of the responses I received from readers of last week’s newsletter entitled “The Biggest Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make” was from Simba, a Zimbabwean based in South Africa. His story is closely related to Joe’s, who built a business and then waited for customers to come.
Many entrepreneurs have made and continue to make that mistake, assuming that customers will love their new products or services.
The reality today is that we are living in the information age. At the beginning of the industrial age, which ended in 1989 when the Internet was created, companies produced their products and customers would make a bee line to buy. As more companies entered the market and competition increased, mass advertising came in. Firms would spend millions of dollars in advertising, to entice customers to buy their products. Some adverts went to the extent of claiming that their products were better than those of competitors, although being exactly the same. (Remember the cola wars between Coca Cola and Pepsi, or the hamburger wars between McDonalds and Burger King?)
Then came the internet and information became easily available to consumers. Now informed consumers don’t wait to be told about products, they do their own research, by Google search, visiting websites, sharing experiences with friends on social networks and even reading user reviews about your products. So, no matter how you try to position your product or service in the faces of customers, they already know all about it and have even done comparisons with competitors.
How do you win in a market of informed customers?
Engage the customers. Let them tell you what that think about your product. When developing a new product or service, first let customers have a taste. Develop a basic version and take it to market at the earliest possible stage. You already know your target customers, or friends who are likely to use your product. Sell it to them or even give them free samples and ask them what they think. Their response will guide you on how to improve the product, package it and price it. If you make a product that customers truly love, then you will succeed in the market and make more profits, faster. If it fails you will improve the product faster or even cut your losses early if necessary.
So, the most important skills you need today are marketing and communication. Communication does not mean just sending your message to customers, but more importantly, hearing what customers are saying. They can talk to you through direct feedback or they can tell their friends about your product through social media. Be there and listen when they talk. Be social media savvy. Be whatever it takes to get close to customers. You will learn a lot about how good or not good your product is from your potential customers.
We will discuss more on effective marketing at the BusinessLink Networking Breakfast meeting, themed “Lean and Targeted Marketing: How to be found by your ideal customers.” See more details at the bottom of this article.
Phillip Chichoni is the founder of Admiral Business Systems, a firm which provides business development consultancy and training. He is the author of books that include Business Planning Simplified and High Impact Low Cost Marketing Strategies for SMEs and publisher of BusinessLink Magazine. You can contact him for all your business plans, company and PBC registration, marketing advice, tax consultancy and accounting, his email is email@example.com or visit http://smebusinesslink.com.
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NEXT WORKSHOPS DATES:
- Step by Step Guide to Starting a Business in Zimbabwe –Friday 21 March
- Writing an Effective Business Plan-Saturday 22 March, 2014
- Marketing and Selling Strategy for Solid Results- Friday 28 March. For detailed information, please visit http://smebusinesslink.com/2014/03/03/6738/ or call 0777 774 007
MARCH NETWORKING BREAKFAST MEETING: Wednesday 26th March, 2014.
March Networking Breakfast Meeting
Lean and Targeted Marketing: How to be found by your ideal customers
Phillip Chichoni, a business development consultant, trainer, author and blogger, will talk about how to make your ideal customers find you in a crowded market without a big budget.
If you want to improve overall sales performance, launch new products more successfully, sell more to existing customers and build a lean, mean marketing and sales team, then this event is for you.
This will also be a great opportunity to network with other entrepreneurs and grow your useful contacts.
Date: Wednesday 26th March 2014
Time: 0815 to 0945
Venue: The Terrace Restaurant, 3rd Floor Barbours Department, 1St St/ Jason Moyo Avene, Harare. (Please make your own parking arrangements)
Fee: $8 for BusinessLink silver Club subscribers, $12 for non-members. For information about BusinessLink membership, please go to the BUSINESSLINK NETWORK CLUBS page on our website http://smebusinesslink.com/businesslink-network/
You may also call Christine on 0772 854 301 or visit us at suite 308, 3rd Floor, Merchant House, Robson Manyika / 2nd Street, Harare.
PS: Get Your Monthly Copy Of The Businesslink DigitalMagazine For Only $12.99 For A Year And get free membership to the Silver Club.
Inside the April issue, out from 26 March 2014:
- Creating an Entrepreneurial, Innovation Based Economy is Key to Jobs and Growth
- Outstanding entrepreneur expands footprint in the health sector
- 4 Steps to help you being market focused
- Natasha Ndlovu- How blogging helped her land big modeling contracts
- Incorporation: Why sole proprietorship is not enough
- Everything you ever wanted to know about a PBC
- Zimbo Kitchen: Making money through food content
- Smart ways to accelerate your growth
- Arthur Marara: Inspiring the next generation
- 30 Most Promising young entrepreneurs in Africa in 2014
- And much much more!
BusinessLink, the magazine for growing companies, delivers real solutions for today’s innovative business builders. It gives advice, tools and resources to CEOs and owners of small-to-midsize companies as well as new entrepreneurs, that help accelerate their growth.
Please visit http://smebusinesslink.com/magazine for information on how to get your copy, or call 0777 774 007