Tips on becoming ‘Marketing Rich’, it’s not just a philosophy!

Are you Marketing Rich?

If you are not getting as much business as you would like today, there are many things you can do to become marketing rich…which will lead you towards a goal of being monetarily rich and spread your influence as well!

Marketing Rich is both a philosophy and a goal!

Marketing Rich Philosophy:
Selling the solutions and benefits that your clients and future clients need using a variety of different marketing methods. Remember people want to know what is in it for them! Until you communicate to them that you can potentially solve a challenge of theirs, they don’t care how great your product or service is.

Having the best product or service does not guarantee success. When you rely primarily on word of mouth the sales process, sure it is usually easier to close the sale, but the timing is usually inconsistent and you don’t reach as many people as you should. (I assume your goal is to help as many people as you can and/or to make as much money as you can.)

How we apply Marketing Rich (Warning…this is partly a plug for eRose Web):
With the clients I have worked with through eRose Web, I have always stressed a marketing rich philosophy (hard to believe it has been over dozen years in business). We start with your Unique Selling Proposition and create content that speaks to your current and prospective clients as well as to the search engines. Our background in marketing sets us apart from design companies focused on Artistic style or the fanciest current technology. (Enough about eRose Web for now, let’s get back on topic.)

Goal: Be Marketing Rich to Become Rich:
Obviously, the goal of business is to make a profit, while the independence and freedom of being your own boss is a great benefit of business ownership that only goes so far if you are not making enough to make it worth your time.

Marketing Rich as a goal means you not only have enough to provide a comfortable life for your family, but you have enough left over to give you more flexibility and freedom. When you achieve your goal of becoming marketing rich you can do many other things, whether you want start new ventures, give back to your community, spend more time with family, travel the world, you name it!

Note: We do Not guarantee you will become rich through marketing, however the right marketing increases success rates for most businesses exponentially.

Business Boosting Marketing Tips: “Marketing Rich” skill on Alexa (Amazon Echo)
Check out the variety of marketing tips we offer here in our blog articles, through our social media posts and tweets, as well as our Amazon Echo Alexa App called…you guessed it “Marketing Rich”

Ask Marketing Rich for a marketing tip (Alexa Skill)

Here is a sample of the types of tips we offer through “Marketing Rich” skill:

  • Update at least the home page of your website regularly. The search engines may penalize you if they see the same content on your home page for a long time.
  • Customize your email marketing to groups of prospects by area of interest. Even if you keep most of the content the same a few changes to the beginning of your email marketing that targets an interest of that prospect can significantly improve your results.
  • Ask your vendors, industry organizations, and clients to put a link to your website on theirs or to mention the great work you are doing on your social media platform of choice.
  • To develop a relationship with a social media influencer in your industry on twitter, retweet their content, add value on top of their tweets and be complimentary.
  • Have your social media pose a variety of questions to find out what sparks participation from your followers. Some may be directed to limited selection of answers, some may be open ended or thought provoking questions.

If you own an Amazon Alexa we encourage you to enable the Marketing Rich skill by going to the Alexa App or your Amazon login > Departments > Echo & Alexa > Alexa Skills (you can search for it or look under Business & Finance category) to click the Enable button. Then whenever you need a little marketing rich inspiration say…”Ask Marketing Rich for a Marketing Tip.”

A little more about us:
eRose web provides many digital marketing services with a focus on helping small businesses and Entrepreneurs to succeed. Our focus is custom websites (and customized WordPress websites) with a marketing focus, SEO, content writing, eMail marketing and Social Media Marketing integrated together for a Marketing Rich experience.

We would love the opportunity to provide a proposal to Make Your Business Bloom!

Stop and Smell the Roses…Remember to Enjoy being an Entrepreneur!

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Valentine’s Day Rose for your Website

Are you happy with your relationship? Wait before you tell me to bug off…

What I mean is your relationship with your website of course!
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While you may not be able to send your website roses you can send in eRose Web to analyze changes you need to more efficiently market your business online.

The internet is constantly changing and if you haven’t made updates to your website in years you really need to consider a redesign to make sure your website has the proper SEO, works well with smartphones, and integrates at least some social media. Not to mention making it as easy as possible for someone to know why they should do business with you, how to contact you and that you ask for the order!

If you are not happy with your website and digital marketing contact eRose Web today.

Send your website a Rose this Valentines Day!

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Use Your Entrepreneur I.Q. and Show Up for Success

Our Entrepreneur I.Q. (Inspirational Thought) for Thinking Thursday is about the importance of showing up. The quote below can be interpreted many different ways, here are some thoughts on how I see it as an inspiration for Small Business Owner Entrepreneurs.

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Eighty percent of success is showing up.
– Woody Allen

Success is not really about having the best idea…but instead it usually is about either getting to the market first or consistently getting out there with marketing, taking action and making improvements.

For small business success a key factor is to show up in a specific niche market with your marketing and promotions.

Show up for Leadership…Show your clients and employees that you are dedicated to them by being there when you are needed. What do Life and Business have in common they are often about relationships. Showing up for your clients and employees can make a huge difference in your long term success.

Longevity…Showing up in this case refers to persistence. There are many small businesses that need to demonstrate longevity before they can really be successful, for example most people don’t want to hire a home improvement contractor that just hung out an open for business sign. They want to deal with someone experienced, who has been around for a while and who will continue to be around for a while – so they will be there when they need them. As statistics tell you this is easier said than done with many businesses not making past the first couple of years. If you are just getting started do what you need to do to survive, and remember most of the overnight successes you hear about have really been at it for a decade or two!

Marketing…Make sure your business is showing up where your prospects are. Whether that means a website that shows up well on their smartphone, or meet them online using their favorite social media platform, or getting in front of them face-to-face at a Chamber of Commerce or Industry Event. Be There!

Please share this (simply copy and paste into your social media):
Use your Entrepreneur IQ! Eighty percent of success is showing up to #MakeBusinessBloom … http://bit.ly/entrepreneuriq

Tweet your thoughts and additional topics to: @eRoseWeb

We appreciate your continued interest and we look forward to hearing from you about ways to help fellow Entrepreneurs Make Business Bloom.

Stop and Smell the Roses…Remember to Enjoy being an Entrepreneur!

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4 Easy Resolutions for Success in Marketing Your Small Business throughout 2017

Already having trouble keeping focused on your 2017 New Year’s Resolutions? Setting resolutions is the norm at this time of year. Of course, we often get overzealous and set goals that are unrealistic. This year I want to suggest four simple marketing resolutions for your small business that are easily achievable and some tips and techniques on making them a reality.

Resolution #1: Update Your Website Content More Frequently

newcontent350If you only change the content on your website randomly or once a year, then make a resolution to update some of the content at least quarterly. If your business solves different problems at different times of the year, this is a great thing to highlight. You could highlight the benefits to different targeted prospects and change them up on a quarterly basis, or maybe put a featured product, service, or employee at the forefront on a rotating basis.

It is important to show not only your prospects that you regularly update your website, but also the search engines come back and look for new content. When the search engines find new content that is one of the factors they use to move you higher in the rankings (because they know you are still in business and looking to share timely information.) If you already have a consistent plan on updating your web content, simply increase the frequency in your system and make sure you are promoting these changes or new info through social media.

Resolution #2: Increase Your Social Media Influence

socialinfluence375Most small business owners don’t have much time to dedicate towards these platforms, so make the best use of your time by connecting with the top influencers related to your industry. Social Media has the word social in it for a good reason. Social Media is meant to be conversational and build relationships online.

Find the platform or platforms where your clients tend to go (if you don’t know ask them). For example, if you are B2B that may be LinkedIn, if you are focused on consumers maybe it is Twitter. Establish yourself on that platform by adding valuable information of your own (not a sales pitch but info helpful to your prospects).

Look for the top 5-10 influencers in your industry or region, follow them on the platform that you know your clients to be on. Keep an eye out for ways to join in on conversations that these top influencers are involved in, make sure you are adding value as well as complimenting the influencer. You might be surprised how often these top influencers will engage with you and not only do you start to build a relationship with them but establish yourself as an additional authority to their followers.

Resolution #3: Grow Your E-Mail Marketing List

marketingshift325While social media is great at increasing exposure to new prospects, you should remember that those prospects in effect belong to the platform. You may not be able to control if and when they see your updates, and what happens if that platform goes out of favor? When you get a signup to your email marketing list, these are people who have agreed to hear from you directly and if a specific platform changes how they display your info or disappears entirely you still retain contact with your email prospects. You may need to get creative with your promotions and newsletters to gain an audience through your own email marketing list, but getting these highly-qualified leads into your own email list can be invaluable.

Resolution #4: Add Videos To Your Marketing (‘Live’ if possible)

As I have mentioned previously live videos are currently a large focus of Facebook and can help you be found more easily. Overall adding videos to your marketing whether it is live or recorded can add the storytelling feature that many prospects are looking for.

Resolved: I Will Keep My Resolutions in 2017!

It’s easy to say you are going to do something different this year, but the trick is to establish the new habit or remind yourself frequently enough to keep these resolutions top of mind. Whatever CRM or To-Do list you use add recurring tasks for these resolutions for a frequency that is realistic, whether that is weekly, monthly, or quarterly. If you miss a to-do for the resolution don’t give it up, success is about perseverance. Don’t spend time worrying that you missed one of these new resolutions on your to do list just make sure you do it the next time and pat yourself on the back for doing it more than the previous year. For most businesses, success is achieved as a marathon and not as a sprint.

We encourage all Entrepreneurs and Small Business owners to make at least one of these resolutions for 2017. While we would ideally like to work with you on these resolutions to help Make Your Business Bloom online, we mainly want to encourage your continued success with this article.

Please let us know if these resolutions have inspired you to improve upon your small business marketing for 2017, and join our conversation with any feedback or how you applied the suggestions above to Make Your Business Bloom!

Stop and Smell the Roses…Remember to Enjoy being an Entrepreneur!

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Poker, Angry Orchard and Dreams of … #Movember? Why Small Business Should Be More Social.

I had a dream and in this dream…no not like Martin Luther King. At least I didn’t think it was a dream of a better world but in a weird way it kind of was. When I say weird, I mean it. I was dreaming of social media hashtags…one in particular that was mentioned casually at a friend’s house during Poker night and apparently got stuck in my head.

FYI: This post is not really about a weird dream but about trending topics for small business and the influence of social media in our culture and how entrepreneurs can capitalize on it for success. (So please stay with me here.)

I had seen vague references to the hashtag #Movember over the last couple weeks but had been too busy, with web designs and keywords for a new law firm client, updates for other various websites, and numerous other day-to-day tasks of running my small business, to look into it.

TrendingTopicTuesday750Why was it in my head now then, two weeks into November?

That is where the Poker and Angry Orchard came in.

During the banter of that friendly poker game in the basement of a friend, one of the players made another vague reference and specifically said “hashtag Movember” … I was about to ask what that was all about but then the topic quickly moved onto things like Monday Night Football and Sci-Fi Movies.

Then at around 2:30am I woke up from a weird dream that would not leave my head…a dream revolving around hashtags, specifically #Movember. I don’t know why I was dreaming about this one stray comment, I can only guess that maybe it was my choice of adult beverages, Angry Orchard instead of the usual Stout or Lager.

Still wondering why I am writing about a topic I don’t know much about? Good Question, it gets to an important idea I am familiar with, the influence of social media and how small business can benefit from it in a variety of ways.

Social Media is not like marketing materials like the Yellow Pages, a brochure or a Flyer, it is about the connection to the community. Social Media for business is now a mix of both sales and marketing, it is more of an online business card exchange or an interactive seminar with Q&A.

Social Media can give small business owners a window into the lives and interests of their prospects and what the current trends are that can be leveraged for increased sales and to strengthen business relationships.

BransonLifeEducation650I have been on Social Media for quite a while and this is a lesson I am still learning. When you see vague references to something like ‘Movember’, unlike what I did, take just a couple minutes and do a quick online search to see what it is about and if it might be relevant to your customers or your business. There could be some great opportunities to become more active in your community which could build stronger long term relationship and win you some lifelong clients.

Some topics on Social Media can indicate the interests and needs of your customers which can help you adjust your products and services or your sales process. I will admit there can be a lot to sort through on social media to find the things that are relevant to your customers and your business. However, if you can find the pulse of your consumer, isn’t that really priceless?

About 10 years ago you needed a website to make sure you were found by your prospects, then as more competitors got websites you needed SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to get noticed by prospects. Your business website had limited interaction and you usually paired it up with an email marketing list to convert your prospects into clients. Now the trend is interaction with your prospect on Social Media.

Do you still need a good website with SEO? Absolutely! However, your competitors are also on Social Media and if you are not talking to your prospects on Social Media then your competition will.

SocialMediaNews500The key is to find the social media platforms where your prospects go; so you can be part of the conversation, or at least see what the discussion is about. For example, if you are B2B it could be LinkedIn, if you are targeting younger consumers you might want to use Snapchat or Facebook Live.

I could go on all day on this topic, but my point here is to pay attention to your community of prospects. They are most likely on social media somewhere looking for information related to their business and maybe even sharing their priorities. You can then let them know about all the great benefits you provide with your products or services that help them solve their challenges or that focus on their priorities.

Today, start asking your clients if they are on any social media and how they use it. As they say ‘birds of a feather flock together’ so learning about how your clients use social media and joining the conversation can help you both strengthen those relationships and find prospects that are similar to your current clients.

In case you came here to read about Movember or were still were wondering what it is all about. I finally took my own advice and did a little research…here is the story of #Movember (www.Movember.com):

mobromovember300“The Movember Foundation is the only charity tackling men’s health on a global scale, year round. We have one goal: to stop men dying too young.
From humble beginnings in Australia in 2003, the Movember movement has grown to be a truly global one, inspiring support from over 5 million Mo Bros and Mo Sistas around the world.
Movember’s success can largely be attributed to the strength of the global community. Regardless of the city in which we live, we’re part of something bigger, united by a commitment to help change the face of men’s health.”

Basically, it looks like good cause to help improve Men’s Health around the world, where men grow Moustaches (‘Grow a Mo for a Bro’) to start a discussion and therefore raise awareness for physical and mental health issues; including suicide prevention – something that has affected my personal and business life…losing some loved ones and even valued clients to suicide.

I hope you found this article informative and somewhat entertaining. The moral of the story here is to pay attention to the trends in society there are a lot of things we can learn from each other in life and in business.

Please join our conversation with any feedback or how you applied any of the tips above meant to help you Make Your Business Bloom!

Stop and Smell the Roses…Remember to Enjoy being an Entrepreneur!

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How Small Business can Convert Prospects into Clients with Conversations on Social Media

Featured Follower Friday – Author Nicky Kriel @NickyKriel

Nicky Kriel’s latest book – Converting Conversations to Customers: The Essential Guide to Social Media Sales Success is packed with a lot of good information for Small Business Owners and Entrepreneurs which is why she was chosen as our Featured Follower along with a sample of some of the good info in this book.

There is a reason for the word ‘Social’ in Social Media. Social Media is not so much about technology, but about people and relationships.”Social Media is about People and Relationships

Nicky goes on to say that while technology is important in that it gives you the ability to reach a wider audience and build a bigger network of people, it is people and relationships that drive sales…the lifeblood for business success. Her goal in this book is to help us as business owners to increase sales without being ‘salesy’.

I will highlight a small portion of her strategies and ideas here that I think are most relevant to small business owners like the clients I work with, as well as some of my own thoughts and marketing experience.

Some of the key goals that are helpful on social media are:

  • Build a personal brand so people fell that they know, like and trust you (a key here is to be authentic).
  • Attract the right customers (so they seek you out.)
  • Listen for business opportunities (learn what to look for on social media daily streams)
  • Build and nurture the human relationships so when people are ready to buy you are top of mind.

Small Business Typically Should Focus on LinkedIn and Twitter

Ultimately, Social Selling is a process and not about the platforms. You need to interact with your customers where they hang out, not where you are most comfortable. At the moment, the platforms where sales people get the best results for generating leads for business are LinkedIn and Twitter.” “…when you use both together, they complement each other nicely.”

While every business is unique and you should take a look at all the social media outlets to see which is most likely to reach your target audience I agree with Nicky Kriel’s decision to focus on LinkedIn and Twitter for Small Businesses that don’t have an internal marketing department and/or have a small marketing budget. (Facebook dominates social media but is not business-centric and has become primarily a pay-to-play platform, where you often need to pay for ads to even reach the majority of your followers.)

smallbusinessownersmmTo grow and thrive in the long run you shouldn’t ignore social media, but you need to focus on the right priorities for your business, not necessarily the number of followers or likes, etc.

The question everyone should be asking is: How can I make sure that Social Media works toward my business objectives?”

You don’t have to use social media to follow celebrities or politics, you should use it to connect with current and future clients and build relationships.

For LinkedIn you need to focus on your business, things that you would focus on in a presentation to new prospects (Goal: Professionalism).

For Twitter you should show your human side, yes they should know you own a business but it also should reflect your personality and interests so you can connect on a deeper level. (Goal: Likeability)

LinkedIn

LinkedIn should focus on demonstrating your experience, skills and knowledge. While you can typically only contact people you know or ask for an introduction, a big advantage is that you own your own contact database – you have the option to download your contacts from LinkedIn and save them.

LinkedIn offers a great search feature to find people based on job description, keywords or company. This means you can often find the right contacts for your type of product or service. (Of course this is not a secret so these key purchasing managers may be getting deluged with some pushy sales people trying to connect.)

Twitter

Twitter is more of a focus on who you are … can your future customers get to know, like and trust you? Here you show both your expertise and how you interact with people. Potential customers for your small business get an impression of you and can connect your website, blog articles and LinkedIn profile to learn more about your products and services.

The big advantage with Twitter is that you can contact anyone; you are not restricted to a limited network of people.

Social Media Marketing Benefits

Using Social Media to sell your products and services does not mean you never have face to face meetings or interactions by phone, these are still essential for the sales process. It can shorten the sales process and help prequalify your prospects, and can usually be done on a smaller budget than some of the more traditional methods of developing qualified prospect pool.

Social Media is not about instant sales; like any other social group you need to become part of a community of trust to earn the right to talk about what you offer (without being seen as pushy). Also remember as I mention often; people don’t care about the features of your product they care about how it solves an issue they are having or how it benefits them specifically. (WIIFM – what’s in it for me?)

researchsmmBuild a strong Personal Brand: Visibility creates opportunity. Get found on Google > LinkedIn profiles rank high on Google (by name) as do Twitter accounts and mentions.

70-90% of the buying process has already happened before buyers approach a company.

If someone is considering doing business with you there is a good chance they will pay attention to your online presence. A neglected and dusty social media account does not make a good impression. Remember people do business with people they know, like and trust so let them get to know you as well as your business (within some professional limits of course.)

You can build a foundation of trust with Social Selling not just with one-on-one interactions but also with your blog articles, posts, tweets, etc. Delivering consistent messages that demonstrate your value and show potential customers how you write, how you think, how you behave, and how you respond to complaints can be invaluable to building trust online. Once you have that baseline of trust the one-on-one interactions can lead to shorter closing times on sales.

Selling is about understanding where the customer is in their journey, and what their needs are and the timescale of their needs.”

Social Media allows you to be in your client’s mind at the moment they are ready to buy.”

They key to your small business success in Social Media is finding the where and when for your current and future clients.

Social Media makes it easier to find people with specific interests or who have indicated they may be in the market for your products or services.

shutterstock_101547316LinkedIn/Twitter Strategies

If you find a key purchasing decision maker on LinkedIn but don’t have a direct connection option, search for them on twitter to follow their interests and begin connecting on similar interests and interact to start building a relationship and later bring that connection to LinkedIn or offline.

Optimize your social media profiles, think of them as your online CV or Resume to highlight the benefits of working with you and your business. Make your profile as complete as possible, for example fill in all experiences and skill sets on LinkedIn and also make your profiles rich with relevant keywords.

Write your profile for the person who will be reading it, focus on the benefits you provide to others; who you are, who you help and how you help them. This gives the reader the info to know how you can help them or someone they know. Write your summary as a story with an introduction to pull them in, a middle to tell your story, and a conclusion ideally with a request for action or contact info.

FollowerFriday750

Please share this (simply copy and paste into your social media):
“Featured Follower Friday spotlights Entrepreneurs that can #MakeBusinessBloom with resources and tipshttp://bit.ly/followerfri

Tweet your ideas for resources, articles, tips to: @eRoseWeb

Wrapping Up
I recommend this book if you are looking for some good tips and strategies on growing your business. Social Media Marketing is not going away anytime soon, and as you know in business if you are not growing you are likely falling behind your competition.

Please join us in conversation on this topic, we would love to hear any strategies you use or learn from this book that help you Make Your Business Bloom. Share your thoughts in comments or social media.

Stop and Smell the Roses…Remember to Enjoy being an Entrepreneur!

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Unlimited Creativity for Small Business Success – Entrepreneur IQ

How do small businesses continue to be successful in the long run. Simple…Creativity.

Small business often provide solutions that their larger competitors don’t think of, and use their creativity to innovate more quickly. Our Entrepreneur IQ (Inspirational Quote) below is meant to encourage you to flex your creative brain muscles on a regular basis.

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Whether you provide services or products it is critical to continue to use your creativity to innovate solutions to your clients challenges. As a small business owner myself I know that this is often easier said than done.

A small business pulls us in all different directions and we wear many hats. Creativity is not limited to one aspect of business. Whatever hat you are wearing use your creativity to try to improve your business, more efficient operations, better solutions for clients, improved customer service, innovative marketing ideas. Alright you might not want to be too creative with your bookkeeping or accounting if you are looking for funding, but most other aspects of your business will thrive if you take a little time to think about them in a little different way.

What project are you about to work on, can you use more creative thinking to improve your results? We would love to hear what you come up with, please share your successes with us!

Get Your Small Business Noticed in Social Media – Content Ignition

The author of The Content Code, Mark W. Schaefer (@markwschaefer), gave a presentation entitled Content Ignition: 10 Ways to Get More Economic Value from Your Social Media Content, and I want to share some observations and tips we can all benefit from as small business entrepreneurs.

SocialMediaTextPeople400Basically in order to know where we are going in social media marketing we need to first know where we have been. When the internet first developed there was a period where the most important thing in marketing for small business was to make sure you had established a presence on the web. Then once everyone had their business listed on the internet the focus became search. Google exploded and Search Engine Optimization was the marketing technique necessary to excel in most industries, beating your competitor to the top of the best keywords and phrases.

Today the key is utility, being helpful and adding value. While websites and keywords are still relevant they are less important due to social media, mobile, and content. As we advance online, marketing a small business becomes even more challenging.

Mark W. Schaefer mentioned a study that said that in the next five years the amount of information on the web is going to increase by 500%. So if you thought it was difficult to get your information noticed now, just think how it will be in 5 years. He talks about an idea called ‘Content Shock’, which references this overwhelming volume of content combined with limited attention spans.

How does content shock affect small business?
Let’s take one very important example. Facebook had until recently been a great way to get your message out for a very low cost. You just used a little creativity and some time to post some valuable content on Facebook and you could get some traction on the Facebook feed. Facebook realized that this deluge of information was not serving their customer so they changed the way it worked the feed. Now Facebook will only show a post you add to about 6% of your followers and paid ads on Facebook are needed to truly get your message out.

While Facebook did this partly to generate more revenue from its ad platform, you can’t overlook the content shock factor and how it is or will affect other social media outlets in a similar way. Remember their goal is to best serve individuals who are their clients and not small businesses.

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“The economic value of our content is exactly zero if people don’t see it and share it.”

Adjust your marketing for ‘Content Ignition’
You need to develop a new competency around understanding the transmission of online content. How do you get your prospects to see it and more importantly share it with their network?

Mark also mentions research done in 2013 by the New York Times. “It showed that 85% of the people who are reading our content say it helps them understand us. Through the act of sharing the content, they are becoming advocates for our businesses and our content. This is really important, because 70% of the people in the same resource study said that their purchasing decision is influenced by what they see being transmitted in these social media updates.”

He also notes that Millennials in the next few years are going to represent half of the consumers, half of our employees; a generation that doesn’t trust anybody except themselves. They’ll trust content shared by a stranger before they’ll trust you and your advertising.

Getting content to move though shares and people’s personal networks creates advocacy and has a large effect in influencing their purchasing decisions. Brand power, company power, your power, isn’t coming from just writing and posting content. It’s coming from content that moves. It’s content that’s transmitted by friends.

@MarkWSchaefer also reviewed some important strategy from his book The Content Code: Six essential strategies to ignite your content, your marketing, and your business, especially on how small business can succeed with social media marketing. My goal is to review his book in more detail and share some of those ideas and how they relate to small business as part of future blog articles and social media posts.

Please let me know your thoughts on what I have shared so far and how you plan on applying these ideas to your small business marketing.

How Small Business Entrepreneurs Can Develop New Revenue on a Small Budget

The Lean Startup (@leanstartup) by Eric Ries (@ericries) is a great book for any small business owner whether you are just getting started or have been long established. Small businesses are constantly reinventing themselves, improving their products and services to better serve their customers so they can keep growing their business. This book covers some important principles and techniques for staying ahead of the competition while being efficient with time and money as technology continues to change quickly.

LeanStartupERW500The key is to use a “Build-Measure-Learn” feedback loop to chart actual progress and viability of a product or solution.

“Before building the prototype, the company might perform a smoke test with its marketing materials. This is an old direct marketing technique in which customers are given the opportunity to preorder a product that has not yet been built. A smoke test measures only one thing: whether customers are interested in trying a product. By itself, this is insufficient to validate an entire growth model. Nonetheless, it can be very useful to get feedback on this assumption before committing more money and other resources to the product.”

A concept called Minimum Viable Product or MVP, which can apply to physical products as well as services is a key to determine, on a small batch basis, whether your new product or service will succeed.

“…new technologies are allowing entrepreneurs to build small batches of products that are of the same quality as products made with injection molding, but at a much lower cost and much, much faster.” … “The ability to learn faster from customers is the essential competitive advantage that startups must possess.”

By using smaller batches and testing early and often the budget you spend is much lower than trying to reach economies of scale before you know what is going to sell. Also by testing in the real world you are generating new revenue as you test the concepts. You are not hiring a focus group, you are selling different versions of your product or service to bring in money while you figure out what is the most efficient and most popular version or features.

The author addresses a concept called validated learning. While you can learn a lot from your mistakes in business, mistakes typically won’t pay the bills. Validated learning is not after-the-fact rationalization or a good story to hide failure from employees or investors.

“…for every successful entrepreneur who was in the right place at the right time, there are many more who were there, too, in that right place at the right time but still managed to fail.” … “What differentiates the success stories from the failures is that the successful entrepreneurs had the foresight, the ability, and the tools to discover which parts of their plans were working brilliantly and which were misguided, and adapt their strategies accordingly.”

If a business “builds something that nobody wants, it doesn’t matter much if they do it on time and on budget.” The goal of the small business owner should be “to figure out the right thing to build-the thing customers want and will pay for-as quickly as possible.”

The key aspect to keep in mind is to run real world tests of products and services both early in their development as well as throughout the improvement process, this ensures that your business is providing solutions to real life market demands. You don’t want to spend years perfecting a product or service only to find out there wasn’t actually any demand or a new product has already solved the problem and saturated the marketplace.

There are some good real world examples from business including Eric Reis’ personal lessons in business as well as other well-known businesses embracing these techniques. If you want to read the specific strategies, techniques and real-world examples then I recommend you read The Lean Startup; How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries.

I hope this information was of value to you, I would be glad to share more thoughts on this book and how it applies to small business. Please let me know if there are specific areas of this book, marketing or small business you want to learn more about in my future articles.

Start Now or you will never finish…Entrepreneur IQ

Taking action in business is one of the critical keys to success, while planning can be helpful there is a limit to its usefulness, especially if while you are planning someone else is building a dominant market share in your industry or local area.

TimeToStart750

This is our Entrepreneur IQ (Inspirational Quote) for Thinking Thursday…is there a project or new idea for your small business that you have been putting off?

The time is now to get started!

Personally, I have a tendency to over prepare and plan so that everything will be ‘perfect’ right from the start. I have recently been working on changing my focus to ‘excellence’ in the long-term. Perfection is not an attainable goal, and the important thing in life as in business is to get started, learn from your challenges and continue to improve on the road to excellence.

What is the project or goal that you have been putting off?

Get started right now and then send me a follow-up, thanks in advance for sharing!

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