If you don’t focus on marketing your business, your business will not be successful. It’s as simple as that.

Your network of friends and family will only go so far to keep you afloat. Then what?

Here’s the common progression for many aspiring small business owners… they have a dream, they invest significant amounts of money (and time) into making that dream a reality, they finally get to the point where they have their grand opening, and then… they embrace (to whatever degree) the “if you build it, they will come” mentality.

After they’ve exhausted their network, they enter the stage of “desperation” – whether it’s 3 months or 3 years down the road. We’ve all seen it, and we know it when we are the ones living it.

Desperation appears in three all too familiar behaviors: 1) trying any new “thing” that comes into view without even doing the homework to see if it’s really a fit, 2) doing the same things and expecting different results, and 3) clinging onto the hope that things will turn around.

But, we all know none of these things actually work – in business or in life. Unfortunately, desperation is rarely attractive.

Since the majority of small business owners have very little experience in marketing, the “if you build it, they will come” mentality is understandable, but in no way is it a successful path for growth.

So what do you do?  

Let’s look to Starbucks for our inspiration. Whether or not you are a Starbucks fan, the fact of the matter is Howard Schultz and his team are brilliant marketers. What have they done? They have built a wildly successful business around a cup of coffee. Their idea was once the size of your business. So, how have they grown from approximately 7,000 stores in 2003, to more than 25,000 stores in 2017?

They have converted coffee into a luxury item.

They have transformed an everyday beverage into an experience that tons of people gladly pay (probably more than they should) for.

Here are a few things, in my opinion, they do extraordinarily well.

  • They get personal with their customers. You are not a number in Starbucks, you have a name. And you are known and called by your name. This matters to people. A lot.
  • They add value. I recently went to a local coffee shop to do work. I got my cup of coffee, got all settled in my spot, went to connect to their wifi, only to realize that they didn’t have free wifi. While maybe a “little” thing, this messed up my day of work. I get it. They don’t want people sitting around for hours on one cup of coffee, but I haven’t been back there since, and I’ve been to Starbucks (with free wifi) a countless number of times. The added value keeps people coming back again and again. If Starbucks took away the free wifi,  they would more than likely see a significant drop in customers. A small price to pay for loyalty.
  • They do their research. Here’s a tip: if you want to know where to invest in real estate, see where the new Starbucks are popping up. They relentlessly study the trends and move to an area before it’s cool. And when they bring in a new store, they often add more than one. This makes it feel like they are everywhere. They know that “competition” is not a bad thing. On the contrary, it’s helpful for the consumer to see your business as a “movement” – something that so many people are buying into that more providers are needed.
  • They are known for doing one thing really well. Starbucks is undeniably known for coffee (again, whether you like it or not). If you come in for a cup of coffee, you may also want a snack, or a bottle of water, or a pound of coffee to take home. They have these things, but they are hyper-focused on providing many variations of their “one thing”.
  • They aren’t afraid to charge more than people think it may be “worth”. I recently heard a statement that has left a deep impression on me. “Price conveys quality”. Think about how true this is. If you have a $10 bottle and a $50 bottle of wine in front of you, you will automatically assume that the $50 bottle will taste better in a side-by-side comparison. If you pay double for a cup of coffee at Starbucks than at a gas station, you will most assuredly expect a better cup of coffee.

A smart small business owner knows they don’t need everyone to buy their service or product. Instead, they get really clear on who and how many they want to serve and then go after finding these people and making them raving fans.

Sales (profitable sales) pays the bills. Marketing is what brings in those sales. Make sure you are focused on the right things.

Are you sending the message that your services are a “luxury” item? If you build it, and market it well… people will come.

Need help with all this? This is why we are in business. We help you make the complex world of marketing simple. We’d love to talk – just schedule a call here with us.