At Inner Architect we understand how difficult it is to be successful in business without a plan. You need a set of processes and a deep understanding of what you wish to accomplish. Knowing who your customer is and how you are going to engage with them is critical. Inner Architect builds marketing plans for new businesses about to launch. Our experience has taught us that the biggest failure entrepreneurs face occurs during the planning stages before their business launch. Simply put, many entrepreneurs don’t do enough in depth research before they open their doors. Researching your market and the competitive landscape is only the beginning. Preparation and planning demand a deep dive into research. The realization of a dream is dependent upon getting your preparation right.
Inner Architect: “How Much Runway Do You Have?”
The money and resources it takes to maintain operations and stay in business is known as your runway. Do you have enough runway to make your business take off? What is your burn rate aka Did you plan a budget, write a business plan, make projections, perform research on your competitors, and compile all of this intelligence in one place you can access it instantly? Are you funding the launch of your business with investor money or are you bootstrapping everything with a very limited budget?
How long can you keep the lights on before landing your first client? If you have researched the costs of doing business for your new venture then you will have an understanding of what the initial investment needs to be and how long you can continue to fund your dream. Some experts believe your burn rate should equate “If you don’t perform these calculations, it’s as if you left home in your car without being able to access your gas tank gauge – how far can you drive before running out of gas?
Don’t fear the runway, embrace it. Use the knowledge of how long you have to generate revenue work in your favor. If you are worried can you scale back?
Scale back? Here it is in a nutshell. Do without “things” you can do without. Buy or invest in only the very essentials of what you will need to be successful. Keep an eye on the bottom line on every single purchase. Lease or purchase used equipment when it’s possible to do so, cut expenses in office space by looking for sublets, go without a huge advertising budget for launch but instead work guerilla marketing strategies.
Check your ego at the door. In fact, check your ego by parking it in the closet, slamming the door shut, and locking it. Ego is what will take you to the end of your runway before you’ve take off. The company credit card, charging expensive dinners or entertainment, leasing a new ride, purchasing new Armani (insert your favorite luxury designer wear) suits for that dress to impress look. Instead try shopping at a Nordstrom rack store, look for office furniture on Craigslist or Ikea, keep that old car even if it doesn’t fit your new image. Unless you are using a rewards credit card, when possible and practical, pay cash because it hurts more when you see the dollars flying out of your wallet.
How will you know where to set your profit margins, how to make projections for the coming years, and who your best customer may be if you don’t understand the worth of a customer? Understanding the Lifetime Value (LTV) of a customer is a “prediction of the net profit attributed to the entire future relationship with a customer.” And isn’t that what you want – as clear a picture as you can get about these values? This is one of the most important data points that prepares you to begin to plan your marketing strategy.
Knowing what your customer is worth to your business both in the short term and over the lifetime of your relationship is vital. Equally vital is understanding who your customer is – their profile. Who are they, where do they live, how do they purchase, age, background, location, family, single, married, divorced and every piece of demographic intelligence you can lay your hands on.
Create a profile of your best customer and a profile for your most challenging customer. What are the differences between the two? Are there any similarities? Is there a pattern that will help you market and attract customers that fit your best customer profile?
Here is where you need to pay attention to the people you want as customers. Before you begin marketing your product or service in any channel (digital or traditional) investigate each channel to find out if anything is being said about you. If you are launching a new business, investigate your most prominent competitors. What are you seeing? What are people tweeting about you, posting about your company on Facebook, sharing on Instagram or Linkedin? If it’s bad, horrible, or damaging – you must address those people and offer a solution. Don’t ignore bad brand sentiment and simply attempt to advertise and ignore what is being shared. Bite the bullet and apologize!
Apologize? If you want to stay in business then apologize. Three tips to execute an apology:
- Repeat: before making your apology, repeat the sin(s) you have committed back to the complaining party. Here’s an example. If your brand is slammed on Twitter take their criticism and copy it verbatim. Then place the copy in a tweet directed back to your critic. This shows that you are listening, you have read the complaint, you are validating their feelings, and you are ready to take your medicine. . .
- Apologize: offer a heartfelt apology. People know fake apologies so be sincere. People value apologies that are sincere. Reiterate the fact that you want to make it up to the critic.
- Value: do something many brands don’t do – give something of value away for free. Something that your critic will value. No 10% off half step. No free dessert. No handshake and so “sorry about that” double talk. If you are an attorney, offer to provide a free hour of consultation and a brief summary letter of your discussion. If you are a restaurateur give the critic a free meal. If you are a software provider, give your critic an upgrade or free support. Give something worth having – don’t be cheap!
Inner Architect: Digital and Traditional Marketing
Do your homework and investigate the ROI of each channel you are considering for your marketing program. Are your prospects more inclined to respond to a message in a digital channel or a traditional outreach?
Traditional Marketing: many traditional strategies can still be effective if done correctly. Research direct mail pieces, list rental or purchase as a way to add to your database, print magazine or newspaper ads that connect with your prospective customers, radio ads, TV ads, flyers, outdoor billboards and any other traditional methods of marketing
Digital Marketing: digital marketing has the potential for tremendous scale and reach to audiences around the world. Check into the opportunity of running Google Ad (formerly Adwords) campaigns that can provide instant exposure. Investigate pay-per-click advertising and social media network ads. One of the biggest opportunities still can be realized with email marketing. It’s a science worth researching. Write compelling press releases for quick results and the opportunity for media companies to see your work.
One of the most important strategies is content marketing. Content marketing is “a type of marketing that involves the creation and sharing of online material.” Material such as videos, blog articles, and social media posts that do not explicitly promote your brand are successful methods of content marketing. Your content should generate interest in your products and services by educating and offering value to the consumer without being sales pieces asking for commitments.