Welcome to the New Year. It’s the second day of the year and if I was you I wouldn’t be too hard on myself if I had already broken some of my New Year’s resolutions. Keeping resolutions is hard, but when it comes to your business there is one resolution you should make, and you cannot afford to break...
If your business is like most businesses in Kenya – bar education or retail – at this time you are facing serious cash flow crisis. Consumer spending is at its lowest after an indulgent December and will only start recovering from mid-February. If your customer base comprises of individuals or small businesses, they are prioritizing their personal expenses over business expenses, meaning your invoices get paid last if at all.
Facing a similar January a few years back at our co-working space Genius Executive Centre I began January with a number of offices to fill from tenants who’d left the month before. I had read somewhere that when things are at the worst is when you advertise the most. I reasoned that the bigger the advertisement, the bigger the rewards would be and published a quarter page ad in the Daily Nation. The ad set me back around KES.85,000 ($1,000) but I calculated I would get at least 5 new customers from it worth KES.600,000 ($7,059) a year – a worthy investment I concluded.
With bated breath I waited by the phone on the day the ad ran (it was to run for only one day). At the end of the day I received only 7 prospects calls, two who misunderstood the ad completely and none who ended up as a customer. Not only had I not gotten any new customers, I had made my cash position even worse. It was a classic case of a failed Get Rich Quick ad campaign which took me time to recover.
With only pennies to spare for advertising, I turned to classifieds at KES.350 ($4.11) per day, with low expectations but resolved that I had to keep on advertising. What happened next completely blew me away. Every day I would get 5 to 10 calls inquiring on the ad. In less than three weeks I had gotten my 5 customers at a cost of less than KES. 7,500 ($88)! An absolutely incredible value for money.
Now before you cancel your print ads, keep in mind that having tested the same technique on other products, I’ve discovered that classifieds work best for properties, cars, and jobs.
So I managed to hobble through that January, but I also learned one important lesson, and I share this today as your New Year’s resolution.
Never Stop Marketing
What brought me success was not the placement of the classifieds vis-à-vis the back page ad, but rather its consistency. A consistent, oft repeated message will always work better than a large one off message. And when it comes to marketing this is by no means restricted to advertising.
There are many definitions for marketing but the one I find best is from the book Marketing for Dummies.“Marketing is finding out what people need and giving it to them”
This means that any activity you do to determine customer needs and to place a solution in front of them is considered marketing. If you adopt this resolution, as your New Year resolution for your business what are some of the non-advertising things you can do to make sure you never stop marketing?
- Use social media. The nature of social media allows you to undertake marketing to a captive audience. Tweet, Facebook, Instagram, Blog, Tumblr, Foursquare it – whatever you feel comfortable with – and don’t feel the need to do all of them. And when it comes to your message, remember givers get. Provide useful, relevant information and your audience will reward you by asking you to provide them a solution in your field of expertise.
- Join a Group or a Club. When I joined Nairobi Toastmasters to improve my communication and leadership skills I never intended for it to be a platform to sell my products. But that’s exactly what I got: new friendships, and new customers. If you join a club with people of similar interests, it’s inevitable that other club members will become your friends. These friends, who’ve gotten to know you, like you, and trust you can become some of your best customers and referrers.
Of course the number one way of marketing is good customer care. If you take good care of your customers, they will come back and bring their friends along with them.
363 days remain in 2013. Make the best of them by marketing every single day.