Jan 20 2009


If you have no customers


to start with, don’t start! 


Q. What single factor drives most business ventures under? 

A. Poor management. 

     You were thinking finances perhaps, or unproductive employees, or inability to compete effectively?  These negatives can certainly kill off great ideas and intentions quickly, but they all come from poor management.

     A key indicator of poor management (funding, employee and competitive status are not always evident, nor are they always indicative) is the sense of desperation (or ignorance) that accompanies strategic marketing pursuits focused on gaining new customers.

     The best source of business is existing and past business.  Period. 

     When you can present your sales message to those who have already been your customers, the task is always easier and the expense involved is always less because you are dealing with people or entities to whom you (your business) are (is) a known factor.  You have a history with them. 

     At some point, past customers have already paid you for your products or services.  They already know what you’re about and accept you for what they know.  You needn’t start from scratch to get their attention.  You need only to remind them of the positives of their experiences with you, and bring them up to date with your business.  This can be done for minimal expense

     The same can be said for existing customers– in spades!  You already have the ears of the people you are currently dealing with.  They wouldn’t be existing customers if they weren’t pleased with your business.  You don’t need to shout or drumroll your message.  You don’t need to underscore the benefits of your products and services. 

     You need only to maintain active communications, introduce new ideas and developments and give them what I call “Stand-On-Your-Head-And-Spit-Wooden-Nickles” service.  This can be done for zero expense!  

     When marketing gets expensive and drives businesses to the wall, is when over-zealous bursts of advertising, promotion, PR and Internet (more the former than the latter) are unleashed in attempts to get new customers. 

     NEW customers are VERY expensive to solicit and sell because you must start with the assumption that they don’t know you and perhaps never heard of you.  This means you have to get their attention, grab their hands, convince them to stay attentive and walk them through the benefits attached to your sales message, then motivate them to open their wallets.  Desired results are seldom produced. 

     Except for one in a billion odds, this is a long, drawn-out process that takes huge amounts of time, energy, and money.  Building a business slowly on the strengths of each past and present customer relationship will create new customers for you without all that draining output.

     The problems for brand new business ventures are even greater!  Where do you get past and present customers when you’ve just opened your doors? 

     If you have no customers to start with, don’t start! 

     If you have a small handful of customers to start with, you need to be prepared to commit your every waking minute to nurturing and cultivating that small handful until it’s an armful, and then a truckful . . . 

     Failure to do exactly that is one reason 9 out of 11 new businesses fail in the first 3 years and that it takes 5 years on average just to break even financially.  This notion goes full circle back to the top of this post: poor management! 

     If you’re an entrepreneur and this hasn’t scared you off, be prepared to pursue your ideas to the exclusion of all other pursuits, and recognize that this level of sacrifice often breaks up personal relationships and entire families.  Still there?  Then stop reading this and get moving!  halalpiar

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