“A mediocre idea that generates enthusiasm will go further than a great idea that inspires no one.” — Mary Kay
Report by Phillip Chichoni
Last week two award-winning entrepreneurs came to our networking breakfast meeting, to share some insights with business owners. One is Richard Mutengambiri, the managing director of Rawson Properties who is the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce Most Innovative SME and the other Mike Joka, chief executive officer of Ultra Corporate Medical Services who is the Businessman of the Year.
The insights they shared opened many an eye to the reality of building a business, especially in our own country.
Joka observed that of all new businesses that are started at any given time, only about 5% make it beyond three months. Of those that survive, only another 5% make it beyond the first year. The majority of new businesses fail to get the traction and momentum needed to get off the ground.
Those first few months are crucial unless the business has a large cash investment that can cover their fixed operating expenses for some time.
Here are some ideas for a growing entrepreneur:
- Target a niche market segment.
As a small or medium-sized business, you are not selling your products to everyone. There is a small segment of the population that wants and can afford your products or services. Target those people. You need to study them and understand some common habits they share. Your objective is to have a presence among your target market at all times.
Get known by your target market and keep in touch. If you can get their email addresses, find websites or blogs they frequent or specialty magazines they read, then you can maintain your presence through these media.
- Stay active.
You should always be on the lookout for opportunities to make your products known at all times to your target market. If there is a trade show or exhibition where many of them go to, be there. Have your brochures or flyers ready. Hire exhibition space if you can. Interact with as many people as possible and ask them to join your mailing list. By sending them regular emails on subjects of interest to them, you will stay active in their minds and they will think of you first when they want to buy something.
- Get people talking.
There is always a perceived risk about new products and new businesses. Customers fear the unknown and would rather buy from well-known enterprises than try new products or new service providers.
The best way to eliminate that risk is to ask existing customers for referrals. Offer your friends or current customers some discount or even free samples in return for helping you find new clients. By getting people to talk about the great service you gave them or some other wonderful aspect of your offering, they can encourage others to try out your product.
- Share marketing space with a partner.
If there is a company that targets an audience similar to yours, why not share marketing space? You can swop adverts on your websites, electronic newsletters, blogs or print publications. This method does not cost you anything extra but gets you noticed by new prospects.
This method works well online as it increases your website traffic and allows you to reach new clients regularly.
Those who read my BusinessLink Community blog (http://smebusinesslink.com) or my weekly newsletter will have noticed how I share articles from other entrepreneurs in different sectors. This helps both of us grow our customer base.
- Build networks.
You must always be looking to make contacts and develop networks. Relationships are very important in “guerilla” marketing. If you work on developing a network of useful people, they will help you with your marketing, either by buying your products or referring others to your business. Networks are not built in once-off meetings but must be nurtured in order to stay effective.
Keep in touch with the most useful people or the influencers in your network; call them regularly, have coffee together or go out for lunch sometime. This way you keep on strengthening relationships.
What marketing ideas do you find working best for you? Please share at the BusinessLink blog or send me an email. The first three people to share really good ideas will get free Silver Club membership of the BusinessLink network, whose activities are described in detail at the same site.
Until next week, best wishes in accelerating your growth.
- Phillip Chichoni is a business development consultant who works with SMEs and entrepreneurs. You may contact him by email, firstname.lastname@example.org Visit http://smebusinesslink.com
creative thinkers get noticed
A business needs to start generating cash as soon as possible, in order to survive. Cash comes from sales, which are pushed by marketing. New, small businesses do not have the huge marketing budgets that big companies have.
It is therefore not possible to launch nationwide marketing campaigns through all media across the country, as, for example, what Econet did when launching EcoCash.
However, with creative thinking, a growing entrepreneur can run marketing campaigns, “guerilla” style, and get noticed.