Marketing has always been the engine that pulls the business train. But unfortunately, some people think that if they
have a great product or service, the buying public will beat down their door. And they believe that a product or service that is a big hit today will stay popular next year and five years from now. Unfortunately, that simply is not the case.
There are several common myths of small business that you should dispel if you want to stay in business and grow profitably. When you own a small business, you can’t just sit back, relax, and watch the money roll in. You must be on your guard at all times, ready to change directions, inject new ideas, and put out all the fires. Be on the lookout for all of these common myths and don’t accept them as truth.
- The lowest price gets the order. Don’t kid yourself; many other factors go into a buyer’s decision. The amount people are willing to pay is related to the value they see in a product or service. Price is usually just a scapegoat for another issue; find it, solve it, and receive the sale.
- Your best employees will never leave. People who are good at their job usually know it, and you must keep them
focused and challenged. There’s always someone waiting to steal good employees away from you for their own business, so be vigilant and listen to your best employees’ ideas and goals. Include these employees in some decision-making.
- You have no competition. Even if you have a unique product, there are other companies trying to develop similar
products that are cheaper, faster, and better. Don’t fool yourself; you’ll have competitors today and tomorrow. Don’t ignore your competitors, because they aren’t ignoring you.
- Advertising is a waste of time. Many people think you can put out an ad, sit back, and wait for all the responses.
Unless you’re giving away money, it takes time for people to respond, and many will need to see your ad multiple times before they respond or buy. In advertising, persistence and consistent messaging pay off in the end. Use your advertising dollars wisely and monitor all responses.
- Nobody reads direct mail. You might be surprised by how many people look at your direct mail and at least scan it to see whether there’s something of interest to them in it. I’ve been sending business-to-business direct mail for 30 years, and I’m amazed by how many people will call back three, four, or six months after I sent a direct-mail piece. Mail to the best prospects regularly with enticing offers.
- Unhappy customers will always voice their complaints. Just the opposite is true—most people will not say
anything to you if they’re unhappy, but they’ll never buy from you again. You need to follow up to see whether people are happy with your product or service and solve any problems quickly. Disgruntled customers may not tell you, but they almost always tell their friends.
- Satisfied customers always send referrals. Some will, but many won’t bother unless you offer an incentive. Give them a reward or a reason to recommend your store or business. A brief phone call or note thanking them for the referral will help you get more referrals and likely a repeat order.
- Your suppliers need your business. If you stop buying from a supplier, chances are they won’t close down. They need your business if you are easy to work with and pay your bills on time. Make suppliers partners and meet with them regularly to exchange ideas for increasing sales and profits.
- You’ll always get the reorder. Most com panies will check what’s new in the marketplace and get price quotes before they reorder—especially on a higher-priced product or order. Get to know what keeps customers happy, provide it, and enjoy long-term business.
- You can make your business hours fit your own schedule. Not true! You must be open for business when your
customers are available to buy from you—period. If that means evenings and weekends, you must do it or get out of that type of business. Remember, if you’re not open, someone else is.
- Everyone will order through your website. Not always—some members of the buying public are still a little leery of using their credit card on the Internet. Your website should direct people to visit your store or call your office if they don’t wish to purchase online. Check your competitors’ sites often and update your site with new offers regularly.
- You should treat all customers the same. It’s best to respond to each customer the way he or she wants to be treated. Some customers are impatient and don’t want to chitchat. Some are very detail-oriented and want you to explain everything. Some are browsers who want to see everything before making a decision. Some are confused and unsure of what they want. Some are price buyers and want your best deal. Adapt to each different customer type, and you’ll have more success than if you treat them all the same.
Don’t accept any of these common myths of small business as your way of doing business. Markets change, economies change, products change, and technology changes, so you have to change, too. Keep your approach to your small business fresh and exciting and stay ahead of all those competitors who want to take away your customers.