***Remember that time when you had to talk about budgets with your first client or when you crafted an uncomfortable email to someone who hadn’t paid up? As a small business owner wearing all the hats, it might feel like you’re constantly bracing yourself for the next awkward conversation (or email or text exchange) with a client or prospect. Of course, you want to put your best face forward, be liked and act professional. But there are times when you need to assert yourself. And while tools like FreshBooks make it easy to automate some of those conversations with rinse-and-repeat templates, you still have to figure out WHAT to say. Sounds exhausting. But it doesn’t have to be. We’ve created 38 templates to help you address all your most awkward conversations. From money talk (eek!) and communicating scope creep to cold pitching and asking for referrals, we’ve got your back on all levels of uncomfortable situations.
***Most solo entrepreneurs and small business owners decide to go out on their own for two reasons: they have a passion for what they do and want more control over the customer’s overall experience. Sound familiar? While amazing motivators for getting us off the couch and into action, the road to converting these intentions into reality is often much more complex. You know that you have an amazing product and an amazing experience to offer your potential customers, but you don’t know how to really stand out in the market. The answer lies in rock-solid branding. No matter if you’re a business-of-one or if you’re all-in managing a massage practice, branding can (and will) make or break your business. In an industry so centralized around face-to-face communication and personal interaction, the brand that you create should be equally as personal, purposeful, and positive to keep customers coming through the door. To help you along the path for branding your massage practice or small business, we break down the basics of what a brand is and how to craft the perfect one for your business. Read more
- Be sure that you have an active Artichoke account. If you don’t have one, you can sign up for a 14-day trial right here. Then, make sure that you have Zapier integration enabled. You can learn how to do that here.
- Sign up for a Zapier account. The free version should satisfy the needs of most small teams.
- To send data from Artichoke into another app:
- Click the “Make a Zap” button in the top-right when you’ve logged into Zapier
- Select “Artichoke” as the Trigger app
- Select which pieces of data that you want to send out of Artichoke. Here are your options:
- Select any of the 750+ apps that Artichoke integrates with.
- Follow the steps to complete the integration.
Here’s a sobering truth most business owners don’t want to accept: Not everyone is your target customer. One of the biggest mistakes many startups make is claiming their product will appeal to the masses, but this is true 0% of the time. Read on for a few tips to help you find your niche, and ditch the ideals that are costing you money.
Offer a unique but marketable product or service that will appeal to a specific group of people.
Whether you’re offering a product or a service, if you want to master your market, you must be very specific in what you offer. Even the largest companies in the world (think Walmart) have a target customer in mind. For example, Lu La Roe, a direct sale apparel company, targets women with body issues who have an eye for fashion and want to be part of a crowd. Lu La Roe offers a limited selection of patterns in each style, which drives competition and encourages women to boast about their exclusive “Roe” wear, further driving sales.
Avoid oversaturated markets.
Competition is fierce so make sure you are targeting people that others have pushed to the sidelines. Many markets trend for a short amount of time, attract an abundance of service providers, and then expand exponentially, leaving these new businesses clamoring for their share of customers. While this might sound like a perfect opportunity, targeting your business to appeal to a very specific group of people that have unmet needs will help you build your reputation and establish a loyal customer base.
Define your serviceable demographic and remain focused.
Bigger isn’t always better. In order to find success in a niche market, you must know exactly who you’re selling to. For instance, if you sell custom mother/daughter jewelry, it is not enough to define your target customers simply as parents. However, when you start marketing to suburban housewives with pre-teen daughters and an income of $75,000 or more per year, you will likely find that your product moves much faster.
Write a marketing plan.
Hopefully by this point, you already have a business plan, but you also need to write a marketing plan. Keep the four Ps of marketing – Product, Price, Place, and Promotion – in mind as you draft this. They will guide your strategies and should align with your business plan. A marketing plan should take the following into consideration: goals, research, competitive analysis, buyer personas, strategy, tactics, and channels. It’s going to take some time and effort to craft a sound plan, but once you have a clear vision, the execution will come much easier.
Relentlessly stalk the competition.
If you’re going to be successful, you have to know who you are up against. No matter how unique your business is, there will likely be others vying for the same customers’ dollars. Utilize social media and other online outlets to see what your competition is doing right and wrong. You can emulate and adapt their sales techniques to best serve your shared clientele.
Scrutinize your decisions.
Even after you’ve decided on a target market, you’ll need to do some self-reflection to determine if your company is really a good fit. Ask yourself things such as:
● Are there enough people in my target audience?
● Is my product useful?
● Do I really know what drives my customer’s decision-making process?
● Can my potential customers afford what I’m offering?
● Are my customers accessible? Will my message resonate with them?
If you cannot answer these questions in a way that encourages you to push forward, you may need to reevaluate your decisions and change things up before investing in a product launch.
In summary, it takes work to define your target market. However, if your product or service is appealing, affordable, and focused, you can be successful. Keep in mind that most small business owners succumb to the pressures within the first year, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t turn an immediate profit. Don’t give up on your dreams and remember that you are a consumer, too, and probably not all that unique in your desires. If you see a need for your product, chances are, there are others with unmet needs ready to open up their hearts – and wallets – to you.
Guest blogger: Jason Lewis firstname.lastname@example.org