Original post : 18 Feb 2015

The businesses who missed the point

MarketingI know we're well into 2015 now but I'm going to say it anyway. New year - same problems.

Regular readers of my blogs will know that I am prone to a rant or two, so won't be surprised to hear that I've been banging my head against a brick wall already in 2015. I would pull my hair out if I had any. I'm told that my smooth cranium is a genetic trait rather than a result of too frequent frustrations but, well, I don't know...

"What is it this time?" I hear you say. "What is the cause of this frustration and banging of head?" Well sadly it's nothing new.

Today, dear reader, a tale of two businesses that missed the point.

As usual, no names no pack drill and, as they say at the start of all the best movies, any similarity between this tale and real life businesses should be considered coincidental (despite the fact that they are real and if you think you know who it is please keep it to yourself).

So the first business is a start-up in the entertainment sector - in the broadest sense. The business is based in a popular town centre. The proprietor is a lovely person that I know reasonably well. If anyone deserves some recognition for their skills and some success it is they.

Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond their control, they couldn't open in time for the potentially lucrative Christmas period but finally got everything in place to open their doors in January. Or as we like to call it the graveyard month. The place was nicely decorated and the facilities fantastic - state of the art you may say. I know that one piece of equipment they purchased cost many tens of thousands of pounds. They were doing the job right.

So all they needed now was lots of happy paying customers. So..... promotional budget?

Have a guess.

It's a round number.

Well zero is round, isn't it?

The second business is an interesting one in the sports event industry. They offer events in a sport that is growing like billy-o. The owner used to run these events for another business and decided to set up on his own. He knows the market, knows how to organise events, has all the contacts. How hard can it be?

Well, quite hard in fact. Strangely, he has the events organised but people aren't flocking to sign up. How much has the owner spent on marketing communications? Well not much really.

Your first concern should be how to get customers

You see the thing is that both these start-ups missed the point about business. The first thing you need to concern yourself when you start a business isn't the office. It's not the desk. The PC. The expensive machinery. No.

The first thing you need to consider is how you're going to get some customers. Those people who will pay for your services. Those people who will have heard about you and what you do, like the sound of it so much that they'll find out more, and give it a try. Hopefully having tried it they will have enjoyed it so much that they'll try it again. They'll also tell their family and friends who will also give it a try.

Customers are the most important thing to a business. If you have a business with no customers you have a hobby!

There is a prevailing misunderstanding about business held by many if not most start-ups. "If I build it they will come." It's a great phrase. Unfortunately it isn't true for most start-ups. The road to bankruptcy is littered with "buildings" that potential customers never knew about.

All start-ups need to understand that customer acquisition is a more important concern than just about any other facet of their business. No, it is actually more important than any other part of their business because without customers they are doomed!

Now I'm not going to teach grandmothers to suck eggs. You guys know what gets you customers (anyone not thinking "Marketing!" now please go to the back of the class). Please perform an invaluable public service. Please, please tell anyone you know who is considering starting their own business to make sure they have money set aside in their budget for marketing communication. There's nothing worse than throwing a party and no one turning up.

Jim Hunt AuthorJim Hunt is a professional marketer with many years experience in building businesses large and small. As a speaker, trainer and practitioner he aims to explain marketing theory clearly and show how it can be applied in practice to deliver better results from your marketing investment. You can connect with Jim on LinkedInFacebookTwitter and Google+.


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