Posts

What You Don’t Know Will Hurt You

Most entrepreneurs don’t start a business because they have a passion for running a business or are an expert on operations. They do it because they’re passionate about their idea and feel that what they have to offer is sure to attract their target audience. Unfortunately, the entrepreneur’s journey is never an easy one.

It’s true that what you don’t know will hurt you. The world is constantly changing, and savvy business owners understand that they need to make time to work on their business instead of in it. To be successful, they must constantly learn and stay current in their field, on employment, in marketing and so much more.

Here are a few tips to keep yourself in the know:

Hire Good Staff With Excellent Communication Skills

Besides having the skills to expertly perform the tasks of the position they are given, having excellent communication skills are a necessity and will also be a reflection of the company. Also, being able to clearly communicate helps keep employees, management and clients in tune with the business.

Hire a Good Business Coach

Business coaches often stay on top of the trends. They’ll be able to help you pinpoint what you’re missing, identify possible roadblocks, help you come up with strategies to address them and help you remain accountable when it comes to following through.

Be Flexible and Responsive

Research your industry and be ready for changes. If you’re not the kind of business owner who can be responsive and flexible to the needs of your business, entrepreneurship might not be for you.

Never Stop Learning

Today there are plenty of ways to maintain the learning process, and you should continually expand your knowledge base. Consider the following easy ways to keep up to date:

Attend Conferences

Conferences and networking events are the perfect opportunity to learn from people in your industry (including your competitors), listen to the speakers and meet people, including potential clients. Even if the presentation is about something you’re familiar with, it will reaffirm what you already know or provide inspiration.

Take an Online Course

There are online courses covering every topic these days, so the possibilities of furthering your education without leaving home are endless. Online courses are also a great way to achieve added business designations that can help improve your credibility.

Read

Read anything that applies to you and your business, whether it’s about improving your sales skills, wealth, communications, cold calling skills or making the most out or email or social media marketing. Even if the topic seems a bit dry, the usefulness may become relevant down the road.

Listen to Podcasts

Today’s podcast technology provides the convenient ability to listen to and take in different content topics during your down time. You can listen to podcasts in the car, on a plane or at the gym. Where ever you desire.

Always spend time learning and continuing to improve your business because what you don’t know will hurt you. But what you do know will set you apart from the competition.

Have you ever had a situation where what you didn’t know, hurt you? What did you learn from that event? I’d love to read your advice in the comments below.

The Art of Delegation – Trust is Key

Many small business owners attempt to do everything, leaving little to delegate until they become so over worked and exhausted that they have no where left to turn.delegation Often times they hire the first competent person (hopefully) that they can find and immediately hand over the keys. In the end, they find that the person that they hired, isn’t as competent as they thought or maybe isn’t quite ready to drive.

In the book Entreleadership, Dave Ramsey explains that effective delegation is analogous to lengthening the rope of trust. When you properly manage your culture, hire and keep the right people, build unity, provide recognition, and creatively compensate your employees you’ll find that delegation opens doors to success like you’ve never imagined.

Two Types of Delegation

According to Steven Covey, there are two types of delegation: gopher and stewardship.

Gopher Delegation-the gopher delegation method is similar to micromanaging. It involves providing the employee with step-by-step instructions on exactly how to do the task and then verifying that the work was complete to your specifications. The gopher position is generally good for entry level job functions that are repetitive and don’t require a lot of thought.

Stewardship-the stewardship delegation method is management-level delegation. It focuses on the outcome rather than detailed instructions on how to get it done. Stewardship delegation requires trust because you are granting that person authority to act on your behalf and then responsibility to carry out the major project or task. Trust must be earned.

Earning Trust

Before you delegate important tasks it’s important to know that you can trust your employees. The process of developing trust takes time, but it will save you a lot of heart ache and drama if you approach it with intention.

There are two attributes that trust worthy people have in common. They are integrity and competency. Wise business owners trust employees with important tasks to the extent that they’ve spent time with them, observed their behaviors, and believe that the employee has both integrity and competency.

Integrity

Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. You should spend absolutely no time trying to work with employees who have no integrity. If they steal from you, cheat on their spouse, or lack moral character, do you think they’ll do an outstanding job for you?  Probably not. Instead, hire someone who has talent, and then work with them letting out the rope bit by bit.

Competency

Competency is the ability to do something successfully or efficiently. You can’t assess competency without observation. Competency is more than the ability to complete the task. It involves the process of completing the task as well. Were the team members treated with respect? Did the project get completed within budget?  These are just a few of the questions you should ask to assess competency.

Once you begin to delegate with authority and responsibility, you’ll display your trust to your entire team. Ronald Regan once said, “Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere.” What type of delegation do you relate to?  Let me know in the comments below.

Intentional Compensation for Small Businesses

Intentional compensation is key to running a successful business and It’s more than just numbers on a check.

Intentional Compensation

Creative Commons License: Photo Courtesy of Infusionsoft

Intentional compensation may include profit sharing, commissions, bonuses, health and medical benefits, paid time off, company functions, prizes, giveaways and more.

As the economy improves, more and more small businesses need to consider how they’re paying employees and the messages that they’re sending based on their compensation structure.

Intentional Compensation

You can still fail as a business if you don’t say thank you in your employee’s paycheck even if you do all of the right things in terms of leadership, culture, and communication. When you implement intentional compensation, your message clearly conveys that winning is rewarded and losing isn’t. What are your actions telling you? Are you compensating the people who you value accordingly? Your actions speak louder than words. You can say you value productivity and innovation, but when you don’t demonstrate that in your compensation system, you simply aren’t being truthful.

Reward What You Want Duplicated

Know what you value and reward only what you want duplicated. Employees will naturally gravitate to actions that increase their pay. Always be intentional when considering the three compensation structures I outline below:

Salary—Fixed salary positions reward employees for showing up. They’re great for attracting talent , but they don’t necessarily motivate them to go beyond minimal requirements. In fact, they do just the opposite with very rare exceptions. These rare gems are the employees with fixed salary positions who bear the brunt of the entire team’s workload. While team members chat, go for breaks or long lunches, these workers produce and bring extraordinary value to the company. Unfortunately, I’ve never seen one stay long. They often get frustrated or burn out because often we reward our most productive employees with more work instead of more pay. No wonder they run for the doors!

Profit Sharing—Profit sharing provides a certain percentage of the company’s profits as a bonus to employees monthly, quarterly, or annually. The key to this type of compensation is to ensure that employees know how they specifically contribute to the revenue by either increasing profits or decreasing expenses. This bonus is not something that employees should expect to receive, but rather something that they earn based upon their contributions to the company’s revenue.

Commission—There are many different commission structures that you can implement. Salary plus commissions deliver a small guaranteed salary and a percentage of every sale. Most commission plans are set up this way. Draw plus commissions provides a set amount of money each pay period. It’s very much like a loan since commissions aren’t received until the draw is repaid. The downfall of the draw plus commissions plan is during the launch of a new product. Because the product isn’t proven, sales reps might feel discouraged if the draw balance rises significantly. In that scenario, it’s a good idea to evaluate whether you want to allow for a reduction in the draw balance to allow the employee to receive commissions. Both the salary and draw plans pay for performance and work well when implemented with intention.

Changing Compensation

It’s never a good idea to reduce the pay of your employees. It’s demotivating and often leads to reduced productivity. If performance is poor, then work with the employee to improve upon it or let them go. You’ll see a better return on your dollar if you pay for a superstar rather than get a great deal on mediocrity.

What kind of commission structure do you offer your employees? Let me know in the comments and be sure to include your company’s name if you’re hiring!

How to Select the Perfect Vendor for Your Small Business

Vendor relationships are essential to the success of any business and millions of dollars are lost because of poor vendor selection. Here are tips that you can use to select the perfect vendor for your small business.

Select the Perfect Vendor

Photo Credit: Victor1558 Creative Commons License

Key Characteristics

Make certain that the vendor that you choose to partner with has the following key characteristics:

  • Integrity—The depth of every relationship is limited to the depth of trust. Search for vendors that do what they say they’ll do. The ones that deliver on time as promised.
  • Capacity—Capacity is one of the most important considerations in vendor selection. Know your vendor’s lead times for planning, production, and delivery and be careful to include these durations in your project schedule.
  • Price—Negotiate and get the best price that you can, but be aware that your vendor must be able to make a profit as well. Otherwise, you’ll soon be looking for another one.
  • Quality—Substandard products or services are unacceptable. Ensure that you receive what you’ve ordered with the level of quality that you paid for.

Drafting a Contract

Once you’ve selected a vendor you may need to draft a contract so that both parties are clear on the deliverables. When you enter into a contract with a vendor, you should plan for the best and worst-case scenarios. Hire a lawyer to draft it so that your interests are being looked after. Ensure that you include what happens in the event of default, death, disability, drug use, divorce, disinterest, and destruction. Read every word on the contract and make sure all parties have fully executed copies.

Signing as the Business

Be careful to only do business as your company so that you’re not personally held responsible for your company’s liability. Always sign business contracts as the office you hold instead of your personal name. For example, instead of signing a contract as Debra Boyd, I would sign it as Debra Boyd, Member of DLB Consulting, LLC. This way any contract that I sign with a vendor clearly demonstrates that I am signing on behalf of the company.

Vendors can make or break your business, so it’s essential that you select the right ones and work closely to nurture the relationship. Be intentional in your business and avoid costly mistakes.

The Perfect Small Business Accounting Firm for Your Business

If you’re in the market for the perfect small business accounting and consulting firm for your business, I’d love to chat with you. Call me for a free consultation on how I can help your business succeed.

Win the Hearts of Your Employees Through Recognition

In order to gain an increasing share of the market place you must win customers. Before you can win customers, you must first win the hearts of your employees.

Win Your Employees Hearts

Creative Commons License

Unfortunately, we’ve done a poor job of this in America and the data is clear. According to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report, an alarming 70 percent of full-time employees are not engaged in work or they are actively disengaged. This disengagement leads to a host of unproductive activity, high turnover, and costs businesses millions.

Win the Hearts of Your Employees

Creating a recognition program doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming. You can take simple steps today that will win the hearts of your employees and save your business. Here are a few ideas:

  • Write a thank you note
  • Gather an audience
  • Incorporate a challenge
  • Acknowledge a special event

Thank You Cards

The first time I received a handwritten thank you note was from a director that I worked with in a Fortune 500 company. I was into my second decade of working in corporate America and I had received many cash awards and recognitions for my work, but I had never received a hand written thank you card.  There’s just something special about the written word because it indicates that the sender put time and thought into the task. The small token of appreciation that was inside of it was nice, but I treasured that card and proudly displayed it on the wall of my cubicle for almost a year.

Gather an Audience

Recognition is powerful when it’s done in front of peers. Recognizing your highest sales employee in front of the IT staff does nothing to motivate other sales employees to work harder. However, recognizing that same employee in front of the sales team motivates the entire team to perform. This type of recognition can also be done in email form. Simply send out the recognition and watch as everyone rallies by replying to the list and confirming just how great that employee truly is.

Incorporate a Challenge

Men and women will fight hard for the opportunity to win. The prize doesn’t have to be expensive. It can be a cheap as a t-shirt or as expensive as a vacation. The size of the prize really doesn’t matter. People will compete to win whatever prize or challenge you lay before them.

Acknowledge an Event

Acknowledging an event in an employee’s life demonstrates that you care. Place special events, such as birthdays, anniversaries, baby showers, and weddings on your calendar so that you are reminded to acknowledge those events. You’ll be amazed at just how far that goes to not only win the heart of your employees, but their families as well.

Employees need recognition, and there are many different ways that you can satisfy that need and create a more engaged employee. Remember to recognize only the behaviors that you want others to model. Recognition doesn’t have to be expensive; it’s your actions that demonstrate that you care.

What are innovative ways of recognition that you’ve implemented in your business?

Building a Culture of Passionate and Loyal Employees in Your Small Business

Building a culture of passionate and loyal employees

Creative Commons License

Building a culture of passionate and loyal employees is the best thing you can do for your small business. If you don’t believe me consider the cost of employee turnover. The cost to replace an employee that makes less than $30,000 per year is approximately $4,800 according to CBS news. That’s 16 percent of his or her salary. For employees who make more, expect to pay significantly higher percentages to find a reasonable replacement. It’s clear that high turnover represents a major expense to any business.

Your employees are not cogs in a machine.  They are human beings with feelings, goals, and dreams.  If you treat them like machines, you’ll forever struggle with your operations.  However, if you treat your employees, as you would want to be treated you’ll find happier, loyal employees in the end. For example, if you believe that you’d deserve a raise if you were doing the same work, then give your employees a raise. Likewise, if you believe that you’d receive a reprimand for the work not performed, then have that chat with your employees.

A Great  Example of Company Culture

A great example of a company who truly values their employees is Infusionsoft.  Infusionsoft is located in Chandler, Arizona and has more than 400 happy and loyal employees. Recently, I spoke to a few of them to get their insight on why they are so committed to their jobs and their answers surprised me. They recited their purpose, mission, and values verbatim. I don’t know any other person who can remember their company’s mission let alone recite eight lines of values.  They said that they believe in people and their dreams, and their company believes in them. In fact, they have a dream manager on staff whose job is to help them work towards realizing their dreams.

Building a Culture of Passionate and Loyal Employees

I’m sure you don’t have to hire a dream manager to turn your culture around, but you can take a few steps to get started in the right direction. In the book Entreleadership Dave Ramsey recommends building unity within your teams. Here are five things you should consider in order to build unity:

  1. Communicate—We discussed how to create a culture of communication in my last post here. Let your employees know how good they’re doing, how well the company is doing, as well as when things aren’t looking that cheerful. You just might find a creative solution to that problem that you’ve been struggling with for so long.
  2. Shared Purpose—You know you have a committed culture when your employees can recite your company’s purpose from memory. Everything you do should correlate to your company’s purpose. When it does, your employees will notice it and share in it too.
  3. Axe the Gossip—Gossip destroys everything that you’ve worked so hard to build. Don’t participate in it, and consider implementing a policy that reprimands it. Problems or gripes are fine, but problems shared with peers that can’t fix them are considered gossip. Hand problems up and recognition down if you want to build a unified team.
  4. Solve Conflicts—Disagreements must be solved in a constructive manner. Part of being a leader involves helping your team grow together before they grow apart. Have the courage to deal with the conflict.
  5. Let Incompetence Go—Team members become demoralized when they are required to picking up the slack for a peer who is incompetent. When you keep an incompetent person in a role they can’t fulfill it makes the leadership appear to be incompetent as well. When you let the incompetent employee go, you send a message that performing with excellence is required.

Building a culture of passionate and loyal employees isn’t easy. You’ll have good days and bad days. But if you make an effort to stay true to the tips in this message, you’ll find a more peaceful work environment, increased productivity, and less turnover.

Earlier in this post I talked about Infusionsoft’s culture. Do you have a great culture in your company? Let me know. I’d love to share it as an example in a future post!

9 Principles for Securing Financial Peace for Your Small Business

Securing financial peace for your small business is important to your business, and due diligence is needed to reduce the chances that accounting errors or fraudulent activities lead your business towards failure.Financial Peace for Your Small Business  According to Dave Ramsey, most small businesses fail because of poor accounting, lack of budgeting, and debt. These might seem like basic tasks, but as many as 73.6 percent of small businesses fail after five years. Positive cash flow is essential, and it can make or break a business.

9 Principles for Securing Financial Peace for Your Small Business

If you want to succeed, consider implementing a few of these basic principles to secure financial peace for your small business:

  1. Keep Expenses Separate—Never comingle personal and business expenses. Deposit your business income and pay your expenses from your business account. You don’t need expensive business checks or an account with high fees. You can often open a business account with a few dollars, and eliminate fees by setting up a few bill pays online.
  2. Set Aside Taxes—When you pay yourself a wage, you’ll need to set aside money for taxes as well. A good rule of thumb is to set aside 25% of the amount that you withdraw from your account to pay taxes when they’re due.
  3. Budget—Every business should have a profit and loss statement for tax purposes. However, not every business has a realistic budget.  A budget helps you plan for the future and manage your expenses. It will serve as a barometer for how your business is performing, and you’ll be able to identify any seasonal or systemic problems that drain your cash.
  4. Act Your Wage—Don’t pile on the debt by buying fancy cars, new equipment, and expensive furniture for appearance purposes. Only buy what you need to keep your business running. As your wage increases, so can your toys.
  5. Eliminate Debt—Venture capitalists and investors favor companies that demonstrate positive cash flow. According to the Bureau of Census data, 60 percent of small businesses need less than $5,000 to get started. Start small and gradually expand as you experience more and more success.
  6. Save for Purchases—Systematically save for large purchases by setting aside a fixed amount every month towards the purchase price. If you can’t save the money, it’s likely that you won’t be able to make the payments either.
  7. Rent First and Buy Used—Rent expensive equipment until you can pay cash. When you save enough for the purchase, consider buying high quality used equipment to save money.
  8. Outsource—Outsource if you don’t have the skill or financial means to perform the work in house.
  9. Retain Earnings—You’ll want to retain some of your income for emergency expenses, a sudden loss of revenue, a great deal, or an investment in your company.

The easiest way to apply these principles is to develop an accurate budget and do a better job of accounting. You should also purchase only what your business needs to be successful, not just what you need for a tax break. How are you securing financial peace for your small business?  I’d love to hear your tips, and share them on a future post.

Serve Your Customers Instead of Selling to Them

If you want a successful, sustainable business you’ll need to serve your customers. Serve Your CustomersSuccessful leaders don’t sell products or services. Instead, they focus on serving their customers with a product that they are both passionate about, and believe will benefit their customers. The process is relational, not transactional.

The act of serving instead of selling involves a focused four-step process. Everyone who is considering a purchase will go through each of these steps regardless of the price of the item. Obviously, the time to proceed through each step increases and is generally correlated with the product price. The four-step process includes:

1. Qualification
2. Rapport
3. Education
4. Close

Qualification

A qualified prospect has money, time, a need or want, and the power to make a decision. If you’re talking to a buyer that doesn’t have all four of these things, then you’re trying to make a sale to an unqualified person. If by chance the sale does occur, you will have a higher probability of a product return, canceled contract, or an unsatisfied customer. Always ensure that you’re working with the person who is qualified to make the purchase.

Rapport

The second step of the buying and selling process is to build rapport. Building rapport includes professionalism and a polished attitude. You need to find common ground with the person that you’re trying to sell to. Networking and referrals can help to establish rapport in advance. When your customers are willing to tell their friends about the great service or product that they’ve received from you, the amount of rapport building that you have to do is somewhat reduced.

Know your target customer. If your customer is very detail oriented, you’ll need to ensure that you know every detail about your product before you discuss it with them. Getting into a conversation about your product without the necessary details is not only embarrassing, but it can cost you the sale. Customers who don’t trust you, your product, and your company, simply will not purchase from you.

Education

The third step of the buying and selling process is education. Know how your product solves your customer’s problems. Be aware of the details, and know your product intimately. Help your customer visualize how your product will make their lives easier.

Be passionate about your product. It is your responsibility to ensure that not only do you believe that you are selling the best product at the best price, but your team does as well. You should also know your competition so that you can point out how your brand is different than your competitors. Don’t trash your competitors. Instead, know how your product compares.

It’s important to note that while this is the third step, many companies are now using educational content marketing to find prospects and build relationships with them throughout the entire buying process. They nurture their customers with useful education and information until they’re ready to buy.

Closing the Sale

Once you have a qualified customer that you’ve built rapport with and educated, it will be natural for them to buy from you. However, before the purchase occurs there may be a moment of increasing agitation or wariness. At this point in time the customer will either purchase a product or turn the other way. If the customer begins to turn away, start asking questions to ensure that you have completed the three previous steps. Verify that you’re talking to the qualified prospect. Make small talk to reassure yourself and the customer that there is rapport. Finally, ask questions to understand if there are gaps in the fulfillment of the previous three steps, and fill them.

Failing to go through all four steps with the buyer creates additional work and may even create backlash. You must take the time to ensure that your buyer is qualified, trusts you, and has all of their questions answered so that you can close the deal.

Zig Ziglar says, “Sales is nothing more than a transference of feeling. If you can make the customer feel the way you do about your product, then your customer will buy your product.” Are customers buying your product or service? If not, which of the steps above should you consider putting more effort into?

12 Elements of a Good Hiring Strategy

In our last post we uncovered the mystery of a good marketing plan. We learned that every product or service has a life cycle. The life cycle is made up of four stages: introduction, growth, maturity, and the declining stage. By knowing which stage of the life cycle your product is in you can make educated decisions on when or where to spend your marketing dollars. As your business grows, it’s likely that you’ll need to hire a team to help you continue to grow. A good hiring strategy will not only save you time, but it will also save you money.

The process of interviewing and hiring the perfect candidate is not an easy task. It takes a lot of time and energy to proceed with the interview process. That’s why it’s important to ensure that you have a good hiring strategy in place. The right person will bring positive attitudes and infectious hard work to your business. When you find out that someone is a good fit before you hire them, you’ll save yourself thousands of dollars in lost productivity and opportunity.

Good Hiring Strategy

Image Credit: Jay from Cudahy.  Creative Commons License

12 Elements of a Good Hiring Strategy

There are 12 elements to a good hiring  strategy that Dave Ramsey writes about in Entreleadership. They are:

1. Pray—Ask God to send the person that should do the work that needs to get done.

2. Get Referrals—If you have a culture that we’ve been talking about in the last few posts, your best people will want their brightest friends to come work with them. Create a referral program to ensure that employees who refer great candidates are rewarded.

3. Pre-interview— Your first interview should be a 30 minute call to get to know the candidate. Spend 20 minutes listening and 10 minutes talking. Listen more than you talk, and keep the pre-interview to exactly 30 minutes. You can follow up later in another interview.

4. Review the Resume and Call References—Review the candidate’s resume for formal training that’s applicable to the position that you’re hiring for.  The resume is a great place to begin a conversation. Check references to be sure the candidates truly are who they say they are.

5. Use the DiSC Test—The discs personality test will assess relational intelligence, which is the ability to work well with others to achieve shared goals. The D stands for dominance. A dominant person will get work done, and is quick to act and make decisions. The I stands for influencer. Influencers are fun and outgoing, and are often concerned about their team members. The S stands for steady. Steady people are loyal, stable,  love people, and are concerned about how everyone feels. They are great as team players, understanding, and will be with you until the end. The C stands for compliant. Compliant employees are very analytical and factual. They may seem rigid, but they have a high level of competency. Your organization needs some of every personality in order to be successful.

6. Like the Candidate—If you’re going to be working everyday with the candidate, you need to like them. Don’t force yourself to work with people you don’t have anything in common with.

7. Look For Light—When you start talking about the position keep your eyes on the candidates. As the candidates start to talk, notice if their eyes light up. Does the mere thought of getting to do the work fire them up? If not, it’s likely that all they want is a paycheck, and you won’t be able to keep them happy.

8. Review Personal Mission Statement and Budget—Candidates should have a statement that shows how the position that they are accepting is part of their dream. They should also be able to pay their bills on the wage that they are making. Someone who can’t pay their bills will be constantly worried about them and consequently will be very stressed out. They will be a drain on your business.

9. Review Compensation—As you progress in your interviews you’ll go deeper into compensation and benefits. Candidates who start the interview process discussing money are  looking for a job. Not an opportunity to do work that matters. You want the candidate who cares about the work.

10. Write Down Key Results—Write down what winning looks like in the open position before you post it. It should clearly communicate what the position entails.

11. Interview the Candidate’s Spouse—Invite the candidate and the candidate’s spouse to dinner. During the dinner you can solicit the spouse’s input on whether or not they think their spouse is a good fit for the position. You can also assess whether or not the spouse is completely nuts. If that’s the case, you should probably stay away from the candidate.

12. Implement a Probation Period—Ensure that you have a probation period where both the candidate and your company has time to observe and ensure a true fit. At this point you have little obligation to any candidate, and they have little obligation to you. After ninety days, the candidate is truly a team member and you should take working with them very seriously.

images

Image Credit: Bill Strain. Creative Commons License

Implementing a  good hiring strategy will ensure you get the best candidate for your open position. How many people are you hiring this year?

 

Uncovering the Mystery of a Good Marketing Plan

Marketing is more than selling and advertising. A good marketing plan is strategic and  gets your product or service in front of your potential customers. When you first launch your business, your marketing plan may consist of just making sure that you can make payroll. However, eventually it should take its rightful place as a strategic planning action.

Product Life Cycle

Marketing Plan Product Lifecycle

Every product or service has a life cycle, and it’s important to know where you are in the stages so that you can plan accordingly. The stages include:

  • Introduction—The introduction stage is defined by the launch of your product.  In this stage, you incur significant marketing expenses because you’re trying to get the word out. Generally, sales are low, expenses are high, and profits are nowhere to be seen.
  • Growth—During the growth stage, your product begins to take off, your promotion costs decrease, cost of goods decrease, and your profits begin to rise.
  • Maturity—The maturity stage signifies the lowest cost of goods, lower production costs, high sales, and is usually the most profitable stage. In this stage, competitors began to enter the market.
  • Declining stage—The declining stage represents a decrease in sales and leftover inventory. You should be thinking about reinventing or revising your product during this stage.

Knowing which stage of the life cycle your products is in helps you make educated decisions on where to spend your marketing dollars. If you have to reinvent your product, or revise your product, you’ll generally start the new life cycle with an introduction that overlaps the old cycle. Rarely will you have to start at the beginning again.

Marketing Plan Elements

Marketing Plan

The mystery of marketing isn’t really a mystery. Building the strategic marketing plan to let people know how your product or service solves their problems takes time. When you include the necessary elements, you’ll discover that your plan converts prospects into paying customers. Ensure that your marketing plan includes the following five elements:

  • Passion—Your marketing message has to have energy and spark. There needs to be a hero willing to fight the villain of success. If you can’t get excited about your message, then don’t do it. You need passion that often involves sacrifice to make something big happen.
  • Activity—Marketing dreams that come true and increase sales are never random. It often requires a tremendous amount of promotion, advertising, and energy to create a successful outcome. Being timid and passive won’t work in capitalism. You must make a bold proclamation so that others can take notice.
  • Scarcity—Creating the perception that your product is scarce will add tremendous marketing energy to your plan. Do this intentionally, but with integrity. When you can create perception that your product is rare, people will want to have it. It’s natural.
  • Urgency—You should try to convey a sense of urgency because without it, desire loses its value. Establish a pricing structure that limits the number of items at a certain price.
  • Momentum—Scarcity, urgency, activity, and passion are four elements in a successful marketing plan. However, if your outcomes are limited to your best efforts, then your outcomes are too limited. Businesses are often in such a hurry to get to market that marketing strategy is often ignored. It cost a lot of money to make this type of mistake. Be thoughtful about your approach to your customers so that you will be given the opportunity to serve them with your product or service.

How’s your strategy coming along?

*Images courtesy GNU Free Documentation License.