Category Archives for "relational marketing"

sailing ship on stormy sea

The Myth of the Rational Consumer

You may think your clients make rational decisions; show them how you solve their problem and they immediately decide to buy!  If only the rational consumer existed!

The Rational Consumer

Right-wing economists who believe economics is a science, developed an imaginary construct, the rational consumer.  Assume thousands of consumers all behave in their own best interests and you can model the economy.

The political implications are catastrophic.  Some politicians genuinely believe the economy works in this way.  More than that they claim their madcap schemes are the will of the rational consumer.

Experienced marketers are aware the rational consumer is a myth.  Most people do not act in their own self-interest because they do not know what their self-interest is.

Why do people not act in their self-interest?  They have in effect two brains.  Their emotional brain is fast and overwhelming.  Their rational brain is slow and logical.  Often they act on their emotional brain before their rational brain kicks in.

This is not to say the emotional brain is necessarily wrong.  Marketers sometimes encounter buyer’s remorse, where following a good purchase the rational brain kicks in and finds reasons to regret the purchase.

Good marketers engage with both brains, using the urgency of the emotional brain and the logic of the rational so their client feels comfortable with their purchase.  Motivate your client to take full advantage of their purchase. This is especially important for coaches.

Behavioural Economics

  1. How does your behaviour vary from the profit-maximising rational behaviour classical economists insist upon. This may help you understand the reasons for your clients’ behaviour.
  2. How much choice do you offer your prospects? Remember too much choice can be counter-productive.
  3. How do you position your offers to guide prospects to your best offer?

Slow Down Your Thinking

There is value in thinking about your own thinking.  Too often we rush to a decision without giving it proper thought.

Take time when you make an important decision.  It is easy to get stuck in a narrow definition of the problem.  Try to see the problem in its wider context.  The problem as it initially presents itself is transformed when viewed from another perspective.  Consider using a coach or mentor to help with decisions.

You sometimes find another perspective by taking time out and allowing your mind scope to reflect.  Walking is an opportunity to do this and a good night’s sleep is also effective.  Even turning to another problem allows your mind space to find another perspective.

Beware of Premature Solutions

Beware of the solution that presents itself as a problem.  A prospect who presents with a request for help with their website is presenting a solution.  They may be right and have already done the thinking for themselves.  Still, it is worth finding out: what is the problem the website solves?  Once you know what the problem is, you can assess the proposed solution.  Sometimes a well-defined problem goes most of the way to solving it.

This is a really important point.  The costs of solutions masquerading as problems is immense.  An example of this, now in vogue is Brexit.  There is no agreement about what the problem is that Brexit is meant to solve.  Is it immigration or sovereignty?  Both these problems are poorly defined.  Worse the real problem may have nothing to do with Europe and everything to do with how we make decisions in the UK.  A referendum takes power away from representative government.  It disables opposition, which means the government is no longer held to account or able to receive feedback on its legislation.

Always find out what the problem is first! Sometimes clients resist this and insist on their solution.  If you can help them understand their problem, they are likely to see their problem in an entirely different light.

Following this thirty-ninth and final post in this series to encourage coaches to reflect on relational marketing, take this opportunity to sign up below.  You get a weekly round-up of my posts and a pdf about how to make sure you are charging what your business is worth.

Usability Testing and the Small Business

Why are medicinal drugs so expensive?  The big pharmaceutical companies argue that we all need safe drugs.  Rigorous safety testing is costly and so the companies have to be compensated for the time and money they spend.  Does the small business have a similar claim about usability testing?

Usability Testing

Usability testing is costly.  Most of us are likely to hear about it through websites.  It is true websites are much improved by usability testing.  Some people design a website and then ask several people to use it, while they watch how they use it.

A great deal can be done more economically using AB testing.  Here you set up two versions of your site.  You randomly assign one version to each visitor to the site and see which over time is most likely to meet the response you seek.

With these tests, you get results within a few days, so long as your site receives sufficient traffic.  And of course, most of us don’t!

You can see how these methods can be costly in terms of money and time.  A large company can afford them but they want compensation through pricing.

The interesting thing is maybe small businesses are better able to bear these costs.

Always be Wrong

  1. Where are the edges you can dance on?
  2. What would you invent if you knew it was going to fail and wanted to see how it failed?
  3. How do you test your edges?

Edgecraft

Imagine three concentric circles.  You and your business occupy the innermost circle.  This is the comfortable place to be.  Everyone else is in this circle and they all offer similar products and services to the same market. It feels safe but is actually the place of most competition.

The outermost circle marks the fringes.  Beyond here things are too chaotic to make sense to you or any credible market.

The interesting place is the circle in-between.  This marks the edge between the comfort zone and the fringes.  The secret about this circle is it is not a circle.  It is a polygon with many edges.

If you find your way to one of these edges, you have a small enthusiastic market.  You will not compete with anyone else for that market.  Perhaps this is another way of describing the early adopters in the innovation diffusion model.

The fabled Brick Rabbit is a good example.  It was a restaurant without food.  You brought your own, cooked it on the premises and ate it with friends.  It failed.

What Doesn’t Fail?

Mostly, businesses on the edge fail.  They fail because the costs of trying something new are greater than the likely returns.

Usually.

But if it works, it can be brilliant.  Things to bear in mind:

  • The edge is not a compromise. In a market where people sell big things and little things, selling medium things does not count as an edge.
  • You are not seeking difference so much as to take something to an extreme.
  • So extreme, it is remarkable and gets people talking.
  • It will also get some other people walking away.

Pete Atkin nails it in this song.  There is a clear and small market (drummers) for a wristwatch that is truly remarkable.  How would you design a wristwatch for a drummer in the days of the mobile phone?

Following this thirty-eighth post to encourage coaches to reflect on relational marketing, take this opportunity to sign up below.  You get a weekly round-up of my posts and a pdf about how to make sure you are charging what your business is worth.

Someone amazed at what they see on screen

How to be an Impresario and Promote Your Business

A lot depends on personal circumstance but the draw of doing what you enjoy (your job) is at the expense of running your business.

Your Job and Your Business

This is a common mishap for the self-employed.  One reason you became self-employed is you enjoy doing something; you are a coach and you love coaching.

Perhaps you put on an event and as a result get 6 clients.  Maybe that’s hard to imagine but bear with me.

You set to work.  They pay your fees.  For the next 6 months you live and breathe working with these clients.  You are successful in every way, you have enhanced your reputation as a coach.

Then one day you wake up to find you have no clients and no money.  You have done your job, as a coach but neglected your business.  You need another event and it will take weeks to organise.  Many businesses fail because they cannot recover from such a mistake.

You need a programme of events, to keep yourself in the public eye, so you continue to enrol clients.  You may have problems managing new clients when still working with old ones but that is a different problem, one of capacity.

Let’s stay with the problem at hand.  What can you do to remain in the public eye?

You Don’t Know What You’ve Got Till It’s Gone

  1. What do you create that people will miss it when it’s gone (and hope it comes back soon)?
  2. What could you create that offers a real incentive to tell my friends? That makes news?  Who can get the word out in exchange for a share of attention?
  3. What would happen if your promotion didn’t work? What would happen if it did?

Impress an Impresario

Ok, a few definitions.  A promotion is an event you put on either in real life or online.  Real life promotions might be public speaking, a stall at a business fair, a workshop, training event, a network event over a meal, lunch and learn …  Online promotions might be a blog post, social media campaign, webinar, online course.  These need not necessarily be free events but usually they are fairly low-cost.  Your aim is to find clients.

An impresario is someone who brings people together to work on and promote an event.  You may be aware of impresarios in your own community.  You could join in with what they do.  If you spot a gap in what they are doing, perhaps you can step into the impresario role?

Next, do you need a schedule of promotions to keep you in the public eye?  I find it is best to have a few regular promotions punctuated by occasional experimental promotions.

Can you build a team who work with you because it helps promote their businesses and strengthens their message?  How you do this is flexible.  You might have a team who consistently work with you.  Alternatively, if you have a regular event, you can invite people to take part, perhaps as a keynote speaker or trainer.

Remember, the aim of marketing is to create change and so your events should aim to do just that.  How do you promote change? By being remarkable!  When people talk about your promotions, they are your audience.

Following this thirty-seventh post to encourage coaches to reflect on relational marketing, take this opportunity to sign up below.  You get a weekly round-up of my posts and a pdf about how to make sure you are charging what your business is worth.

A red rose

Why Finding the Right Name Matters

It’s easy to spend too little time finding the right name for your business.  Just how important is it?

A Rose by Any Other Name …

Naming your business, products and services: is it tactical or strategic?  Tactical implies names are temporary, do a job and once finished, can be disposed of.  Strategic implies a name says something about you and sets the scene for many years to come.

You can change your name. When you start out in business, you get to a point where there is pressure to change your name because your vision is clearer.  Perhaps it’s best to start with a name that will do for early months but not embed it too much into your business.  The challenge of changing urls, business cards and other publicity can be daunting.

A good name is one you can live with, even if you change what you do.  Perhaps, you have a personal brand and it helps you whatever you do.

There is a vogue for meaningless company names, eg Carillion, Amey, Consignia, Onyx.  Superficially, they sound good but many associate them with poor service.  They are big companies, bidding for government contracts.  Their names give nothing away about what they do because they do anything that pays.

Choosing Your Business Name

So, choose a plausible name and try it out.  Ask friends or potential customers.  Feedback helps but does not guarantee the name works as part of your marketing.

Say it aloud and get others to say it to you.  What does it sound like?  Is it easy to work out how to spell it?  Does it sound like something different from the spelling?

How does it feel to speak the name aloud?  Does it feel silly or sensible, strong or weak?

Write it down as for a url.  Be aware that words run together can be read in several ways.  For example, “therapist” can be read in two ways, one of which you may wish to avoid.

Will the name come up when Googled?  How easy is it be to find your business online with that name?  Remember competition is such that a name that works well to begin with can lose its advantage when a competitor finds something that works better.

All these are things to consider.  Few are absolute reasons to use or abandon a potential name.

Words Have Meanings

  1. Does your business name remind prospects of the change you seek to make? Even if they don’t know the history of it?
  2. Does saying your business name change customers’ attitude to help them believe the story you tell?
  3. Does the name have room to gain a secondary meaning, so that it becomes associated with what you sell?

Authority

Perhaps the most important aspect of a name is it should be memorable. If someone knows it, they should be able to find you.  This is particularly important in the early days of your business, when you are not well-known and you benefit if people remember anything about you.

As you become better known, a good name comes to be associated with your business and what you sell.  So, think about this when you choose the name.  You sell something remarkable and so you need a remarkable name.

So, to what extent should your name show literally what you offer?  My business name does that but “Market Together” also says something about my approach.  It is memorable but is it remarkable?  I believe it speaks to those who share my values, in other words those who I wish to communicate with are those for whom my name may seem remarkable.

If you have authority in the marketplace it is possible you can get away with more prosaic names for your products and services.  The rest of us need to be remarkable about our names.  But beware words like “awesome”, they are not remarkable!

Following this thirty-sixth post to encourage coaches to reflect on relational marketing, take this opportunity to sign up below.  You get a weekly round-up of my posts and a pdf about how to make sure you are charging what your business is worth.

Doors to two lifts

You Don’t Need an Elevator Pitch

Everyone needs an elevator pitch.  Or so we are told.  Let’s consider whether we need one and if so, what it is for.

Creating Tension

The elevator pitch is the shortest possible presentation of your business.  The idea is, if you are in conversation in a lift (elevators are American lifts) and you have a few seconds to explain, what do you say?

Sometimes we call the 1 minute or so at a network event an elevator pitch.  Technically, this is not right because most elevators take far less than a minute.  A minute is a long time.  You can tell a story in one minute.

The one minute story has value.  You can use your 1 minute version as the foundation for a longer story.

So, the one minute builds on your 10 second pitch. It is usually addressed to a group and rarely to one person; it builds your brand or reputation.  If you regularly attend a network group, constant repetition builds your brand, so people remember you when they meet someone who needs your services.

So, you either build your brand or offer a call to action through the one minute pitch.  Do you want your audience to remember you or to respond to something, for example notice of a meeting?

Remember though you never get the same audience twice.  Whilst it is important you convey a consistent message, it has to be asked how effective your one minute pitch is alone.

So, what is the purpose of the 10 second elevator pitch?  It is not about selling and it is about creating tension.  The point is not to aim for accuracy so much as something to start a conversation.  It should piqué the interest of your audience of one, so they ask for more information.

Words and Images

  1. Do words and images matter? How do you present yourself?  Do you know 12 words that show you are on the ball?
  2. How do you make it clear you are there for your market? How do you use words to convey your focus on your market, eg us and I.
  3. What is your superpower, the thing your market would miss if it was gone?

Your Elevator Role

Take that last question, your superpower.  Whatever your field, you specialise in something that separates you from others in the same field; something of value to you and your market.  This superpower may not be immediately obvious and if you cannot identify it for yourself, perhaps you could ask others for insights.

This is your elevator role.  Once you know your superpower you can describe it in 6 words.  (Six is a little arbitrary but it should be your aim.)

Analysis

I help <name a group of people> to <name something they aspire to>.

So, I might say “I help coaches enjoy their marketing”.

First word is likely to be “I”.  You could use a company name (this is why 6 words is arbitrary, your company name may be more than one word).  You could use “we” but remember they might not know the “we” you refer to.

Second word is likely to be “help” but could be another such as support, heal, challenge …

Third word is your market.  My sentence uses “coaches” but I could change it to “consultants” if I knew I was talking to a consultant.  It would be more accurate if I said “coaches, consultants and freelancers” but we are aiming for clarity.

The last 3 words should describe your superpower.  The point I make is coaches should enjoy their marketing.  Many coaches may not have considered this.  They also have objections, eg isn’t it more important the marketing works?

If the listener thinks they don’t enjoy their marketing or objects to the emphasis on enjoyment, this is tension.  That tension should result in conversation.  If people walk away after such a clear statement, perhaps your statement does not create enough tension.  You might seek better wording or a better superpower.  Try not to change too much, give your statement time to prove itself.  Remember consistency is important.

Pitch or Role?

Perhaps you don’t need an elevator pitch but you certainly need an elevator role.  Consistently turning up and playing that role is likely to build your brand reputation.

Following this thirty-fifth post to encourage coaches to reflect on relational marketing, take this opportunity to sign up below.  You get a weekly round-up of my posts and a pdf about how to make sure you are charging what your business is worth.

Waveforms

How Does Frequency Inspire Marketing?

We use the word frequency in two ways.  It means going over something over and again, showing up and performing the same act.  It also means something to tune into.  Both meanings are important for marketers.

Consistency and Change

People in your market tune into your message when they hear it many times.  This implies consistency in your message.

At the same time, your offers evolve to meet the needs of your market.  So, some aspects of your business are constant over long periods, while others are responsive to changes in your market as you tune into their needs.

To work out which aspects of your message are unchanging and which change is challenging.

What you do and the reason you do it should be unchanging.  But your understanding of your message evolves.  You consistently point in the same direction but as you move in that direction, your perspective changes.

If you  point consistently in the same direction, you draw people to you who are looking in that direction.  As you get to know those people, you design something that better meets their needs.

Consistency and You

  1. How are you consistent (or inconsistent) in your messages or actions?
  2. How frequently do you put out your message? What are the vehicles you use to do this?
  3. How does frequency affect the way you convey your presence to the world?

Novelty and Empathy

Novelty is important but the place it is important is in the earliest stages of business development.  When you start, you must find your unique message.  This takes time.  Once you have that message, you must not change it.

Have new ideas about how you convey your message but consistency about the message itself is crucial.  This means you must show up online or in real life and deliver the same message over and over.  The only time to contemplate changing the message is if your business is at stake.  Your accountant is the only person who can change your message.

Tuning In

The reason you need to be consistent and frequent is so your market tunes into your message.  It’s like any other message, if you do not take a stand, it is impossible to debate with you.  It is impossible to debate with someone who has nothing to say and so shifts their ground.

Political parties are more successful with a consistent message.  They are all coalitions with a range of viewpoints. Problems set in when there are irreconcilable differences within the party.  However, manifestos change with each election.  The context changes but a party with a consistent message demonstrates it through the changes they make to policy.

Consistency and frequently sharing your message builds trust in your market.  People who like your message are drawn to you.  They need to understand your message and get to know you as a person (or a brand) but in time they get there.

On your part, this requires empathy.  You listen to your market, hear their objections, questions, fears, hopes and then deepen your message in response.

Following this thirty-fourth post to encourage coaches to reflect on relational marketing, take this opportunity to sign up below.  You get a weekly round-up of my posts and a pdf about how to make sure you are charging what your business is worth.

Bowling green with balls in position

When to Choose Brand or Direct Marketing

Brand or direct marketing are two distinct approaches and some marketers claim they’re polar opposites.  They say you can do both but not at the same time.

Outreach or Targeting?

I prefer to think of these approaches as outreach or targeting.  They are distinct roles within your marketing strategy.

Outreach or brand marketing aims to raise awareness of your business.  This approach to marketing raises awareness by telling stories.  People tell stories through public speaking, videos, audio, text (online and off) and images such as logos.

Mostly outreach is free.  You put your message out there and hope people get in touch.  Sometimes people describe this approach to finding prospects as organic.  If you create a video that goes viral, it is free marketing as it raises the profile of your brand.

However, it is not strictly true this approach is free.  You may have paid to create the video that goes viral.  The real point is you cannot measure how successful the video is at creating customers.  Yes, you can ask customers why they came to you but you don’t really know how much exposure to your brand they had.

Targeting is direct marketing to a specific group of people.   Facebook Pay-per-Click ads are an example.  You target the ad using Facebook’s famous database, so that your ad appears on the screens of only those you wish to target.  You pay Facebook for access to their database.

Facebook offers Analytics with its database.  You can work out how many people see your ad, how many click on it and then respond to your call to action.  You know how much you paid Facebook (plus anyone else) to develop your ad.  Divide this into the spend by customers who respond to the ad and you know how much it costs to get that level of income.  If the number is greater than 1, you can afford to repeat the ad.

Measuring Success

  1. What do you measure? Do you know your return on investment in targeted marketing?
  2. How do you know your brand marketing is worthwhile? You may know how much it costs but you cannot measure its success.
  3. Are you clear about what you should measure?

Can You Do Both?

Think in terms of a marketing funnel.  Or the awareness ladder.  Brand marketing works better at earlier stages.  It raises awareness of the problem and possible solutions.  Direct marketing is where you convert interested people into prospects or customers.

Think of these two approaches as complementary. Any given method is either brand or direct marketing.  If you can measure it, it is direct, otherwise it is brand.  Sometimes a method might switch if you work out how to measure or target it.

For example, one early example of direct marketing is the coupon.  It carries a code so you know which publication it came from.  So, you can measure the success of ads in several publications.

Television advertising presents a problem because it is clearly brand advertising.  People might be influenced to the extent they switch brand at the supermarket but it is impossible to know how many are so influenced.

One way round this was to add a code to the TV advert.  Ask customers to write the code on a coupon and they receive a bonus.  Apparently this worked for some businesses.

So, outreach or brand marketing usually aims to raise awareness and command attention.  It helps you find your market.  Direct marketing is about conversions, getting prospects to buy or at least commit to your sales process.  Make sure you know which you are doing, whatever you are doing!

Following this thirty-third post to encourage coaches to reflect on relational marketing, take this opportunity to sign up below.  You get a weekly round-up of my posts and a pdf about how to make sure you are charging what your business is worth.

Really?

Marketing to Yourself

Who is your greatest critic?  Nobody cares so much about your business as you do and so you are your greatest critic. Your greatest challenge is marketing to yourself !

Your Greatest Critic

Every business owner carries around a miniature version of themselves, who sits on their shoulder and whispers criticism in their ear.  Don’t believe me?  Where do you hear things like:

  • It won’t work.
  • I know I have something to say, but I don’t know how to say it
  • I’m stuck.
  • I feel like a failure.
  • I can give better advice to others than I can to myself.
  • If it does work, I have to do it again because things change all the time.

Critics are famous for being negative.  So much so that critical is synonymous with being negative.  But critics do dish out praise.  We’ve all seen five-star reviews.  Why do we see criticism as essentially negative?

The trick is to turn your negative critic into a positive critic.  How?  Listen to your critic and work out the story it is telling you.

You learn a lot from marketing to the world but you must also learn to market to yourself.

What’s Your Line?

  1. What is the story you tell yourself?
  2. Is it helping you?
  3. What story could you pay attention to that would be more helpful?

Creative Destruction

What does it mean to market to yourself?  If you do your marketing the right way, you make changes to the world.  You need to come up with something fresh because old ways change nothing.

This is why there is so much more to marketing than the latest technique.  If you have nothing new to share, you cannot change anything, whatever technique you use.

You may be a life coach and compete with a thousand other life coaches.  What makes you and your offer different?  What makes you stand out?  Nothing?  Or is that your critic speaking?

When you stumble upon the one thing that makes you different, everything changes.  It is an act of creative destruction.  The world shifts and now you have to start over again, building something new.

Following this thirty-second post to encourage coaches to reflect on relational marketing, take this opportunity to sign up below.  You get a weekly round-up of my posts and a pdf about how to make sure you are charging what your business is worth.

An hourglass

From Sales Funnel to Hourglass

We’ve all heard about sales funnels and how we all have one or need one.  What does this mean, especially when starting out?

Attention Costs

Getting someone’s attention has a cost attached to it.  This is the brutal truth about business.  You have no chance of selling unless the right people pay attention.

The first thing to be aware of is costs.  Your sales must exceed costs.  Sales are easy to calculate.  However, be aware that once you have a customer, they may make more than one purchase.  So, they may have a Lifetime Value beyond your first sale.

So what are the costs?

Costs are in money and time.  Your time has value and if you put a lot of time into meeting prospects, this impacts business success.

How many steps are there between first contact and first sale?  Each step increases costs.  I normally first encounter people through networking or speaking.  I meet interested people over coffee and usually sell at that stage.  Some funnels have four or more stages and each stage adds to costs.

With a financial value to the initial cost that brings prospects into your funnel, you can calculate the overall cost of turning a prospect into a customer.  If that is less than the lifetime value of the customer, you have a business.

I’ll share some of the calculations below.  For beginners these calculations are something to be aware of but not necessarily to worry about at the stage you are at.

Your focus is on developing offers you can sell and learning how to sell them.  You need to practice selling and so a funnel with minimal steps and low success rate is what you would expect at the start.  As success increases, so will your capacity and funnel calculations become more important.

Your Funnel

  1. Every business has a funnel although not every business is aware of it. So, can you describe your funnel?  How many steps must a prospect pass through before they become a customer?  What are the steps?
  2. Have you any idea of the lifetime value of your customers? Do they buy once or are they likely to come back for more?
  3. How likely are your customers to pass on the word to other prospects? How much of your funnel do these prospects pass through?

Calculating Costs

To make meaningful calculations, you need experience.  You need to monitor prospects and costs.  If you monitor from the start, it helps.  But it is unlikely your practices will be the same once you are established.  Early stages are likely to involve a lot of chopping and changing, so you may find these calculations make more sense once your business works to a regular pattern.

However, it is helpful to be aware of what’s going on beneath the surface, even if you don’t have monitoring in place.

You need some idea of the cost of getting someone into your funnel.  Sometimes this is straightforward, eg a pay-per-click ad has a clear cost for each click.  If you speak at an event and 10 people sign up, it is the cost of preparing for the event divided by 10.

Let’s say the cost of one person entering your funnel is £5.  Estimate the percentage of people who move to the next stage of the funnel.  Say 5 of the 10 people who sign up attend your one to one.  And 2 buy your offer.  So, 50% turn up and 40% sign up.

You divide £5 by .5 and then by .4 and this means the cost of your customer is £25.  This is actually a reasonable cost and many businesses would be envious.  What happens if the cost is £5000 or more?

Mitigating Costs

Two things mitigate costs.  The first is lifetime value.  If customers make further purchases they may exceed the initial cost over time.  This works better for some businesses than others.  It is always worth asking what else you can offer a customer who trusts you.

Second, a satisfied customer may tell their friends and this can slash the cost of your funnel, especially if customers enter your funnel towards the end and are more likely to buy because of the recommendation.

If this happens often, you have an hourglass, where as many enter your funnel towards the end as enter from the top.

Following this thirty-first post to encourage coaches to reflect on relational marketing, take this opportunity to sign up below.  You get a weekly round-up of my posts and a pdf about how to make sure you are charging what your business is worth.

Mouse with a very long tail!

Finding Your Place in the Long Tail

Think about keywords.  These are terms people search for online.  Take the most popular keyword and place it first in line and then the next most popular and so on.  You will generate a curve which starts with very high numbers and quickly declines and tails off.  Obviously, the tail is massively long because of unlimited possible keywords.  Marketers call this the long tail.

History of the Long Tail

The same applied in the 1960s and 1970s.  Supermarkets came onto the scene and opened up shelf space to a range of products.  They could accommodate more than corner shops but shelves were finite.  They held a few products from the short head and very few from the long tail.

If you were in the long tail, your only option was to market locally.  You could try a market stall or door-to-door or even open a specialist shop.

With the Internet, the world changed.  Shelf-space online is infinite.  Amazon can always add more books.  However, there are only so many slots for businesses that accommodate everything.

How much impact does the Internet have on local businesses?  It increases opportunities for small businesses and some have a global reach.  By small business, I don’t mean to imply turnover is small.  A few do very well with a few staff from a single office anywhere in the world.

This leaves local businesses with pretty much the same challenges they had in the past.  Whilst the Internet can help them, for many it is a distraction.

Finding Your Short Head

  1. What is the problem your product or service solves?
  2. What restrictions do you impose on your market? (Sometimes called your niche, this is likely to be geographical plus perhaps demographics such as age or sex.)
  3. Are you aware of fundamental beliefs you hold, likely to attract like-minded people?

Strategies in the Long Tail

No local traders dominate a sector of the market to embrace the long tail in its entirety.  Big business dominates the most popular products and services.

You need strategies that help you develop a short head inside the long tail.  Identify and build your own market, using whatever skills you have.  There are people out there who need your offer but they don’t know they need it or that you can meet their need.

Prices

First, don’t be deterred by the success of others.  The very best are likely to charge very high prices.    Remember these are small businesses with low capacity.

Keep your prices below the market leader’s and you can increase your prices. Then you may find a niche with those who cannot afford the market leaders.  Resist the temptation to lower your prices to undercut your competitors.  This results in a race to the bottom and hurts everyone’s business.

If you need to build your reputation, don’t expect your prices to meet those of the market leader.  The market leader is likely to have overheads you don’t have at the start of your business.

Collaboration

There is another reason you should not lower prices.  Aim not to undercut but to collaborate.  There are many opportunities and the main barrier is to think of competitors as rivals.  If they have done their work, they have a clear offer, a market and worldview different from yours.  Working with people in similar businesses can be beneficial because together you can raise awareness of the problem you solve and perhaps offer joint packages, more effective than working alone.

Following this thirtieth post to encourage coaches to reflect on relational marketing, take this opportunity to sign up below.  You get a weekly round-up of my posts and a pdf about how to make sure you are charging what your business is worth.

1 2 3 4