Whether or not you like it, if you are an entrepreneur you are in sales. You have to sell your product or service somehow or you won’t make money. If you are scratching your head on why things are not working as planned, take a moment to review your marketing strategy and your overall business to find the source of the troubles. This valuable exercise can help turn around a struggling enterprise or help launch a growing business to the next level. Follow along and put on your thinking cap for ideas to turn around your business.
If your business is struggling, the first place to look is your marketing strategy. If you have a valuable product or service, you might just need to push forward with your sales efforts. This could mean tweaking existing marketing strategies or adding entirely new ones. For example, you might want to add online search advertising, in-person networking, or something else you are not doing today to jumpstart your sales engine.
Look at similar, successful businesses and examine how they advertise and handle promotion. Also look at the advertising methods that work best on you. What convinces you to make a purchase? If you cannot convince yourself, you certainly won’t be able to convince a customer.
Maybe you have the idea for the best widget in history, but people don’t really need widgets. It is very rare that a product or service creates a new need. iPhones turned the smartphone market into a need for many people, but we all know that story because of the iPhone’s massive success. If you are struggling to sell something incredibly new or innovative, it may be something people don’t need or want.
If this may be what’s ailing your struggling business, you are not left without options. Conduct some market research to find out how your business is perceived and identify opportunities for improvement. A focus group or marketing survey might show you an easy problem to fix that you hadn’t thought about. It may also take you down a rabbit hole of even more questions. But if no one seems to want what you have to offer, it is important to understand why.
Restaurants are a tough business for many reasons. Between regulations, razor thin margins, and changing customer preferences, a huge number of restaurants fail. But there is another reason restaurants struggle more than many other businesses: they have too many competitors. People can cook at home, order take-out or delivery, or go to another nearby restaurant. Even if one restaurant serves Italian and one serves Chinese, they both sell prepared food as a service. That means big competition.
Some other industries are ripe for competitors as well. How many plumbers does one city need? Or how many guitar teachers? Or how many lamp stores? In some cases, nearby competition isn’t so bad. But it may be what’s causing your business’s biggest struggles. If this is the case, consider the market, including online competition, and how you can better differentiate yourself to stand out from the competition.
A friend used to sell high-end luxury men’s razors on Amazon. His product allowed him to stand out from the competition, and for a period of time his biggest concern was pricing. He kept pushing the price up and up to test the limit of customer demand, and eventually, he hit a point where sales took a quick drop. Competition aside, he ran into a quandary in the razor business: people will only pay so much for a razor.
The market may set prices for your product or service, and if you are struggling to sell price may be another major factor. If you sell something with a low perceived value, people will never pay a high price. Or if you are selling a lot but not making much money, your price could be too low. Testing and researching the competition can help you best resolve this common business struggle.
Last, but certainly not least, you might just be in the wrong business. I know someone who made millions in real estate but failed miserably in the restaurant business. Others might be focusing outside of their core competency. Or you may have the right team and the wrong idea. Popular photo sharing service Flickr started as a game before turning into the photo service that sold to Yahoo! for millions. Like Flickr, you may just be in the wrong business.
Shifting to the right business could turn everything around. Sometimes a pivot feels like starting over. Sometimes it is starting over. But without it, you may see business struggles last so long your business doesn’t make it at all.
No matter where you are in your business journey, the 4 Ps of marketing can help you succeed. The four Ps of marketing are:
By reviewing each of these with the right inquisitive lens, you may find the path to success for your company. If you can turn around your struggling business, marketing might just be the key to getting there.