I have a secret to tell. I LOVE the Food Network. While my wife would be the first one to tell you that my cooking skills are extremely lacking, I do love to eat and I love competition. Our two favorite shows are Chopped and Diners, Drive- Ins, and Dives. There are a few other shows such as Crave and Down Home with the Neelys that we appreciate as well. The fantastic dishes the contestants bring out on Chopped while under pressure, the special ingredients that lead to a small diner to have a reputation that crosses state lines, making a tasty cake without flour or learning how just changing the temperature a little bit based on environmental factors, all these things showcase just how special the restaurant owners, chefs, and staff all are on these programs.
So, what does my new found infatuation with a popular food channel have to do with marketing you may ask? A lot! Next time you watch the shows, or go to your own favorite restaurants, notice how the successful ones do some things similar, yet they all have their own unique way of presentation, they use herbs, spices, and mixtures that they developed over time for a remarkable cooking style, and a peculiar or quaint ambiance. Sure, McDonald’s, Denny’s, and Chili’s are all very popular and have huge revenue with their one size fits all approach. They also spend millions on advertising and whether a customer goes to the Waffle House one morning or IHOP the next will not really affect their bottom line. They are dealing with the masses, much like other large corporations in the realms of GE, HP, GM, Apple, and such. They strive for volume and quantity, with enough focus on quality and customer service to keep them out of the negative spotlight and retain just the right amount of customers.
As a small business owner, you do not have millions, or probably even thousands to throw at a marketing campaign, nor can you afford to lose even one customer. Your recipe for success has to separate you or be segmented to differentiate you from your competitors. Just because John Smiths AC & Heating; does not have:
does not mean that your small business should not either. These features combined or used with other ingredients give your company the benefit of staying in control, additional time management, brand awareness, and customer retention.
There is one exception to this recipe though, and that is if you don’t desire to grow. Believe it or not, there are some small business owners who are satisfied with the number of clients they have. This is perfectly fine, if you are happy with the revenue you are generating and do not desire to grow, then perhaps your recipe is already bringing you the results you wish for. Perhaps you feel this tried and true basic recipe of “all in” may be all you need.
However, I know that the majority of independent minded thinkers who start their business do so for the following reasons: opportunity to grow, control their own destiny, and freedom to work when they want and how they want. Yet with all these wonderful perks, there often comes backlashes with time management, marketing strategies that are not bringing in the revenues, no forum for customer feedback, all of which can lead to stagnation, eventual customer loss, and worst case scenario, out of business or cutbacks. You can give all you got, but without proper direction, you will go in circles and wind up lost along your journey.
If you are a small business and you desire to grow, ask yourself this: Is my recipe for success delivering the final product that my organization and my customers want? If you answered “no,” then make the call to a marketing consulting firm you can trust and know will assist you in finding the right ingredients for your masterpiece.