Marketing and selling enough to meet your growth goals can be a challenge. In fact, it seems to be the single most frustrating aspect of owning a business for most people. Fortunately, Goldilocks, Pirates and Napoleon can give us some advice on how to switch marketing from your least favorite action to something you enjoy because you know you’ll be successful at it and you can create predictable results.
As you may recall, Goldilocks enters the home of three bears who are absent. She tries three different bowls of porridge before finding the one she wants, tries three chairs before finding a comfortable one and then tried three beds before finding one that was comfortable to her, whereupon she falls asleep.
Goldilocks is like many of our customers who aren’t exactly sure what they want. The beds, bowls and chairs are similar to many solutions on the market. Customers unsure of exactly what they want have to try several solutions, because the solutions aren’t exactly clear on their benefits or what problems they solve.
Establishing a great problem – solution fit is the beginning step in improving sales. We need to understand what problems our market has as individuals. Typically people will buy for one of two main reasons; to remove a pain point or reach a compelling desire. There is usually a typical circumstance that causes one of these problems to come to the front of a prospect’s attention. For example, somebody that has a flat tire on a rainy night is in a circumstance that is clear and has a pain point that they need to resolve. A towing or roadside assistance business that has done it’s homework will have made itself easy to find in that situation or marketed in advance so they pop into the customers mind.
Pirates will help you test your solutions and marketing and then scale your sales. Using Pirate Metrics (AARRR….) to test, measure and improve your marketing will help you understand how well you have created a product – market fit. In this case, after you’ve confirmed that your product solves a clear problem, you’ll need to test it to make sure you can direct your marketing at a market that is responsive to the problem and is big enough to justify selling to. For instance, you might easily establish that a person in the desert is likely to be thirsty. If you sell bottled water, they are a sure-fire customer. But, you’ll go out of business quickly if that is the market you choose. The example is a bit over the top, but the message is clear.
Pirate Metrics (AARRR…) applied to your marketing and sales will let you measure Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral and Revenue. Acquisition is how strangers come into contact with your company. Activation means they have an interest in what you are saying, selling, writing, doing, etc. Retention measures how often they return to your business (on line or in person). Referral shows that they think highly enough of you to share your business with others. Revenue is when they cross the line and become a customer.
Knowing these metrics helps you test marketing and sales and improve them continuously. Without this knowledge, your marketing is like rolling the dice and hoping for a great result.
Napoleon lends us a hand when it comes to strategy. Not the kind of strategy that professors might discuss over cigars, but the kind of strategy we can use to guide our businesses to greater success. The type of strategy employed by Napoleon (before he lost his marbles and invaded Russia) was based upon a high level vision and strategic themes. From the themes, a number of concrete (think SMART) goals were drafted and then the effort was launched quickly.
He didn’t agonize over every last detail, instead he put a solid plan together knowing he would adjust when it got underway. When we plan in business, regardless of how well we think we’ve done, as soon as we begun executing the plan, it is out of date. Plans encountering reality, and the inherent changes of complex environments, often wither away. But Napoleon’s plans were created within a framework of vision and strategic themes and could be adjusted as needed, quickly and effectively.
That is the kind of framework we need as business owners. We need it whether we are flying solo or have a team of 50. Adapting to changing situations without having to go through a long planning cycle allows us to focus on delivering value and adding customers instead of wasting time.
These three elements are found in startups, lean companies, and the best of large businesses. But, they have a natural home in the world of small business too. Who could benefit more from focus, effective selling, predictable results and efficient frameworks than small businesses?