The number one reason small businesses fail is that they don't provide a product or service that is needed. What if you could learn how to connect your skill or service with a genuine need in the market place? If you can then clearly communicate this connection, your business will grow without limit. Learn how Michael makes this connection by creating a solid marketing foundation and how you can do the same.
After a tumultuous week, Michael was told that his position was no longer needed at the home builder he had worked at for almost ten years.
He knew that the housing market would always have its ups and downs, but never thought he’d be a casualty of one of the downs. He was wrong. After his long drive home, he shared the news with his wife. Michael's wife, Pam, was consoling, but she was noticeably shaken. After all, Michael was the primary bread-winner; and their savings was not exactly flush with cash.
Pam asked, "What do you plan to do?"
Michael responded, "I really don't know. I suppose I could look for work, but construction is my thing; and I just got laid off one of the best general contractors. I can't imagine a lot of construction contractors hiring in this terrible economy."
"You seem so talented, Honey. Why don't you start your own business?"
Michael reacted, "If there are no homes being built, it's probably a bad time to start my own general contracting business."
"Well, we have to do something. Should I try to get a job to help out?"
Michael appreciated Pam's offer, but he knew that it would be more difficult for Pam to land a living wage as she had been out of the work force for eight years. Let’s face it, she was focused fulltime on raising their two boys. Michael knew it would be up to him to somehow find work that could pay their bills.
In the days that followed, Michael gave a resume and cover letter to any builder he knew. The answer was the same everywhere. We’re not hiring! If he was going to make it, he’d have to do it on his own. Michael was very resourceful and, as an experienced construction manager, knew how to build better than most.
He started a business called Builder Mike's. He lived in a suburb and felt like he could get work from some friends to get things going. He thought he could make enough income to keep the bill collectors at bay until the real construction economy returned.
He was able to get odd jobs from friends who wanted to help him out. He did a few kitchen cabinet replacements and several other odd jobs that weren't enough to pay the bills.
It had been three months since Michael was laid off.
As the family sat down for dinner, Pam asked, "How’s your odd-jobs business going?"
Michael smiled, "I know I'm doing odd-jobs now, but I hope to get a few clients who want me to build something for them."
Pam asked, "How many clients have you tried to sell your services to?"
"I've told all my friends about my new business. If someone wants something built, I suppose they'll call me. Right?"
"I'm not a businessperson, but I think you have to get out and sell your company."
Michael shrugged, "I don't want to be one of those pesky salespeople. If people need something built, they'll ask."
"My friend, Nancy, the chiropractor, hired a business coach. She said that he helped her double her customers."
"I'm guessing there's a higher demand for chiropractors right now, than for builders."
"Maybe. Nancy, told me she hated to sell... just like you; and her coach helped her create a system where customers could find her easily and hire her."
"Hmm. If I can avoid being an annoying salesperson, maybe this business coach can help me, too. How much does he cost?"
"Nancy, told me that you can talk to him for free the first time."
"I suppose it couldn't hurt to give this business coach a call."
Michael learned from Nancy, that her business coach’s name was Coach Russ. After getting his contact information, he gave him a call.
As promised, Russ spent an hour on the phone with Michael. Coach Russ informed him that he needed to do effective marketing. This marketing would attract people who needed construction projects and thus give Michael the higher paying clients he needed. Russ also informed Michael that he needed to establish a Marketing Foundation before he could start marketing.
If Michael were to hire Russ, he’d charge $1,000 per month to work with him on a weekly basis to help him establish his Marketing Foundation and help him execute a viable marketing plan.
After this initial call, Michael was disappointed. All he wanted was customers. He didn't want to pay some consultant a lot of money and still not have the clients he needed to pay his bills.
Once again at the dinner table, Pam asked, "How did your call go with Coach Russ?"
Michael shrugged, "I don't know. I suppose he knows what he's doing, but I don't think he can help me get the clients we need right now."
"What do you want to do?"
There was a long pause, "I don't know what we CAN do. I can't find a decent job; and I'm not making much money with these odd jobs. I think you may have to find a job."
"Okay. Will you be watching our boys while I work? Or should we hire a daycare service?"
The reality of the situation settled in for Michael. If Pam worked, she’d just make enough to pay for the daycare service they’d hire to look after their boys. If he stopped working and looked after the boys, they wouldn't be able to pay bills with Pam's income alone. If he paid Coach Russ $1,000 per month, at least he’d have a chance of creating a successful construction business.
"If I hire Coach Russ, it’ll cost us $1,000 per month. Do we have this kind of money?"
Pam responded, "We have some savings. I think we can go at least 6-months, paying our bills and paying the $1,000 per month. If you feel like this coach will really help, I say 'go for it'."
"Okay. I hope this coach knows what he's doing."
The next day, Michael called Coach Russ back and they started their coaching sessions. The first session was relatively intense.
Michael asked, "What can I do to get customers?"
Russ responded, "Hold on. I first want to know what problem you solve for your customers."
"What? I build stuff. What do you mean what problem I solve? If someone wants something built, I'm their guy."
Russ smiled, "In order for people to buy something, they need to have a want or a need. Even when people want you to build something, there's some reason they want you to build it. What is it that drives their desire to seek out a builder?"
Michael thought about it and then responded, "I suppose they're running out of room in their house; or want a new kitchen; or new bathroom; or just need more space. They may even need a new house."
"Very good. Let's dig a little deeper. Didn't you tell me that you were laid off because people are not buying new homes?"
Michael was incensed, "Rub it in, why don't you!"
"I'm not trying to open old wounds. But I am trying to get a sense of your marketplace."
"Right. People are not buying new homes."
"So, what will people do who can't buy a new house; but still need more space in their existing home?"
"I suppose they may try to make an addition; or finish their basement; or make do until they can afford to buy a new house."
"Very good. Which need do you want to speak to in your messaging?"
"I don't know what you mean. What do you mean by messaging?"
"You just told me that homeowners will either renovate, add on to their existing home or make do with what they have. Which one of these needs do you want to address with your business?"
"I suppose I would be good at doing basement finish projects."
"Great! I think we've started to build your Marketing Foundation."
"I'm not sure what you mean. What’s a Marketing Foundation?"
"A Marketing Foundation is the ‘Why your company exists’ and how you will communicate your Message in a way that compels new customers to use your company. This foundation includes seven fundamental elements:
What you do;
What problems you solve; or benefits you provide;
How you’re solution process is better than others;
An avatar of your ideal customer;
An elevator speech;
A Unique Selling Proposition; and
After Coach Russ explained all the elements of the Marketing Foundation, Michael was given homework to develop his own Marketing Foundation prior to their next coaching session.
Coach Russ was impressed with Michael's resolve in doing his homework. It appeared that Michael was invested in making his business work.
Michael changed the name of his small business to Michael's Basement Finishers. He felt that this new name was more consistent with his newfound niche of finishing basements.
He created a clear elevator speech that went like this:
Why buy a new home when you can double your square footage by finishing your basement? Michael's Basement Finishers has close relationships with local contractors to create an impressive addition to your current home at less than half the price of buying a new home.
Michael stated that his Avatar was a married couple who owned a home ranging from 1,000 to 3,000 finished square feet with two or more children; and another child on the way. His logic was that such a family would be wanting to buy a larger home but couldn't afford it. This was a family that would be willing to take out a