Mak­ing time for mar­ket­ing cru­cial for busi­ness suc­cess

Irish Independent - Business Week - - BUSINESSWEEK - With Fear­gal Quinn

Q YI RUN a beauty sa­lon in a small re­gional town. We are not great at mar­ket­ing and our sales can only be de­scribed as mod­est. Are there any tips you could give us? OU are cor­rect to link your lack of mar­ket­ing and the sales per­for­mance. In my ex­pe­ri­ence, busi­nesses that trade well are usu­ally great mar­keters also. Some­times when we think of mar­ket­ing, we think of for­mal ads in the pa­per, or dig­i­tal me­dia strate­gies, but in fact it is any way that the busi­ness stands out from its com­peti­tors and com­mu­ni­cates this to a wider au­di­ence. As well as the more struc­tured mar­ket­ing tools, this also in­cludes word of mouth.

The mar­ket­ing tools them­selves are not dif­fi­cult to high­light and I am sure the list of tips for cre­at­ing PR for your busi­ness right through to var­i­ous paid-for ad­ver­tis­ing tech­niques will not be un­fa­mil­iar to you. What I want to fo­cus on is why this mar­ket­ing is not tak­ing place. Is it that you are not fo­cused on mar­ket­ing your­self which is caus­ing the chal­lenge?

I have no doubt that your cus­tomers will rate you highly as a beau­ti­cian and that could be where your real pas­sion lies, but if you don’t ded­i­cate some time each week to cre­ate plans on how to market and pro­mote the busi­ness, there is a dan­ger that all the good work you are do­ing could be­come a ‘best-kept se­cret’.

Cus­tomers need to be stim­u­lated and they need lots of re­minders that your busi­ness ex­ists on an on­go­ing ba­sis. A key pri­or­ity should be for you to free up one hour a week to de­velop the mar­ket­ing strat­egy of the busi­ness.

Within a few weeks, sales should start to grow grad­u­ally and you will get great sat­is­fac­tion out of try­ing dif­fer­ent ini­tia­tives when you see the cor­re­spond­ing rev­enue ris­ing. Of course, not ev­ery mar­ket­ing tech­nique is go­ing to work, but you have got to try as many new ini­tia­tives as you can to iden­tify what works best for your busi­ness.

QMY hus­band and I have been locked in a bat­tle with a bank over a mort­gage that was taken out 10 years ago on our busi­ness. The dis­puted amount is close to €1m. I need to in­vest some money in the busi­ness and bor­row ap­prox­i­mately €200,000 and I am wor­ried that we could be over­stretch­ing our­selves.

THAT must be a real stress and worry for you and I can only but imag­ine that it must have been ter­ri­bly dif­fi­cult for you to keep the busi­ness run­ning at the same time. I ap­plaud you that you are think­ing pos­i­tively about how you can grow the busi­ness into the fu­ture de­spite fac­ing many dis­trac­tions.

It is dif­fi­cult for me to pro­vide ac­cu­rate ad­vice with only limited in­for­ma­tion, but based on what you have told me, I would ad­vise that you ex­er­cise cau­tion. For as long as you have an undis­puted amount of money with no clear agree­ment in place as to how it is to be re­paid, that will cause un­cer­tainty. If you had cer­tainty

Afrom your bank on get­ting a de­ci­sion, then that would change the land­scape com­pletely, as it would be very much a num­bers-based de­ci­sion based on the busi­ness’s abil­ity to ser­vice both the legacy mort­gage and any new bor­row­ings. Pri­or­ity one has to be to get a fast de­ci­sion from the bank. I un­der­stand that might not be easy, es­pe­cially bear­ing in mind that it has dragged on for 10 years. I do hope you have the best pro­fes­sional ad­vice you can get to guide you on this dif­fi­cult process.

You need to keep the busi­ness grow­ing and mov­ing ahead and per­haps there are some prac­ti­cal steps you can take to try and im­prove fund­ing within the cur­rent busi­ness model.

Have a look at the credit terms you have in place with your sup­pli­ers and see can any of th­ese be ex­tended or al­tered so there is more cash flow within the busi­ness. Look at stock lev­els and see is there sur­plus stock within the busi­ness that could be cleared out to re­lease fur­ther cash. Ex­plore to see if it would be pos­si­ble for one of you to get a per­ma­nent job out­side of the main busi­ness in or­der to gen­er­ate an­other rev­enue stream.

There will be dozens of other pos­si­ble ap­proaches, but my strong ad­vice is to stop short of bor­row­ing any fur­ther money un­til you have greater clar­ity.

Send your small busi­ness ques­tions to him­self@fear­galquinn.ie

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