As your business grows and changes, it can be difficult to stay true to the people who have been with you from the beginning. So how do you grow but still stay connected with old friends?
You can think of the people around your business as fitting into three groups; your customers, your prospects and your partners. Most important are your customers, after all they have chosen to spend their money with you. Your partners are people who have the ‘ears’ (or emails addresses!) of people who could become your customers one day. Think complementary businesses or anyone who might refer people to you. The third group are your prospects – people who are a good match for your product or service, but who haven’t yet become customers.
All of these people are your audience and it’s important to stay not just in touch with them, but also true to them. There’s no point in sending out a message if it doesn’t ring true when it arrives.
It’s easy to get sidetracked from your original message. Yet if you stay true to your audience your business can expand in surprising and profitable ways. It’s about keeping your old friends and making new ones too. You can be innovative, add new products and services, and still meet the needs of your audience. Here’s how:
Connect with them using social media. Social media has the power to let you be a fly on the wall. You can listen, watch and learn. You can also interact and discuss. These conversations provide valuable information about what your audience needs and wants. Discovering their problems puts you in an ideal situation to be the solution. Don’t just stick with Facebook and Twitter, try new platforms as they come along (such as Pinterest). Comments on your own and other people’s blogs can also be a useful way of picking up opinions.
Ask questions and listen to the answers. As you’re striving to grow your business you are bound to have moments of doubt. If you don’t know what your audience wants to buy or don’t want to risk the expense of making a mistake, ask them. Send email questionnaires and post surveys on social media sites. Ask your audience the important questions and then listen to the answers.
Stay on top of industry information. Read industry publications and stay on top of trends. This information can help you tap into emerging ideas. It can also help you continue to position yourself as an authority in your industry. When you’re able to discuss the latest news you’re able to continue to provide up-to-date solutions.
Keep in mind the value you’re giving to your audience. Creating a book or course for the sake of having something new is a mistake. After all, nobody is short of information these days! Creating a product because it solves a problem in a new and useful way is a much better approach. Whenever you’re changing your business or adding new products or services, always put yourself in your audience’s shoes and ask the question, “What’s in it for me?”
Measure it. If you don’t know what your audience responds to, how can you continue to give them what they need? Make sure you’ve got Google Analytics set up on your website and schedule time each week or month reviewing the information. Decide what metrics are useful for your business (number visitors to your website, number of sales – whatever allows you to take the pulse of your business the best) and use the data to make smart business building decisions.
Test and try new things. If you are not sure about a new product or service, try a beta test. Release the product to a small group of people and use their feedback and response to improve and grow.
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