When to market your business, in the good times or the bad?

goodtimesbadtimesAs with most businesses there is an ebb and flow to sales, productivity, and growth. I was at a business meeting at my favorite breakfast restaurant a few weeks ago. They have a few locations throughout the city and suburbs. This one in particular was not up to par as the ones I frequent more often. While the food and service are still consistently good, it is in a little older area of town, in a little older building, and was considerably less busy than the other ones.

As I was leaving I was speaking to the cashier, who it turned out was the co-owner of the restaurants in town. I asked about the decline in business and she agreed that it was becoming a problem for this location. I spoke to her about her marketing efforts. She said they are doing the same marketing approaches that they always have done. I asked if she and her husband would like to sit down and I could discuss how my marketing firm could come alongside them with a fresh approach to increase awareness and drive people to their restaurants. She said that things are getting tight and wasn’t sure if they could afford to do anything different.

Her response is not uncommon to business owners that may be experiencing a slump or may just be stuck in a rut and aren’t growing. Business owners can be divided almost down the middle into two ways of thinking about when to market:

  • The business owner that is thriving tends to push off marketing and business development efforts until you either get to the bottom of the barrel or you lose the big client that was paying all the bills,
  • The business owner that is in a slump or has plateaued believes they simply can’t afford to put money into marketing when their business is slow.

Both mindsets are at risk of skewing their growth and could permanently damage their business. The savvy business owner is the one that knows even when you are very busy you still market your business. The well can dry up at any time and sometimes for reasons that are out of our control. One of the outcomes of the recession is that business owners have been knocked out of their comfort zone and are being required to do marketing and business development differently.

Short term and long term marketing strategies are necessary to amp up your business. While short-term strategies will focus on sales and business development, there are several long-term strategies that will create sustainability and mitigate many of the slumps and plateaus from extreme ways of thinking about when to market your business. For our discussion here I want to focus on the long term strategies that can move you out of the slumps. Tammy Hawk-Bridges, author of the book Yanking Bootstraps – Bootstrap Your Business to Success, discusses long-term strategies. She provides several long term actions that can move your business forward quickly.

1.    Focus on new business often. Come up with a business development, marketing plan that you operate inside every single day! Waiting until you are thirsty to dig a well makes the process very difficult. If you make business development a consistent effort you will always have great prospects.

2.    Build a strong pipeline. This partners with #1. You need to fully understand the pipeline process. Think of a funnel, it’s very wide at the top and gets narrower as it goes to the bottom. The top is how many leads need to go in and the bottom is where only a few customers will come out. So for example if you want 100K in sales you could potentially need a prospect pipeline that is worth 400K. This is a great eye-opener and once you do this exercise you will realize immediately why you don’t have enough sales.

3.    Tools that attract prospects. It’s time to put some great tools in place that can create leads for you even when you aren’t trying to sell. This is the wonderful think about new marketing strategies! You can put great content out there and then people will come to you! Be the light and they are the moths, attract your ideal client to you. You needFire_Moth_by_maxine_photo to have great information that they need to run their business.

  • Grow your list – come up with a how-to or EBook of sorts that your ideal client can download from your website.
  • Internet optimized – Make sure your website is ranking for keywords that are relevant to your business. You want people to find YOU before your competitors.
  • Review your website – Is it focused on your ideal client, is it a great resource of information? Does it make someone want to get in touch with you?
  • Email Marketing – This gets you in front of your customers and ideal clients on a regular basis. Be a great resource of information, earn trust, and be authentic. Above all read your analytics and use the information to identify prospects!
  • Blogging – Create great content that brings prospects to YOUR door. This is a lot of work and only the truly committed will succeed at it but the payoff is huge when it hits! No more hitting the pavement for sales!
  • Sharing – Share everything! Social media and the digital world is built to share the love! Every blog article you write share it across all social media channels. Write great content that makes others want to share it and guess what? You are viral!

 4.    Treat it like a real business. You need systems in place for success. Set financial goals as well as goals for leads and business won. Close your business out every month and get real about where you are.

5.    Accountability. Hold yourself accountable for your own success, adapt to a NO EXCUSES and no self-inflicted obstacles mentality!

It is human nature to pull back when business is slow or forget marketing is needed when business is booming. When to market is now. It’s proactive and preventative at the same time. Take stock, take control and let’s grow our businesses together! What do you think?

Richard Rose, CEO, Kroma Marketing

Richard Rose, CEO, Kroma Marketing

Pillars of Honor

pillars (1)My daughter was inducted this last Friday into National Honor Society (NHS). The whole family was there—brothers, grandma, her dad and I—to acknowledge and celebrate this major accomplishment, especially at a college prep school.

As the teacher read off the merits a student needs to accomplish in order to be invited into NHS, I started wondering if those that had been inducted in, all these years past, since 1921—to be exact—had still lived their lives with the same motto: character, scholarship, leadership, service. Had they lived out or were living out these criteria in business, art, academics, service, science for which they had been honored in their youth?

So, it got me thinking: if they were living out these four pillars of NHS, they would surely, then, affect whatever they did in life in the same manner. For instance, if they were showing such character to be honored in high school, then that same character was probably still evident in their chosen career or field of work.

Stay with me here. (Sometimes I get on a roll and you never know where my thought process will go!) The connection in business, I believe, is poignant. The NHS is on to something that can be life-long: “To create enthusiasm for scholarship, to stimulate a desire to render service, to promote leadership, and to develop character . . . “. It seems they are trying to develop responsible and successful adults for the future, essentially.

What if you decided to employ these traits to your business? What would the outcome be if you lived out:

  • Character: “qualities of honesty, courage, or integrity” = honesty in carrying out everyday duties within to employees and outside to customers or clients.
  • Scholarship: “learning; knowledge acquired by study” = staying sharp in your craft by attending conferences or avid reading on the subjects that affect your business.
  • Leadership: “authoritativeness, influence, command, effectiveness, sway, clout” = taking the reins of your business and influencing every component toward the goals you have for success.
  • Service: “helpful activity; help; aid” for others = being a servant leader to your employees, clients/customers, and community—caring about them to help them get what they need and want and to influence them to do the same for others.

I believe that if anyone in business took these pillars seriously and kept them as the foundation of their trade, they and their business would be successful.

Granted, these pillars must be solid, unwavering, and structurally sound—these ideals must be carried out daily. If so, they will hold up under the weight of fiscal crisis and employee issues. They will hold up against the winds of change and the storms of downturn. They will continue to be the foundation of success every day, every year, every decade.

Are the pillars of your business solid or are there fissures showing from the pressure? Is there repair that needs to be done to any of the pillars to make them more “sound”? We’d love to hear from you. Kroma Marketing

bethrose11

SOTB (State of the Business) Address

Kroma SOTBNew. It is a word that excites some and causes others angst.  When I hear the word “new” it fills me with excitement. My mind immediately goes to possibilities to come. I look forward to new things, new seasons, a new year, a new perspective.

A business needs to have a new challenge brought to it each year. Sustainability is not to be celebrated as a goal; it is to be a marker along the journey of building a business. It is necessary to review our past, without allowing it to define our projections for the upcoming months and years. It is these perspectives to which I pause to have a look at Kroma.

My journey into marketing began in the 1990s.  I gave it up to make more dollars on the sales side of corporate America and was moderately successful. As I moved into deciding the next phase of my career goals, I felt led to quit my job, yes quit, and begin a new business. It is out of this decision that Kroma Marketing came into being.

A new business has many seasons of change. Some come and go quickly while other seasons last months and even years. Kroma was birthed out of hope… a hope of providing a “new” perspective to marketing and design. We want to come alongside our clients and partner with them. We feel our success is measured by our clients’ ongoing growth and success. We believe that each client deserves excellence in design and measured results of our marketing efforts. I firmly believe there is an ROI (return on investment) to every dollar spent. There is accountability to the client for each dollar they spend with Kroma.

With that, we are brought to our assessment of last year. It was a season of change once again.

  • We added staff as we saw others move on to other states, other jobs, and other seasons in their lives.
  • We increased our expertise in many services.
  • Originating in web design and traditional marketing, Kroma quickly became strategists in the last few years with online marketing.
  • Kroma increased our services to our clients by adding several acronyms to our expertise: SEO, PPC, SEM, along with the growing trend of social media.  This allowed our new team to bring excellence beyond design in traditional marketing, to excellence through research and development in the new frontier of online marketing.

Our corporate culture continues to morph. The employees we hire come with fresh and innovative ideas and design. They come ready to be pushed to excellence in what they do. It’s a win to see them begin pushing one another in concepts and executables to achieve excellence for the clients we serve. They get it.

Ordinary is not welcomed here.

Finally, we are becoming sustainable! We have growth projections that stretch our budget, but are worth investing towards the betterment of our client services. We were able to review our pricing and keep cost of services the same as last year. We are able to do this by keeping cost down and quarterly projections conservative. We are doing as our website says:  “Thriving in a down-turned economy”…we are honored to do that for the clients we serve.

If you are looking for something new, we’d love to partner with you in growing your business. Contact us @ KROMA.

Richard Rose, CEO/Owner, Kroma Marketing

Richard Rose, CEO, Kroma Marketing

THEN and NOW

PastPresent5“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”― Robert Frost

At this time of year, we tend to look back over the last year, at least, and contemplate how far we’ve come. Like a “before and after” photo. It’s a measurement of sorts, helping us take stock of the success of our efforts. If you want to know where you’re going, you have to look at where you’ve been. We decide, then, if we want to stay on the same course or change direction.

In business, it’s not a bad idea to take stock every now and then, to focus in on what the business was doing six months or a year ago and what it’s doing now; a sort of analysis of the past and projections for the upcoming year.

In our own business, Kroma, we have come a long way in a few years, from a back room rental with a few clients to an office in Southern Johnson County with a large client list. Our CEO, Richard Rose, will be sharing his “State of the Company” in next week’s weekly blog. In taking a look at the past year, we are able to appreciate the current situation, that we’ve, indeed, come a long way.

What about your business? Have you taken that long look back to see the progress in your business plan? Here are some questions to contemplate:

  1. What was first quarter of the year like in your business?
  2. How was the staffing—number, productivity, morale? Did it change over the year? How so?
  3. Was there a generated ROI? How did you track it? How did it change if it did?
  4. Was the income to outgo ratio balanced? If not, why not? What was out of balance?
  5. How did your projections turn out? Did you come under them, meet them or exceed them?
  6. If you had to change anything from this last year, what would it be?
  7. What have you learned from last year that you definitely will apply to this year?

Share with us some of the ways you’ve improved in business—maybe we can all learn from your “Then and Now.”

bethrose11