I’ve been a business owner my whole life, and have a much larger list of what I’ve done WRONG than what I’ve done RIGHT. I’m constantly obsessing over how to grow my business; do I need more advertising, is the messaging right, will I get a higher open rate if I sent simple text emails instead of HTML, and on and on.
It’s easy to lose sight of business fundamentals as we’re approached by new opportunities to spend our money, ahem…’invest in higher ROI and more measurable small business marketing solutions.’ I’ve tried them all. Some work, some don’t…but few things have stuck around over time. When I need a good laugh, I open up the scrapbook and take a stroll down the ‘advertising/marketing’ expense column of my P&L and reminisce about all of the dollars I spent trying to grow more dollars. Nice.
Then I had lunch with a buddy of mine years ago, and when I expressed my frustration with this schizophrenic world of advertising/marketing, he looked at me with a calm grin on his face and said “Alex, the key to growing your business is relationships. You need to make more of them each day, and invest in the ones you’ve already got. Simple as that. If you stayed in touch with everyone you’ve ever done business with, what kind of impact would that have on you right now?”
There’s me: deer in headlights. So simple, and obvious…dammit! But that has little to do with the shiny gadgets and widgets I love to spend money on. Now what!?!
At the core of every successful business is a good CRM (Client Relationship Management) tool – a way to help organize and manage those relationships that are the life blood of business growth. Different industries have different solutions, but the premise is the same: know who your customers are, and treat them as an important part of your business growth by investing in a relationship with them.
This is not an easy thing to start, but once you’ve made the investment and committed to making it a part of your growth strategy, you’ll never run your business the same way again.