Implementing a strategy is harder than choosing one. As business owners, we instinctively want to say “yes” to every project we see. Yet learning when to say “yes” – and learning that you can tell a prospect “no” – may be the key to profitability.
Learning to say “no” can be difficult. As business owners, we hate turning down potential business. Even when we know that a project is wrong for our business model, sometimes it’s very difficult to turn down work. Sometimes it’s just because we are social, and we want to please people. Sometimes it’s because we think we need the revenue.
Revenue Does Not Equal Profit
This morning, a client made a comment that resonated with me. He said he does not want to promote his business to anyone he has not met personally. He told me that he does not want more search engine traffic coming to his website, for the same reason he does not list his company in the phone book. He is concerned that greater exposure for his company would lead to the wrong kind of contacts. He pictures himself being inundated with calls from non-prospects: the sort of people who want time-consuming projects completed in a hurry, always for very little money. You know the type.
And he has an undeniable point. Taking on the wrong kinds of projects can be deadly to a business. Yet as small business owners, we’ve probably all done this more than once. We don’t want to turn down a potential source of revenue or referrals, so we take on a project that’s wrong for our company. Does this sound familiar? These are the types of projects that all too often result in blown budgets and missed deadlines. We lose money on these types of projects, in hopes of making up for it at some point in the future. But losing money is bad for business. Revenue does not equal profit. Having work is not enough: it has to be profitable work. Taking on too many of the wrong types of projects could actually put us out of a job.
Strategy for Targeted Results
Having a strategy is the key to successful marketing. It’s important to understand your business model, and pursue the right kind of prospects. Find the prospects who have the right kind of projects for your company. Then you can start saying “Yes!” to projects that will be more profitable, more enjoyable, and ultimately more satisfying for you and for your customers.
If you don’t want to grow your business, then you don’t need to worry about your marketing strategy. But if you would like to increase your profitability, then you must engage in marketing. Make contact with new prospects. Communicate your message.
A successful marketing strategy must reach the right people at the right time. This is why it’s important to be listed in the search results. You can give your business card to someone you meet personally; but that’s only one point of contact. In today’s marketing environment, you sometimes need to make twelve points of contact with a prospect before they place an order. When they go online to search for businesses like yours, they might end up clicking on your competitor’s website, even if they have your business card in hand.
Still, my client from this morning had a point. An un-focused website strategy will certainly bring in too many of the wrong clicks, and not enough of the right ones.
For example, imagine that you are an attorney who prefers to practice family law. You would want people to find your website when they search for terms related to estate planning or divorce. If your website is only optimized for general keywords like “lawyer,” you may end up getting calls from people who want you to help them get out of paying their parking tickets (right away, and for almost no money). Using a few general keywords may be necessary; but your website, like all your marketing messages, should make a strong statement about who your customers are.
The same is true for any industry. If you sell a valuable product or service, you want to attract customers who can value it properly. Let the low-priced competition lose money on the low-margin prospects. Differentiate your offering, provide real value, and your customers will gladly come to you with the projects you like best. You can say “Yes!” and still make a profit.
When your marketing message is clear, you will get more of the right kinds of customers. Targeting your ideal customers with targeted advertisements can also help build long-term brand awareness.
Say “Yes!” to the Right Prospects
Targeting the right prospects with your marketing strategy allows you to feel confident about selecting some projects and rejecting others.
Of course, it’s probably inevitable that you will occasionally get calls from the wrong types of prospects. And that’s when you just have to smile and tell them that one of your competitors would probably be able to help them.
Saying “no” to the wrong prospects allows you to provide better service to the right prospects. It’s difficult, but sometimes saying “no” may be the key to your success. Turning down the wrong kind of prospect can be the key to increasing your company’s profitability.
It gives you the confidence to say “Yes!” to the right prospects.