No sound business has the hope and expectation of being here today and gone tomorrow. Business without sustainability is as futile as trying to build a home out of cardboard and hoping it will endure. Whether yours is a new business less than three years old, an established but ailing business or a bustling enterprise that is expanding – creating and maintaining a business model for long-term success is vital.
1. Create a robust marketing plan
Most people tend to use terms such as ‘business plan’, ‘marketing plan’ and ‘pricing strategy’ almost interchangeably and therefore incorrectly. It is important to understand the differences as a business person and quickly dispel any notions of misunderstanding.
Typically the business plan is a working document outlining the holistic business strategy looking at the historic and present financial standing of the enterprise, as well as a three year financial forecast. While the business plan should naturally encompass a robust marketing plan, this is often thin and diluted in the midst of the business wide components covered in the document. It is therefore preferable to draft a separate and detailed marketing plan. The important thing is that it must be personalised, budgeted and executable. It should ideally entail a comprehensive approach that integrates online marketing and print media strategies – perhaps with a view of television and radio campaigns where necessary.
2. Develop your pricing and sales strategy
While marketing has a much broader scope that is intentionally strategic, long-term focused and seeks to entrench a brand’s identity, sales remains a core component. ‘Sales’ is in fact the byproduct of one’s basket of marketing tactics and agendas. In order to succeed in sales, the pricing and sales strategy must be on-point.
You need to determine if you are competing on price or value or both. It’s worth noting that there is no one-size-fits all approach. A lower price doesn’t necessarily mean more business and a growing database of loyal customers. And you may not even be able to realistically compete on price, due to long established and bigger competitors that through economies of scale are virtually untouchable in that area. This is where value comes in. So once you get your pricing in order for a business of your size and nature, you integrate this with a sound sales plan. This simply links the pricing to getting to the point of making an actual sales transaction.
3. Capitalise on networks
Relationships are an integral part of business success. Even with a great marketing plan and a sound pricing strategy, quality network contacts are invaluable. As a business person, start by nurturing and tapping into these relationships, with the following recommended order of priority:
- Strong relationships that can immediately materialise into sales (those in your network who could immediately benefit from your service or product).
- Strategic alliances that can lead to various high quality leads. These could be intermediaries, industry authorities and influencers, referral counterparts, community leaders and so on.
- Lastly less prospective leads, but relations that may result in positive word-of-mouth advertising.
Building long-term success is the goal of every entrepreneur. Planning and relationship building are fundamental from the start, and if properly prioritised will yield great dividends for sustainable profitability.
Proudly brought to you by the National Small Business Chamber (NSBC).