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10 tough questions about your business

Here are 10 tough questions about your business to help you in your marketing efforts. Be prepared because it will get a bit rough at times.

1. Can you (and your staff) sum up your company's mission in a single sentence, even if you are awakened in the middle of the night?
If you can't articulate the business idea in one sentence - or at all – how do you know what goals you're striving for? This is surprisingly common to all firms. The fact that the employees can't formulate the company idea is, can only be management's fault, but if the management itself can't say what business the company has is downright scary. Test your entrepreneurial colleagues and friends and you'll see that I'm right. I'm guessing that 8 out of 10 of your friends and colleagues can't answer the question directly.
to formulate your company mission in a single sentence is also essential for providers and other partners to know. They learn what works for you and can help you achieve your goals.

* My own publishing company's idea is ”To provide and develop the most specific tools in book form for small business owners.”Call me any time, day or night, and ask me about it.

2. Have you dared to make the”I'm shopping from my own business”-test?
There are few companies that actually check what their customers are facing when they come in contact with the company. This includes everything from response times, customer service on the phone, how easy it is to get information about the products when the customer needs it and how easy is it for the customers to buy something. Ask a friend to become a customer of your company. Ask him/her to test you. What is it like to be a customer of your company? Let him/her pretend to be a customer and go through your company on these points. Evaluate.

3. How often do think about which means that best suits the purpose of your marketing?
Before you decide to advertise at all, you must know where and how to do it. Should you advertise, send out sales letters or try to reach your customers by phone? Why? What is the purpose and what is the goal? Which way is most effective? Why do you think that? Don't promote yourself just because others to do it and because you feel you must do it too, do it because you have a clear plan with. Plan, plan, plan. Aim - shoot.

4. Tell me in one sentence why customers should choose your business instead of your competitors?
I want you to answer this question right now. You don't even have a minute to figure out the answer. If you can't do that, you have a big problem that you have to get to the bottom of. The answer you give must be clear. You will not get away with ”because we care more” or something like that. You simply have to formulate your key competitive advantage.
(Keep in mind that if it's not super clear to you why people should choose your business - how will it be clear to your customers?)

5. What are your five main competitors and what are they doing to promote their business?
If you don't know this, you know nothing. You don't know what audiences they are focusing on and what they are not focusing on. You don't know how they want their products to be viewed and you don't know which way they present it. Find out as fast as you can and look for gaps in their marketing strategy – then fills the gaps.

6. Do you over value your own belief that your customers love you?
Do your customers think that you are a nice person in a pleasant company? Are you sure? When did you last find out what your customers really think about your business?

7. When did you last contact your customers with a message that is not sales related?
If it was yesterday or during the last a couple of weeks ago, you're home free. Otherwise I think that you should start to be more active in your contacts. Your relationship with customers during periods of no sales is often what leads to your business showing up in the minds of customers when they need what you can deliver. The fact that you care even if you don't send out invoices is taking the right path to building long-term relationships

8. What does your ideal client look like?
Have you made such an identification? It can help you to aim far better in everything you do. Who are your clients? Where are you most likely to reach them? When do they need your product? What are their age, sex, education, hobbies and interests? What are their responsibilities? What problems is your ideal client trying to resolve that you can solve for him/her and so on. Find out.
Note that ”your ideal client” isn't the same as the customer you want the most, but the customer most likely to buy from your company. There's usually a difference and you will have to find it.

9. How do you follow up after the purchase?
When did you last call a customer and made sure that he/she really is happy with what you delivered and that he/she got the right product at the right time in the right way? When did you last call and ask if there is anything they are unhappy with and then made sure that you did everything possible to make it up for him/her if there was a problem? It was a while ago, right? There's no need to call all customers at once. Set aside some time this week and call a few customers. Call some more next week and repeat the procedure until you have talked to all of your customers.

10. Is there immediate access to essential information about your customers?
If someone contacts your company when you are not there, can the person taking the call get access to information about the client or do you store all the important data only in your own mind?
  Is there information about the customer's purchase history, what is happening now and what will happen in the future? Your goal must be that the customer should feel that everyone in the company is as familiar with the client's situation as possible and in the most personal way possible. To ask that the customer tell the operator his/her story every time he/she calls, is to ask for too much.

About the author

Stefan Ekberg has worked in marketing for small business for 20 years and has written around 30 books on how small business owners can market themselves with limited resources. . In 2012 Stefan was nominated as Entrepreneur of the Year in Stockholm.

230 000 prescribes to his free newsletter "The 5 minute marketer"
Every week some 230,000 prescribers gets his free newsletter about 5 minute marketing.

"The 5 minute marketer" - the book
You run a small business and you want to get ahead of the competition, but how can you give resources to marketing when you're short on time and the budget is tight? The solution is here! The 5-Minute Marketer is packed with 395 tried-and-tested ways to market your business in 5 minutes or less.