Where are your customers?

Most entrepreneurs do what most MBA’s do – think about their marketing by following the STP route namely – Segment, Rowing_saleswoman_on_a_boat_in_ThailandTarget and Position! The trouble with this approach is that the method is built for existing large enterprises. They are the ones who already have buyers, who already have a sales force, who already have a marketing and PR team, who have product recognition if not brand recognition, who already have the cash and wherewithal to withstand cash flow problems for a while!! But most early stage bootstrapped entrepreneurs don’t have most of the above luxuries (almost none). So the extrapolation of this functional approach does not work. Many entrepreneurs don’t get this because they are not trained to be marketing / sales people – but they simply have to be! But rarely have I come across an entrepreneur who has spent time picking up sales and marketing knowledge, let alone talent. So when I started working with small businesses I realized the need for an alternative solution. Here is a quick look at it.

For entrepreneurs I have always found, it works best the other way. Yes! Turn it right on its head! First figure out who is your ideal customer? What are his/her characteristics? Where will you find them? Where do they aggregate? How can I reach those little aggregation points in my immediate vicinity? Are there more such groups? Keep expanding the size of your serviceable market as you gain more and more over. By approaching this way the entrepreneur is always in control of his addressable market – he / she is always servicing customer and winning them over. Though the approach seems pretty simple, it works and works every time. It brings control on cash flow. It brings effective cost controlled advertising. It enables entrepreneurs always keep an eye on scaling. This is also an easy way of planning sales and marketing as an extension of the business modeling exercise. Since the growth of a firm is high, redrawing the business model and hence your sales and marketing plan becomes a repeated exercise. They go hand-in-hand.

Strong businesses are built on fundamentals, strong fundamentals. And strong fundamentals are always a result of simple thinking!


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