Today’s post is by Lindy Asimus, Business Coach, who specialises in coaching local business owners. To see her services please click here.

A recent conversation on Twitter brought this up as a discussion point.  In the course of our back and forth, @gregbepper mentioned that as president of his local business chamber he had seen many times that business owners were missing the vital step of asking customers how they came to be at their business.

The old adage of half of marketing being a waste of money, but not knowing which half – is as true now as it ever was. The difference now is that the tools to track where new business is coming from are now available.  Technology takes away any excuse we had for not knowing these metrics but still this is ignored.

Without knowing where your customers are being activated, we put a blindfold on and start pinning money to that Marketing Donkey. Why would you do that?

This was confirmed during another discussion with a local advertising consultant who expressed similar views and frustration that many of us share, in the lack of interest that some business owners and managers seem to have when it comes to taking a professional approach to understanding what is essentially basic management application in the business.

It may be true to say that for many small business owners approaching marketing that they don’t know how to do this. They don’t know how to go about setting up a system to collect this essential data and some will say they are “too busy”!  Really.

I kid you not.

Which is fair in a way.  Preparation for anything takes some thought and time. Doing things without thought is easy! It is fast! And it costs a lot of money.  But if being not prepared is your thing, then you probably won’t notice that.

“Oh I tried that. I sent a letter once and it didn’t work.” I have had this said to me by intelligent people who believe that sending one letter is direct marketing,.

“I don’t have time for social media and anyway I don’t use the internet. And my customers are local anyway.”

Truly. I have heard this so many times I have just wanted to lie down with a blanket and curl up in fetal position.

These are our local businesses. They are what give our local area colour and character and they are the businesses that we watch and see them slide and then disappear with all their money and time invested just gone.  Or we watch them limp along barely getting by and wondering why the government is making it hard for them Why the customers are not loyal. And complaining bitterly about the terrible overseas merchants selling goods to “their customers” over the internet.

How well are your using the intelligence in your business about existing customers?

What is motivating your customers to come to you?
Where do they find you?
Where do they go instead of buying from you?
What do you need to do to make them come back again?
What do you need to do to know what they want?
How much time are you prepared to spend to know these things in your business, or are you too busy “saving money” on your marketing?

There are ways to know the answer to these questions. If you don’t know what they are yet, then make the time and investment you need to find out and get some help to do so.   But beware. Not everyone will care if you get good results and good information.

To your success!

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