Business Essentials in the 21st Century
Professional business coaches, who work with small to medium-sized businesses, are frequently approached when business starts to fall off and sales start to slip. Much like a chiropractor, rarely does a person seek them out until they experience an acute pain. What people seldom realize is that pain is a symptom. The regrettable part, and as any good doctor will tell you as they are making their diagnosis, is that although pain is in fact a symptom, it is usually the last symptom. Sales' dropping off is very painful for a business and sometimes if the trend continues for too long a time it can be fatal, but the question should be, why are sales falling off in the first place? It could be so many things but if I had to look at a business and speculate, the first thing I would ask is "what is the company doing with respect to their marketing and sales program."
Notice I said "marketing and sales" and not "sales and marketing." A sale comes after marketing. Marketing is everything that happens before the sale is made and after the sales is made. Some people will tell you that after the sale is made is when "service" begins and we can really get hung up on the semantics of this but from my perspective the sales process is just that; it is a process and it goes beyond the customer taking delivery. So let's look at marketing. These days the rules have certainly changed. The internet, social networking, email, spamming, websites, apps, Smart phones, droids, and data bases are things that didn't exist in our parent's time and today they are indispensable. They are ever-present and ever-increasing in their importance in the way we speak and communicate with (and to) our customers.
These days if I speak to anyone that owns a business and their company doesn't have a website, it is difficult or impossible for me to take them seriously. I ask myself; how could they expect anyone to take them seriously? Now, here's the deal. I didn't say they had to have a great website that did all the things they would or should hope it could do, they just needed to have a website. Any website, even a "Mickey Mouse" website is better than no website at all (More on that later). A website, simply announces to the world that you are in business and you take it seriously. (Remember that WWW thing?)
Consider the following: if you are thinking about going to a restaurant, if you are like many these days, you will be tempted to check out their website, you might to check out their daily specials, consider the menu, and this can be true for a restaurant that you visit regularly too. It is just the way it works. Many times you will take a pass on a restaurant simply because you couldn't find their website or worse you found their website and it was difficult to navigate. "OOPs," I guess that restaurant just lost your business at least for that night. That's where a good website becomes really important. Once you drive people to the site, the next thing you are hoping to do is to do or say something on the website to drive business to your door.
Perhaps you should think of your website as an extension of your store (even if you don't actually have a store, think of your business in terms of it being a store).
Ok, So I talk to you and I ask you what you do and you tell me, blah, blah, blah, and I say, "fine, let me check out your website (another way of saying I am interested and I would like to come to your store) and you say, "oh, I'm sorry but we don't have a website." How am I not to presume that you don't have a store or you are simply not in the game?.
Like Steven Covey says in his essential business treatise, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, begin with the first things first. The first thing today is having the best and most powerful website you can have; even if you only use it as an electronic brochure. Hey, it is 2011 not 1911 and that's how it works, so get with the program.
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