April 20, 2014

Sales and Marketing Advice for Florida business

Road map for your path to profitability

Ron Stein | 11/3/2013

The road to revenue and profitability is rocky. No matter if you’re an established business about to introduce a new product or a startup company, you need a clear path to revenue.

That is, a roadmap that bridges the gap between where you are and where you need to be. Traveling between those two points is more challenging than ever. Get off course and it will cost you sales.

But, for many businesses a clear-cut business model is vague or non-existent. Exactly where will the revenue come from?

A crystal clear path and action plan for sales success has several critical components. The starting point is really the end point -- the customer that will buy your product or service.

Sometimes we get so hung up on our wonderful offerings that we lose touch with what the buyer really wants. With all of the tools and channels available today it’s too easy to jump right into marketing and selling without making sure of the how customers will benefit -- from their point of view.

After all, it’s the prospective buyer that determines whether our company will succeed or not. But, that’s only part of the problem for us sellers today.

Developing a clear path to profitability is the single most important thing a business needs to do. Does your business model make money for you?

Question your market. You know what your offering is, yet do you really understand how you’ll make money from it? Go ask the people who you believe are your prospects. A good place to start is to verify that your product solves a problem people have and it does that in a way that makes sense to them. When you get past that hurdle, ask if they’d buy based on your competitive advantages and pricing model, and why or why not. But don’t stop there. Find out if they are even the right person to sell to in their family or company, the best way to reach out to them, and how they like similar products and services delivered. No matter what the answers are, always follow-up with ”why?” Your goal is to develop a clear path forward by Identifying issues and potential roadblocks, as well as uncover opportunities.

Create a business model that makes you money. This seems a bit obvious, yet the choices and mistakes to be made are too long to list here. Don’t invent a new business model -- tweaking an existing business model can yield very profitable results. Gillette and Hewlett-Packard virtually give away their products (razor and printers) to sell their blades and ink. The opposite model is when the initial purchase has a high margin, but the associated “consumable” is sold at a low margin to attract the initial purchase. Another is reducing offerings to only a few bundles, each for a fixed price -- or bundling a service offering with your product -- can drive sales nicely. Then there’s the model many airlines have adopted over the last few years; price the most cost-sensitive item as low as possible and then charge for every little extra. There is no right or wrong, it just depends on you, your buyers, and your competition. If your prospective buyers see value and the cost to reach, acquire, and keep customers makes sense, you probably have a winner.

A marketing strategy and action plan based on your business model. Everyone seems to have different ideas about what exactly a marketing strategy and action plan is. Here’s what it’s not: a haphazard collection of tactics and activities. A real revenue roadmap is based on the “facts” of your market and your goals. Build your business model around that and focus on activities that achieve the outcomes you want. Now, within the structure of you business model create marketing initiatives, or activities, for each major result desired. That’s essentially a separate mini-marketing plan for each activity. These are detailed step-by-step plans that lays out the what, who, when, where with all the pesky specifics of how to use your limited resources to the best possible advantage. Always operating under the framework of your business model. Don’t forget to include a budget. Also take into account how customers will pay for your offering and what options they’ll have to do that.

So what's your business model? Well, what I’m really asking you is how are you making money.

Create a business and revenue model based on facts, not just guessing. The first step is to know everything about your customers and why they’d be willing to buy from you. Figure out what your target buyers wants and how to make the purchase easier for them to benefit from your product or service.

The lack of a solid business model and wrecked many grand visions.  Do you have a clear path to revenue?

The Internet and social media have put buyers in control more than ever before, changing the way they buy. And, the competition for their dollars is fierce.

It’s not good enough to say, “We are better.” Only a differentiated strategy that is mapped into a solid business model will make you money.


Ron Stein is President of FastPath Marketing (www.marketing-strategies-guide.com). He works with small business owners, helping them to energize their marketing and sell more of their products and services. Ron has developed his own highly successful 7-step approach to winning new customers as a result of his experience as a small business owner, corporate CEO, marketing and business development executive, salesman, and mentor at two nationally recognized business accelerators. Ron offers one-on-one and small group mentoring, conducts seminars, and consults. He can be reached at 727-398-1855 or Ron@FastPathMarketing.com.

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