Small Business Academy

30 Mar

3/29/2012

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This week’s question comes from Cherie M. from Austin, Texas, USA.

Hi Alexzandra,

My name is Cherie from Austin Texas 12 year breast cancer survivor. I am the founder and CEO of healincomfort.com I am writing a quick note you to see if you can recommend any “groups” I should be in touch with to let people know I’m out here helping. I’m a grass roots start up business and a Certified Woman Owned Business but just two years old. If any connections come to mind when you have a moment perhaps you can suggest them to me in a message in LinkedIn.

Cherie brings up a great point and one of the top ways to quickly grow your customer base and your financial bottom line and that is with strategic partnerships. The great thing about this business building technique is that it works equally well for any type of business or service. Here is an example that I recently recommended to a chef and restaurateur near San Jose, California, USA.

The primary goals of owning a business is to help people and generate money. Your marketing message is the invitation to your customers and the introduction to your customers of your brand, products, and services. Once you have your marketing message how can you use it to get more customers in the door? I want to tell you about a real life example of one of my clients that just a few months ago found himself about 45 days from being out of business. That’s all the cash he had left before he would have to close his restaurant and bar for good and because he had not obeyed my cardinal rule of not taking on debt and using your own assets to fund your business, he was also in danger of loosing his home as well.

So the first thing I had him do was create his marketing message using the same formula that I teach in the Small Business Academy. Because he had virtually no capital and very little time left I had him get creative. Remember, the most effective marketing tools and techniques are usually free or at least very low cost.

I suggested that he pick a Friday night about two or three weeks away and start telling the customers that did come in between now and that night that he was going to have a special event at his restaurant in just a few weeks, but seating was limited and by reservation only. The reservation list was full in just seventy two hours after the chef and I first spoke.

Because he was in the food industry and that organics is one of the things people have not cut back on during this recession, I suggested that my client the Chef take some time and visit his local farmers market to see if there was a local farmer that sold organic food. Sure enough he found a farmer who was also struggling to expand his market base even though the quality of his food was exceptional.

The farmers market was on Thursday which meant that the farmer was going home with a lot of fresh organic food and no place to sell it until next week by which time it would most likely spoil. My suggestion was that my client the restaurateur and the farmer team up and help each other out to mutually bolster each others business. Here are the keys to this story. Both shared a common customer base. Both where in the same industry, but neither was directly competitive with the other. Both were potentially dependent on the other as supplier and vendor. You could call it a symbiotic relationship. I am sure you could think of a few for your business.

The farmer supplied the organic food for the night of the event that he did not sell the day before at the market to the chef along with a small card for each table. On each card was a short marketing message for the farmer and his contact information. The Chef called the local press and invited them to cover the event with one caveat. Whoever arrived first with a camera crew would get an amazing and exclusive opportunity to come inside to cover the event which included access to the kitchen and personal interviews with the chef and the organic farmer. I also suggested to my client the Chef, that using the marketing message he had created he contact all local civic organizations and let them know about his special event and ask them to pass on the word to their local members. As a rule local civic clubs tend to be very supportive of their own so use this as a good resource for publicity.

The day of the event all three local television stations showed up with camera crews….five hours early in an attempt to be the first and get the exclusive, which became a story in and of itself! The night was such a success that after expenses the Chef and farmer made enough money that they decided to do it all over again the very next night. In just 48 hours using just a few business physics principles, the Chef and the organic farmer made enough money to cover their business expenses for the next six months, went from being a small restaurant and local organic farm that nobody had heard of to the hottest place in town that everyone was talking about. The demand for the farmers goods has been so great that he has now opened a fruit, herb, and vegetable market at his farm on the days of the week he is not at the farmers market. So let’s break down each of the principles that the Chef used to turn his business into an overnight success.

  1. He partnered with someone who shared his customer base but was not a competitor.
  2. He created an event at his place of business that was mutually beneficial to himself, his partner, and their shared customer base.
  3. He used resources that were available at no cost and in the case of the farmer would go to waist if not used.
  4. The Chef used the three motivating factors to get the local press to cover his event.
    1. Fear- That another station would beat them out for the exclusive story.
    2. Personal Power – That the first to arrive would get the hottest story of the day.
    3. Freedom – That the ratings for the winning station would be higher thus bringing in additional local advertising dollars.
  5. The Chef created dishes that in appearance and taste where of the highest quality and were served with excellence.
  1. The event was limited to one night with reserved seating on a first come, first reserved basis which created a feeling of scarcity and generated additional interest.
  1. Finally, the Chef and the Farmer reinvested their profits from the first night into one additional night.
  1. The Chef continues to create new and amazing dishes and consistently serves only the finest organic food that is served with excellence.
  1. The Farmer now has a steady new client in the Chef which gives them both more public credibility.

Now here is the kicker. Neither the Chef nor the farmer actually laid out any additional cash for this event that literally transformed both their businesses and reputations. They just used the principles of business physics and you can too. Incase you think that you need some special skills to pull something like this off, think again. This Chef had never done anything like this before but he was motivated by fear of loosing his business, his livelihood and possibly his home. So much so in fact, that he was willing to step out of his comfort zone and try something that he had never done before to save his business and turn his life around. You can do this too! It is so much easier than you might think. In the Small Business Academy actually walks you through it step by step. So what have you got to loose? No really! What will it take to get you moving and turn your business into a huge success?

I hope this has given you a little guidance. I have just recently released a videos series with tons of information to help you really jump-start your business this year. Just go to AlexzandraD.com and at the top right of the page enter you email address. The entire series will be delivered right to your email inbox and there is absolutely no charge! You can also leave your comments or questions just under each video. I love hearing from you so keep the comments and questions coming. They help me create even more meaningful and better targeted products and services to help you reach your business success goals. Good luck!

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