3 Hard Business Lessons I'm Grateful For
After years of being a Business Consultant, I certainly have learned many business lessons the hard and painful way. It was tough when they happened; however, I am grateful for these lessons today because they have made me a stronger person.
If you want to create a profitable business, you will need to learn these lessons at some point in your journey and I'd like to save you some time, heartache, and money. After all, I want my hindsight to be your path forward.
When I started in my first business, I was armed with several marketing tactics. I tried a lot of them from direct mail to postcards to ads, press releases, flyers, hosting workshop, organizing free events and so much more. I soon realized I was spending a lot of time, money and energy on marketing with little results. I didn’t have a lot of money or time to waste. I was right out of graduate school and needed to make my business make money. But it was a cash-eating machine and was draining my energy and time.
I realized that marketing tactics and the mediums I was choosing was not as important as I believed they were. The truth was that what you say in your marketing and how you say it are almost always more important than the marketing medium where you say it. Both are important; however, the real leverage is the message itself, which is the strategic side of marketing.
Having a lack of knowledge of marketing, I read books and attended seminars and listened to audios to learn how to market my first business. Everything told me that the purpose of marketing was to make a sale. After taking in all that information I came to discover that was actually not true. I changed my marketing purpose and right after that my business began to earn significantly more money. I had spent a year listening to what others were saying without results. I had wasted my time, energy and money on training that taught me wrong information and almost caused my business to fail. Was that ever a tough lesson to learn!
I realized that the real purpose of marketing is to help a prospect in their decision-making process. Many people needed what I was offering yet they also had to be educated to the fact that they needed my services. This made the biggest difference. I shifted all my marketing away from tactics and I created and mapped out a strategy to market my business instead. That strategy included ways I could be helpful and could create value and education and be of service versus using various mediums to “sell” people.
I had tried everything to convince people to close and to sell them and was failing miserably. Then I decided to stop everything. Instead I spent time figuring out what was important to my prospects. I learned that the more I understood their needs, frustrations, desires and what they wanted to buy (rather than what I wanted to sell), the easier it was for them to say “yes” to my offerings. I realized that when I purchased something, I needed education about the product or service and I wanted the best deal possible as well as the best value. I could not believe that I was trying to market my services without standing in the minds, shoes, and hearts of my prospects and instead was pushing my services on them. I remember feeling sad that I had done prospects “wrong” and found this a lesson I needed to learn. I regretted not knowing this sooner.
I realized that prospective buyers needed to be educated so that they can feel confident in their purchasing decision and I did not notice anyone doing that. I began to focus my time and energy on getting this educational information to my prospects. Pretty soon I was winning all the most profitable customers available. It worked! I felt aligned, ethical, authentic and in integrity.
Can you relate to any of the above lessons? I don’t want you to waste too much time trying to do ineffective marketing, so I hope that this post has helped you to understand the crazy journey it takes to build a highly profitable business.
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