We talk a lot about growing your business—and scaling it to take it to the next level. But what happens when your business is headed in the other direction? What if sales are stagnant—or even in decline? What’s your first reaction?
If you’re like a lot of businesses, you think about changing your marketing plan. You check your messaging. Is it on target? Are you getting the word out to the right people? Are you using the right platforms and tools to reach your audience? Is your pricing right?
It’s easy to get caught up in making changes to your marketing tools. After all, marketing is supposed to drive sales, right? If sales aren’t up to par you may try a little of this and then a little of that to see if you can stir up some responses and sales. But maybe the problem isn’t with your marketing tools at all.
Maybe the problem is that you’re out of touch with your customers. It’s possible that you’re spending so much time collecting and analyzing the data about your customers that you’ve lost sight of the people behind the numbers.
Data is great, and you want to make sure you have information that backs up your decisions. But measuring visits and clicks on your website is only part of the story. There’s no substitute for asking your customers questions directly. When was the last time your visited a client in their normal day-by-day working environment and observed what they struggle with? When was the last time you watched them trying to solve a problem using your product or service?
Maybe sales are off because your product or service doesn’t quite work in the real world like it does on paper—or in your online demo. If that’s the case, no amount of marketing money and effort is going to turn things around. You don’t have a marketing problem—you have a business problem.
Do you have customers who you can trust to tell you the unvarnished truth about your products and services? I’m not talking about clients you can tap for a great testimonial. I’m talking about someone who will give you the straight scoop on where your stuff works—and where it doesn’t.
Chances are you won’t develop those kinds of relationships online. You may make initial contact that way, but at some point you’re going to need to get personally involved—face-to-face.
If you’re sales are off, it may not be your marketing that’s to blame. It may be that your product or service isn’t performing the way you think it is. And if your current customers aren’t recommending you to their colleagues—you’ve got a problem.
Who among your clients or customers do you know well enough to ask for the unvarnished truth? You can’t have that kind of relationship with everybody, but you need that kind of feedback from people you can trust.