The Number One Reason Your Small Business Will Not Grow
Are you consistently acquiring more and more new customers each month? Are these customers willing to pay your rates and refer you to other customers?
At Juicy Results, our job is to understand our clients business models and develop campaigns and collateral to generate them more business. I have been involved in this type of work for over a dozen years, and on a very regular basis I sit down with a business owner to discuss ways he or she might use advertising or Internet marketing to grow their business.
A few of these people can really isolate their target customer and articulate the value they provide to this customer. In these cases, we’ll spend our time brainstorming where we can profitably reach more of their target customers and how we can sharpen their message to be more appealing to these targets.
But quite often, the business owner or marketer focuses on all the reasons why their prospect doesn’t buy from them. They’ll explain that the customers “just don’t get it” or how they object to the price and end up not taking any action. In most cases, I have learned that those businesses have no product/market fit.
I’ve found that a surprisingly high number of established businesses fail the fundamental test of offering the right product to a reachable market. In other words, they have no product/market fit.
Let me explain what I mean by product/market fit.
Back in 2009 I discovered this post, called “Three things you need if you want more customers”, on Seth Godin’s blog. I have saved this ever since and revisited it dozens of times. In a nutshell, here are the three things you need if you want more customers:
1. A group of possible customers you can identify and reach.
2. A group with a problem they want to solve using your solution.
3. A group with the desire and ability to spend money to solve that problem.
Seeing this list, you can start to imagine the questions I ask my clients who dwell on their customer acquisition problems. They might not agree with me or want to hear it, but the root cause is almost always the failure to satisfy one or more item on the list.
You really do need all three to find a product/market fit. If you have two and lack one, you’re swimming upstream. It is worth your time and effort to fix whatever you need to in your business to squarely satisfy all three.
Seth’s post has some great examples of business models who each fall short of one of the items, so I won’t go into that here. Instead, let’s focus on how to uncover your product/market fit (or lack thereof!).
We’ve developed a short questionnaire to help define your product/market fit. This is a great aid in brainstorming marketing campaigns for your business—it will result in an understanding of how to reach your target market, what you should focus on marketing and the value you offer. This won’t be the complete solution, but it is a natural catalyst to start the process.
Answer these questions for your business:
1. Who is your ideal customer (be as detailed as possible)?
2. Where can you reliably and repeatedly reach them?
3. What problems do they have that you can solve?
4. What product or service is attractive to the largest portion of your target audience? Does it lead to other (upsell or repeat) business?
5. Is your solution worth their time and trouble? What can you say to make sure they pay attention?
6. Will they be open to your solution? Can they afford it? Do they value it enough to pay that?
If you can provide honest and detailed answers to all six questions, you can quickly match the three things you need to attract new customers for your business. Additionally, you’ll start seeing where to market, which product to focus on, and the value you offer to your target customer.
If you’re struggling to answer those questions, or if you feel that your responses are weak, then you are likely failing to meet one of the three key ingredients we’ve been discussing. Invest the time now to make sure you fix these gaps before you ramp up spending on marketing. A true product/market fit paired with effective marketing programs is the start of a system that will feed your business with new customers.
Juicy Results can help you identify your product/market fit and create marketing systems that will generate leads for your small business using Internet marketing. Call us today!