Quit Worrying About the Size of Your Marketplace
When I consult in communities around the country, I often hear business owners say things like: “My marketplace is too small”, or “There aren’t enough of my type of customers around here to support my type of business”, or “When more people move here, my sales will improve.”
When I hear words like these, I realize that the owners I’m talking to have not embraced the idea that their business can become a Destination. Instead, they are running a business that is location-dependent.
The truth is that no one can accurately measure the financial potential of a community today, and where your business is currently located does not have to limit the sales your business generates.
As for measuring the potential of your demographic area, an accurate measurement of its potential cannot be done. Sure, I know that there are really smart people out there who can run demographic numbers that show the statistics of a marketplace. But the problem is these statistics then are correlated to the potential dollars that can be spent in that same area.
Unfortunately, these studies do not take into account the potential impact of a business that makes itself a Destination, a business that is so decidedly different that it consistently pulls consumers from outside its marketplace. In fact, every analysis of every marketplace focuses on who is living there, not the potential spending power of everyone who could buy there.
Here’s why any analysis of a marketplace falls hopelessly short of the real potential of an area: Let’s start with every shopper who is walking around with a credit card, giving that customer exponential spending power. Do you accurately know the spending power of the customers who walk in your doors? You can guess, but you’d be wrong. Even in today’s economy, some of those credit cards are still tied to home mortgage lines-of-credit, and even though credit card spending has declined, some consumers still have gargantuan impulse- buying power.
Then, there are the tourists, who also carry credit cards, who visit your area, and these consumers are never measured or factored into traditional statistics. Plus, studies don’t take into account consumers from cities outside of the traditional 15 miles who don’t think they can possibly find what they are looking for in their city, so they drive somewhere else, thereby participating in Road-Trip Retailing. And studies don’t take into account the spreading of the wealth that occurs when consumers in your city, who logically should buy from your business, drive illogically away to spend their money elsewhere.
Now, I haven’t mentioned consumers who spend money over the phone, via catalogs, with infomercials, on the Home Shopping Network, or via the Internet. Those numbers cannot be accurately measured; they can only be guessed at.
And let’s not forget those consumers in your city or town who walk in, and say, “We’ve lived here 20 years and we never knew you were here.” Suddenly, your business has discovered incremental business in your backyard. And remember: Don’t slap that walking-around-in-a-daze, advertising-avoiding, living-in-a-vacuum consumer. This person is your neighbor!
Add all these groups up and even the smartest statistician can’t tell you the potential spending power that you can capture from the consumers who you could lure to your business, IF you were marketing your business as a Destination.
Here are 5 simple tips that should give you piece of mind about the potential of your marketplace:
- Worry less about the limits of your immediate demographic area.
- Focus more on creating a business that is so different, that you literally remake the demographics of your marketplace, and the share of it that you claim for your own.
- Don’t simply focus on the consumer walking down your street, or driving by. Focus on a consumer hundreds of miles away, and make your business so different that this distant consumer longs to visit your business in person. If you position your business to capture that person and keep him or her interested, the ones walking down the street will be easy to pull in.
- Think about attending our Destination BootCamp and learn how to reposition your business into a Consumer Destination.
- And one last thought: Your “marketplace” is always larger than you can imagine, and most of us don’t imagine large enough
A Rare Opportunity for Six Ohio Business Owners: Don’t You Wish You Lived In This City?
I have to share with you an exciting opportunity that is available for business owners in one Ohio community. You’re going to wish your business was located in this city after reading this!
The reason I’m telling you about this is to bring attention to this amazing program and to get your help passing this information along to business owners who might benefit from it. Cities and towns around the country are going to be jealous of the support this Ohio community bank provides its local small business owners.
Business owners in Tiffin, Ohio have the opportunity to attend my 2½ day Destination BootCamp in Longmont, Colorado in October this year, where they will learn my 14-step strategy to turn their businesses into Consumer Destinations. For the third year, Croghan Colonial Bank has created the Small Business Reinvention Scholarship where up to six (6) Tiffin owners can receive a $1,500 scholarship for no-cost attendance to our Destination BootCamp.
Croghan Colonial Bank previously created these innovative business scholarships in both Fremont and Norwalk, Ohio. If you want to read about those communities and their business successes following their attendance, click here.
Through a partnership with the Seneca Regional Chamber of Commerce, six (6) individual Tiffin businesses will be chosen through an application process. The selected business owners will attend the Destination BootCamp on October 9 -11, 2012. Upon their return, there will be monthly conference calls conducted by me to help the owners put into practice what they learned at the BootCamp. After they come to the BootCamp, I will then travel to Tiffin to conduct a workshop for all the businesses there and conduct on-site one-on-one consultations with each business owner who attended the BootCamp.
If you know a Tiffin business owner who could benefit from this program, or if you are a Tiffin, Ohio business owner who wants to grab this opportunity, contact Gwen Stallard at Croghan Colonial Bank, [email protected] or John Detwiler at [email protected], or (419) 447-4141. You can also call me at my office at (303) 774-6522 and I can talk to you more about what you’ll learn at our BootCamp.
The application for this exciting program can be found by clicking here:
Applications are due on July 16, 2012 with final selections to be made not later than August 15, 2012.
If you want to learn more about our company’s Community Reinvention Program (which has had over 40 communities participate in it), you can click here:
Why Our Destination BootCamp Works
Another business owner recently emailed Dan, asking if our BootCamp was really worth attending. When Dan replied to him, he copied us on his email. This is Dan’s letter in its entirety.
We love getting letters like this!
“I’m not good at a time line. Forgive me if I don’t have exact dates. About 12 years or a little more ago, Jon came to Centralia and talked to local businesses about destination marketing. We attended that event reluctantly, thinking that it would be a waste of time. I have to say that Jon is an engaging speaker. He presented quite a different take on how we had approached our business and marketing.
After that session, Jon walked around the town visiting a few businesses and pointing out things that he thought would change things for the positive. He spent about 10 minutes in our antique store and during that time we took furious notes. Over the course of the next few weeks, we implemented most, if not all his recommendations: things like lighting, placement of product, ways to highlight… As a result, we saw an immediate increase in interest in our customer base. They stayed in the store longer, seemed to engage the sales staff more.
When several years later the City sponsored some businesses to his Boot Camp, we made sure we would take advantage of the opportunity. We were not disappointed. It was fairly intense. The focus is on becoming a destination, set yourself apart, not just an “also ran” in the local economy. The tools were definitely there, the inspiration and continuing help and support were/are also there.
As for results, we turned our antiques business into a contender on a national scale. The greater proportion of our sales are from out of state, with a significant amount from the East coast and Midwest. We are the Antique Destination that includes Oregon, Washington, and Idaho as well. We get visitors from all over the country, as well as sales. That’s an accomplishment that isn’t readily achieved by many antiques businesses. We would not have ever achieved that goal were it not for Jon. In fact, in the present economy, I’m sure we would have closed several years ago. We have remained open and viable, mostly through the level of our destination sales, rather than those in our local limited demographic.
In any of these ventures, you get out what you are willing to learn and put in. For us, we can recommend Jon’s Boot Camp without reservation. It made a world of difference in our approach and bottom line. Jon has offered advice and help over the years, just a phone call away.
If you attend, please give our regards to Jon and enjoy yourself.
If your ever in Centralia, please stop by and see firsthand what we have implemented as a result of attending: 209 N Tower Ave Centralia, Washington. You may visit our web, which has incorporated many suggestions from Jon and has been a major success. www.upthecreekantiques.com. That site was developed in 1998 and still comes up on the first page, if not the first item of most searches.”
Dan Horwath, Owner, Up the Creek Antiques
Such a Big Change: A Letter from a Destination BootCamp Business Owner
This week I received a letter from a business owner who had attended my Destination Business BootCamp in 2011. Normally, I just keep these letters for myself, but this one, I’m going to share. When you read it, you’ll see why. There are parts of it that hit the emotions that every business owner in the world has ever felt.
By the way, I asked the owner who wrote this letter if sharing it was OK with him. He gave me permission to do so.
Our Destination BootCamp is a two and one-half day workshop. It takes me that long to cover my 14-step strategy for making a business a Consumer Destination. It’s not like when I speak at a conference for an hour. In the days I have with the owners in attendance, I can show them a different way to position their businesses to be successful.
Here’s a photo of the class. The business owner who wrote the letter was Louie Colosimo, owner of Red Glass Oak in Central Point, Oregon. To see Louie’s amazing business, go to his website here: http://RedOakGlass.com. His creations are amazing!
Louie had come to our Destination BootCamp with five other business owners from Central Point and with Tom Humphrey, the Director of their city’s Community Development Program. Tom had organized the group and Louie was one of the participants he had asked to make the trip to Colorado, as part of our Community Reinvention Program.
That’s all I’m going to say. Here’s Louie’s letter to me, in its entirety. I haven’t done any editing.
Thanks, Louie, for letting me share your letter. I hope it helps other owners realize that they can make changes to their businesses and turn a poor situation around.
Here’s Louie’s letter:
Short version: I want to thank you for all you’ve taught me.
Longer version: Last year, when Tom Humphrey asked me if I wanted to attend your Businessman’s Boot Camp, I was about a week away from quitting my business and throwing in the towel. Deep in debt, out of energy, and my best sales person was seriously drifting away, the future looked bleak at best. I’d even begun to ask around if anyone knew of a good bankruptcy lawyer. It was either quit or try one more time. Finally, I decided to go see you and give it one more shot. The least that would happen would be that I’d get a free trip to Colorado and escape the shop for a few days. I’m so glad that I did. You absolutely turned my life around. Not just my business life but my regular life (?) too.
But not at first.
On the first day of Boot Camp, or rather in the first two hours of the first day, my ass hurt from sitting. I kept shifting from side to side… left bun, right bun and back again. And you were so indefatigably cherry and positive. I kept thinking, “Christ, I should’a quit. At least with bankruptcy it’d be over and I won’t have to think about it.” But then, you showed “problem/solutions” and order began to creep in. My butt began to hurt less, then I forgot about it.
By the end of the first day, I was mostly a convert. I did my homework that night and woke to face the second day. You got better and so did I. By the end of the last day, I wanted to stay and stay and listen. You never wore down. You kept believing that we all could do it. And finally, so did I. Not only were you telling me how to market better, but what I finally realized was that you were demonstrating how to do it in real time. I was your customer. You took care to treat me special, give me all the information I needed to understand your product, and see how many others managed marketing. You were able to define your business (on an elevator ride between the 3rd and 4th floor); you had your monument-al achievements, and best of all, you were proud of your accomplishments.
I knew that to stay in business, I had to market my product. But knowing that it isn’t the same as knowing how to do it. To me, marketing was like trying to grab a hold of a sand storm. There was no handle. No place to start. What do I do first, second, etc? And what you told us wasn’t the answers I wanted to hear.
Instead, you asked questions. Being asked a good question was so much more valuable than being told a general something, a fortune cookie solution. Right off the bat, you asked the hardest thing of all, for me to define my business in one sentence. I always thought that I had done that, until I really thought about it. Now that I think about it more, what you did wasn’t asking for a definition, but more like you challenged me to look at myself and my business the way the world does, from the outside looking in. I always looked at myself and what I did from the inside out. I was a glass blower! Now, I want the world to see me as a glass artist that creates hand blow art glass pendant lighting and inspiring standing chandeliers. So that’s how I define myself and it fits how I see myself. It was and is such a small shift in perception. Such a big change! I understood what I needed to do to keep on going. I’m still slipping and sliding, but now it’s in the general direction of where I want to go.
One last thought about trying organize a sand storm: I’ll be shoveling with the Taj Mahal in mind and realize that all I’ve got is a mud hut and it’ll come to me again that I can’t do it all at once no matter how I try. But, I can do something every day. And I do. Plus, I could bring some hot dogs, beer, a kite and enjoy the beauty and flow of it all.
The other day, I was talking to Tom Humphrey about you and I said that I’d like to hear Jon talk about stress relief, when business gets scary. Without a blink, he immediately gave me a “Jon” answer. He said, “Market better.” Dorothy had a yellow bricks to guide her, but we’ve got Jon, which is a different kind of brick. When in doubt of the direction to City of “ahhs”, all I have to do is ask myself (or the Central Point team) what would Jon do to get there? When I left Colorado, I felt like all three of the clunks from the wizard of Oz all rolled into one: I needed to get a brainy plan, the heart to keep on going and the courage to stick it out. And I can. After all, Jon believes I can.
With the utmost sincerity and thanks,
Art glass pendant manufacturer
Red Oak Glass.com
234 N. Front St.
Central Point, Or. 97502
541- 326- 8836
Reinvent Your Mom and Pop Business in 2012
Ever wonder what “reinventing” your business actually looks like? How does one go about this process?
Have you ever thought about significantly changing the business you’ve created?
If your business makes you feel like you’re the only one doing the work, maybe it’s time to stop being a one-person band and reinvent your business.
Indiana writer Gene Stowe has detailed the process of business reinvention in this article. I think he did a great job explaining how reinvention works, and how I learned the process of turning a business into a Destination. He also covers why becoming a Destination is the best choice for most small businesses.
To read the article, click here.
Handling Your Great, Good, and Bad Ideas: A 3-Step Process, Final Step #3
For the last couple of days, I’ve been taking you through the 3-step process of handling your overload of ideas.
Here is the third and final key in this process, and you must remember this most important point: 24 hours is never enough time for a creative thinker like you, with too many ideas.
As an owner, you already feel like you work all the time. You don’t, but if you did, it wouldn’t make things much better. Here’s why: As you get past the 8 hour mark, up into the 10, then the 12, and finally to the 16-hour mark of working, your productivity drops off, and you start being not so nice. People respond less well to someone with blood shot eyes who is screaming with too much caffeine in them. Working too much will also cause your family, your dog, and those who were helping you to quit responding. And let’s not forget those employees. They’ll still show up for that paycheck, but have you ever seen unresponsive and uncommitted? You will.
Think back a few days on my earlier blog post and remember how some of you had another person helping you, making it not just you, but you and someone else? When you work all the time that person will leave, call you names, and you will be stuck with only you. Just you and your caffeine, wide awake and alone. And your situation will not be improved. It will be just you, and you will still have too many ideas.
So here’s my advice. In your big pile of ideas that you’ve sifted through, look for ideas that will IMPACT SALES IN A HUGE WAY!
This is the key to handling too many ideas!
Sure, this seems logical, but there is power in putting this into practice.
You must learn to identify those great ideas that you can put into place, with your limited amount of time and sanity, which will significantly change your business for the better by increasing sales the most.
These ideas have to be the BIG ones. They will be the ones that change how you do business. They are ones that could reinvent your business into a different revenue-generating entity that spins off much more cash and pulls in many more customers.
You must use your good judgment, and look at the remaining ideas, and say: “If I put this into practice, how much will it move our overall sales number?” And if your answer is “A little” or “Not much”, put those ideas off to the side.
Let’s practice one idea together. You pick up an idea from your pile. It says “Hold another Open House”. Will this really impact your sales and possibly reinvent your business? You say No? Yes, you are right. This is not that BIG idea.
The best ideas will often create a disproportionately large increase in customers or immediate large sales for your business, or move your business forward with such momentum that the new sales might begin resembling an entirely new branch of your company.
Once you find these ideas, you must focus your limited energy, resources, spouse or partner, employees, and remaining team that doesn’t hate you, on these tasks, every day. In your day-to-day operations of your business, you must find time to implement incremental steps in these move-the-needle, BIG ideas.
Here’s another hint: You will find that ideas of this magnitude aren’t the ones that most of your peers at the tradeshows you’ve been attending have been repeating. If your peers really do have BIG ideas like these, they are quietly keeping them to themselves. I have found that the really BIG ideas won’t be found in your industry, but in an adjacent industry or a totally different industry and you will be able to apply the concept to your industry, where it will be brand new.
I have found this is one of the primary reasons that our Destination BootCamp works so well. It’s not just me teaching you, but it’s also what happens when you take smart, dissimilar, dissatisfied business owners, all motivated to change their businesses, and the process that happens when they come together for three days of strategic over-thinking. They exchange ideas under the 14-step framework of becoming a Destination Business and they begin to hear ideas that they’ve never heard before. And then it clicks. Light bulb! And as Einstein said, that’s a Eureka moment in the world of adult learning. Yea!
Summing up and moving on: There is only one you, and yes, you are like a snowflake, unique and one-of-a-kind, as your parents said. Unfortunately, your ideas and mode of operation have become stale and like everyone else in your industry. Then, there are too few hours in a day, and you have too many ideas. Working on too many ideas for too many hours and your business begins lacking the focus it needs.
The alternative to doing what you’ve always done is to find BIG ideas that will move your sales needle in a big way. Break down the BIG idea into smaller steps and plan the steps out month-by-month, week-by-week, on a calendar. Finally, work the plan with you, your partner, and your employees, and delegate to those who can help. Oh, yeah, and find mentors that have done this before.
Doing it alone feels right, but it’s not. It feels right to plow forward, work longer, and make it on your own. This is your inner entrepreneur on a misguided quest to right your course. Instead, you must step back and rethink your business strategy.
If you have more comments or questions, post them on this blog. Or, make your way to our Destination BootCamp next month on June 21-23, 2011 (www.DestinationBootCamp.com) and watch the Eureka moments find you.
Don’t Be a Shoveler
At our Destination Business BootCamp, one of my favorite chapters to teach is how entrepreneurs and owners must attain a balance as the leader of the business to maximize the potential of their business. Without a doubt, it’s the chapter where the owners in attendance do less talking and contributing than any point of the BootCamp, and I know why. During this chapter, I hammer home the point that owners must quit operating as Mom and Pop business proprietors and instead, must start running their businesses like a CEO would run their company.
What that means for most owners is that they must start passing off some of the simple, day-to-day tasks that often dominate their working hours, so they can start thinking about more strategic and substantial ways to grow their company.
This chapter is especially sobering because I think we all see ourselves in the worst-practices examples in time management that I show. You’ll notice that I say “we” because I can be as guilty anyone else in using my time unwisely.
One of the examples I reference during this chapter is the Steven Covey – Franklin Time Management system. It’s a fantastic workshop that will help any time-scattered owner, and one immediately learns that there are only 4 types of activities that one engages in. You are either being:
- Reactive to outside stimulus and taking action when you must respond to an issue you didn’t create.
- Proactive in handling your most important priorities of your company.
- Adding and contributing value to your company by the nature of the tasks you choose to do, or
- Contributing marginal value to your company by the tasks you do.
Then, I take examples of a typical business owner’s day to show one of each of these 4 activities.
When I come to the Reactive/Marginal-Value Tasks, the example I use is showing an owner who comes into his or her business, after it’s been snowing all night. The sidewalks are covered with snow. The owner grabs the shovel, heads outside, and starts clearing the snow off the sidewalk. Again, they are reacting to the snowfall on the sidewalk, so this is a Reactive task, but they, as the owner of the company, do the shoveling, rather than delegating this task to someone else. This gives it Marginal value. Marginal, reactive activities are the worst time wasters for business owners, and in this example, shoveling provides n value to the overall strengthening of their company.
Now, jump forward with me when I’m speaking on the phone to an owner who just attended the BootCamp. She mentions that she found this time management exercise extremely beneficial and enlightening. She starts recalling examples that I used during this chapter and mentions that this was a huge Eureka moment for her at the BootCamp.
“I’ve concluded,” she told me over the phone, “that being a CEO is hard.”
I agreed. Thinking like a CEO is much harder than just engaging in every single task that pops up in one’s business, I told her.
She went on to say:
“It’s easier to be the shoveler. I like shoveling. I like doing something and seeing an immediate result, like the snow going away. I like think-less jobs. It’s hard to be the CEO of your company. Being a CEO is NOT a think-less job.”
I like shoveling and doing think-less jobs! No one had ever put it that way. But she was right. Being a CEO is not easy. It involves planning for the growth of your business. This involves thinking and being creative, probably two of the most difficult aspects of running a business. Being a CEO means you have to decide what must happen now, and what steps must happen next. Strategic thinking about how you’re going to make your business a Destination is definitely an activity where thinking’s required.
But shoveling? That’s relatively easy, isn’t it? And when you are done, you can look at your completed work and say, “I did a fine job of shoveling.” We all get an immediate reward as we check another item off our list. No wonder so many of us engage in these reactive, marginal value tasks.
So the next time you are sitting down, evaluating what needs to be accomplished in your day, think of this owner, who admits that she prefers shoveling to thinking about how to grow her business. Are you the same way? Are the tasks on your list tasks that you should be handling? Or, are the tasks you’ve put on your list more of the “think-less” kind?
Focus on tasks that you absolutely MUST handle since no one else can! Growing your business takes being a CEO, regardless of the size of your business.
Want to learn more about proactively becoming a Destination business. Think about attending our next Destination BootCamp on March 15-17. Click here to learn more.
Free Webinar, February 2 and $200 Early-Bird BootCamp Registration Discount
Announcement #1: No-Cost Webinar, Wednesday, February 2
Once a year I do a free webinar to help businesses and that time is next week. Join me next Wednesday, February 2 for a no-cost one hour webinar. I will be conducting this webinar online at two separate times during the day, so more business owners have a chance to attend.
Webinar Title: “Jumpstart 2011: 12 New Ideas and Powerful Tools to Grow Sales and Eliminate Headaches in Your Independent Business.”
If you attend, here’s what you’ll learn:
- Four (4) key questions you must ask about your business if you want to have any chance on improving your business above your previous year’s sales. As the economy comes back, we think sales should inevitably get better, but wouldn’t you like your business to accelerate more quickly than the mass of post-recessionary businesses?
- One (1) key change you must make as an owner if you want to build your business into something that has value that you might actually be able to sell one day.
- Four (4) key technology tools (3 are free), that you must be using in 2011 to stay ahead of your competition and to simplify the running of your business.
- The simplest promotion that you can run during low traffic time periods that costs you nearly nothing, gives up minimal profit margin, but your customers will love it and think they are getting a ton!
- One (1) new behavior that you can immediately implement in any size community that will give you better ideas and help you come up with better decisions than you could ever do on your own.
- One (1) New Media marketing tool that can instantly raise your business website’s search engine rankings, and help you land free publicity at the same time, that most of your competitors never will have used.
Finally, I will cover all the new highlights that I’ve added to our 2011 Destination BootCamps, only held here in Colorado three times a year. Yes, there will be a short promotion message at the end of this webinar, but that’s the price you pay if you want all this other great information for free.
Add all these points up, and you get twelve tools, tactics, and tips that you’ll leave with after this webinar. It will take me no more than an hour to cover all this, and if I get done early, I’ll take your questions that you can submit during the webinar.
Again, that’s next week, Wednesday, February 2, and the two times you can watch are 6:00 a.m. and at 12:00 p.m. (noon) Mountain Time. Let me say this again! These times are in our Time Zone! Every year, we have a couple of people who log-in an hour or two late, and call us and ask if we’ll do the webinar again, just because they didn’t read the times correctly.
If you want to learn what I’ll be teaching on February 2, you must attend one of these webinars. These webinars will NOT be archived for later viewing.
Announcement #2: $200 Early-Bird Registration Discount
For the first time ever, we are offering an Early-Bird registration discount to our March 15-17 Destination BootCamp, which is only held in Longmont, Colorado. Register by February 14 for our March BootCamp and receive a $200 discount off your registration cost.
This is a one-time offer, only for our March 15-17 BootCamp class, and this early registration $200 off bonus is not applicable to our June or September classes. Those always fill up early. Our March BootCamp is traditionally our smallest class, and this is a way to reward you as one of my blog readers, especially if you have ever thought about attending our BootCamp.
You can only get this $200 off, discounted registration form by clicking here to download it. This form disappears after the February 14, the early registration deadline.
This offer is also only applicable to single, full-priced BootCamp registrations, and the $200 discount cannot be applied with any other discount, nor can it be applied to Community Reinvention Program registrations. If you have already registered for the March 15-17 BootCamp, we will be crediting your account with this $200 Early-Bird bonus.
If you have friends or business associates who might benefit from the webinar or our $200 off, Early-Bird Registration offer, please forward them this blog address.