News From Terre Haute, Indiana

April 21, 2013

Business Cents: Keeping up with change

Heather Penney
Special to the Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — A habit is defined as something we do out of repetition without thinking about it. You get in your car and drive to work every day — this is a habit.

Have you ever gotten in your car and started driving to a specific destination and then, without thinking, ended up at your office, the grocery store or something along those lines? This occurred because we all have habits. As a business owner, we are creatures of habit and typically don’t like change. But guess what? The world around us keeps on changing and a company must keep up with customer demands in order to remain in business.

Now this is not “Field of Dreams,” in which “if you build it, they will come” is the philosophy. Customers must be told what you are doing as a business and how it will positively impact them. For example, if you are a radio station and trying to sell commercials, your customer most likely is not concerned with how much wattage the station has but rather how many people listen to the station at a specific time of the day. If you are selling automotive accessories, why are your accessories better for vehicles than your competition’s? Once you share what you are going to do, then you actually have to do it. Too often, society has a way of over-promising and under-delivering. Reverse that, over-deliver and under-promise – it is a great way to build a positive customer experience.

The old saying, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” still holds true. If you consider your own lifestyle and how many marketing messages make an impression on you daily, then as a business owner it is imperative to diversify your marketing mix. Think about it this way, when you wake up in the morning, whether it is your alarm clock or your phone’s alarm, that device is a marketing tool. You turn your Sony television on for the morning news, prepare your Folgers coffee, take a shower with your Dove body wash, and the list goes on. Those are just marketing impressions before you leave the house. The average person experiences more than 3,000 impressions daily. If you only use one method to market your business, you will miss the opportunity to grow revenue and grow your customer base.

 To continue changing, you need a team of people around you. The team should be composed of employees, friends, family, maybe local college students and/or marketing professionals. This group of people can help you brainstorm ideas, as well as roll them out. As a business owner, you must understand your audience and whether or not anything has changed about them. In addition, have a balanced team, especially in regard to age, since each generation brings strengths to the table. By having such a team around you, you will not only be able to roll out new ideas but determine their impact, assess results and make any necessary adjustments.

Heather (Penney) Strohm is the regional director for Indiana State University’s Indiana Small Business Development Center.