Back in the 1800’s, there used to be a ton of buffalo that spent their days grazing on the plains.
The entrepreneurs of those days saw that and recognized an opportunity. They created a business of loading people on trains, similar to what you would think of with an African safari, and they would bring people to see the buffalo.
Now, to up the ante, the people on the train would take turns shooting the buffalo out the window. (I know, I don’t like it either, but just hang with the story for a minute…) But the buffalo weren’t the smartest creatures.
They would watch their friend fall to the ground, right next to them, they would just look down at their fallen friend like “Oh, wonder what happened to him?” and they just kept right on eating. They didn’t move. They didn’t change. They didn’t think twice that they might be in danger.
Same thing happened to the carriage makers when the automobile was invented. Same thing happened to the radio when television debuted. And with television when Youtube debuted. And with music when streaming debuted. And blockbuster when Netflix debuted.
It’s happened over and over in every industry. The current giant (the buffalo) sees the signs of danger, but when they’re getting shot at, they just casually look over and say “Oh, geez, what happened to him?” and keep doing the same thing. They don’t change. They don’t move. And they die.
I see this happening today. With the current and unexpected crisis caused by the pandemic, many businesses are unable to go into their physical locations. They quickly realized they were metaphorical buffalo being shot at.
Restaurants had no email lists and no way to keep in touch with their customers. Some had no websites for online ordering, much less apps to make the client experience a breeze.
Brick and mortar stores realized they had no alternative ways to make income without people shopping in stores. They needed to set up e-commerce shops or create offers so they could offer new ways for their clients to be helped in a new economy.
Gyms struggled with how to transition from in person to online classes. Same with schools, hospitals, and healthcare. And on and on.
In today’s economy, the need, no the requirement, to have a strong brand online has never been more important. If you don’t have one, you are probably looking around at the others around you saying “hmm, wonder what happened to Bob?”. If you’ve only had a brick and mortar business, the transition to online is going to be a lot. There are a lot of moving pieces and the barrier to entry to try to learn everything, especially when your back is up against the wall, is going to be steep.
At the bare minimum, you need these three items for every single business (both online and off):
Your website is your digital calling card. It is a place for you to grow your brand, explore your voice, attract new clients, and connect with your customers. It’s a fact that absolutely boggles my mind, but less than two thirds of businesses have a website. But over 93% of transactions in 2020, started on a search engine.
What do you think happens when your business isn’t online, but your competitor’s business is, and Grandma Sue is searching for something to buy for her grandson’s birthday? YOU DON”T GET THAT BUSINESS.
Even if you hate online shopping and you detest social media, your customer’s don’t. And they are looking for your product or service online 24/7. In fact, at any given moment, 84% of people are shopping for something online.
Second problem is, that you may have a website, but it may be sending customers the wrong message. You are an expert at what you do and have been in business for years, but if your website and messaging just doesn’t reflect your credibility, you are losing business. Unfortunately, customers only give you about .05 seconds to determine if your website looks credible and your brand looks like something they align with.
2. An Audience
Alright, now you’ve got a beautiful, new website that shows off your offers and connects with your customers. Ah, the customers. We have to get customers….
Unfortunately, just having a website, a Facebook page, a Youtube channel, an email list, or any other tool will not alone get you more customers. You have to find a way to get in front of them, connect with them, and create a way to stay in touch via these awesome tools. So you need the tools before you try to find the customers.
So how do we do that? I like to use the analogy of movie premiers. Let’s look at the process for how studios create desire and demand for movies so they can create an audience to come see their film.
The Prep: The executive producer secures the movie. He gets the script written, finds investors, finds talent, schmoozes the stars, and gets the ball rolling. Without the executive producer, nothing would get done. (You are the executive producer in this analogy).
The Movie: The crew and the actors work hard to create a beautiful and meaningful movie. They create this well in advance of the audience, the stardom, or the fame. The work in the quiet for the day that their work will be shown to millions. (Your content is the “movie”. You need to give people multiple ways to interact with you, to get to know you, to understand your process, and to connect. Without content, your audience shows up to an empty newspaper and a fuzzy screen with no movie.)
The Anticipation: Before the movie is released, there is going to be a massive press circuit. Not only will the stars tour all the biggest talk shows, podcasts, and network late night TV, but they will create teasers and trailers and start showing those everywhere. The first time you hear about a movie is NEVER when you’re standing in line for the movie. You’ve heard about it for months and you’re excited about it. (Your marketing and advertising is the anticipation here. This is an area where most businesses seriously struggle because they lack a clear and understandable message and don’t know how to create a buzz around something confusing. Brand strategy and messaging is the key to preventing this issue and must come BEFORE you consider marketing and advertising. You better bet your bottom dollar that the production company has spent hundreds of thousands on creating a strategy, a clear message, beautiful posters, movie covers, and advertisements to create a brand for each and every movie. You need the same.)
The Launch: Opening day is here and the movie theatre is packed every night for weeks. This launch started way back during the prep stage, the part we couldn’t see. The production company has spent tons of time and money to build up the desire and to create an audience for their movie. (Your launch could be a physical store opening, a website rebrand, a digital course, a coaching program, or pretty much anything. To have a successful opening day, the work begins long before and is strategically planned so that you can launch to an audience who are excited to buy!)
3. A Process
Alright, you’ve got a gorgeous website and hundreds of new customers, but what do we do now? You need a repeatable process. One of the things I help clients with is creating a branded on-boarding process, email flows, and brochures to wow your clients and take a ton of burden off of you. (Please tell me you’re not still sending individual PDFs for each client?)
Having a great process involves creating an irresistible offer, a clear scope of work, automated or semi-automated workflows, and analytics that keep an eye on everything.
If it would be hard for you to take on 10 new clients RIGHT NOW or to hand off your work to someone else, you absolutely, positively, desperately need a process. Creating a process will not only free up your time, but it also makes your business more attractive if you want to sell down the road.
Okay, so we just covered the three things your business absolutely has to have so you don’t become a buffalo in 2020. What did you find to be the most eye-opening? Is there something you’d like me to explore more in the next blog? Let me know in the comments!
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