1. Know Your Ideal Customer Entrepreneurs should know who their “ideal” customers are. One of the biggest mistakes business owners make, according to Assaraf, is that they think that everybody is their customer, and that is not the case. In fact, there are very specific psychographic or demographic profiles that every business owner has, depending on the products or services, price points and what differentiates those products or services. One of Assaraf’s clients, Bill Church, used to wash dishes and walk dogs for $10 an hour. In the last two years, he has transformed his business and will probably earn $500,000 this year, according to Assaraf. Church identified people who he wanted to work with as professionals, earning more than $100,000 a year that could afford to pay him more than $10 an hour for dog-walking, kennel and other related services that he provides. Assaraf says that Church identified potential clients as not only dog owners, but people who love their dogs and want the best for their furry friends, which includes turning to outside help to ensure that quality care. “He is building a phenomenal business around dog walking,” he says.
2. Understand Your Buyer Assaraf teaches clients to understand that every buyer has a different buyer decision-making process. For example, somebody who is highly left-brain analytical will want lots of facts and figures. And if they happen to be highly analytical and structural, they’ll want facts and figures in the right order. Somebody who is right-brained wants all the concepts and is not interested in all the facts and figures. The business owner’s marketing and communications should be built around the understanding that people have different ways of making buying decisions and people have different ways of finding information. “Somebody who is right-brained and more social is going to ask their friends who they use. Somebody who is left-brained is going to want all the facts and figures. So, not only do you need to know where people are looking for information (so you can put your message in their path…) but you also have to understand how to communicate with them in a way that they want it communicated,” Assaraf says. “Every business is going to have a combination of both [right- and left-brained clients]. So, the marketing messages have got to address the different types of people that need your product or service.”
3. Tell Your World One of the biggest mistakes business owners make is that they don’t understand how to communicate their messages effectively to their potential clients, according to Assaraf. Promoting your message is a function of marketing and communication. Regardless of the marketing vehicle you use (direct mail, Internet, television, etc.), Assaraf says that the focus of your message should be on communicating the benefits—not the features—of your products or services. “People don’t buy features; they buy benefits,” he says. “I would say that 90 percent of business owners talk about the features of their products or services and not enough about the benefits of using their products or services. For example, let’s say you offer whiter, brighter teeth. People don’t want whiter, brighter teeth; they want a smile that’s going to be appealing to other people. They want the self-confidence and certainty that when they smile, their teeth look great.”
4. Know Your Strengths According to Assaraf, there are three ways to grow a business: Do it yourself. Get help doing it. Get it done for you. You choose the right road by understanding what you are good at doing and what is better left to others. “One of the things that we teach and I live by is to hire people who play at things you have to work at,” he says. “The most expensive part of any business is the growth or learning curve. And for some reason we’re stuck on trying to do it ourselves. I can tell you that one of my claims to fame is always getting help in areas that I have no clue about. People think that because they’ve been successful in corporate America that they’ll be successful at business, but those are two different disciplines.” Marketing, for example, is very specific—not something you do haphazardly. You choose specific channels, or media, to promote your product or service. “So, one of the keys is that you have got to get the specialized knowledge that gets you out of the arena of guessing and into the arena of knowing,” Assaraf says.
5. Get a Jump on Social Media Right now, Assaraf says that the hottest, newest and best marketing strategies are around social media. For the new business owner, that means learning how to use Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and more. Why so much fuss about social media? “I could have my own TV station if I want to on the Internet. Right now, I could send a message to individuals around the world through YouTube. I could create a video and say that product that I bought from XYZ company absolutely sucks. And people pick up on that. If I have a great message and know how to tag it properly on YouTube, when somebody types in that company name and all of the sudden my negative or positive message comes up, I’ve started to create a viral effect,” he says. Social media puts the consumer in control of the buying, decision-making process. People are no longer going to the phone book advertising, but, instead, they go to the Internet, where they can find an enormous amount of information on just about anything. Social media also offers those marketing an opportunity to create low- or no-cost messages, with words, videos or audios, that people can access quickly. Marketing on the Internet, Assaraf says, is all about building relationships of trust. “So, you have to understand how best to use the Internet. What should your website do? How do you capture somebody to at least start the relationship process? [People are saying:] I don’t want to be sold but I want to be helped,” he says.
6. Dream the Client Experience Think about your client’s experience before you ever have any clients, according to Assaraf. The experience is the feeling that people get when they do business with you. Assaraf says that entrepreneurs should first map out the experience—from the time the potential client starts his search for your product or service to when he contacts you. “Think about that experience; then, promote the experience,” he says. Assaraf uses the example of a man in New York City who has a bratwurst stand. “He has a blog and every day he writes and gives recipes and tells people ‘this is the corner that I’ll be on today and I only have 100 bratwursts.’ People are lined up every day on that corner in NYC,” he says. “If you think about it, all human beings have likes and dislikes—things that interest them. If you can provide them with information about cleaning their teeth, about bratwurst, about knitting, about painting, horticulture… if you become the thought leader… you’re going to find people who want to follow you. If they follow you, they’ll build trust in you. If they build trust in you, then they’re going to take your recommendation and buy your services or those services that you promote.”
Journalist, podcaster and southpaw Shelby Skrhak is the former director of digital content and social media for SUCCESS.com. Before joining SUCCESS magazine, Shelby launched the weekly suburban newspaper Plano Insider, and covered topics ranging from cops and courts to transportation and fashion. Her handwriting should be a font.