2012-12-13 / Columns

Keep Doing It: Advice for Growing Your Business

‘Messages Must Be in the Correct Order’
By Jim Plouffe

I was lucky enough to be asked to present some of my thoughts and ideas on business management to the MBA students and the undergraduate students at the University of Colorado last week.

I only had an hour with each group. Although an hour may seem like a long speech to make, for me it is a challenge to stay under an hour. I always love these requests when they come in. The person says something like this, “Can you come in and give a presentation on the one or two most important things you did in your business that made it a success?”

Almost everyone is still under the impression that if they just knew the one or two secrets of business, it would be easy. I always am tempted to answer these requests sarcastically with something like spend less than your profits, take action, or find a unique opportunity. But my sarcasm is not what they need or why they called.

This is what I told the students. The statistics haven’t changed in more than 55 years. They are: 1% of the people are really, really, really, really, really rich because of their investments or businesses. Another 4% of the population does almost as well, for the same reasons. Then there are the next 15% that have made enough of the right choices about saving and spending money that they can take care of themselves. Then there’s 60% of the population that make up the middle class. More than likely, this 60% is split equally, at 20% each, among the upper, middle, and lower middle class. That leaves 20% of the population that lives from paycheck to paycheck or that needs some type of assistance. Each of these groups make up a marketplace and some of the needs of the top 20% are exactly the same as the last 20%.

Pleaes don’t miss understand what I am saying here. I am not saying that anyone is stuck in the group they find themselves in. Nor am I saying that anyone is entitled to stay in the group they were born in. There are plenty of riches to rags and rags to riches stories out there. Fortunes and prosperity change hands continually, and the total amount of wealth increases each time something of value is created. What I am saying is, although the number of people in each of these groups have been increasing because of population growth. the statistics, the percentages, have remained the same for the last 55 years. Because of that, they are likely to remain the same for the next 55 years.

Knowing which of these groups is the primary customer of your business is important when it comes to deciding on how you are going to position your business, create marketing messages, and pricing. Knowing who you’re not marketing or selling to is just as important. Then you must understand that you are not going to be able to sell your product or service to everyone in your target market. You are still selling to a small percentage or number of the available prospects in the group you are targeting.

That was a small part of my message to the students that I think you might be able to use, too.

Jim Plouffe is a management and marketing expert, author and the owner of several small businesses. He works one on one with business owners to help them succeed. If you would like to share your business insights, e-mail JimPlouffe1952@yahoo.com. We can all learn from each other’s experiences.

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