The dirty little secret about Black-owned businesses

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by Vernard Alexander

“I am struggling to obtain new customers.”

“I might close my doors because of the lack of revenue.”

“I don’t know why the community isn’t supporting my business.”

Vernard-Alexander
VERNARD ALEXANDER

These are quotes that I’ve heard from local businesses recently. As a business owner and business coach, the lack of effort people put into marketing frustrates me.

What are you doing to attract and retain customers? This is an important question that MUST be answered. Your marketing plan is a vital part of your business plan. It should be evaluated at least every month or quarter.

A lot of businesses rely on word of mouth. This has always been a good resource to spread the word. However, in this day and age of information technology, businesses need to spread the word immediately. What are you doing to get people in the doors?

Social media has taken marketing to another level. Major “Fortune 500” companies post Black Friday specials using their Twitter and Facebook pages. Do you utilize LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to market your business? It’s a powerful free tool to use to connect with many people with the click of a button. How many followers do you have? How often are you updating your content? When is the best time of day to post information? Are you using HootSuite to manage your social media pages? If you’re NOT posting at least ONE message per week or have less than 1000 fans/followers you really need to analyze why and how you’re using your social media.

In my opinion, businesses need to incorporate a combination of word of mouth, social media and traditional advertising. You CAN’T assume that customers know your DOORS are OPEN! Just because you have a sign outside, the DOOR IS NOT enough. Product Development/Services Rendered is priority # 1 A and Marketing/Advertising is priority # 1 B.

“I am struggling to obtain new customers.” What are you doing to retain current customers? How much MONEY are you spending to get people in the doors? You MUST spend money to MAKE money!

“I might close my doors because of the lack of revenue.” Is that the customer’s fault or your fault? What type of market research did you do before opening your business? How many people walk past your business every day? How many people within a five-mile radius know you’re in business?

“I don’t know why the community isn’t supporting my business.” What have you done for the community? Does the community know you exist? What advertising/marketing have you done within the community? If you’re NOT committed to spending money to target customers, your doors will be soon closed!

Are you utilizing multiple sources to attract customers? Have you checked with the local radio stations for advertising rates? Have you advertised with marketing businesses that have proven success with email blast? How successful is your social media campaign? Have you advertised with the neighborhood weekly news publication?

If you have NO BUDGET for marketing, your BUSINESS will become a HOBBY in less than a year! Over 90 percent of start-up businesses close within the 1st year of operation.

(Vernard Alexander is president and chief operating officer of the Minority Networking Exchange Inc., an organization that helps small and minority businesses and non-profits with development, structure marketing and networking. Visit http://minnetexch.com for more details or TEXT MNEX to 77950 to download the free app to your smart phone.)

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