Archive for the ‘Inspired thinking’ Category

New Opportunities in the Organic Market

Australian Organic Market Report 2008Ever get the impression there are a lot more organic choices around these days?

The Biological Farming Association have recently released a report suggesting that the growth in demand for organic food is nothing short of explosive.

Research from the University of New England has shown that organic farm gate sales have grown by over 80% in the last 4 years. That is during one of the worst droughts on record in Australia.

That is a clue for small business – consumers increasingly want organic choices.

Surprisingly, Australia has more certified organic farmland than any other country in the world, with nearly 12 million hectares (mostly used for grazing). Cottage industry?

There are more than 500 organic fresh and grocery lines carried by major retailers, and the number of certified organic operators has increased by more than 5% on average for the last 5 years.

Do you have an opportunity to help satisfy the growing demand for organic products?

Don’t boil the ocean

Boil The OceanIts such an exciting time to be a small business! We can do big things, on a budget that would have been laughable not that long ago.

If you aren’t already reading Seth Godin’s blog, well, you should be, you’ll find lots of inspiring ideas about marketing your small business. Seth’s writing is masterful and concise. His most recent post One, a few, most or all provides a brilliant framework to look at a small business marketing strategy.

When I read Seth’s post, it made me think of the saying “Don’t Boil The Ocean”. Its a bit of a cliche, but so often marketing efforts can get lost by attempting to do too much. Thinking about your market in terms of one-few-most-all helps you get clear what you are after.

As a small business, what would happen if you focussed your efforts on the ONE or the FEW customers?

ONE: You’re a needle, the market is a haystack … A FEW: Being exceptional matters most. Stand out, don’t fit in. Shun the non-believers.

Lets leave it to the bigger (richer) companies to focus on the ideas that need the ‘most’ and ‘all’ markets. They can try and boil the ocean. We don’t need to. A small business focussed on the one or the few is in a powerful position.

The value of a blog for your business

One of the blogs I find most valuable is Brian Clark’s Copyblogger. His most recent post on The Real Secret to Getting Tons of Blog Subscribers might cause small business owners some dismay – after all, how can a busy small business owner hope to do what Brian does?

Some bloggers build a large audience. Reading their blog is like reading a great magazine or newspaper column – just in a different medium. Their opportunity is to build a new audience that competes with newspapers, magazines and other media for readership.

As a small business owner your opportunity is distinctly different. What you should be considering isn’t audience size, but audience quality.

For a traditional publisher, building a large readership means more revenue in the form of advertising or subscription fees. A blogger who is aiming for revenue from advertising is in the same boat, a large audience means more money. So getting tons of subscribers really matters to them.

But a small business isn’t a traditional publisher. The value of attention can be far greater than just advertising revenue. We have clients who blog for attention – and when they get that attention, it might lead to:

  • a new client worth many thousands of dollars (we have a client who measures customer value in the tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars).
  • a new influencer who can indirectly lead to many new customers.

You don’t need a massive audience for blogging to be worthwhile. Getting the attention of a niche audience can be extremely valuable, but not if you think in terms of advertising revenue.

Here is an exercise for you. Visualise your ideal prospective clients and your ideal influencers (the people who can send lots of small customers your way).

Now imagine your top 100 prospects and influencers worldwide. That’s right, the top 100 prospects or influencers for your business around the world. If you run a business that relies only on local (geographical) customers, this may be a very short list. But for most businesses, that isn’t the case.

How much is it worth to you if you could be remarkable to your top 100 prospects or influencers? Guess what, blogs give you the ability to open up a conversation with them. Its not easy, but possible. You need remarkable content, and to learn how to reach people using it. 5 years ago it wasn’t possible, but blogs have changed the rules in favour of small business. Now its viable for a small business to become a publisher of niche content. And usually for less than it costs to run advertising that could well be ineffective (and definitely not remarkable).

I’ll give you an example from one of our small business clients. Paul and Jenny are expert in making artificial eyes. That is pretty obscure for many people. But if you (or one of your family) was to lose an eye because of an accident or cancer, all of a sudden you would learn about what an Ocularist does. Paul and Jenny have been using their blog to talk to people interested in artificial eyes. People from all over the world now get in touch with them. They run clinics outside Australia, in Asia and the Middle East, and they are busier than they have ever been. And you know what? They had a web site for years that didn’t have much influence on their business at all. So what changed? They became remarkable, because they started talking about what they knew. People who are dealing with eye loss find their content remarkable. They don’t have an audience remotely like the A list bloggers. But blogging has transformed their small business.

So, think about the value of a blog for you. What could it mean for your business? Do you know things that a niche audience will find interesting? Could that lead to new sources of revenue for your business?

Read Brian’s post to refresh yourself on the importance of being remarkable. Finding a niche audience can be a great way to build your business.

What is so special about small business blogs?

Small businesses have special reasons to consider blogging. A business blog is a special tool for small business in particular – is it relevant for yours?

Something very significant happened with the Internet.  Businesses can only sell to customers in their addressable market.  Usually, this is a geographic distance from your outlet, and expansion means branch offices, distribution centres, franchises – whatever it takes to get your product or service in front of your customer.  Trouble is, our customers aren’t necessarily evenly spread (so surf stores are in range of a beach, in other words, near where their customers are).  The range of products and services that could be profitably carried depended on having enough customers within your addressable market. You don’t see surf stores in Alice Springs, and you don’t see book stores that sell just Noddy books.

The Internet really changed things for small business. A lot of the change is to do with the size of market that can now be addressed.  Small business has the opportunity to choose its audience – the more specific, niche and high value the better.

Interest in blogging is rapidly growing, and in all the rush its possible people aren’t tuning into the extraordinary opportunity that business blogging represents for many small businesses. Why is it an opportunity?  Well, Business Week describe why  it in Blogs Will Change Your Business.

You have an amazing advantage. Seth Godin makes the case that small is the new big so well that I suggest you read it right now.

A blog is a way to establish a conversation with your audience. Five years ago, even though the Internet let you establish a ‘global’ presence, acquiring a customer base was tough. Blogging has changed the game – cost is no longer the barrier to entry, content is.

So, you need to find out about business blogging. If you have a small business with a product or service that is of interest to a market outside your own geographic area (and you can see a way to sell your product / service to them), then you will be amazed at what you find.

Two essential qualities for every entrepreneur

Frog“It must have taken a brave person to discover that frogs’ legs are edible.”

I came across this recently and thought – yeh and what about snails, and witchetty grubs? Bravery probably wouldn’t be enough. You’d need to be pretty hungry too.

In fact when you think about it, any new business enterprise takes these two qualities – bravery and hunger. Without these, success may well remain just out of reach.

You don’t literally need to be hungry (although you may be at first!), but you need a hunger for something, whether it be seeing your ideas come to fruition, fulfilling a need, reaching your potential, or success itself – whatever that means to you.

And bravery will see you through the doubts, the dips in confidence, criticism from the unenlightened – all those (and there will be those) who say ‘it can’t be done’.

Of course there are other qualities you need – but these two apply to every entrepreneur in every walk of life. And you need them right from the start. Others can be learned or acquired – persistence, pragmatism, confidence. And you can bring other skill sets into your enterprise as you grow.

But bravery and hunger must be yours from the word go.

Without them, frogs’ legs would still be attached to frogs, we’d still be communicating by snail mail, and no one would have heard of iTunes or, or dreamed of flying into space or diving to the oceanbed.

Are you hungry? brave?

Thank you – the world would be a dreary place without you!

An Australian online business operating in 14 countries

I read a great review of World Wide Salon Marketing in My Business Magazine this month. It’s a perfect example of a long tail services business addressing beauty salons, day spas and hair salons. From their base in Perth they now have clients in fourteen countries. They help businesses market themselves by sharing marketing ideas.

As well as boasting a seven figure turnover this company is operating with a staff of six. Another online success story. Have a read of their website – they have a range of long copy sales letters, supported by information about how the business works in their About page. This is an inspiring example of what a small business can do online.

How to teach others and create a kick ass business while you are at it

If you like the combination of doing AND teaching, you’ll love hearing that Kicking Ass is More Fun.

What Kathy Sierra (one of the wonderful Creating Passionate Users team) is describing is a great way of thinking about our own businesses. Can we extend what we do to educate others? This hones our own skills, and creates a strong positive feedback loop.

I came across this post thanks to Lorelle VanFossen, herself a fount of inspiration if you are in the business of blogging with WordPress.