How Will You Attract More Customers in 2015? It’s All in the Planning

Small business is not only the foundation of our economy, but the fuel that drives its future. From the growth and success of Small Business Saturday, to the rise in the number of organizations and events dedicated to empowering SMBs, there’s no doubt this market is on fire. And if there’s any question, you only have to look at the numbers: there are more than 28 million small businesses in the U.S. alone, and more and more are setting up shop each day.

Entrepreneurs’ Greatest Weakness

But don’t let all the hype fool you. Last month at the Los Angeles Small Business Expo I had the opportunity to talk to executives and entrepreneurs about the challenges they face. While most are confident in their ability to tackle issues such as cash flow, inventory management and even the complexities of healthcare, where they frequently fall short is in the area of planning. From decisions on how to finance growth, to knowing how to expand into new markets and address evolving industry trends – planning is often an entrepreneur’s greatest weakness. It’s no wonder poor planning tops the list of reasons businesses fail today.

How to Plan for Growth

As you map out your business goals for 2015, customer expansion should factor heavily into your growth plans. But as you plan for growth, don’t be vague – be precise. Use numbers and percentages. For example, how many new customers will it take for you to meet your revenue target? And in finding those customers, which specific markets will you tap into – and to what degree? Do the math, and then, most importantly, make yourself accountable.

Also, don’t let the day-to-day demands of your business get in the way of doing what it takes to chip away at meeting your goals. Set aside time each week or even each day to step away from the madness and move your business forward.

In addition, keep in mind — what you did this year may have worked, but how you grow your revenue in 2015 might require new thinking and new strategies. Finding your next generation of customers is never going to be easy, and now is the time to get started figuring out how you’ll get it done in 2015.

Fastest Path to Growth

Before any type of planning begins, what you need to know is that the days of cold calls, spam emails and one-size-fits-all marketing are gone. Data provides the fastest path to finding new customers today, and if your home-grown data isn’t cutting it, the good news is that reputable, reliable data acquisition services are alive and thriving. They’re helping SMBs and enterprises alike enter new markets and effectively reach the decision makers that matter in those markets, whether through email, social media expansion, direct mail, telemarketing or other channels.

And if you want to stay on track with your growth plan, you can align the business contacts data you acquire with the goals you’ve built. Need to reach senior level executives in a specific industry? No problem. Would you like to drill down further and perhaps identify only those firms in the Western U.S. that have launched in the past five years? You’ve got it.

Indeed, with verified, accurate information driving your marketing efforts, you’re no longer wasting time looking in the wrong places for customers. Instead, with the right service partner, you’ll be able to slice and dice the data you acquire so that you’re assured of reaching the best possible targets for your business – faster and more efficiently. The next step is to effectively communicate your unique value proposition (UVP), personalize your marketing messages, and of course, do everything in your power to deliver on your promises so that your existing customers keep coming back for more.

No matter what line of business you’re in, the bottom line is that planning holds the key to greatly increasing your chances of not only gaining new customers, but also achieving long-term success. So get working on that plan. It’s not too late to set your growth goals in motion for 2015.

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