At Crossroads Communications, LLC (the “official” name of my business, although you probably found me by searching my name; it’s just the way the Google search bounces) we essentially are a message company. We discover the stories of our clients and share them, whether through PR, marketing, advertising, social media, content-creation on blogs, videos, etc. The tools are less important than the focus on the messages. Before we can find and authentically help brands, businesses, and places tell their story, we have to really, and I mean really, get to know them. You can’t effectively market what you don’t understand.
I use a set of questions to help get that process started. They’ve evolved over the past several years, but not as much as some might think… because they are focused on the business goals and objectives rather than the tactics. I hear often that just going through the process of defining the business and its profit centers, challenges, goals and marketplace in the way that we do is valuable to business owners. I also hear that answering the questions we ask is hard work. Until we have a solid idea of where your business IS, why that’s true, and WHERE you want to go… how will we all agree we’ve reached “there?”
While I won’t share the whole set of questions here (I do have to feed my family, after all), I am going to share a few of them with you, and then share some additional thoughts in upcoming blog posts. I hope they’ll be valuable conversation starters for you and your business supporters, partners, or even that little voice in your head who pushes back whenever you want to go try something new.
Defining the Business
- List the top three (by volume of dollars sold) revenue producing services or products you’ve sold in the past year?
- List the top 3 (by profit per sale) types of money generating products or services you’ve sold in the past year? Please consider your time investment, hard and soft costs when thinking about your most profitable activities.
- Using 100% as a base, what percentage of your total gross revenue did each of your top PROFIT-GENERATING activities contribute to the total? For instance, if your top three profit-generating activities were Book Sales, Speaking and Coaching, what percentage of your total gross revenue came from each of them? It might look something like this:
- Book Sales – 20%; Speaking – 30%; Coaching – 30% (all other activities = 20%) Often, much of our gross revenue comes from activities that are not the most profitable… meaning we work harder for our money
- What is the biggest obstacle, in your opinion, to purchasing one of your top profit-generating services for most of your potential customers? When you hear “No…” what is the “why?”
- How much time must you typically invest face to face and behind the scenes to close a sale? Please list face to face separately from behind the scenes. How much of this time is spent explaining what you do, the benefits of using you or of having the service, and generally in educating your prospects?
- Thinking about the future, what would you like to be different about your business in one year? In three years? What kinds of clients do you want to be serving? What services do you want to sell them?
- Considering your profit-generating activities of today, what do you see changing, growing, fading over the next 1 to 3 years in those activities? Do you see an increasing demand for what currently drives your profit or a declining demand? Why?
- If the demand for today’s profit-driving activities may decline or remain flat, what other activities or products are within or adjacent to your current expertise and offerings which might be increasing in demand over the next 3 years?
Did anything above make you stop and think for a minute about your business? How do you keep your business “on-track”?