The most important thing to know

Posted by on Nov 23, 2016

Before embarking on anything – an activity, a journey or a project, there’s one thing above all else you need to know. We explore what it is.


Part of my work is running personal development workshops for individuals and companies and helping people rediscover the magic that was once there and now seems to be stuck. I say “seems” because most of the time it’s about perceptions. Yes, that cliché about the glass being full or empty. Once we change our perception amazing things can happen. As I was thinking about this week’s post I was reminded about a question I sometimes ask in my workshops: “If I am travelling to Durban what’s the first thing I need to know?”

What’s your take on it? What do you think? Some of the answers I have heard include: cost, duration, mode of transport and fuel. Typically these answers make an assumption based on location. The most important thing to know is, “Where am I?”. It’s essential, even imperative to know where you are before you can move. Traveling to Durban from either Cape Town or Pretoria or even London will be a very different journey.

The same could be said of your business. Do you know where your business is? In 2016 the National Small Business Chamber of South Africa conducted a survey of nearly eighteen thousand small businesses across the country. The survey identified 5 key areas in which business owners required the most assistance. In ascending order these are:

  1. Social media, HR and legal – 3%
  2. IT and technology – 5%
  3. Financial management – 13%
  4. Business and strategic planning – 26%
  5. Sales and marketing – 43%

Source: National Small Business Chamber of South Africa

If “sales and marketing” is where your business is right now, read on. I’ve got a few ideas to share which will positively impact what you’re doing. If your business isn’t in need of more sales or marketing – who am I kidding?! Don’t we all want more sales?

Who is your target market

Be specific. “All men with beards” is not a target market! Besides if all the bearded men in the world came knocking, could you cope with the demand? Probably not! Be clear and precise about who you are targeting and only then go after them.

Be goal oriented

Putting your effort into something that doesn’t directly bring in new business is a waste of time, not to mention money. Jay Abraham, an amazing marketing strategist and executive coach, says you need to know the cost of acquiring a customer and the lifetime value of the customer. If you can answer this, then you can better understand what your goals are in terms of money invested in getting that customer.

All too often we look at the short term investment of, say, R100 to acquire the customer and compare this to an initial purchase of R50 and we walk away from the business. We need to take the longer view and observe how the customer is spending R50 a month for a year. Is the initial R100 investment worth it now? For sure!

Appearance and branding

Like many of the points in this post, this could be a whole section on its own. Here are a few considerations. What outward face are you presenting to the world? Do you have a website? When did you last update the look? When did you last update the content? Does it look like a relic from the 90’s or is it current? What domain name is your email address promoting, yours or your service provider? What about your email signature does it contain your logo? Talking of which, does your logo show off your company in an appropriate way? By the way, if any of these ring true for you and you would like some help and advice with any of them, please message me – I’d love the opportunity to work with you.

Business networking

My mantra for Imbizo Networking is: “show up, engage and interact”. Imbizos are held twice a month. Attend at least one. Remember you are building long term, sustainable, relationships.

Attend other networking forums, business breakfasts, power seminars if need be. Do whatever it takes to build the relationship. But remember to first work out if the cost of the event is worth your investment!

Your customers don’t care about you

A lot of marketing is about you:

  • I can do this;
  • I can do that;
  • Our awesome services;
  • We deliver the best;

Frankly it’s all rubbish. Does your customer get anything out of it? Does your customer benefit from the information you are currently putting out? Does your customer know what to do next, after seeing your marketing material?

You will be destined for the bin – real and virtual – along with every other poorly composed marketing message unless you clearly frame how you can help your customer.

Your job is two-fold. You need to understand what your customer is trying to do and then you need to help them do it in the best way possible. Harvard Business School marketing professor Theodore Levitt said it best, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!” Your customers are buying your service or product to solve a problem – their problem.

Putting it all together

Have you ever noticed how, when you are not ready to buy something, it doesn’t matter how much advertising you see; nor does it matter how many sales calls you get, you find a way to resist what is being offered. But when you need to buy something, there’s not much that gets in the way of you fulfilling that need.

Your customers care about themselves, not you. They have things to do, places to go and, like I’ve said, problems of their own to solve. If you can help them, they will gladly buy from you.

The thing to remember is this: customers “engage and buy” when they are ready. The trick is to make sure you stay at the fore front of their minds with your marketing efforts. Look at what you are doing and how you are doing it, try a few of these ideas and notice how much of an improvement they make.

Matthew Green

About Matthew Green

Matthew is an educator, entrepreneur and speaker. His organisation, 3 Words, is a creative collective offering website design, graphic design, training, photography, mental and emotional well-being and writing. Matthew is passionate about supporting and enabling others and in addition to co-owning Imbizo Networking, a successful small business networking forum, he also runs Green Mountain, an organisation which supports social change through creativity. Contact Matthew –

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