Many marketers (like John) begin their careers as “creatives.” Folks who focus on the “big picture,” and have no appetite for something as dull as operations. Sounds like it involves spreadsheets, and we’re not into that.
On the obverse, operations people (like Victoria) just don’t get how creatives function without structure. Talk about having your head in the clouds.
The reality is this: building a successful business means surrounding yourself with people of diverse skill sets. You need the dreamers to come up with marketing content and strategies, and you need the structurally-minded to make running your business possible. You can write brilliant campaigns all day long, but if you don’t have sustainable systems in place, your business won’t last. We need each other to succeed!
With that in mind, here are a few business operations tips with an added marketing spin!
The single most dull thing ever – insurance.
If you have a business, you’re likely to have insurance, which no creative-minded marketing person really wants to talk about, unless their client is an insurance company. Too bad. Insurance is important. You should periodically review your coverage. Do you have business interruption coverage? How about errors and omissions, or general umbrella liability? These measures can make all the difference in protecting your business.
Having insurance can also help you grow your business. If you’re in an industry where your competition can be described as “Chuck in a truck” — i.e., sub-par and probably unlicensed — being insured can be a differentiator that gives your clients peace of mind.
If you don’t have the internal resources to confidently manage your insurance needs, hire a broker! At Audacity, we believe that we’re great marketers, and the intricacies of insurance make our heads spin. That’s why we have found a trusted insurance broker to help us ensure that we’re covered appropriately for the right issues.
Optimize cash flow and revenue.
According to SCORE, the number one reason small businesses fail is because of two four-letter words: cash flow. If you don’t have a system in place to manage your cash flow, it doesn’t matter how brilliant your ideas are, you won’t have the money to run your business.
How do you manage cash flow? When in doubt, consider the classic 4 P’s of marketing:
- Price – are you priced right? The basic math of covering all your variable costs plus a portion of your fixed costs has to be there. You also have to consider your target market. Are you a discounter, differentiated, or luxury? A peek at Bowman’s strategy clock can be of service here.
- Product – do you have the right product mix? Has your target market been asking for something you don’t currently offer? Are there product extensions you should consider? Will these enhancements improve cash flow, revenue, and client retention? Periodic review of your offerings should be the norm.
- Promotion – how are you promoting products? Are you getting the ROI out of your marketing efforts? Maybe it’s time to change marketing agencies? (Hint, hint)
- Place – how you get products to customers can be a cash flow or revenue enhancement. Could you offer a subscription model to smooth out customer payments while enhancing your cash flow? If you offer physical goods, could you deliver them for additional fees? If you already offer delivery, have you considered a pickup option? Digital services delivery might also be an option. If you can make it asynchronous, even better for you and your cash flow.
Review your tech stack.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Who hasn’t signed up for a program or subscription intending to use them in the future to make us more efficient? Then we get pulled in a million directions and end up paying for unused services.
While looking at your tech stack directly may seem to be the best way to fix this problem, a better solution is an operational one. Review your bank and credit card statements line by line and see if there’s anything you don’t recognize, don’t remember, or remember but are pretty sure it’s not in use. Ask your team about specific items before you cancel them in case you forgot that you promised Ignatz the graphic designer a subscription to the latest Abodee Abstractor.
Sounds completely operational, doesn’t it? But from a marketing perspective, it’s also a chance to consolidate and upgrade legacy systems and show your customers and your team that you’re on the cutting edge.
Talk to experts.
At a certain point in your business, you are likely to have a few experts in your contact list – at minimum a bookkeeper, but probably an attorney and maybe an insurance broker and an IT specialist.
You should talk to them periodically.
Ask your bookkeeper or accountant about your financial situation and what they think about it. Look at assets and liquidity. How’s cash flow doing? Make a forecast, do some best- and worst-case scenario planning.
If you regularly work with an attorney, you might consider reviewing contracts and protecting your brand and intellectual property, especially as you grow and the brand gains value.
Your insurance broker will ensure your assets are covered, but also ask them about potential risks and maybe how you might save a few bucks.
If you work with an IT company, review your current equipment and software. Maybe there’s something new on the market that could enhance your communications or productivity, or maybe you just have some legacy equipment that you need to plan to swap out.
The health of your business overall can be a marketing advantage. Customers like to do business with companies that will be there for the long haul. If you regularly review your operations with experts, you’re more likely to be there to serve your customers.