4 Keys to A Successful Business
July 17, 2015
Are you doing business in a small town? Or do you own a small business even in a large market? Our founder recently traveled to Colorado and found one business alive and kicking – proving that no matter where you are, what you sell or what you promote, there’s a way to do it by practicing four key principles of business.
Silverton Colorado, photo copyright Daniel Schwen
Our Setting: Silverton, Colorado
Silverton is a tiny town nestled in the mountains of Colorado. It was born during the 1800s, named for its silver mining (silver-by-the-ton) and was a bustling hub in the golden days of the wild west. Today, about 600 residents call the town home and serve this thriving tourist destination. Equipped with shops, restaurants, and a national historic railroad, it draws people from all over the world, especially during the summer months.
The winter months can be cold – and connected to other cities by very few highways – the city can be snowed in for weeks at a time. Many of the town’s business owners thrive on tourism, which means they make most of their annual pay during one very busy season…. And on one day in particular: July 4th.
The town’s parade, picnic and fireworks draw more than 10,000 people on this day alone, which represents a HUGE opportunity for local business owners. This small-town dynamic means that business & shop owners have to know how to do business wisely in a narrow window of time if they want to survive. It’s a bit like the environment – it can be extreme, but it can be mastered by those willing to pioneer. That's why it's the perfect setting to look at four key principles of business. If shop owners can master these and make it in this setting, they can make it anywhere.
Dog in the fourth of July parade in Silverton Colorado. Photo courtesy Simply Heaven Design.
Four Key Principles
1. Know yourself.(And BE yourself.) Know your product and brand personality. You are more than your product - You are a unique entity. Embrace it and be consistent in it. Don’t try to be all things to all people.
2. Know your environment:Know your city and its population, current events, history and personality.
3. Know your audience. This is a big one! Get to know your audience, what they have in common, what they need, want, and how much they value your product or service. The better you know them, the better you can serve them.
4. Price & promote accordingly.Know what your audience pays in other environments for a similar experience, product or service. Know what your cost is, the cost to do business, and how to calculate your profits. Promote at the right time, to the right people, in the right place, and in a manner according to your business, audience, environment & personality.
Sugar Rush in Silverton, Colorado. Photo from their Facebook page.
The particular business we’re highlighting is called Sugar Rush. It’s a small candy company that sells sweets & accessories with western flair to family vacationers in this tiny tourist town. On the morning of July 4th, the business was positively crowded with patrons. Here’s what they did right and how they did it.
(1) Brand name + Product: The name of the company and what they sell.
Environment: Silverton was born in the booming gold rush era. As a candy shop, “Sugar Rush” is appropriate to the personality of the town.
True to their identity: They embraced their roots & their product: Candy. Didn’t try to sell everything to everyone. Candy, pet toys, and fun accessories that would literally be the cherry on top of a fun family vacation. Sugar Rush = Sugar (Candy) + Rush (both for sugar and the gold-era rush personality of the town). The two above put together = All things candy in the personality of an old western town.
Audience: Silverton is a family-friendly, dog-friendly, kid-friendly tourist environment. They were selling candy & dog toys to people who were bringing lots of kids & dogs to the event. Their audience had a valid desire or need for their product.
(2) Place:The company's place of operation.
Environment: Sugar Rush wanted access to the crowd of 10,000 descending upon their town. They set up on main street, not only ON the parade route but THE BEGINNING of the parade route. Sugar Rush was placed in the thick of the action.
True to their identity: The store was set up in an old house on main street. It was nicely decorated, freshly painted in pastel colors that complimented one another (appropriately, a bit like candy coating). Together, they gave off the impression of a modern business in a period house. Everything about the building implied fun, but with professional taste, and reinforced the identity of the company.
Audience: Sugar Rush knew their audience was families & tourists – usually with kids and dogs. The families would be excited about being in a new place surrounded by lots of noise, bustle and things competing for their attention. The business owners made sure they were in the middle of the action – right where their audience would be – and made it easy to do business. They put out signs on their porch advertising their candy & dog toys – and didn’t just open their doors, but brought out merchandise on the porch to do business with people walking by.
(3) Price: How (*we believe) Sugar Rush priced their product.
Environment: From our assessment, they were aware that they were providing a product in demand on the day, so candy wasn’t priced at a bare-bones cost. They knew the value of their sweets & treats on a fun-filled day and priced their products above what could be bought in the local store down the street – but not out of competitive range.
True to their identity: We could see that they calculated their costs & knew what it would take for them to turn a profit. They also took into consideration that their store was unique – as a premium candy store, they should have higher quality products and therefore, slightly higher prices. They priced their products above average but within a range of what their audience would pay elsewhere.
Audience: They had different price points to meet a variety of needs at different levels of cost. Families with travel & pocket money had access to premium products, sweets & treats – but the children who wanted a simple lollipop also had something available to them.
*Simply Heaven is not affiliated with Sugar Rush and wasn't present for the pricing process. This commentary is based on our experience in working with clients, business practices & a quick evaluation of their prices to create an estimation of their overall smart pricing strategy.
(4) Promotion: How the store advertised on an important business day.
Environment: Sugar Rush is part of a lavish community celebration on July 4th. The business owners didn’t just show up to work on a national holiday; they did it in costume. The house / store was decorated, and the owners did business on their porch.
True to their Identity: Candy stores imply sweetness – and pet stores are often fun for kids. Their promotion was simple, friendly and mild. They said hello to people on the sidewalk, wore smiles on their faces, had signs on the front porch advertising their product – but they didn’t have light up banners or anything too over-the-top that would give a used-car-salesman feel to a sweet family moment.
Audience: Both people in the parade and people on the street dress up in red, white & blue on the day. Kids often are found running with sparklers, face paint, and themed clothing throughout the day. The business owners painted their faces & put on modest costume to relate with their audience & participate in the celebration.
Sugar Rush cashing in on smart business, Silverton Colorado. Photo courtesy Simply Heaven Design.
So, are you practicing the four principles? Can you think holistically about your business? Here are some questions to help you assess how you’re doing. Get out a sheet of paper or open up a new document on your computer and ask yourself the following:
Be yourself: What do you sell? What is your personality (or how would you like to be perceived)? What is unique to you or your business? Don’t try to be all things to all people. Be ONE thing – and be that well.
Know your audience:Who do you serve? What do they need? What do they have in common? What do you have that they want? What do they think of you? (If you don’t know, then have an informal survey.) (And as a follow up, what can you provide them.) Don’t say “Everyone”… Not everyone has the resources or the desire for your product. Think of who truly wants, needs and can afford what you do or provide. This is your focus.
Know your environment: Where are you? What’s going on in your city right now? What do you know of your city’s history? How does that relate with your product or service? What events are happening in your city that could be opportunities for you to sell or promote your work? Try to think of (or look for) events, seasons, places and times in your city where your audience will be and what that environment will be like.
Price & Promotion: What does your product cost you? Calculate your costs. What do you need to do business? Calculate this cost. And how much value does your audience assign to what you do? Can your audience afford what you produce? For luxury or high-end products, it not expensive enough for them to consider it seriously? How can you meet people at different price points with what you offer? (Ex: Think like the candy shop: A simple lollipop for one price and a big DREAM lollipop for another.) What can you do to promote your work? (Go back to your audience and environment. Think about where they are.)
Many business owners can begin thinking intuitively & making changes by answersing these questions in response to the four principles. But if you find yourself over your head with these answers, use resources around you to make a way: Find books, ask friends or hire a business or marketing consultant like us for a few hours to help you iron out the answers. We've spent years helping companies, nonprofits & artists create an action plan to move forward & change the world.
Impact & Response
Now that you’ve read through the principles: What was the most important point for you? Did any of this change your promotion strategy? How? We’d love to hear.