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NACCE - Sam's Club Shared Vision for Small Business

Posted By Mike Daniel, Monday, April 21, 2014

"Who is My Customer?"

Mike Daniel is the Director of the Small Business Development Center at Long Beach City College and established entrepreneur of everything sweet!

As the director of a busy business development center, the most common phrase I hear from small business owners is, “Everyone is my customer.”  Business owners say this when they are really not sure who their target market is or how to reach them.  Many of these businesses simply open their doors every morning and hope that someone finds them!

Long Beach City College’s Small Business Development Center has partnered with NACCE through the Sam’s Club Shared Vision grant to create a subsidized three-day training program targeting small businesses generating between $100,000 to $300,000 in annual sales. This seminar series helps small business owners identify their target markets and educates them on how to reach them and turn them into customers. Each session takes abstract concepts like the “80/20 rule” and turns them into practical and targeted marketing efforts focusing on the customers that generate the most sales for their business.

Since no business is the same, there is no generic marketing plan or template that we can give a small business owner to become successful.  However, we have found success in having the business owners identify their unique and specific target markets and the one or two channels they need to pursue to attract those targets to their business.  We have then followed that up with one-on-one business advising through our Small Business Development Center to help each business owner individually implement his or her new strategy, while creating specific and measurable goals to track their progress.

The key takeaway for this program is that to be successful, the seminar has to be less academic and more practical.  To that end, we created a simple goal/strategy worksheet for each business owner. The worksheet helps business owners to formulate a specific goal for the business, such as increasing revenue by 20% or attracting 200 new fans to a Facebook page.  The next step is to identify the appropriate marketing channels for that particular goal and the distinct and measurable actions that are required. The last step focuses on the criteria by which success will be measured so that they can track their progress toward successfully implementing their marketing campaign.

The fact that most business owners think their target market is everyone is a major reason why most businesses struggle to attract new customers or increase the amount spent by their current customers.  The overall goal of the Long Beach City College Shared Vision grant is to give each business owner a simple and practical plan to identify each business’ unique target market.  The Small Business Development Center then helps these business owners to put their targeted marketing plan in place with expert, hands-on assistance.  Through this small business program, business owners no longer have to sit around hoping someone will find them or waste time and money targeting “everyone”; they can actively seek more of that special 20% that will grow their business.

Long Beach City College is one of seven community colleges granted a NACCE Shared Vision grant sponsored by Sam’s Club.  The Shared Vision grant is aimed at helping improve and increase revenues for small and micro-sized businesses in each of the seven grantees communities.  LBCC is addressing NACCE‘s Presidents for Entrepreneurship (PFEP) initiative by leveraging both community college and community assets to spur innovation and job creation.  For any questions related to this program or to learn more about what Long Beach City College is doing for entrepreneurship, please feel free to call or e-mail Mike Daniel at (562) 938-5115 or mike.daniel@lbcc.edu.

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