Perhaps the Most Important Step to Creating a Thriving and Profitable Business

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Let’s say you’ve just opened a little boutique store on a side street. Whilst your rent may be low, the footfall past your premises is extremely light.

You have done a great job of fitting out your store, and you have some interesting and unique products for sale. But if no one is even looking through the window, your hard work will be for naught.

So what do you do? Well, perhaps you try to add more stock, or change the type and quality of products that you have on offer, in the hope that it will boost your sales. And even though you already spent a great deal of time making your store very presentable, you decide to completely refurbish it.

Related: Habits Of Successful Entrepreneurs That I’ve Witnessed Personally

Sounds crazy, right? But that is effectively what a whole lot of businesses do, in one way or another, in an effort to become profitable. The blood, sweat and tears expended in doing so are real, but the results are devastatingly poor.

So What Should You Do?

Rather than focusing on your product and your brand, you focus on your customer. As I like to say, you go to the people.

Photo By JDN

Let’s take another look at our boutique store analogy. The footfall past your premises is low. The simple fact is that if you take no action in going to the people, you will never gain any kind of traction – regardless of how pretty and well-stocked your store is.

You need to head out, find your target consumer, and bring them back to your premises. Not physically – I don’t want you to head downtown and start loading people into the back of a van – but you do need to place your brand in front of people.

That is never going to happen whilst your store is on a side street, so you have to make your brand “portable”. Advertise in local publications, do mail shots, and walk around the local mall handing out flyers. Go to the people.

Related: The Best Way To Attract Customers To Your Online Business Or Ecommerce Store

This applies to any business model – from blogs to bakeries. How you do it depends upon the business model – with a blog you would focus on guest posting and networking with well-established bloggers, and with a bakery you might place your premises within a high footfall area frequented populated by office workers who will be looking for their lunchtime fix five days a week.

The Importance of Relevancy

The point is, simply having a good product isn’t enough. How effectively you put that product in front of the right people will define the success of your business.

Don’t try selling ice to eskimos – put your product in front of people who will actually give a damn. If your boutique store sells expensive tailor-made items that cannot be found elsewhere, your target market is not likely to be found at Walmart. You will likely be far better served by working in partnership with other bespoke product stores that your ideal customer is likely to frequent.

A great example of how going to the right people works beautifully is the Firepole Marketing blog. Its main author, Danny Iny, wrote over 80 guest posts on other related blogs during 2011. He found where his target audience already was, then placed himself in front of them. Starting in January 2011, this was how traffic to Firepole Marketing was affected by Danny going to the people:

The Power of Effective Marketing

Having said that, I am keen not to touch too heavily upon specific examples in this post, as what you are reading is a basic fundamental of effective marketing – the concept that you should go to the people applies in every line of business, without exception.

There are two simple equations that apply to pretty much any business you care to mention:

  1. Poor Product + Great Marketing = Success
  2. Great Product + Poor Marketing = Failure

You will of course find exceptions on either side of these equations, but the fact is that if I had to choose between them, I would always pick the first.

People can only like something they can see, so an awesome product that is marketed poorly will only ever do so well. On the other hand, a poor product with great marketing is going to get so much exposure that sales will be generated, despite the lack in quality.

How Do You Promote Your Business?

There are a multitude of ways in which you can promote your business, but if you keep in mind the core concept of going to the people (and by extension, the right people), you can’t go far wrong.

With that in mind, tell us – how do you promote your business? Do your methods adhere to the basic principle of going to the people? And have you found success in your methods? Let us know in the comments section!

This post was written by Tom Ewer who writes for the blog Leaving Work Behind. He’s an incredible writer and I’m happy to say that he will be a regular contributor over here at

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17 thoughts on “Perhaps the Most Important Step to Creating a Thriving and Profitable Business”

  1. always a pleasure to read your articles – simple and effective

    my business is a Distributing Agency that deals with all type of products so I am pretty much doing what your article is saying just in a bigger scale. I don’t have a physical store. My website is still in maintenance, but so far just doing regular research and marketing online has been doing well.

    98% of the website is done so once that is up. I am sure I will put 200% on initializing what you had said in this article

    1. Thanks Simon. I’m sure that once your website is up and running your engagement levels will increase exponentially.

  2. Great article.

    Our business is helping others start their own home based businesses, so they can live happier more fulfilled lives. The most effective marketing method we use is getting to know every person we meet – online or off – to better understand how we can help them reach their goals.

    How do we do that on a web? We start by sharing our story, then reaching out to anyone who expresses interest in how we support our dream lifestyle with a personal overview of how we can help them do the same.

    Thanks for asking,keep up the good work!

    1. Awesome Jim. It’s funny how fast word of mouth can spread. We do the same for all of our businesses and eventually things start to snowball. Real engagement leads to more customers.

  3. Chris Pondexter says:

    I must admit that I’m guilty of the first paragraph. With my first business, I beat around the bush by redesigning my site and adding new products instead of going at the root of the problem, customers.

    It’s much easier to work on things you know you are in control of. Marketing is a foreign concept to me. Thanks for the article!

    1. Hey Chris,
      We are all guilty of this at some point or another. The key is to right the ship and start working down the right path.

  4. Hi there,

    Great post. I can’t help thinking that you are covering the subject of marketing rather than just focusing on your customers. But then again, the two are so intwined, aren’t they?

    Indeed customers are where marketing should start – understanding who your customers are, how they buy and how can you influence them to purchase with you rather than your competitiors.

    Once you know this, the communication element becomes easier.

    Getting good at marketing, in it’s entirety, is the single best way to grow a business.

    Thanks for your article.
    Take care

  5. Scott says:

    Hi Steve, Love your articles, Rarely ever miss one.

    I have been developing a accessory, but it has taken me over a year to get it right. Once I have the proper classification, I will launch the website.

    What I have been doing in the meantime, is hanging around the related forums just to get established. When the sight is launched, I plan on posting something like “ Hey guys, this thing looks kind of cool, followed by a link”. An Adwords campaign, and the website molded into the product.

    Does this sound like a solid plan to you? Are there other things I should be doing?

    Thank you Sir for any advice here.


  6. barbara says:


    Thanks for your articles and especially for the one above how to get more
    You have told me that I need to get to my customers rather than my customers
    getting to me but HOW?
    I have a shop on Etsy selling french vintage collectables and antiques. I am trying
    to be on as much websites as possible, but to date not having much success.
    I will try a blog, I have just opened a website but it is not running as yet but I
    am not that good at words.

  7. In the past I owned a brick and mortar store now i want to do an internet store but I would like it to be used by certain organizations where I sell on their sites. I want my store to be a pre made box that can be added to these organizations so they make a percentage without any work. How do i go about learning to set up a site where my store is used by other sites?

    1. Are you referring to an affiliate program? If so, most shopping carts will support this out of the box

  8. Marketing is my weakest link.. sometimes it gets so dizzying.. it hard to know where to start.

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