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Growing Your Business in a Tough Economy


During a time when we've seen many clients be forced to cut back, it is important to focus your company’s efforts on its marketing, sales, and finances. Many artists make or have made the mistake of reducing or stopping all marketing efforts when they see clients spending less.

We all know general and promotional marketing is costly. However, they are the only ways to increase awareness of your services and produce the sales needed to withstand client cutbacks. You need to be proactive during these times to find new business and ways to expand existing business. Increasing your marketing will produce the leads you need to successfully increase sales to both new and old clients.

Beyond marketing, take the opportunity to reevaluate and possibly adjust your budget, and to monitor your spending. Figure out how much money you need to make over the next 12 months to have a profitable year. Businesses often locate additional finances shortly after an examination of their budget.

Keeping Your Business Safe

Consider that your business has four departments: the studio or the talent, marketing, sales, and finance. You need to devote equal amounts of time to each department to run a successful business. Most artists are not interested in marketing, sales, or finance; this is fine as long as you have someone you can trust running them.

Your Marketing and Advertising Department

The number one reason companies go out of business is because they stop marketing and therefore do not exist in their client’s eyes. Cutting back on marketing may seem like a logical solution but trust us, it is not the answer, especially in a bear market.

Increasing your marketing is your only chance of survival. There are many affordable ways to increase your efforts, just be sure to do your research, come up with a budget, and produce a campaign that will be consistent and last the full year.

During a time when we've seen many clients be forced to cut back, it is important to focus your company’s efforts on its marketing, sales, and finances. Many artists make or have made the mistake of reducing or stopping all marketing efforts when they see clients spending less.

Incorporating an integrated marketing strategy is crucial. Areas of this strategy should consist of email, direct mail, phone calls if you're comfortable, and face-to-face meetings if allowed and available where you are. Stretch your efforts even further and follow up on portfolio requests, connect with old clients, utilize social media, focus on SEO, send special promos, and participate on portfolio sites.

Your Sales Department

Sales tend to be overlooked and are often not a strong point for artists. Simply said, sales are important because they bring in the money that pays your bills and your salary. It is beneficial if your marketing is in order, as you will be producing leads, but if you are not selling your services to these leads, your business will suffer.

As a business owner, you need to be prepared to take on a sales role because you are the only one that knows your company and its services best. Sales is a numbers game and always has been; the more creatives you connect with, the more meetings you will get. The more meetings you get, the more opportunities you will have to estimate a job. The more jobs you estimate, the more opportunities you will have to negotiate a deal.

Bottom line: you have to be prepared to sell yourself and your services to bring in the new jobs you want.

Your Finance Department

Proper monitoring of how finances are running, when compared to your marketing and sales plan, allows you to be able to see potential oncoming problems far enough in advance to solve them before they occur.

Financial work includes monitoring and continually entering new data into your sales budget, reviewing your cash management weekly, and controlling whatever accounting and reporting software packages you have. Keeping your finances in order will play a huge role in the growth of your business. Knowing how much money you need to make weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly is something every business owner should know.

The best way to control your finances is to have an actual vs. sales budget in place. A sales budget will allow you to input sales, cost of goods sold, payroll, and operating expenses, all of that will give you your anticipated profit and loss. You must know what sales are needed, and at what gross margin to offset your operating expenses and produce a profit.

The Importance of an Annual Budget

Creating a budget at the beginning of each year will determine whether your anticipated amount of sales will produce a profit or not. You may need to cut expenses or increase sales to get to a number that you’re happy with, but the budget enables you to make smart business decisions and successfully hit your target goals.

Balanced financials are the key to a successful and growing business in a tough economy. Knowing where every dollar is spent and having a proper cash management system in place is crucial to running your business and controlling your expenses. An annual budget opens your eyes to sales, payroll expenses, and over and underspending. All in all, it will help you manage your money and allow you to find ways to increase your profits.

You are an Artist and a Business

Understanding you are a business, not just an alone, is the first step. You need to understand that like every industry, you need to market to obtain leads, sell to produce revenue, and budget to control your finances.

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