The target customer owns a small business, and is generally dissatisfied with the revenue that the business is generating, or is dissatisfied with the daily management of their business. The customer is likely to operate a business worth between $200K and $10 million, with growth rates of between 1-10%, or even a negative growth rate.
Market growth, that is, the predicted growth in the small business sector within the Boston/Cambridge Metro area is expected to be around 3% per year. This may increase due to additional SBA lending programs designed to match the strengths of research and faculty grant work with the needs of the market and small businesses willing to take new products to market. Regardless of the market growth, the company's customer base is far more dependant upon service needs, and a solid reputation. Mr. Dawson is well respected within the community, and has built a number of relationships with high profile individuals, and is a frequent contributor to the business section of the Boston Herald.
The corresponding market analysis table below breaks the potential market down into tactical sub-markets.
The market is divided up by revenue in the initial analysis, although other factors are very significant. It is important that the client business is operating at about the same level as the general economic growth rate, or is underperforming. The need for a turnaround within the client company is necessary for Growth Management and Strategies' expertise to become useful. The following are other differentiators:
These are not the only differentiators used to determine the market potential for a client, they are simply a starting point for the sales team as they reach out to this group of small businesses, owners and investors.
The target market strategy involves isolating potential customers by revenue, then drilling down to very specific needs via the sales team's needs analysis methodology.
The first tier customers, businesses with over $3 million in revenue, is more experienced in outsourcing and may find themselves more comfortable hiring Growth Management and Strategies on retainer. Strategically, a retainer helps maintain consistent cash flow, even if during some months these customers will require more services than what they have paid for that month. This issue will be addressed in the Personnel topic.
The second tier customers, those businesses operating at revenue levels of $501K - $3 million, typically are very excited to have moved out of the home office stage, and into a new level of stability. If they are self-funded, these businesses can be the most challenging to work with because they are often not willing to part with company shares, and don't yet have a sense of what kind of marketing investment is necessary to grow a business at this stage. The company will serve these small businesses based on a bid cycle, and needs analysis.
The third tier customers are easier to identify, and more ubiquitous than the rest. These small businesses are operating on $200K - $500K in revenue, often are operating out of a home, and have a firm sense of their market and potential, yet have trouble executing their plans effectively, or following through on growth strategies that generate wealth. Again, the strategy is to provide these businesses with a short needs analysis, and focus on the quantity of such customers to maintain a solid revenue stream.
This industry is split up between a variety of players, including small businesses advising small businesses, such as the case with Growth Management and Strategies, to large conglomerate multinational consulting firms that send in newbie MBAs and use their name recognition to convince their clients that every one of these MBAs will generate over $300K a year in value. Sometimes they do, but when they don't, GMS plans to be there.
At the other end of the spectrum, there are a wide variety of mom and pop consulting firms owned by very talented people who simply don't have the marketing resources or expertise to reach a broader spectrum of customer.
GMS is somewhere in between. With years of guerrilla marketing experience, and a long-term plan for success, Mr. Dawson is determined to build the company each client at a time, and to focus on a sales team that outperforms all the competitors.
GMS is planning to grow exponentially within the first two years, to over $2 million in consulting revenue. At this point the service business analysis will be re-evaluated from the outside in.
Typically small business clients will learn about the consulting services market through word-of-mouth experience passed on through a friend or contemporary. Still, outbound sales teams dominate this category, and the stronger your sales team and name recognition, the greater your odds of finding clients willing to place your company on retainer or accept your company's bid. The most competitive players in this market tend to have some of the best sales teams in the industry, that is, people who know not only how to communicate the technical needs analysis in a non-technical way, but in addition, are able to follow through and execute on promises and provide accurate, industry specific information that is useful to the client even before the deal is made.
Price is also important, and operates on a complex tiered system that is dependant upon the effectiveness of a particular salesperson, the word-of-mouth (WOM) advertising already in the mind of the potential client, and the ability of the client to reform the way they think about their own business. The demands of turning a business around, or pushing it to the limits of its potential are in direct proportion to the price of each bid. GMS must be careful not to be lured into out bidding a competitor, only to find that the customer has no plans to modify their business plan, and are seeking a "magic bullet" that may or may not exist. Competition in this industry leads to frustration and burnout for many people, and it takes a strong sense of purpose to push the business beyond the realm of the high-intensity, low-return client.