Attendees at Day One of the LEAP Small Business Conference learned new techniques to improve sales and expand their business reach beyond Antigua and Barbuda.
The conference, presented by C&W Business Caribbean Union Bank and the Antigua Barbuda Association of Small Business Owners (ABASBO) is being held over two days at the Jolly Beach Resort.
Leading off the presentations was strategist Nerissa Golden who discussed whether businesses should focus on the customer more than the product. She stressed that while understanding the needs of customers was essential, today’s market place is looking for new and innovative products.
“You can choose to provide something already in the marketplace better than it is currently offered. It is also important to test the market with new products and services before you launch,” Golden shared. She added that using tools such as online polls and crowdfunding are ways to gauge potential for new offers along with traditional methods such as testing prototypes.
Direct Sales and Marketing Expert Troy Holder of Barbados said direct marketing was salesmanship multiplied. He stressed the necessity of aligning the market with the message and the media. He said the best clients to do business with are the ones who already work with you, inactive clients and clients you may have lost over time. Holder added that it takes a much longer time to develop relationships with new prospects and bring them to the stage where they are ready to buy.
Host Sandra Baptist of ABASBO and PACCS Inc. said business owners should use the power of leverage to increase revenue. “Time, money and people are the three most important resources that entrepreneurs have at their disposal.”
Baptist outlined several strategies for leveraging available resources. Increased use of the internet, she said, allows businesses to grow their customer list, raise more capital and be everywhere digitally. She offered continuity pricing as one way companies such as C&W are able to have stable revenue from month to month. This she said, is a model more business owners can adopt, which can give them more peace of mind about their monthly revenue.
Jamaican Marketing expert Stephanie Treasure provided additional insight into the ways the internet can be used to capture more leads. She told the business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs that they should not shy away from asking for the sale. “It is the ultimate way to serve your customers.”
Treasure noted that with the power of social media tools, websites and lead capture tools, business owners can connect directly with customers to foster relationships which they can build on.
Closing out the day was creator of the Caribbean crowdfunding platform Cecile Watson. Watson, who launched www.pitchandchoose.com in January 2015 said by 2025 the World Bank estimates that 93 billion dollars will be raised via crowdfunding. She emphasized that the platform offers ways for small businesses to get around the hurdles of waiting for a bank to finance them. Currently the four models for crowdfunding are raising donations, a reward system, lending and equity.
Watson, who is a former banker noted that people fund people not projects, and it was essential to success with crowdfunding that they understand digital media is here to stay. These platforms she said are driven by people telling compelling stories that drive the crowd to support financially. Having a product people want, making a compelling pitch, validating the product and consistent promotion are keys to success with crowdfunding.
Day one closed with a Q&A Session featuring all of the panelists and featured speaker for Day two Carol Sankar of Trinidad & Tobago.
Day two of LEAP, continues with Youth LEAP on Thursday morning and Women LEAP in the afternoon.
This is the first year for LEAP: The SME Conference and Baptist shared that it was an intentional decision to use only speakers from the Caribbean, so business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs hear from people who are doing what the desire to do.
Learn more about the conference at www.leapantigua.com .
Sandra Baptist speaks at LEAP: The SME Conference