Define and Focus for Small Business Success!

Clark Miller
What are your Strengths ?

Starting a new business generally means utilizing and concentrating on your strengths. But quite often it may be difficult to really recognize and define your strengths and communicate them to your potential customers. That was the case for Clark Miller. After a successful career in journalism with Associated Press and as a communications specialist, Clark decided to open his own communications consultant business. Not having owned his own business previously, he contacted SCORE to learn how to set up his business, promote his services, and organize plans to gain clients.

Working with counselor Richard Jenkins, they conducted an analysis of his offerings, current and potential clients, and what he offered that similar competition did not. While his current client and prospect base included several economic development agencies, it quite often took several months for their boards to reach a decision to utilize his services. This meant delays in revenue. Discussions helped identify the wisdom of recruiting not only larger clients, but also targeting smaller, more nimble businesses such as web design firms, videographers, booksellers, etc. to maintain cash flow.

After discussing possible tactical plans, a decision was made to utilize his most competitive and unique strength - he knew the members of the economic council boards. Since the majority of these members represented their own businesses and knew the value he could offer their individual businesses, he began leveraging this knowledge to gain new accounts.

Another major consideration was the time and expense in making marketing trips across the Southeast. A plan was developed that would concentrate initial marketing efforts within a limited geography. This decreased travel costs and allowed more time to develop new, local relationships. What emerged was the ability to solidify a base of local clients, the gradually expand operations outward geographically. This strategy has worked well, as he added The Regional Alliance, the premier economic development entity of Northeast Tennessee-Southwest Virginia as a client.

With these two planks of his plan in place, Clark next began work on creating presentation materials. This included a portfolio of previous work, testimonials, and references. Perhaps the most important tool was creating an elevator speech to explain his unique core business skill, "brandnewsing," which Clark defines as the strategic, repeated use of worldwide business media to establish recognition and reputation for clients. "By repeated practice of my elevator speech" says Clark, "my cold calls took on greater simplicity, precision and persuasive power. Richard forced me to hone these skills and make them second nature." And this clear focus came in very handy later when I was able to establish a truly professional web site. Visitors to my new web site,, say they quickly understood what it is I do, and why it works so well."

Clark says that "concentrating on my strongest and most unique talent has helped me grow my business significantly over the past several months. My focus is clear. This has led to business growth which, ironically, gives me the security to take on occasional short term assignments in potential growth areas such as video script writing and web content development. These make the whole experience more fun."

Clark Miller Communications is, by design, a one-person shop. But due to millions of news exposures through clients' worldwide press releases, it has become one of the most visible Knoxville area public relations and marketing entities. Googling the company name produces hits in Yahoo Finance (nearly 60 million viewers per day), Forbes, Inc., wire services, business journals across the country, and in media outlets specializing in topics such as biofuels, nanotechnology, healthcare, supercomputing, higher education, travel, business site expansions, and solar energy.

And therein lies the secret to building a successful business: identify your unique strengths, create and implement your marketing strategy to leverage them, and focus on them in presenting your product and service to well-defined target audiences.