Category Archives: Business support related issues

What really is Marketing, how does it work, and how do you practise it?

Marketing is about effective communication of your product to the public. And if you get your communication right, then your customers will make new connections, and their behaviour will become buying behaviour.  Marketing Management is defined by the American Marketing Association as “the process of planning and executing the conception, pricing, promotion, and distribution of ideas, goods, and services to create exchanges that satisfy individual and organizational goals”.

Marketing

Marketing creates the environment in which sales can operate. It is everything that a company can do to reach and persuade prospects, to make them aware of the product and the brand. Marketing can be defined as the activities you use to reach and persuade your prospects that you are the company for them. It’s the message that prepares the prospect for the sales. It consists of activities such as advertising, public relations, brand development and marketing, viral marketing, and direct mail

Wikipedia says that Marketing is the process of communicating the value of a product or service to customers for the purpose of selling the product or service. It is a critical business function for attracting customers.

Marketing create prospects or leads for sales to follow up. Marketing and Sales departments work closely together to give the consumer a joined –up message and ensure the company can deliver what it promises. Both functions are necessary and mutually dependent.

For most businesses, sales and marketing is the key problem if it is not working. Everything else can be fixed, even if you have to throw resources at it, but if the product is not selling, then the business is in trouble.

Marketing Is the Ultimate Driver In a growing business. No other aspect of your business can give you such high returns, so quickly, as a new marketing campaign.

The public are fickle and it is very difficult to predict accurately the response to a marketing campaign. By the same token sometimes an apparently small tweak can bring amazing results, causing sales to leap.

Sometimes you don’t have to increase your budget, you can spend the same amount of money, but just by changing a headline or strapline, bundling a new offer, or changing a design detail, you can alter public reaction to the product.

To take advantage of this very powerful area of leverage, and use it to grow your business and make more profit, you must understand what marketing is, how it works, and how to do it.

Marketing theory holds that the key to successful business is to be more effective than competitors in integrating marketing activities toward determining and satisfying the needs and wants of target markets.

Marketing theory has four pillars: target market, customer needs, integrated marketing, and profitability.

Target market Companies need to select the best markets to work in. Most products will not perform effectively in every market.

Customer needs Effective marketing finds and satisfies customers’ needs and wants.
Integrated marketing occurs when all the departments in a company work together to fulfil customers’ needs

Profitability Marketing managers aim to provide value to the customer and profits to the organization. They evaluate the profitability of all alternative marketing strategies and decisions and choose the most profitable decisions for the long-term survival and growth of the firm, and to achieve its business objectives.

Some marketers draw a distinction between responsive marketing and creative marketing. A responsive marketer finds an existing need and fulfils it. A creative marketer discovers and produces solutions the customer didn’t ask for but to which they enthusiastically respond to; The products that you did not know you needed until they were marketed to you!!

Marketing personnels watch the response customers have to their marketing and branding, and see what the message means to their customers. They aim to manage the customer relationship.

In marketing it is vital to test and measure, test and measure. Every time a variable is changed, the result needs to be evaluated, and what does not work needs to be discarded, and what does work needs to be built on.

There are many components of marketing, each with a clearly defined role. We will consider each of them in turn in the next post.

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WHY DO BUSINESSES FAIL?

Business failing

Likely causes of failure include:

  • Owner may have gone into business for egotistical personal reasons rather than in pursuit of a clear opportunity.
  • No formal business plan, with the business simply reacting to events as and when they occur. Proper planning should lead to effective resource allocation, the definition of clear and realistic targets and appropriate prioritisation.
  • Expectations may be unrealistic
  • The error may be a focus on short-term profits at the expense of creating sustainable value for the long term.
  • Risking under-investment in marketing and promotion.
  • Company may become over-generalised, trying to compete in too many markets rather than focusing on one or two as the category leader.
  • It may be that company simply cannot grasp what is needed to aspire to sustainable competitive advantage in the longer term.
  • Failure to understand and react to change: customer behaviour, competitors’ innovations and unforeseen initiatives, macro-environment.
  • Failure to manage cash flow:
  1. Spend cash before it is flowing positively
  2. Having a capital structure carrying too much debt
  3. Inadequate cash reserves
  4. Poor credit arrangements
  5. Managing debtors ineffectively
  6. Managers lack of financial awareness and responsibility
  7. Irresponsible personal use of business funds
  • Poor inventory management, with working capital tied up unnecessarily in fixed assets.
  • Poor forecasting may lead to unsatisfied demand.
  • Controllable costs may be allowed to increase without challenge.
  • Unnecessary over-investment in fixed costs
  • Failure to prepare contingency plans to address volatility in company’s uncontrollable costs.
  • Poor performance monitoring and defective budgetary control systems.
  • Maybe the owner is just a jerk whom staff, suppliers and customers will not wish to support wholeheartedly.
  • Poor management at the top of the organisation will bring down the company. “Entrepreneurs who treat the company as their own personal piggy-bank without paying proper heed to sound financial governance are often behind their business’ demise” (Wickham and Wilcock 2013). For instance,
  1. Owner-managers can fail to delegate, and try to go it alone without seeking professional external advice- or worse, they may seek uninformed help or financial support from friends and family.
  2. Owner-managers may tolerate inadequate, inexperienced or downright poor management because it is cheap and compliant.
  3. Owner-managers may be unable to attract and retain the right talent.
  4. Owner-manager’s overconfident decisions and failure to recognise his strengths and weaknesses.
  5. Business owner may experience ‘burn-out’ due to loads of tasks or be subjected to family pressures and other life distractions.

Business picking up

Chances of success will be improved if companies pay heed to the following:

  1. Develop a business plan
  2. Obtain accurate financial information about the business in a timely manner.
  3. Profile the target customer.
  4. Profile the competition.
  5. Go into business for the right reasons.
  6. Do not borrow family money and do not ask the family for uninformed advice.
  7. Network with other business owners in similar industries.
  8. Remember someone else will always have a lower price.
  9. Realise that consumer tastes and preferences change.
  10. Become better informed of the resources that are available.

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My business; My Child

How you should treat your business and what to expect from it all depends on your perception of what it is to you. In practice, owner-managers perceive their business in two major ways; offspring or livestock. Seeing your business as your offspring and treating it as such will go a long way in determining it survival and how successful it will become. Unfortunately, most small businesses are being managed or treated as livestock rearing rather than child-rearing.

My business

For instance, 8 out of 10 small business owners in Nigeria are raring to invest, expand, grow and make profit in a very unrealistic manner without allowing sufficient time for the business to grow. Livestock rearing is short term and the focus is on the gain rather than a long term enduring love relationship a parent has for his child. Someone says “Your business has to be in your heart and your heart in your business.” And also remember that the secret of success is in the constancy of purpose and not in maximising immediate gains.

There are 5 basic things that are expected of you as a good parent:

  1. Have a plan for your child;
  2. Provide your child’s needs;
  3. Invest sacrificially in your child;
  4. Give necessary care and attention to your child; and
  5. Ultimately, love your child and make allowances for shortcomings with time.

When you fail to plan, then there is no direction! So as they say, you are planning to fail. You would not expect significant return from your investment in your child until after a reasonable age at a stage when the child is expected to have become fully independent. So also should you not expect from your business. Do not be raring to reap so fast from the business at its teething age. There is time for everything.

Make provision for the health needs of your business as you would for your child. Self-medication is not the best; a medical professional is not a luxury but essential for your child’s health, so also is a business consultant to your business. Make provision for professional fees!

As your child needs food to grow, so also does your business need a ‘balanced diet’ of 5 classes of ‘food’ which are:

  • Business awareness and promotions to constantly attract the customers that matter;
  • Staffing to recruit talents to remain productive and relevant in the market;
  • Working capital to take care of operational expenses;
  • Good management of resources, competences and capabilities; and
  • Constant monitoring and maintenance of company’s infrastructure.

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Social Media – Putting All the Pieces Together

Twitter and Facebook and Blogs..oh my! YouTube and LinkedIn and Amplify…oh my! Are you wondering how to fit all the pieces of the social media puzzle together? Are you feeling overwhelmed before you even get started?

Social Media Image

Social media doesn’t have to be overwhelming, you can keep it simple…yes, simple! There’s all the talk about social network sites, all the technical programs available, all the tools, all the applications, and there’s video…it goes on and on. Where do you start and where does it all go? How does it all fit together?

When starting with social media you’ll need to define your objectives, define your target market, and create your strategy. In other words, define what it is you want to accomplish by using social media (your objectives), who do you want to reach (your target market), and how you are going to accomplish those objectives (your strategy).

Do you want to become the “go to” dentist in your area? Maybe you want to become “The” cosmetic dentist in your area or want to grow your practices email list. Just what is it you want to accomplish?

Your objectives, target market, and strategy become your plan of action.

Once these pieces are together you’re ready to start filling in the rest of your puzzle…choosing your social networks. To do this, you’ll need to be clear on your target market and familiar with which social networks they prefer to use the most.

Let’s put this in perspective: If you are on Twitter and your target is on Facebook, you aren’t going to accomplish anything…you’re not where your client is…see the importance? You want to go where the “eyeballs” are…be known and be seen where your target market is.

Just like your regular puzzle, you add one or two pieces at a time. When choosing your social networks, start slow with one, possibly two, of the network pieces. Many like to start with Facebook or Twitter and a blog. As you get comfortable with these pieces, you have the option to add more pieces to your social network. But the key is finding and working within your comfort level.

Whether you’re putting together a 500 piece puzzle (a couple of networks) or a 2000 piece puzzle (most of the networks) keep working and soon your social media puzzle will all be together in one good fit!

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Social Network Marketing Strategies

An efficient way to endorse products and services and drive traffic to websites is to set up and maintain a dynamic presence on the public networking websites. This is changing the whole idea behind internet marketing approach. A lot of hard slog, knowledge and tolerance are required for any flourishing public network marketing.

SMM.

The societal network websites are basically online community where people meet, share their thoughts and also communicate. The nature of any business determines the way to approach the marketing strategy. Following are different methods which can be very helpful for any social or public network marketing.

 

Blogging

Blogs or websites have proven to be the most influential ways for the public network marketing, as compared to other methods. Blogging is not only an amazing way but also a facilitator of many other services along with marketing for business. It proves to be quite helpful in communicating with all the clients. Personalized blogs and websites is a very important aspect of public network marketing. It will add to the value of services that one is providing and gives a professional impression also.

 

Customers/users of your products

Another very intelligent approach towards network marketing is to incorporate the view from the previous clients. They can share their experiences regarding the products that one is dealing with. The older clients can very effectively convince the new clients by sharing their familiarity for the services provided. This is the strategy adopted by OLX.

 

Social Network Websites

Famous social network websites like Facebook, Twitter can also be employed to enhance the sales. Such websites can prove to be the finest podium for any form of online marketing.

 

Free reports

Another useful way for online marketing is to present some free report. Interesting and appealing facts can be included in such free report and hence people will be coerced to opt for one’s marketed business.

 

Free samples

Nothing can be as awarding as giving away free sample/template. This can result in huge turnout but care needs to be taken regarding as to who gets the free samples. It is always good to set up some criteria.

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Social Media Marketing – Drive by Or Drive In?

We are inundated on a daily basis. Whether we are listening to the radio while driving down the road, finally sitting down at the end of the day to watch television, or working on our computers, rapidly fired shots of marketing messages are flashed out at us constantly.

Our senses are left wounded and worn out by these drive by assaults.

Marketers are slowly beginning to realize that these tactics leave us feeling numb and desensitized. They are no longer having their intended result. Agile companies are beginning to get a clue that in order to get something from consumers (a sale) they need to give something to the consumer (valuable information or goods).

Imagine yourself having a picnic with your family on a Saturday afternoon. A friendly server approaches your car on a pair of roller skates, skillfully gliding along.  The server stops at your window and greets you with a friendly smile and “how can I help you?”  The server kindly takes your order and skates off to fill it. This is a pleasant scenario. This is what new media marketing should equate to.

One must develop a rapport. Social media is about being social, getting to know others, letting others get to know you. When an individual logs on to Facebook, that individual wants to see what is going on with his or her  friends or favorite fan pages, not to be assaulted with outright marketing messages. Leave your fans feeling like they are getting something valuable from you and they will reciprocate.

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Social Media Marketing – 10 Reasons why your Business will benefit

If you want to know why social media is becoming more and more popular these days, read on to know about their mass appeal and usefulness.

SMM

  1. The internet’s reach is unlimited. Anybody from anywhere in the world can read your messages and ads for as long as they can go online. Depending on the kind of content that you want to share, you might choose micro-blogging or setting up a group to make your site receive more visitors.
  2. Posting comments or creating little but regular updates is more effective than posting huge amounts of contents on a monthly basis. This is a good way of letting your visitors know that you exist without overpowering or bombarding them.
  3. If you want direct interaction with your customers, social media makes it possible for you. This way, you will get a good idea of what your customers really want since you can communicate with them. Along the way, you might even come across new people you can do business with and find new potential customers.
  4. If you want to improve your sales and marketing campaigns, you can use social media sites to ask what people want from your company and what they think about your business.
  5. When it comes to industry events and news, people will be pleased if you have a report that will be able to help them and have a link to it. Especially if they are relevant to the products that you sell or services that you offer, your target viewers would also like to know your opinion on the latest news and trends.
  6. Social media sites can be a good means for visitors to approach your company because it is more laid back. Encouraging people to ask questions will make your company more appealing to customers.
  7. It can be hard for some people to understand some boring and difficult subjects like statistics and operations research. Using social media will allow you to inject analogies and humor while making the topic more interesting and easier to understand.
  8. Social media profiles can be used to let your audience know more about the achievements of your company as well the launching of new products/services in the market.
  9. You can use the opinions and suggestions of followers if you want to test new products or ideas.
  10. You will always be one step ahead of the competition if you use social media in your marketing efforts. You will never run out of information as to how competitors do their own promotion, how you can impress your target market and what is the best way that you can meet the needs of your customers.

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Social Media Marketing – Why You Need It

If you are not using social media you are missing the boat. Business owners on the web have the opportunity to generate traffic and build an online presence with the least amount of work and money. You don’t have to pay for pay-per-click advertising any more.

Fortune 500 companies are in the know – they are utilizing the power of social media networks as a way to receive strength and popularity in the market today.

 

If you sell products on the web or if you offer services Social Media is the answer. Social media can create the targeted traffic that you need to make your business profitable. Fortune 500 companies continuously admit to increase in revenue based solely on the use of social media outlets. Micro-blogging is what you should focus on to get your services and products in a more advanced position.

 

Internet marketing has become strategy based Social Media Marketing (SMM). SMM allows you to promote your ideas, show people you are the expert and build new relationships in business. Remember that the more people you actually reach and the more people you can get connected with, the better. The quicker people will be exposed to your business ideals and your products/services – the better! Be careful to build relationships not run people off by shoving your products and services down their throats. I recommend an 80/20 ratio. 20% actual product marketing, 80% letting them get to know you, what you are about, being a friend, making conversation and being of service. Retweet clever comments, share helpful blog posts, be of interest and add value to the conversation.

 

This type of marketing is actually fun! You get a chance to be the one on the front lines – running your business from a front line perspective while still managing all that you need to. You can reach a large audience and it’s completely free. You will meet people you normally don’t have a chance to meet- you get to see the face of your clients in a real and unique way. Business has never looked this good.

 

Good SMM raises your search engine positioning and ranking to the highest level possible in a fast way – this is what you want – more people to find you in a quick and meaningful way. These networking sites help you gain a huge amount of excellent quality links that lead to various gains for any business site. This is how you grow your search engine traffic everyday.

 

Social Media Marketing is about relationships that grow; you grow them and you will grow your business for a lot less money and with much better results.

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MARKET RESEARCH: WHY DO I NEED IT?

You’ve thought of your business idea, but have you spoken to potential customers yet? You need to understand what people want, and what competitors are already offering, before you can move towards business success.

Thorough market research is crucial, and the more research you do, the easier it will be in the future to make decisions about your marketing strategy, pricing, budget and sales target.

It’s important to do market research before committing to starting your own business. A business idea might look very good on paper but until you ask your potential customers you won’t know whether your business idea will work in the real world- where there are competitors and customers to win over.

 

What is market research?

Market research should help you to identify and find out more about the people most likely to buy your product or service – known as your target market. There are three main sources of good market – customer research, competitor research, test trading – and all three will give you an important insight into the market in which you might start-up.

 

You can carry out market research by using the following approaches:

  • Desk research: Desk research is an easy and often immediate starting point. You can find out a lot just by surfing the internet. sector magazines and government reports as well as directories and books. Relevant scholarly journals are most times the best sources to get facts and valuable insight.
  • Field research: Don’t forget about a resource you have on your doorstep too; ask local residents about the location and business sector you hope to set up in – there’s no knowledge quite like local knowledge!
  • Test trading: Lots of businesses look good on paper but the only test that matters is whether your product or services sells. Test trading allows you practice whether you can materialise your business conception.

 

Market research will help you to identify:

  1. Whether there is a market for your product or service
  2. How much demand there will be for your product or service
  3. Who your target customers are in terms of age, gender, location, profession, income, where they currently buy your product or service
  4. How you will reach your target customers
  5. How much your product or service is worth to your target customers and how often they will buy
  6. Who your competitors will be and how they operate

 

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