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Archive for the ‘Sales & Marketing’ Category

branding and design

We’re still disseminating some of our knowledge to prospective and current clients through email campaigns at the moment. Those on our lists will be getting regular emails with tips on design and branding issues pertinent to small and medium business.

You can also follow these tips regularly on the Luxgraphicus blog.

So that Canberra Small Business Blog readers don’t miss out, I’ll be posting bundled sets of tips here in my regular spot.

Please make comment or feedback on anything you find interesting, confusing, in need of more detail or otherwise worthy of comment. I look forward to developing a dialogue over the coming weeks and months.

7 tips on design for start-up businesses

If design is not your profession, hire a professional.
Research your audience.
Brief your design professional on your messages and audience.
Get your brand design done before your website, business card and brochure.
Plan ALL your requirements, then get some done now.
Get the others done later by the same designer.
Ask your design professional for an ongoing review of your branding.

10 tips on re-freshing your brand

If design is not your profession, hire a professional.
Keep all your “stuff” (visual collateral) consistent.
Look to “modernise” your logo (keep it’s shape and intent, change its feel and appeal)
Add some new graphics and text treatments
Compliment your standard colour palette with a few new ones.
Choose a small set of iconic images for your marketing and promotion
Change the format (shape & size) of some material.
Change the delivery method of some material.
Use a quality paper stock for your key material.
Ask your design professional for an ongoing review of your branding.

See you next time, and remember, the best businesses are watching their branding!

Brian Miller
Creative Director
Luxgraphicus Design Agency

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Jean McIntyre

By  Jean McIntyre (Marketing Angels)

Jean Mc talks about how small businesses can learn a lot from NASA by clever use of resources.

I got the inspiration for writing this post from watching one of my all time favourite movies ‘Apollo 13’.

My favourite scene (well one of my favourites) is where they find out that the carbon dioxide filters are the wrong shape for the inlets and they have to build new ones or the astronauts will die.

They collect stuff they have on the ship – socks, flight plans and things and a guy walks into a room of engineers, throws it all on the table and says:  “We have to find a way to make this, fit into the hole for this, using nothing but these.”

Of course they achieve it.  Nasa engineers are very clever but it’s such a good metaphor for ingenuity – especially in business.

Be Like NASA

Marketing in small business is all about clever use of resources.

When we write a marketing plan – it’s a roadmap for how the business could use its resources.  It lays out what the opportunities are, what the costs are and the likely payoff from using those resources.  A marketing plan helps the business owner to make decisions about for what they will use their resources and what they expect to achieve with them.

If the US Government hadn’t decided to spend the money they would never have achieved their goal.  Now we live in a world where a man has walked on the moon.

Deciding on Resource Expenditure

The first thing a business needs to decide on is how much they want to spend on marketing.  That includes both money and time.

It’s true that marketing can take a huge chunk about of a business’ operating budget.  The really big companies think nothing of spending millions on their marketing campaigns because spending money on marketing works.

That said, marketing (particularly if you advertise) can suck up all of your spare money if you aren’t clever about it.  You need to decide what is a reasonable amount of resources to spend to achieve the kind of return you want.  Marketing Angels has a very good e-guide about this subject that’s downloadable for free called “How Much Should I Spend on Marketing“.

Once you know what you want to spend – then you need to decide what to spend it on.

Hint:  Startups need to spend a much higher proportion of their budget on marketing than existing businesses.

What to take with you to the moon

There are literally 1,001 different ways you can market your business (I have a book with exactly that title!).  So what to choose.

I’ve talked in detail in previous posts about the different forms of marketing and when to use them. To make decisions on this you really need to understand your market inside and out.

Knowing your market (from research) will tell you: what magazines and newspapers they read, what channels they watch and listen to how they use the internet and what websites they frequent.  Research can tell you what organisations they belong to, how they shop and how much they spend.

All this informs the kind of marketing you will choose to spend your resources on.  It can drive your advertising, your publicity, your networking, your sponsorship, your events.

Most importantly it determines exactly what you will say to your market in your advertising – your key messages – so that what you say encourages potential customers to buy from you.

The NASA engineers know their ship, the astronauts, the journey and the destination inside out – so they’ve got a lot to work with to decide what resources to use and when and where.

Decide then DO IT

Probably the most important issue around using resources to market you business is to have faith and just decide to do it.  You know it will cost you time and money to succeed and committing those resources to marketing is perhaps the hardest leap to make in business.

In helping you with making that leap – I’m hoping you might find inspiration from President John F Kennedy when he announced that America was going to land a man on the moon.

I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on resource expenditure for marketing.

Jean Mc

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Helping Canberra small businesses to Get Smarter Marketing

By Jean McIntyre (Marketing Angels)

Jean Mc talks about how it’s important to identify your business’ unique selling proposition so that it’s clear to your most lucrative market that yours is the best business to serve their needs.

I had coffee today with the lovely Maria Taylor from The District Bulletin and we talked a lot about marketing – how advertising fits in to a marketing strategy but also how businesses need to really get clear on exactly who they are marketing to.

I’ve said it many times before but one can’t say it too much.  Marketing is all about understanding markets and having the right messages that appeal to the markets that are most lucrative to your business.  It sounds simple but most businesses get it wrong.

Well – Not That Simple

It is simple but there’s a rub.  Business people can’t help but think of all the possible sales they might get and they don’t want to miss out on any possible sale.  From a marketing perspective that’s just the wrong approach.

It’s true that there may simply be billions of people out there that, should they hear about your business, might be inclined to buy from you.  Trouble is – that getting to them all is prohibitively costly even with the advent of the internet.

The other thing that marketing is all about is resources.

A marketing strategy is simply a plan that determines exactly where are the best places to spend your money to access the people that are MOST LIKELY to want your products and buy them.  You choose a market according to how well your business can serve their needs and how easily you can communicate your messages with them.

What Determines Your Market

There are a few parameters that you should consider when establishing where your marketing dollar will be spent.  This is usually determined by your resources (people, skills, experience) and limitations (money and accessibility).  There’s just no point in choosing a market that has loads of money to spend if it’s impossible for you to communicate with it.

Markets generally need to meet four criteria: they must be sustainable; they must be able to be clearly identified and measured; they must be able to be reached and the must be responsive to your offering.

Here are just some of the more common characteristics that businesses can use to determine their market.

Geography

The extent to which geography determines your market depends on the type of business you have.  If your business relies on interaction with people then you will generally be limited to the area to which your people can travel.

If for example your business is soccer coaching and your customers are mums and dads that have to drive their kids from school to soccer – then its likely that you’ll limit your market to a small geographic area like Tuggeranong or Woden.

If this was the case then it would be silly to spend money on advertising in the Sydney Morning Herald and you would likely make better use of local networks to promote your business.  Of course if you franchise your business then it’s a different kettle of fish but still – each local area will have the same considerations.

Age

In marketing we call them ‘Cohorts’.  It’s not the only way you can break up age in to markets but it’s the best known approach.  You’ve heard them:  ‘Baby Boomer’, ‘Generation X’, ‘Generation Y’ etc.  Over time the things that happen in history, politics and society give particular age groups shared experiences that add together to affect their values, likes, dislikes and opinions.  These things impact on the behaviour – in particular spending habits of particular groups that make them good prospects for certain companies.

Of course each individual in the group is unique – but there are characteristics that are generally shared that make targetting the whole age group an efficient use of resources.

Here’s a description of Baby Boomers that I love from Marketing Textbook ‘Essentials of Marketing’ (Summers et al 2003 pg 438).

“…baby boomers are concerned with their children, their jobs and their retirement.  Nevertheless, some things will never change: they are a little selfish about their leisure time, a little careless about the way they spend their money, remain suspicious of the status quo, and they will always love rock ‘n’ roll.”

If this looks like a market that your business can serve you can use what you know about them to shape your messages and find the places that they’d be likely to congregate (in person and online).   Thinking again about advertising – if, for example, your business sold camping equipment – then you might think about creating messages about enjoying your leisure and your marketing might include advertising in a retirement magazine and networking with over 55’s groups to get your message out.

You wouldn’t advertise at a Raiders game.  Just because it’s possible that SOME of your market might be there – you are paying big money to deliver a message to a huge audience most of which isn’t interested in what you have to say.

Income

Of course – there’s no point in marketing to a group of people that can’t afford or aren’t willing to pay the price you want to get for your products.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has really good figures on how many people are in each income quintile (incomes are divided into 5 groups) and how much they spend on each category of product each week.  Using this you can establish the size of your market, determine how much of this market you are capable of capturing and how much you can earn from it.  This will help you establish what your marketing budget should be to reach them.

Other Segmentation Bases

In marketing we call breaking up the market into smaller more managing groups ‘segmentation’ and the things I have described are what we call ‘bases’ or characteristics.

There are other segmentation bases that are frequently used such as psychographics (personality, values, livestyles, motivations); family life cycle; product use frequency and benefits.  Each of these are appropriate ways to choose a market for your business to serve.

Get Choosy

When it comes down to it – business people need to get a bit fussy about who they choose to market to.

Stop thinking about those trillions of dollars you could earn from the billions of people out there – you are NEVER going to be able to reach them all – not with your small budget.

Start thinking about which markets will give you the best return on your marketing investment and start going after them with passion, commitment and your unique style.

I’d love to hear about what characteristics you’ve used to choose your market and why.

Jean Mc

References:

Summers J, Gardiner M, Lamb C, Hair J, McDaniel C;  ‘Essentials of Marketing’ 2003, Thompson Publishing Victoria Australia

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Here are a few sales facts to help you along the path of business success…

 

 

 

 

Sustainable sales revenues will take at least two years to develop
Sure, you will get revenues before this, but repeatable business will take at least this long

There is no right or wrong time to contact a prospect or client
Unless previously agreed, call them anytime (during working hours). They will soon tell you whether the time is right or not. If you can’t get hold of them, leave a message/email to say that you called, and that you will call them back.

There is no limit to how many times you should try getting in touch with someone
It really depends on how much time you’re prepared to spend. The fact that they haven’t contacted you doesn’t mean that they aren’t interested. There are many reasons why they haven’t called you back, and unless you can read minds, you will only find out once you have been in contact with them.

You have two ears and one mouth – use them that way
Listen to your clients and prospects (the above statement is figurative if you sell online). Have a conversation with them. Make sure you know exactly what they want. Ask questions. Wait for their replies. Take notes. Act on the notes. Provide solutions.

Plan, Action, Review, Plan, Action, Review…
The actual cycle time will vary, but keeping to this cycle will give your business the best chance. Make time for each phase.

Cold calling is a great way of renewing your business
Get a list, verify the list, and call everyone on the list. Expect about 10% response. It will give you feedback, it will give you new types of organisations into your client portfolio, and it will help to insure you against any future specific market sector slowdowns. Continue to do this regularly, not just once.
If you run a web based business, changing the way you advertise to attract a different market segment will achieve similar outcomes.

Do Business Development work regularly
If you don’t, you will invariably suffer peaks and troughs in your revenues, or at worst, cashflow issues

There are essentially two types of salespeople; Hunters and Farmers
Which one are you? You really need both in a business to run effectively, but I suggest that if you can’t do this, engage Hunters (or do the hunting yourself), and get your delivery people to manage the engagements once they are established.

A good face to face sales relationship will beat any other type of sales relationship every time
For the important deals, make sure this is the way you develop the sale above all else.
People buy from people. A major part of this is trust. If you can’t get close to your prospect to develop a good relationship, then look at ways of generating trust. Ebay have their rating system, testimonials will also do it, but the face to face relationship is the best.

Keep in touch
Meetings, Emails (approved of course), newsletters, blogs, Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Keep your profile fresh and updated. Keeping in people’s faces will remind them that you are still active and open for business. They will think of you before your competition. As Oscar Wilde wrote “There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”

You don’t need a reason to keep in touch
If you are genuinely interested in keeping your relationships going, call your colleagues and contacts once in a while, ask how things are going, invite them out for a cuppa. Invariably they will say yes.

Give freely of your time and expertise
Offering to help someone out with some advice for free (and with no expectation of return) is a great way to develop long term relationships and friendships. Of course, you will need to charge eventually, but you will find that the time to do this will come naturally.

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tips on branding and design canberra

We’re disseminating some of our knowledge to prospective and current clients through email campaigns at the moment. Those on our lists will be getting regular emails with tips on design and branding issues pertinent to small and medium business.

You can also follow these tips regularly on the Luxgraphicus blog.

So that Canberra Small Business Blog readers don’t miss out, I’ll be posting bundled sets of tips here in my regular spot.

Please make comment or feedback on anything you find interesting, confusing, in need of more detail or otherwise worthy of comment. I look forward to developing a dialogue over the coming weeks and months.

7 tips on why branding?

  1. Your client’s perception of your business is based on how they see you.
  2. They “see” you at every contact point with your business.
  3. This impression is created in a second.
  4. Their perception is often unconscious.
  5. This perception is often not a considered decision.
  6. To your client, their perception IS reality.
  7. When this perception is positive, potential sales become clients, and clients become advocates.

Why are the best businesses watching their branding?

5 tips on branding your business

  1. If design is not your profession, hire a professional.
  2. Review your brand and it’s purpose regularly (every 6 months).
  3. Apply brand rules across ALL aspects of your business.
  4. Apply brand rules ALL the time.
  5. Be consistent and stick to a single solution.

5 tips on managing your brand

  1. Review your brand regularly (every 6 months).
  2. Follow a checklist to make sure everything is considered.
  3. Create a system of rules.
  4. Make sure everyone follows the rules.
  5. Keep all your “stuff” (visual collateral) safe and retrievable.

See you next time, and remember, the best businesses are watching their branding!

Brian Miller
Creative Director
Luxgraphicus Design Agency

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By Jean Mc (Marketing Angels)

Jean Mc talks about how the secret to business success is being different.  But being different is only a valuable asset if it’s in a way that’s meaningful to your target market.

I had a preliminary meeting a couple of weeks ago with an eager gentleman who is wanting to break into the ACT Solar Power market.  He was bemoaning the fact that the NSW Government canned the solar feed in tariff.  No doubt he would now be cursing Minister Corbell for doing the same thing here.

The problem I see with this market (and many others that are fad based) is that they all want to claim a major share of the market through offering cheaper prices.  “Ah but we offer a quality product” he said.  “That’s what makes us different”!

There are two really big problems with this approach:

  1. Quality costs money and so you can’t be cheap.  Everything that we equate with quality: better materials, improved service, speedy resolution – all cost either time or money that – if you want to stay in business – you’ll have to pass on to your customers.  The fascinating thing is that consumers who want quality understand this and are prepared to pay for it.  So why then would they opt for a campaign around being cheap?  In the absence of any other way to tell the difference between providers, customers will just ring aroung for a few quotes and go with the cheapest.
  2. THAT’S WHAT EVERYBODY SAYS!!!  Truly – when the market is hot like this – the easiest thing to do is to find out what your competitors charge and just charge less.  If you’ve got a big bucket of money behind you and can stick it out – this is a sure-fire way to get rid of the ‘fly-by-nighters’ and reduce your competition.  In this case the only people who win are the consumers that pay much less money. But at what cost?

Step 1 – Polling is Essential

Business is Like Politics

Political parties win elections by appealing (more than the opposition) to the masses but (with some parties moreso than others) there are some lines they won’t cross to get elected.  To do this they poll endlessly to find out what’s important in the electorate and what they can do (within their beliefs and value systems) to satisfy electors.

Being in business is not unlike this.

Before you even start in business you should conduct lots of research about your target market.  Things like what is important to them (eg: family, wealth, the environment); what activities do they engage in (eg: community and sporting groups, social activities); what media do they consume (eg: internet, print, television, radio); what are they really looking for in life?

The more you know about your target market the better you’ll be at creating products that really meet their needs (or policies if you are in Government).  You’ll know how best to communicate with them and how you can build a long term meaningful relationship with them that benefits both them and you.

We usually choose a business to be in that we have special skills in or that interests us or suits our value systems.  So what we are prepared to do to meet customers’ needs is bound by these parameters.

Step 2 – Educate your Market

Sometimes, what we offer customers is more likely to meet (what we call in marketing) “latent needs”.  That is, needs that they don’t yet know they  have.  It means that they haven’t yet thought that they have a problem that you can resolve.

Using the solar power example – there are still people who haven’t really engaged in thinking about putting solar panels on their rooves.  So what is the point in telling them that you do it cheaper than everybody else?

Like politicians , we can do a lot to educate the market on how what we can offer, meets their needs better than our opposition.

Understanding your market and how it thinks can help you describe your offering in a way that connects with them and their personal goals.

Imagine for a moment that you have found out through research that your market is concerned with the rising cost of living.  Do you think they would be more interested in a low cost installation or a solution that invests in lowering the costs of power for their family well into the future.

Step 3 – Tell Your Story

You educate your market through using language that appeals to their values and describes your product as clearly meeting their needs.

Communicate your key messages based on what you know of your market and its needs and your unique selling proposition to meet these needs.  The market will decide all by itself to buy your products (goods and services).

I’d be interested to hear what it is that makes your business different from your competition and why that’s important to your market.

Jean Mc

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What strategies work for you?

There is a lot of information out in the community, on the web and also in the workplace on stress and how to manage it.

However the first step to managing stress is, knowing what stress is for you?

What can be very resourceful is to identify when you are stressed, how you are feeling and you could also rate this for example on a scale of 1 to 10.

Take the time to notice how your breathing is and if it is shallow, then you could take a few deep breaths and then see how you are feeling. Just breathing differently can make a difference.

I personally think one of the biggest mistakes we make is assuming how someone should be feeling or react to any given situation based on how we would be feeling or react.

Take for example 2 people going through Divorce, how one person reacts may be very different to the other person. The stages of emotions that may be experienced will vary from person to person, or the time in which it takes for life to feel relatively normal again, if at all.

In the workplace how two people respond to work demands, deadlines and managing people will vary. Is it getting to work on time, or is it your work load, or it could be work colleagues that increase your stress levels. What we need to realise is that it is not something or someone that causes us stress it is how we perceive a situation or react to what is happening around us that creates the feeling inside.`

When a crisis happens in the world such as the Floods in Queensland, the earthquake in Christchurch or the Tsunami in Japan, this is a situation that can effect people differently, if you have family there or feel very emotional about the tragedy and lives lost you may feel stressed by this situation, however if for example you don’t have any family there and have no emotional attachment to the situation then you may not have any reaction just a feeling of empathy or sadness. Please remember people feelings and reactions are their own and not right or wrong just their feelings.

Do you really know which strategies works for you? Have you ever been told how to manage stress, use the techniques and still no results?

This may be due to the fact that you have not discovered what works for you!

Is it
• Exercise
• Healthy eating
• No alcohol
• Mediation
• Deep breathing techniques

These are some of the tips that can be used in isolation or even combine a number of them or all of them. So what do you do when you have tried them all and nothing seems to work?

Well just like isolating what foods/preservatives don’t agree with you, you have to try some different techniques and measure what is getting a result, even a small result should be measured and when you get good results you need to keep doing that but also try other techniques to increase the outcome. Never give up.

Step 1. Identify how you are feeling (Angry, Sad, hurt, scared, uncertain)
Step 2. Ask yourself what specifically about this situation is making me feel this way?
Step 3. Can I change the situation? Become resourceful….
Step 4. Can I change the way I perceive the situation/ is it as bad as it seems
Step 5. What strategies work that I can use right now
Step 6. Take action

Remember not to fool yourself by saying nothing works. I can’t tell you how many times I hear someone say nothing works and when you ask the question they may have tried one technique once and given up.

If you want to know more about managing stress feel free to contact us for some more information or book a session on Managing Stress with resourceful outcomes.

Till next time

Donna Moulds

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Jean McIntyre

By Jean McIntyre (Marketing Angels)

Jean McIntyre talks about how to maximise the opportunities your business has to share your key messages in all your communications.

I’ve been doing some work for a local industry association that does a lot of communication with members, Government, industry and other business organisations.  Well, I can’t always be there to supervise all the communication that goes out – but sometimes I discover, after the fact, that a fantastic opportunity to get the message out has just been frittered away.

Good Messages do Magic

Let’s examine what I mean here.

I’ve talked before about key the importance of key marketing messages.  In last weeks post I talked about how your unique selling proposition (I didn’t actually use that term) is what separates you out from your competitors – at the core of this is the messages you give about your business – your promise to the market.

Marketing messages are about recognising needs in potential customers and then explaining how your business will meet those  needs and make them feel better.

The Right Media for Messages

We tend to think about there is a place to deliver your marketing messages.  Places like brochures, the website, advertising etc.  Yes it’s crucial that these things don’t just describe what you will DO for customers but actually communicate what benefits you will deliver for them.

There is a right place – it’s EVERYWHERE YOU COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR MARKET.

The problem is that experts tend to be focused on communicating what it is they have or want customers to DO and tend to forget about the benefits they deliver.

A Missed Opportunity

Let’s look at an example from my industry association.  Here they prepared a letter to be sent out to a new member with a new members pack. (I’ve removed the identifying details but it said:

Thank you for your support of the NAME OF ORGANISATION and WELCOME!

The Executive Director of the ORGANISATION, Mr NAME, will be visiting you in the near future to welcome you to the Association. Prior phone contact will be made with you to check your availability.

Please find enclosed your invoice for membership and a welcome pack.

Kind regards

The Office Manager

 Now, remember that this is the first communication that this new member gets from the organisation.  The first time they get to find out what kind of organisation it is and how it will benefit them.

The organisation is of course focused on the task of sending out the new member kit and letting the member know to expect a visit.  They’ve forgotten that the letter is a personal communication (unlike the brochures that are in the kit) and will be the start of a new and hopefully long term relationship with this member.

In this case – the organisation has recently suffered a hostile takeover attempt from a larger interstate organisation.  It is really important that members understand how the local organisation is best placed to support them on local issues using its local contacts and knowledge.  It is a must that this letter communicate this message.  They want members to read their letter and nod their heads saying “yes that’s right – I’m glad I’ve joined“.

Where to Share

Let’s look at some media that you might not have thought about to communicate your key messages to current, past and potential customes.

In your business letters – yes tell them what you need them to know but also talk about why you are better than the competitors at meeting their needs.

In your billing – it’s pretty easy to slip in a short message about how great you are for them at the bottom of the invoice

In your newsletter – You’d be amazed at how many businesses just report what they’ve been doing and give technical detail without taking the extra step to show how doing this benefits the customer.

On your blog – it’s really important that while waxing lyrical about your area of expertise that you take time out to communicate in the customer’s language about how you improve their life.

In your media releases – yes it has to be newsy to achieve publicity but if you get on TV without getting your key message out you might as well not have bothered to write the release.

In your networking – don’t just tell people what you do – leave them understanding what benefits you’ll deliver to help them

Audit Your Communication

My advice to business people would be to stop and make a list of all the different ways you communicate with your market and ask yourself “are we doing enough in this communication to get out the message of our unique selling proposition”.

The great thing is that your communication is completely under your control and can be a really cost effective way to contribute to your promotion.

Get Help With Getting It Out

Of course if you need help to develop your key messages or to find new ways to communicate them to your market – contact Marketing Angels to sign up for a group marketing workshop or a one on one consultancy.

I’d love to hear about the unique communication methods you’ve used to get your key messages out.

Jean Mc

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By Jean McIntyre (Marketing Angels)

Is competition something to be feared, ignored or confronted full on.  Jean Mc talks about the nature of business competition and ways that marketers can help businesses deal with this inevitable consequence of success.

I was reading in the Canberra Times on 28th February about the demise of Brand Depot and DFO. Both it seems are in danger of closing and certainly both have seen a mass closedown of tennant stores.  They put it down to both the GFC and development and upgrading of other shopping centres in the region.

Wikipedia defines competiton in economics as: ” the notion of individuals and firms striving for a greater share of a market to sell or buy goods and services.” Surely with words like “individuals”, “striving” and “share” this can only be considered a good thing.

Certainly Wikipedia goes on to say that economist consider competition to be a healthy thing (as did my economics lecturer at UC) because it promotes “consumer soverienty”.  This means that the greater the competition – the more choice and control that consumers have.

Competition is a good thing – really!

It usually means that prices come down which (in a narrow way of thinking) is less good for businesses than it is for consumers.  The good thing for businesses about competition is that it tends to keep us focused on our brand and continually innovating new products and ways of promoting them to keep our place at the top of the market.

In short – when the customer is king then it makes sense for businesses to think about newer and better ways to meet their needs.  That folks is the essence of marketing.

Dealing With Competition

I talk about competition a lot when I go around the Capital Region talking about marketing.  It’s not that easy to understand.

In some ways, your business is in competition with my business and every other business that people might spend money in.  If we agree that consumers (business, Government or household) have a limited amount of money in their pockets to spend – and even less discretionary money to spend – then in this way each business competes with every other for this money.

Plumbers compete with gymnasiums, with supermarkets, with financial planners and with charities for all the money that households have to spend.  This is probably how accountants see it.

How to Have No Competitors

Marketers see it a different way.  Marketers start with fully understanding the needs of the target market (through research) and how your business could best meet them.

A marketing savvy business works out how their unique resources (skills, knowledge, people, technology, experience etc) can be packaged together to meet the needs of the target market in a way that no other business can match.  Promotion of the business then becomes about building a desire in the market to have their needs met in this way.

An example

Mary has a shoe store.  She conducts some research about how her market feels about shoe shopping.  She discovers that her potential customers look forward to shoe shopping as a way to relax and make them feel special.  With a bit more research, staff input and some customer feedback – she develops a ‘Valet Shoe Fitting Experience’ where customers can come and relax, mingle, drink and eat and have a customer care specialist give them individual attention.

Mary found that women in her market were prepared to pay a premium price to have their special needs met in this way.

You might say “but not every woman would find that appealing”.  That is the whole point.  Mary has specifically targeted a small section of women with specific tastes and values and put all her resources into serving them better than every other shoe store.  Of course she did sufficient research to identify whether there were enough women fitting in to this niche group to be able to support her business.

In this way – having created a need for this valet service among her market – Mary  has removed all the other shoe stores from her competition.  She simply has no competitors in this market.

Research is the Key to Removing Competition

If you would like to be like Mary and remove the competition then the place to start is with research.  You need to research these things:

  1. Characteristics of your target market (size, income, location, age, spending habits etc)
  2. Values of your target market (what’s important to them, what do they put a premium on?)
  3. What they need (needs and desires – fears they want to allay)
  4. Where are the gaps in the market?  (Who is meeting these needs and who is not – how are they positioning themselves?)

Once you have a good understanding on what the market needs you can then start to develop products (goods and services) that meet their needs better than other businesses and start to eliminate your competition.

Marketing Angels can Help with Research

If you need help to understand what makes your target market tick – contact Marketing Angels for expert help on marketing research.

I’d be interested to hear about your experiences with competition and how you have managed it successfully.

Jean Mc

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Craig Munns - Sales Innovation

Next to direct referrals, business gained from personal networking are the best business you can get, so it pays to know how to do this well.

Here are a few tips on how to network when you’re at a function.

Preparation

Before you go to the function, it pays to know what type of people will be there, and who will be there. You should be able to get an idea from the speaker or type of event it is.

For example, the opening of the Canberra Business Point facilities at the Canberra Business Council premises the other week attracted a wide variety of Canberra based business. By the nature of this market, you know that there will be a mixture of mostly small to very small business, with a few representatives of larger business with branches in Canberra.

Alternatively, a sit down lunch at a high class hotel in Sydney with the CEO of the Commonwealth Bank will predominantly attract senior representatives from large smalls to very large businesses.

What type of function you go to will be determined by the type of organisation and individual most likely to buy your products and services. I suggest that you focus on the profile of the audience that will be attending, rather than whether the speaker necessarily interests you (who knows, you may learn something anyway!).

In some cases (especially with sit down meal based functions), you can call the convenors of the event a few days prior, and obtain a list of attendees, and even nominate to sit with a prospect or two! Give it a try!

What to take

Always take the following; a large bunch of business cards (at least 20), some paper to write people’s details on (one of the small pocket sized spiral bound notebooks are ideal) a working pen, and, if you can’t see across a room without it being fuzzy, your glasses! For the guys, I always put my business cards into one pocket, and other people’s business cards into another pocket so I’m not giving out other people’s cards!

It pays to get there on time. If the invitation says 12:00 for 12:30, get there at 12:00. Maximise your networking time!

Working the room

If you go with people you know, DON”T stick together, and DON”T sit together! Talk to people you don’t know! That’s the point! Look for groups that are positioned in such a way that it looks like they ‘should’ have someone else in the mix. I.e. they are not facing each other directly, but both standing facing to a point in the distance. If it’s a group of three or more, if there’s a gap in their ‘circle’ feel free to go up and say ‘Hi’.

Saying ‘Hi’. It’s as simple as that. Everyone is there for the same reason, so they will expect you to do this. Say something like ‘Hi, my name’s Craig’ (and offer your hand to shake – keep a business card not far behind). Ask things like; what they do, who they work for, exchange business cards, and make that a point of conversation. Try not to ‘go for the jugular’ and sell something to them (at least not now!). Aussies much prefer to have a chat. If they are interested (or you’re interested in what they do), it will generally come up in conversation anyway. You will invariably need to make another time to chat in any case.

Once you feel there isn’t much more to say (sometimes that will be a matter of minutes, or it may be 1/2 hour, depending on how much you have to talk about), commit to getting back in touch (if you need to), and make a note of this, either on their business card, or in your notebook. Say goodbye, and look for another group.

Just keep on doing this until you’re interrupted by the meal announcement, or the speaker, etc.

Afterwards

After the function, follow up! Take some time after the function to arrange meetings, input the contact data into your database, and call people back (try and do this as soon as possible after the function, or as otherwise agreed).

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