marketing management and marketing strategies basics for small business owners

most small business owners don’t
understand the process of marketing being a successful marketer requires
numerous make-it-or-break-it skills that separate the mediocre or failed
companies from the long lived or fast-track ones for proof of the
importance of marketing as a business skill look no further than those less
than stellar products and services that are quite successful
thanks to first-class marketing efforts case in point
McDonald certainly doesn’t have the best hamburgers in the world on the flip side
rarely our first-rate products successful through inadequate marketing
efforts he warn’t alone if you can’t readily identify the difference between
marketing sales and distribution the definitions of these key terms ones
you’ll hear over and over in the business world are as follows marketing
the manner in which product development sales promotion distribution and pricing
are bundled together to create an overall plan designed to communicate and
deliver your company’s products or services to the marketplace and hence to
the ultimate customer sales the way your company either directly or indirectly
connects with convinces and contracts with customers to purchase your products
or services take note sales represents only one components of the marketing
process distribution the channels such as retailers wholesalers ecommerce and
catalogs that you use to deliver your product or service to your customers in
large corporations the senior executive in charge of marketing carries the
burden the work he does is pivotal to the success or failure of the business
in a small business however the marketing function usually rests on the
shoulders of the owner the following five key components make up the
marketing process product and service development pricing distribution
promotion sales for most entrepreneurs product and
service development is the most enjoyable part of building a business
whether refining an existing product or service or inventing a brand spanking
new one many entrepreneurs hang out their shingles in the first place
because they believe they have valuable products or services to offer or have
identified an unmet demand in the marketplace they love the nuances of
their products or services and are forever looking for ways to redefine and
expand them even though most small businesses go about product and service
development and haphazard ways a defined process exists that process goes
something like this one get an idea someone not necessarily you the
entrepreneur hatches the idea no matter where it comes from though you the
business owner are always the one to champion or support the idea tip new
product and service ideas can come from a variety of sources including vendors
trade publications and of course employees unquestionably however many
new product ideas result from talking and listening to customers both current
and potential afterall customers are the people who are most familiar with the
use of the product or service and customers are in most cases the same
people who ultimately purchase new products to evaluate the idea work with
people responsible for product development to complete this step if
that person is you work with prospective customers to help define your product or
service pay particular attention to issues such as profit potential ease of
manufacturing where applicable competition and pricing 3 analyze your
opportunity present the product or service concept to a few select
customers to determine the size and scope of the potential market for
develop your product or service at this stage if the project is still a go your
goal is to develop the prod door service time to dot the i’s and
cross the t’s in preparation for the next step 5
test the market conduct market research test the completed product or service
with a few prospective customers with the intent of working out any bugs in
preparation for the products official introduction to the marketplace 6
introduce your product or service to the marketplace begin an advertising program
send the press releases and start training the salespeople or
manufacturer’s representatives who will be responsible for selling the new
product or service remember because not every idea will turn into a workable or
profitable product or service you need to be tough as you proceed through these
steps especially when you reach the evaluation process make sure that you
thoroughly evaluate the pros and cons before moving on to the opportunity
analysis stage the product development process is expensive and you’re better
off cutting your losses early in the process rather than later pricing someone once observed that
pricing is 2/3 marketing and 1/3 financial this statement goes against
the grain of common sense which suggests that nothing can be more financial than
price but if your pricing isn’t right your marketing plan no matter how well
crafted won’t get off the ground price is too high your product won’t sell
price is too low your product may sell but your company won’t be profitable the
price as the television game show proclaims must be right to properly
understand the role of pricing you must first understand margin margin is the
difference between how much it costs you to produce your product or service and
how much you can sell it for if your widget costs your company 2 dollars to
manufacture for instance and you sell it for $3 your margin is $1 presented in
terms of percentages if you make a profit of $1 on each $3 sale your margin
is 33% $1 divided by $3 developing your pricing strategy every
business needs an overall strategy to guide it in making its pricing decisions
this means you need to plan your pricing strategy instead of just letting it
evolve pricing shouldn’t be a decision you make on a day-to-day basis but
rather an extension of an overall plan for example you may decide by planning
to be the lowest priced company in your niche thus attracting customers who
think they’re getting a bargain by frequenting your business or you may
want to have the highest prices in your niche high prices send messages of
quality and distinction to some customers witness art galleries fine
wines or Brooks Brothers shirts you may even want to sell some of your products
at cost or even at a lower than cost price these products are referred to as
loss leaders to attract customers who will then buy other products at higher
prices as a small business owner you have the flexibility to determine your
price points any way you see fit keep the following five factors in mind
as you consider your pricing strategy your marketing objectives marketing
objectives vary with the product or service you’re selling if for example
you have a new product to introduce your short-term objective may be to gain
market share and preempt competition making your product well known to the
consumer in the process so you may discount your normal prices over the
short term with profitability being shunted to the background to achieve
your long-term objectives another marketing objective may be to sell slow
moving inventory to generate cash similar to the example of new product
introduction this objective also dictates short-term discounted pricing
remember be careful however not to get in the habit of continually discounting
prices unless that is you want to be perceived as a discounter most of the
time your marketing objective should be to maximize profit on your products
without losing to many sales in the process this
objective should dictate your long term pricing decisions the cost to produce
the product or service cost is the total of all the expenses involved in
generating your product or service not only direct costs such as wages and
salaries directly involved in the product materials and freight in but
also indirect costs such as administration accounting and sales
knowing the direct and indirect costs of your product or service is important in
determining its break-even point also called breakeven cost for the price
below which you can’t sell your offering without losing money
remember cost is one barometer of your breakeven point but it should never be
the primary determinant in the pricing process the process of determining your
break-even cost is quite simple assuming that is that your accounting system
captures the necessary figures here’s how to determine your breakeven cost 1
determine the direct cost allocation for each product or service add all the
direct costs those directly involved in its manufacture wages specifically
involved in the product or service materials and incoming freight
associated with that particular product or service during a specific accounting
period preferably one month but no more than one quarter divide the total amount
of direct cost dollars by the total number of products manufactured or
services provided during that period to determine the indirect cost allocation
for each product or service add the total dollars of your indirect costs
those indirect general and administrative costs that can’t be
specifically tied to a product or service for the specific accounting
period divide that number by the total number of products or services you
provided in that period 3 add the direct cost allocation to the indirect cost
allocation to reveal your breakeven cost amounts above the break-even cost
represent your profit on that product or service amounts below it represent your
loss if you offer more than one product or service the process of determining a
break-even point for each product or service can become complicated
whether you succeed in arriving at an accurate break-even cost for each
product or service depends on the sophistication of your accounting system
customer demand the relative ease or difficulty of selling your product or
service to the customer should play an important part in the pricing decision
what’s the ratio of product on the market to supply available the price
points in all industries are subject to fluctuating supply and demand factors
supply and demand is basically a scarcity of goods services equation for
instance the more computer repair people you have in your area the less the
demand for each of their individual services comparative value to the
customer just as beauty is in the eyes of the beholder the value of a product
is in the eyes of the customer in addition to knowing what your product is
worth in your eyes you need to understand how much your product is
perceived to be worth in the eyes of your customers set your prices at a
level where your desired customers feel that they’re getting their money’s worth
competition who is your competition and what’s the price point of their products
how comparable are those products to yours what are their products perceived
values compared to yours and what factors affect their perceived values to
determine the answers to these questions you must first kick your competitors
tires by visiting the stores or websites where their products are sold or by
picking up the phone and asking the right questions ask buyers of their
products questions like the following why did you purchase the product what is
your perception of the relationship between value and price
would you pay more for it if you had to what do you like most about the product
and what do you like least about it tip when comparing your product to that of
your competitors be sure to include all the criteria involved not just the price
additional criteria can include delivery strength of brands name image packaging
quality after sales service guarantees return and trade-in policies and more after you understand the factors that go
into making your pricing decisions and you’ve done your comparative shopping
you need to pull all the pieces together to make the pricing decision we explain
how to make pricing decisions both for introducing a new product or service or
for updating your price list for existing products or services in this
section pricing new products or services when introducing new products or
services you have three pricing options you may choose any one of the following
three depending on your predetermined pricing strategy premium pricing premium
pricing is when you set your price higher than the competition
or if you have no competition higher than what’s typical within the industry
for that particular product in this way you skim the market in effect appealing
to the customers who are most motivated to pay a high price for products based
on perceived value premium pricing may limit your unit sales but it will also
increase your profit margin market penetration this pricing choice involves
lowering your price to undercut competition with the intent of gathering
dominant market share the percentage that you own of the total available
market this pricing strategy is designed to help maximize your company’s name
recognition in the marketplace and is frequently used by startup businesses
that want to attract low cost buyers generally speaking this is a short-term
tactic that can’t be maintained over the long term meeting the competition this
pricing decision is as the name implies designs to meet the price of your
competition thus encouraging the customer to compare your product or
service to your competitors feature by feature benefit by benefit before
adopting this pricing decision you must first make sure that your product or
service can withstand the comparison and that you can offer a competitive price
and value without threatening your survival
updating prices of existing products or services reviewing and altering prices
on existing products or services is an ongoing procedure not a once a year
occurrence prices must never be cast in stone they can and should change as
market conditions change consider gasoline prices you can’t always change
prices for instance in those cases when you must generate an official price list
but remember that pricing is primarily a marketing strategy as markets change so
must your strategies for capturing those markets distribution is how you get your product
or service to the ultimate consumer distribution channels vary within the
same industry and apply to all businesses no one right or wrong way
exists to distribute your products or services you can however usually find a
way that works best for you two basic categories of distribution exist
depending on whether a middleman comes between the manufacturer of the products
or the provider of the services and the consumer direct distribution occurs when
no middleman is involved in direct distribution involves a middleman each
distribution channel has evolved for a reason and each one has its own
strengths and weaknesses the direct distribution of products
involves establishing one-on-one relationships with the buyers without
involving any middlemen along the way retail national retail chains like Gap
and the body shop have chosen to sell their products through a direct
distribution channel what better way to avoid a middleman and be close to your
customers than to physically interact with them in a retail environment
knowing your customer is crucial to any small business’s success and a retail
distribution system offers a perfect vehicle for doing just that another
advantage of retail distribution is that you retain the entire markup on your
products still another advantage is that in most cases you don’t have the expense
of maintaining accounts receivable as in put it on my tab because these days
retailing is primarily a cash or credits debit card business although credit card
charges Visa MasterCard American Express and others may not represent immediate
cash they do represent a dependable stream of cash and you don’t have to
worry about collecting the funds you do of course have to pay fees up to two
percent or more for these privileges the disadvantage of retail distribution is
that the costs of maintaining and staffing a retail store are high also
because you can’t have your eye on the till and the door all the time in most
cases retail is susceptible to theft of both cash and inventory finally in most
cases you’re required to sign a lease a document that legally binds you to pay a
landlord typically for several years or more regardless of whether your store
remains profitable or even in business direct mail direct mail refers to the
mailing of flyers and advertisements directly to a specific audience the
success or failure of any direct mail campaign is usually tied to the quality
of both the mailing list and the promotional piece itself one of direct
mails advantages is its capability to directly target and
reach qualified prospects people who fit your demographic projections of who is
most likely to want your product or service looking for a list of potential
customers with two or more children who own their own homes and who have annual
incomes over $100,000 no problem you can purchase a list and do the mailing
yourself or you can hire a firm that will do it all for you one disadvantage
of direct mail is the relatively high cost per contact the cost per thousand
of direct mailings is significantly higher than the cost per thousand to
reach newspaper or magazine readers via advertising the difference of course is
that if your mailing list is good every recipient represents a qualified
prospect whereas only a fraction of your advertising contacts may be qualified a
second disadvantage of direct mail is that some consumers simply don’t like
the direct mail medium so you can end up alienating potential customers when you
use it here’s how to successfully develop your own direct mail program
collect existing direct mail pieces that you like and use them as examples for
your own design contact the business behind the materials that appeal to you
the most and inquire who created the pieces and how they did so concentrate
on solving your customers problems not on selling them products decide what
offer you’ll make to move your target prospect to take the action your mailer
invites for example people don’t want to count steps and calories they want to
increase their energy and improve their health so if your fitness programs can
help them do that therein lies your message remember this tactic is commonly
known as selling your products benefits not its features and it’s quite possibly
the number-one rule of marketing purchase or rent a mailing list by
interviewing several different lists companies look in the traditional yellow
pages or online under mailing lists or called
trade magazine reps and inquire about their subscription lists costs should
vary from $25 to $75 per thousand names make sure you’ve defined the target
market for your product or service and obtained a mailing list that includes
only those who match the profile of your target consider using a self mailer when
possible thereby saving you the cost of an envelope more people throw away junk
mail in sealed envelopes anyway stick with it don’t give up after the first
mailing many consumers need to see the same message several times before they
react follow up your mailings with phone calls when you intend to follow up the
mailing with a phone call which often helps to ensure better results stagger
your mailings so that you don’t have to make too many calls during a short time
period maintain a complete record of the results of your mailing detailing the
number of responses and the number of orders that result a two to three
percent response rate on a first-time direct mailing is usually considered
good mail order catalogs mail order catalogs along with websites have
enjoyed a leap in popularity as the American shopper does more and more of
her shopping from the comfort of home make no mistake about it however
catalogs selling is an expensive channel for businesses especially for startups
creating and mailing a top notch catalog can be off the charts expensive
depending on the size of the mailings if you can’t afford a top notch catalog you
probably don’t belong in this distribution channel initial outlays
include the charge for obtaining mailing lists the costs of creating and
developing the catalog and the mailing expenses and don’t forget the additional
cost and risk of maintaining sufficient inventory to be able to ship your orders
within a reasonable amount of time internet sales
certainly the newer kid on the block internet selling also known as
e-commerce is the most exciting development since the wagon trains
headed west internet sales are another form of catalog sales customers simply
connect to your company’s website click around until they find the items they’re
looking for plug in their credit card numbers and wait for the packages to
arrive by mail distribution via the Internet is easy on the shopper no
dodging traffic or fighting crowds and easy on the vendor no mall rent were
expensive mailing lists incidentally this relatively inexpensive way of
reaching customers also allows internet prices for most products except for
those that are quite costly to ship to be competitive of course you will have
the costs of developing and maintaining a website which can add up especially if
you’re not careful internet selling works best for the small business when
you have an off-the-beaten-path product that customers can’t find anywhere else
customers who are having trouble finding good products easily turn to internet
searches to locate alternative suppliers trade shows you may be in an industry
that allows you to use trade shows to purchase your products from your vendors
or to sell your products to your customers trade shows also provide the
opportunity to network with other people who do the same thing you do and to
check out the competition most of all the information you glean from
successfully working a trade show allows you to keep a firm pulse on your
industry don’t overlook the training classes that are usually included with
most trade shows yes trade shows can be expensive by the time
you factor in travel and time away from the job but they’re usually a
justifiable marketing expense in direct distribution is the process by
which consumer products or services pass through a middleman before reaching the
consumer reaching your customers through other retailers traverse the aisles of a
Walmart or Target store and you’ll find that every product on its shelves is
from a manufacturer somewhere who has opted for the second-hand retailing
method of indirect distribution meanwhile Walmart and Target are left to
do what they do best sell retail to the consumer the advantage of selling to
retailers is that you have to deal with only one or a few customers the
retailer’s buyers which simplifies the distribution process immensely this one
stops selling process enhances the relationship building process that is
the establishment of a relationship between the vendor and the customer in
this case the relationship is typically between the manufacturer salesperson and
the retailer’s buyer warning one distinct disadvantage of selling your
products to retailers especially those with multiple stores is that they often
use the size of the orders they place as leverage to become extremely demanding
on such issues as price payment delivery and packaging retailers especially the
larger ones can keep their prices low for a reason and often that reason comes
at the expense of their vendors especially the smaller ones that don’t
have the leverage the bigger guys have relying on wholesalers or distributors
wholesale distribution is a perfect example of how the middleman process
works the typical wholesaler distributor buys
large quantities of products from manufacturers breaks them down into
manageable quantities sometimes repackages them and then offers them to
the consumer examples of wholesalers include plumbing
and electrical supply businesses whose primary customers are contractors and
grocery wholesalers whose primary customers are grocery and convenience
stores many manufacturers like working with
wholesalers because they don’t want the hassles associated with selling to
consumers and smaller customers after all their expertise is in manufacturing
repackaging another common example of indirect distribution is repackaging
selling your products to another manufacturer or developer of related
products who offers them to its customers in another form you often see
examples of repackaging in the grocery business where a grocery store chain
sells products that bear the stores own name the process is known as private
labeling on the containers of products someone else has manufactured many
juices frozen foods and health and beauty products have been repackaged an
advantage of repackaging is that in most cases the sales and marketing functions
are left to your customer allowing you to concentrate on the manufacturing part
of your business the disadvantages are that your profit margins are sure to
suffer and you’re likely to be overly dependent on one customer the company
doing the repackaging no easy answer exists to the question of
which distribution channels are best suited to your business to help you
answer this question list the distribution channels that your
competitors are using ranked the list with the most successful businesses at
the top you can afford distribution channels have differing costs for
instance hiring your own sales staff costs more than creating a contract with
a manufacturer’s rep your research and intuition tell you will be successful in
your industry five years from now given the continuing increase in web-based
buying yesterday’s distribution channels will look different than today’s now
compare these three lists add a pinch of common sense and determine the
distribution channels that you prefer whatever you do don’t lock yourself into
one distribution channel forever Lands End for instance started in the
catalog business but today it also has consumer retail and internet channels
ditto ll beam today’s technologies are changing distribution channel options at
warp speed small business is all about meeting change and staying flexible so
whatever distribution channels you select should be subject to ongoing
review over time the marketplace will give you feedback and adaptable small
businesses will tweak and adjust their approach over the years promotion is the process of informing
potential customers about your company and its products and services and then
influencing them to purchase what you’re selling promotional activities include
word-of-mouth advertising networking media advertising online marketing and
publicity you’ll direct some of your promotional activities to generate
immediate sales you’ll use others to build the brand in turn educating
informing and planting the seeds for future sales tip before you invest in
any promotional effort you must first determine the target market you want to
reach and the objective you want to achieve if you want prospective
customers to call or visit your website your ad must give good reasons to do
sell and it needs to have a prominent presentation of your phone number and
website address if you want to create foot traffic you have to offer
time-sensitive compelling reasons to visit your business such as a one-time
discount or the appearance of a VIP to put everything you need to know about
promotion in one sentence it’s knowing your audience and your objective and
then crafting your messages accordingly networking can be defined as connecting
with people to make good things happen networking offers a host of benefits the
two most obvious being the opportunity to promote your products or services and
the opportunity for you to learn from those with whom you network these two
benefits are the primary reasons that organizations such as the Chamber of
Commerce the rotary and Toastmasters exist think about using the networks you
already have your friends your relatives your alma mater your church your
children’s school your neighborhood and the social organizations you belong to
are all viable networks with a little priming being proactive many of your
existing networks will be happy to give your product or service a try all you
have to do is initiate the priming this priming can come in many forms a
telephone call a flyer in the mail and email social media postings mentions or
even a casual mention during a conversation following a school event
all these communication methods are viable parts of the network priming
process and all of them are available at little cost remember be thoughtful and
careful when networking with the people you know people are busy and bombarded
daily with tons of advertising solicitations and spam email
aren’t you the last thing most people want is to be accosted by a salesperson
and what they thought were the friendly safe confines of a school or church
start with a low-key approach assemble a one-page summary or a simple flyer of
your company’s products or services and mail or email copies to people you know
tip you can improve your network priming with these additional tips at the
beginning of every year make a goal for yourself to add one more network to your
current stable of contacts the most obvious way to do this given today’s
web-based trends is to start using social media tools such as Facebook
LinkedIn and Twitter make sure that you have a professional look
business card and don’t be shy about handing it out folks should be able to
discern exactly what business you’re in through the combination of your company
name and your tagline both of which should appear on your business card be
sure to follow up every networking opportunity a telephone call or a letter
the next day reminds your networking prospects of your business and shows
them that you manage it professionally remember that networking works both ways
help another small business within your network and you can usually expect that
the other business will eventually help you what do you think when you hear a radio
ad that says the greasy spoon cafe serves the best burgers in town but five
minutes later a friend tells you that Danny’s diner really serves the best
burgers who are you going to believe the radio ad or your friend if you’re like
most people you’ll believe your friend after all
radio ads are scripted and paid advertising not so with friends they
have no script and generally no agenda which makes them a credible resource
such is the power of word-of-mouth referrals the problem of course is that
you can’t dictate the script of a referral the way you can a radio ad if
Danny’s hamburgers aren’t up to snuff Danny’s would be better off if its
customers kept their mouth shut word-of-mouth referrals tell it the way
the customer sees it not as the business owner would like him to see it so make
sure your product or service is great before people start talking remember you
don’t have to hire an ad agency or media consultant to make word-of-mouth
promotion work for you you can do it yourself for a price that’s definitely
right if you take care of your customers in the early stages of your business’s
life and provide an easy feedback mechanism the referrals from satisfied
customers should take care of you and your business in the future tip every
time you serve a satisfied customer follow up the sale by calling the
satisfied customer we’re asking her to fill out some feedback making sure she
was satisfied with the transaction asked for the name of one referral potential
customer additionally whenever a new customer does business with you ask how
he heard about your company when the customer replies that he was referred to
you by say Harry make sure that the next time Harry stops by he gets a sincere
thank you and possibly a discount or some other offer of value rewarding
Harry’s behavior isn’t necessarily a new trick in the promotional game but it
sure is an effective one online marketing it’s difficult to
remember those days when marketing your small business online wasn’t one of the
most important strategies in your overall marketing arsenal but if it
currently isn’t it probably should be although the process of marketing online
can often seem elusive confusing and ever-changing there are
basic opportunities and strategies that can help you harness the power of online
marketing and put it to work for your business social media why should you use
social media to reach your customers because it’s where most of them live ask
nearly anyone you know no matter their age or lifestyle and chances are they
use some type of social media such as Facebook Linkedin Instagram Pinterest
Twitter and so on to stay connected to friends family and co-workers as well as
the brands companies and causes that they love used wisely
the best social media can target your specific clientele an added benefit is
that if you are strategic about using the various forms of social media it
doesn’t have to be expensive choose the social media that aligns with
your business several social platforms are available but not all are likely to
be the best fit for your business evaluate the advantages of Facebook
Instagram LinkedIn Twitter and Pinterest making sure your bandwidth is sufficient
to effectively pursue your choice start with one of the platforms then move into
additional options as you get a grasp on which strategies work best for your
business and are used most frequently by the people you’re trying to reach know
your audience if you want to know how to best reach your potential or current
customers you must first understand who they are and where they spend their
online time the easiest way to do this is to sample your existing clientele
through focus groups surveys and/or one-on-one conversations when doing so
look for information like occupation income buying patterns and lifestyle
once you get a grasp on the behavior and habits of the people you’re trying to
connect with you’ll better understand how to reach them make your social media
visual learn how to use photography images or videos in your postings be
sure to use visuals that are professional relevant to your business
and as unique and creative as possible a picture or a video as they say is worth
a thousand words engage with your customers once you’ve decided on the
social media channel that’s best suited to your customers designate someone in
your business who understands the medium if that person doesn’t exist contract
with an independent professional and remember timely dependable and relevant
communications allow your customers to know that there’s a human element to
your business and that you care about them social media is your chance to let
your business’s personality shine through email marketing
although email marketing has been an effective and relatively inexpensive
marketing tool for small businesses in the past it is a strategy that today
needs more focus and consideration nearly all small businesses communicate
with or market to their customers via email and that’s the problem
most of our inboxes are flooded with messages offers and promotions not only
on our computers but also on our phones and other devices paying more attention
to building a successful email list and considering how your potential customers
prefer to digest their information can make the difference in emails
effectiveness gets permission the best use of email marketing is to reach out
to your existing customer base for example people who are already familiar
with your business in most cases those people have already expressed an
interest in what you do which means they will likely be predisposed to open your
emails when attempting to attract new prospects
need to have a clear purpose in mind when asking for permission anyone who
gives up their email information to you will want to understand why he should
you need to answer the following questions in advance of beginning your
email campaign what’s in it for the customer if he gives you his address
will he get a discount on price or valuable information how often will you
be emailing him what response will you be expecting a sale a connection or
simply getting your name out there will you give sell his email address or
other personal information to anyone else avoid being identified as spam the
best way to avoid landing in your prospects spam folder is to ask to be
added to his address book at the beginning of your relationship be sure
to provide instructions on how to do this in the emails you send particularly
in the initial email deliver what you promised after getting your prospects
attention with an initial email contact the next step is to follow through if
you promised an incentive a free catalog a blog membership a special discounts or
an e-newsletter sign up make sure that it’s in fact happens make it reader
friendly the best small business emails are those that display your business is
compelling personality to the recipient one that makes you interesting to the
reader content is king in accomplishing this
here are some tips to help you make your content more inviting write a short
snappy subject line your open rate depends on it be friendly interesting
and unique no boilerplate copy aloud make your content relevant cover current
events new ideas the latest trends avoid controversial issues like politics
unless they directly and clearly relate to what you’re selling use imagery that
matches your words make it visual keep it short
then shorten it again email newsletter marketing email
newsletters are the next step up from email marketing similar to email
marketing asking for permission is the first step in the process sending enews
letters without permission will have a negative effect on the recipient and on
your business the delete button and spam reporting will not be far behind your
email newsletter must be visually attractive easy to view
and offer a balance of friendly messaging and product based content
while your readers may want to know what’s new with your business their time
is valuable which means they want a quick and easy read a professional and
successful email newsletter will include a customized and friendly introduction
that gives quick info on what’s included in the newsletter photography imagery or
graphics that punctuate the content timely tips and product info special
events new promotions and ways to engage a customer’s story or interesting info
on someone who is part of your business if you use an email template from a
service provider make sure to track your success by viewing the analytics that
are provided included should be the number of views opens and clicks a rule
of thumb is to send your e-mail newsletter no more than once a month
more frequent than once a month is too frequent both for the reader to read and
for you to prepare blogging online blogging can be a powerful tool when
done professionally blogs can position you as an industry Authority as well as
a brand personality well-written blogs can drive traffic to your website and
they can initiate communications with the recipient blog writing is not easy
however an accomplished writer is a prerequisite effective blog writing is
both art and science and requires all the elements of good writing including
vocabulary grammar and attention to detail if your blog rider isn’t an
accomplished writer your blog destined to fail consistency it’s not
enough to write a blog when something important happens or when you’re in the
mood instead create an annual calendar based on your business’s seasonality
product availability and trends a calendar doesn’t mean you can’t jump in
and make a change when something new pops up but blog writing needs an
overall plan which feeds the calendar don’t schedule your blog’s too
frequently they require a lot of time to prepare even for an experienced writer a
weekly blog fifty-two blogs a year would require a prolific and skilled writer if
your writer is not experienced we suggest in every two-week blogging
schedule compelling headlines if your headline isn’t clever and snappy it
doesn’t matter how good the content is your article won’t be read nearly as
much research shows that you have only eight seconds to engage and interest a
reader in your blog numbers and lists make for attention-getting headlines
examples include five unexpected places to hang your hammock or ten ways to make
more money on your tax return share most successful business bloggers will tell
you that only 30 percent of their time is spent on writing the blog the other
70% is dedicated to promotion thus your blogging strategy needs to
incorporate the other promotion strategies that are part of your online
marketing toolkit here are some ideas on how to tie your blogging strategy into
the rest of your online marketing strategy through the sharing of links
and posts use your email marketing campaign to promote your blog and direct
readers to read specific blogs or sign up for the series tease the information
in your latest blog in your newsletters share your blog link in your social
media channels have family friends and employees share and like your blog posts
Media advertising our definition of advertising is a program of paid
messages designs to inform large numbers of prospective consumers of the benefits
of your product or service although the ultimate long-term purpose of
advertising is to persuade the consumer to think well of your business and to
purchase your product or service some short-term advertising strategies may
focus on the achievement of specific objectives for instance you may want to
attract attendance at events win sales within a certain time period or gain
name recognition for a new business good advertising is about targeting the right
message and the right market with repetition and consistency mention Nike
and people think just do it Geico is where 15 minutes can save you 15% or
more on your auto insurance and McDonald’s has people singing I’m loving
it none of these slogans became implanted in consumer minds via a
one-shot advertising blitz or a slogan of the month effort rather they became
well-known thanks to focused and consistent message projection over time
and through all forms of media including traditional social and guerilla
marketing channels remember view advertising as an important investment
rather than a dreaded expense when you budget money to put your message in
front of prospective customers with effective frequency you’re making an
investment in your future success because you’re not a large company you
can’t afford to spend buckets of money on media advertising that’s why we
highly recommend that in the early stages of your business when cash is
generally scarce you focus on networking and referrals as well as other low-cost
highly targeted advertising tools such as email to get your first customers in
the door then when you’re ready to venture out into the world of paid
advertising use one of these three methods of developing your
advertisements to get the best results in a
cost-effective manner create your ads in-house either by writing them yourself
or by utilizing an employee who has advertising and creative talent make
sure however that you and others perform serious editing on everything that goes
out your door mistakes or misspellings and advertising materials reflect poorly
on the advertiser and will turn off some buyers work with freelance copywriters
designers media buyers or other resource professionals contract projects on an
as-needed basis and maintain responsibility for continuity accuracy
and timelines hire an advertising agency to handle all your advertising needs
instead of calling a designer when you need a trade booth a copywriter when you
need an ad or a Direct Mail house when you need a mailing turn to a single
resource for all projects a good agency can review all your communications needs
create a single campaign and produce all the materials you need to prepare the
message that works best for you yes you’ll pay handsomely for the expertise
and service but in the process you’ll free yourself for other activities also
assuming the agency you select is a reputable and qualified one check
references carefully your advertising program will give you the bang for your
buck that you’re seeking to find the advertising resource that’s right for
you watch read or listen to media radio television magazines newspapers and
social media select the ads you like and then call contact the business that’s
doing the advertising and find out who produced or assisted in producing the ad
or you can simply network with other non competing small business owners who have
advertised and asked questions to determine who and what’s worked for them
also network with your vendors with your customers or within your business
organizations be sure to check your spective advertisers credentials and get
firm quotes on the cost of their services remember successful advertising
requires focus especially in terms of consumer demographics if for instance
you’re selling up four-star placido domingo recordings and advertising on a
country-and-western radio station you’re focusing on the wrong audience remember
before you implement one or more of the following advertising techniques be sure
to devise a form or a procedure to track where your new business is coming from
this form should track new customers and find out how they heard about your
business that way you’ll know which of your advertising tools are working and
which ones aren’t after all you won’t know whether your
chosen option or any other medium you’ve selected is worth your time and money
unless you ask yellow pages the original printed Yellow Pages were largely
created for and belong to hometown retailers and service suppliers looking
for a hardware store or somewhere to rent a tux many prospective customers
historically head for the Yellow Pages first now there are yellow page listings
and equivalents also online be creative with your ad and remember that bigger
which is what the Yellow Pages sales rep will push for thanks to the commission
isn’t necessarily better in the Yellow Pages your ad will be placed right there
with all your direct competitors so your ad needs to set your product or service
apart from the rest often your product or service may fit in
more than one category suppose that you sell screen printed t-shirts for an
extra fee you can get listed under t-shirts advertising and/or screen
printing tip if your primary customer audience comes from outside your local
area chances are you have little or no need for Yellow Pages advertising opt
for a one-line entry because you don’t need any more Yellow Pages ads can be
expensive especially when they aren’t generating customer traffic and remember
the importance of Yellow Pages advertising has waned as the
wide-reaching tentacles of digital and Internet advertising have grown the
lesson don’t earmark an inordinate amount of your budget to the Yellow
Pages newspapers newspaper advertising generally requires less cash outlay than
other forms of advertising most ads are black and white so production costs are
low newspaper ads are excellent for specific geographic targeting such as
zoned advertising in which areas of town are targeted for specific advertising
content in news sections tailored to them most large metropolitan newspapers
offer community sections with advertising targeted at local customers
as well as placement of ads on their websites newspapers like the Yellow
Pages are experiencing declining numbers and as more and more people opt for the
web newspaper ads have a relatively short lifespan don’t offer the same
quality of reproduction that other print advertising tools do and are oftentimes
quickly scanned as opposed to read in detail by readers radio radio along with
magazines can help you target a specific demographic group also similar to
newspapers radio focuses on a specific geographic area want to sell acne cream
to teens and their parents in Albuquerque by commercial time on the
local pop or hard rock station additional advantages of radio
advertising include the following allows for short lead times the time between
when you decide to advertise and when your ad is heard by prospective
customers reaches people when they’re working traveling in cars and otherwise
going about their daily activities provides a proven answer for speedy
reaction studies indicate that approximately 75 percent of the
responses to radio advertising occur in the first week after airtime that same
immediacy however there’s also the downside of radio
advertising if your prospects aren’t tuned in at the exact moment that your
ad airs you’re out of luck that’s why radio advertisers use the
term frequency when planning their schedules they aim to have the same ad
run over and over often on several stations in the same
market area hoping to catch the attention of prospective customers at
least a few times television television takes radio advertising one step further
adding video to the audio and thus making more impact on the listener TV
also adds prestige to the business doing the advertising although with
significant costs finally similar to radio ads good TV ads can evoke a speedy
response TV ad buys another name for the buying of time to present your ads come
in two packages network buys these involve running your ad on the entire
network think about the ads that run during the Superbowl a very expensive
proposition spot buys or local time buys these are the ad time slots the network
makes available even during the Superbowl for use by local stations
these ads are priced based on the size of the audience reached by the local
station and the time of day the ad runs tip as with radio ads TV ads especially
those on a local basis usually involve a frequency strategy that is the ad is
intended to be viewed frequently over relatively short periods of time
TV ads also work best when the message is clear simple and entertaining the
cost for producing a TV ad can run the gamut you can have the local station
assemble a simple 30-second ad relatively inexpensively you can have an
ad agency produce the ad the same freelance professional or ad agency that
does your print advertising or you may be able to produce the ad yourself
tip after your ad is produced and you’re ready to buy time slots on the local
station approach the scheduling process with
your facts in hand know the age gender and programming preferences of your
customer prospects then either your station representative the salesperson
representing the TV station or your media buyer the ad agency that’s putting
together your ad program can show you the viewer demographics and other
viewing patterns for various programs to help you select a schedule that will
target the right audience discuss your overall strategy with your media buyer
making sure that she also understands your budget constraints local and
national magazines the primary benefit of magazine advertising is that the
advertiser can target specific audiences as opposed to newspaper ads where anyone
and everyone maybe the reader run an ad in Scientific American for example and
you’ll attract one kind of audience place an ad in GQ and you’ll reach
another an additional advantage of magazine ads is that they have a longer
life than the other forms of advertising media because magazines are often passed
from reader to reader compare this longer life benefit to radio or
television whose ads are gone after their broadcast cycle tip if you’re a
manufacturer for example a trade magazine can offer a rare degree of
consumer targeted potential readers of trade magazines are more than likely
potential consumers in many cases readers peruse a trade magazine with a
specific intent of studying its ads the downside of magazine advertising is that
it’s a high budget item relative to other media especially if you use
high-profile publications the cost of a full-page full-color ad in a national
magazine can easily hit five figures here are a few other interesting notes
on magazine advertising you must plan your magazine ads well in advance often
magazine ads must be submitted more than two months before the publication hits
the mailbox or newsstand cross your fingers when it comes to
placement of your everyone wants front of the magazine
right-hand page placement but at some magazines those prime locations usually
go to long-standing multiple page advertisers who have built up clouds
over the years the more upscale the magazine and the bigger its audience the
more expensive the space plan accordingly website advertising an
increasingly viable advertising option for many small businesses today is a
company website websites particularly those intended to be brochure aware only
and not interactive are relatively inexpensive several hundred dollars and
up to establish and maintain one distinct advantage of online advertising
is that it levels the playing field even without massive monetary outlays smaller
companies can compete with the big boys by building websites and maintaining
them diligently tip as with other advertising media the success of your
website strategy depends on how many people learn of its presence and how
frequently your message falls on their eyes following are several tips on how
to build a strong web presence and keep your web-based customers coming back for
more information provide up-to-date content you need to update your
website’s information on a regular basis at least monthly or preferably weekly so
that your visitors have an incentive to come back commit to functionality a wide
variety of internet tools are available to take your business beyond a basic
brochure where intended web presence enabling you to communicate and
collaborate with both customers and potential customers ask a local website
designer for a list of these tools allow for easy navigation keep the look and
the layout clean if information is difficult to come by if the flow of your
site isn’t intuitive or if the font or the background makes information
difficult to read visitors will move on to the hundreds of other choices on the
web differentiate your site your sytze needs to stand out by being
creative including both the contents and the graphics when visitors arrive at
your homepage make sure they understand what it is that makes sure site and your
products or services different from the crowd promote your site just because you
build the site doesn’t mean that consumers will visit it you need to let
people know what your site address is and why they should visit your site
promote your site via your traditional communication efforts and online
communication strategies including Facebook LinkedIn and Twitter
other advertising vehicles a wide range of other usually less expensive
advertising options are available this range includes such media as billboards
and bus ads and other transportation oriented media as well as less
professional advertising tools such as Flyers posters and handbills ultimately
the description of your target market the nature of your message the depth of
your pocketbook and your own expertise will determine the medium that’s best
for you publicity publicity free advertising through news sources is
especially effective as a promotional tool because people specifically
prospective consumers tend to give more credibility to what they read or hear
when it comes from new sources whereas their belief and advertising messages is
often tainted with varying degrees of suspicion understandably unlike
advertising you don’t pay for publicity you do however have to spend time and
money generating it typical examples of publicity include feature stories and
product or service announcements distributed in media resources such as
newspapers business periodicals television and radio stations magazines
websites and blogs including online magazines and newsletters as well as
links to and from sites that serve those in your target audience and don’t limit
your search for publicity – only the business
oriented outlets oftentimes exposure in the news or in human interest stories is
even more beneficial the downside to publicity is that similar to
word-of-mouth advertising you can’t control what’s said about your company
or your product or service so make sure that what you’re about to publicize can
withstand media scrutiny the following tips can help you develop free
advertising for your business through publicity write an article for your
local newspaper on a subject that relates to you or your business if the
article is well-written and has a special hook it can bring you the
publicity you seek give talks or teach classes about your profession or
business to local groups you can go to places such as the Chamber of Commerce
Rotary Club civic associations and other groups hire a public relations PR firm
PR firms are – publicity what ad agencies are to advertising
unfortunately their fees are similar to remember whenever appropriate send a
professional quality photo of yourself and of your event if there is one along
with any publicity requests photos personalize the requests and many papers
we’ll use them as a start-up business owner you should always have a high
quality photo of yourself available for when a sudden PR opportunity presents
itself sending a news release one frequently
utilized tool of publicity is the news release a news release is a notification
of something newsworthy that you send to appropriate newspaper magazine radio and
television editors and or reporters news releases are appropriate for such
occasions as the opening of a new store the introduction of new products and
services or the procurement of an important new customer or key employee
for the most part you should send your news releases to the business editor or
business reporter in some cases however you may want to send them to the editor
of a specific two-part such as sports or lifestyle the best way
to determine which editor or reporter to send your news releases to is to look at
the by lines on newspaper or magazine Public Interest articles that are about
companies similar to yours you can also listen for the name of the reporter on
public interest radio or TV stories work diligently to build a relationship with
the employee who is the gatekeeper of the kind of publicity you’re looking for
try to make his job easier prepare the news release carefully make
sure all the relevant information is included and write it and then rewrite
it until you’re sure it’s as professional as you can make it also
don’t abuse this relationship after you’ve established it make sure that
whatever it is you’re submitting is newsworthy and factual creating a hook
in most cases you need some sort of hook to attract publicity a hook is the
characteristic that makes you or your product or service unique and of
publicity value examples of hooks include an excellent Italian restaurant
where the waiters are intentionally rude to patrons or an antique shop with goats
in its lobby for visitors to feed a secondary advantage of having a hook is
that it makes your attempts to find publicity easier a bonafide hook which
of course doesn’t need to involve rudeness or something bizarre will
interest most reporters because media writers will perceive it as something of
interest to their readers or viewers face it someone has to sell your
products or services the question is who that selling someone should be should
the seller be you an employee hired by you or a team of employees hired by you
these are examples of an in-house sales force should the seller be an outsider
someone who’s already calling on your potential customers with related
products this kind of sales is known as outsourcing and the people who do it are
typically called manufacturers representatives or reps using an
in-house sales force an in-house sales force is comprised of salaried or
commission based employees of the company whose products they sell
in-house sales people are usually hired trained or compensated by the company
itself thus their mission is to sell only the company’s offerings remember
the advantage of hiring and maintaining your own sales force is that you can
exert direct control over your salespeople and they in turn can direct
all their energies towards selling your products or services the disadvantage of
hiring and in-house sales force is that you’re picking up 100% of the expenses
involved in employing and deploying your salespeople therefore you must be able
to find enough sales potential within any given geographical area to
financially support the sales person assigned to it most in-house sales
people today are compensated on a commission basis although recent trends
are moving to salary with bonus using manufacturers reps manufacturers reps
also called independent agents are independent salespeople who carry a line
of products from different manufacturers and always get paid a percentage of
every sale they make the collection of products they choose to sell usually is
aimed at customers within a given industry for example the sales rep who
calls on photography stores will pitch products such as film tripods and
scrapbooks from varied manufacturers the collection of products from any one
manufacturer is called a line and a typical rep may have anywhere from 1 to
30 lines of products in her bag always ask how many lines the rep you’re
considering is carrying the more lines in her bag the less attention yours will
get some reps are part of a larger rep agency others work solo manufacturers
reps are paid only for what they sell in other words straight commission and they
often cover a large geographic territory depending on the density of population
the Commission’s they charge vary with the product and the areas they cover
commissions can range anywhere from as low as 5% on big ticket sales to as much
as 25% on small ticket difficult to sell items the primary advantages of using
manufacturers reps include the following you don’t have the out-of-pocket expense
of maintaining a sales force no salaries benefits or travel expenses because the
reps are paid solely on commission if they don’t sell your products or
services they don’t get paid period because reps can spread their costs over
many manufacturers lines they can cover a wide geographical area for minimal
expense networks of manufacturers reps both individuals and firms cover every
state in the nation you can pick and choose until you find the combination
you need reps can more cost-effectively make small ticket low price tag sales
because of their ability to spread their time and expenses over a number of
products this means that when you have a small ticket product your reps can
afford to sell it to customers in outlying areas whereas in-house
salespeople with only one manufacturers product in their bag usually can’t
afford to make the sales call in the first place the primary disadvantages of
hiring manufacturers reps include the following you lack control over your
reps activities after all you aren’t employing them they’re employing
themselves due to the reps distance from and non
involvement in your day-to-day business they can’t possibly know your product as
well as an in-house sales staff especially if your product is technical
in nature manufacturers reps like all salespeople have limited time in front
of each customer the products the reps choose to sell during that designated
time depend on their perception of how easily they can sell a given product as
well as how much commission they can generate from the transaction if your
product or service is well established and relatively easy to sell and your
customer base is widespread manufacturers reps may work well for you
in these cases the reps will be sure to pull your product out of the bag during
a sales call on the other hand if you have a relatively new product or one
without an established customer base manufacturers reps may not give your
product the time or attention it needs where do you find manufacturers reps
look in your industries trade magazines or visit a trade show within your
industry and ask for the manufacturer’s rep bulletin board or contact the
manufacturers agents National Association for the latest directory
containing the names of manufacturers rep organizations around the country
making the decision you sacrifice control for expense when you employ a
manufacturer’s rep in lieu of an in-house sales force not surprisingly
the correct decision depends on your situation the following equations can
help you decide which of the two options is best for you easy products to sell
plus limited finances equals manufacturers reps difficult products to
sell plus adequate finances equals your own sales staff small ticket item plus
wide territory equals manufacturers reps high ticket item plus small territory
equals your own sales staff today’s owners and leaders of sales
driven companies know that to be truly sales driven every employee from the
person who answers the telephone to the one who drives the delivery truck must
understand the overriding principles of a sales driven company sales driven
companies sells solutions not products product driven companies focus on the
product which is only a part of the solution sales driven companies focus on
the entire solution which is what the customer is really seeking the result is
that the company that provides solutions builds relationships with its customers
while the company that sells products only sets itself up to be undersold by
its competitors sales driven companies sell benefits not features the sales
driven company’s sales force sell the benefits that a product provides not the
products features for example it doesn’t matter how light the razor is or what
color it is or how easy it is to change blades what matters is the ease and
quality of the shaving experience sales driven companies respect their sales
force one sure sign of a sales driven company is the way its salespeople are
perceived by the other employees because salespeople are the voice of the
customer and because they’re responsible for making the sale without which
nothing happens salespeople in sales driven companies are held in high esteem
and yes they’re usually paid more than the other employees sales driven
companies build relationships they don’t just sell products or services
the typical business’s primary sales goal used to be to get the order
everything that the company did was in response to that goal if the salesperson
wrote the order the sales call was a success if he didn’t the call was a
failure today the sales driven businesses
primary sales goal is to establish an ongoing relationship with a customer
relationships come employees understanding the value of the
relationship with the customer and doing whatever they can to foster that
relationship incidentally whether it’s you your employees or your manufacturers
reps who are dealing with a customer doesn’t matter every employee in the
business chain from customer service to the shipping department must be in tune
with a relationship building principle when dealing with customers remember
today’s successful companies have learned this lesson well you can put a
price on a product or service but you can’t put a price on a customer
relationship understanding the business triangle to be a successful sales driven
company you must first create a mindset within your company that everyone needs
to be a winner in the sales transaction the customer included to understand how
to develop this concept within your company consider the business triangle
model visualize a triangle with three equal sides this triangle represents the
relationship among the three principles of the business the company itself its
employees and the company’s customers when the three sides of the triangle are
equal and stable you have a balanced triangle however when one side is
significantly longer or shorter than the other two the triangle and thus the
relationships among its principles becomes unbalanced and precarious the
benefits that each party derives from the relationship determine the length of
each side of the triangle because those benefits are measured against
expectations you need to consider what each of these three parties expects from
a business relationship customer expectations solutions to problems and
promises kept regarding quality delivery and pricing
employee expectations fair wages reasonable job security and courteous
treatment company expectations fair profit good professional reputation and
opportunity for continued growth your job as a small business owner is to
make sure that you and your employees understand how this business triangle
works and then see to it that the three legs remain balanced the overriding
principle here is that in the long term anyway everybody must win you

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