Category Archives for Business

3 Steps to Effectively Increase Your Marketing Response

Marketing CampaignsTo become successful in business, it’s crucial to actively promote your business to gain new customers. Let’s face it… No promotion equals no new customers. It’s that simple!

Your marketing campaigns should make the marketplace aware of your product or service and where they can get it.

If you’ve ever spent money on advertising, you will know that it can be a costly process. Whether the cost is measured in time, effort, money or a mixture of all three – the one thing that counts the most is the results. A lack of results from a marketing campaign can be a real disappointment.

More often than not, it’s a case of hit-and-miss which leads to frustration and a wasted advertising budget.

Here are three steps to take that explain how you can gauge how effective your marketing campaigns are and to rapidly improve the response rates of future campaigns.

Step 1: Test & Tracking – You really should be Tracking and Testing the response to your marketing campaigns. This is the ABC of promotions. If you don’t know how responsive a particular ad is, how can you possibly gauge the ad’s effectiveness? Not by guessing, that’s for sure! It is essential that you Test & Track because this keeps you in control of your earnings. If your campaigns aren’t creating the desired outcome – sales – something needs to be changed. By Testing & Tracking, you can make changes, retest and gauge the results to repeat the process until you do generate the necessary effect and therefore increase your profits.

Step 2: Tweaking – What areas need looking at? Here is a short list of questions you can ask yourself. The answer to these questions should be ” Yes”. If the answer is “No”, then simply tweak the item and Test & Track to produce a better response.

Ad Copy: Does it have an eye-catching headline? Is it well written with the correct grammar and punctuation? Have you edited it over and over to create what you’d consider a perfect advertisement? Does it make the reader want to take action and pull out their credit card? If you wouldn’t respond to the ad yourself, a rewrite is a must.

Product Demand: If you truly aim to make sales, your advertising needs to be put in front of the people who will want to purchase your product. Have you carried out or have access to market research data on the product you are offering? If it’s a niche-target product, are you targeting the appropriate audience? Have you polled your list or web site visitors to find out what they really want? Feedback is precious and should be taken into serious consideration.

Sales Page: Does your sales page look good to the naked eye without making you frown in pain? Does it have an eye-catching headline? Does it appeal to the reader’s sensibilities and rouse their emotions? Have you used short paragraphs? Have you included bullet point lists?

Order Page: Have you included a guarantee that removes the risk taken by the customer? Have you provided several payment options where applicable? Have you made the purchasing process as quick and simple as possible? Have you included your contact details?

Price: If everything else appears to be set correctly but you’re still not receiving the response you need, consider revising the price and Test & Track. It’s not always the cheaper price surprisingly! 100 is a good number to use for split-testing. ie: If you’re testing two pages, the first to receive 100 responses is the one to adopt.

Step 3: QA – Usually QA stands for Quality Assurance and it still does, but in this instance, it also means Quality Advertising. Testing & Tracking and Tweaking can be an ongoing process that you continually carry out using free or paid advertising. There are many forms of advertising available. Free advertising methods are excellent for Testing & Tracking because they can illustrate how well an ad pulls. But for now, let’s concentrate on the effective, paid advertising methods. Why? Because paid advertising brings results… Well it should – but it doesn’t always!

It’s imperative that you gauge the effectiveness of the advertising vehicle that you are utilizing through Testing & Tracking. If you don’t, you could be throwing your hard-earned money straight down the drain.

If you have paid for an advertising campaign through a company and the results are less than you hoped for, you need to look into why the results were dismal. How do you do that? It certainly pays to ask questions and dig deeper to see exactly how your advertisement is being delivered.

QUOTE OF THE DAY …

“Determine the real reasons that people buy your product or service then
organize your entire marketing campaigns around them”

I’d love to have your input about how you track and  test your marketing campaigns … as I’m sure many others would, so let’s have your comments below.

When And Why Do You Need A Business Plan?

Business PlanNot everyone who starts and runs a business begins with a business plan, but it certainly helps to have one. If you are seeking funding from a bank, sponsor or venture capitalist, you will certainly need a comprehensive business plan that is well thought out and demonstrates sound business reasoning.

If you are approaching a bank for a loan for a start-up business, you will require a business plan. If you have an existing business and are approaching a bank for capital to expand the business, they often will not require a business plan, but they may look more favorably on your application if you have one.

Reasons for writing a business plan include:

  • Support a loan application
  • Raise equity funding
  • Define objectives and describe programs to achieve those objectives
  • Create a regular business review and course correction process
  • Define a new business
  • Define agreements between partners
  • Set a value on a business for sale or legal purposes
  • Evaluate a new product line, promotion, or expansion

What’s in a business plan?

A business plan should prove that your business will generate enough revenue to cover your expenses, but a business plan may vary depending upon whom your audience is. If you are writing a plan for your colleagues and partners, for example, to expand an existing business, then the focus of that plan may be more operational than financial. Yes, you are going to show your partners how this expansion will mean more revenue, but they are going to want to know the nuts and bolts of how this new venture is going to be implemented.

If you are writing a business plan for a bank, your bank manager will want to see that your ideas are well thought out, but the most important aspect to him or her will be your financials. Are your assumptions realistic? And will the cash flow of the business be enough to ensure that you can make the monthly payments for the loan that you have requested? Obviously, if your business is making $1,000 a month and your payments are $1,200 a month, the bank is unlikely to grant you a loan.

When considering an investment opportunity, most venture capitalists look at the obvious trends and market niches. Transcending the business elements, however, the most important factor in a decision to invest in a company is the quality of the people. In real estate, the three biggest criteria are “location, location and location.” The venture capital axiom is “people, people and people.” Venture Capitalists will ask, how experienced are the people that are going to run this business? Do they have knowledge of the industry? Have they started successful ventures in the past?

What makes a successful business plan?

  • Presents a well thought out idea
  • Contains clear and concise writing
  • Has a clear and logical structure
  • Illustrates management’s ability to make the business a success
  • Shows profitability

Bringing it all together…

Your business plan is like your calling card, it will get you in the door where you’ll have to convince investors and loan officers that you can put your plan into action. You want your calling card to look impressive, so make sure your business plan is printed out on good quality paper, you have checked the spelling and grammar and that your numbers add up. Anyone who sees errors while reading your plan will wonder whether you are going to make similar errors in running your business.

A great business plan is the best way to show bankers, venture capitalists and angel investors that you are worthy of financial support. Make sure that your plan is clear, focused and realistic. Then show them that you have the tools, talent and team to make it happen.

I’d love to have your input and questions … as I’m sure many others would, so let’s have your comments below.

 

The Essential Contents Of A Marketing Plan

by Fran Piggott

Excerpt from On Target: The Book on Marketing Plans by Tim Berry and Doug Wilson

Every marketing plan has to fit the needs and situation. Even so, there are standard components you just can’t do without. A marketing plan should always have a situation analysis, marketing strategy, sales forecast, and expense budget.

  • Situation Analysis: Normally this will include a market analysis, a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats), and a competitive analysis. The market analysis will include market forecast, segmentation, customer information, and market needs analysis.
  • Marketing Strategy: This should include at least a mission statement, objectives, and focused strategy including market segment focus and product positioning.
  • Sales Forecast: This would include enough detail to track sales month by month and follow up on plan-vs.-actual analysis. Normally a plan will also include specific sales by product, by region or market segment, by channels, by manager responsibilities, and other elements. The forecast alone is a bare minimum.
  • Expense Budget: This ought to include enough detail to track expenses month by month and follow up on plan-vs.-actual analysis. Normally a plan will also include specific sales tactics, programs, management responsibilities, promotion, and other elements. The expense budget is a bare minimum.

Are They Enough?

These minimum requirements above are not the ideal, just the minimum. In most cases you’ll begin a marketing plan with an Executive Summary, and you’ll also follow those essentials just described with a review of organizational impact, risks and contingencies, and pending issues.

Include a Specific Action Plan

You should also remember that planning is about the results, not the plan itself. A marketing plan must be measured by the results it produces. The implementation of your plan is much more important than its brilliant ideas or massive market research. You can influence implementation by building a plan full of specific, measurable and concrete plans that can be tracked and followed up. Plan-vs.-actual analysis is critical to the eventual results, and you should build it into your plan.

I’d love to have your input and questions … as I’m sure many others would, so let’s have your comments below.

Source: bplans.com

Master Data Management (MDM) Tips and Strategies

Master Data Management is one of the hottest buzz words in data management circles. The ideas aren’t new, but the combined concepts are now being refined and studied under this new category of data management. Master Data Management, also called MDM, contains all of the data that is considered the most important for the business. For most organizations, that is customer or transactional data.

MDM should make your life easier. You should be able to find old customer orders, review historical trends, and contact old clients easily because of the work that has gone into organizing your data.

As a company grows, so does its data files, and if it is not managed well, this can explode in a plethora of separate files that do not interconnect at all. This means that the accounting department has its own customer base, while the customer service department has a different list, and yet they service the same clients.

When a company experiences tremendous growth, data storage and systems often is an afterthought. This might work for a little while, but it will cause great problems as the growth continues. If sales are growing at a rapid clip, often times sales will want their own system for tracking them. Likewise, because of the furious business activity, accounting will want its own system. Often times, each system is selected independently.

After a couple of months, you decide on software for computing payroll and taxes, and then after a year, your partner also decides to buy an application for machine maintenance and logistics. Now your company has four different, large, data files.

MDM is not a magic solution, but it can help you wrap your head around all of the many systems and data make them work better together. It will help provide solid documentation and organization, something that rapid growing organizations usually lack.

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Franchise Growth is Key when Selecting a Franchise

by Rick Bisio

There are a lot of factors to weigh when choosing the appropriate franchise opportunity. Not only do you want the franchise to be a good fit for you – you also need to work with a franchisor that’s going to be around for a long time.

How can you find out if a franchise system is healthy? In the franchise book, The Educated Franchisee we believe in sharing knowledge. A little franchise education could be useful in this area.

One fundamental measure is the system’s pace of franchise growth.

Too quick: Quick franchise development may seem like a good thing at first but it is conceivable for a system to grow too fast. It is crucial to be sure the franchisor has the people and systems in place to thoroughly oversee your training and on-going support. For example, if a system of 50 franchisees brings 30 additional franchisees in a year, the rate of franchise growth may be too fast.

Too Slow: If franchise growth is slow there could also be a problem. Why isn’t the franchise attracting new people? Possibly there are concerns with the business model – problems that make it difficult for existing franchisees to succeed. When potential franchisees do ‘validation calls’ they may hear about problems and decide to look elsewhere for a business. Or perhaps the franchisor doesn’t have the right staff and has to limit franchise growth. Either way, a lack of new franchisees may be a sign of an unhealthy franchise system.

Just Right: even franchise growth over time is an indicator of effective management and a healthy system. One way to gauge steady franchise growth is to determine the pace at which the franchise grew each year both in absolute and percent terms. To find this data for the past three years you can look in the Franchise Disclosure Document under Item 20 – the List of Outlets. All the data you need regarding franchise growth will be there for you in a clear, easy to understand format.

Rule of Thumb for Most Franchises: As a rule of thumb for medium-sized franchisors, the number of franchisees brought per year should be between 10% and 35% of the total number of franchisees. For example, a company with 100 franchisees should possess the infrastructure to add up to 35 new franchisees in the coming year.

Rule of Thumb for Large and Small Franchises: This formula doesn’t work for very large or very small companies, however, so when analyzing behemoth or boutique franchise systems consider the ratio of operational support personnel compared to new franchisees. A ratio of one support person for every 10-20 new franchisees tells you that new franchisees are likely getting the preparation and support they need to succeed.

Talk to Franchisees: But don’t assume! It is decisive that you talk to existing franchisees. Find out about the training they had initially and what they receive in terms of on-going support. Do they find the staff to be knowledgeable? Responsive? Does the franchisee feel comfortable calling on them for help? Pay particular attention to the information you glean from new franchisees. Your experience will most closely reflect theirs.

Meet the Support Staff: Generally, a good franchise investigation ends with a visit to the franchisor’s headquarters to get last queries answered and meet the staff face-to-face. Spend extra time with the support staff. Make certain you are comfortable with their experience, competence, style, and ability to communicate, since you will have to work well with them and trust their advice on an on-going basis.

There are a lot of things to consider when researching a franchise business that will match your needs, but it doesn’t matter how much you like the business if the franchisor isn’t viable. Gather the franchise information you need and be certain the system you choose is growing and has a good number of satisfied franchisees. Franchise growth is a key part of your due diligence. Only a healthy franchise opportunity can support your long-term growth and success.

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What’s Stopping You From Succeeding?

by Theo McLanahan

 

As a business owner, you are both the boss and the employee. Some people can thrive in this type of situation and achieve more than they could in a traditional work environment. For other people, this situation can spell disaster. That is why it is important to analyze yourself several times a year to make sure you are staying on track.

 

Are you focused on your business? This alone can throw your business into high gear or create a standstill. It can be easy to lose focus when you work at home, as there will always be other things competing for your attention. It is okay to let the laundry wait for a few hours while you work on your business. Your laundry can’t pay your bills, but those few hours you put into your business could reap you many financial rewards.

 

It’s not only important to focus on your business, it’s also important to focus *in* your business. It’s easy to get sidetracked from one task by some new idea or offer. Spreading yourself out over too many projects means none of them are going to get done effectively. It’s all about focus.

 

Are you being productive? At the end of the day, do you ever feel like you worked all day but accomplished nothing? Take a look at the tasks you are working on, and whether they are actually important to your success. If you find yourself getting sidetracked by surfing the web, chatting in forums or reading blogs, try to schedule time for those activities after your “real work” is done.

 

If your day is being chewed up by answering email, updating your websites or doing research for your next product, you might want to consider outsourcing those things to a virtual assistant. This can free up your time to work on the most important things that only you can do.

 

Are you reaching your goals? If you find that you are constantly missing your goal deadlines, you may want to take the time to revamp your goals. Create an action plan that will be easy to follow and help you get to your end result.

 

Would I hire myself? This is a tough question to ask yourself, but it is very important. It may sound silly, but perhaps you could write out a job description and give yourself an interview. Are you the type of employee you would want to hire?

 

If you answered “no” to the above question, take some time to write out the areas within yourself that you would like to improve. This can be a hard exercise to complete, but once you have analyzed yourself, you’ll be on your way to becoming a better business owner and having a better business.

 

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Unbiased Advice About Keyrings in Advertising

The standard promotional keyring is a very powerful selling tool for gaining repeat business that is often overlooked by many potential businesses. They are cheap enough so that they can be bought in bulk, sometimes for next to nothing when you are looking at the cheaper plastic keyrings. This makes them well worthy of mass distribution techniques to get them out to your potential client base. But sometimes business owners don’t realise that they could be using them to increase their turnover, for next to nothing.

 

I was recently talking to a local locksmith who was keen to get more repeat business – aren’t we all! In his business he is handling hundreds of locks and keys daily, and sometimes these locks are being sold with quite high price tags. But he hadn’t even thought of using promotional keyrings to boost the number of return customers and referrals.

So I made the suggestion that he had a few hundred promotional plastic keyrings made up, just with his logo and contact telephone number and maybe his website address on them. Just a simple keyring that reminds his customers where they got the lock or keys from and allows them to contact him again in the future. It seemed strange to me that someone handling hundreds of keys, both car keys and house keys, could neglect to attach a simple keyring that costs so little to products that can cost hundreds. It’s such a simple idea, yet it works.

My recommendation is that every lock being despatched has at least one keyring added to the box of keys for the customer to find. If he wants to, he can even announce in his sales materials and on the website that there is a free keyring with every order. Why not? It might just be the incentive that entices someone to buy from him – at no extra cost.

Also with every set of keys cut for customers that visit the shop or he goes out to see, either slip a keyring onto a key or again, just include it in the box of keys the customer takes home.

 

This simple technique works on many levels for tradesmen always dealing with their public.

 

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