Sunday, April 23, 2017

4Ps & 6Ps – Marketing Mix

Marketing mix is one of the major concepts of marketing. According to the traditional base, there are 4Ps of marketing. These are referred to as the marketing mix. But in the modern use of the term, many more Ps have been coined. People have found six, seven even eleven Ps of marketing. In this article we will talk about the 4Ps and 6Ps.

Four Ps

The four Ps of marketing mix consist of Product, Price, Place and Promotion. Product means the thing that you are selling. It can also be a service like the tourism industry.

Price means the rate at which the product is being sold. A number of factors are involved in determining the price of a product. These include competition, market share, product identity, material costs and the value customers perceive of a product. In fact prices are also determined by competitor’s products. If the competitors have the same product, then the price of a product will go down.

Place refers to the real or virtual place from where a product can be bought by a consumer. Another name used for place is called “distribution channel”. Promotion is the way that a product will be communicated to the general public. There are four distinct ways in which this might be done- ‘point of sale’, ‘word of mouth’, public relations and advertising.

Somewhere down the line people felt that four Ps were not enough for marketing mix. It had to face a lot of criticism mainly on the grounds that it was extremely product focused. This was not enough for the economy which is based a lot on services as well nowadays.

Another criticism that marketing mix has to face is that it does not have a ‘purpose’. So it should be looked upon as a tool that sets marketing strategy. Another criticism of marketing mix is that it does not discuss customers. This is why the concept of Six Ps of Marketing mix has achieved relevance.

Six Ps

The six Ps contain all the four Ps of marketing – product, price, place and promotion. In addition, it contains, two new Ps, namely People and Performance.

People include the potential and current customers of the business and how they make their purchase decisions. Market segmentation is also a part of this. It contains the features of market segmentation and the most attractive segments of this market.

The next P is Performance. This implies the performance of the business. The financial and strategic objectives of the business are dealt with here. It is also seen whether these objectives are achievable and realistic or not. The metrics of financial performance are also seen and appropriated in this division.

The six Ps of marketing mix help to overcome the criticisms of the four Ps. Hence the 6Ps serve to be a better alternative as compared to the 4Ps of marketing mix.



Source by Pepik Smith

Creative Marketing Ideas For Toy Stores

Toy stores have to market to two distinct audiences-children, who are the end-users, and parents, who are the purchasers. Having only one marketing strategy won’t prove to be very effective for your toy store, as you’ll only be reaching a portion of your market. It’s best to use a mix of mediums and messages to attract children and their parents. At least one of these suggestions could be a great choice for your toy store.

  1. Wish lists– Every child has a list of toys they want for Christmas or their birthday. Encourage your customers to bring their child in to create a formal wish list, be it on paper or electronic (like a bridal registry). This is a fun process for the child, and it gets customers in your store at-least twice (once to register, and once to purchase). They can distribute the list among family and friends, which could bring you even more customers.
  2. Birthday specials– Similarly, every child likes to feel special on their birthday. Print vinyl decals to display at your checkout station that let parents know you’ll email them a special coupon on their child’s birthday. The child can come in and take their pick of merchandise which they’ll receive for free, or at least discounted. This makes the child happy, and the parents even happier, because they’re saving money.
  3. Used toy drives– Show you care for the community by hosting used toy drives in your store or even around town. By donating gently-used toys, potential customers will then have the need for a replacement, and since they’re already in your store, they’re likely to buy! If they need a little extra encouragement, offer them a discount coupon for donating.
  4. Parenting seminars– Here’s another great way to attract the parents. Host lectures and seminars in your store that parents will want to attend. Make sure to feature these classes in your store with large, easy-to-read banners so parents will know when and where the classes are. Use your employee’s knowledge, or even work with your vendors to inform parents of the latest products for child safety, current recalls, or even fun ideas for party planning. Of course you’ll need to provide child care during these events, but this is an advantage for you. What parent takes their child to a toy store and doesn’t buy them something?
  5. New toy release events– There’s an “it” toy every season. From Furbys to Tickle-Me-Elmo, toy manufacturers work very hard to create a “gotta-have it” mentality in the minds of children, and their parents! Use this to your advantage. When the hot new toy is about to be released, throw a party in your store. Customers will come hoping to be the first person in the area to get their hands on the new toy. Print window clings to display in your window showing pictures of the toy and when it’s going to be released, so that customers will be well-prepared for the launch.



Source by Michael K Allen

So, What Is This Thing Called Edumarketing?

We Live in a Society driven by information. Information provides the building blocks upon which knowledge is constructed. Today, knowledge is the real currency of business-the stimulus that drives our economy and thus our livelihoods.

Two of the most revered thinkers of the past 100 years, Peter Drucker and Philip Kotler, were clear in their characterization of the contemporary business environment. That is, we now live in a knowledge society.

Peter Drucker noted this transformation in his book The Post Capitalist Society, exhorting, “That knowledge has become the resource, rather than a resource. Further, “This fact changes-fundamentally-the structure of society.”

According to Kotler “the passage from an Industrial Economy into an Informational Economy is introducing new considerations that question the suitability of conventional marketing thinking in developing today’s and tomorrow’s marketing strategies.”

Why Edumarketing?

The past ten years have seen tremendous tumult in the field of marketing. We live in a media-rich world in which information bombards us from all angles. In his compelling book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini states, “You and I exist in an extraordinarily complicated stimulus environment, easily the most rapidly moving and complex that has ever existed on this planet.”

These views suitably describe the world we live in, where information and knowledge are central to our existence. The advent of computers, the Internet, wireless communication, and other technologies are presenting new opportunities for marketing practitioners.

One of the areas is that of partnering with customers, both business-to-business and business-to-consumer, to create a learning experience in which the customer learns-both how to better define their problem and how to best solve this problem.

In this new reality, it’s the customer who, for the most part, runs the show.

Customers are using technology to learn about the company behind the product and services they purchase along with dissecting every element of the product via self-education-and that fundamentally changes everything.

Capturing the customer’s attention is no longer possible by simply putting your message “out there.” An emphasis on knowledge creation calls for bold changes.

What has to change? The way you communicate.

The fast pace of today’s marketplace-whatever your industry-has changed the way customers want to do business. Marketing has become less about pushing messages out to people, and more about empowering them to make informed purchase decisions.

Rather than engaging in a manipulative process, marketing communicators should look to inform and educate potential customers, providing them with insight and information they need to make an intelligent decision. Doing this is the new way of building customer loyalty.

This paper discusses a new method of understanding and influencing the customer through communications that inform and influence. This method is called edumarketing.

Edumarketing is the activity initiated by a company that is designed to influence changes in knowledge, skills, or attitudes of customers-whether individuals, groups, or communities.

Cognitive psychology, and particularly research dealing with how people learn, tells us that people use existing perceptual filters and mental representations when making decisions.

Numerous studies verify that thinking involves three constructive elements-that together drive they way people learn. These elements are cognition, emotion, and the context in which the thinking takes place.

Edumarketing emphasises influencing the path to purchase using education-based marketing that informs, instructs and educates. Weaving together the cognitive, emotional and social components of learning.

Today, your customers are likely to hold you to very high standards when it comes to providing them data and information necessary for them create knowledge and understanding. Ultimately helping them make the best purchase possible.

Education based marketing, edumarketing, provides an opportunity for the marketing communicator to connect with customers in a way centered that delivers high-perceived value. Instead of overwhelming people with a self-inflated message, the marketing communicator presents an educational basis for helping the customer find the proper solution to their idiosyncratic issue. And this changes the way you create and exchange messages about your products and services.

How does it work?

The main task for marketing communicators has become every bit as much that of an educator as it is an informer and entertainer. Certainly a great many consumer products will continue down the path of least resistance-that is, to simply entertain in the hopes of building brand image or manipulating one-time sales.

However, what is quickly becoming a prominent part of the marketer’s tool kit is the use of educational techniques to help build loyalty resulting in sales.

Take for example the ordinary cereal box. Cheerios adorns its box with its “Heart Healthy” educational messages. Cheerios uses the cereal box to educate customers on the issue of cholesterol and, of course, how Cheerios can be a part of reducing cholesterol.

This new approach to marketing relies on educating the customer, and for that different principles of marketing apply. The new marketer must understand principles of learning and for sophisticated products and services-get this…learning theory.

Another example, small industrial detergent maker ChemStation (www.chemstation.com) supplies thousands of products in hundreds of industries. ChemStation sells industrial cleaning chemical to a wide variety of business customers, ranging from car washes to the U.S. Air Force. Whether a customer is washing down a fleet or a factory, a store or a restaurant, ChemStation comes up with the right cleaning solution every time.

ChemStation partners with customers working with them to custom-design solutions to their unique cleaning problems. ChemStation works with each individual customer to concoct a soap formula specially designed for that customer.

This works because many business buyers prefer to buy a packaged solution to a problem from a single seller. ChemStation sells its intellectual capabilities to firms that need solutions.

Another firm that excels in the edumarketing arena is Butterball, a leader in the marketing and selling of turkeys. Customers can visit the Butterball web site (www.butterball.com) for information on cooking and carving a turkey.

Butterball’s web site receives over 500,000 visitors during the Thanksgiving week accessing its timely features and tips. However, the dedication to education is found in the fact that the Butterball help line (1-800-BUTTTERBALL) is staffed by 50 home economists and nutritionists who respond to more than 100,000 questions each November and December.

BMW has capitalized on its edumarketing capabilities. They offer an exiting a training program for young drivers. As a part of its “Ultimate Driving Experience” tour, BMW offers to teach people how to drive their cars-at fast speeds! The offer: “Experienced professional drivers will be on hand to guide you through a variety of exhilarating driving techniques designed to hone your abilities – and make you a safer, more confident driver. ” The benefit: Drivers turned on by their new driving capabilities and ready to engage in a conversation about how to integrate these capabilities into their daily driving habits.

Gone are the days when advertisers could simply tell the world about their new and wonderful product or service. Today’s customers are smart. They have access to information from a wide range of sources-and they use it. Firms must go beyond the simple show-and-tell of yesteryear.



Source by Cory Dobbs

Top Ten Biggest International Marketing Mistakes of All Time

1. When Parker Pen marketed a ballpoint pen in Mexico, its ads were supposed to have read, “It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you.” Instead, the company thought that the word “embarazar” (to impregnate) meant to embarrass, so the ad read: “It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant

2. In Spain, when Coors Brewing Company put its slogan, “Turn it loose” into Spanish; it was read as “Suffer from diarrhea”.

3. When Braniff International Airways translated a slogan touting its upholstery, “Fly in leather”, it came out in Spanish as “Fly naked”.

4. When Pepsi started marketing its products in China a few years back, they translated their slogan, “Pepsi Brings You Back to Life” pretty literally. The slogan in Chinese really meant, “Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back from the Grave.”

5. Chicken magnate Frank Perdue’s line, “It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken,” sounds much more interesting in Spanish: “It takes a sexually stimulated man to make a chicken affectionate.”

6. Scandinavian vacuum manufacturer Electrolux used the following in an American campaign: “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux”.

7. A hair products company, Clairol, introduced the “Mist Stick”, a curling iron, into Germany only to find out that mist is slang for manure. Not too many people had use for the manure stick.

8. The American slogan for Salem cigarettes, “Salem-Feeling Free”, was translated into the Japanese market as “When smoking Salem, you will feel so refreshed that your mind seems to be free and empty.”

9. PepsiCola lost it dominant market share to Coke in South East Asia when Pepsi changed the color of its vending machines and coolers from deep “Regal” blue to light “Ice” blue as Light blue is associated with death and mourning in SE Asia.

10. We can’t forget Chevrolet’s attempt to launch the Nova — Spanish translation, “Doesn’t Go” — in Mexico (turns out this one appears to be an urban legend and cannot be verified). Many sources on the internet allege this is untrue.



Source by Brian Henderson

What Is A Marketing Initiative?

Marketing is not as simple as many may lead you to believe. In order for your business to be effective, you need to understand what is involved in promoting what you are offering in terms of products and services. That is where a good marketing initiative comes in to play. A marketing initiative is essentially anything that is clearly defined as a marketing effort. Simple, isn’t it? It is basically anything specific in your marketing plan. So what types of things are considered marketing initiatives? Here are a few examples that may help you.

For larger companies, a marketing initiative can be a theme. For instance, a set of commercials that use a specific character or funny situation over and over may be considered a marketing initiative. This, though, would certainly be more common with large businesses. An example of this is the Geiko commercials that feature the cute talking gekko. The initiative is to associate their car insurance services and products with a character that sticks in your head. Being cute is an added advantage. This is why many commercials use cute, cuddly characters such as babies and puppies etc.

Another example of a marketing initiative is undertaking a certain method relentlessly. Sometimes you may wish to focus your efforts solely on one method of marketing. If, for instance, you decide to implement email marketing with great fervor, then you can call that your email marketing initiative. You will outline a plan very specific to that initiative. And you will carry it out. Focusing your efforts into a sole initiative demands that you understand it intimately. You better know what you are doing if that’s the ONLY initiative you’ve got. In addition you also need to have a backup plan in case your initiative does not come through for you as you hoped. Often, when you put all your eggs in one basket, you better have more eggs!

Another type of marketing initiative you may invoke is a large scale shift in what you are doing. If you are going away from traditional marketing to exclusively use the internet that is a whole new marketing initiative you are putting in place. Though not as specific as other examples, it is certainly something that directly affects the marketing of your company. These types of initiatives are usually done parallelly with your existing marketing initiatives. The old initiatives are slowly phased out as the new one takes over.

A marketing initiative can also be as simple as a shift in an idea. You can have a new marketing initiative that simply changes the way you promote your company, or more specifically what about the company you are trying to promote. A shift in positioning is a good example.

Marketing initiative is a broad term that is used often. However, if you understand what it is you will be more able to effectively put an initiative in place if you need to. Changing or implementing an initiative is a big part of the promotion of your business. So it’s important that you understand what it means in the first place.



Source by Khemal Dole

What Trump’s Campaign Taught Trade Show Exhibitors

While the Clinton campaign went about the more traditional tasks of evaluating past voter analytics, developing messaging and using research tools like focus groups and polling analysis to develop their positioning statements, Donald Trump was out in the field making human contact at hundreds of live events, learning firsthand what was on people’s minds and in their hearts.

The results of Clinton’s campaign development in the end was not really being in touch with the hearts and minds of voters, while the Trump campaign at every event gathered key research data that formed a foundation on which he built a campaign of consensus and momentum.

Like the Clinton campaign, marketers face a danger, in depending solely on focus groups and other tools when developing research, because people’s opinions often do not indicate how they actually feel about issues presented to them in such controlled theoretical environments.

Focus group research of this kind often ends up not developing many new ideas, but it is accepted in confirming most marketing concepts already established. In many cases, the data developed are flawed by pre-established concepts, and while people might share their ideas freely, they aren’t telling you the truth about how they really feel.

It reminds me of the typical responses to research among some executives. When research goes against their conventional ideas, management questions the techniques used, and when it agrees with what their conventional ideas are, management often says it is a waste of time and money.

Focus group members are often simply sharing their general opinions about something without making a commitment to their true beliefs until asked to take personal action, like purchasing something or, in this case, casting their vote.

At a focus group organized to determine the marketability of a new consumer product, it became evident that our panel was being polite but not totally truthful about how they perceived the products we were presenting. They were being paid, and most wanted to go along to get along. After one session of general acceptance, I suggested we go a step further by asking the members of the group if they would want to purchase the product at the end of the session.

We then discovered an entirely new level of concern and consideration by asking them to make a personal financial commitment. Now their answers became much more valuable than the entire focus group exercise. Instead of asking for their opinions, we now asked them to make a purchase and the complexion of this research tool took on entirely new dimensions.

As sales professionals well know, asking for the order opens new doors and serious dialog along the route to making a sale.

Another important factor in depending solely on focus group research is the limited number of paid people involved as compared to those found on the trade show exhibit floor. In three days at a trade show, hundreds of attendees can be questioned, polled and asked to purchase show only specially priced products to determine their honest personal product opinions. But how many exhibitors actually consider using the trade show exhibit environment to conduct such important primary research?

Exhibitors using the trade show activity as a research tool are seriously interested in hearing both positive and negative answers to show special purchasing questions. Those exchanges open discussions where objections can be stated, confirmed as accurate and be successfully addressed and overcome.

The trade show research technique transforms people’s safe opinions into serious purchasing considerations and promises to provide the exhibitor with honest answers. That, in turn, can lead to more solid marketing and sales strategies and tactics.

Donald Trump’s campaign was created and built on thousands of people’s personal feelings, while the Clinton campaign was created on a relatively small number of paid, uninvolved people’s opinions in focus groups.

Today’s marketing and sales executives cannot afford to go down the path of just listening to uninvolved people’s opinions to plan future business. As Trump’s campaign showed, it takes hundreds and thousands of people’s feelings gathered firsthand, largely at events and mass gatherings. A similar approach to trade shows and the exhibiting research that they can provide can spell the difference between success and failure.

Asking for the order will always provide challenging yet manageable information on which to build successful marketing and sales campaigns, especially when the prospect says no to your proposal. That’s the time when marketing and sales professionals earn their stripes by figuring out how to overcome those pesky objections and bring the sale to a close.



Source by Peter C LoCascio

Products And – Or Services – Defining "Service-Oriented" Products and the Related Role of Technology

The economy can be analyzed using both market-driven and production-driven approaches to industry classification. The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) uses a market-driven approach; the older Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) uses a production-driven approach.

Under a market-driven approach, the economy comprises goods-producing and service-providing industries. Goods-producing industries include: natural resources and mining, construction, and manufacturing; service-providing industries include: wholesale and retail trade, transportation (and warehousing), utilities, information, financial activities, professional and business services, education and health services, leisure and hospitality, and public administration.

Under a production-driven approach, the economy comprises product-driven and service-driven industries. Product-driven industries comprise enterprises that manage inventories available for sale as primary activities (regardless of whether they transform them or not). Under this approach, the retail, wholesale, and food service industries are product-driven. (The kitchens of food service providers are equivalent to factories.) Product-driven enterprises may have extensive cost accounting and operations practices for inventory management.

Industry classifications can be applied to an enterprise as a whole (the primary industry), and to the establishments within it, which may be in differing secondary industries. Establishments are facilities that include plants (factories and warehouses) and branches (retail and wholesale outlets).

For example, the hospitality industry is service-driven; under the production-driven approach, the bar and restaurant establishments within a hotel are product-driven. The entertainment industry is service-driven; under the production-driven approach, the retail and bar establishments within a theater are product-driven. The health care industry is service-driven; under the production-driven approach, the retail pharmacy establishment within a hospital is product-driven. Under the market-driven approach, all of these establishments are service-providing.

For example, a manufacturing enterprise is goods-producing under a market-driven approach, and product-driven under a production-driven approach. If it also operates a retail delivery system, the stores are service-providers under a market-driven approach, and are product-driven under a production-driven approach. If all sales revenue is sourced from its own products, the enterprise is in two primary industries. However, if forced to decide, its selection should be based upon core competencies – activities that it performs well. The enterprise can be divided into two separate business units: manufacturing and merchandising. The merchandising unit is an internal customer of the manufacturing unit. However, depending on strategy and policy, the manufacturing unit could sell products to wholesalers and other retailers, and the merchandising unit could buy products from other manufacturers and wholesalers. Under a market-driven approach, the manufacturing unit is goods-producing and the merchandising unit is service-providing, whereas under the production-driven approach, the merchandising unit is product-driven.

The make-up of the economy changes overtime as newer industries emerge and grow and older industries mature and decline. For example, the manufacturing industry is shifting from vertically integrated to strategically outsourced. Strategic outsourcers may manufacture specialized components and assemble finished products. However, by outsourcing the manufacturing of utility components to specialty scale manufacturers, strategic outsourcers can lower their production costs.

Biotechnology and nanotechnology are emerging industries. The information industries are growing as technology becomes more ubiquitous, and as knowledge is packaged in digital products. Knowledge is information that has been learned and retained. In the future, knowledge will be retained extensively in electronic form.

Products and services…

The term “product” is associated with something that is tangible – the resulting inventory from agricultural, mining and drilling, construction, and manufacturing activities. Outputs are either end-products, or components that are assembled into end-products in downstream processes within the enterprise or in its customers.

The term “service” is associated with something that is intangible – capabilities either delivered at the point or time of sale, or shortly thereafter, or as a supporting service. Supporting services can be purchased at the time of sale for downstream use, or later, and consist of such items as warranties beyond those bundled with the product, preventive maintenance, and routine cleaning and repairs.

Functions and features of products are easier to discern than those of services, which are event or activity driven, and may occur in the future.

The term “time of sale” means when a contractual or non-contractual agreement between a buyer and a seller is made, and does not necessarily mean when revenue is recognized and earned. Revenue is recognized and earned according to the accounting principles that fit the service offering, which may be over a period of time.

A commodity is a product or service that is indistinguishable and interchangeable with another of the same type because there is little to no value added. Many commodities are natural, such as produce, minerals, oil, and gas. Services can be commoditized too. The distinguishing factors of a commodity provider include convenience, quality of service, and price.

Product-driven enterprises also offer delivery and supporting services. Delivery services include arranging for transportation, dealer preparation, training, and gift wrapping. Supporting services include cleaning, repairs, and maintenance. To remain competitive over time, enterprises have to add services with their product offerings that exceed customer expectations. However, if customers require such services, then they must become part of the basic offerings. For example, bathroom facilities and color TV are included in modern hotel rooms, even though the primary purpose is providing a place to sleep.

Although services are intangible, their effects are not. Transportation services move people, cleaning services remove dirt and stains, and repair services restore items to working order. Services require facilities, equipment, and supplies that are bundled in. When products are bundled in, the enterprise pays sales or use tax, if applicable; when products are sold with services, the customer usually pays sales or use tax, if applicable.

Service-driven enterprises can produce tangible deliverables. For example, dry cleaners produce clean and pressed clothes; professional service firms, such as architects, accountants, attorneys, and consultants produce reports; and engineers produce design drawings that can be transformed into facilities, equipment, or other tangible products.

The recording and movie industries employ technologies that can capture sound and pictures. Starting in laboratories, these industries transform science into art. Hence, live entertainment performances (services) can be transformed into recorded products. As a consequence, an event or activity can be reproduced, duplicated, distributed, and repeated to the public-at-large indefinitely. Digital products are impacting traditional manufacturing, distribution, and consumer buying behaviors, and placing intermediaries at risk.

Process control and information technologies have enabled seamless integration between designers and manufacturers. The “design-to-construction” process becomes ubiquitous as computer-aided design and manufacturing technologies (CAD/CAM) enable a designer in one location to transmit specifications to manufacturers in others. The designs are virtual, and result in instructions that control manufacturing equipment in both local and remote locations. As a consequence, manufacturing can be outsourced strategically to any manufacturer that can accept electronic designs anywhere at any time. Because the process is seamless, the precision is higher.

As more enterprises adopt the design-to-construction model, dramatic changes will occur in the structure of industries. For example, in the publishing industry, books can be printed on demand from electronic files upon receipt of orders placed over the internet, eliminating the need for physical inventory available for sale at printers, publishers, and bookstores. The electronic files represent a virtual finished goods inventory from which physical products can be made when necessary. As a consequence, inventory carrying costs are lower.

Both product-driven and service-driven industries render service from centers that receive inbound and place outbound service and telemarketing calls. Call center activities can be outsourced in a similar fashion to manufacturing.

The notion of strategic outsourcing can be applied to almost every function in an enterprise provided intellectual property is protected. However, although management consultants may be used in the development of strategy, the ultimate responsibility for planning, deployment, execution, and performance remains in-house with the governance function.

Products and/or services…

The term “products and/or services” describes collectively all types of products and services.

Service-driven industries are evolving into providers of both “product-oriented” and “service-oriented” services. In order to differentiate product-oriented services from the delivery and supporting services, the term “service-oriented” products provides more clarity. Service-oriented products must be definable, duplicable, and repeatable. They are intangible outputs of processes that are represented by tangible items, packaged in a definable form. Technology plays a major role in the delivery through hardware, software, and both voice and data telecommunications. “Hard” products are tangible and “soft” products are intangible.

For example, traditional land phone line services were offerings with few differentiating features, primarily in the style of equipment. As the telephone system migrated from electro-mechanical to electronic, the offerings were transformed into service-oriented products with features such as call forwarding, caller identification, call waiting, and voice mail. Cell phone offerings are service-oriented products with more extensive functions and features than land lines. Cell phone service-oriented products have cameras built-in, and have delivery and supporting services bundled in such as account information, internet access, and application software for calculators, calendars, contact information, notes, games, music, pictures and movies. Cell phone and computer technologies are converging.

In the financial and business and professional services industries, service-oriented products are packaged with such items as accounts, agreements, brochures, contracts, databases, documents, equipment, facilities, policies, procedures, and statements.

In the leisure and hospitality industries, service-oriented products such as flights, hotel rooms, car rentals, and limousine services are packaged with facilities, equipment, and supplies. The types of facilities and equipment define specific offerings. For example, an Airbus A380 renders a different experience from a Douglas DC3 even though the principal service is the same: providing air transportation. A hotel room with a view of the ocean renders a different experience from one with no windows at all, even though the principal service is the same: providing accommodation. The quality of the accoutrements such as blankets, pillows, towels, newspapers, cable TV, internet access, and fruit baskets can affect the overall experience. A Cadillac renders a different experience from a Chevrolet, even through the principal service is the same: providing a rental car to drive, or a limousine.

Travel-related service-providers bundle air, hotel, car rental, and limousine services into packages to make the buying decisions easier for consumers. Event planners bundle travel-related services with conference and convention services for enterprises.

Consumables, durables, and facilities…

Manufactured products consist consumables and durables.

Consumables are products change or wear out as they are used and comprise food, clothing, personal care, health care, household supply, and office supply items. Media such as books, records, audio and video CDs, and DVDs are classed as consumables – the intellectual property is worth far more than the media.

Durables are long lasting equipment items such as appliances, furniture, and vehicles.

Digital products may involve no media if they delivered electronically other than the server of the publisher and the electronic device of the user.

Facilities are the outputs of construction activities and are made of durable materials.

Contractual or non-contractual products and/or services…

Agreements are contractual or non-contractual based depending upon the type of offering, and the nature of the relationship between buyers and sellers.

Consumable products can be sold with the right to return for exchange or refund within a certain period of time. Durable products can be sold with agreements that define warranties and maintenance.

Service-oriented products and services can be sold with agreements that specify exactly what is to be delivered and when, with procedures for reporting problems or complaints.

In negotiations, discussions should embrace the specific functions and features of hard and soft products, and the delivery and supporting services. Experienced negotiators pay attention to both the tangibles and intangibles because the total cost of ownership comprises both.

Digital-construction and digital-manufacturing…

As technology continues to develop, service-oriented products will become more common because it makes intangible items definable. New knowledge-based industries will emerge.

The reproduction of software on physical media is classified as goods-producing, and all other development and publishing activities are classified as service-providing under NAICS. However, software and other digital products are durable because they can last indefinitely, even if they have to be transferred among storage media. Software products are developed by service-providers such as business and professional services firms, publishers, and “in-house” developers. Nevertheless, software development activities require the project management disciplines of goods-producing industries, such as construction and manufacturing, to be successful.

The “digital-construction” and “digital-manufacturing” industries are evolving: digital construction delivers software; digital manufacturing delivers soft service-oriented, information, and knowledge-based products. However, through CAD/CAM processes, software delivers hard products too. In the future, almost all hard and soft products will result from digital-construction and digital-manufacturing processes.

Defining product and/or services is an enterpriship (entrepreneurship, leadership, and management) competency.



Source by Nigel Brooks

Marketing and Sales Strategy for Freight Forwarding Company

Sales & Marketing

The article is about the adoption of sales & marketing strategy in Logistic industry of Pakistan. The company A was incepted in 1969. With the passage of time, it has truly been evolved as the leading freight forwarding company of Pakistan. The company had achieved the top IATA revenue producing agency of Pakistan maintaining this position for the next ten consecutive years by which it had captured 37% share of the total air freight market of Pakistan. It is, however, a dilemma that instead of moving ahead, its market share in the air freight market has declined to under 10% by year 2008. Besides couple of other factors, our sales & marketing department is also responsible even if in a small way for this decline.

Current Practices of Sales & Marketing Department

Presently the sales and marketing activities are being conducted on orthodox basis. We need to establish it on more sound footing by learning and utilizing the modern techniques of sales.

Though we have very willing and educated personnel in our sales team, but we are handicapped in enhancing sales figures per sales person. This is because of using old selling techniques. At the moment, we have separate departments for imports and exports sales. Generally the sales personnel dealing in imports do not have a proper knowledge of export products and vice versa. Hence their selling options have become limited. Even though they try to sell the other products as well, but owing to lack of proper knowledge and information, their success ratio is not very encouraging resulting into smaller sales figures per person. The simple logic is that if we are informed about all our products, we can sell those as well. The 2nd point is that we should be thoroughly convinced about our products ourselves first to convince our customers. We need to have properly trained and skillful personnel in our sales team.

Need of doing research before making a customer’s visit:

  • Currently we are also making our efforts with the customers on ad hoc basis without doing proper research on customer and his requirements including sector identification.
  • At the moment, we don’t have a clear idea about our target customers and objectives of most of our sale calls.
  • We are also not monitoring and evaluating our sale calls.
  • We are also not discussing all our products with the clients.
  • By adopting the current strategy of sales & marketing, we are simply limiting our selling capabilities and possibilities.
  • Other than our four standard products, i.e AFI, AFE, OFI and OFE, we can also offer custom house brokerage and ware house facilities to our customers.
  • By and large, we don’t discuss these products. We have restricted ourselves to import and export sales, which is not a right approach.

Modus Operandi for future

The foremost step in this regard is to abolish the bifurcation of sales department on the basis of imports or exports. The sales & marketing department will be re-structured as “Customer relationship department”. All the sales personnel will fall under the one umbrella of customer relationship department.

Every person in the new department will be equipped with the proper and thorough knowledge of all the products to be offered to our potential and existing clients. The next step is the identification of various sectors (imports & exports) as a playing field for the department. On more rational basis, following of the sectors can be formulated:

i) Textile & allied (exports)

ii) Rice (exports) – Only of selected and extremely reliable customers

iii) Leather & leather products (exports)

iv) Sports goods (exports)

v) Wool & wool products (exports)

vi) Carpets and rugs (exports)

vii) Surgical instruments (exports)

viii) Fish (exports)

ix) Fruit & vegetable (exports)

x) Marble/Granite (exports)

xi) Gems/Jewellery (exports)

xii) Furniture (exports)

xiii) Telecommunication & sound recording equipments (imports)

xiv) Road motor vehicles (imports)

xv) Water & power equipment (imports)

xvi) Textile machinery (imports)

xvii) Chemical & allied (imports)

xviii) Petroleum products (imports)

xix) Consumer goods (imports)

The sector identification would give us a very good lead in detection of our target customers. We have to make comprehensive lists of customers by taking help from the following sources:

1) EPB website

2) CBR website

3) Yellow pages

4) Custom clearance data

5) Related soft wares available in the market

6) Infotex

7) Personal acquaintance

It is also pivotal to thoroughly analyze the current market scenario in each segment and make a list of our potential customers relevant to Company business. The proposed lists will include the names of potential customers as well our existing clients.

Before commencing sales call, the customers must be thoroughly investigated with respect to their:

  • Market reputation,
  • Financial position,
  • Business volume and
  • Top / relevant management.

We must also do the required research about the credit position of the customer, to negotiate the right credit terms with him,as per risk management principles of ASSI (Avoid, Shift, Share, Insure).

  • It would facilitate us in briefing the management / head office about the credit risk issues associated with the particular customer, so that head office can easily decide about the credit policy for dealing with the customer.
  • We need to establish a very good rapport not only with the import/export department, but also with the key personnel in marketing/merchandising and top management.
  • Besides that, we also need to equip ourselves with the complete and enhanced knowledge of all of our products.
  • With the identification of right customer, synchronized with the comprehensive knowledge about our products, we will be able to market our services on more scientific and definite basis.
  • If we make our sales calls on more scientific and analytical basis, the sales are bound to come at a higher rate with faster pace.

In addition to their meetings with the important and corporate customers, sales managers will also exercise their role to supervise and monitor the performance of their subordinates as per pre-agreed standards. He will make occasional visits with the sales personnel in order to evaluate and improve their performance.

Every individual should make at least four sales calls on daily basis. He should generate minimum five good sale leads in a week. He must identify not less than 25 target customers in a year. Above and beyond visiting the existing customers, he should try to visit maximum number of new customers.

By adopting the above strategies, we would be able to boost our sales. With the enhancement of sales, Company will have more penetration in the market and subsequently our brand image will be established.

Everybody in ‘The Organization’ should try to sell

Though conventionally sales is the responsibility of sales & marketing department, but we believe that everybody in our organization can make efforts generate sales leads through personal acquaintance. Later on these leads could be dealt by the concerned department.

Though this paper has been written with relation to a specific logistic company in Pakistan; but by and large the general strategy of sales & marketing applies to all the companies in freight forwarding business.



Source by Asad Gul

Factors Affecting Consumer Behavior

Consumer behavior refers to the selection, purchase and consumption of goods and services for the satisfaction of their wants. There are different processes involved in the consumer behavior. Initially the consumer tries to find what commodities he would like to consume, then he selects only those commodities that promise greater utility. After selecting the commodities, the consumer makes an estimate of the available money which he can spend. Lastly, the consumer analyzes the prevailing prices of commodities and takes the decision about the commodities he should consume. Meanwhile, there are various other factors influencing the purchases of consumer such as social, cultural, personal and psychological. The explanation of these factors is given below.

1. Cultural Factors

Consumer behavior is deeply influenced by cultural factors such as: buyer culture, subculture, and social class.

• Culture

Basically, culture is the part of every society and is the important cause of person wants and behavior. The influence of culture on buying behavior varies from country to country therefore marketers have to be very careful in analyzing the culture of different groups, regions or even countries.

• Subculture

Each culture contains different subcultures such as religions, nationalities, geographic regions, racial groups etc. Marketers can use these groups by segmenting the market into various small portions. For example marketers can design products according to the needs of a particular geographic group.

• Social Class

Every society possesses some form of social class which is important to the marketers because the buying behavior of people in a given social class is similar. In this way marketing activities could be tailored according to different social classes. Here we should note that social class is not only determined by income but there are various other factors as well such as: wealth, education, occupation etc.

2. Social Factors

Social factors also impact the buying behavior of consumers. The important social factors are: reference groups, family, role and status.

• Reference Groups

Reference groups have potential in forming a person attitude or behavior. The impact of reference groups varies across products and brands. For example if the product is visible such as dress, shoes, car etc then the influence of reference groups will be high. Reference groups also include opinion leader (a person who influences other because of his special skill, knowledge or other characteristics).

• Family

Buyer behavior is strongly influenced by the member of a family. Therefore marketers are trying to find the roles and influence of the husband, wife and children. If the buying decision of a particular product is influenced by wife then the marketers will try to target the women in their advertisement. Here we should note that buying roles change with change in consumer lifestyles.

• Roles and Status

Each person possesses different roles and status in the society depending upon the groups, clubs, family, organization etc. to which he belongs. For example a woman is working in an organization as finance manager. Now she is playing two roles, one of finance manager and other of mother. Therefore her buying decisions will be influenced by her role and status.

3. Personal Factors

Personal factors can also affect the consumer behavior. Some of the important personal factors that influence the buying behavior are: lifestyle, economic situation, occupation, age, personality and self concept.

• Age

Age and life-cycle have potential impact on the consumer buying behavior. It is obvious that the consumers change the purchase of goods and services with the passage of time. Family life-cycle consists of different stages such young singles, married couples, unmarried couples etc which help marketers to develop appropriate products for each stage.

• Occupation

The occupation of a person has significant impact on his buying behavior. For example a marketing manager of an organization will try to purchase business suits, whereas a low level worker in the same organization will purchase rugged work clothes.

• Economic Situation

Consumer economic situation has great influence on his buying behavior. If the income and savings of a customer is high then he will purchase more expensive products. On the other hand, a person with low income and savings will purchase inexpensive products.

• Lifestyle

Lifestyle of customers is another import factor affecting the consumer buying behavior. Lifestyle refers to the way a person lives in a society and is expressed by the things in his/her surroundings. It is determined by customer interests, opinions, activities etc and shapes his whole pattern of acting and interacting in the world.

• Personality

Personality changes from person to person, time to time and place to place. Therefore it can greatly influence the buying behavior of customers. Actually, Personality is not what one wears; rather it is the totality of behavior of a man in different circumstances. It has different characteristics such as: dominance, aggressiveness, self-confidence etc which can be useful to determine the consumer behavior for particular product or service.

4. Psychological Factors

There are four important psychological factors affecting the consumer buying behavior. These are: perception, motivation, learning, beliefs and attitudes.

• Motivation

The level of motivation also affects the buying behavior of customers. Every person has different needs such as physiological needs, biological needs, social needs etc. The nature of the needs is that, some of them are most pressing while others are least pressing. Therefore a need becomes a motive when it is more pressing to direct the person to seek satisfaction.

• Perception

Selecting, organizing and interpreting information in a way to produce a meaningful experience of the world is called perception. There are three different perceptual processes which are selective attention, selective distortion and selective retention. In case of selective attention, marketers try to attract the customer attention. Whereas, in case of selective distortion, customers try to interpret the information in a way that will support what the customers already believe. Similarly, in case of selective retention, marketers try to retain information that supports their beliefs.

• Beliefs and Attitudes

Customer possesses specific belief and attitude towards various products. Since such beliefs and attitudes make up brand image and affect consumer buying behavior therefore marketers are interested in them. Marketers can change the beliefs and attitudes of customers by launching special campaigns in this regard.



Source by Asifo Shah

Traditional Marketing – Offline Marketing Methods and the Advantages & Disadvantages – Part 2

Free/Cheap Offline Marketing Methods

  • Word of mouth – referrals by friends, family members, colleagues, etc.
  • Handouts -flyers, newsletters, brochures, business cards, etc.
  • Branding – putting your website URL on clothes, household necessities, your car, etc.
  • Telecommunication – talking to clients over the phone
  • Direct mail – deliver handouts, thank you letters, important documents, etc.

Paid Offline Marketing Methods

  • TV advertising – commercials, infomercials, etc.
  • Radio advertising – mainly done through talk shows (specified for local areas such as cities or towns)
  • Billboards -supersize your ad on freeways and high traffic areas
  • Print Media – newspapers, journals, and magazines.
  • Joint ventures – partner up with other offline businesses
  • Press releases -newsworthy stories about your business that are sent to the media

A Quick Outlook

With the power of the internet and the fact that several businesses are now moving online, some people are probably wondering, “Why even bother with traditional marketing anymore?” Well that’s the question I’m about to answer as I show you the advantages & disadvantages of traditional marketing and tips on how to overcome the downsides.

Advantages of Traditional Marketing

Faster Results

Many forms of internet marketing, such as search engine optimization and banner ads, can take several weeks before any real results start to happen. You are just not going to get that top 5 website ranking from SEO overnight or within the first month even. Furthermore, banner ads are reportedly becoming less effective now-a-days and can also take some time to produce sufficient outcome. Traditional marketing however, can produce much faster and more effective results with well-placed ads that are suitable to a particular audience. You can expect a stronger impact in lesser time with traditional marketing.

Durability

The truth is many websites are deleted, moved, or abandoned all the time and search engine results also change periodically. Advertising offline has no uncertainties in that nature in any way. You can give someone your business card and that same reference can be good 10 or 20 years later. The same bears true for flyers and posters, although handouts have a slightly lower life expectancy than business cards. The point is that a business is more durable offline than it is online.

Trust

This might be the number one advantage of offline marketing. Trust is a huge factor of any business, regardless of how it is promoted. Many people are more comfortable with buying products from offline ads than on the internet. The reason is that you get to see the people or company you are interested in buying from and get to know them a little before you actually purchase. More times than not, many online ads and websites don’t provide that same trust aspect. The lingering of endless scam sites over the internet just makes that problem even worse. So most certainly, trust is more established in traditional marketing than on the internet.

Disadvantages of Traditional Marketing

Cost & Expenses

Marketing in print media or live broadcasting, such as TV and radio advertising, is not cheap at all. The bigger the geographical area you want to embrace and the more popular the company you advertise with, the more money you will be spending. What makes it more dreadful is that if you don’t place and promote the ad well enough then you can find your self on the bad end of the cost/reward ratio and actually lose money.

Advice: It’s always better to use the marketing methods that are within your budget and begin to use the more expensive ones once you start acquiring more sales for your business. So if you can’t afford the high costs of print media as well as TV and radio advertising, then stick to the free & low cost methods for now, like handouts and word of mouth.

Availability

Time constraint is probably the biggest traditional marketing disadvantage. Online websites function 24/7 while many offline businesses usually operate in between 6-12 hours a day and only 5 days a week. If you were to do the math and calculate the difference in time between the two you would get an approximate answer of 2 whole days and an additional 12-18 hours a day which is equal to about 4 1/2 days total a week lost to online websites. That’s A LOT of time that could be used to gain more potential customers and make more sales.

Besides having less time to market an offline business, you are also presented with the problem of customers being able to contact you when they want. Most offline businesses don’t provide email which means that customers have to wait to the next business day that you are open or have to leave a voicemail on your phone and wait until you contact them back. To many people, this can be very annoying.

Advice: While you can’t do anything about the internet operating 24/7, you should make it your best effort to be available as much as possible, even at night. That’s why it’s VERY important to have an email and phone number provided in your contact information so that you can get back to your clients right away or the very next morning.

Personnel

Most offline businesses require some kind of work force to maintain them while the internet provides enough tools and support for individuals to usually preserve their business on their own online. Not to mention the added stress and responsibility of having to keep an eye on your workers’ attendance and overall performance. The wider the demographic area you are trying to cover, the more of a need there is to have personnel. This means that more money comes out of your business revenue and into the pockets of your employees.

Advice: If you want more people to buy your product or service over a larger region, then you are going to need a much bigger personnel to help sustain your business. It is better to focus more on recognition and sales before a wider distribution comes into play.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are many offline marketing methods that you can use to successfully promote your business off the internet. Along with the advantages and disadvantages of traditional marketing in general, it’s clear to see why you should incorporate offline marketing in your business.



Source by Devin D. Haller

Factors Affecting the Target Market Segment

Regardless of how segmentation is incorporated into marketing activities, experienced marketer usually execute segmentation to enable him provide higher values to his potential customers. He will be able to know which specific customers he is serving and will be able to address their needs and concerns.

After segmentation, what the marketer needs to do next is targeting his efforts and focuses on the identified market segments. He will create a marketing campaign that will fulfill the needs as well as the market condition of his targeted market group.

Target market segment are affected by two salient factors:

1. How suitable the segment is to the product manufacturer objectives, resources as well as capabilities and

2. How attractive the target market segment is.

In determining the suitability of the segment to the manufacturer, the marketer needs

– to ensure that the product manufacturer will be able to provide superior values than competitors to the customers.

– To evaluate the impact of serving the segment with respect to the manufacturer reputation and dignity.

– To access the distribution channels that will serve the targeted market sections.

– To determine the capital buoyancy of the manufacturer to serve the market group.

And in determining the attractiveness of the target market section, the marketer will have to evaluate

– the percentage number of the customers with respect to the broad market (size of the segments) that will be served.

– Sales potential for the product manufacturer in the segment.

– Profit margin expected from the segment.

– Growth rate and competition in the segment.

– Required market share to break even

– Attainable market share when promotional budgets and expenditures of the competitors are provided.

– Loyalty of the existing customers in the segment.

An experienced marketer would know that satisfying the broad market is tasking and not profitable at all. In fact it will be less stressful and more profitable if just a smaller market segment where there is little or no competition is concentrated on. This also gives the manufacturer the opportunity to develop their products to have a greater advantage over competitors.



Source by Abduljelili Ola

The Importance of Consumer Discounts

When you start a business or start a new [business marketing] campaign, it is important to consider your pricing, your profit margin, and what kind of consumer discounts you are going to offer. Consumer discounts are very important because they entice people to come to your business, entice them to get more service from your business, and make your business money. These three reasons alone are sufficient enough to explain why you should consider using discounts with your business, regardless of the product or service you are providing.

Consumer Discounts Entice

If you have never tried something before, but you have thought about trying it, you are probably more apt to try it if you don’t have to pay full price. If you have tried something and love it, but don’t like how much it costs, you are more apt to purchase it if a discount is offered. They entice people to come to your place of business and purchase products or services.

Consumer Discounts Prompt More Spending

When people are saving money on something or a combination of things, instead of actually saving the money, they generally spend their would be savings on other products or services, simply because they planned on coming in to spend a certain amount of money. This helps put money back into the business because it is almost as though no discount or special promotion was offered.

Consumers Discounts Make Your Business Money

Though it seems backwards to say that offering discounts makes your business money because you are reducing the amount of money a customer is paying for a product or service, it really can make your business money. Usually, discounts don’t cut into the profit margin, but even if they were to do that, the sheer volume of people coming into the store or place of business helps to counteract the loss of money on the discounts, and can even push earnings higher than they were when there was no discount or promotion offered.

With these three reasons as to why consumer discounts are important to the success of the business, there is great incentive for you and your business to use discounts with your marketing strategies. You will have to look at your business, what you offer, and what your target demographic enjoys to determine the best kinds of discounts and promotions to run, and how often to run them.

It may take running several different promotions to figure out what the consumers respond to best, but there is nothing wrong with running several different ones over the course of a few months to see what works. Your suppliers and vendors may even run specials and provide consumer discounts for you to pass on to your customers.



Source by Julio Martinez

Is Target Marketing Ethical?

Marketing to specific groups of consumers, or target marketing, is one of the most important concepts in marketing.

Marketers, through the ages, have identified who their customers are, and directed their efforts at influencing their buying decisions. That is their job.

In the last 30 years though, marketers have begun to identify potential buyers based on a number of factors, that make many people uncomfortable. Marketers now direct promotions at those of certain age groups, gender, race, marital status, gender preferences, and just about any other category you can place people in.

This makes many consumers and consumer advocates question the ethicality of these promotions:

Is it fair to direct ads at children when they do not have the understanding and/or capability to judge what is being presented to them?

Is it fair to target ads at elderly, living on fixed incomes, with products that they may not be able to afford?

Should companies be allowed to develop products that are specifically targeted at ethnic groups?

My answer to each of these questions, except the first one, would definitely be, Yes.

Why should a company be restricted from marketing a product to an independent, rationally thinking, adult?

Don’t I, as an adult, have the ability to determine for myself, with some exceptions, what I want to buy?

Now, if there are issues of mental incapacity we have a whole separate issue to address.

But, assuming that the consumer is able to make their own decisions; shouldn’t I as a marketer be able to present information that will help the consumer decide that my product is what they want?

Is targeting of minorities exploitative? Yes, it certainly is. But, so is almost every other kind of marketing. You are trying to exploit a need, a want and definitely a gap in a market that maybe has not been addressed.

Prior to the 1960’s most marketing ignored ethnic minority groups and concentrated on the vast buying power of larger demographic groups. An opportunity existed for companies to address a market, with significant buying power, that had not been addressed before. Is that inherently wrong? That is the way marketing works: Find a gap, develop a plan to address the gap, and then market to that gap. That is sound business practice. If companies do not take advantage of their opportunities they will fail.

Now, none of what I have said above gives companies a free license to do whatever they want, especially when it comes to my one, very absolute exception: Marketing to children and those who cannot be held accountable for their actions. Even as an adult, if I am not capable of making a choice as to the soundness of a buying decision, then I should not be subjected to marketing that may have unreasonable influence over me; And children are certainly not capable of making that decision. However, as an adult parent, I must assume some of the responsibility for buying products that are marketed to children. I must educate my children about what is right and what is wrong; what is a want versus what is a need; what is affordable versus what is not.

Companies who choose to direct their marketing efforts at specific market segments have a responsibility to consider the ethical implications of what they are doing. Socially responsible marketing calls for target marketing that serves not only the company’s interests, but also the interests of those targeted and the public in general.



Source by James Stephenson

Important Factors to Consider in Competitive Analysis

To complete a comprehensive competitive analysis, you must know the competitive landscape. You must know who your competitors are. Prepare an overview of your competitors, their strengths and weaknesses. Position each competitor’s product against your products. Understand the customer needs and preferences that are you competing to meet.

When you consider your competitors, determine what are the similarities and differences between their products and yours. You must also consider how their prices compare to yours and how well they are doing. You must have a specific plan to compete. For example, you can offer better quality services, lower prices, more support, or easier access to services. You must address the following basic issues:

o Define your target market.

o Determine the size of the target market.

o Drill down to your specific segment within the target market.

o Define the size and the revenue opportunity that your segment represents.

o Determine how fast the overall market and your specific segment are growing.

o Learn what factors are most important to your customers such as price, technology, ease of use, or new uses.

o You must know the most important characteristics in your industry. Is is driven by high or low volume? Is it capital or labor intensive? Is it seasonal?

o Identify and profile your targeted customers by their consumer budgets and by how they make decisions to buy a product.

o Identify your direct and indirect competitors and understand their impact on you.

o Identify the features that differentiate your product from the competitors’.

In order to address the basic issues, you must know where to find competitive and industry information. Information is available from the Federal Commerce Department online or in the library. You can review Edgar Online and business websites to obtain required financial filings. Look for an industry trade association and industry publications. Go to Hoovers Online or Bacon’s to look for business publications in your industry. You can also check online for http://www.usdata.com or for North American Industry Classifications http://www.naics.com.

After all basic issues have been addressed and your competitive research is completed, you should be able to describe all of your competitors and their strengths and weaknesses. You should be able to clearly articulate what is different about your product and why customers will choose your product rather than the competitors’. You should also be able to describe your target market and target customer and what will motivate them to purchase your product. Finally, your should be able to explain how you will gain and keep a sustainable competitive advantage.

Copyright 2006. All rights reserved. Indigo Business Solutions is a registered trade name.



Source by Jo Ann Joy

Integrated Marketing Communications – 5 Primary Communication Tools

Communication is always one of the most important and vital strategic areas of an organization’s success. You can have the best or most innovative products or services, but if your internal and external communications are weak, then the demand for your products or services raises a personal flag of concern. When communicating the value of your products or services, you want to focus on how they will benefit your clients.

When planning your strategy for Integrated Marketing Communication or IMC, you want to have dialogue with your customers by inviting interaction through the coordinated efforts of content, timing and delivery of your products or services. By ensuring direction, clarity, consistency, timing and appearance of your messages, conveyed to your targeted audience, these factors will help avoid any confusion about the benefits of your brand, through the connection of instant product recognition.

When looking at your marketing mix, you’re examining price, distribution, advertising and promotion, along with customer service. Integrated marketing communication is part of that marketing mix included in your marketing plan. IMC strategies define your target audience, establishes objectives and budgets, analyzes any social, competitive, cultural or technological issues, and conducts research to evaluate the effectiveness of your promotional strategies.

If companies are ethically planning, communicating, and following industry guidelines, they will most likely earn the trust of their customers and target audience. There are five basic tools of integrated marketing communication:

1. Advertising:

This tool can get your messages to large audiences efficiently through such avenues as radio, TV, Magazines, Newspapers (ROP), Internet, Billboards and other mobile technological communication devices. This method can efficiently reach a large number of consumers, although the costs may be somewhat expensive.

2. Sales Promotion:

This tool is used through coupons, contests, samples, premiums, demonstrations, displays or incentives. It is used to accelerate short-term sales, by building brand awareness and encouraging repeat buying.

3. Public Relations:

This integrated marketing communications tool is initiated through public appearances, news/press releases or event sponsorships, to build trust and goodwill by presenting the product, company or person in a positive light.

4. Direct Marketing:

This tool will utilized email, mail, catalogs, encourage direct responses to radio and TV, in order to reach targeted audiences to increase sales and test new products and alternate marketing tactics.

5. Personal Selling:

Setting sales appointments and meetings, home parties, making presentations and any type of one-to-one communication, to reach your customers and strengthen your relationship with your clients, initiate this IMC tool.

Decisions linking the overall objectives and strategies during the marketing planning phases help to evaluate and fine-tune the specific activities of integrated marketing communication. Before selecting an IMC tool, marketing, product and brand managers must look at social, competitive, legal, regulatory, ethics, cultural and technological considerations. One thing you want to avoid when activating the tools of integrated marketing communication is reaching inappropriate audiences and causing controversy. That could be damaging when trying to build brand awareness and encourage consumer spending with your company. When marketing managers examine the beliefs, emotions and behavior of their targeted audience towards their brand, they can influence their beliefs to achieve product awareness, by attracting attention to their promotional campaigns.



Source by Kym Gordon Moore

Marketing Strategy: 7 Steps to Market Segmentation

Market segmentation is widely defined as being a complex process consisting in two main phases:

– identification of broad, large markets

– segmentation of these markets in order to select the most appropriate target markets and develop Marketing mixes accordingly.

Everyone within the Marketing world knows and speaks of segmentation yet not many truly understand its underlying mechanics, thus failure is just around the corner. What causes this? It has been documented that most marketers fail the segmentation exam and start with a narrow mind and a bunch of misconceptions such as “all teenagers are rebels”, “all elderly women buy the same cosmetics brands” and so on. There are many dimensions to be considered, and uncovering them is certainly an exercise of creativity.

The most widely employed model of market segmentation comprises 7 steps, each of them designed to encourage the marketer to come with a creative approach.

STEP 1: Identify and name the broad market

You have to have figured out by this moment what broad market your business aims at. If your company is already on a market, this can be a starting point; more options are available for a new business but resources would normally be a little limited.

The biggest challenge is to find the right balance for your business: use your experience, knowledge and common sense to estimate if the market you have just identified earlier is not too narrow or too broad for you.

STEP 2: Identify and make an inventory of potential customers’ needs

This step pushes the creativity challenge even farther, since it can be compared to a brainstorming session.

What you have to figure out is what needs the consumers from the broad market identified earlier might have. The more possible needs you can come up with, the better.

Got yourself stuck in this stage of segmentation? Try to put yourself into the shoes of your potential customers: why would they buy your product, what could possibly trigger a buying decision? Answering these questions can help you list most needs of potential customers on a given product market.

STEP 3: Formulate narrower markets

McCarthy and Perreault suggest forming sub-markets around what you would call your “typical customer”, then aggregate similar people into this segment, on the condition to be able to satisfy their needs using the same Marketing mix.

Start building a column with dimensions of the major need you try to cover: this will make it easier for you to decide if a given person should be included in the first segment or you should form a new segment. Also create a list of people-related features, demographics included, for each narrow market you form – a further step will ask you to name them.

There is no exact formula on how to form narrow markets: use your best judgement and experience. Do not avoid asking opinions even from non-Marketing professionals, as different people can have different opinions and you can usually count on at least those items most people agree on.

STEP 4: Identify the determining dimensions

Carefully review the list resulted form the previous step. You should have by now a list of need dimensions for each market segment: try to identify those that carry a determining power.

Reviewing the needs and attitudes of those you included within each market segment can help you figure out the determining dimensions.

STEP 5: Name possible segment markets

You have identified the determining dimensions of your market segments, now review them one by one and give them an appropriate name.

A good way of naming these markets is to rely on the most important determining dimension.

STEP 6: Evaluate the behavior of market segments

Once you are done naming each market segment, allow time to consider what other aspects you know about them. It is important for a marketer to understand market behavior and what triggers it. You might notice that, while most segments have similar needs, they’re still different needs: understanding the difference and acting upon it is the key to achieve success using competitive offerings.

STEP 7: Estimate the size of each market segment

Each segment identified, named and studied during the previous stages should finally be given an estimate size, even if, for lack of data, it is only a rough estimate.

Estimates of market segments will come in handy later, by offering a support for sales forecasts and help plan the Marketing mix: the more data we can gather at this moment, the easier further planning and strategy will be.

These were the steps to segment a market, briefly presented. If performed correctly and thoroughly, you should now be able to have a glimpse of how to build Marketing mixes for each market segment.

This 7 steps approach to market segmentation is very simple and practical and works for most marketers. However, if you are curious about other methods and want to experiment, you should take a look at computer-aided techniques, such as clustering and positioning.



Source by Otilia Otlacan

How to Design Your Business Cards Using the Golden Ratio

Whether you are printing cheap business cards or premium cards, remember that the most important aspect of the business card is how you layout your information. There is no alternative for standard good design that is easy to navigate through.

Business cards are a business commodity. Its primary function is to get your contact information the hands of the client, and second do it in a way that appeals to them.

When having business cards printed, you should be careful to avoid both extremes of choosing to print specialty cards for their added appeal but are given away sparingly due to their cost. On the other hand, some may choose to print economically while foregoing print quality.

Offset printing allows you the best of both scenarios. It gives you full colored photographic quality prints for the price of a dime a dozen. With the proper layout, you can have expensive looking business cards you can give away without second thoughts.

Below is a methodical guideline you can follow in making the layout for your business card.

    1) Golden Ratio or the Fibonacci number :

    In simple terms, it was discovered that there are patterns in nature that account for their looking aesthetically balanced. The ratio is discovered to be 1:1.618.

    Your 2×3.5 inch business card approximately follows this ratio, and so do most of the business card layouts, even though the conversion is often inexact. Follow this as a guide and use your intuition to make it functional.

    o Layout: There should be a 1:1.618 proportion between the colored and non-colored area, or the graphic and non-graphic space.
    o Text: The smallest text should begin with a 9pt font size while the name directly above these texts should use a 14 or 15 pt font sizes. Your business name should use a 22pt text.
    o Use this proportion to come up with various formulas for your business card graphics and overall design.
    2) Rule of Thirds

    o You can also substitute the rule of thirds which is also another design concept and is a rough estimate of the Fibonacci number.
    o Perfectly centered designs are boring, thus the term dead center. The rule of thirds uses an asymmetrical balance that gives your design more tension and therefore more appeal. Simply create a nine by nine grid and place important elements in the four points created when the lines intersect.
    o You can also use the rule of thirds when trying to create divisions for your design. There is the bottom third, middle third and upper third. The bottom third can be used to contain your contact information, where your name is right in the middle of the lower third grid.
    o The middle third can hold the empty space which is important in giving your business card breathing space. If your text is on the right panel, you can place your graphics on the left. Remember to still observe the three point rule for vertical divisions. The topmost third can contain your business name and your slogan.

Whether you choose to print cheap business cards, create a good layout to make it look like a million bucks. It combines having aesthetically pleasing cards that are easy to navigate at very inexpensive price.



Source by Joel Owens

Aspects That Drive Startups to Invest in iPhone App Development

A mobile app has become a key marketing tool for businesses in this age of mobility. However, with such a range of mobile platforms, it becomes a bit intimidating for startups with limited budget constraints to decide on which option to invest for app development. This is the reason for which people mostly consider the option of building apps for a single platform that can bring great results at limited means. Thus, it is important for businesses to have a detailed overview of the advantages of both these platforms.

Android and iOS are the two major mobile operating systems each of which comes with their unique features and functionalities. However, with a greater scope of revenue generation and better usability, iOS enjoys more advantage over Android.

Safety

Nowadays, mobile applications require a high level of security. Apps for online shopping, making payment and different other services transfer highly confidential information via the servers. While considering this fact, iPhone apps offer extended functionality to users. The approval process of App Store across iOS platform is highly strict which, restricts the malicious ones to get through it. Apple has given prime emphasis on user information safety regardless of size or type of devices and thus, it holds more safety as compared to Android devices.

Compatibility

Android supports through a range of smart devices in the market. However, the iOS devices are always in sync with each other. This, in turn, helps the developers and business owners to lay more focus on development instead of its compatibility running across different devices. Furthermore, Apple controls the iOS software ecosystem and is solely responsible for all the changes in it. Since the company manufactures all its devices by themselves, therefore, they enjoy integrated control over its software as compared to Android OS. Moreover, Android has made efforts to upgrade its functionalities, add huge storage space and increase processor speed which, will allow businesses to develop feature-packed applications.

Greater Specification on App Development

Developing iPhone apps offer greater scope to developers to work precisely across a small range of iPads and iPhones. On the contrary, Android hosts more than 12000 devices across a range of screens, processors and versions. Experts often suggest customers develop an iPhone app and iterate it as per the updates for obtaining proper user feedback..

Though Android allows you to connect with a broader audience, iOS user group is more loyal and engaged. Thus, being a startup with the major goal to display brands on the forefront for increasing revenue, building an iPhone app will serve as the ideal choice.



Source by Rob Stephen

Burn Your Brochures: 8 Better Alternatives for Creating Collateral

If you work in marketing communications, you’ve probably seen this scenario a dozen times: A harried sales guy, shirts-sleeves rolled up to the elbow, storms into your cubicle. “I got a hot sales call in Toledo in three weeks. I got to have a brochure to leave behind,” he says, smacking his fist into his open palm.

You sigh. So it begins — yet another brochure. And you know how it’ll end: Thousands of dollars and multiple late-nights-against-deadlines later, he’ll have his brochure. But the company won’t have the sale. And you’ll have a coat closet stacked with bulging boxes of forgotten collateral.

Is there a better way to support sales? Something you can leave with prospects that’s just a bit more memorable — and more effective — than the standard brochure with its forced march through company “visions,” product descriptions, and corporate bios? Yes, indeed. I offer eight suggestions, not as comprehensive answers to every sales-communications situation, but as inspiration and provocation for creating material less likely to gather dust — and more likely to draw your company closer to a sale.

1) Make it a magazine. David Ogilvy once asked why print ads had to look like print ads — why not make them look like articles? I say, why not go one step further and make your brochures look like magazines? Instead of the usual ho-hum content, create articles that position your company, products or services as ways to solve problems or achieve customer-desired goals.

For about a decade, Baystate Health Systems in Massachusetts has published a beautiful four-color glossy magazine, AlphaSights, that they distribute to referring medical professionals in central Massachusetts. Distributed three times a year, AlphaSights is loaded with articles about new procedures, protocols and initiatives at its flagship hospital, Baystate Medical Center. It’s been a phenomenal success: The first issue alone attracted an increase in referrals that more than offset the entire year’s production costs.

2) Make it useful. Here’s another lesson from healthcare. Every day, legions of pharma and medical device representatives leave tons of samples, coffee mugs and brochures in physician offices across the country — clutter, clutter and more clutter. In a competitive field, how do you stand out?

One medical products manufacturer got wise. They developed a pad of forms, 8.5″ x 11″, with pre-assigned check boxes and fast, no-brainer ordering fields a physician can complete in seconds. All she has to do is fill a few boxes, sign it, and run it through a fax machine to order the product. In a crowded field of competitors, this manufacturer got the most orders — not because it had the nicest mug or the most beautiful brochure, but because they left something behind that made their product the easiest to get.

3) Make it educational. Give your prospects a taste of your expertise. Professional services companies have been doing this for your years with the ubiquitous white paper, a kind of extended essay about a relevant topic of business interest.

Why not apply the “report” idea to products and consumer services as well? For years, the Wall Street Journal has been offering personal finance guides as subscription lures. Anything complex could benefit by an educational report that simplifies: Imagine a guide to countertop selection for a kitchen remodeling firm, or an explanation of housing values for real estate agencies. With a little research and imagination, these businesses and others like them can distinguish themselves as authorities, not just other runners in the pack.

4) Make it handy. Two of my current clients are getting lots of mileage by packaging tips — handy advice and/or insights that are just long enough to be helpful, but short enough to be easily digested. It’s a format people love — in fact, you’re reading a tips-based article right now!

The key is to break your know-how into bite-sized bits busy people can consume on the fly. Of my two “tips” clients, one is targeting the multi-billion dollar mergers and acquisitions market with a “top ten tips” guide; the other runs a tips-based website on a variety of subjects that interest consumers — and draws eager sponsors who want to reach them. Upscale or down-market, tips attract favorable attention either way.

5) Make it “keepable.” When I was a kid, a mechanic’s garage just wasn’t real if it didn’t have at least one “girly” calendar, sponsored by a “Joe’s Auto Parts” or “Cranwick’s Plumbing Supply” on its walls. Cheesy? Perhaps. But you can be sure that the target audience saw the sponsor’s name and phone number every day — often long after the calendars expired!

In addition to calendars, consider attractive posters, playing cards, puzzles and entertaining cubicle toys. Of course, you want to select options that are as closely associated to your business, proposition or message as possible. I know of one enterprise that creates decks of custom cards for authors (especially consultant or motivational authors), with each card serving as a chapter or topic summary. The decks are much more memorable than business cards or brochures, yet are less cumbersome and expensive than giving away free copies of books themselves.

6) Make it from the customer’s point of view. If the familiar brochure format still remains as your best option, then at least consider changing the perspective. Too much collateral is narcissistic, packed with empty chest-beating that attempts to wow the reader with the company’s alleged greatness.

Instead, write from the customer’s point of view. Skip the boring company history and honor’s won stuff, and talk about the real problems or issues your customers face. Then tell them how you solve these problems with precise, specific evidence that makes your claims credible. By adopting this shift in perspective, you demonstrate empathy with the customer — you’re on their side — and you show a grasp of real-world circumstances prospects can recognize and respect.

7) Make it mailable. Or, if it’s going to be shared by hand, easy to ship or transport. In any event, consider how you’re going to distribute your new collateral before you commit to creating it.

Years ago, I worked on a spiral-bound booklet that the client adored. Unfortunately, the spiral binding bulged within its envelope and jammed the post office’s machines. Worse, the book was an awkward size — just small enough to rattle around in an ordinary cardboard “express” envelope. While the design was lovely, the project was impractical and ultimately failed its intended purpose. Don’t make the same mistake: If you’re distributing in large quantities, make it easy to mail.

8) Make it work for you. A final thought: You’re not in the business of publishing collateral for its own sake; you should always have a specific marketing or business goal in mind for each piece you create. Everything you make must serve a dynamic role in your sales process, an objective that moves the prospect one step closer to buying. What do you want the customer to do as a consequence of getting or receiving your piece? Whatever that is, make it explicit.

If nothing else, at least end your collateral copy with a “call to action,” a directive to phone, write or otherwise respond to you. If you can provide an incentive — a discount, a premium, a free analysis — all the better. But at the very least, ASK for the response and tell readers exactly how to reach you.



Source by Jonathan Kranz

The Key Pros and Cons of Pricing Psychology

In this complicated economy we are currently in, within the fierce competition contains intense pricing battles, battles that often involve the use of strategic planning and of a particular pricing strategy – e.g. psychological pricing.

All pricing strategies come with advantages and disadvantages, likewise nothing is perfect. Described below will be some of the major pros and cons of utilizing psychological pricing.

Let’s begin with the cons first, shall we? Consider the meaning behind psychological pricing, it aims to play “tricks” on the minds of human beings, to trick us into believing something which is not equivalent to its true self. The single word is perception.

By exploiting psychology, marketers are creating a different perception of something to us, therefore what we think it is, is what we believe. The downside of this is… as a typical consumer who may possibly fall for this pricing strategy, may no sooner realize they were tricked, and so, they will not re-purchase that particular deal anymore.

What can be learned from this is that all pricing strategies must be planned carefully to prevent crossing the line that may cause side-effects.

Another downside of using the concept of psychological pricing is that you are not alone, you are simply not the first one to use this tactic in the economy. The fact is when everyone else in your competition is using the same trick you are, it’s basically communism. The trick will be degraded because the majority is doing the exact same thing.

From this, understand that you must stand out from the crowd and crave up some originality in your pricing campaigns, be unique.

Everything in the world has downsides and upsides. Not only is utilizing a pricing strategy obviously going to increase your sales and bring in more profits, it has several other key pros.

Ever frustrated at the unexpected results of a plan? Any plan? In fact, no plans in the world are error-free, and all plan executors are often worried about the possible outcomes and unfavorable side-effects. However, in the psychology of pricing, minimal attention is required, as such pricing tactics are all targeting human beings, and I suppose human beings are the only buyers in the world?

Having said that, there’s certainly no area for failure in terms of using psychology in pricing, but just the effectiveness and the positive results you are getting that need serious efforts and work put into, in other words, the amount of work determines your rewards. Nonetheless, split-testing is the best option.



Source by Harrison Li