Marketing: Perfecting The Basics

Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

The interesting thing about marketing is that you can have the best business idea, product, or service in the world but if you can’t market your offering in a way that’s attractive and resonates with your target audience – success is going to be seriously restricted.

Today, the majority of entrepreneurs have a basic understanding of marketing in terms of the importance of market research, yet, business owner often leave many questions unanswered, such as why is knowing market size important or what makes a marketing campaign effective?

In this article we’re going to look at some of the principles relating to marketing that will help your business the most.  Rather than cover the “marketing basics” in an academic sense to sum up terms such as market share and the mathematical concepts behind ROI, this article is going to offer a level of more practically relevant and actionable advice – providing an overview of some of the most effective ways to market your business and position yourself for success.

Positioning
The first thing we need to look at is the topic of positioning.  Everything in life is positioned, for instance, the difference between a BMW and a Skoda is that each car is positioned very differently.  It’s not that one car is intrinsically better than the other – it’s that each car is positioned to a specific audience (known as a target market).  

In the case of Skoda, the focus is on providing value for money and the target audience is likely to be families that require a reliable no-frills car that is still comfortable.  Skoda positions itself to meet these needs — from the pricing strategy to the product specification to the advertisements you will see on TV.

BMW, on the other hand, aims at a more affluent target audience that doesn’t view driving as a function of getting from A to B (like Skoda drivers).  BMW is focused on a group of people that want fun and adventure from their driving experience, that crave a feeling of significance and luxury… meaning they view driving as an experience and a statement about their personality — therefore, the advertising, product specification and pricing strategy reflects these values.

Indeed, for some BMW customers, if the car was exactly the same specification but wasn’t priced at a premium, they might not be as interested – because to them, they are buying a status symbol; which would be diminished if everyone could afford one.

The key point is that in your business you are positioning yourself to a particular audience whether you realize it or not.  Your price alone is a huge determining factor of positioning – if you are the “cheapest” then you are positioning yourself as a budget option rather than being “the best.”

In this sense, positioning must be congruent.  After all, if you are positioning yourself as a premium provider but are offering your products or services at a rock bottom price, it isn’t congruent – people will question what’s going on and feel uncertain.  If however, you positioned yourself as a premium option and charged premium prices, your positioning makes sense as it follows suit and is congruent.

This is one of the foundational principles of marketing.  You must position yourself to meet the needs of a particular audience.  If you’re producing a car – you don’t want to target “all car drivers”, you want to be aligned with a particular segment so that this group can resonate with what you offer.

If Apple came out with an iPhone for $50 it would devalue their positioning as an innovative leader in this field.  They have to charge premium prices in order to remain congruent with their positioning – this is why they very rarely offer discounts or sales, which for Apple is a positioning strategy that creates a strong brand identity.

Niche Market
In a similar vein to having a target market is that of focus on the specific needs of one group of people, or a particular challenge your product solves — this way, rather than being a jack of all trades you are positioning yourself as a leading authority in that particular field.

This makes you more relevant to a specific group of people that are facing a particular challenge or are looking for a particular solution.  It’s often said that’s it’s better to be a big fish in a small pond that a small fish in a big overcrowded pond.

The power of having a niche is that you can quickly gain market share and be seen as a leader within your particular category.  For instance, if you were creating a cat food brand, it would be hard to compete against Whiskas or Felix that fulfill the general needs of cats – whereas if you were to go a little more niche in the sense of being a gourmet provider, or even an organic cat food provider your market has suddenly been massively reduced, yet your relevance to cat owners looking for organic cat food has shot through the roof – making you easier to find and connect with your target audience.

Then, with some clever content marketing that discusses the benefits of organic cat food, you can very quickly be perceived as an expert within this field.

The benefit to this is that you will have much more authority and credibility – in a relatively short space of time – due to the relevance of what you offer.  Furthermore, your PPC marketing (such as Facebook Ads) will become much more tailored, meaning you will get a greater return on investment as fewer people will click on your ad but those that do will be much more qualified prospects.

Relevance
Relevance is what all business owners should strive for in their business. Business relevance is considering what connects humans and a feeling of something or someone being relevant to their needs.  If you look at this from a dating perspective, people are attracted to those that seem relevant to fulfilling their emotional needs — the thing that makes people successful on first dates or at speed dating events is that they are able to position themselves as being relevant to the person they are speaking to; in the sense of meeting their needs.

The same is true with business.  The more relevant you seem to be to solving a particular problem or meeting someone’s needs, the more time that person will feel happy to give you in terms of engaging with your brand and being advertised to.  

The challenge, however, comes in the form of determining a customer’s needs.  This can be easy in a one-to-one situation but is much harder on mass, and that’s where market research comes in.

Market Research
The importance of market research is that you are able to obtain real-world feedback into the needs and challenges of your customers.  The key thing you need to do, at this stage, is LISTEN.

It’s very easy to conduct market research and only hear what you want to hear or dismiss relevant feedback because it’s not aligned with your product or service – yet this is a very precarious situation to be in, as insisting that you know better than your target audience is a recipe for disaster.

You should be creating your product in response to market research, rather than using market research as an opportunity to validate the fact you have come up with a great idea.  Market research is valuable feedback that should be used to shape your offering.

Sharing your message
Once you have determined the needs of your target audience and carved out a unique niche for yourself, with some brilliant positioning – the next step is to start promoting your offering and getting your message out there.

This can be a challenging and costly experience, and often requires an iterative approach, meaning you create something then test it and adapt it according to the feedback received.  This is key to your success. You need to listen and respond to feedback – there’s no point trying to force something at your target audience’s, as it’s just going to cost you a lot of money and be dismissed by the very group of people you are trying to be relevant to.

The key approach here, once again, is to listen and respond to feedback.  This way, you can shape your offering to the needs of your market rather than create something and hope for the best.  This is particularly important if you’re on a budget as you don’t have the ability to just throw money at the problem and see what sticks – you need a tailored and targeted approach that is personalized to your specific target market.

In summary, you need to consider how to position what you offer and ensure subsequent marketing efforts are tailored to the specific needs of your niche target audience.  Then, once you have considered the needs of your audience, you must do as much testing and market research as possible to tailor your message to be relevant to your audience and the only way you can do this is to listen and respond to their feedback by adapting your approach accordingly.

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How to Increase Your Sales without Exhausting Yourself

Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

You have never doubted your abilities as a business owner, but recently you have been working longer and longer hours to try to reach your goals. You always knew it would be an exhausting process when you set out as a first-time entrepreneur, but now you are really living it and it’s taking its toll.

You want your business to keep expanding and growing. However, if you are struggling with your workload, you need to figure out some new strategies. Incorporate some of the following ideas into your business to get your time back under your control. 

Ask the Experts
You have been working tirelessly to try and figure out a streamlined strategy that is going to set your business sales soaring. The truth is, you won’t always be able to do everything on your own and sometimes an external source can help you to achieve more. Look into a reputable sales operations team and they will be able to work closely with leadership, support your sales team and deal with hiring new employees. Your sales goals and objectives will be tightly aligned with their missions for you, so take on board all the advice you can get and you will soon see a spike in sales.

Reassess Your Marketing Strategies
If you have been re-versioning the same old marketing campaigns for months and months then it might be time to start switching things up a little bit. The sales operations team will be able to help you with this, but you need to start thinking about what your target audience looks like, cares about and wants. Carry out market research and research their opinions about your current campaigns; they might not be overly thrilled with your current approaches, so now is your perfect opportunity to make a change for the better.

Scope out The Competition
You need to keep a close eye on what your competitors are doing, because they will spur you on to do better and accomplish more. If they are launching innovative products and engaging their audiences with interactive campaigns then you need to start following in their footsteps. Having competitors is an excellent thing for any business, as it allows you to compare and contrast what works and what doesn’t. Use your competitors as motivation to achieve bigger and better things.

Stay Current and Fresh
Make sure that your products and services are always bold, innovative and fresh so that your target audience don’t get bored. You want to keep drawing them in with new launches, so they keep on coming back for more. Regular research will help you to determine the next best step for your company to take.

So keep your customers coming back for more, without having to work sleepless nights to achieve it. With the right help and strategies, you can get more of your time back. 

Job Seeker Seekers: Finding Employees For Your Business

Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

Taking on someone to work for you is always an exciting milestone in life the of your business. This can often be a sign of big growth around the corner, especially when you’re first getting started. Of course, though, it can also be a very stressful time. Most people don’t know how to handle this sort of process, making it a big challenge when it comes to doing it for your company. To help you out with this, this post will be exploring the basic steps you have to follow, along with providing some helpful tips along the way. This should make it much easier to get people into your business going into the future.

Push Out Some Help Wanted Ads
Nowadays, there are loads of websites which can be used to find employees. In the past, this had to be done through newspapers and notice boards, but times have changed over the last few years. A lot of these sites will allow you to post for free, as they get their money through advertising, making it very cheap to get started. The help wanted ads you write are very important, as lower quality examples will always attract lower quality candidates. To make sure that you’re writing to a high standard, it will be worth reading some guides which will take you through what needs to be included.

Go Through Your Best Candidates
Once you have your help wanted ad running, it won’t take long for some responses to come through, and this means that it’s time to start going through them. You should have a good idea of what you’re looking for from the people who will work for you. Each resume will have a lot of the same details, making it a challenge to get through it all, but it will be worth reading as many as possible to ensure that you don’t miss out on someone great. When you find someone you like, you need to interview them. It should be easy to tell who you want to hire after a handful of interviews with different candidates.

Make The Hire
Finally, as the last stage in this process, making the hire will be the most complicated part of all of this. There is a lot of things to consider when you’re taking on an employee, including legal considerations. Companies like Ogletree Deakins law firm can take you through all of the paperwork, making it much easier to take on your new team member properly, while also helping you to avoid legal issues in the future. With all of the documents signed, the last thing you will have to do is getting them trained on all of the tools you have to use.

Taking on an employee often marks a new age in the life of a business. As you grow, you will need to take on more and more people, though, and this will make it especially important to be handling the process correctly. It can be far too easy to end up with a bad team if you’re not careful.

Tips for a struggling business

Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

Sometimes business can start to slowly decrease or sales could quickly begin to plummet, and you lose valuable customers, online traffic and generally feel like you are struggling. There are lots of reasons why these sudden dips happen, and sometimes they can correct themselves. But if you are starting to see a trend then your business could be heading for the chopping block. Instead of dwelling on this point, you need to make a choice. You can try and save your business in some way, or bow out gracefully and perhaps start again. Many people opt for saving their business and try various resuscitation options before giving up. 

Change things up with your website
Your website these days is your online shop front, and so when visits and traffic start to dwindle, you may want to look at the main source of the problem, your website. Is there any way it can be improved? What could be causing the issue in the first place? Sometimes slow loading can cause issues, as well as having the wrong information. Or it may just need you to look at the background and work on your search engine optimization. SEO can really help a website gain traffic, but if you are unsure on where to start, investing time reading some of the best SEO books could help you get started. It might be that people don’t know your website exists. Inserting relevant keywords and gaining credible backlinks will help a search engine to recognize your website as being an option for a result. Helping you to rank better.

Find other ways to drive traffic online
You could consider other methods of driving traffic to your website online. Alongside SEO you could set up a mailing list with software like MailChimp. This helps any new content to be sent out directly to your audience and readership. Helping them better to connect with your website moving forward.

Consider launching an application
If you want to invest further into your business, then a smartphone application could be the way forward. However, there is much to the process of developing an app. There are severe testing of different software cycles to ensure that your app remains current and up to date. So you may want to enlist the help of an expert to help you launch your very own.

Work on your social media strategy
Sometimes it might just be the simple changes that can make all the difference, such as your social media content and strategy. Focusing on engaging ad quality content could help to improve your reach and ultimately help you develop more traffic to your website and business. You could think outside of the box and take advantage of online influencers, or even use social media as a platform for humanizing your business and gaining your voice.

Rebrand your business
Finally, a good old-fashioned rebrand can help you step away from your current business model and help you mold a new one. In some respects, it could also help to change the approach of your business.

While these suggestions alone won’t automatically turn around a struggling business, they will help you identify exactly where the issue is coming from.

Four Ways To Get Followers To Invest In Your Brand

Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

A fan is someone who loves your art to the point they will buy it no matter what. Forget about the cost or the design because they are invested and have a deep pull to anything you release. As a business owner, it’s essential to have as many of these followers as possible.

The problem in the 21st century is the phenomenon of fake friends. Take a look at your Facebook account – how many of those people do you actually know? 

Here are four ways to make sure your fans stick with the company through thick and thin.

Ask Them To Invest
Avid followers of brands and businesses have skin in the game. In many circumstances, the success or failure of the company impacts their lives because they have invested (literally) in the firm. When the business turns over a profit, so do they and that’s what makes them pump their hard-earned cash into the SME. Shoppers don’t have the capital to take on the role of an angel investor, yet they can contribute a small amount thanks to crowdsourcing sites. Plus, the likes of Kickstarter help you build an emotional bond with a plea to people to help you fulfill your dreams. Obviously, you’ll want to work with a local accountant and tax attorney to review the implications of this kind of investment. It may not be right for you or your business.

Act Morally
Consumers are less worried about the quality of the product and more bothered about the ethics of the company. Nowadays, most customers can’t get on board with a message with which they disagree. It goes against everything they stand for and makes them uncomfortable inside. Real fans want to see a conscious effort to save the planet and reduce plastic pollution. They also want the organization to treat their employees with respect. For example, an experienced business attorney can help you settle disputes quietly, while an environmental firm can talk you through a green plan. You can even find a way to work on an issue in your community such as homelessness or food insecurity.

Focus On Branding
Apple has one of the biggest fan bases on the planet. Steve Jobs would have had you believe this was down to the quality of the product. In truth, it was a direct result of the marketing plan. Samsung and Huawei are on a par with the iPhone and iPad technologically speaking, and they aren’t as restrictive. Still, most people assume Apple iOS tech is the market leader. Try and find a way to uplift the brand to your base in the same way Apple did with appearing cool and sleek.



Make Them Reliant
Another trick Apple uses is to make their customers reliant. A considerable percentage of the population owns their products, and they are switching up their features to keep shoppers on the hook. New phones won’t work without the latest chargers. Earphone and headphone jacks have been removed and replaced with wireless earbuds and headsets. Because their customers have invested in large numbers, they have to carry on buying out of necessity.