small biz

Understanding Successful Advertising.

We continue our look at “advertising for dummies” by taking a look at how quickly careless advertising can backfire.

Argentina VS Brazil… Fails To Perform.

Anyone who follows World Cup Football (Soccer) knows that tensions run high and rivalries are deeply ingrained. These rivalries almost always spill over and out of the arena and are often reflected in the various advertising campaigns.

Past rivalries have seen some very “interesting” ad campaigns between rivals. Consider this little exchange between Argentina and Brazil. The top ad was Argentina’s opening shot, the bottom was Brazil’s response after Argentina “failed to perform” in such a way as to “stick it to” Brazil.

Oops, looks like Brazil had some performance issues.

Oops, looks like Brazil had some performance issues.

France Throws A Few Stones At Ukraine, Forget They Live In A Glass House…

For the upcoming Ukraine VS France Football match French fans were creating various posters of their chicken mascot showing dominance over other teams (in France the Rooster is one of France’s national animals… yes we know the irony and humour in France being represented by a chicken). Needless to say the campaign chucked a few stones towards the Ukraine who responded quite quickly with their own little ad.

The left is one of the French ad’s the right was the Ukraine’s response.

France VS Ukraine... Oh and they are playing a football match also!

France VS Ukraine… Oh and they are playing a football match also!

We have one word: “Owned”.

Consider The Backfire.

When advertising, one needs to always consider the various angles and possibilities of a backfire.

Consider it like this. When a parent is choosing names for their newborn, they often consider the many nicknames that can go along with it. “Ben” for example will 99% of the time result in such nicknames as: “Bendover, Benjamin Franklin, Bent, Bender, Bendy etc” (no none are very original). Guarding against nasty nicknames is a very common thought process for new parents.

Any instance of communication with the public (advertising, PR etc) must ponder things in much the same way. Angles need to be considered, public perception of events and materials need to be understood and the overall message being communicated must be honed appropriately. What could go wrong? What leverage may it provide your rivals?

History is riddled with ad campaigns that have backfired violently, damaging the brand they are meant to build up. This is only amplified by the wide-spread use of Social Media to share and spread the failure.

A campaign can start with good intentions but spiral quickly out of control if not properly researched and planned. Try as we may however, we cannot always plan for every possible outcome. To illustrate this, let’s return back to the metaphor of naming your child. I knew a young man whose parents named him Michael Hawk. Not so bad right? Until you start calling him Mike…. and then say his full name out loud, Mike Hawk. Go ahead and say that (quietly) to yourself.

Not exactly the name you want called out when stepping out onto the field for the first time or during role-call in a small high school. Let’s just say the rest of his first year was very good for “character development”.

The point we are trying to make is that one can only do their very best to plan for every possible outcome of an advertising / marketing campaign. You can only do your very best but YOU MUST DO your very best. Careless advertising can quickly backfire (as we see in the Football ad’s above). Consider your audience, consider what is appropriate and what is taboo, consider your wording and then polish your message.

Then fire away.

Just don’t use a chicken as your mascot.

Transition Marketing Services is a small business marketing firm in the Okanagan. Our passion Small Business Marketing. Educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how we’re doing or if you have any questions.

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5 Steps For Marketing Your Small Business

Image from Hillbillly Haven in Armstrong BC. A nice, clean shop front will assure consumers that they are not wasting their time.

Image from “Hillbillly Haven” in Armstrong BC. A nice, clean shop front will assure consumers that they are not wasting their time.

1. Keep Your Shop Clean, Professional.

This is absolutely crucial to success. Good, clean presentation is a must. Few consumers will enter a business that looks like a dive. Why would they?

A clean, professional shop front influences people. It provides customers with the promise that they will not be wasting their time by entering your shop. It builds trust that you and your business take pride in what you offer. What is more, it can motivate your employees to hold their heads up high and take pride in their jobs.

A messy store front will do just the opposite. It will strike fear and it will create discomfort in customers and employees alike. How could a customer trust you to provide them with value for their hard-earned money, if you cannot even maintain what is your own? and why would employees take any initiative, if you yourself refuse to?

No matter how chaotic things may be behind the scenes of your business, always, always, ALWAYS ensure your business image is immaculate.

Image taken at "Kanga & Roo's Children's Boutique" in Vernon BC

Image taken at “Kanga & Roo’s Children’s Boutique” in Vernon BC. Keeping displays new and fresh draws new customers in.

2. Rotate Your Displays & Get Creative.

When we walk past a shop, we are more prone to enter if the front displays are fun. The small business owner should take their pride in their business one step further by continually revising and re-creating the displays of their goods and services. This does not mean moving where items are kept (as that can confuse your regulars). Rather it means, changing how they are displayed.

Many businesses will do a special display for Christmas or other big seasonal events, but it does not need to stop there. Keep your displays fresh and fun, change them regularly and you will see an increase in store traffic. You don’t need an event to keep things colourful.

It is a labour intensive job to stay on top of, but it will generate sales.

If you are not the “create-pretty-displays” type of person, then consider asking one of your staff. You may be surprised at the talent they possess. By handing off a job like this to an employee you are accomplishing three things:

  1. You have filled their day a little more. Now when it is quiet and the floors are swept, they will have something to do.
  2. You have shown them respect and that you trust them.
  3. You are giving them a chance to use a talent to build your business.
Target Marketing is all about zeroing in an a specific consumer demographic

Target Marketing is all about zeroing in an a specific consumer demographic.

3. TARGET Your Marketing & Advertising

Small Business cannot afford to carpet bomb their advertising. It is too expensive to advertise to everyone, everywhere via every method and it is ineffective to just place a few ad’s here and there. Consumers are overwhelmed with the amount of advertising and marketing that is already in their faces everyday. The truth is that they hardly take notice of anything but the most directly engaging types of ads.

The average consumer is hit with hundreds of marketing messages daily. Advertising is everywhere you look. If you want attention you need to make it stand out, you need to customize your marketing to directly speak to your primary consumer base.

Get to know your consumer, learn what appeals to them and make a point of marketing to that. Ensure your message is clear, concise and creative. Bland ad’s don’t work. They must appeal to the people you are selling to on an emotional level and on a rational one as well.

Find out what stirs their emotions, use that to engage and cultivate interest. Then seal the deal by providing a logical reason to make the purchase.

4. Have A Pricing Strategy In Place.

A pricing strategy is much more than simply "Cost + Margin". Your prices will communicate your brand image to consumers. Pricing must be anchored within the rest of your marketing strategy.

A pricing strategy is much more than simply “Cost + Margin”. Your prices will communicate your brand image to consumers. Pricing must be anchored within the rest of your marketing strategy.

Pricing is a powerful tool. It must be used correctly if you wish to achieve your goals. Do not content yourself with setting a price based solely on production costs plus a margin. As a small business owner, you must decide:

  1. What are you trying to achieve with your pricing?
  2. What is the message you are giving people by pricing like you do?

Low pricing is a great way to break into new markets, or dominate existing ones at the risk of a lower profitability over the short-term. Whereas high prices, although you will sell less, can give the impression of a high-end product.

Your pricing is a direct line of communication to your customers and it speaks levels about your business. Your pricing strategy should reflect your marketing strategy. Whether you are targeting high-end consumers or the everyday public, ensure your pricing is in line with your overall brand image and marketing strategy.

5. Develop A Marketing Plan.

Sit down and devise a full strategy for your goals. Create a written marketing plan. This is the best way to ensure that you and all others involved in your business have a clear understanding of company direction. A standard marketing plan must be comprehensive, thoroughly researched and it must encompass every step required to bring your products or services to the customer.

Here are a few valuable questions to ask while developing this plan:

  1. Who are we now?
  2. Who do we want to be?
  3. What do we need to do to be that?
  4. Where are we now?
  5. Where do we want to be?
  6. What do we need to do to get there?
  7. Where do our most profitable present opportunities exist?
  8. What is the best path to these opportunities?
  9. Who will do what?
  10. What is required for each member to accomplish their task?
  11. How do we equip them?
  12. How will we know when we have achieved each goal?

Okanagan-Marketing

Transition Marketing Services is a small business marketing firm in the Okanagan. Our passion Small Business Marketing. Educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how we’re doing or if you have any questions.

 

Small Business: 4 Valuable Tips To Remember When Developing Marketing & Promotions

Okanagan

Pennies still matter, even if they don’t exist anymore.

Marketing Small Business On A Budget.

We have yet to meet a small business that did not consider their budget to be one of their primary concerns. Let’s face it, our budgets are modest and we need to make every penny count. Here are 4 crucial things to consider when developing your marketing.

Four Points To Ponder:

1. If It Works, Keep It Up.

 New and fresh is good, however if one is achieving success with a specific promotion, don’t scrap it! Too often we scrap our promotions because we are bored with them. This is a tremendous waste. One should not spend their budget implementing new marketing directives if their existing ones are working and effective. Run with an ad or promotion for as long as customers are engaged and reacting.

“How long can ads continue to get results? The Ludlow Corp. ran an ad for its erosion-preventing Soil Saver mesh 41 times in the same journal. After 11 years it pulled more inquiries per issue than when it was first published in 1966. SOURCE” 

But how long can an ad get results? Isn’t fresh content important? Yes fresh is absolutely important, however so is keeping within budget. If a specific ad or promotion still has selling power but contains stale content or information, don’t just throw it out or begin over, instead move forward with updates.

2. Don’t Over Do It.

It can be very easy to suddenly find oneself over budget, “a few extra bucks and you get the extra two pages”, “a few more and you get embossed mailers”. Quality matters yes, however it is easy to quickly over do it.

One must make their marketing decisions based on the realities of their budgets. Do not try to imitate big-budget corporations who go for broke on their materials. Remember that ones promotions and image needs to be dictated by THEIR products and THEIR market, not necessarily by what businesses in unrelated fields are doing

Producing materials that are too fancy or far-reaching for its target audience is simply a waste of money, not only that but it can damage your brands image and integrity, as the consumer base will see the flash and pomp and will immediately question your understanding of their market and needs.

3. Modular (Adaptable) Product Literature.

Image Source: Speedycopy.ca

Image Source: Speedycopy.ca

A common budget oriented concern is how to promote a product or service to multiple markets. Every market presents a different need and the product or service has to be presented differently to each. So how does a small business with a small budget afford multiple variations of their sales literature?

“Module Literature” is essentially promotional literature that is built-in sections.See, a basic brochure layout is created with sections that are capable of being quickly altered  for specific market needs. In a modular layout, the standard sections remain unchanged, but new text can be laid into the one or two necessary sections to create more niche directed literature. By using the same basic layout, artwork etc, one creates literature directed at multiple niches, all from the same basic design.

Most brochures and literature consist of sections. Some, like “Contacts”, “About Us”, “Product Operation” etc. are static and can remain the same from customer to customer. The one or two more sections that focus on specific niche customers can then be adapted and changed as necessary.

By proceeding in this fashion one is able to target multiple customer bases, while saving substantial money and time.

4. Using Re-prints For Niche Literature.

Re-prints are so useful that we actually ran a post last week outlining nine great uses for re-prints of existing advertising and marketing literature (here).

Is is not unusual to see a wide array of request for specialized, “incidental” pieces of product literature:

  • Data sheets.
  • Draft drawings.
  • Specialized sales literature.
  • Product summaries.
  • Product comparisons.

The list goes on. Each of these specific pieces serve a good purpose, educating and servicing customers. Yet trying to keep up and produce multiple copies of varying materials can be both time-consuming and expensive. Simply put, trying to produce literature for every need ones market may hold is far too expensive.

Instead, consider using already bought and paid for advertising and article reprints as sales literature. In the same way that Modular Literature works, one can use existing literature as a cover sheet, while providing inexpensive additional inserts specific to the recipient.

The inserts do not have to be fancy, as the re-prints of existing literature will offer a nice cover page to the valuable information they provide.

Okanagan Small Business Marketing

Transition Marketing Services in the Okanagan. Our passion Small Business Marketing. Educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how we’re doing or if you have any questions.

Small Business Sales: Equipping Customers to Find Your Business

Finding-Customers-Small-Business

Finding Small Business Customers.

You finally did it, struck out on your own. You went from “wantrepreneur” to small business owner. You have the products and services, the passion and maybe even some sort of budget!

Now what?  Time to succeed!

Time to impress consumers, make sales and create a sustainable income. Ok! sooooo…how does one do that? How does one equip their small business for long-term success?

Let’s face it, the key to succeeding in small business is the same as big business.

Sales.

Without sales, there is no revenue and without revenue it can be difficult to pay the bills, much less grow.

There are many differences that separate big business from small. For example how those sales are made, who they are made to and the approach behind them. However the same truth applies: “to make a sale, you must have customers.” So how do you get customers?

Let’s break this down to elementary school basics.

Making a Sale for Dummies:

  1. To make SALES you require CUSTOMERS.
  2. CUSTOMERS are simply CONSUMERS (people shopping) until the sale is made, ergo to start you must find CONSUMERS (people shopping).
  3. To find CONSUMERS, you must make your business accessible, easy to find and easy to connect with.
  4. Once you have connected with a consumer base, you can work on making the sale.

For many small businesses, making the sale is only half the problem, first they need to find and connect with the consumers (potential customers), because “Without someone to sell to, sales can be a little tough.”

The first thing any small business must consider, is HOW to make it easier for consumers to find them. If your business is not easy to find, then that must change immediately.

There are many resources available with which to connect your business to consumers, however the most commonly overlooked (and feared) are the online tools.

Creating A Visible, Accessible Small Business, Online:Small-Business-Website

When determining how to connect and market to a specific body of consumers, we always attempt to place ourselves in the shoes of the people we are attempting to reach. Doing so can give you great insight into who they are, what they are looking for, where they are looking and how they are doing it.

Recently Todd Ebert, CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) for the online marketing firm ReachLocal, was quoted as stating the same thing: Put yourselves in the mindset of the average consumer. Think about how you buy things – and how people might find your products or services. (Source)

There is value in utilizing offline resources like the YellowPages, business directories and print medium, however small businesses must also dedicate resources to building their online presence. It is the era of online research. By default almost every consumer begins their search for products and services with Google.

Online searches provide consumers with all of the results, reviews, recommendations and refusals they could possibly need.

You typically start with a Google search. You look for reviews, informative videos, comments on social media sites and recommendations from friends and family. You visit relevant message boards and online communities to learn about the experiences of other consumers. You try free samples and trials when you can.

How your business places in these results – or whether it even places at all – is directly determined by the amount of effort you put in to your online presence. Yes this effort represents a cost and a sacrifice to you, however it is a necessary one. Newly established small businesses cannot afford to shun the online world.

Knowing where your consumers are looking, and what search results are most prominent, can provide you with the insight as to where to concentrate your efforts.

Okanagan Marketing1. Website:

First and foremost get a GOOD website. If you cannot build one yourself (most cannot) then pay for one. It will be the best investment you ever make.

This is your online home base, the centre of your online presence. All of your other online resources should link back to this. If you have ever heard the term “landing page”, that is what this is referring to. You websites homepage is where the consumer will land with the click of a mouse.

  1. Use this landing page to control the consumers first impression of you.
  2. An effective landing page is built to be clear and easy to navigate.
  3. Ensure it is professional looking.
  4. Avoid clutter and avoid too much immediate information.
  5. Instead create a website with the intention of immediately equipping the consumer base with what they need then and there.
  6. Use your homepage to engage and draw the consumer in (they can get more info on your websites additional pages).
  7. Populate the homepage with clean, easy to understand and aesthetically pleasing content.
  8. Provide easy navigation. When laying out the website, consider WHERE consumers will want to go to from each page.
  9. Ensure tabs to other pages on the website as clearly labelled. When a consumer lands on your homepage, they will quickly need to know where to go next.

2. Social Media:Small-Business-Social-Media

Yes, social media is necessary. Some still struggle with the concept, yet it has become an essential part of any online presence.

  1. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and the vast array of other social sites, play a huge role in SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Web Traffic, Page Ranking and Page Results.
  2. Think of it this way. Your website is a dot, a Facebook profile is another dot, a Twitter profile is a third dot. The dot’s alone are tiny, however if you connect each dot with a line, you have a larger triangle. This is how social media effects online presence.
  3. Beyond simple page ranking, these sites offer an unprecedented opportunity to directly engage consumers, giving small business owners one more avenue to find and convert to customers.
  4. Social Media is just that, social. It is an endless conversation between people spanning ages, cultures, societies, demographics and target markets. With 180 million users on Facebook alone, a small business owner would be rather silly not to put the effort in.

For more on the ins and outs of Social Media, consider visiting our following posts, or Google it and see what others are saying.

 

Online Advertising.

Online advertising can be surprisingly cost-effective, however one must take care to ensure they are doing it correctly. Remember that the world wide web is a very VERY big place, and any advertising efforts on the part of small business need to be highly targeted.

The good news is that most avenues for online advertising provide for this. Google Adwords is a great example of intuitive and price competitive online advertising. Other options such as Facebook Ad’s, AdRoll and YellowPages360 also warrant investigation.

It only takes one or two sales and these ad’s are quickly paid for. What is more, they are very easy to set up. Google Adwords will take you by the hand and walk you through the entire process.

Conclusion.

Remember to monitor the results of your online presence. Search online regularly and see what showing up, is it what you want? if not, then take the time to adjust.

Check up and see what people are saying about your business. Read reviews, watch the social media channels. Take all of this information and use it. Use it to adjust, to react and to plan your future strategies.

Will you make some mistakes along the way? YES! It is a process, with a learning curve. Stick with it, take your lumps and learn the process, it will take your business to the next level, instigate business growth and save your business on overhead.

Create an online presence, provide your consumers with a place and the tools to connect with you and you will be on your way to converting consumers to customers, thereby driving sales.

Transition-Marketing-Services

Transition Marketing Services. Our passion is educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how were doing or if you have any questions.

 

Fresh Content Matters

Image Source: Wesst.org

Image Source: Wesst.org

When trying to market your small business, it is all about putting your company in front of the consumer.

Whether it is an ad in the local newspaper, a Facebook page, or your website, there is one thing to ALWAYS remember.

“Content is King”

Fresh Content Drives Results:
We were driving to my folks place tonight. As we entered the bustling city of Enderby, we passed a number of billboards – the same billboards we pass regularly on this particular stretch of highway.

This got me thinking. I pass these billboards regularly, once a week at least, but seldom if ever even give this signage a second thought.

Why?

Because the content is stale.

The same content that was plastered across these boards in June, is still there, slightly sun bleached in December. These signs may have been effective when they first went up, but they had a lifespan.

Like any image based advertising, it’s effect and impact hinges on its ability to be seen. Stale content goes unnoticed, fresh content grabs the eye.

These highway billboards cease to get noticed after the first few passes.

The same goes for any of your marketing and advertising. Websites, Facebook, Printed ad’s – you have to be diligent in maintaining your materials. Update and post regularly.

Keep your content fresh.

Or like those billboards, be passed by.

20121208-200837.jpg Transition Marketing Services. Our passion is educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how were doing or if you have any questions.

I’ve Got 99 Problems But A (Sales) Pitch Ain’t One

The Relationship Between Sales & Marketing

To clearly define the relationship between sales and marketing we must first define marketing

What Is Marketing?

Marketing is all about enabling.

  1. Enabling a business to find the right customers.
  2. Enabling consumers to find the right business.
  3. Enabling sales by demonstrating and displaying the value of specific products and services.

To break it all down to bare bones,  marketing, is about enabling businesses to survive and to thrive via the one thing every business requires – SALES

Marketing enables sales.

Businesses need sales to survive. No matter what a business does, it is always about driving sales. Cold calls, Customer Service, Branding campaigns, Advertising, Promotions, you name it – all of it in one way or another, is about making the sale.

Because for any business, survival depends on sales.

Marketing enables sales.

Ergo marketing enables survival.

Sales depend on the customer’s ability to perceive value. When enough value is perceived, a customer is willing to pay a specific amount based on that value. Marketing is about demonstrating that value. If a business can demonstrate enough value – enough reason – for customers, then they will make the sale. They will survive and they will grow.” – TMS

That is what Marketing is.

Now let’s dig further.

Marketing: Displaying Value.

“Value” is perceived in a number of ways and by a number of things. For simplicity we will break it down into two primary areas first (we will then break those down further).  The two primary areas are as follows:

  1. Value in a product or service.
  2. Value attached to a brand reputation.

1. Value In A Product Or Service.

Value in a given product or service is determined by a number of variables. Certain products are a necessity to everyday life: Toothpaste, Toilet paper, Food, Gasoline, Electricity etc. While other products are considered luxury items: Movies, Video Games, Vacations, so on.

Necessities: These sell themselves to a certain degree. When dealing with these types of products it is more about keeping abreast of the competition. Let’s use toilet paper to demonstrate a few of the controlling factors for sales on necessities:

  1. Price point. Are your rolls more or less expensive than the next guy?
  2. Quality. Two ply will fetch more than single ply toilet paper.
  3. Innovation. Is there something NEW or DIFFERENT that separates your product from the other available options? (Does it wipe for you?).
  4. Availability. Is the product in all of the key places people go (no pun intended)? Is it convenient to find? Is it in stock?
  5. Relationship. In small business especially, relationships are important. Develop camaraderie with the customer base, and you will be number 1 (pun definitely intended). They will CHOOSE to support you.
  6. Reputation. This is about branding and ties in to the value attached to you brand. Developing a brand reputation drives new and repeat sales. Branding is key to success.

With necessities, customers are going to purchase these products regardless. Will they purchase from you or do they have reason to go elsewhere? Success here is about giving them a reason to go to you.

Luxuries: These items are more about what customers are CHOOSING to purchase. It could be something new, perhaps a new snowboard, or a Kitchen Aid mixer. Or it could be an upgrade, moving from the iPhone 4S to the iPhone 5. Regardless, these items require more effort in demonstrating the value.

All of the same principles for “necessities” apply to luxury purchases as well. However the value is not as readily evident. People know they need to brush their teeth, the do not necessarily agree that they need a new 52” plasma screen.

With these types of items marketing can take a nasty turn, becoming more about coercion and less about value.

Coercing or deceiving customers about value, is one massive marketing FAIL. If the product is so bad that it requires deceit to sell it, then it should not be on the market.

As Seth Godin put it “Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers”.

  • You can market junk, and do it well. You can make the quick sale, but you will NEVER develop a brand or any longevity.
  • This is a fact and it is increasing in truth as Social Media continues to enable brand transparency, CRM and more thorough customer feedback at a public level.

It is the marketing of junk that has given the industry a bad name. TRUE Marketing is not about deceiving the consumer base. It is about showing them great products.

Let’s assume then, that the product is a non-essential – a luxury – but a good one, one with value. Now it comes down to showcasing this value. That is where marketing comes in. developing the research, strategies, tools and resources to display the products greatness to the world.

The research is crucial. Knowing HOW to best market a specific business will save thousands of the client’s dollars. Market Research requires a careful analysis of variables that include (but are not limited to):

  • Business Location.
    • Location of competition.
    • Location of viable customers.
  • Product & Service Value
    • Define the value.
    • Who is it valuable to?
    • What similar products & services exist?
  • Target Market
    • Where is the market located?
    • Market demographics (age, gender etc.)
    • What are they spending money on?
    • What do they value?
  • Measure Existing Brand Strengths
    • What is there to work with? (don’t reinvent the wheel).
    • What are they doing right?
    • What can be leveraged?
  • Measure Existing Brand Weaknesses
    • Where is there room for improvement?
    • How are these being exploited by competitors?
    • How do we address?
  • Measure Competition
    • Analyze what they provide.
    • Who they provide it to.
    • How they do it.
    • How we can do it better

Small business budgets are, well… small. By determining the marketing areas of highest value, we can ensure the most return on the dollar. Taking all of these variables into account we determine what strategy and tools make the most sense for that specific business. For example:

  • Not every business needs accounts on multiple social media profiles.
  • Not every business requires billboard advertising.
  • Not every business can profit from advertising in women’s magazines…

Know Your Target: There is such a vast number of marketing and advertising options in existence, that many assume putting a business or brand on display would be simple. In fact, a common statement from small business is that “they are marketing, but not seeing the results they hoped for”.

Many are mystified.

The thing is that a product or service can be displayed, but if the right people are not seeing it, it does no good. Put another way, “if your business is selling marmalade to the elderly, don’t sink your budget into social media”.

If you boil the term “marketing” down to “displaying value”, then one can agree that it makes sense to ensure that this “value” is being displayed to the people who care.

2. Value Attached To A Brand Reputation.

Brand reputation is the result “BRANDING”. Many mistake “Branding” as no more than the consistent displaying of the same logo and uniform colour scheme across all advertising mediums. While this is an ASPECT of branding, it is only about 30% of it.

Branding is all about creating an image and an association – in the mind of the consumer – between a specific business and a specific expectation. For example, when one purchases a coffee from Starbucks, they expect a certain level of quality and service. Why? Because this is what they have come to expect. That is the BRAND REPUTATION.

To develop a brand image and reputation a business must first determine what their commitment is to consumers. This is their “BRAND PROMISE”. This brand promise, or commitment to customers is what the brand reputation is built around.

A brand reputation is controlled and affected my many things. It takes years of consistent effort to develop a brand and all of that work can be unraveled in a matter of hours.

Image source: liviubestphoto.blogspot.ca

The value in developing a brand can be seen in all of the major companies in existence today. Apple, Google, Samsung, Coke, Visa, Nike, BMW, Toyota, etc. They have all put in decades of effort to get to where they are today.

When developing a brand, one once again looks to research and measurements. We discuss this further in our post here:

Suffice to say that once a positive brand reputation has been developed, sales grow more easy. Consider Apple, they are widely regarded as suppliers of innovative, engaging and quality products. Since they possess a reputation for high value product, they will make sales with less effort.

A good brand reputation essentially paves the way for sales. Make no mistake though, this reputation takes time and effort to cultivate and under the right circumstances, can be quickly destroyed.

Branding should be a goal for any business of any size. It is not something left strictly to corporations, or established businesses. A small corner store can develop a reputation for quality service with a smile, and that in itself can drive sales.

Every business needs brand awareness, a brand image and a brand reputation.

SUMMARY:

BUSINESS SURVIVAL requires SALES.

SALES require MARKETING.

MARKETING is:  “the enabling of sales through display and exposure of product/service value.” – TMS

Demonstrate the value behind your product/service and demonstrate the value of your business/brand to the correct target market. That is marketing encapsulated into a very tiny nutshell.

If you want to make sales, provide the most valuable products possible to your customer base and market in a way that clearly displays this value to the people it matters to.

As Henry Ford put it “There is one rule for the industrialist and that is: Make the best quality of goods possible at the lowest cost possible, paying the highest wages possible.” 

Okanagan-Small-Business-MarketingTransition Marketing Services. Our passion is educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how were doing or if you have any questions. TRANSITION MARKETING SERVICES – Small Business Marketing Specialists.

Starting A Small Business Part 1

Okanagan Valley Marketing - British Columbia

Thinking of starting a small business? Great! make sure you know what to expect. (Image Source photospin.com © 2001)

Small Business On The Move.

With the changing of the economy, we are seeing more professionals seeking to be their own boss. While some seek entrepreneurial freedom off of a new idea or innovation, many seek to begin a business within the industries they are most familiar with. It can be a difficult road to pursue, yet extraordinarily rewarding.

Success and failure often seem to balanced precariously on a knives edge at times. Many factors come into play, some within our power – many outside of it. The fact is that no sure-fire way to succeed exists, and beginning a business will always represent a risk.

That said, there are certain means and methods one can take to increase the odds. Understanding some of the rules, and knowing the tools that exist can help reduce the headaches, and the failures.

Below we will dive into the first of a two part series examining tips and resources for start-ups.

Make A Plan.

1. Fulfillment.

First, decide what business type makes the most practical sense, given your temperament, abilities, background and passions, for you to pursue. While many start-ups begin as a result of a passion for a specific business, others begin due to a desire for freedom. It is important to truly contemplate what it is you want to do.

Much of small businesses long term success is determined by the level of fulfillment it gives the owner.

2. Finances – Breaking Even?

Create a budget vs start-up costs analysis and be honest! If you will not be breaking even immediately, how long? Determine your long term plan. How long can you survive without making the necessary sales? Remember that it may take a while to generate profit and you need to be able to sustain not only your business, but yourself, your family etc.

3. Finance – Sales & Profits.

Simple, but easy to miss. Making sales is great, but making profits is better. Determine within your plan, how long it may be before you not only break even, but generate increased cash flow.

4. Goals – Make Them.

Set three or four key goals for your business, in relation to your costs, budget and sales plan. Keep them simple, keep them achievable but keep them relevant.

  • What promotional materials need to be in place before you open your doors?
  • By what date do you intend on making x number of dollars?
  • How many customers do you intend to have contacted within your first month?

5. Business Plan.

Okanagan Small Business Marketing and Business Plans

Devising a proper and well laid out business plan at the start, will save loads of work later on.

Write a business plan – many resources exist online and at career institutes to assist you. Include your budget vs cost comparison, your profit forecast or cash-flow analysis and the goals you have set.

6. Search Out Business Financing Resources.

There are people who will finance your business. Government grants, financial institutions…Grandma.

Ok maybe not Grandma, but a quick search can turn up some surprising cash oriented resources that can make or break you efforts early on.

7. A Marketing Plan.

  • How will your promote you business in the beginning?
  • What type of materials will you use?
  • Who will you target?
  • What message will you target with?
  • How does this fit into your budget?
  • What will give your business the most bang for your buck?
  • What is the timeline for your business cards? your website? your vehicle decals? etc etc.

Decide On A Legal Structure For Your Business.

8. Consider The Various Forms Of Business Structures.

Explore the pros and cons. Here are a few of the ownership types you will come across:

  • Sole proprietorship (single owner)
  • Partnership (multiple owners)
  • Co-operative
  • Corporation

9. Key Factors That Affect Business Structures:

  • What is the simplest business format for your industry?
  • Does this structure fit for future needs?
  • How many owners will be involved?
  • What type of start-up capital will you need?
  • What are the personal pros and cons regarding liability and limited liability?
  • Do you stand to gain from selling stock?
  • How should your business be taxed?

10. Discuss Your Business Structure with a Lawyer.

Answer the necessary questions for yourself first. Devise a business plan and ensure you have done adequate research to reduce any legal consulting time needed. There are numerous resources available for this, search online or check with local career centre. Once you have done what leg work you can, consider discussing your plans with a lawyer.

We explore the pro’s and cons related to the business structure options in depth in our posting on Canadian Business Structures

Transition Marketing Services Okanagan Small Business Solutions

Make a list of potential names then check the availability.

Name Your Business.

11. When Naming Your Business Consider:

  • What service or industry are you in?
  • Does your name make sense for this industry?
  • What are some of your competitors names?
  • What will grab attention?
  • Is the name similar to others out there? It may impact availability, and your ranking in phones books and even search engines.
  • What will work with slogans, marketing and promotions?

Consider names that make use of standard industry terms, of your geography and your brand promise, also consider creativity and fun.

12. Are Your Considered Names Available?

The name may be awesome, but it may also be taken. Business name availability will depend on a number of variables:

  • The industry: An industrial plastics business will have less existing businesses then a hipster coffee shop.
  • The location: Including location terms like “Western Canadian, British Columbia, Okanagan” etc. can reduce availability – so double check.

You need to also consider where you will be doing business. Verify all the key areas for availability including:

  • Online: Check to see if your business name is available as a website domain. (Hint: You can try purchasing the domain rights from the owner, however that can be expensive – if it is already taken, consider a minor deviation to the name).
  • Local Community: Verify with the local authorities to see if your proposed name has been taken. It may be used by a genuine business, or even a fictitious one. Either way if it is taken, it is taken. (Hint: Here again you may be able to purchase the rights, or may want to consider a minor deviation to the name – Example: Spelling etc).
  • Provincially & Federally: Run a trademark search on the considered names on your list. Keep in mind that using a name that is trademarked elsewhere could simply confuse the customer.

13. Choose A Name.

Use the above tips to slowly eliminate names from your list. Choose one of the remaining that fits well with your business, desired image and personal preference.

14. Register The Name.

Register your name locally and as a domain etc. Doing so will eliminate any messy legal issues that may arise in the future from others attempting to use the same name. If needs be register it federally or as a trademark as well (this may be unnecessary for start-ups).

That sums up the first of our two part series. We will finish up next week by looking at Business Locations, Permits, Insurance and more! Exciting stuff so stay tuned!

Transition Marketing Services - Small Business Marketing

Transition Marketing Services. Our passion is educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how were doing or if you have any questions. TRANSITION MARKETING SERVICES – Small Business Marketing Specialists.