It’s A Lot Like Spinach Stuck Between Your Teeth – How Can You Tell You Need Marketing & Design Help

Having a bad marketing strategy or business image is a lot like a piece of spinach wedged in your teeth, a bad-comb over or leaving your fly open – everyone sees it, it looks bad, but no one will tell you to your face. It’s tough to know when you look good and when you need a little help. Your business image is no different. So how can you tell when you might need marketing and design help? Just as seeing a piece of spinach in your teeth in the mirror, the answer is often found through self-analysis. Looking at your competition, your prospects and your image are a great place to start. You owe it to yourself and your success to take some time to reflect on where you are, where you want to go and how you might get there.

So do you need marketing and design help? Let’s find out…

Price War:

Does it always feel like you have to compete on price? That’s tough, isn’t it? If this is the case for you, you’re not alone, I’ve found this to be a major challenge for most companies – those companies almost always desperately need marketing and design help. Here’s what happens: when customers aren’t educated on the value and benefits that they want from a professional in your industry they have difficulty evaluating which person is the best. So they evaluate professionals on something that can measure – price. You see, marketing’s first objective is to identify the value and benefit your customers want, then it should convey that value and benefit in a way that compels customers to respond and react. If there’s no perceived difference among you and your competition, customers will just rely on price when shopping.
Do you fully understand your customers’ needs and wants?

Do you know how to convey the value they want in a way that’s compelling to them?
If you answered “no”, you’re losing out on loads of customers and you need marketing and design help.Find Out How You Stack Up:

Gather some of your competition’s collateral materials (logo, business card, advertisements, brochure, web site, etc). Ask yourself, “How does my business stack up with the rest of the field?” “Do you look like an expert compared to the rest of your competition?” Here’s what you need to understand: whether we recognize it or not, our collateral materials directly and immediately convey to prospects an image of expertise and quality. By visiting your web site, seeing an ad, or receiving a business card, your prospect is already evaluating whether or not you care about quality and whether or notnyou’re an expert in your field. If your prospects don’t perceive that you are an expert and care about quality, you’ve already got two strikes against you.
How do prospects perceive your commitment to quality and expertise compared to the rest of your industry? How is that affecting your sales? If you don’t look like an expert, and that’s something that’s important to you, you might want to look into marketing and design help.
To really find out where you stand, ask your prospects what they think about your marketing materials (make sure you recruit people that will give you a straight answer).Take a Self Confidence Evaluation:

Have you ever told someone that your business image (cards, logo, web site, etc…) was temporary and that you we’re going to get it “fixed” later? Do you feel sheepish or apprehensive when showing or directing a prospect to some of your company’s marketing material? Do you avoid networking situations because your marketing and image don’t really show how good your business really is? Could you do a better job in promoting your company if your image was unique and eye-catching? Would you feel better about your business if you had a professional image?
If you’ve answered “yes”, you’ll want to contact a marketing and design expert. Not only do you need help, you probably want help as well.Are You Insane?

Small business owners are a great bunch of people; most are positive, hopeful and optimistic. These are all terrific characteristics to have; they all want their business to grow, they hope to bring in more sales and they are optimistic about getting more customers, but few of them have a plan to achieve it.
I’ll ask prospects, “Do you plan on growing your business more this year than last?” The answer is always a resounding, “Yes!” This of course is a great answer. I then follow this question up with a slightly harder one, “What do you plan on doing this year that’s going to make that happen?” This is when I get the deer in the headlights look, “I don’t know”. Business owners are optimistic and hopeful – but they don’t have a plan, and they often see investing in their marketing and design as an expense, not an investment.
Business owners want to succeed, they hope they will succeed but they have no idea how to do it. They elect not to invest in their company, their people, processes, marketing and business identity, and yet are still hopeful that they are magically going to succeed and grow their business. That’s crazy!
If you want to succeed and grow your business, that’s terrific, just make sure you have a plan and a clear strategy to back it up. Part of that strategy might include getting your accounting books in order, implementing a clear and effective marketing strategy, gathering extensive feedback from clients, hiring a business coach, competitive analysis, permission marketing or upgrading your web site, company identity or marketing materials. These aren’t expenses, they are investments.
Doing the same thing from year to year and expecting different results is crazy – well, actually it’s defined as insanity.
Are you planning on growing your business? If so, what measures are you going to undertake to do it? What are you going to do, or invest in this year to grow your company?
Do you expect to grow your company this year, or are you just hoping? Be honest with yourself. If you hope to grow your business but you’re not doing anything significant to make that happen, you probably want to look into what effective, results-driven marketing and design can do for you.Do a Skills Assessment:

One of the most beneficial concepts I’ve learned in business is knowing what I can, and what I can’t do well. Even within the field of design there are many areas I specialize in, and some I am not as strong in. In those areas where I was not as strong, I was savvy enough to recognize I needed an expert, so I hired one. I know I can’t do it all. More than that, I know I shouldn’t do it all, and you shouldn’t either. What do you really do well, and is marketing and design one of those things? Is your business being hurt because you’re trying to do the marketing and design?
Here’s a great exercise: pretend that you had a board of directors for your business, and you were on that board rather than the current owner or manager. If you were on that board, do you think that the person(s) currently doing the marketing and design for your business are qualified to help your company succeed and grow?
Does this marketing person(s) have the time; does she/he/you have the talent?

Do any of you have any formal marketing or advertising training?

Have any of you studied marketing and advertising, and how they affect consumers?

Do you feel confident that any of you know how your customer buys, and why she buys?
You might find that you’re in a good position to do the design and marketing for your company, but if you’re like most small business owners your talents might be elsewhere. If you’re really looking to grow, succeed and achieve in business, know what you don’t do well and bring people on in those areas to advise you and guide you.How’s the Reaction?

Just as parents see their baby with rose-colored glasses, small business owners often see their company very differently than their prospects. Have you ever seen an average looking baby only to hear the parents rave over and over how she/he should be a baby model? Your business is probably your baby, and you’ll see it differently than how the rest of the world does. How your business is perceived by prospects (not you) will have a direct affect on your sales your success – how prospects view your business can be the difference between success and failure. Learning to see your business through the eyes of your prospects is essential. If you want to know why John Q. buys, you have to see the world through John Q’s eyes.
How might others see your business? Ask yourself these questions:

Do prospects often compliment your business image and marketing materials?

How do you think prospects would rate your business image and marketing materials: Outstanding / Good / Average / Below Average / Dismal.

Do you think prospect’s can see a clear and definite reason to do business with you over anyone else in the industry? Are you the clear choice?

Do you have a clear, unique marketing strategy (clear and effective process of attracting new customers)?

In your marketing and advertising, are you saying the same things as everyone else in your industry?

Do you think you stand out from the rest of the crowd (in a positive light)? If not, how do you think that affects your sales?
Be honest with yourself, do your answers suggest that your prospects see you as a clear expert, the clear choice to do business with, or just one of the crowd? Now of course you see a huge difference between you and the competition, but that’s not important – do your prospects see a difference? Based on your answers, do you think you might need marketing and design assistance, or are you in good shape?Are You Keeping Up with the Joneses?

You might be in an industry that is shielded from new entrants and stiffer competition, but for the rest of us, it gets more challenging. Challenging is okay, in fact it’s good, but you have to have to meet the challenge with new ideas, more effective marketing and perhaps a better strategy. Are you keeping up with the rest of the industry, and how might that effect your sales? If you’re finding it hard to compete, there’s a strong possibility you need to infuse fresh marketing and design into your business. Ask yourself these questions:
Is your company growing at the same rate as the industry and your competition?

Do you see others in your industry that aren’t as good and talented doing better than you?

Is there more or less competition in the industry?

Is the competition getting easier or tougher to deal with?

Are you proactively competing with others in your field, or just hoping the competition won’t raise the bar on you?
The first step in getting help is recognizing you need it. Hopefully this article has given you some answers and some insight: either you should seriously look into getting marketing and design assistance, or you feel better about how you stack up against the rest of the field. Whether its marketing and design, or processes and procedures, you should always be looking at what’s working and how you can make it work better. How can you improve your business today?

I help small businesses build more confidence and credibility into their business brand. Through marketing and design initiatives; I help you feel better about your company. Making you feel good about your business gives you more confidence and less anxiety when you are networking, promoting or selling your business. If your business needs the reliability and talent of an in-house marketing and design department but doesn’t want additional employees, salaries and benefits, give me a call at 480.391.0704 – I have a new approach for you.

Market Research – Identifying Key Markets for Export

Successful companies concentrate on one foreign market at a time, moving on to the next only after succeeding in the last. Demand and trend are the two key factors that determine which countries
to select first and how to set priorities.

Market research helps you identify promising markets through objective analysis of available facts and statistics. Its true, many companies start export whenever it receives unsolicited orders from abroad. Although this type of selling is valuable, the company may discover even more promising markets by conducting a systematic search.

Primary and Secondary Market Research

Market research is conducted by analysing primary or secondary data resources. In conducting primary market research, a company collects data directly from foreign marketplace through interviews, surveys, feedback and other such direct contact with potential buyers. Primary market research has the advantage of being tailored to the needs of the company and provides answers to specific questions, but it is invariably time consuming and very expensive.

Secondary market research is based on analysis of statistical data such as trade statistics. To be effective, the data should be reliable and cover significant historical period. Though it is considerably less expensive than primary research, one should be aware of its limitations. For example, the most recent statistics for some countries may be more than two years old. Moreover, the data may be too broad to be of much value to a company. Statistics may also be distorted by incomplete data-gathering techniques. Finally, statistics for services are often unavailable. Yet, even with these limitations, secondary research is a valuable and relatively easy first step for a company to take. It may be the only step needed if the company decides to export indirectly through an intermediary, since the later may have advanced research capabilities

Step 1 – Collect Data

Collect export statistics published by authentic sources. In India, there are two major sources for reliable trade statistics – Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics (DGCIS) and Customs.

DGCIS publishes ‘Monthly Statistics of Foreign Trade of India’ Its March issue contains cumulative data for whole financial year (April to March). After publishing extremely voluminous books for years – DGCIS has started publishing this data in CD-ROM from 2004.

DGCIS statistics is extremely important for macro level data analysis. One can find out product and country wise (as also country and product wise) statistics for whole year from DGCIS publications.
You may find more information on DGCIS data including examples at Sources and Evaluation of Indian Foreign Trade Statistics

Customs department publishes port-wise “Daily List of Export and Import”. This list contains brief details of every shipment made through a seaport or airport. For more information including demo
data – check Eximstat Database

Step 2 – Identify Promising Markets

Identify five to ten large and fast-growing markets for products in your export basket. Check volume as well as trend for a historical perspective of 5 to 10 years. Ask critical questions – has market growth been consistent year to year ? Has there been a shift in product choice ? Was there a seasonal bias ?

For example – analysis of spice export data for last few years may show increasing sale of curry-type mixed powder spices and modest or decreasing sale of whole seeds.

Another example – increased rice export to Bangladesh may be traced to floods in that country rather than any long term change in demand profile. Such spurt in demand is unlikely to sustain for long and should be considered a temporary phenomenon.

In both cases – historical analysis of foreign trade statistics can help you identify seasonal bias or shift in demand.

Step 3 – Identify Emerging Markets

Identify some smaller but fast-emerging markets that may provide ground-floor opportunities. If the market is just beginning to open up, there may be fewer competitors than in established markets. Growth rates should be substantially higher in these countries to qualify as up-and-coming markets, given the lower starting point.

Step 4 – Assess Target Markets

Ascertain the sources of competition, including the extent of domestic industry production. Analyze factors affecting marketing and use of the product in each market, such as end-user sectors, channels of distribution, cultural factors and business practices. Finally, identify tariff and non-tariff barriers (if any) for the product being imported into the target country

Step 5 – Draw Final List

After analyzing the data, the company may conclude that its marketing resources would be applied more effectively to a few countries. In general, if the company is new to exporting, then efforts should be directed to fewer than ten markets. Exporting to one or two countries will allow the company to focus its resources without jeopardizing its domestic sales efforts.

Direct Marketing Over Kill Trains Customers to Wait for Coupons

Is it possible for a business to spend too much of its advertising dollar on direct-mail or direct marketing? Some experts believe it is and they have some pretty good rationale for why they believe this. For instance consider if you send out coupons all the time and you end up training your customers to wait for the coupon so that they can use it and then they come to expect the coupon and therefore if you ever stop sending out the coupons your customers will stop coming to the store.

That is unfortunate because the reason you send out coupons in a Money Mailer type direct-mail or direct marketing package is to get new clientele. The goal is to get in new customers and give them great service and then they want to come back and pay full price for additional services at a later date as well as spread the word-of-mouth advertising and give your company good referrals.

But what many small businesses find is that their previous customers and long-term customers start using the coupons as well and essentially you are taking regular customers who are use to paying full price and have no problem doing so and then training them to wait for the coupons and get the discount price, which you really intended for only your new customers, as a way to get them in on a loss leader. Please consider this in 2006.

Marketing a Truck Wash Business

Many excellent corporate marketers who are superstars in their own right will brain fart when given an unusual service to market. Let’s take marketing a truck wash business; How would you go about marketing the washing of trucks anyway? Well when we ask corporate marketers this subject they usually bomb big time and they do not seem to get it.

You see so often they will immediately consider trade journals, direct sales or brochures mailed to the corporate owners of truck fleets? Well sure that will get some customers, but if you only had one or two or even 5 truck washes, that would be a rather wasted effort. Direct sales makes sense but you might be sending sales teams around the country as all these over the road trucking companies which might pass by your truck stops or truck washes are all over the place you see?

The best way we have found is to go to driver lounges and tell the drivers to drop this off with the dispatchers and ask them to give you their truck dispatchers names and phone numbers so you can call the decision makers directly. Contacting a huge corporate giant trucking company directly will never get you to the dispatchers phone numbers. You have to work within their corporate system, but trying to go through the front door is a friggin disaster. So consider all this in 2006.

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