The objective of any marketing plan is to identify the needs of your prospective customers and create a package of products or services that satisfy these needs. To attract new customers and grow your business, you then need to design appropriate communication to convey the benefits to your target market.

You can grow your business in the following ways:
-attracting new customers
-getting existing customers to buy more
-inducing customers to buy more expensive products where you have larger profit margins.

Here are some guidelines on how to go about it. 

Avoid expensive big business attitudes. Big businesses have large marketing budgets and can afford to take a long-term view of their marketing communication. Their marketing plans are generally designed to provide long-term benefits over an extended period of time. Because you are likely to have a very limited marketing budget, you should endeavour to use this budget to have an immediate impact on sales and customer acquisition. The long-term planning can wait until your business has reached a certain size.

Product differentiation. You need to differentiate your product from your competition and explain clearly to customers why your product is different and better. You can go for the value for money niche by offering a cheaper product with the same features as your competitors. Alternatively, you can create a premium niche and actually charge more for your product. Whatever route you choose, give customers a reason to buy your product. In your communication, always emphasise benefits and never features. 

Use Internet marketing methods. Create a Web site for yourself and use creative online marketing to drive traffic to your Web site and create a buzz around your business. Techniques such as using the social networking sites and article marketing can be extremely effective and, the best part is that they are free or extremely inexpensive. The one thing that you should avoid in on-line communication is a blatant sales pitch which could be regarded as spam. A good way to get around this is to actually promote yourself as a person and keep your sales objective as a soft sell. 

Use joint promotions. Try and identify opportunities for creating joint promotions with businesses that do not directly compete with you. You could end up in a win-win situation while sharing the cost burden.

Don’t forget your existing customers. A lot of marketing seems to hinge round acquiring new customers when, in fact, it is easier and less expensive to generate more business from your existing customer base. If you create powerful offers and opportunities exclusively for your existing customers, they are likely to respond favourably. Remember that they already know and trust you.

When you make up your mind to start your own business, you should know the right way to market it.

It is necessary to understand that marketing rules are changing, before you actually start.  It’s not easy to sell your products and services to customers simply by “promotion” as a sales technique because customers’ expectations are becoming increasingly higher.  It’s important to build strong relations with your customers.

Do you think that this is a hard task? Not really
 
If you concentrate on your customers from the beginning, you can gain their confidence and trust.

I’ve listed some simple marketing tips which you can use to help you concentrate more on your customers during your marketing.
 
*  Research your marketplace or area. You might feel that you know it, but are you really aware of it?  Do a little research and find out how huge your market is.
 
*  Learn as much as you can about your competitors.  Find out how what marketing they do; their plans and what they promise their customers?  Compare your prices, product quality, service and more.
 
*  Establish what type of audience you are targeting? What is their media? What do they want? Can you split them in to different groups and reach them in different ways?
 
*  What media method should be used to reach or contact them? How much money will it cost you?

*  Are you sure that your USP really is a unique selling point that attracts customers and makes you different?
 
*  What is that you are trying to sell to your audience? It might sound silly, but if it is difficult, make it simple.

*  What tone should you use when communicating to your customers? If you’re selling pet food, you can use an informal, friendly voice but if you’re selling financial advice, then they may expect a more professional style.
 
*  Try to think like your customer and how you’d expect to deal with you, if you were them.  Integrate this into your marketing activities.
 
*  Differentiate between your product’s or service’s features and benefits.  You should concentrate more on communicating their benefits. 

One important last thing to consider is whether you can manage to do all this yourself? You’ll need to concentrate on many other aspects of your business at the same time.  Work out if it would be cheaper to engage a marketing expert to help you as and when needed.

Marketing can be an amusing part of business, but it sure is a science.

Good marketing will always help your business grow and earn profits.
 
Initially you have to know your target market to improve your business. You must research what customers are looking for and what they are expecting from businesses like you. It will allow you to set realistic expectations and goals.  You will not be able to know about your competitors target and plans if you do not carry out effective research.
 
The economy is now improving and it is the right time for you to start some visible marketing in your business, so that you can begin to reach potential customers and inform them about your services and products.
 
You must understand customer psychology (like how they behave and think) to become a good marketer. If you know what their expectations are and how they think, you can then market your services or products more effectively. 

Just think about what your business does that makes customers turn to you, instead of your competition.   What are you offering them which others are not? It is not always about price.  Try to provide your customers with excellent service. Train your employees well so that they can handle your customers efficiently. Remember that your customers may be in contact with your employees (not you) on the ‘phone so the first point of contact may be crucial and can make all the difference.
 
You should never underestimate the value of good market research.  Here are a few of my tips to help you concentrate on marketing your businesses:
 
•   Know your customers’ needs & wants, through research.
•   Watch your competitors and find out what they are doing
•   Find out any flaws in the market place and try to innovate
•   Know how you differ from your competitors
•   Spot your opportunities
•   Calculate the probable gains
•   Convert statistics into information and information into awareness
•   Check your product with actual people
•   Have proper communication plans

Your key message is the most crucial and primary communication tool in marketing.  It provides the basis for establishing clear cut, focused and specific marketing messages. The core message produces valuable ideas for many other marketing applications like emails, brochures, elevator pitch, sales letters and more.

The development of the key message takes you closer to market domination, as your message grabs the attention of the target audience and reinforces your branding and product positioning.

Establish it with insight  
Whilst establishing your key message, it is key to concentrate on your customer’s problems and unearth realistic solutions for them. The reply to the following questions will definitely assist you with it.

Who is your market?  You ought to recognise your core audience and the factors that inspire them.

Why do they need your services?  Realise what their problems really are and how you can truly help them.

Think about the following points to make your key message more helpful.

Keyword analysis: Thoroughly evaluate the keyword phrases that you need in your core message to communicate your brand and value.  Also, make a list of words that you must stay away from.

Don’t foget the sales cycle: Your core message should be matched to every step in the sales cycle.

Message testing: Evaluate it to guarantee that it works in all situations.

Educate your teams: Your teams that will use your core message must be taught its worth.

After you have created your core message, use it for all your marketing communications such as your website, professional biographies, letters of introduction to likely referral sources, networking introductions, radio & print advertisements and even in media releases or while speaking to the media.

Your customer service level is a major step of how well (or how bad) you fulfil your clients. Consequently, it is a important aspect of how well your business will do – especially how good you are at retaining clients and generating regular business. Indirectly, it also contributes to your referral business – how well you fulfil existing customers will influence their inclination to recommend you to their friends, family and acquaintances.

The following are five ideas by which you can analyse your customer service level.  This list is not exhaustive, but this should furnish you a good hint of how good you are at serving your customers.

Can you promptly fill orders through your inventory?
If you possess great customer service level, then you ought to certainly be able to fill your customer orders. You should keep meticulous note of what your customers ask for and if you hold the article they are asking for at the time you receive the order. If you are nearly always “out of stock,” then you are not serving your customers the best way possible.

In a firm with a range of products, if you are able to fulfil the order for nearly 95% of the time then you are doing okay. If you are a business that offers only one product, 100% fulfilment of typical orders (except for abnormally large orders) should be your target.

Can you supply your customers’ orders in time?
Another aspect that you must appraise to test your customer service level is the effectiveness of your service or how quickly you can deliver the product or service which has been ordered. If you are nearly always missing your end delivery dates, then your customer service delivery chain needs major work.

You should work out the proportion of customer orders that have been delivered on time to the total quantity of customer orders. This answer must be time-bounded. For example, for a month’s entire quantity of orders, what proportion has been delivered on time? If you record that 95 per cent of the time, your customers receive their order at the designated delivery date, then your business is doing well.

Can you effectively solve your customers concerns?
For great customer service, you must respond to your customers’ enquiries and resolve their concerns. A straightforward way of testing this would be to calculate the proportion of the quantity of customer inquiries that have been successfully resolved to the entire quantity of customer enquiries received.

Do you reply quickly to your customers’ mails/emails and telephone calls?
How quickly you respond to customers is another means of testing your customer service level. If you are able to respond to your customers inside 24 hours (less is even better) of getting their call, mail or email, then you are doing ok.

Do you pass according to your customers?
In the end, your customers themselves may advise you if you succeed or fail when it comes to satisfying their requirements. You may actually conduct a customer survey. The survey ought to concentrate on customer service problems so you can appraise how well you are able to serve your customers from these customers’ point of view.

In the last ten years, I have learned numerous lessons managing my own businesses and also by consulting to my customers and by far the single most vital lesson is ensuring that customers stay happy. The logic for this is irrefutable.

Marketing consultants will advise you it costs between more to win a new customer than maintain an existing one. According to some, reducing customer defections by as little as 5% may result in an increased profit of between 25% and 125%.When times are flourishing and sales are buoyant, it is generally easier to fill gaps left by a departing client.

There’s also less free time to identify the reasons why the former client left or do something to prevent it. As ever, it takes a major downturn like the one that we’re in to prompt all businesses how importnat it is to care for your clients and keep them loyal and happy.

Challenging times are already perhaps forcing your customers to reduce costs and seek ways they can save.  Creating a solid, trusting association with them can decrease the probability of your company being first on the list of cost reductions.

Talking with your clients on a regular basis will help retain customers.  Find out what they need and how your service could be bettered.

To avert being pushy, it’s always polite to ask them where and how they’d like to be approached and how frequently.

As soon as you grabbed their attention, be ready to talk openly about everything that concerns them.  Given the present predicament, this may perhaps involve anything from the difficult matter of a possible reduction in price to other ways of working.

But it may well also highlight other areas of improvement not related to the recession, such as how well your sales and marketing people are performing or another way in which the customer’s account could be handled.

Companies need to think differently if they are to emerge from this recession. Large or small, we’re in this downturn together, so it makes common sense to act in partnership with customers and suppliers to guarantee survival.

At Business Advsiory Accounting & Tax Services, for example, it’s not solely our direct clients that we take into account as partners but also the businesses which supply us with our hardware; software, stationery etc. We might pass on any valuable information to them on managing the effects of the recession, for example, and they to us. The benefits of this are that we realize where they’re coming from and what they’re doing to reduce risk in a recession, and vice versa.

While all this is going on, your service delivery must be be excellent so work vigorously to keep up an outstanding customer experience with clients, new and old. Enhance and improve every aspect of your offering from how you manage to the quality of your products or services.

By pulling out the stops to serve old customers, you’ll not just keep them on board but they’ll also spread the word about and facilitate you secure new ones. And don’t overlook to reward them for their loyalty: smaller businesses may not be able to stretch to the outlay of a loyalty card system but there are several small gestures you can render to keep them happy.

Spending a small amount of money on your current clients now will be advisable in the longer term when this recession picks up.

Having an effective marketing plan is crucial to the success of any small business.

Once you have found an effective marketing plan that works well, you no longer have to worry about how you will earn income.

Below we will list 3 reasons why small business marketing is essential. Take heed to this advice and you will soon have an effective marketing plan for your company.

1. Marketing is your business

You can have the best business on the planet, but it will fail if nobody knows what your selling. All companies are involved in the marketing business if they are doing well. To earn the kind of profits that you hope to obtain, you must get your message out to your target market.

Focus on delivering your message to those who are most interested in what you have to offer rather than the traditional scatter-gun approach.

2. Marketing allows you to build relationships

Let’s face it, many customers will not buy from you immediately. Having an effective marketing strategy will ensure that your future clients are able to reach you when they are ready to make a purchase. It keeps the name of your company in the minds of those who would otherwise have forgotten about your message.

Sending cards during holidays and birthdays are great ways to build relationships with your clients. Also, many customers may feel the need to give back to you because you have been so generous each year.

3. Test your plan

The only way you will know if your marketing is working is by testing it. It is wise to discard those campaigns which are not producing results, and scale up those which are performing well. You should always be testing new marketing methods because only the response of your customers will give you the answers you need.

All small business owners should become marketing experts. Once you understand that you are in the marketing business, you will be able to employ the methods listed above to take your business to new heights.

An effective marketing plan is the one principal that all successful companies have in common.

Did you know that a poor selection of the words you use on your website can hinder your success? You might be thinking how it is possible and if there is a linkage between the two. Well, the two concepts are very much inter-related.

The right selection of keywords for your website is one of the prime aspects that have the potential to change the direction of your business. It can take your business to new heights.
When I say this, I certainly do not mean to say that it is the only aspect that matters from the point of view of the growth of business. There are other factors as well but it is one of the most competent search engine optimisation strategies to choose good keywords and use them liberally while writing content for your website.

The use of relevant keywords can help increase your website traffic drastically. Here, I want to take a pause and emphasise that it is good to use keywords and create content based on those keywords. But, if you are thinking that you can boost your total volume of sales by overstuffing the keywords then you are totally wrong. In fact, if you resort to this kind of a practice, you are likely to fall under the trap of spamming. Also, it is not considered good from the point of view of readership.

Excess of everything is bad in life and same holds true for the use of website keywords. If your motive is to promote the awareness of your products and services, look for the search engine optimised keywords. Choose one main keyword and keep its density to 1.5%. In addition it, choose 2-3 varying keywords conveying the same meaning and use them in your content frequently.

If you are a newly established firm, then do not make the mistake of targeting the highly competitive keywords. Rather, focus on keywords that have not been targeted yet and cater to the smaller segments of society. Win their loyalty and trust and then move on to the next section of society. Be choosy while making selection of the keywords for your website.

Many people tend to misspell and you can use their habit of writing wrong spellings to your advantage. In this manner, you can greatly increase the chances of your website to appear in the initial pages of search engine results.

If you want to outpace others, then you need to broaden the horizon of your creativity and come up with unique ideas. You need to find out where the keywords can be best placed.

Your first task should be to conduct an extensive search regarding the keyword phrases. To begin with, study your products and services and find out their exclusive features.

While searching for website keywords, keep in mind your target audience and their level of knowledge about the product. Indulge in brainstorming session and list out all the keywords that you feel your potential customers are likely to think of when looking for that specific product over the Internet.

Note down the words that you think best describe your product range. You can take help from keyword selection tools available online to get an idea of the popularity of each keyword. Look for the key words as well as supplementary words that are used by the internet users. This will give you a fairly good idea as to what do the users basically look for in relation to the main keyword. For example if your keyword is chair, then search as to what kind of chairs do people look for: bamboo, wooden or plastic chairs?

Did you know that a good domain name can give a big boost to your online business?

In fact, it can help you take your online business to new heights.  Almost every successful company, big or small, is using the Internet to reach its target customers and increase its website traffic. They create their commercial site; create awareness of their brand and market their products and services online.

Personally, I use a company that is based in Australia as I find their customer service and time zones suit me.  Please visit here if you’re interested in using them.  

But does that mean every entrepreneur who opens a commercial site succeeds in conducting online business effectively and in increasing his/her website traffic. The answer to this question is an emphatic “No”.

You have to be smart enough to grab the opportunity and make your presence felt over the Internet by enhancing website traffic. This will, in turn, give impetus to your onine business promotion campaign.

Now, how do you achieve this?

One of the most important means to increase website traffic is to create a catchy domain name.  Choosing a good domain name and registering it properly can work wonders for your online business. Building a site does not suffice the purpose of online business promotion. There are lot more things that you need to do to achieve your company’s goals.

Creating a domain name is just one aspect but a very essential one. You need to understand creating any domain name won’t help. You have to come up with some unique ideas and decide on a unique name that is catchy and meaningful.

A Domain name represents your website address and can end with anything such as .com, .org, .biz, or .info. It is necessary to select a relevant domain name, something that relates to your company or its products. Many people think that they should keep the domain name of their site in the name of their company but top shot Internet entrepreneurs say that you should instead keep a name that reflects the main aspect of your company as in what your company deals in.

If Internet users get a quick idea as to what your company has to offer them or what is in store for them if they click on your link, there are greater chances of your potential customers visiting your site, thereby leading to sales conversion.  Be clear in your thoughts and do not confuse your site visitors. It is good to maintain some mystery but don’t hide the thing completely.

Give a clue to Internet users as to what are the benefits they are likely to get if they see your website link and go through its contents. A good idea is to include search engine optimised keywords in your domain name, making your business promotion campaign successful.

Register several extensions of your website such as abc.com, abc.net and abc.org. This will prevent people from copying your domain name and using it to promote their online business. There are many websites that allow you to register your domain name. Conduct your study and select an authentic registrar.

Further information to help you with your marketing can be found at www.themarketingdude.com

Have you ever wondered how to find demand for your product and services?

To know the answer to this question, all you need to do is to follow some methods and you will realise that finding demand for your product is not that difficult after all.

The first and foremost method is to look for the products or services in the market that are similar to what you have to offer. Find out how many people buy those products and what complaints and problems they have with that product. Once you are through with this survey you should design your product in such a way that it can eliminate as many complaints as possible that people have with similar products in the market.

At the same time, try to know what people like about those products and what other things they want those products to have. The idea behind this survey is to know the exact demands of the people and try to deliver them what they want. Needless to say, this will help you a great deal in finding the demand for your product or services.

You can also try to customise your product in such a manner that it can serve the demands of a specific group of people in the society. For example, you can launch a product that it is specifically designed for teens, women, senior citizens, men, doctors and so on. Apart from targeting a group of people, you can also target people of a particular geographical region.

What a lot of marketers do is that they highlight all good things about their product. We should not forget that we live in a highly competitive world and targeting the weakness of the leading products that are similar to your product and service can work wonders for your product. What you need to keep in mind is that you have to do this in very subtle manner and without mentioning the name of your competitor’s product.

In addition to focusing on the good points of your product and targeting the weaknesses of your competitor’s product, it is highly important that you focus on the brighter side of your product. You need to tell your customers what is unique about your product that other similar products available in the market do not have. Make sure you highlight the brighter side of your products in all forms of advertisements. 

Once you know people’s needs you will not only find demand for your product but you will also see that there is an increased exposure and interest among the people for your product or services. Portray yourself in such a way that people get to know you as an expert in your particular product or service