Category Archives: Marketing

Marketing is one the most important aspects of a business enterprise. Marketing encompasses the whole extent of advertising for the firm, establishing a good public relations for your company, finding the most effective pitch for your product and services as well as the logistics of the same in the market, locally and internationally.

Innovations of the information age have made marketing more bearable even for the inexperienced entrepreneur – if not totally easy. Having this fact in mind, the competition now is all about strategizing for your firm. Which sets of marketing plans will work best for you to gain the upper hand; you might ask? The skilled entrepreneur can discern this by the use scientific analysis of objective data and the use of his or her sheer instincts.

Adding Value to your business with Designer Screens.

A perfectly placed screen in a room can, aside from its practical use as a room divider or separator, be an inimitable work of art in itself. As a decorative element in the space, it can also afford a focus point for fabric design, colour or furniture placement and design. A sectional, foldable screen with decorated fretwork or open lattice patterns in a variation of materials, ranging from metal to wood, or a blend of materials, can also be the perfect solution to affording air and light between two parts of a room. Screens can also offer some privacy and separation, depending on the screen’s bulk and thickness and the sophistication of its designs and motifs.

Laser cutting for decorative screens offers the perfect balance of design and technology. Graphics design professionals, artists, interior decorators and architects can work hand in hand to create a characteristic design which can then be accomplished by laser cutting on the identified material. The benefit of laser cutting is that it gives sharp, clean finish, with very scant wastage of materials. Since the laser cutting machines are commonly automated or computerized, errors and miscalculations can be eradicated if the specifications are properly input.


The Top Reasons Why Business Proposals Get Rejected

For most people, rejection is always a hard pill to swallow. Most often than not, potential clients aren’t explicit as to why they turned our offers down. As business owners, we automatically assume that the potential client got turned off by the price schemes we offered; or they might have a better working relationship with a competitor. These reasons may be true; but are these the real reasons why potential clients reject our proposals?

Here are some other possible reasons as to why our proposals get rejected.

Our Business’ Value Proposition to the Client is Unclear

A business proposal is the most important piece of document that we’ll hand over to prospective customers. With this document lies a sweet hope of potentially establishing a long-term partnership. It might also bring about a bitter pill of rejection.

In crafting business proposals, it’s very easy to leave out certain key pieces of information because we assume that our clients have seen it through our company website or they have already considered it in initial discussions. What most of us don’t know is that our clients also pass our proposals on to other members of their organization. These other people might not be up-to-date with whatever correspondence we’ve had with the initial points of contact.

An ideal proposal starts from the very beginning and clearly states all details that are relevant to the client. Moreover, an ideal proposal also includes the value that we and our businesses are offering to the client. This value proposition should have its own section in a proposal.

The Approach or Methodology We Plan to Implement is Unfamiliar to the Client

Another reason for proposals getting rejected is the client’s unfamiliarity with the approaches we’re implementing in order to come up with solutions to their problems. In order to avoid this, we can elaborate on the methodology in our proposals. Larger organizations have done this to great success as it gives the all the clients, whether prospective or existing, an assurance that they’re consulting with someone who knows what he or she is doing.

Being Unique is Good, but Going Against the Flow Might Scare Clients Away

Being extremely unique and being considered an oddity in the industry can bring about business; but sometimes it can scare potential clients too. Clients may be hesitant to accept proposals because they do not know what to expect from working with an industry oddity. Take note that uniqueness is important to a business; but being too different from the mainstream would most likely scare away customers – especially those who strongly hold business as a conservative practice.

Our Clients Perceive Our Lack of Confidence during Meetings

Getting too excited or pleasing the client too much to win the contract can sometimes get wrong perceptions. Though our intentions are good and our words are honest, being in an overly-excited or too caring mindset will definitely affect our body language. Most potential clients will see this as an example of a lack of confidence. When we present, let’s make sure to take on a more reassuring stand, rather than adapting a ‘born-to-please’ mindset.  In this way, it will help minimize any doubt and give further assurance to the client the he or she is making the right choice by doing business with us.

real you

Selling the ‘Real You’

Ever wondered how you can give yourself and your business that extra ounce of salability? The secret is to always be happy with who you are and what you do.  More importantly, always exuding that self-confidence produces a certain wavelength that potential clients will benefit doing business with you.

I now reside in a small town. To help me get accustomed to the small-town life, I observed entrepreneurs who have lived and worked in the area. One tip that I got from one of them was that  I had to mix in, not make waves, and begin establishing relationships.  Another friend of mine also gave me this advice: “Never bring your metro-chic attitude to a small, country town.” One person even told me that even the way I dress made me an oddity; and this clearly signaled to everyone that I wasn’t a ‘local.’

At first, I didn’t pay much attention to the advice. When I was new to the town,  I went to meetings with my business suit on.  I also usually drop by the shopping arcade on my way back to the office to pick up  mail from the post office. At the arcade, I do get weird looks from people as if I was an alien from another world. It was then that I thought that I should change my clothing selection because I’m not fitting in.

It was then that I followed the advice my entrepreneur friends gave me. Everything didn’t work out as planned and business was the slowest it had been; despite being in operation for sixteen years. I began to lose my professional image, my self-esteem lost, and tackling obstacles seemed more difficult than usual.

I realized my mistake. Self-promotion isn’t all about fitting-in. Selling yourself is about promoting the ‘real you’ and what makes you stand out among the rest of the pack. As a business owner, you want to always be unique, be the trendsetter, and when appropriate – even go against the flow.

Always have in mind that selling yourself is a form of product branding. If a customer consulted you on how to brand his or her product, you wouldn’t tell the client to stick to what’s the ‘most acceptable,’ plain, and to just follow what ‘everyone is doing.’ You would outright tell this customer that his or her company should be a cut above the rest. Being different gives a company a certain identity and this identity makes the owner and employees feel good. Moreover, it also boosts self-esteem and reputation in the industry.

Isn’t it ironic how we don’t usually give ourselves the same treatment as we give our customers?

The challenge here now is to go out into the world and start promoting the ‘real you.’ Be proud that you are different and show potential customers why they should be getting you and your business as  partners. Be the trendsetter and watch in satisfaction as you see the rest of the pack do their best to catch up.


Cheap Public Relations

If you believe you are having difficulty with publicity, then maybe it is timely that you already employ these simple DIY PR tips to help you out.

Start getting the kind of publicity that you want by employing these four simple techniques:

1. Simply ask

You do not need to wield complex procedures to generate publicity for your business. It is not really as hard as you might think it is. You simply ask the media people to promote your business for you and some of them will be more than willing to spare a few minutes of their precious time writing and talking about your products and services.

2. Do your PR works personally

I am not saying that securing the services of a PR firm will do you no good; in fact, it is a great help in conveying your message to your target audience. However, it is a known fact that PR firms and agencies cost a lot. Sometimes the monetary requirement is just beyond your capacity to pay. That is why it is only justifiably practical to suggest that you handle the PR works for your own business as long as the tasks are still manageable. Sometimes it will even work to your own advantage if you are the one dealing with the journalists because most of them prefer to extract comments from the business owners rather than just with public relations representatives.

3. Research before you plunge

Publicity could spell your demise if you do not know how to handle it or you are not ready to engage. This happens if you did not make sure to make the needed research about vital information before you made contact with the journalist. Make sure you have already pretty much covered anything that you wish to talk about by the time that a spontaneous interview will materialize.

4. Make good use of the principle of timing

Make your story trendy to make it more appealing and newsworthy for the media people to work on.

Customise your new business according with the latest outfit

When your business is something new and is conceptualized according to the latest ideas, the media might generally like it to use in their story.

Always be ready on opportunities of associating your stories on the latest happenings. Nothing could be more in timing than that. Like at the height of economic crunch, the media feasted on stories about financial management.

Use the seasonal holidays to provide you an idea of what materials to produce to create a great impact for your message.

When you share your expertise to the public, your story will definitely gain popularity with great impact and effect.

5. Deliver only relevant news materials

You have to be able to determine the kind of headlines of which you want to hook your own generated news. Make sure to give your best in offering only significant news.  These are a few pointers to help you out in determining whether the news will interest your target audience.

  1. It has to be relevantly new. Time is of the essence if you wish to capture the interest of your audience.
  2. Make sure your news is within the premises of your area of concern.
  3. As much as possible, your news must feature people that are readily identifiable, such as politicians, celebrities and sports figures.
  4. Unusual news will definitely generate curiosity and interest, so it is also a great way of gaining publicity.
  5. News with a touch of conflict is another way of tapping people’s interest.
  6. Some hyped-up products use suspense to entice the audience’s attention, capitalising on the people’s building curiosity.
  7. News that has a shade of human struggle and success, emotional and inspirational will definitely capture the interests of the readers and viewers.
  8. Your news must be something that will have a direct impact to the hearers. It is a lot more enticing to listen to news when you know that you are involved, directly or indirectly, with the given situation.



Why Staying in Constant Communication Can Grow Your Business

Not staying in contact with customers and prospects regularly deprives you of valuable relationship-building opportunities, and of course, opportunities to do business. Conducting consistent customer follow-ups is one of the main activities that you should be engaging in to not only establish working relationships but also produce more sales.

Keeping in constant contact with your prospects and customers is the main activity involved in following-up.

Why Spend some time conducting Follow-ups?

In a study recently conducted by a certain publishing company, less than one in ten prospective clients or customers decide to buy on the first contact. Moreover, according to the study conducted by the same company, the Thomas Publishing Company, eighty percent of sales are only closed upon the fifth contact with a potential client. Another surprising statistic is that nine out of ten sales people give up on the customer after the third try.

Likewise, keeping in constant communication with existing customers will not only result to an increase in sales, but will also open other selling opportunities like cross-selling other products and services. Following up also increases the likelihood that you will get valuable referrals from these customers.

And the great news for you and your business is that very companies follow-up with their customer base.

The Best Way of Following Up

The approaches to following up actually depends on your own style of doing business. Not only that, it also depends on your prospect’s preferences. Furthermore, the time of the year or the step where the customer is on the sales cycle also determine the best follow-up approach. Usually though, follow-ups are done through email, phone calls, fax, and post.

Whatever the case may be, rather than only going after that most-sought-for-sale, you should always consider any valuable information that you can share with your contacts. As a way of giving thanks to their time and accommodation, you can share with them tip sheets, business reports, thank you cards, some news items they might show interest in, and also a regular company newsletter.

How Often Should You Follow Up?

It actually depends on you; but as a general rule of thumb, you can conduct follow-up phone calls, emails, posts, or fax at least once every month. Doing any more than that might put you on the customer’s list of annoying people to avoid. Doing any less might also take you to the other end of the spectrum: being forgotten.

The Relationship Between Following Up and Sales

With the use of appropriate methods and timing, you will find that you will get to convert more prospective customers into existing ones. Likewise, these existing customers can turn into repeat clients; and ultimately, these repeat customers can also bring in some referrals.

Here are some more surprising statistics. Here’s another example of a study on following up. This time it  was a study done by Performark, a research company based in the USA.

Performark pointed out in their study that out of ten thousand advertising inquiries, twenty two percent of enquirers never got the information that they requested. Moreover, about fifty seven percent only received the requested information after sixty five days. More importantly, eighty seven percent of enquirers were never contacted by a company representative.

Quite surprising statistics indeed!


The Art of SPIN Selling

The advent of different types of technology has definitely changed the way we sell. Selling, arguably started with the door-to-door and direct selling that everyone is all too familiar with. Within years, the introduction of communication technology like the telephone gave birth to telesales, or telemarketing; as most of us know it. With the advent of the internet, there are even more media to use when it comes to selling. We now have selling through websites; and also came in one of the newest innovations: selling thru social media.

Different technology, different approaches, and different media, but the art of selling has never changed. In an interview with sales guru Neil Rackham, he explains to us the secret behind any successful sales person. He introduces us to the term ‘SPIN selling.’

As Neil has put it, there is nothing more important in selling than asking questions. With years of extensive research in selling techniques, there have been numerous studies when it comes to asking sales questions. And as Neil points out, based on these studies, there is a certain sequence of questioning that make the most successful sales people very effective. This sequence can be summarized in the acronym SPIN.

S: Situational Questions (Fact-Finding Questions)

The first set of questions that a successful sales person asks are fact-finding questions. Fact-finding, or situational questions basically allows a sales person to find out some ‘who,’ ‘what,’ ‘where,’ ‘when,’ and ‘how ‘ details about a certain customer or business.

P: Problem Questions

Every sales person’s mission to solve problems for customers. As Neil Rackham has put it in the interview, “How can you solve problems, if you don’t ask about them?” As sales persons, our goal is to discover how customers view the problem they are experiencing from their own perspective – and not from ours.

Likewise, the most common mistake that sales people like us make is that once a prospective customer has already indicated his or her challenges, we jump into conclusions right away and tell them that we know how to solve their problems. Never jump the gun and start telling customers that we know once we hear what’s causing their pain.

I: Implication Questions

As per Neil, the most intelligent sales people do not stop with asking problem questions, they also ask implication questions. An example of an implication question is “If you get to solve that problem, what’s going to happen?” Another example of an effective implication question is “What’s the problem costing you?”

The goal in asking implication questions is that you want the customer to realize and explicitly say how the problem directly affects him or her.

N: Need Pay-off Questions  (Value questions) 

After the customer has explicitly stated how a problem is affecting him or her, a smart sales person then follows up by asking a ‘Need Pay-off’ question or a value question. One classic example of this type of question is “How would it help you to be able to do this?”  The goal of asking these types of questions is to let your prospective customer articulate on how it would actually help him or her if he or she decided to get your product or service.

The goal of SPIN selling is to make your prospect articulate and visualize what it would look like if they get your services. Telling the customer about the benefits of the product might appear too pushy for some; but getting the customer to think how he or she would benefit from your service is like making the customer sell to himself or herself.

close the deal

When and How to Close

“Closing is like a game within a game; pretty much like putting, where it is a game within the game of golf.” This is how Steve Herzberg, Managing director of NRG Solutions, describes ‘closing’ in an interview.

Steve, through NRG Solutions, has helped different multination companies like Toyota, Microsoft, and ANZ Bank, to name a few, maximize their sales teams. He also participates in public programs wherein he shares his expertise with small to medium businesses and their owners.

Listen for Buying Signals

When it comes to the topic of closing the sale, Steve strongly recommends that we be observant in identifying buying signals.  He advised that we should always be on a look-out for signs that indicate that  the time is already ripe to close the sale. Questions like “How much does it cost?” or “When can we get started?” from the customers are great examples of buying signals.

Moreover, Steve also shared that when the customers start asking questions, they’re certainly putting some consideration into buying.

As a sales person, what you want to avoid is closing the sale too early. Trying to close the sale when the time is not right normally gets you more objections. Furthermore, prematurely closing the sale can get   you a lower volume, or smaller sale.  Closing too soon can also get people to miss out on what could potentially be a much larger sale.

In the interview, Steve likens closing the sale to dating. He uses the analogy that closing too soon is like  going up to a girl you just met at a bar and asking her to marry you. In this scenario, it is almost always expected that  you would most probably get a ‘No’ and the girl will tell you that it’s too early.

Taking it Step by Step

Another important piece of advice that Steve shared is to take the selling process at a stride; take it one step at a time. The first step can be a call to set-up a face to face appointment. The next step can be to organize another meeting or set-up a trial run.

What’s important is to be patient. Taking the sales process step by step can be the start of something bigger. We always just need to remember that  we close each step along the way; and instead of just a small piece of the pie,  doing things one step at a time can get you get a bigger piece of business.

Offer Alternatives or be Assumptive

Steve also shares that closing works best when you are assumptive and also always ready to offer alternatives.

He shares his experience with hairdressers. Hair dressers,  right after they cut your hair, they immediately set you up for your next appointment; or gives you a choice of the date and time. What’s more is that he also has the same experience with doctors, dentists, and chiropractors who often use the phrase, “I’ll see you on (insert day) here.” Not only do they ensure that you will be a repeat customer, but they’ve also gotten your commitment.

sales fast

Need Sales Fast? Consider Group Buying

Wouldn’t it be great if you can increase your brand awareness, get hundreds of guaranteed customers, and grow your business all at the same time – in one day? If you’ve heard of collective group buying, you might be able to do all of those things in one go.

Collective group buying started in the United States with a service called Groupon. Groupon’s success was then copied by Australian services such as Spreets, Living Social, and Cudo.  These services promise you hundreds of customers already willing to take on your offer. More importantly, these sites have also generated excellent results for small businesses.

How the Group Buying concept Works

The concept of group buying is very simple. As a business owner, you just need to come up with a discounted price for your product or service. For example, if you are normally sell a certain gadget for about a hundred dollars, you can provide a seventy percent discount. This will make your product priced at about thirty dollars; but, only if about three hundred people agree to take on your offer. Once the quota of three hundred customers are reached, you already have the deal bagged, and you are guaranteed at least three hundred paying customers.

The loss incurred in discounting your product can be made up by the long-term gain of having an expanded base of customers experience your product first hand.

How do Group Buying Sites Profit?

Group buying sites profit from taking a small percentage from the deal. Depending on the site, these percentages vary and should always be put into consideration when deciding on a certain price for your offer.

How do you benefit from Group Buying Sites?

You can benefit from these sites by volume selling. Furthermore, you can also expect an amount of repeat customers because these buyers have already experienced your product or service first-hand through the group buying deal, and would like to get more of it.

Group buying sites also advertise and market deals to consumers through email and the most popular social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Furthermore, most group buying sites also have their own lists of thousands and thousands of potential clients all looking for a great group deal.

Let’s say the quota of about three hundred buyers, weren’t reached, and apparently no group buying deal materialized. When this happens, at least you are able to get the exposure and the ever-important word-of-mouth marketing from a certain site’s user base.

When it comes to word-of-mouth marketing, almost all of the group deal sites encourage their members to also make the deal known to their friends and family. This, in turn, can further increase your exposure through valuable word-of-mouth.

If you’re looking to test a new product or penetrate a market with a new product in a very short amount of time, you can always consider group buying as one of your options. Group buying can be the most ideal way to get more exposure for your product, get hundreds of customers and grow your business all in one go.


Moving Up the Information Value Chain to Address Future Needs

The study of intangible data, information, knowledge, and ideas have helped us craft careers and livelihoods around them in this information age.  But

Most small business either sell data, information, knowledge, or ideas. The following tips might help you find the niche your business is in.

  • If your business comprises of collating numbers for customer surveys, managing someone’s itineraries, or transcribing voice into print, then your business falls under the selling data category.
  • If your main source of revenue depends on compiling data into easily understandable charts, tables, and summaries, then your firm falls under the category of selling information. Moreover, this category also includes, but are not limited to doing research and mining data to reveal useful industry trends.
  • If your business’ main mission is combine information to produce special reports, publish books, create videos, or design training seminars, then it definitely falls under the category of selling knowledge.
  • If combining knowledge from different sources allows your business to create new approaches, craft strategies, formulate tangible action plans, and propose solutions, then it falls under the selling ideas category.

Based on my observations, most small businesses seem to fall under the ‘Selling Information’ category.

Selling information is very useful to any industry; which in turn means that selling information can be very profitable. On the other hand, being the profitable industry that it is, selling information means that there is also more competition. Businesses in the industry selling data, information, and knowledge are quickly getting more demands from their customer base. In turn, more and more businesses are setting up shop every day to cater to these needs.

From my experience, I see that the industries are moving from quantity to timely relevant quality. If you observe people around you, you would see that there are lots of people who still contract the services of a travel agent, just for very simple trips. Likewise, you would observe that people still love watching medical shows on the television even if there are lots of available medical information that can be found on the internet.

In this information age, almost anyone of us has access to any data or information that we need; yet, we still want experts to do most of the hard labor for us. Due to us being  time-poor and results-driven at the same time, we’d like to have an expert take care of these things. One example that I can think of is that if you need to fix a certain issue on your website, do you download in a crash course in HTML, or do you just have a web developer do it?  My thoughts, exactly.

Based on the current trends, I reckon that there will be needs on the following:

  • We need people to make sense of the available data and information to create relevant knowledge that we can apply to our business.
  • We need people who will make sense of data and information so that we can use these in our businesses.
  •  We only need knowledge and ideas – on demand; just when we need them. We therefore need people who can make a relevant contribution to our business.

Have you considered how your business are going to meet these future needs?

One of the best tips that I can share with you is to move up the information value chain. Moving up not only adds more value to your products and services, but it also allows you to create a diverse portfolio of offerings.

The higher you move up the information value chain, the safer you will be from commodisation. Not only that, but you will also potentially increase your market differentiation.


Increase Your Sales with these Strategies

Every year’s business planning session or goal setting workshop would always include the words “increase sales” or any derivative of it. Increasing sales, as a goal, entails having strategic plans to enhance the chances of getting the business you need. This enhancement, in turn, will be a stepping stone to attain your year’s goals.

Throughout the next twelve months, the business you will gather will be based on the number of potential customers you can successfully identify and qualify. This increase in business will also depend on the number of your approaches these prospects and the number of initial meets that you can schedule.

What’s more is that basing your strategic sales plans on attracting potential customers, instead of approaching them, will be determined by how many marketing activities you can partake in. These activities can involve, but are not limited to, showcasing your business and getting more ‘face-time’ that will attract more potential customers to your product or service.

Here are five effective ways on how to craft strategies to increase your sales.

Craft a Solid Action Plan

One of the key factors in increasing sales is that you have a solid action plan in place. Once implemented, this robust plan will deliver your needed volume of prospective customers that you can include in your sales pipeline. Always remember that action plans are always ‘SMART;’ specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound.

Identify What you Can Implement NOW

Another key to hitting the required sales increase, as specified in your yearly goal, is to find out what action plans or activities that you can implement today. Doing so will take you a few steps nearer your goal within a very short amount of time.

Increase Your ‘Face-Time’ with Customers

To start off, you can create a list of all the activities and organizations (whether they’re events, organizations, seminars, and such) that your target prospects will most likely be attending within the year. Attending these will be great opportunities to expand your network, make your business more known in the industry, and get to meet prospective clients all in one go. Don’t wait until the last minute, reserve yourself a seat today.

Increase Your Visibility in Media Channels

You can also start this action plan off by creating a list of all media resources that you can review on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis to further identify prospective customers. Once again, don’t wait until the last minute, get your subscription to these media channels today.

Implement action Plans that Attract Prospects

You can do this by identifying all the opportunities and taking part in activities that allow you to market your business. You can approach event organizers today and ask for the opportunity to address your target audience. You can also approach editors and journalists today and ask for the opportunity to write articles or get featured in a spot to better attract your target prospects.