Welcome To Our Business Resource Centre
The Web Artist Business Resource Centre is an area dedicated to empowering our clients by providing them with information relevant to the Business, Legal and I.T. sectors of modern companies.Please click on an option below to access the relevant section of information:
Business And Marketing Tips - Read Them!
Steer clear of these common mistakes and you'll be on the path to creating a statement that defines your business.
Experts say that they can probably count on one hand the number of great company mission statements they've seen over the past few decades. While most business owners have been told that they need to have a mission statement, not everyone has been instructed on how to create one that's useful and meaningful.By definition, a mission statement communicates the fundamental purpose and values of a business or organization. In simpler terms, a mission statement should make it clear why a company exists. It guides decision making and keeps a business on track over the long term when micro- and macro-environmental factors can make it easy to veer off course. For example, marketing messages, brand image and new product development must complement the mission statement. Discord may lead to reduced results or worse -- failure.Even corporate marketing executives have trouble understanding what makes a mission statement useful. Take for instance the following mission statement which belongs to the management company behind a popular airport in the U.S. (Note: The city name has been replaced with "City-Name."): "Our Mission: Provide safe, secure, customer friendly, affordable transportation services, and facilities that promote the City-Name Experience."What's wrong with this mission statement? It demonstrates several of the most common mistakes that make a mission statement, well, stink. Here are the five primary reasons why mission statements fail, and how they can be avoided.
Reason 1: Generalization
Insert the name of your local airport into the real airport mission statement above. Does the mission statement work? This mission statement stinks because it could apply to just about any airport in the world. Yours should be specific. A mission statement must be tailored to your company -- otherwise it is useless.
Reason 2: Fluff
There is no room for corporate rhetoric in a mission statement. The airport mission statement example is filled with buzz words that are vague and meaningless. Get to the point. If your employees can't relate to your mission statement, then it won't mean much to your customers, either.
Reason 3: Confusion
Did it take dozens of people and meetings to develop your mission statement? Sometimes simplicity is the key to clearly communicating the root of what your business is about. If your mission isn't obvious from the start, then you should consider going back to the drawing board, because you're not ready to put it into an official statement yet.
Reason 4: Boredom
Ask 10 strangers if your mission statement makes sense and gets them excited. If not, it probably stinks. I'd guess the majority of those strangers would say the airport mission statement example does not get them excited, because it doesn't say anything. Make sure your mission statement tells a story and sparks an interest among your customers.
Reason 5: Overspending on marketing
Do your employees give you a blank look, roll their eyes and grumble to each other when they hear words like "mission statement"? Do they react similarly when they receive your expensive, colorful handouts with the mission statement printed on them? If you have to spend a large amount of money hyping your mission statement and trying to get employees to buy into it, then your mission statement is most likely doomed to failure. A good mission statement should be able to speak for itself without frilly marketing.Bottom line, your business's mission statement is the nucleus of your company and, by extension, its marketing communications. If you and your employees can't clearly communicate your purpose for being in business and what makes your company unique and meaningful, then you most likely won't be able to create effective marketing strategies and communications. Start at the beginning by developing a solid mission statement that defines your company.
Let us look at the following example:A successful bed seller with a mom-and-pop store who chalks up more than $1 million in sales each month uses only four marketing weapons:
|1.||Radio commercials that direct people to his website and his showroom.|
|2.||A website that answers questions and directs visitors to his showroom.|
|3.||Trained salespeople who capitalize on the momentum created by the radio and website.|
|4.||The free gift of a comforter, a set of sheets, two pillowcases, and two good pillows which ensures healthy word-of-mouth marketing after the sales.|
How expensive is that combination of marketing weapons? Not very expensive--but extremely effective. That should be your goal: marketing that is not very expensive but extremely effective.
Everyone knows that people look online first before making a purchase. So is being online the trick for your business? It is part of the trick, but being online is not marketing.Many people continue to think that marketing is telemarketing or couponing or social networking. All of those actions are part of marketing, but none of them are the whole deal. Don't think we're still in an age of single-weapon marketing. If you do, you may be the only one left who thinks that way.Your task is to be aware of all the marketing weapons available to you, to experiment with many of them, and then to identify the combination that provides the highest profit to you.Here's something else that marketing isn't: brochures. People rush out to produce a brochure, thinking that's all the marketing they'll need. It probably is a very important link in the chain that leads to success, but a brochure certainly is not marketing all by itself. Maybe it used to be, but this is not your parents' generation. It's yours.Also, dismiss the notion that marketing is complicated. Marketing becomes complicated for people who just cannot grasp the simplicity of marketing. They begin with a marketing plan, then they commit to it.Fortunes are lost regularly by people who expect miracles from marketing. But the marketing business is not the miracle business. It's the patience business. It's the planning business. If you expect miracles, you're going to get ulcers.Marketing is an opportunity to earn profits with your business, a chance to cooperate with other businesses in your community or your industry, and a process of building lasting relationships. But a miracle worker, it is not.
- Basic cards. A basic card is usually printed in black ink on plain white or cream stock. This is a good style to choose when utility is all you need. It's a no-nonsense approach that can appeal to clients and prospects who would not be impressed by fancy design features-the people who want "just the facts, ma'am." The design is simple, and the information is clear and concise.
- Picture cards. Having your face on your card-whether it's a photograph, a drawing or a caricature-helps a contact remember you the next time he or she sees you. Images representing a product or service, or a benefit your business provides, can help you communicate your business better than dozens of words. A splash of color (rather than just black and white) is often helpful on a picture card, too.
- Tactile cards. Some cards are distinguished not so much by how they look as by how they feel. They may use nonstandard materials, such as metal or wood, or have unusual shapes, edges, folds or embossing. Tactile cards tend to be considerably more expensive than regular cards because they use nonstandard production processes such as die cuts. But for some businesses, this more unusual card may be worth the price.
- Multipurpose cards. A card can do more than promote your name and business-it can also serve as a discount coupon, an appointment reminder or some other function. It may also provide valuable information that the average person may need. For example, a hotel may include a map on the back of its card for any guests who are walking around the local area. A card of any type can be made multipurpose by adding any of these types of features.
- Outside-the-box cards. A wildly original, fanciful or extravagant presentation can draw extra attention. Creativity knows no bounds-except the amount of money you wish to spend. Some examples are cards made of chocolate or that folded out into a miniature box to keep small items in.
Now It's Time to Order
Once you've settled on a basic idea for your business card, it's time to head to the printer. There are four primary considerations when ordering business cards:
- Weight. Most business cards are printed on 80-pound cover stock.
- Finish. Of the three available-smooth, linen and laid-the smooth finish is the most popular.
- Color. Right now, two-color cards predominate. If you're selecting from a catalog, there are between five and 15 standard colors to choose from. If you have another ink color in mind, your printer can show you a Pantone Matching System book, which includes every shade under the sun.
- Quantity. It generally pays to print more cards rather than fewer, because the printer's cost is primarily in the setup.
One Final Tip
Though this may sound like obvious advice, it might cost you another trip to the printer if you don't heed it: Include the essentials. This means your name, title, company name, address, phone number (or numbers, if you want to include your cell), e-mail and Web site. If someone wants to contact you after receiving your card, you sure as heck want them to be able to.
|1.||Customer rewards: Since it may cost as much as five times more to win a new customer than to retain an old one, customer reward programs are a lower-cost alternative to acquisition marketing. Create and actively promote a loyalty program that rewards on enrollment and then provides graduated incentives to your best customers. To keep customers coming back, provide in-kind rewards rather than gifts from other vendors.|
|2.||Opt-in e-mail: E-mail is a low-cost, high-return way to enhance customer relationships and increase sales. E-mail campaigns can be conducted for a fraction of the cost of other tactics and can be executed in weeks, not months. The key is to e-mail as often as twice monthly, but only to an in-house list of members who have agreed to receive e-mail from you. Keep the content extremely relevant, and you'll see response rates climb.|
|3.||Local paid search: The vast majority of American shoppers do research online before making a purchase. They already know what they want to buy-they're just looking for the right place to buy it. Google and Yahoo!, among others, offer services for local advertisers, and Yahoo!'s Local Sponsored Search program provides a locator page that will drive traffic to your store even if you don't have your own website.|
|4.||Marriage mail: Trying to reach consumer households in specific market areas? Your own direct-mail campaign could cost a small fortune. Instead, use "marriage mail"--send your ad or coupon in a joint mailing with other advertisers.|
|5.||Media relations: Do-it-yourself PR is a lower-cost alternative to advertising, but it requires know-how and time. For best results, tailor your stories to the needs of the individual media outlets on your list. Then send a release or pitch letter, and follow up by phone. These initial contacts should lay the groundwork for ongoing relationships with key members of the press.|
|6.||Grass-roots advocacy: Word-of-mouth is often the most desirable form of marketing. To get people talking, run a contest, stage an event, or assemble a group of "influencers." The creator of a series of books and products for preteen girls, for example, has used its website to enroll several hundred girls to act as advisors on everything from book characters to plots. The members are also the first to receive information on new products. You can bet these influencers share their inside news with friends.|
|7.||Marketing partnerships: When money is tight, it often pays to partner with another company that targets the same audience. You can forge marketing partnerships with businesses that offer complementary services and pool your prospect lists or share advertising costs. A kitchen appliance retailer could partner with a remodeling contractor to market full-service kitchen upgrades, for example, or neighboring technology companies might jointly promote their region as a tech corridor.|
|8.||Cinema advertising: Over 27,000 movie screens run advertisements. Screenvision Directworks with local advertisers to produce advertising slides that run during the pre-show entertainment.|
Learn what the colors you use say about your business.
Have you ever considered the importance of color in branding? Coke is red. UPS is brown. IBM is blue. These corporations understand the proper use of color is vital to creating a positive image among consumers. Furthermore, color plays a huge role in memory recall. It stimulates all the senses, instantly conveying a message like no other communication method.Choosing the right dominant color for your brand is crucial. This color should appear on all your promotional materials, including your logo and product packaging. As much as possible, the color you choose should set you apart, work with your industry and image, and tie to your brand promise. It should also take into account color psychology, which is fairly complex. Colors can mean different things depending on the culture, situation and industry. However, in U.S. advertising at least, studies suggest some universal meanings:
- Blue: Cool blue is perceived as trustworthy, dependable, fiscally responsible and secure. Strongly associated with the sky and sea, blue is serene and universally well-liked. Blue is an especially popular color with financial institutions, as its message of stability inspires trust.
- Red: Red activates your pituitary gland, increasing your heart rate and causing you to breathe more rapidly. This visceral response makes red aggressive, energetic, provocative and attention-grabbing. Count on red to evoke a passionate response, albeit not always a favorable one. For example, red can represent danger or indebtedness.
- Green: In general, green connotes health, freshness and serenity. However, green's meaning varies with its many shades. Deeper greens are associated with wealth or prestige, while light greens are calming.
- Yellow: In every society, yellow is associated with the sun. Thus, it communicates optimism, positivism, light and warmth. Certain shades seem to motivate and stimulate creative thought and energy. The eye sees bright yellows before any other color, making them great for point-of-purchase displays.
- Purple: Purple is a color favored by creative types. With its blend of passionate red and tranquil blue, it evokes mystery, sophistication, spirituality and royalty. Lavender evokes nostalgia and sentimentality.
- Pink: Pink's message varies by intensity. Hot pinks convey energy, youthfulness, fun and excitement and are recommended for less expensive or trendy products for women or girls. Dusty pinks appear sentimental. Lighter pinks are more romantic.
- Orange: Cheerful orange evokes exuberance, fun and vitality. With the drama of red plus the cheer of yellow, orange is viewed as gregarious and often childlike. Research indicates its lighter shades appeal to an upscale market. Peach tones work well with health care, restaurants and beauty salons.
- Brown: This earthy color conveys simplicity, durability and stability. It can also elicit a negative response from consumers who relate to it as dirty. Certain shades of brown, like terracotta, can convey an upscale look. From a functional perspective, brown tends to hide dirt, making it a logical choice for some trucking and industrial companies.
- Black: Black is serious, bold, powerful and classic. It creates drama and connotes sophistication. Black works well for expensive products, but can also make a product look heavy.
- White: White connotes simplicity, cleanliness and purity. The human eye views white as a brilliant color, so it immediately catches the eye in signage. White is often used with infant and health-related products.
All the colors above can be categorized into two basic categories: warm and cold. In general, warm colors, like red and yellow, send an outgoing, energetic message, while cool colors, like blue, are calmer and more reserved. However, brightening a cool color increases its vibrancy and reduces its reserve.
- Can I turn on the coffeepot with my computer?
- How do I start the Internet?
- Can you come over and plug in this cord for me?
- How do I pirate software?
- Can you recommend a good dry cleaner?
Funny – and yet not. But the range of crazy questions demonstrates how important it is to train customer-service employees to be ready for anything.Here are seven tips for excellent customer service that any business can use:
|1.||Listen. Sometimes, customers just need to know someone at the company is interested in their problem, notes John Tschohl, co-author of Achieving Excellence Through Customer Service.|
|2.||Apologize. Don't engage in fault-finding or laying blame, but do let the customer know you are sorry they had a problem, says Tschohl.|
|3.||Take them seriously. Customers' questions may seem ridiculous, but they're important to that customer. Try not to laugh.|
|4.||Stay calm. Customers may be irate, frustrated, or just irritating. But don't get down on their level, ever. Just staying calm can make customers feel you care and have the ability to help them.|
|5.||Suggest solutions. Help-desk workers should have the power to resolve more than 95 percent of customer issues without having to pass the customer on to another person. Allow line workers to give out free coupons, accept returns, give refunds, and take other needed remedies without having to consult anyone. Then they can offer customers a range of options for resolving their problem, and get the job done, Tschohl says.|
|6.||Be available. These days, smart customer service means setting up a help desk on Facebook, Twitter, or wherever else your customers hang out online.|
|7.||Acknowledge your limits. If you're asked a crazy question like the one above, simply say that you're sorry their request isn't within the scope of what your company provides. You can't be everything to everyone.|
1. Listen to find a problem you can solve
The first broad stroke doesn’t require any of your hands -- only your ears. The first broad stroke is your ability to listen. Be alert for problems. Be alert in social situations and the social media. Be alert in the attention you pay to the mass media. Are people talking about problems they have, problems that need solving?Zero in on the problems that don’t yet have solutions. Pick a problem that you can solve. That’s how you respond to opportunity.
2. Pricing the solution
The second broad stroke is determining how much it will cost you to solve that problem. Maybe you can solve it with information and with service. If not, how much will it cost you to make it or buy it? Be very careful with this step, as with all the broad strokes, to overlook nothing. Broad strokes tend to magnify errors, so you don’t want to make even the most minor mistake.
When you tally the costs of producing your offering, don’t overlook the costs of marketing it. And don’t overlook the necessity to market it.If you build a better mousetrap, the world won’t beat a path to your door unless they know about that mousetrap. They learn about it from your marketing, especially if it’s marketing.If you’ve come up with a truly nifty solution, the marketing for it will catch wind and fan out to others who have long been searching for a solution. It’s nice work if you can get it, and you can get it if you market.It is now well understood why people patronize the businesses that they do. It’s known that they favor products and services that they trust, a human characteristic that has given rise to a phenomenon called “branding.” Branding helps people trust you. One of the jobs of a marketer is to convince customers to trust his or her offering.Of course, quality is one of the factors that earn trust. And that’s why it’s part of the third broad stroke. Another factor that gains gobs of trust -- and gives the little guy an edge over the big guy -- is the ability to service what he sells. Don’t forget that one of your sacred goals is make your customers happy. Terrific service does just that.
4. Service what you sell
Terrific service is not necessarily free for you to provide. And yes, it does require effort. In particular, it requires a person who wants to deliver it and doesn’t do it just because he’s supposed to.Factor in the cost of service right along with the cost of marketing and cost of goods.
5. Earn profits
he fifth broad stroke is what marketing should be all about. Not sales. Not store traffic. Not turnover. Not responses to an offer. Not hits to a website. Not awards. Not sales records. Not any metric you can name. That fifth broad stroke is profits, what’s left over after you’ve deducted the cost of everything else in your business. No matter how glowing the other numbers in your business may be, it’s the profits that should glow, that keep you in business, that enable you to grow your business, that attract investors, that entice buyers of companies, and that ought to be the prime reason you went into business.It’s your job to grow healthy profits every year. You owe that to yourself, your employees, your family, and your future. That’s why profits best reflect your success. Profits are elusive. Profits are honest. Profits are hard-earned. But profits are not complicated.They are the fifth of the five broad strokes of success, and they are crucial to your company’s health. But earning them is not a winding road. Instead it is a straight road, possibly uphill, but always leading to exactly where you envision going.A lot of marketing theory confuses people because it’s more complicated than it has to be. While wondrous new technologies can help you in your mission of raising your profits, marketers don’t let those technologies blur that mission. Keeping it simple is a powerful competitive advantage when it comes to speed and profitability.