Category Archives: Effective marketing

being a small start-up

Starting a business can be exhilarating and fulfilling, but in course it can get complicated and may challenge you in many ways. Challenges and problems will be nothing new but will be something we have often seen happening to others.

Most small businesses fail because of lack of cash flow. Study says that 79 percent of small business failures cited “starting out with too little money” as one of the reasons for the business downfall because owners borrow based on their ideas of a successful business, instead of borrowing for a worst-case scenario. A start-up business owner needs to be optimistic, but often is too optimistic about seeing profits. Without adequate cash flow, slow sales or a downturn in the market can end the business before it has a chance to gain momentum.

Common problem for new businesses is to hurry into marketing campaigns without understanding the actual target market. The costs associated with marketing is stiff and if a business does not know who its target market is, then the money may go wasted. With incorrect messaging the reach is limited and don’t reach the target audience.

A start-up requires tremendous effort, commitment and strong will to make it a success. Add to this the financial stress of a fledgling business. Start-up business owners often have problems balancing the overwhelming demands of the company, if the stress of the workplace spreads into the home, the business owner may feel pressure around the clock.

A common problem for most entrepreneurs is the belief that they can handle all of the start-up’s operations by themselves. It may be a cost-effective way to run the business, but operating the entire business on your own may not be a wise decision or the best use of your time. Many small-business start-ups may not require full-time employees. But it’s a good idea to have at least one or two teammates who are ready to help. With experienced, reliable assistance you can avoid other common business mistakes. When it is time to hire staff, be careful in your choices, employees are a crucial component in the success of your business.

But as a matter of fact hiring is also a big problem for small companies, atleast in a business like mine. We offer marketing solutions and are often in need of high-end graphic designers, writers and editors. And these creative people don’t come cheap, so most of the time hiring them is out of question, thus, use them on contractual basis. Contract has its own issues in our country, India where we operate. Most workers are never committed. Also, since we are a small company, many people don’t like to work for us as we are too small and are kind of perceived as unstable, have no brand identity. Hence, the moment they get an opportunity from a bigger company they shift jobs.

Since you are competing with big fish it does not mean you have to quote rock bottom prices. Pricing your goods and services too low can delay the process of turning a profit. Instead list fair prices and make sure your start-up excels in customer service and delivery. Its very important to excel in any field and customers do appreciate on-time response.

One thing I got to say, its tough but not impossible.

This a guest post by Ms. Thapa, Twitter @bijeta

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Customer relationship and marketing

Promote your business by building relationships. Yes, its true, customer relationships drive your business. It’s about finding right people who believe in your products or services. You can spend big bucks but its like rolling boulder up a hill. You want to drive your business into new territory, but every step is hard and expensive. But there are ways to achieve the goal.

Develop an army to help you push that boulder up the hill instead. How do you do that? You develop relationships with people who don’t just understand your particular expertise, product or service, but are equally excited about what you do. You stay connected with them and give them value, and they’ll touch other people who can benefit your business. Powerful relationships don’t just happen from one-time meetings at networking events. You don’t need pocketful of random business cards to clutter your desk. What you need is a plan to make those connections grow and work for you. Here are few pointers you remember while you are out on a mission.

Build your network, it’s your sales lifeline. Your network includes business colleagues, professional acquaintances, prospective and existing customers, partners, suppliers, contractors and association members, as well as family, friends and people you meet in your community. Contacts are potential customers waiting for you to connect with their needs. Ofcourse, you need to understand that networking is a long-term investment. Do it right by adding value to the relationship, and that contact you just made can really pay off. Communicate like your business’s life depends on it.

Communication is a key here, so do it early and often. Relationships have a short shelf life. No matter how charming, enthusiastic or persuasive you are, no one will likely remember you from a business card or a one-time meeting. One of the biggest mistakes people make is that they come home from networking events and fail to follow up. Make the connection immediately. Send a “nice to meet you” e-mail or let these new contacts know you’ve added them to your newsletter list and then send them the latest copy. Immediately reinforce who you are, what you do and the connection you’ve made. Its a fact, you rarely meet people at the exact moment when they need what you offer. If you stay on their minds, it’s easier to keep a connection warm than to warm it up again once the trail goes cold. So take the time to turn your network of connections into educated customers.

E-mail marketing keeps relationships strong on a shoestring budget. It is cost-effective and easy way to stay on customers’ minds, build their confidence in your expertise, and retain them. Build your reputation as an expert by giving away some free insight. You have interesting things to say! An easy way to communicate is with a brief e-mail newsletter that shows prospects why they should buy from you. And it’s viral, contacts who find it interesting or valuable might forward your e-mailer or newsletter to other people, just like word of mouth marketing.

Reward loyal customers, according to Bain and Co., on average, repeat customers spend 67% more than new customers. So your most profitable customers are repeat customers. Now the question is, are you doing enough to encourage them to work with you again? Stay in touch, give them something of value in exchange for their time, attention and business. It doesn’t need to be too much, anything of their use will suffice like notice of a special event, helpful tips, advice or news, can be effective. Remember, if you don’t keep in touch with your customers, you are loosing out because your competitors will.

Customers are best sales agent, so spend time to build your customer relationship and do the follow-ups. Make use of cost effective tools like e-mailers. Send out simple newsletter, an offer or an update message of interest to your pool of networks. If they remember you and your offerings they will deliver value to you with referrals. They are in the market, and are aware of opportunities you’ll never hear about. That is why it is very important to remain in touch with your customers.

Thus, in order to close this we cannot deny the fact that small business is all about relationships, relationships and relationships.

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Human touchbase new marketing mantra – agree?

Its a fact, adding face and voice to a brand has become a necessity and has become a popular trend too. Businesses are realizing that customer interaction, engaging content and adding face to the brand are valuable and means a lot to their customers and business stakeholders. The connection of emotions has become beneficial to a business or a brand. Companies like Amazon take pride in customer service and their human touch is happily welcomed by customers. Over the years, they have not only become extremely powerful but very successful too because they adapted to the new trend of marketing that revolved around engagement and personal touch. Actually, this provides comfort to customers which ultimately drives sales and win brand loyalty over long term.

We have seen the success that has come to some product companies because of their human touchbase approach. But the question is, can other industries also reap the benefits using the personal touchbase approach? The answer is, yes. More than ever, financial services are seeking ways to brand themselves in the right light. And the only way to reach customers is  by producing engaging content with a personal feel that ultimately benefits the consumer is a strategy that financial service companies should adopt. According to Google’s Zero Moment of Truth study, consumers are using 10.8 sources of information prior to making a banking product purchase while consumers are using 11.7 sources prior to an insurance purchase. These statistics demonstrate the importance of producing positive, engaging and humanized content that consumers can make use of while making a decision. These sources can be anything in the form of informative videos, expert analysts guides to CEO blogs. The tactic of producing useful and appealing content is a strategy that will gain momentum in the financial world since customers are continuously looking for guidance and explanations, human touch and relatedness facet are becoming more and more crucial to the consumer when they are making financial decisions.

Showing the faces behind business and giving a voice to services through the art of storytelling is an outstanding marketing tactic. Videos are the most effective and engaging medium to display the face and voice of your company. Every company has employees with unique individual stories that their audience can relate to. Storytelling is such a versatile instrument and can be utilized within any type of industry. And as a matter of fact, personal touch approach in marketing is here to stay for a long long time.

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Videos as Marketing tool

Video is a great marketing tool, it is one of the best ways to share views with audience. It is a medium that everyone loves and is not going away anytime soon. By incorporating video into your campaign, you will not only stay ahead of your competition, but also improve your brand identity.

Online video is becoming a first stop for many customers. It is akin to what the Web page was a decade ago — something that can give early adopters an edge over competitors. It gives them a channel to talk directly to customers in ways previously accessible only to large companies that could afford TV commercials. Some dominant players for Video hosting are YouTube and others including Vimeo, MetaCafe and Facebook.

Why companies should use video as part of its marketing strategy?

Video is cost effective – Compared with traditional print advertising, video can actually prove more cost effective. Companies often make the mistake of dumping money into expensive magazine advertisements that are summarily ignored. Video, on the other hand, is almost impossible to ignore. Being extremely versatile, video can be re-shaped into many different formats. Mobile kiosks, large screen presentations, smart phones and of course websites are just some of the ways to spread the word using this powerful medium. And as a matter of fact, it can be produced at a reasonable cost.

Video is audible – Video is audible and chosen before a written document as one has to read to understand a written document. People enjoy video, if someone visits a website and a video is offered, one will definitely view the video though it can be out of curiosity. And that means they have devoted their attention to a sales pitch. Marketers love using video because that’s what people want.

Video is a mature medium – Video is not a fad. People have loved motion pictures since the late 1800s. Even though the medium has changed, the passion for video has not. Now, video is an extremely mature art form and everyone respects it. YouTube sees on average 2 billion views, isn’t it big?

Video is part and package of any campaign – Any advertising company worth its salt will offer a video package. Ignoring the option of video would be like ignoring the need for a website. If your competition hasn’t jumped on the video bandwagon, why not show some industry leadership? Google’s search algorithms pay a great deal of attention to video. It’s a great way to beat the competition.

Video increases web traffic – Your website doesn’t have to be the only stop in your online transit system. There are many ways to bring in the traffic. Make sure your video is “social bookmarking” friendly! Twitter, Del.icio.us, Facebook, Digg, reddit, Newsvine, StumbleUpon and Squidoo are just some of the ways you can spread the word.

What all you can do with videos?

1. Showcase your products to the customers, demonstrate it.

2. Create a destination, it is easier to win customers if you give them a reason to tune in.

3. Use analytics and tools that allow you to measure the effect of your videos.

4. Build a brand channel, a way to get the attention of customers and invite them to become your video producers.

5. Advertise with videos cause videos have huge potential audience. Videos hosting sites like YouTube offers a dozen advertising options, including banner ads, promoted videos that appear on top and beside search results, and pre-roll ads that appear during other YouTube videos much like a conventional TV commercial.

6. How-to Instruction videos area big hit, if you are a product company Online videos will do wonders for your business.

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Brands are not built overnight

This is a guest post

I have good understanding of how businesses in America, UK, Europe and many other countries operate. For them, marketing is an important aspect and the whole company and its ideologies are based on it. And that’s also the reason why even the youngest companies also have a very strong value in the market place.

Here in India, its exactly the opposite. There is a gap in understanding the need of a brand. There are many reasons that support it, most important one is, companies are not funded and are very dependent on the sales report determined every month end. Which automatically deviates the resources towards increasing sales force and equipping the department with all they need leaving marketing far ashore. Let me share this, recently, I was in a meeting at a potential client’s office. The CEO says, ‘no we don’t want to brand’, then she added, ‘we are already a branded company, people know us, we get covered by various papers all the time’. Then she asks me, ‘what do you mean by branding’. I gave her the example of Nike’s Swoosh. She said, ‘well, we first need money coming in then we will think about branding’.

I just want to bring this to the notice that branding is not so expensive as many businesses are worried about. And as a matter of fact, brand is not built overnight, it needs time, patience and perseverance from its creators and visionaries. Its important to create a brand identity right in the beginning so that all communication, website, collateral, logo, etc. are in line with the brand identity from day one. For a start-up, a nice working logical website with information easily available on the website is a staple. Or else what’s going to happen is, a company operates for sometime, has different stationery and collateral. There is no clarity on what and when to use, and ultimately it comes to a situation when a staff send out a mail, it has a different look and when the other one communicates, its different. This kind of chaos only creates dilemma and questions in your counterpart. If you cannot manage your own communication, how are they going to manage work for others and this means it can also cost business.

Hence, professional vibe is extremely important for succeeding in business. In the past, we have experience of working with start-ups like PolicyBazaar and VitalWires. Lets focus on VitalWires, at that point of time it was known as Gravity Microsystems, a SAP consulting firm. In 2010 the company was looking for a partner to help them rebrand from scratch. Industree had the opportunity to be associated with the company right from name selection to setting brand identity, guidelines and marketing strategy. We had a couple of meetings with the board and team members to understand their ideas and vison for the company. In over a year’s time, VitalWires transition was a success. Today, they are a strong team of 40-50 employees based out of Gurgaon.

We helped them create a brand guideline which includes brand identity, objective, target, story and personality. I also realized that developing the guideline really helped the company because it clearly described what all they could perform. Since templates and product lines were also developed based on the guideline, all brand elements were used as mentioned in the guideline. Which meant all outgoing communication was consistent and focused. The color palette also addressed the need of showcasing VitalWires as a no nonsense company. The main color ‘blue’ stands for inspiration, sincerity and spirituality, which actually is the objective of VitalWires. We also managed their online activities, content development and time to time need basis work. It was a satisfying project and we made it happen.

This is for the readers, marketing is not so expensive as it is perceived to be. Of course, it will be a different story if you are going by Above the Line (ATL) activities to market. However, I have something in mind to say about ATL, which we shall do in the future post.

If you are a start-up, don’t wait for the last moment to start marketing your organization, because as I said earlier, start early and brand it right. You will save time, energy and money. When you are new, work pressure is less and you have the patience and time to spare. As time passes, you know what works and what does not and accordingly you may adjust when things when the business is still young. Hire a professional company to assist in creating a brand identity and they will suggest you the rest.

Hope this post is helpful to many small sized businesses because that’s where branding is mostly neglected.

Bijeta is the author of this article, she is the founder and director of Industree since its inception. You can follow her on Twitter

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