Finding Your Ideal Customers

Today’s businesses must build value for customers if they hope to be successful. Yet, value is a moving target. In our discussion, we will examine how businesses should target their ideal customers by building value for their customers. All customers do not have the same measuring stick for sellers to apply a cookie-cut approach. In fact, globalization has created all types of problems for businesses. One of the issues is how to stay ahead of the competition by exploring new markets while keeping the same customer base. Doing this action is not easy. Many businesses build their profitability on this simple equation. Companies seek to reduce their inputs (i.e., outsourcing labor, using better technologies) to obtain greater profitability. Still, the process is often self-serving with little regard to the customer and lesser value on employees. Therefore, many people might insist that some businesses simply stumble on what customer value is and how it affects their business.

Creating value is not that simple. Some businesses seek to take shortcuts in building relationships with customers with marketing smoke and mirrors. Some organizations simply believe that hiring a large sales force is enough. Jeb Blount, author of Fanatical Prospecting: The Ultimate Guide for Starting Sales Conversations and Filing the Pipeline by Leveraging Social Selling, Telephone, E-Mail, and Cold Calling explains, “Lots of salespeople have the intelligence, talent, skills, and education to be top performers. Lots of salespeople are competitive, understand the sales process, and know how to ask for the business. Yet they consistently underperform the superstars… Superstars are relentless, unstoppable prospectors. They are obsessed about keeping their pipeline full of qualified prospects.” Thus, knowing your customers intimately will serve small businesses in creating value for customers.  

Creating value does generate ideal customers.  In identifying ideal customers, businesses target group of marketings who are most attracted to their products and services.  Therefore, businsses tailor their marketing, advertising, and sales efforts for these type of customers. Value is defined as “the total benefit that the seller’s products and services provide to the buyer.” Stephen Castleberry and John Tanner, Jr., authors of Selling: Building Partnerships, argued the critical need for value creation: “Selling is about creating value… The manner in which a product is handled suggests value. Careful handling communicates value, whereas careless handling implies that the product has little value.” Sadly, some business owners do not comprehend how value creation works.

John Jantsch, the author of Duct Tape Marketing, also maintains that building value for customers is no accident: “You can choose to attract clients that value what you offer, view working with you as a partnership, and want you to succeed…” For example, Shawnee’s Chick-fil-A Owner Jeff Madison understands the merit of this concept. Retired U.S. Army Colonel with 26 years of leading U.S. and multinational soldiers and civilians from cavalry scout platoon to the Pentagon, Jeff recognizes the essential of deploying a combat-proven, critically reflective, innovative and decisive strategy in ever-changing conditions. Despite all the MBA type strategies, success starts with building value for customers. Jeff explains, “We create value for our guests by connecting with our guests beyond the transaction (taking their money at the cash registers). We offer genuine hospitality and Matthew 5:41 Second-Mile Service. We carry trays to the table for guests who need assistance.” Madison seeks to build an emotional connection with customers.

With the economic crisis, local businesses need to consider changing what has not worked. In today’s discussion, I demonstrated how businesses can benefit themselves by understanding how to create more value for their customers. Being strategically conscious of these business relationships is stress-free. This process takes everyone’s total involvement. When small businesses place value creation as a high priority, prospecting for winning customers is a lot easier and more beneficial in the long run.

Please share your comments on this topic.

 

© 2019 by D. D. Green

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Good Content in a Digital World

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With this quick pace of technology and increasing access to information, the world is a land of opportunities for those who have the knowledge. An individual in the 21st century has the opportunities to influence millions of people across the globe. Unfortunately, many do not know how to do it. With the rapid fire of social media interaction and engagement, businesses need to know how to write great content in order to sustain success. The internet has made it necessary for online platforms to keep fresh content or customers will eventually dismiss them from relevancy. You don’t think content matters? Below are some digital statistics to observe:

• 92% of online consumers don’t intend to buy during a first visit
• Nearly half of consumers won’t spend time with branded content if it’s not relevant to their interests
• 46% of marketers say photography is critical to their current marketing and storytelling strategies
• 88% of consumers say that, personally, relevant content improves how they feel about a brand
• 60% of consumers feel more positive about a company after reading their custom content

With that said, customers will not come to your website or your social platforms if your content (i.e., articles, videos, or podcasts) aren’t any good. Therefore, individuals need to be strategic about their content.

Businesses need to write good content that matters to their constituency. With that said, organizations should think in the best interest of its target audience. When I wrote my first book My Cup Runneth Over: Setting Goals for Single Parents and Working Couples, my goal was to assist working families with the issues of how to balance work and family. I had a lot of experience with this subject being a working parent.

I wrote lots of content on this subject and got plenty of attention from the media. People were amazed at my publishing accomplishments. It changed my life. I was asked to speak at events. Co-workers wanted my advice. The audience wanted to listen to my messages. Since that time, I have given insights to thousands of people.

This new market success was due primarily because my content was focused on a critical problem that appealed to a specific group of people. In fact, becoming an author is one of the quickest ways to be recognized as an expert in a field or industry. Sadly, many businesses undervalue a well-written piece.

Content marketing allows businesses to develop content relevant to their audience. Content marketing can be defined as “a form of non-traditional marketing communications whereby a brand produces or designs contents in various forms (e.g., text, images, video, audio) and disseminates that content to targeted audiences or customers.”

Today’s marketers understand that good content is essential for their brand awareness and market sustainability. In fact, marketers like to utilize content marketing in social media platforms for the following reasons: (a) High level of control over content design; (b) Low cost of content dissemination; (c) Increased opportunities for audience interactivity and engagement; and (d) Increased opportunities for real-time feedback.

Jeff Larson and Stuart Draper, authors of Digital Marketing Essentials, argue that customers do take notice of content on organizations’ websites. They explain, “For good or ill, consumers are talking online about companies’ brands. Online review sites, directories, social media sites, Wikipedia, blogs, and forums all allow users to express their opinions about a brand… This content can appear in so many places online that it is impossible to monitor this conversation by visiting each site and sifting through the billions of comments left by web users.”

Given the high risk of failure, businesses should not be careless in creating content for their customers. If individuals do not have the talent nor the foresight for developing content, they should consider to just contract this talent out. Even when businesses have the necessary skill set, they must make sure their content is effective and efficient.

Video (Click Here)

In the book Digital Minds: 12 Things Every Business Needs to Know About Digital Marketing, the authors stress the importance of good content: “Customers are online and looking for products, services, and solutions to their problems. It’s up to you to grab customers first (and make no mistake – the competition from other companies trying to do just that is huge.” The authors offer the following steps to create great content for customers:

• Focus on your specific target audience.
• Solve the problems that your customers care about.
• Become a trusted source to address their problems.
• Write fresh content.
• Make it easy for them to shop with you.

With the high stakes for today’s businesses, organizations can stand out in the crowd with good content on all of their social media platforms. Adding content marketing into a seller’s arsenal of marketing tools can provide relevant, useful content to customers. This article demonstrated that good content is essential in a digital world.

Today’s marketers are constantly developing content to meet the needs of their constituents. If companies do not take the development of good content seriously, they will not be able to compete with a more demanding and engaged customer base. Pray that it is not too late.

© 2018 by D. D. Green

Activate An Effective Personal Brand

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Ben was stuck in his dead-end job as a waiter at the local restaurant in town. By day, he was known as the nicest, more courteous server in the area. By night, Ben attended a local college with the ambition of starting his own social media serves. Ben understood stereotypes and bias. People had the tenacity to put individuals in pigeon holes with their biases. Therefore, Ben started building his online personality with writing insightful articles about social media and running a video blog. He wrote an e-book about social media that received Internet acclaim.

He quietly started a radio talk show. With his persistence, Ben started seeing his effort pay. The restaurant was packed with a bus of college students headed to a convention. Ben was helping out the servers with the big crowd. Suddenly, there was a big commotion in the crowd that involved Ben. Another server came to get the owner about this situation. The owner was afraid that Ben had done something wrong. He didn’t. These college students from out of town were overwhelmed with excitement in meeting the online celebrity “Ben the eWriter.” His online presence had repositioned his personal brand. 

With the impact of the Internet and social media platforms, like Facebook, working professionals can reenergize or rebrand themselves in a matter of minutes. In fact, individuals can actually reposition themselves into new careers with the right strategies.  In today’s job market, people need to understand the concepts of personal branding and how to develop their own personal strategy for employment.  In this discussion, we will examine the concept of personal branding. Individuals will learn how to reenergize yourself and make gain more influence in the process. 

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Know Your Worth: Compensation Negotiation

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As I contemplated my next career move, I knew it was important to know my worth in the market. In a sense, the concept was foreign to me since I had worked 27 years in engineering for the public sector. In securing that job, the only thing that was negotiated was the time of employment.

My desire to have a second career outside of engineering into academia drove me to get meaningful experience as an adjunct professor. Of course, I felt my core competencies were strong as a professor. I had about ten years in academics working part-time. Yet, I also knew that obtaining a full-time tenure track would be highly competitive due to the limited amount of these treasured positions and the number of applicants. 

I personally knew of qualified business professors who could not obtain a full-time faculty position. To increase my marketability, I continued to secure new skill sets and to follow market trends. One of the biggest trends working for me was that many institutions were looking for new faculty who had demonstrated working experience.

Yet, in order to determine my worth, I had to actively apply for academic positions and go through the interview process. With every interview, each prospective employer provided me with a missing piece of my market worth. However, I got this insight by being assertive by asking meaningful questions like “what part of my application package attracted you to me as a candidate.”  

This transparency was contagious. One dean even told me my prospective rank (i.e. salary) in his organization. All of these pieces were critical in helping me negotiate my final position as a full-time faculty because I understood my worth in the marketplace.

In today’s competitive environment, working professionals need to know their worth so that they can be compensated appropriately and they can market themselves toward better jobs. In fact, professionals need to know how to market themselves and promote their personal brand in order to maintain their market worth. Downsizing and layoffs are a way of life for most U.S. businesses.

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The Future of Digital Marketing – Small Business Help

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Today’s customers can purchase a variety of items online with minimum effort. Given this scenario, brick and mortar companies are fighting to stay alive with the fierce internet competition. According to a 2017 survey conducted by Square and Mercury Analytics looking at 1,164 U.S. business owners, the following observations were made:

  • 96% of Americans with internet access have made an online purchase in their life, 80% in the past month alone.
  • 51% of Americans prefer to shop online.
  • 67% of Millennials and 56% of Gen Xers prefer to shop online rather than in-store.
  • Millennials and Gen Xers spend nearly 50% as much time shopping online each week (six hours) than their older counterparts (four hours).
  • 51% of seniors have shopped on marketplaces, 66% at large retailer sites, 30% on web stores or independent boutiques, and 44% at category-specific online stores.

Marketing professionals understand the importance of the internet and how to effectively leverage this power. According to Socialmedia.com, 90% of marketers use social media for their businesses. Sadly, many small businesses do not recognize this fact. Many businesses had opted to bury their heads in the sand in hopes that this ‘internet thing’ will go away. It hadn’t!

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Social Media Marketing Strategies by Guest Blogger Brenda Coleman

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Notwithstanding the arguably negative impact of social media on people today, according to the Daily Mail’s opinion, social networks are becoming more and more powerful. So are marketing opportunities for businesses. Business owners use social media sites as another channel to implement their branding and marketing strategies. If you think that it’s time for you to use this channel too, you will need to find out a few important things.

Simple Social Media Tips for Beginners
Let’s begin with the basics. What is social media marketing? Simply said, it’s all about using your company’s online profiles with marketing goals. There are many subtleties and tricks that help those goals be achieved, but they are all built on and around the fundamentals of social media business owners should know. Here they are.

#1 Search Is Your Everything
In order to gain followers’ attention, your must create an engaging media product. If you do want to use social media for business effectively, it will be wise for you to start with studying your audience and analyzing their interests, which could be easily done with a search option available on all platforms. When searching, ask yourself the following question: What lacks out there that could interest them?

You should aim at relevant groups – “travelers,” “dieticians,” or “vegans” – that make up your target audience. Find a catchy personality and scan his or her Facebook likes. Understanding what your potential customers are interested in will help you decide what kind of content they will love. Continue reading

New Product Development Strategies

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With the aftermath of globalization, companies are carefully thinking about the best ways to extend their product and service offering. Thus, product development strategy is critical for their success. Yet, many companies are in defensive mode and merely want to maintain the position in the market place.

However, staying in a holding position is a definite way for companies to be left behind. Innovative thinking that allows for product/service growth is a too sure way for sustainable success. In today’s discussion, we will explore the importance of product development for the growth of businesses, especially in a competitive market.

Launching into new product offerings is not easy. According to one market research, approximately 75% of consumer-packaged goods and retail products fail to earn even $7.5 million during their first year.[1] Harvard Business School Professor, Clayton Christensen, who is the world’s foremost authority on disruptive innovation, suggests that the failure rate of new products may actually be as high as 95%. Product failure rates relate to the number of products that are launched commercially but fail. Continue reading

How Small Businesses Can Deal With Competition

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Jay Cain was a promising engineering student at Georgia Tech. Coming into his sophomore year, Jay was ranked in the top of his engineering class. Having two high successful parents who were engineers themselves didn’t hurt his image among his peers. However, Jay was not happy with his projection in life. His passion was deejaying in front of an audience.  He had garnered a reputation in his high school and his local community for being a good talent in music. He even found himself deejaying parties in college while he was preparing for engineering exams and assignments. 

He told his parents several times he was thinking about leaving school in order to start his business full-time deejay. His parents dismissed the thought because they felt it was not realistic or practical given his abilities in engineering.  When the semester started at Georgia Tech, the school was missing one bright talented student…Jay Cain.  Leaving Georgia, Jay went to New York to make it big. Using money he saved, Jay found himself roomed with three unfamiliar roommates where the rent was cheap.  Jay found that working as a deejay was difficult because of the large competition among established deejays in the area.  Yet, Jay wasn’t about to give up with his dream. He just couldn’t go back to his parents or college.  Jay sat by himself trying to figure out how to meet the competition.

 As many millenniums start flooding the employment landscape, young adults are considering starting their own businesses.  Corporate downsizing and layoffs have thrust many individuals into a tough employment market while other employed workers who are unsatisfied with their jobs plot to fix a plausible exit strategy which will land them into their ideal job.

Sadly, many people run with these well intended ideas about starting a business with little insight into how to implement their plan so that the idea can be successful.  Most folks don’t realize that there is nothing new under the sun and found someone else who is doing what they set out to do. In fact, some people find themselves in a highly competitive environment with little or no plan for navigating this climate. In this issue, we will  examine the concepts of competition for small businesses fighting in global environments. Individuals will learn more about starting a business with competitive environment. Continue reading

Disruptive Technology in Today’s Business

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In life, sometimes it is the simple things that count, despite modern technology. In the next few months, I will be able to see 3-4 of my books published. Traditionally, it takes most large publishing houses 12-18 months before their books are published. As an independent publisher, I learned that the speed of products to the market place is a good way to beat a large competitor.

In fact, my success relates to a simple website called Elance.com, a freelance website that allow customers to solicit work from a variety of outsourcing services, which include programmers, designers, office support, translators, marketers, researchers and many other disciplines.

Elance.com allows a business to post a job opening and invites freelance workers who believe they have the requisite skills for the job to make a bid. The company charges a $10 fee to each business to post a job and also takes a small portion of what gets paid to contractors. Through this website, I have found some of the most talented individuals from across the world. For these services, it is a buyer’s market. Some people would argue that it is all about buying cheap labor for profitability.

In this scenario, developed countries appear to be exploiting underdeveloped countries. This is not always true. I have paid more in the past for the best talent. With that said, potential employers see a website that attracts over 500,000 talented freelancers. For the freelancer, there is an opportunity to bid on 48,000 jobs, worth $480K.[1] Therefore, a differentiating strategy can defeat a low-cost strategy on a global playing field.

Technology must be a management tool that is used strategically. Clayton Christensen, author of The Innovator’s Dilemma, provides a framework for understanding the interrelationship between technology changes and a business success. Christensen demonstrates how successful companies have been overtaken by small disruptive technologies.

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The cell phone, undermining the profitability of the established communication networks such as AT&T, further showcases the impacts of disruptive technology. Sadly, more executives are unwilling to think strategically due to the wrath of their investors and financial pundits.

For example, Amazon’s revenue grew in 2012, but the details were lacking. Amazon.com’s revenue rose to 17.4 billion (35% increase) in the fourth quarter. However, it fell short of Wall Street predictions. According to VentureBeat, Amazon sold as many as 6 million Kindle Fires and its older tablet prototype.

Given this reality, the Fire would move ahead of Android tablets from Samsung and Motorola, making it only second to Apple’s iPad. Analysts were concerned that the $199 Fire would not make a profit. Additionally, Amazon.com is spending capital on clouding technology.

Maximizing profits on Fire as an industry leading tablet is a near-term strategy. However, CEO Jeff Bezos appears to have disappointed Wall Street with a long-term perspective instead of sacrificing shareholders with profits in the near term.

Innovators take note of disruptive change as positive turbulence in the market. John Gamble and Arthur Thompson, authors of Essentials of Strategic Management, explain, “Understanding the nature of competitively important resources allows managers to identify resources or capabilities that should be further developed to play an important role in the company’s future strategies.” Therefore, organizations which do not understand the importance of making sustainable growth by being more efficient will not be successful over the long-term.

Please discuss application of this topic in your organization and industry.

© 2014 by Daryl D. Green

 

[1] Elance.com

Performance Measures in Today’s Businesses

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Finding the right performance measure in today’s organizations is like trying to determine for each swimmer the right temperature of the water to swim in the Gulf of Mexico (a great place to vacation).  There are many variables to consider. Certainly, the amount of revenue produced for each customer would speak to the bottom-line of most organizations.  In relationship selling, you have the personality factor.

In fact, Mark Johnston and Greg Marshall, authors of Relationship Selling, maintain that customers pick up on a salesperson’s attitude. Does good chemistry exist between the salesperson and the customer? That’s an important performance measure. When developing performance measurement with relationship selling in mind, good chemistry between the salesperson and customer should be a factor.

The amount of customer referrals can be an extremely good indicator, because this friendly act speaks to the issues of customer trust.  Quality expert George Peeler argues that the key to designing and using systems that will build the traditional product source relationship in the Quality Era will be the creativity and commitment of management and customer insight provided through empathy.  Successful organizations understand the attitudes and emotions of their customers. Therefore, connecting with customers would be a vital performance metric.

In being effective, businesses need to understand what to measure.  Many times, organizations are measuring the wrong objectives or doing the analysis incorrectly. Johnston and Marshall argue for designing an effective measurement system which includes (a) what do we want to measure, (b) when do we want to measure, and (c) how do we measure. Therefore, it’s important that organizations create effective performance measures.

Yet, performance measures are very difficult.  Management expert Stacey views performance measures as a process rather than an event, involving a series of specific activities for creating, implementing, and using performance metrics. Organization must be careful about using the right data collection tool to measure performance. For example, most people hate doing surveys.

Given this reality, organizations must carefully analyze the survey data for bias. Are they truly getting a picture of their customers?  I found focus groups more useful. Peeler further explains that management must facilitate the processes of quality innovation through prompt action, removing barriers to employee performance by continually attending to process improvement. Regardless, management must establish a reliable performance measurement system for organizations. The bottom-line is that there is inherent risk with customer surveys.

Finally, businesses should be strategic and focused in their performance measures. If an organization wants to spin its wheel and go nowhere, having unclear direction is a great pathway.  It’s important to have clear objectives and desired outcomes.  The transformation process from where an organization is to where an organization wants to be is a clear application for performance measures.

Johnston and Marshall argue that specific, realistic, and measurable objectives are essential to a sales training program. They further acknowledge that salespeople exist in a highly competitive environment where a great deal of information must be assimilated for effective customer sales.

Please discuss organizational performance measure from your professional experience.

© 2014 by Daryl D. Green