Monday, July 27, 2009

Market Research On A Tight Budget

Market Research is the study of groups of people that you would like to sell your products or services to. Spending time to do Market Research minimizes risk and often improves your chances of success. Researching your target market can provide you with sound and objective data. The problem is that market research can be extremely expensive, so how can you do the research if you are on a tight budget? Low-cost market research is not impossible, let me show you how.

First off lets consider the things we need to look for when conducting our market research. Your target market should have at least four common characteristics. They are:
1. My target market has a particular need.
2. My target market has enough money to purchase my products or services.
3. My target market has decision making power.
4. My target market has access to my products and services.

In order to determine these characteristics you must spend time researching and asking yourself the following questions:
- My customers have a particular need. What is that need?
- My customers have enough money to buy what I am selling. Who needs and can afford what you are offering?
- My customers have decision making power. Who has the authority to say yes to what I'm offering?
- My customers have access to my products and services. How accessible are my products or services to my target market?

Where Should You Begin Your Market Research?

First Resource: Secondary Research
The best place to start looking for secondary research is online. Visit association web sites that are aligned with your industry. If you are in the consumer industry visit the government agencies because you will find all kinds of consumer information on their sites. A great resource that you won't want to miss is the U.S. Census Bureau. Keep in mind that secondary research is not done for you, so some of the information and answer may not be applicable to you. Whoever it was that commissioned the study had their own questions that they wanted to get answered. The information you will find might be in the ballpark, but not on first base.

Second Resource: Your Customers
Put together a questionnaire and have your employees ask prospects, customers, vendors, and suppliers to complete it. A couple of questions you could ask are:
- Do you like our products or services?
- What are we doing right?
- What could we improve?

This method of research also works very well when visiting trade shows. Take a walk around the hall and spend time listening to people's conversations and ask questions. Spending time doing this helps you gain insight to what your competitors are doing.

You can also conduct:
- Open-ended interviews with your customers.
- Surveys
- Focus Groups

Third Resource: Comparable Markets
Look for other comparable markets and share the expense of a study. Remember you want to do this with comparable markets, but not competitors. For example if you are a copywriter, find a company that does print advertising. Once you find someone sit down and decide what information would be beneficial to the both of you and hire someone to do the study.
Source: About Marketing.
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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Being Creative With HP InkJet Printers

HP - invent from Tom and Matt on Vimeo.

Source: Grapplica.

Will The Road Be Your Next Marketing Medium?

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Seven Steps To Achieving Your Sales Goals

Every year, right after Christmas, Christina Richter heads down to her local craft store and purchases what she calls her "vision board." It's really just a big yellow poster board, but she immediately starts filling it with goals she wants to achieve in the coming year.
"I write down ideas and cut out photos from magazines that help me visualize what I want," explains Richter, who is director of business development at CRI, a recruitment outsourcing firm. In the past, she has pasted $100 bills on the board to remind her of her financial goals. She has included a picture of a man and woman holding hands on a beach to emphasize what she's working toward: a dream trip to Costa Rica with her husband. She has even jotted down words like "serenity" and "peaceful" to prevent her from getting consumed by the ceaseless demands of her sales job.

"I look at the phrases and images on my vision board every day," says Richter. "It keeps me focused and reminds me why I get up every morning."

Keith Rosen, an executive sales coach and author of Time Management for Sales Professionals, believes it is essential for salespeople to begin each year by creating "a personal navigation system" similar to Richter's vision board. "It's the system you use to navigate through life, which encompasses your vision, goals, and routine, providing you with a clear sense of purpose and direction," he says. "Having the end result clarified in your mind and on paper before you become consumed by your daily responsibilities will make the process of reaching bigger goals easier and more enjoyable."

Here are seven vital strategies for setting and achieving your sales goals for 2007:

1. Get Rid of Old Goals.
It's very tempting to recycle the same old goals, especially ones you haven't reached. "I seriously suggest just letting go of recycled goals you've had for several years, because they become like a ball and chain, holding you back," says Kimberly George, author of Coaching into Greatness: 4 Steps to Success in Business and Life. She suggests that these goals might be unrealistic to begin with, like saying you will achieve $1 million in sales when you have never surpassed $100,000 in your life. Or they might be goals you have inherited from a boss or colleague that are not right for you personally, causing you to consciously or subconsciously resist them.

2. Set a Manageable Number of Goals.
A resolution, notes Keith Rosen, is defined as the process of reducing to simpler form. "That brings us to the paradox of resolution," he says. "Instead of simplifying our lives, we wind up dumping more tasks, goals, or projects on our to-do list thinking that our lives will be more fulfilling and successful in the new year." What we are left with, though, is the sense of being overwhelmed. "I typically set no more than five goals each year just to keep things simple and focus my energies," says Lori Richardson, president of Score More Sales, a sales effectiveness organization.

3. Clearly Define Your Goals.
It's great that you want to make more money and be more successful this year, but the problem is there is nothing specific behind those goals. "I recommend establishing a set of daily, weekly, and monthly benchmarks that help you measure and manage your ultimate goal," says George. For instance, if you have a sales target of $1 million, don't focus on the actual dollars, but rather on the activities that will help you reach that mark. Identify and measure several key success indicators, such as the number of follow-up appointments you've made this week or the number of networking events you've attended, as a way of knowing where you are right now and where you need to go.

4. Establish an Effective Routine.
Let the daily actions you take toward achieving your goals be the reward, not just the end result. This will allow you to actually enjoy the journey and not just obsess about the future. "Design a weekly routine that complements your goals so you can focus on the activities that support your objectives and enhance your lifestyle," suggests Rosen. He adds that a well-planned routine will keep you focused, eliminate distractions, reduce stress, and enable you to manage the daily tasks that will bring you to your goals.

5. Make Your Goals Public.
When you share your goals with others, you become more vested in their outcome and ultimate success. "We break commitments to ourselves all the time, but once we inform friends, family, and colleagues of our goals, the stakes are instantly raised," says Lori Richardson. You're less likely to back away from your goals without giving it a lot of thought and reasoning first. What's more, by trusting others with your goals, you acquire a support group that can spur you on to success.

6. Don't Set Goals Longer than a Year.
It's all too easy to lose momentum if your goals exceed a year. As humans, we tend to lose interest in things that are too far in the future. "Life moves exceedingly fast, and we need to be equally responsive" says Rosen. "When we set our goals, we have all the intention in the world of following through with them, but life gets in the way and things change very quickly." He believes you can overcome this by setting concrete, focused goals each year and building a set of daily actions that allows you to achieve them.

7. Alter Your Goals When Necessary.
Don't hesitate to reassess your goals on a quarterly basis. That should give you enough time to gauge whether the desired results are showing up, and help you avoid frustration and constantly second-guessing yourself. "Think of your goals as if they were a sail of a boat," says Richardson. "You can alter the course while still heading in the same general direction." For example, if your goal is to set up ten face-to-face meetings each month, but you are only getting eight meetings, that might be okay if it turns out you are closing a higher number of deals than anticipated.

Source: All Business.
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The Do’s And Don’ts Of Closing A Deal

Knowing your target market and your products and services and developing a solid rapport with your customers are all important aspects of selling. Yet when it comes to separating the best salespeople from everyone else, it usually boils down to who can close the deal. With that in mind, here are important sales do’s and don’ts:

  • You do want to know when to move into the closing. This is once you have made your presentation, the customer has asked questions, and you have supplied answers. There is usually a peak time in any sales process to move to your close.
  • You don’t want to rush to close before your customer is ready. Employees at the now defunct Crazy Eddie stores in New York City would ask if you were ready to buy the minute you walked through the door, which may explain why the electronics chain went out of business. Conversely, you do not want to keep on selling until your customers run screaming.
  • You do want to have various approaches that you can use when closing. These could include being straightforward, for instance, “Would you like me to write up your purchase?” Or they may be slightly less direct, such as “If I could guarantee delivery by the end of the week, would that work for you?” You could also try a trial close, where you plant the seed of closing in the mind of the customer by asking questions about owning the product, such as “If I could get this in another color do you think it would look good in your home or office?”
  • You don’t want to have just one approach for every customer. You need to get a feel for how comfortable your customers are and the ways in which they respond.
  • You do need to give your customer proper and complete attention and enough time to make a decision. The amount of time may depend on the cost factor (high-ticket items require more time) and the number of potential choices.
  • You don’t want to be constantly looking at your watch or be distracted by phone calls while giving your customer only half of your attention. Salespeople whose minds are elsewhere will lose the sale.
  • You do need to hear any objections and be ready with answers to the most common ones, such as price and durability or life of the product. Resistance means you may simply need to work harder.
  • You don’t want to give up or get irritated at any resistance to your closing efforts. Walking away or having an “attitude” is akin to shooting yourself in the foot.
  • You do want to follow up with your customers after closing to make sure they are satisfied. Sales do not end at the closing.
  • You don’t want the relationship to end when customers walk out the door, hang up the phone, or leave your Web site. A good closing should continue and make your customers want to return.
  • You do want to learn from each and every sales opportunity and review what you did right and wrong. Closing a sale takes some practice.
  • You don’t want to blame the customer, the store, the lighting, the pricing, and everything else in sight rather than hone your own skills.

Closing a sale takes confidence in your product or service and in yourself. Believe in what you are selling or your ability to meet the needs of or solve a problem for your customers. Make your customers feel satisfied, not duped or tricked. If they feel good, you will feel good about yourself, and closing the deal will come more easily.

Source: All Business.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

13 Tips To Improve Your Site’s Accessibility From Mobile Devices

The advent of mobile phone internet access has signaled a change in the job description of the average web developer. Designing websites for a (relatively) simple desktop browser is now only one part of web development, and web developers must adapt to the surge in popularity of the smaller, mobile format.
So to help make sure this little transitional phase runs as smooth as possible, we’ve collated a list of top tips to ensure you’re fully prepared and equipped to take things mobile.

1. Recognize The Difference
Perhaps the most important thing to remember when designing for the mobile web is that it is a completely different format than that of the desktop browser. As a developer, it is important to get into the mindset of treating the mobile web world separately.
For example, lazy or slack coding that may go unnoticed on a large scale could be crucial when dealing with the much more concise mobile format.
2. Simplify Your Design
A key principle to bear in mind is that when it comes to the mobile web, simple is always better. Whether it be the visual design of the page, the actual coding or the content itself, trimming it down to its most simple is always most effective.
Simply taking a web page and downsizing it to fit on a mobile screen will look cluttered and unreadable. Follow the example of sites like Digg and keep your page lean and stripped to the bare bones.
3. Be Flexible
Just as the mobile format differs from the desktop, a level of flexibility is needed within the format itself. For example, when designing graphics, consider screen size, shape and resolution: designing one uniform graphic and expecting it to fit every phone type would be a grave error!
4. Test, Test, Test
With so many different formats to consider, regular and effective testing is an absolute must. It doesn’t matter how you do it, whether it be renting time, buying a range of phones to experiment with or simply asking your friends and colleagues to give up their phones for a few minutes, there is no substitute for real time testing.
5. Prioritize Your Pages
The amount of time people spend browsing on phones is minimal compared to on their home computers or laptops, so you need to make sure the page gets the most important information across first. Users often only tend to browse for minutes at a time, so if they can visit your page and get the information they need in seconds they will be sure to visit again in future.
6. Know Your Audience
If you’re going to prioritize your pages, you’ll need a good grasp of your target audience. For example, if your page is a general blog mainly used for casual browsing, you will want to keep most of the detailed information off the front page, looking more for a general overview.
It may seem overkill, but it’s these seemingly trivial issues which can a separate and average page from a very good one.
7. Keep Up To Date
Like most forms of modern technology, the mobile phone is constantly developing, and as a developer, it’s your job to keep up with the latest advancements. Take the iPhone as an example. It completely revolutionized mobile browsing, and its thousands of applications mean you can do pretty much anything from it.
The takeaway here is that as a developer, you simply can’t afford to be left behind by the fast paced progress of the mobile world.
8. Pick Your Domain
When it comes to choosing a domain name for your site, try and keep it as close to your normal domain name as possible. Perhaps the best way of doing so is to simply create a sub domain, which means the user doesn’t have to remember a second domain name and makes advertising a lot easier. Again, simplicity will see you reap the rewards in the long run.
9. Deal With Images
When designing for a desktop browser, a huge, eye-catching image is often a great solution to help improve the page’s visuals. However, images have to take a back seat to some extent when it comes to the mobile web. High resolution images, especially at the top of the page, can cause the page to take an unnecessarily long time to load, so try and keep images small. Image optimization is also a great way to make sure whatever images you use are of a high quality for the format.
10. Reduce Page Length

Many smaller devices actually restrict the amount of screen size that is available for any particular application, so often the ability the scroll both horizontally and vertically can be an issue.
There are a number of ways to get round this problem, perhaps most efficiently by presenting users with an intuitive means of internal navigation where they can quickly access other pages. This way, you can keep the amount of information on each page as minimal as possible.
11. Optimize Graphics
Graphic design for the mobile web requires some real restraint from the designer, especially one who’s used to developing large scale, intricately artistic creations. Their complex beauty often goes unnoticed on the small screen, hence designs often work best when kept particularly clear-cut. Stick to straight lines and contrasting colors to make your graphics stand out.
12. Play It Safe
As previously mentioned, lazy mark up will be much more damaging to a mobile web browser than a desktop. So when it comes to mark up, make sure all tags are supported to ensure your page comes out looking and functioning as well as possible.
For example, features such as tables and nested tables can take much longer to render on a mobile phone because they typically have much less powerful processors, and many casual browsers will just navigate away from your page instead of waiting!
13. Utilize White Space
An error that many inexperienced developers make is to think that because the format is smaller, it’s okay to cram the pages full of a content, so much so that the user can barely make sense of the screen. This is not good.
The right way to do it? Embrace white space. Yet again, the minimalist approach is key. Don’t be afraid of blank spaces: they simply keep the user’s attention focused on the content that really matters.
Source: Fuel Your Creativity.
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Evian - Roller Babies

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

What is Affiliate Marketing?

It seems that more readers are asking this question than I previously thought.
In a recent poll here on ProBlogger I asked readers whether they’d done any affiliate marketing on their blogs. The results revealed that:
  • 29% of readers regularly do it
  • 24% occasionally do it
  • 27% have never done affiliate marketing on their blogs
  • 6% used to do it but don’t any more
  • 14% don’t know what affiliate marketing is
There’s some interesting results there but it was the last category (of bloggers not knowing what affiliate marketing is) that I wanted to write this post for with the hope of answering the question. It’s pretty basic and quite beginner focused but for the 14% of you who don’t know what affiliate marketing is - here’s a brief introduction.

What is Affiliate Marketing?
Perhaps the simplest way to explain affiliate marketing is that it is a way of making money online whereby you as a publisher are rewarded for helping a business by promoting their product, service or site.
There are a number of forms of these types of promotions but in most cases they involve you as a publisher earning a commission when someone follows a link on your blog to another site where they then buy something.
Other variations on this are where you earn an amount for referring a visitor who takes some kind of action - for example when they sign up for something and give an email address, where they complete a survey, where they leave a name and address etc.
Commissions are often a percentage of a sale but can also be a fixed amount per conversion.
Conversions are generally tracked when the publisher (you) uses a link with a code only being used by you embedded into it that enables the advertiser to track where conversions come from (usually by cookies). Other times an advertiser might give a publisher a ‘coupon code’ for their readers to use that helps to track conversions.
For example: when I recently released my 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook I also give people an opportunity to promote the workbook with an affiliate program whereby they could earn a 40% commission for each sale. When you sign up to become an affiliate you are given a special code unique to you that enables you to promote the workbook and make $7.98 per sale. The top affiliates earned over $2000 in the first few weeks after launch through these commissions.
Advertisers often prefer affiliate marketing as a way to promote their products because they know they’ll only need to pay for the advertising when there’s a conversion. I knew when I started this affiliate program that while I’d earn less for each sale that having a network of affiliates promoting it would almost certainly increase overall sales levels.
Publishers often prefer affiliate marketing because if they find a product that is relevant to their niche that earnings can go well in excess of any cost per click or cost per impression advertising campaign.

Why Affiliate Marketing Can Work Well on Blogs
Affiliate marketing isn’t the only way to make money from blogs and it won’t suit every blog/blogger (more on this below) but there are a few reasons why it can be profitable in our medium. Perhaps the biggest of these reasons is that affiliate marketing seems to work best when there’s a relationship with trust between the publisher and their readership.
I’ve found that as this trust deepens that readers are more likely to follow the recommendations that a blogger makes.
Of course this can also be a negative with affiliate marketing - promote the wrong product and trust can be broken (more on this below).

Affiliate Marketing - Easy Money?
While affiliate marketing can be incredibly lucrative it is important to know that affiliate marketing is not easy money. Most people who try it make very little as it relies upon numerous factors including:
  • traffic (high traffic helps a lot)
  • finding relevant products
  • finding quality products
  • building trust with your readers
  • having a readership who is in a ‘buying mood’
  • you being able to write good sales copy (and more)
There’s also some risk associated with affiliate marketing in that if you push too hard or promote products of a low quality you can actually burn readers and hurt your reputation and brand.
It’s also worth noting that affiliate marketing doesn’t work on all blogs. Some blogs are on topics where it is hard to find products to promote - other blogs attract audiences who are not in a buying frame of mind and for other blogs it just doesn’t fit with the blogger’s style or approach.
Source: ProBlogger.

The Difference Between Drip Marketing And Closed Loop Marketing

These terms, often used interchangeably, are different approaches to how you nurture your prospects. While they often imply use of email and online marketing, they have been used to improve the success of marketing efforts long before today’s marketing technologies were available. The increase in the terms usage is due to marketer’s ability to better implement these programs, due to email, website monitoring and web analytics, campaign tracking, and campaign optimizing allowing for A/B email and landing page testing.

Drip Marketing:
Marketers use drip marketing to deliver thought leadership and product information to prospects and other contacts that have opted in to receive marketing communications. These marketing messages, often called ‘touches’, are sent on a scheduled basis (daily, weekly, monthly) often using an email marketing system ensuring that the marketer’s company is top of mind when the buyer is ready to purchase. Postcards, brochures, and other offline content can be used as part of a drip campaign, but can be more expensive and more difficult to track.
Marketers who want to get the most out of their drip campaigns will create and deliver them through an automated system which will also allow the marketer to include links to landing pages in their messaging that has been created by the marketer with more relevant content and additional offers increasing the interactions with the contact.
Drip marketing has been shown to increase the effectiveness of email marketing and will help a company reduce spam complaints and increase deliverability as the messages themselves will be expected by the recipient. The results of these campaigns will increase more if marketers personalize the content in the ‘drips’ and/or if the recipient can select the frequency of the interactions.
Metrics used in drip marketing will include email open rates, email click-through (when combined with offers), and opt-out rates. These will be compared the same metrics by others in your industry and to those not in your list that are not included in the drip campaign to compare success. Most importantly, the purchase frequency, amount and time to purchase will be compared between those in the drip campaign and those who are not so the marketer can see the overall results of the drip campaign. ROI will need to be determined for any email or marketing automation tools used for drip campaigns.

Closed Loop Marketing:
Closed loop marketing is more sophisticated than drip marketing. This is because while in drip marketing you are keeping in touch with your contacts on a regular basis, in closed loop marketing you are communicating with your contacts based on their previous actions and based on their place in the buying cycle. Marketer’s literally closes the loop, working in conjunction with sales, providing the right information at the right time, based on prospect’s responses and behaviors until or after final purchase.
In closed loop marketing, marketers are responsible for more than branding and product updates, and need to watch customer reaction to marketing, to ensure their sales funnel does not have any leaks. While this can be done through direct mail, in-person, or through telemarketing, often the most cost effective and least intrusive way for marketers to participate in closed loop marketing is through triggered email campaigns that provide links to thought leadership relevant to the specific prospect. Integrated campaigns can include all these types of marketing, with the key to success being the tracking of each so that there is an understanding of the prospects interest at all times.
A closed loop marketing system helps provides feedback through reporting on each of the steps in the closed loop campaign allowing the marketer to adjust to prospects needs. More sophisticated systems, like marketing automation systems, will allow marketers to also automate triggered responses, customizing the content to each individual without manual segmentation ensuring the most successful closed-loop programs.
While the metrics for drip campaigns will also apply, closed loop marketing campaign analysis will revolve around campaign influence, including the number of touches and types of interactions that are needed to accelerate and increase purchases. Marketers here will look at metrics like campaign deal size by tactic, closed loop effect by segment, and analysis of funnel progression.

Both drip and closed loop marketing are ideal for B2B marketers who need to keep in contact with prospects over long periods of time because of the infrequency of purchase and long buying decisions. Deciding which method to use, or what combination of the two, should ultimately be based on the return you are seeing from implementation of each based on the time and investments necessary for the campaigns themselves. DemandGen has created an excellent free paper about calculating the return on lead nurturing which may be useful if you are trying to decide where to get started in your nurturing campaigns and what impacts these campaigns will make in your marketing programs.

Source: Marketo.
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