To successfully grow your business, you’ll need to attract and retain a large base of satisfied customers. Marketing emphasizes the value of the customer to the business, and is driven by two main principles:
- All company policies and activities should be directed toward customer needs and satisfying them.
- Profitable sales volume versus maximum sales volume, what should your focus be? Profitable sales volume, of course.
And in order to best do this, you should:
- Determine what your customers want through market research.
- Analyze your competitive advantages and develop a marketing strategy.
- Select specific markets to serve so your marketing is more targeted.
- Determine how to satisfy customer needs by identifying the best marketing mix.
Marketing campaigns are aimed at convincing people to keep using your products or services. As a business owner, you should carefully plan your marketing strategy and performance to keep your market presence strong. For successful marketing, you would require timely and relevant market information. Data can be collected through an inexpensive research program, based on questionnaires given to current or prospective customers, which often can reveal dissatisfaction or possible new products or services. Solid market research can also identify trends that affect sales and profitability. Factors such as population shifts, legal developments, and the local economic situation should be monitored to identify problems and opportunities. Also, keep up with competitors’ market strategies.
The marketing strategy will first identify customer groups which you can better serve than your competitors. Then you tailor product offerings, prices, distribution, promotional efforts and services toward those segments. Ideally, the strategy should address a gap in customer needs that you can offer, which also at the same time has adequate potential profitability. A good strategy will help you focus on the target market you can serve best. Even though you may not have access to unlimited funds you can still see excellent returns while sticking to your budget by focusing on highly targeted marketing. Concentrate your efforts on one or a few key market segments.
Couple of ways a market can be segmented:
- Geographical segmentation: Focusing on the needs of customers in a particular geographical area.
- Customer segmentation: Figure out the segment of people most likely to buy the product or service and target those groups.
There are four key components to a marketing program:
- Products and Services: Product strategies include developing a highly specialized product or service or providing a product-service package.
- Promotion: Promotion strategies should focus on advertising and direct customer interaction. Good salesmanship is essential especially in case of limited advertising budgets. Online marketing is a cheap, quick, and easy way for your business and product to receive high visibility.
- Price: The optimum price is crucial to maximizing total revenue. Usually high prices mean lower volume and vice-versa. By providing personalized service you can often command higher prices.
- Distribution: How do you distribute your products. Working with established distributors or manufacturers’ agents is usually the easiest route to go when you’re a small manufacturer. If you’re a small retailer consider cost and traffic flow when selecting your location, remember advertising and rent can be reciprocal: cheap, low-traffic location means you may have to spend more on advertising to build traffic.
The nature of the product or service is also important in location decisions. In cases where the purchases are based on impulse, then high-traffic and visibility are important. But location is less of a concern for products or services that customers are willing to go out of their way to find. If you’re worried about reaching a certain market that you can’t really pinpoint, selling your product online may be the best route to go for your business. That’s a brief summary of marketing basics.
The TED talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Nigerian novelist, about “The Danger of a Single Story” hit a chord with me. Please watch this inspiring talk here:
It got me thinking… Many of us are quick to stereotype people (and entire countries) and put them in boxes. Almost like it’s easier to pass instant judgement than to see them for the multi-faceted person they are. Do the environment and influences we grow up in shape our way of thinking – either expanding or shrinking the windows to our mind? I don’t think there are too many of us that have escaped the claws of prejudice and stereotyping. Sure sometimes stereotypes may be funny and perhaps there’s an element of truth to it but that is only one aspect, one page or a sentence in the book that makes up the human story, where each of us as individuals are so different and unique.
I grew up in a part of the world with many different ethnic groups with diverse traditions and languages and belonging to different socio-economic groups, so I had a diverse group of friends with so many different world views. But even so, I regret to say that there have been times as a teenager where I’ve looked at the world through prejudiced eyes. I wish I knew then what I know now. Looking back I realize it was a lack of insight and wisdom. But as an adult I’ve learned to educate myself and ask questions instead of coming to my own conclusions based on my very small knowledge of people, culture, traditions etc.
When we look at the world without blinders on, our perceptions are broadened and our minds are opened to new facets of the human persona and our world and we are introduced to a new way of thinking. Every country has it’s rich and poor, it’s saints and sinners, it’s trials and tribulations, at the core we’re not that different from each other. Therein lies the secret.
According to a study published by the Sustainable Solutions Development Network, the happiest countries in the world are all in Northern Europe with Denmark being at the top of the list. The findings were based on lifestyle and wellbeing measures and used analysis from experts in various fields including economics and psychology.
This study was conducted to make a case for why well-being should be considered a measure of national development. According to the authors of the study, the well being of individuals is not just beneficial for corporate bottom-lines and their own mental and physical health but may contribute to the progress and development of entire communities and consequently nations. You can read the complete report here.
Respondents to this survey recognized the difference between happiness as an emotion and happiness as in life satisfaction. The six happiness metrics used were:
- Real GDP Per Capita
- Years of Healthy Life Expectancy
- Having Someone to Count On/Social Support
- Perceptions of Corruption
- Freedom to Make Life Choices
- Prevalence of Generosity
The report provides guidance for policymakers on including well-being in national decision-making. Out of a 156 countries surveyed, the U.S. came in at 17th, just below Mexico. People who are emotionally happier, have satisfying lives, are part of happier communities and are more likely to be healthy, productive and socially connected. This report encourages nations to consider progress and development beyond just GDP and put people at the center. It provides evidence that the systemic measurement and analysis of happiness can teach us about ways to improve the world’s wellbeing, placing it at the heart of policy and have countries develop sustainably allowing everyone to flourish. Individuals with high subjective wellbeing are more likely to practice good health and behaviors such as consuming less and saving more. Positive feelings are associated with curiosity and creativity. Happiness is not a complete absence of negative feelings but the happy person doesn’t feel chronic negative feelings, he or or she experiences negative feelings only occasionally and in appropriate situations.
Danes have lowest level of income inequality, high minimum wages ($20), free taxpayer funded healthcare (Denmark has some of the highest taxes in the world about 50% income tax and high taxes on everything they purchase), 37 hours a week workweek, 5-6 weeks of vacation and two weeks of holidays. College education is free, and the they have access to subsidized childcare and elder care. And it’s a peaceful country with hardly any crime and violence. Anyone want to move to Denmark?
The internet is a vast resource for pretty much everything and MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses) are on their way to becoming a democratizing force. Who cares if you don’t get a diploma at the end of it, at the end of the day it matters whether or not you’re good at something, are knowledgeable and are an expert at something being able to get the job done in a competent manner. I have two degrees, 80% of what I learned didn’t help me in my professional life, I wish there was a way to design my own learning and make every course I took count, MOOCs might do just that. MOOCs will be a world of opportunity to motivated individuals around the globe that want to reach for the stars but aren’t privileged enough to afford a college education or even just basic education. Hurrah to the Internet an empowering force! Education that will empower and improve the lives and communities of many around the globe.
There may be others out there who just belong to the crowd of people that are curious by nature and just want to keep learning, it keeps your brain cells active and young too, browse through the free courses found on these sites and see if you find one that piques your interest.
University of the People (UoPeople) is the world’s first non-profit, tuition-free online academic institution that awards degrees. It is dedicated to making higher education accessible for all qualified individuals, despite financial, geographic or societal constraints.
“Founded in 2009 UoPeople is affiliated with the United Nations GAID, the Clinton Global Initiative, and Yale Law School ISP. UoPeople has signed collaborative partnership agreements with New York University (NYU) to accept students; Microsoft for scholarships, internships and mentoring and with Hewlett-Packard (HP), through the Catalyst Initiative, to provide student internship opportunities. UoPeople offers undergraduate programs in Business Administration and Computer Science. To date, more than 1500 students from 137 countries have been admitted. Of students polled consecutively each term, 95% would recommend UoPeople to a peer. With its tuition-free online programs, University of the People is opening access to higher education for all those constrained, as well as building a scalable and replicable model capable of changing the very nature of higher education. The non-profit UoPeople has managed to succeed in cutting down almost the entire cost of higher education, and does not charge for tuition or books/materials. All that is asked is for students to pay a one-time application processing fee ($50) and subsequent modest examination processing fees ($100) levied per course. There are no other fees whatsoever.”
Ediro Dan Colman searches the web for the best free online courses, so you don’t have to and presents it at openculture.com for you
EdX is a non-profit created by Harvard and MIT bringing the best of higher education to students around the globe. EdX offers MOOCs and interactive online classes in subjects including law, history, science, engineering, business, social sciences, computer science, public health, and artificial intelligence (AI).
Academic earth believes everyone deserves access to a world class education, they offer a comprehensive collection of free online courses from the world’s top universities. They also offer an original series of thought-provoking videos designed to light your intellectual curiosity.
Coursera is an education company that partners with top universities and organizations to offer courses online for free. Our technology enables our partners to teach millions of students.
For a complete list of moocs, check out http://www.mooc-list.com
Also, here’s a Scientific American article on MOOCs: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=massive-open-online-courses-transform-higher-education-and-science