Coupons are dead! Long live the coupons! Some people have argued for some time that coupons have gone out of fashion with today’s customers. No one has time to clip coupons anymore. With the advent of internet and Smartphone customers can just pop up digital discounts at the time of purchase rather than looking for and clipping coupons before hitting the mall. The arrival of Groupon and LivingSocial, where customers can buy great deals (sometimes as much as 50-60% off the price) has dented the use of coupons.
In this internet age when all customer interactions are moving online and businesses can always stay in contact with customers some wonder if there is any value left in direct marketing. Direct marketing was popular before the arrival of internet when customers used to get number of mailings every day in the form of postcards, catalogs, and personal letters. However, the volume of such mailings has recently gone down. Even postal service is feeling the impact of this reduction posting huge losses for several years. While there is no denying that internet has made it easier to interact with customers using Smartphone and other electronic devices direct marketing can still provide value to business owners if it is done right. Customers still love to see their name on emails and printed postcards. Before we go into the benefits of direct marketing let’s answer the question –what is direct marketing?
By now, most in the business community have heard about the ouster of Ron Johnson as CEO of JC Penney after only 17 months on the job. This was a stunning reversal of fortune for Ron Johnson who was regarded as retail Guru based on his accomplishments in transforming Target to “Cheap Chick” retailer and hugely successful launch of Apple Stores. When he was hired at JC Penney he was viewed as a savior who would rescue JC Penney from the downfall it was experiencing for several years.
However, things have not turned out to be that way. In 17 months JC Penney has been in complete turmoil. Sales in 2012 declined 25% compared to prior year representing a staggering $4.3 Billion in lost sales. In 2012 it recorded loss of $1 Billion. No other company has seen such a precipitous loss of value in this short time. So, what went wrong and what lessons can small business owner learn from this?
Many small business owners think of marketing as a black magic that involves spending lots of money in advertising in the hope that it will magically bring additional customers and sales. They get frustrated when not as many customers as they had hoped show up and the scant few that do never return again. The worst part is business owners feel they have no choice but to continue doing this because they will lose even more customers and sales otherwise. As a result, they end up wasting their hard earned money on marketing when they could have received better return on their money.
While consulting with number of small business owners we have uncovered several recurring mistakes that many of us make in terms of marketing. By simply understanding those mistakes and taking steps to avoid them from happening with your business you can not only save money on marketing, but also get much better return. The list below shows 7 common mistakes many small business owners make. We also show references to other articles that provide additional details and explain how to prevent them from hurting your business.
Pricing a product or service is one of the most complicated yet important decisions that can determine the fate of your business. Most small business owners tend to price their products and services lower than the customers are willing to pay for out of the fear that increasing the price will make customers flee. However, it is possible to increase your price, and have customers love you for it. It is not only desirable, but imperative that small business owners understand how to properly price their products. After all, it is much more fun to compete on value rather than price Look at how Apple is able to charge premium for all its products
Based on our own experience and feedback from our readers we have compiled a set of rules that will help you in pricing your products. Here they are:
Daily deals facilitated by companies like Groupon and Living Social are double-edged swords for businesses. On one hand, they help you get new customers and improve sales. On the other hand, you end up with high operating expenses and dissatisfied customers, if not done right. Reading the horror stories that some businesses experienced you might think that it is never a good idea to work with daily deal companies. While this reaction is understandable, it may be extreme and may result in you losing out on the benefits offered by daily deals. We think with the right approach and proper planning you can make daily deals work for your business. Below we provide tips on how to do it.
Daily deals have proliferated in the last year like dandelions during spring time. I am receiving at least 4-5 deals from one well-known daily deal company alone. Are you feeling left out because you still have not run any daily deal yet? While many businesses and consumers have taken advantage of this latest marketing tactic, I don’t think you need to feel sorry if you have not jumped on this bandwagon. This is because for every business that has seen great success with daily deals, there is another one who can share horror story from his experience. Just look at the experience of one particular business.
In an ideal world your small business should operate like a well-oiled machine without encountering hiccups. However, as we all know, this is not the case in real world. Problems could and do arise from time to time. We are not talking about transient problems that can be fixed easily and quickly. We are talking about structural changes that occur very slowly and can go unnoticed for a long time. These are the problems that can do a great harm and eventually put you out of business.
To avoid this unfortunate fate we recommend you implement a three-step process. (1) Implement systems to provide you with warning signs about potential issues. (2) Interpret the warning signs to find trouble spots in your business. (3) Take appropriate actions to remove trouble spots.
We talked about the warning signs earlier. In the later post we showed how to interpret these warning signs This post will focus on what actions you can take for each type of the warning sign so that you can take care of the trouble spots and get your business on the right track again.