Conquer the Top 6 Small Business Marketing Challenges

Whatever industry you are in you are likely to encounter the top 6 marketing challenges for small businesses. As a small business what can you do? We will have a limited war chest of marketing dollars or even marketing staff at our disposal to tame these challenges. Like most small businesses you will be faced with other priorities from all aspects of operating a business and will struggle to find the time to do any marketing at all. That is until you realise that sales are not growing to the levels that you want or worst you are faced with declining sales.This guide will tackle the key marketing challenges revealed in a recent online survey I run and will offer some very practical guidance that will help you improve your efforts for better marketing results.Marketing is Business DevelopmentLet us understand that marketing generates business development opportunities. This is the end-objective of marketing to build qualified prospects that convert into sales revenue. You must make the time for marketing or face closing your business. Marketing does not have to be complicated or time consuming. Every small business must develop a marketing engine or process that can be managed and fine-tuned with a planned effort of a couple of hours per week. Now let’s get started and tackle those top 6 marketing challenges for small businesses:1. Defining Target MarketsWho are you targeting and where can we find them? Basic stuff, but the very foundation of your marketing starts here. If you want to be successful with your marketing you must have a clear idea of your target market. Put together a short description or profile of your ideal customer. Write it down and refine it, work with your team and identify the buying criteria used by your ideal customer. Once you have conceptualised your ideal customer it will help you prepare and personalise your marketing message to make it relevant and important to the intended recipient. The next time you are writing promotional messages or offers put the profile in front of you and it will guide you in your efforts to communicate more effectively with your target market.2. Increasing Repeat BusinessThe ability to deliver to the satisfaction of your customer is the threshold level to remain in business. Make sure you deliver. That said – you need to give them a reason to come back for more! Consider including a thank you coupon with every purchase that provides an incentive or discount that they can receive on a future purchase. You need to nurture the customer relationship by keeping in touch and offering value with every contact you make with your customers. The most cost effective manner to stay in touch with your customers and drive repeat business is with permission based email or e-newsletter marketing. Every business must have email marketing in their communications tool box in today’s Internet connected world.3. Getting Consistent Referrals People generally want to help so why not ask them for their help in getting referrals? I have found this as quite striking among small business in general. Small business owners and managers agree that referrals are important to their business but so many are hesitant to openly ask for referrals. Let all your customers and network of contacts know that their referrals are important to your business. Make sure you can track their referrals, keep them updated and show your gratitude for their efforts in some way whether it is informal or structured as part of a referral program. Make a working system of it and drive referrals as an integral part of your marketing activities.4. Increasing Sales ConversionsSometimes we may even think to ourselves marketing does not work or we have tried that before with minimal results. Well look again what was in the marketing message? Make sure you make a relevant and attractive offer to your target market that requires a decision to be made by the recipient. However, before you commit to it, test it to refine and improve your results and test it again before running the entire campaign. Small business can not afford to spend on purely image or brand building advertisement. You can build and promote your brand or company image while generating increased sales conversions by providing an offer with an incentive to take action within a specified time frame! Make sure every promotional campaign is primary focused on generating a response that converts into a sale while at the same time building your brand.5. Finding Time & Resources for Marketing Do you find yourself thinking that you can not afford to spend time and money on marketing? If you do, then do not be surprise to find out that your business will not be achieving its capacity to grow. Can you afford to let your sales opportunities run out? Absolutely not! The fact is that you simply can not afford not to invest the time and resources into marketing. Say again – you can not neglect your marketing if you want your business to prosper. Take the time to explore what you can achieve with the exceptional marketing methods that are now available to small businesses that have minimal costs to implement.6. Developing a Marketing PlanEveryone seriously in business must have a marketing plan to support their business objectives. There are numerous sites on the Internet that can provide marketing plan templates. Download some to give you an idea of what you need to think about. Keep it short, not more than three pages. Take the time to prepare and develop your marketing approach and strategies including how you will track and test it. If necessary get a marketing specialist to assist you develop the plan. Without a marketing plan to run it is likely you will find yourself trying different “marketing ideas” that others have suggested and ending up with the expenses and no profits to show for it.

5 Stages of Effective Brand Building

Building a brand image is a top priority with every organization. The way a brand is portrayed, its features are highlighted and the hype that is created around it, determines the success of the brand.A brand passes through five major stages before it gains recognition.Stage 1- Brand AppraisalBrand appraisal deals with the abundance of healthcare opportunities available for the target segment of a particular brand. This stage needs for the following 5 tasks to be performed in order for a clear picture to be put forward regarding the potential of the brand.1. Market Analysis: Market analysis involves a deep understanding of the international medical market scenario. One must take into account the size of the target segment, the opportunities for growth, the geographical location, cultural differences and the challenges a distribution channel may provide.2. Analysis of competition: In analyzing competition, one needs to be aware of the key market players operating in the international market. One needs to monitor those playing a supplementary or complementary role.3. Analysis of consumer segment: This involves a study of a consumer’s purchase decisions and the regional influences that might influence decision making. For example, a US customer and an Indian customer may have different viewpoints with respect to a specific product.4. Competency Analysis: Requires assessment of the skills and knowledge base of an organization with respect to its medical technology, R & D (Research and Development), its production capacity, sales and distribution services.5. Analysis of the socio-economic conditions: It involves the operational analysis of the environment and tracks changes in societal behavior, change in global trends and its implications.Stage 2- Brand DefinitionBrand definition involves developing a detailed description of what is being offered. How it will be positioned in the market? How will it garner consumer’s attention? How will the brand be portrayed?Brand Definition comprises of the following 4 activities:1. Brand Reasons: Why should a consumer select your product? Could it be that the brand previously used was expensive, had less quantity, etc.2. Positioning of the Brand: Identifications of gaps in the present market and finding a suitable location to launch your brand. Use of creative advertisements would help promote your brand’s image.3. Mapping a brand: What attributes does your brand represent? The features highlighting your brand and the issues connected to its launch and growth needs to be scrutinized and contemplated thoroughly.4. Brand Image: This involves measuring the product scores against specific attributes, surveying socio-economic profiles and geographical advantages, the benefits that the brand can derive and the future image that the brand is trying to establish.Stage 3- Brand ArticulationBrand articulation explores various factors by which a brand presents itself to its target consumers, how its offer is presented and how it connects. This stage is further sub-divided into three steps:1. Building Brand Identity: A requirement is felt for helping build the brand with the means of innovative logos, brand success stories and its breakthrough features.2. Brand Communication: Involves the use of promotional elements that may be employed in communicating your product to target consumers. A brand brief would need to be created that addresses questions such as who is the target consumer, keeping in mind the demography and psychographics of the region. One needs to assess the consumer’s current beliefs and attitude regarding a specific product category or brand. What is it that makes your product different from the others? How should the communication be done? What would be its tone? Would it be sophisticated, simple, friendly or aggressive?3. Brand Service: Deals with how a product must surpass its physical presence and connect with a consumer. It requires complete coordination with all vertical and horizontal partners, example hospitals, transportation systems, facilitators, etc.Stage 4- Brand MeasurementBrand measurement does not aim at just creating and launching a particular brand. It tracks the real market conditions and ensures that it succeeds. The following metrics need to be measured consistently on a monthly, quarterly, half yearly and monthly basis- Market-share, pricing in the healthcare sector, sales and consumer loyalty.Stage Five- Brand ExecutionThis involves the use of end-to-end solutions which is an integral part of a brand launch. Brand Execution is probably the most challenging part of the product marketing process. It is the place where risk is most visible. However, there is increase in confidence levels when a brand is well defined, styled with detail and a creative brief is build around it. Based on the objectives and creative inputs for your brand, specific brand assets and campaigns may or may not be needed. By performing a thorough market analysis, one can effectively avoid unnecessary marketing programs that do not fit a brand’s requirement.

Learn How to Attain a Top Quality Health Care Education With an Online Health Care Degree

There are a wide array of online health care degree programs available to the student these days. Health care facility or nursing home administration, various nursing degrees, as well as physician assistance, Nurse practitioner, even nurses aid, pharmacy technician, or health educator degrees are available.For those who wish to pursue an education in health care of any variety you can typically find an online health care degree program that will suit your requirements for distance learning. Colleges with very prestigious names these days are offering online learning experiences in a wide variety of health disciplines to the student.Advantages of Studying from HomeIn many cases, and particularly when you are already in the workforce, traditional classrooms are harder to attend. When there are additional obligations such as home and family, very often the adult student has no alternative for career advancement or added education since finding time for the classes isn’t always easy to accomplish.Getting an online health care degree of any kind can advance your career.The RN to BSN online health care degree for example offers advanced education and training to the technical RN in order to better prepare her for a position in public health nursing, in corporate nursing, or even as an assistant or director of Nursing in a health care facility. The addition of education and a more advanced degree opens new doors that would not have been possible for the RN just a few years ago due to time constraints.Conformity of StandardsThe level of education is typically no different than that which would be given in a classroom situation. Your materials and the areas in which you are tested are similar and the laws of your state determine the content and skills that you must master. The disciplines that each student must learn are determined by your universities accrediting body as well as the prerequisites of the state in which you will practice.While some students have concerns about the kinds of materials they will study and the methods which are used to present the lectures and other materials, there are some wide choices out there in the online university world. Choose the kind of lecture and other materials that you are most comfortable with and from which you take away the greatest amount of knowledge.Online studies differ widely, depending on where you attend your online health care degree programs Some will offer lectures in downloadable media format, while others will give text only lectures. Select your degree program from those which offer you the best program for your purposes. Make sure that your online health care degree comes from an accredited university and that you are eligible to take your appropriate state board exams.