Category Archives: Business Plan

How to Market a Business: Ten Ways to Set Your Organization Apart

1) Develop a written marketing plan that defines objectives for today, the immediate future, and projected future. Your marketing plan should encompass budget, headcount, new technology, and trends.

2) Once you establish marketing goals, communicate them to the entire organization. Every employee in your firm, regardless of title or position, helps market your company. When everyone is on the same page the marketing effort becomes that much stronger.

3) Hire marketing people that know how to write and design to avoid unnecessary outsourcing costs, and use marketing dollars wisely to create quality brochures, proposal materials, and online newsletters. Printed material has a limited shelf life so create items that can be easily updated.

4) Develop a strong public relations strategy, as it will help customers get to know your firm in ways advertising cannot. Public relations may involve the development of news items that appears in objective sources, expanding an element of community service, or just managing the press your firm already receives.

5) Engage in advertising that will produce the biggest impact. If your budget is tight, don’t dole out small amounts of advertising dollars for things like marketing “trinkets” or a series of small ads. Instead, determine your target client base and develop regular ad placement in a publication your prime customers peruse often.

6) Make sure all collateral material is consistent with other areas of your brand. Be consistent with the look and content of proposals, brochures, letterhead, business cards, and job signs. Consistency is what helps customers develop recognition for your firm.

7) Determine what your firm does better than any of your rival businesses, then market that skill to differentiate from your competition. Once you define your firm’s unique area of expertise, reiterate this in proposals, advertising, and public relations.

8) Understand what your brand really represents. It can be difficult to take a step back from your company and see it as a customer would, but this is an important step to marketing. Pay close attention to what customers say about you.

9) Banish the fire drill mentality in preparing proposals. A clearly communicated set of expectations with regard to proposals will help everyone on the team understand their role in the process. Project managers, sales, marketing, and management should all be involved.

10) Lack of communication, support, or clear-cut goals will only serve to cause frustration between you and your marketing staff, so clearly communicate expectations. For example, saying you want to get “some press” for your organization is not a clear goal, telling them you’d like coverage by the end of the year in a specific magazine is. If marketing people take direction from more than one person at your firm make sure everyone is on the same page with what the role of marketing should be.

The marketing effort of an organization includes all structured attempts to first acquire and then maintain a customer. When all elements of marketing are put together successfully under the umbrella of an overall marketing plan these efforts can increase sales, provide brand awareness, and solidify your reputation in the market.

How to Play to Your Strengths: Think Strategically about Yourself for Career Success

For career success, you are told to play to your strengths. Sounds simple except that you may not be fully aware of your strengths or of what is required in a particular job.

We aren’t very aware of our strengths because we discount them. Things we enjoy doing and find easy to do are indicative of strengths, but precisely because they come easy to us, we say that it is just our job or surely anyone can do that. When we get a compliment for doing something well, we are surprised because we thought there was nothing to it. Conversely, we are keenly aware of our weaknesses. As a result, we have an unbalanced self-perception. The reality is that we have many more strengths than weaknesses.

It also depends on who we compare ourselves with. If you compare yourself to Jack Welch, you may see more gaps in your portfolio of strengths than if you compare yourself to a junior colleague. Also, if you are in a specialist function, say finance, you may not know much about marketing, operations or human resources. So, you can always find people who know more than you do about something or who have strengths that you lack.

Strategic Strengths and Weaknesses

Skills are only career strengths if they relate to success at work. You might be a ping pong ace but this won’t help you get that management job you want. You might be hopeless at selling anything, but this is irrelevant if you don’t want a career in selling. So, we have strategic strengths and strategic weaknesses. The former are those that most closely fit whatever career direction you are pursuing while the latter are just those weaknesses that might block you from getting where you want to go. The good news is that you don’t need to fix all your weaknesses if they aren’t standing in the way of your preferred career path.

There is an excellent reason to play to your strengths, once you have identified them. It is well known that people have more confidence when they are doing things they are good at. Success is more likely, you will appear more decisive and you will inspire more confidence in the key people you need to impress. On the other hand, if you continually play to your weaker side, you will appear hesitant, clumsy and lacking in confidence. Worse, your discomfort could well undermine your confidence in your strengths.

When looking for a new job, start by assessing fit. Will your target job be a good match for your strategic strengths? There will always be some learning to do in a new role, but make sure that your major weaknesses won’t get too much exposure.

New Craft Business Ideas: What Types of Crafts Will You Make?

If you are a mom with preschool to elementary aged children, you probably have a degree of experience with crafting. Some older people have been knitting, crocheting, and weaving for years. Did you ever think you could turn that into a business?

Even Pace

One word of caution is not to try and make several things at first. On one hand, you will drive yourself crazy trying to put together multiple crafts without even knowing how well they will sell at first, and on the other hand, you cannot “specialize” with too many hands in the pot. What this means is, people will tend to take your craft business more seriously if they think you are specialized in certain things.

Let the Juices Flow

Try to be creative. A lot of crafters will make the same old thing year after year, month after month, and you will see duplicate crafts everywhere. Be unique. Sell something that is not on the market quite so abundantly.

Materials Needed

Once you decide what you will make you will want to decide on the materials needed. You can find wonderful sales if you look hard enough at department stores and local craft retailers. You might also consider some Internet sites that offer deep discounted craft supplies, such as Factory Direct Crafts or Sunshine Crafts. Another great place to buy craft supplies is eBay. Search on Hobbies & Crafts, and then choose the subcategory for the types of supplies you are looking for. There are some really good prices on eBay!

You want to buy quality materials. People can tell when you have skimped on materials. Crafts just don’t look as nice with cheaper materials. You will probably be happier knowing you sold a top of the line product. That is how you build a reputation in the crafting community. Familiarity with materials will come in time, but you should take the time to become knowledgeable about the materials you are using.

Making a Profit

Of course, you want and need to make a profit. After all, that is why you are considering starting a craft business. You will be, in essence, a craft retailer. Retail businesses cannot stay in business if they are not profitable. Once you decide on your product, you must price materials and add extra money into how long the project will take you to make and how much profit you are willing to settle for. This is not an easy task and deserves some deliberation on your part. You want to be fair to yourself.

Finding Time to Craft

You will want to find a time to put your crafts together when you are calm and relaxed. Trying to put crafts together in the mornings when kids are getting ready for school, etc., can be tricky and stressful. That makes for a nervous atmosphere for crafting. You may want to assemble crafts and think of new ideas while the children are watching a movie in the afternoon or when they go to bed. Find your most productive time.