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MARKET RESEARCH

The Basics

The Secret of Successful Sales and Marketing

Developing the Right Image

Profiling your Customer

What is the Marketing Mix?

Developing your Marketing Mix

Market Research

THE BASICS

Having planned your business, there are only two reasons it can fail, once it is running. These are:

It fails to sell it's product or service

It fails to get paid for what it has sold.

The first of these areas will be addressed in this section and in the sections on Advertising / Promotion and Selling. The second will be addressed in the section on Legal Matters.

This section is designed to help you to develop the knowledge and skills needed to:

Understand how vital good market research is and what information is required for your business

Identify, Profile and Quantify potential customers

Start the process of evaluating your business idea

Can you answer the following questions about your business, service or product, honestly?

Is there a demand for your product or service?

Who will buy your product or service?

How often is the product or service purchased by customers?

What do people expect when they buy your product or service?

What are the market prices?

Is the market growing, static or declining?

Who are the competition and what are their strengths and weaknesses?

Making an assumption that you have exactly the right service, or product, can be dangerous. To be truly successful you must approach the market with an open mind and carry out any market research in an objective way. Be led by your potential customers' needs and wants - not by your own opinion.

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THE SECRET OF SUCCESSFUL MARKETING

 

Move the mouse arrow over the picture

 

You may have seen this many times before - but try to look a little further than the obvious optical illusion. What colour are the princess' eyes and hair? What colour is the old lady's hair?

Remember, everyone has their own perspective, or point of view, on everything. Although we may have decided that our product, or service, is the best thing ever - young, vibrant, glittering, etc. (just like the young princess) and that everyone who sees it will want it, our customers may see a grey, bedraggled thing that they wouldn't have if it was free!!

Poor sales people see things from their own point of view and rarely sell

Average salespeople try to make the customer see it from their point of view (and try to convince them). This often ends up in an argument, high pressure sales and cancelled orders.

Good sales people see things from the customers point of view.

They adjust the image that their service, or product, has to suit the customer. They actually find people who want to buy their service, or product, and let them buy it, rather than sell it.

Sounds simple, doesn't it? Over the next few sessions we'll show you how.

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So what image do your customers have of you and you business?

Do they see your product, or service, the same way you do? Or, more importantly, do you see it the way they do? There are several areas which you might like to consider addressing before you start your business. Don't worry if you've already started - even BT changed it's image some years ago

Name of the business

The name of your business is your business!!! Therefore it should be chosen with your customers in mind.

What impression will they get from the name, what will it mean to them and will it attract, confuse or repell them?

If you are considering a business name then it is a good idea to ask potential customers how they 'feel' about it and what they think it means to them. Sales are often not made logically but emotionally - so the way they 'feel' about it is important.

If you are a Limited Company you may not use a name that could be considered offensive or illegal, or one that could be considered the same as an existing company. During registration of the Limited Company your Solicitor or Agent should check this out as a matter of routine.

For a Sole Trader or Partnership the proposed name may be checked with the BNR (Business Names Register) and they may be contacted on 0121643 0227 or on their web site at www.bnr.plc.uk/

Address of the business

Your business address will give potential customers an impression of who they think you are and how big / small / established / new / etc. you are. Remember you don't need a flashy office address if this will put your customers off. The address must be appropriate to them - that's important. So let's say you live at

Flat 5, 28 Tower Place

Bristol

There is no reason why you cannot have a sign made that says

Enterprise Suite

Tower Place

Bristol

If that's more appropriate to the image you are trying to portray then simply inform the Post Office that you have changed the address of 28 Tower Place It has the same post code - mail will find you.

Logo

You do not have to have a logo - but if you choose to have one please be aware that, to a large number of your customers, it will have a tremendous effect, either positively or negatively.

Unfortunately, since the growth of home computing, a number of people consider that they are graphic designers and that the PC makes them more creative. In addition some printers tend to 'design' the same clip art logo for a number of their clients.

The rule of thumb is - if you're going to have a logo, try to have it designed professionally (if you can afford it). This logo may be with you for a very long time and it becomes, in your customer's mind, your business.

The right logo can increase sales - for example: In the early 90's a company which specialised in residential homes for the elderly changed it's logo from a black house on grey paper to a pink and green rose on cream paper - occupancy levels (and profit levels) improved.

Look at the logos below - they each give an impression and create an image in the eyes of potential customers - if you cannot afford to have a logo designed for you and are determined to design it yourself, then test out 5 or 6 with potential clients - remember your opinion won't sell the product!

 

 

Tag line or strap line

This is usually what tells your customers what you do, or what you offer.

Depending on the name of the business, for example 'R Smith Accountancy' you may not need to have a tag line. However if you just saw the word Hortus it would be difficult to know what they were or did simply from the name.

Try to make your tag line attract potential customers, for example if you saw a logo with 'Packaging Wholesalers' next to it and you were in the market for packaging you may not go to them - preferring to go to the manufacturer.

However if the same company were to say 'Total Packaging Solutions' they may attract more enquiries. Any they were unable to handle could be passed to their 'network' of suppliers as a referral.

Appearance and clothing

When customers contact you, either by visiting or telephone, they 'see a certain person in their mind's eye. They imagine what you are dressed in and look like from the sound of your voice, the type of business you have and the image you project with your advertising, logo, etc.

When they first see you, in person, you will have a few seconds to make an impression that will last as long (or even longer) than your business relationship. The secret is to be the person they expect to see.

People expect a sales person to wear a suit, a mechanic to wear clean overalls, a shop keeper to be dressed appropriate to the items, stock or range they are selling.

What people expect you to be is more important than many people realise, there's no need to 'dress up to the nines' but - wear appropriate clothing

Business car or vehicle

This is always a controversial topic for the new business.

We would all, we're sure, like to have a new car in the drive. However the financial restrictions of setting up a new business often mean that there is little money for such luxuries at first.

In addition, it may be that a new car would signal to your potential customers that you were overcharging!!

The secret is to have a balance between what you would like, what the business needs and what you can afford.

If you have a van or truck ensure the company name, logo, tagline and telephone number are clearly displayed. It's amazing how many businesses have their telephone number written on the back so small that only someone with perfect vision could read it.

Whatever vehicle you have - keep it clean!!

Written correspondence

Most companies, even small ones, send out some form of written correspondence in the form of letters, bills, receipts, etc.

Make sure that they are appropriate for the customer base you are aiming at ... it's no good sending out a letterhead that's on the finest vellum with a designer logo if the impression given is that you must be overcharging!!

Similarly, if image is part of your business and your client's expect that sort of thing, then you need to do it. With a little imagination, and the right paper, you can create wonderful things on a computer. Remember they don't make us more creative but you should have a copy of your logo on your computer.

Probably the thing that lets most people down in written correspondence is SPELLING. Many customers will say "If their service / product is as bad as their spelling, then I don't want it".

Not many people want to eat at the place below - why not

 

Restuarant

Signage

You may not have a building where you would need to have signage.

However, if you do, be sure that the sign looks as if it belongs to the company - in other words everything that you do: Logo; Business Card; Letterhead; Vehicle; etc. should look as if they are 'corporate'.

Just imagine you put an advertisement in the paper, receive a telephone call, send some information and the customer wants to visit you. They then spend an hour or so searching for your premises and when they get there they say "I couldn't find your sign".

You reply, "No, that's the old one outside. We haven't got round to replacing it" - Not a very good start to a trading relationship - and it does happen, often

Information / personal and professional

When customers are considering buying from you they want to be assured that they are doing the right thing. They need to know that you are a reputable person, or business, to deal with - although we'll see, when we cover marketing mix, that this is not always the most important thing.

Do you have qualifications to provide your service or product? Can you get qualifications, or are they not needed?

Do you belong to any associations or societies, for example: The National Market Traders Federation; The Guild of Master Craftsmen; etc.

If this projects the right image for your business make sure your customers are aware of it. Have the information printed on your letterhead, compliment slips, etc.

A window cleaner with 'fully insured' on their vehicle and cards - May attract more customers than those who don't!

Customers prefer knowing the provider is insured

Attitude and body language

80% of our interpersonal communication is non-verbal. That is .... Body Language.

A look or a gesture can often convey a complicated message to people. Body language is mainly subconscious and we do not realise we are doing it. However we often signal disapproval, disgust, fear, power, aggression, acceptance, discomfort and a wide range of other emotions that people can 'read', whether they realise it or not .. this can sometimes result in them feeling uncomfortable without knowing the reason why.

This is a simple guide to some of the things to practice in order to make people feel more at ease.

If you imagine that they are about to place a big order with you, how would you act and how would you treat them - do it anyway

Develop positive eye contact, without staring them out

Smile, but not an inane grin

Lean forward slightly and show interest when they are talking

Develop a positive (not a 'bone crusher' and not a 'wet fish') handshake, if this is appropriate to your business. Use open hand gestures, palm up, non-aggressive

Be aware of their body language - if they are defensive, aggressive, etc. you can defuse this and relax them with non - aggressive body language of your own.

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