As small business managers, we juggle limited resources in a quest for success. To an extent, when we focus on success in one area we forego attention elsewhere. Limited money and time mean we must choose from seemingly endless — and often conflicting — advice and recommendations from marketing service providers; management and marketing consultants; and internal experts. This creates a dilemma. How do you choose which recommendations to embrace and which to pass by?
Consultants, marketing service providers, and/or other departments within your company will eagerly give advice from their viewpoints. You will hear the benefits of focusing on “___” (fill in the blank with appropriate specialty). This is not a bad thing; it is their job to sell you on the advantages of their specialties. It is your job to probe for the downsides and tradeoffs.
Back in my brand management days, it was sometimes frustrating when individual departments could not grasp The Big Picture. The graphics department and the outside ad agency wanted to focus strictly on graphical elements when other aspects of a campaign were just as critical. Manufacturing was worried about throughput and efficiency, never mind what the customer wanted. Each department was doing what it could to optimize its own function, but this did not always work in The Big Picture. A catch 22 of small business management is if all functions are “optimized,” it could be to the detriment of the business. When resources are spread too thin and timelines expand, implementation suffers.
In the online world the same Big Picture problems occur. Each specialist knows much about her or his own specialty, but often little about how it affects other areas. Most of the advice makes perfect sense. Toss in a dose of reality, however, and you may stretch your resources too thin if you simultaneously try for perfection in all areas.
The Big Picture
When reality hits, you find it is simply impossible to optimize all areas of your business. The obligations associated with small business management do not allow you to stop ongoing activities while trying to obtain detailed perfection. God may be in the details, but profit is in the implementation. As small business manager or “chief cook and bottle washer,” it is your job to make it work by bundling the advice into a profitable implementation package.
Once you accept that some areas are going to be initially less than perfect (providing you with opportunities to improve over time), the challenge is to figure out what makes sense for your business and site. When is it critical to optimize and when is less than perfect acceptable? When considering advice from a marketing consultant or other expert, ask yourself these five questions:
1) Does it solve a problem?
One of the best ways to comprehend the importance of an action is to relate it to a problem. If you think strategically – first identifying your major problems, then designing solutions to solve those problems – your business is more likely to thrive.
2) What are my alternatives?
There is always more than one solution to a problem. If you evaluate different approaches, you will ultimately make better decisions.
3) What are the downsides?
Perfection and optimization are in the eyes of the beholder. What you see as a disadvantage may seem trivial to the specialists. Ask questions and do some research on your own to uncover the downsides.
4) Is it likely to be profitable for me?
Larger companies can afford programs that smaller companies and individuals cannot. If you have to go into debt or dramatically reduce other critical activities to implement a program, your cost increases dramatically. In these cases, carefully weigh the resources required against the potential gain.
5) What happens if I do not do this?
Some activities are “niceties” and some are necessities. Know the difference. If you are losing customers to other sites or businesses, for example, taking action is critical. Some activities – those you want to do but do not help solve a significant problem – can be pushed to the back burner.
Incorporating The Big Picture into your decision-making is critical. When you ask yourself these five questions, you are in a better position to make the right decision. Your small business depends on it.
Marketing strategy is the set of programs that are matched with the target market opportunities in order to achieve organizational objectives. Drawing up a marketing strategy essentially consists of three steps: targeting market selection, setting market objectives and developing the marketing program.
A firm may choose to market its products to all users or to some sub-groups. The strategic decisions that a firm has to make are whether to sell the entire product market en masse or concentrate on a portion of the market. Secondly, it is very important to determine when an existing target market strategy needs to be modified. And finally, deciding when to stop serving a particular target market is also important. Products which become obsolete or irrelevant, are not able to survive against competition or show slow growth rates because of declining industry growth force managements to withdraw from a market.
Marketing objectives should be set and stated for each target market in quantitative terms like sales, market share and contribution to profit, and in qualitative terms like getting new customer groups, strengthening brand image, building customer awareness and attitudes, and educating the customers about brand features and uses. Market potential is the maximum possible sales of a product in a specific market in a specific time period. It is the aggregate of the sales possible by all the sellers in that industry.
The marketing program consists of strategic use of the variables that influence demand–the product, price, place and promotion. These four elements together constitute the marketing mix. The variables must be consistent with one another. A quality product image is inconsistent with a heavy price discount or making the product available at a low-cost retail outlet. A value-for-money or economy image is inconsistent with a highly stylized product placed in an exclusive retail outlet.
Targeting market selection without considering the firm’s resources and capabilities to design an appropriate marketing mix, or developing a marketing mix which matches the firms resources but does not consider target market requirements, are both mistakes.
In order to meet their immediate financial constraints, many people avail of loans. People with a good credit rating are considered eligible by many financial companies as they are considered ‘low risk’. These customers are offered loans or other forms of credit easily and at low interest rates. Many people find these offers too good to resist and eventually land up in deep debt. Such debtors may find the whole process of debt management quite overwhelming. To help such customers, many debt management programs are available that allow them to chalk out a plan to come out of debt. Long-term debt consolidation loans are for people who do not want to spend a large amount of money on getting a program and would rather use it to decrease their debts.
Organizations such as banks, finance companies, credit unions, and debt consolidation companies offer long-term debt consolidation loans that help debtors improve their financial position. The focus of most long-term debt loans is to reduce the interest rates on the debts, as the major portion of the payment is applied to the interest and not to the principal. Usually, long-term consolidation loans are the preferred option as they lower the amount of installment that is paid monthly.
It is advisable to look for a loan with lower interest than what the individual is currently paying. However, it is possible to get a loan at the same rate, with lower monthly installments by choosing a long-term loan. It is possible to choose either a secured or an unsecured loan for debt consolidation. Secured loans will generally have lower rates and the tax advantage of writing off interest payments. In secured loans, the person would have to offer a collateral.
Long-term debt consolidation loans offer a financial advantage. It is desirable as well as an important component of any loan as it helps in lowering the monthly installment. There are numerous standard debt provisions that are included in long-term debt agreements. These specify definite criteria of satisfactory record keeping and reporting by the borrower.
Long-term debt agreements also include certain restrictive contractual clauses. These types of loans put some operating and financial constraints on the borrower. There might be clauses that could prohibit the borrowers from entering into certain types of leases to limit additional fixed-payment obligations. At times, there are agreements that specifically require the borrowed funds to be spent on the declared financial need.
Both the standard debt provisions as well as the restrictive agreements help to protect the lenders interests. It is seen that if the borrower violates any standard or restrictive provision, the lender can demand immediate repayment of the debt. The long-term debt agreement specifies the interest rate, the timing of interest payments, and the amount of monthly payments. Several factors affect the interest rate of long-term debt such as loan maturity, loan size, and the credit history of the borrower. The Internet is one of the sources that can help an individual in finding the most suitable long-term consolidation loan. By searching online for a debt consolidator, the borrower has access to hundreds of companies, which can help manage finances and control the person’s debt.