Archive | June 2015

Marketing Strategy Planning How To Pinpoint Strategic Priorities

No matter what industry you are in, it is vital that your small business sets strategic priorities. Any small business consultant will tell you that organizations tend to fall into two extreme categories: Either they set no goals, or they set far too many.
The first group is too scattered to see reliable business growth; they have no direction, no long-term vision, and no real marketing strategy planning. The second group sets too many unrealistic goals and is repeatedly disappointed when they can’t hit their targets. As Verne Harnish points out in his book Mastering the Rockefeller Habits, “The organization with too many priorities has no priorities.”
Fortunately, there is a middle path: setting a realistic number of quantifiable goals to be achieved throughout the business year. Use the tips below to set strategic priorities for your small business. Consultant firms can provide additional strategic insights beyond the tips we’ve provided below.
Power of Five
Any small business marketing consultant can confirm that five is the magic number for setting priorities. If you set five priorities for your business, you will likely be able to achieve your goals without feeling overwhelmed or under-challenged. The first step for setting your organization’s top five priorities is to think about your long-term goals and how they flow within your company’s quarterly rhythm.
There are countless approaches for discovering long-term goals; Harnish, for example, recommends creating a one-page strategic plan that includes core beliefs, a main company purpose, 3- to 5-year targets and annual goals needed to meet those targets. Understanding the basic principles, you can play around with the format of your overall vision until it works for your organization. The point is that it’s essential to dedicate time to understanding your company’s main reasons for existing and using this background information to set strategic priorities moving forward.
Measurability and Scalability
When you construct your list of five priorities, make certain that each goal is quantifiable and obtainable by the end of the year. For example, “sell more” is too vague. This goal is completely open to interpretation – one person might say you’ve reached your priority if you sell a single dollar more than you did last year, even if your costs are higher. Another employee might argue that “more” should mean a significant boost in sales.
Set specific goals, which you can easily determine whether or not you’ve them. Here are a couple of examples of precise, quantifiable priorities:
-Launch our website.
-Complete a competitive analysis.
-Earn $400,000 in revenue.
Don’t fence yourself in too strictly. For instance, if all five of your priorities are aimed at one huge problem in the business, that’s fine. Let’s say your client base is dwindling – it’s completely appropriate for all of your priorities to be based around marketing strategy planning. The main thing is to choose five priorities that are measurable and attainable. Will your company be able to scale up if all five goals become reality? Make sure you’re prepared to actually launch into the future you imagine.
Timing is Essential
Avoid making assumptions about how quickly you’ll be able to achieve your priorities. Spread them out over the year, quarter or whatever timeline you’ve chosen. Remember that you and your employees will need to accomplish these special items in addition to your typical workload.
Regularly Review Strategic Priorities
The frequency with which you revisit your goals depends on your growth rate. For instance, a small business marketing consultant would recommend reviewing old goals and setting new goals on a quarterly basis if you are in a fast growth pattern. Harnish defines “fast growth” as 20-50 percent per year.) At minimum, your strategic goals should be reviewed annually.
Once your list of top five strategic priorities is solid, be sure to share it with everyone in your organization. Indeed, it may be helpful to have every employee create his or her own set of five priorities that can help the overall company meet its goals. Harnish refers to this approach as “alignment;” in a sense, it’s bringing integration to an entire firm by ensuring that everyone has their eyes on the same prize.
A small business consultant can be a priceless asset to your business as you set your priorities. A small business marketing consultant, for instance, can assess whether your target goals are attainable and provide recommendations on how each department or company can help boost your sales figures. Finally, when it comes to long-term marketing strategy planning, a small business consultant can provide an unbiased, outside analysis of how your firm is performing and what steps you can take to reach your business goals.

If You Are Confused About The Concept Of brand Positioning

The Surface Meanings of Positioning

This health care product lost the market share because it didnt find the correct position and failed to win the consumers favor.

Working in the office, you should know your position clearly to win the praise of your colleagues and get a promotion.

This company positioned itself to be a third-party hotel which only provides top grade services and thus got remarkable profits over time.

The definition of positioning is accepted and used widely. However, if we do a sample survey of business managers and marketing personnel, and people working in market consulting services and the advertising industry for their understanding of “positioning “, I believe you will get a variety of answers. It seems that even many professional people, just simply accepted and memorized the term “positioning”, and use it in some specific situations! Few people truly consider “positioning” as a tool and how to put it in to practice.

If “positioning” is indeed effective, at least we need to understand the concept, master the methods, and put theories into practice. We can not just purely discuss about what “positioning” is and treat it as a fashionable term to enrich our vocabulary.

Now, lets look into “positioning”.

Different positioning

Advertising Age, an authoritative advertising magazine in the United States, published Positioning Era in 1972 written by Al Ries and Jack Trout, which declared the birth of positioning.

Al Ries and Jack Trout thought that “positioning” is a method of occupying a market position in the minds of the target audiences. Therefore, they use the present continuous tense “Positioning” to express the process. Any country, company, organization, individual, product or service could use this method to occupy a position in the minds of consumers.

The “positioning” that Al Ries and Jack Trout mentioned actually refers to in-depth study of the target audience from the perspective of the audience themselves in order to choose information to distribute effectively and guarantee a means for consistent communications. This will create a method which impresses consumers and gets them memorize the company in a certain way. Using common language to express these ideas we can name it: the what to say approach.

The principle of positioning brought forward a new era. With this concept widely known and accepted by the mass, marketing experts also tried to connect this principle with the existing marketing theory systems. Thus, we have the classic “S-T-P” steps, S stands for segmentation; T for targeting and P for positioning which is something that occupies a certain place in the minds of the consumers with its unique designs in supplies. (Philip Kolter, Marketing Management 10th edition). Please note that “positioning” here has surpassed its original meaning, it is not just a means of communication, but also holds meaning of unique design in supply.” In other words, the meaning of “positioning” lies in how to design the products, how to price them and what special services should be provided. Obviously, providing uniqueness in supply has actually become the key work of marketing! Therefore, “positioning” changed from a means of communication to the core point of marketing. Marketing experts have completely accepted the term “positioning” and admits the positive influence of adding “positioning” to Marketing Theories, and thus, its meaning have been enriched. Frankly speaking, from the perspective of marketing experts, “positioning” is not just matter of “what we should say”; it has become “what we should sell”.

When marketing experts promote the “S-T-P” method, strategic positioning” becomes the focus of discussion. Michael Porter’s On Competition said that: The essence of the business strategy is “positioning.” In his book, he pointed out: Enterprises can position themselves based on the types of specific products. Just as Galanz’s strategy has focused on the production and development of microwave ovens; enterprises can also position themselves based on all the needs or most needs of specific customers or as how IKEA positioned itself by providing a complete series of household products to young people, who care mainly about price, like to change styles all the time, and do not need services.

After determining a “positioning” strategy, a set of carefully selected activities can be carried out accordingly to strengthen the uniqueness value to their consumers. Take the Southwest Airlines for example, its “positioning” strategy is to provide serve- specific air routes and low-cost and convenient services, in this way, it can reduce boarding time, forgo providing any unnecessary VIP cabin services and only purchase Boeing 737 aircraft in order to enhance the efficiency of maintenance and strengthen its competitive advantages. These simplified activities are carried out based on the strategic “positioning” plan, and has helped to continuously consolidate their market “positioning”, so that other airlines can not compete with them at all.

From the perspective of Michael Porte, “positioning” has got even a richer meaning. The “positioning” of enterprises is what we should do and this is the essence of business management strategy and also the origin of competitive advantages.

There are three different levels of application of “positioning”. They are enterprise strategy level, marketing level and communication level respectively (see picture 1). Confusion often occurs because of the definitions of these three levels of “positioning” are actually different, but all of them are wide-spread and accepted. When we are able to examine “positioning” from different levels, then we can confirm in which level to use “positioning” correctly so that we can avoid confusion about its definition.

It is worth mentioning that the three levels of “positioning” dont contradict each other, on the contrary, the unification of the three levels can form a strong competitive advantage.

For example, Volvo focuses on producing safe cars, the “positioning” of which is in the enterprise level and also in marketing level, this is consistently shown in the process of their communications. So in the minds of consumers, Volvo occupies a market position of safety.

The ideal state of the three levels of “positioning” is a united one. Southwest Airlines, IKEA and Harley Motorcycles are some of the best examples of unity among the three levels of positioning. Strategic “positioning” is the core and direction of business management, so as to determine the direction of the products and services development, and further establish its unique position in the minds of target consumers through communications. We can see that such enterprises are strong powers in their markets.

Positioning and Brands

Clients often need an advertising company to provide positioning services for a certain brands. However, because Al Ries and Jack Trout didnt attempt to construct a theoretical system, nor there is clear definition about the relationship between “branding” and “positioning”. Therefore, the following situations are likely to occur: the clients who believe in the positioning theory claim that they need brand positioning for their shampoo products, for instance, but actually, they do not know what kind of materials concerning the brand the advertising company will submit. Proceeding from the view of business, the advertising company is willing to provide this service for the client, yet due to lack of theoretical basis and standards, clients can not actually identify the quality of the proposal submitted by the advertising company. The two sides will not be able to have in-depth negotiations or revisions on the proposal.

We should change this situation by creating a clear definition; otherwise this problem will seriously affect daily work progress and market results for many enterprises. Like the invention of the light bulb is based on the discovery of electricity, the “positioning” of a brand comes from the unity between “positioning” and “branding”, it is closest to Al Ries and Jacks classic theory on positioning–the positioning of communication, which is the first of the three levels of positioning in theory and practice mentioned above.

“Branding” is the general awareness of consumers on specific organizations, products, services, and the differences among them (Please refer to my article If You Are Confused About the Concept of Branding, and Graphic II in this article to familiarize yourself with the concept of branding). “Positioning” is the process of occupying a position in consumers minds. Therefore, we can consider “branding” as a result, and “positioning” as an approach.

Graphic II
Distinguished-What the brand represents?
Entity-What the brand stands for?
Awareness-to who the brand is meaningful for?

Giving positioning to a brand is to rebuild consumers awareness through the means of communication, which is actually a process of establishing a position or adjusting the present position. When this is completed, in the minds of consumers, a brand will be established or the awareness about a certain symbol has fundamentally changed.

If “positioning” is an approach, then from the perspective of overall brand management, what is the relevance of positioning itself? We know that the core means of brand management is to establish the “symbol system” in the minds of target consumers which is, in fact, to manage the communications and the differences mentioned in the materials provided to further manage the awareness of the target consumers. For this aspect of brand management a relatively complete methodology system exists; David Aakers brand recognition system.” In this system, as a process, brand management is divided into four steps:

Graphic III
1. Establishing brand awareness
2. Brand positioning
3. Communication
4. Following and checking the effects of communication activities and continue to improve them.

In these four steps, the main task of brand positioning is to have the brand recognition content and brand value orientation communications initiatively communicate with the target consumers.

Perhaps we can use peoples thoughts as an example to help us understand David Aakers insightful view. View points of Brand recognition is how a man sees himself, brand positioning is how this person describes himself and brand awareness is how others look at this person.

It is very simple; the essence of brand management is to combine other peoples opinions about you and your own opinion about yourself through various means. Brand positioning, however, is to let others remember your methods in this complex and saturated competitive environment (Graphic IV shows the relationship among brand identification, positioning and awareness).

Conclusion

This article aims to dissipate the fog of the concept and directly reveal the core concept.

Many people are confused about positioning, the reason is that the concept of positioning originated only from communication, but it has been further developed to the following three levels: strategy, marketing and communication.

Many people are confused about the relationship between branding and positioning as well, it is because they confuse branding itself with brand development and management measures.

The problem that we are facing is not the lack of theories, but actually having too many theories on this topic. Lets learn how to distinguish and select proper theories, not only select them but truly, systemically and creatively devote ourselves to implementing the theories we believe in. If these things are accomplished it will be more likely for enterprises and individuals to continuously achieve success in the more and more mature and fierce market competition in China as well as the global market.

Human Resource Management Tips To Improve Hr Efficiency

Regulations of government compliance are changing always. These happen to present a bit challenge of HR departments that may face compliance standards to meet constantly. The human resource department is implementing procedures and processes frequently because of this in order to comply more easily. They need a business process management (BPS) with the amount of information, paperwork and responsibilities of these departments make their jobs much easier.

Let’s first begin with what a business process management system does actually. A management approach or BPM on other words is focused on efficiency and business approach is meant to improve business processes continuously. In order to correctly streamline the Lifecycle of review processes and important business documents, the system is made to allow for automation of workflows. Has this system required for an HR department? Let’s consider the processes and documents that Human resource department face and take care of daily: updating, managing employment forums, claim forms, life insurance plans, reporting health, tracking, personnel records, recruitment planning options, tax withholding, payroll, employment contracts and performance reviews.

Not to mention, the Human resource department must often manage their organizations new hire recruiting process which includes a large amount of tedious paperwork. With all of these tasks and business processes to deal with, an electronic business process management system will eliminate the immense frustration of controlling manually organized system.

Implementing an online document management system is the best business process management approach. Workflow automation includes in an online document management system helps reducing the struggle of controlling paperwork altogether. This kind of system helps with increased business productivity and process improvement. It also streamlines document reviewing and paper processing by making use of online database where documents may be routed automatically with ease upon a workflow and can be accessed from anywhere with just an internet connection.

In addition to electronic business management transforms a manual system into a paperless system, it also enables remote on – line access, enhances document security and has simplified storage and search. Other advantages like overhead costs decreased printing, disaster recovery protection, document version control allows you to set alerts for a retention document period and best of all and you are allowed to automate your workflows.

There are a few things that have to be considered before choosing business management software if you are planning to upgrade to an online document and automated solution. This will help your business needs and address your entire individual. Try finding out what they’re guaranteed up time is, how they secure your information, what’s the cost? What type of technical support they provide? Will you have to pay an annual fee or pay by the month? So consider doing a research and learn how business automation process along with online document management will make your human resource more effective, secure and efficient while saving more money and time.

Global Business Management At Centennial College

Business has evolved across cultures and nations to international relations and multinational businesses, seeking growth and target audiences for their products and services. With the importance placed on efficient operations, ethical and responsible functions across all business activities, and sustainable development, many companies look for opportunities around the world for better resources to shape their businesses. Global business management is about maintaining company operations in a strategic view with the world resources in mind.

Anyone interested in making a good change and positive impact on your country”s and the world”s economies can study the Global Business Management (2880) program at Centennial College in Toronto, Canada. This business management Canada curriculum examines international business practices with a global business operations management outlook. Professionals and undergrads in business can expand their knowledge and open other paths in their career through this graduate certificate program.

What will students learn in the two-year Global Business Management curriculum:

Allocate resources efficiently to improve productivity and obtain reasonable results

Diversify to other markets, including international markets, to gain new customers, product development, and Improve supply chain management by analyzing make-or-buy decisions, improving operations using an activity-based cost system, and recognizing cost behaviour patterns to forecast costs and profit levels.

Use facts and data to substantiate strategic decisions and corporate plans.

Critical thinking skills in maintaining a company objectives through the use of budgets, balance scorecards, International trade concepts such as sourcing, purchasing, and product allocation and specific examples of the policies in foreign direct investments.

Business implications of the political, economic, and legal systems of a country, including risks, benefits, and ethical concerns

Functions of the foreign exchange market and the minimizing the foreign exchange risks

Market entry strategies, positioning a company competitively in a large scale, using a foreign market selection model

Global marketing and research and development strategies, including distribution, promotion, product, and price considerations in new markets

Understanding mergers and acquisitions and outsourcing as it impacts a company”s human resources on a global scale

As a graduate student, you will learn about project management fundamentals. This will help in managing the priorities and stress that accompanies this field. Students will create a project plan in a realistic project, collaborating with a diverse team of students to achieve the same goals. Furthermore, students can complete an International Business Plan in their final semester as a capstone course in their business management program. Students will apply a systematic approach to solve problems by describing the venture”s mission and goals, products, industry growth patterns, internal and external factors, cost versus benefits, and operations in international markets.

Centennial”s Global Business Management program provides a stepping stone to a master”s education in business and a fulfilling start of a career in operations of today”s big businesses. The business management course salutes its graduates for completing an intensive amount of courses within two years. International students can apply for work permits up to three years upon graduation. Graduates can expect careers in different disciplines in business with an edge to work with the international community and possibly travel and stay abroad. Possibilities are endless with international level; positions in advertising, brand management, human resources, operations, supply chain management, and foreign exchange trading. Multinational companies and e-commerce business are potential employers, as well as government agencies.

How To Improve Service Quality At Your Business

sqImproving upon the service quality requires a lot of understanding on part of the customer service managers and the services staff to be successful at any business. An organization who can not understand or keep up with customers expectations can not flourish for long. Also it must be noted that not a single customer should be left out who can be valuable to your business, for ultimately it is the word of mouth reputation which works your way towards a growing and healthy business.

In todays organizations, often a customer service software is installed in order to maintain customer database and to take care of the existing customers. IBM is one such hot example of good service delivery organization where the Netcool software provided by them lends quality service management and customer experience management. This kind of software enabled management help the service providers to lower the operations costs and enhance the service quality. The employees at IBM are privileged to have the service management capabilities like real-time service status management, service performance management or customer experience management.

Apart from having a software to improve the service quality, there are other strategies which should be studied and implemented.

Always ask the customers for feedback: Whenever the customers come to you, ask them about your products, whether they purchase or do not purchase your products. If they have used your products previously and are satisfied, you have an extra edge to win over your customer. You can get the feedback forms filled by them and also ask them to give their suggestions

Maintain a record of complaints and act upon them: Maintaining a record is one thing but acting upon them is very vital to get more business from them. Study each complaint carefully, talk to each customer and take adequate actions.

Discuss the ways of service improvement: The employees of any organization should actively discuss the problems accrued by any customers. Regular meetings should be conducted in order to address every particular problem. If changes to be brought about has to be effected at the top level management, the necessary elements of meeting should be conveyed to them. Occasionally, role play should be taken up by employees in orde to understand the potential problem of the customers.

Reward your service staff: The service employees who work towards building a good relationship with the customers and also fetch business from them must be rewarded. If your employees are happy, indirectly your customers will also be happy. Also these employees must be motivated to perform on a regular basis.

Hire people who are interested in services industry: Many times, you hire people who do not have a knack to excel in the services sector. Those who have an experience in this line but no liking for services, will ultimately fail to deliver performance. So, its better to know and understand people during the time of interview.

Take heed of the above tenets of service and adopt them as your long-term or short-term goals. Do maintain a good rapport with your customers but do not stoop too much to their demands. Also, let your customers know clearly about the service practices so that they do not take undue advantage.