Category Archives: Strategic Planning

Articles about long range planning

Survive, Revive and Thrive in 2013

JBMG_5500aBy Jeff Bowman

It certainly has been a long haul over the past few years what with the economy shrinking, large companies announcing layoffs and consumers becoming far more educated and selective about who and what they chose to ‘invest” (formerly called spend) their money on. There are many factors that will affect performance this year, including leadership skills, training, ability to quickly adapt to an ever changing market and the culture that exists within the walls of your organization. With that in mind, here are 5 things you need to do address to survive, revive and thrive in 2013.

Strategize – you need to provide superior value to your client base, demonstrate differentiation in your products and services, and be one step ahead of the competition for success in 2013. What is your strategy for moving forward in your market and possibly beyond into new or emerging marketplaces?  Strategy is the route you will take, the tools you will employ and knowing the obstacles that lay ahead and having a plan to overcome them. By demonstrating sustainable competitive advantages over your competitors and any newcomers lining up to eat your market share, you will be creating the success model on which to build as the economy grows.

Diversify your social media tactics – that is assuming you are utilizing any tactics now. What is critical to the delivery of any message you need to send is the diversify ability and willingness of your target to receive and understand it. The mediums for delivery have changed, viral can mean success, Facebook allows you generate followers, Pinterest is rapidly gaining a legion of users and your web tactics must take mobile applications into consideration.

Reward your employees – one truth about recovering markets is that companies begin to take back what they let go years before.  Opportunities for your employees to move elsewhere become more abundant. Will an employee that you had penciled in on the succession plan bolt for greener pastures?  They will if they have been overworked, under trained, under appreciated or underutilized in your organization.

Understand your Brand – review your brand. Is it still relevant, does it send the right message, has it stagnated? Look for ways to re-invigorate the brand. Lift its spirits, polish it up, put it on a pedestal and most importantly love it! When consumers feel the love that the company has for its own brand, it becomes contagious.

Sell to a need – I have said it a thousand times, consumers don’t want to be sold something they don’t want, in a way they don’t like by a company they don’t know. What basic need does your product or service address?  Have you determined if the prospect has this need either open or hidden?  Is it really a need or simply and opportunity? If you try to sell an opportunity you will often be rejected.

This year holds a great deal of promise to those organizations that plan now to capitalize on observed weaknesses in the market and their competitors.  Follow the five simple tips above and thrive this year!

Jeff Bowman is the “Attitude” in The Marketing Pad.  For a free consultation to determine how we can build success for you contact jeff@themarketingpad.com

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Filed under Branding, Communications, Jeff Bowman, Marketing, Media, Sales, social media, Strategic Planning

With No Real Strategy, You’ll Be Herding Cats in 2013

JBMG_5500aBy Jeff Bowman

 With less that 8 weeks left in 2012, it is time to reflect back on your year in business and think about new strategies that reflect changing trends and economic conditions. The economy has been slowing coming around for the last several months, and although your sales and revenue may not reflect it at this point, it will continue to get better in the months ahead. The real question is, what have the trends been in market and consumer behavior, has the decision-making process been altered, have preferences for the delivery of critical marketing messages been changed, and have your competitors enjoyed greater sales at your’s and other’s expense.

Tighter economic conditions lead the consumer to be more picky about what they buy and who they buy it from. Service and value have come to the forefront again, and customer service speaks volumes about a company’s success. I predict that this will continue and grow stronger over the next couple of years. You better be prepared to ask what the customer wants.

A recent report from The Bank of Montreal indicates that the number one challenge for Canadian businesses in 2013 will be “finding and retaining talented employees” Steve Murphy, Senior vice President Commercial Banking said, ” an increasing number of Canadian companies have made strategic investments to upgrade technology and processes, open up new markets and invest in people.” What does your strategic direction dictate for the coming year?

Finally, I just want to touch briefly on the delivery of a marketing program. Consumers are growing weary of intrusive marketing messages and the constant bombardment of ads. Businesses need to step back and re-evaluate the marketing and communication strategy including how it is delivered. There is a change happening, consumers are looking to simplified ads and messages. No crowded pallets and wordy text boxes. catsSimple and to the point.

  Success in the coming year depends on decisions you need to make today. Don’t spend 2013 trying to herd cats.

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Filed under Branding, Communications, Jeff Bowman, Marketing, Sales, Strategic Planning

Price “fixing”

 By Jeff Bowman

This past weekend, I ventured out and attended several “amateur” sales events close to my home.  Better known as garage sales, these mini one day retail ventures offer some great insights into how prices are set and negotiated in the business world. Similar products at different locations varied greatly in price and other products displayed prices that seemed to have no rhyme or reason to them. A good example was paperback books, 4 for a $1.00 at one house, $1.00 each at another on the same street! I don’t need to tell you where the dollars were going.

Translated to the business world, that equates to two different stores setting their price using 2 divergent formulas for sales. “Entrepreneurs tend to keep prices too low,” according to business author Reed K. Holden.  In experience, sometimes we don’t see ourselves as a contributor to the value proposition, or take fully into account the real value the product or service brings to the customer. Larger companies may have a tendency to utilize the “mark up on cost” tactic which incorporates a variety of costs involved in bringing the product or service to market, then simply adding on a viable profit margin, sometimes with little regard to the competitive environment.

Setting your price is a critical part of the marketing mix and all things need to be considered such as your total costs including time, marketing, sales expenditures and transportion to name a few, the competition, the aggregate need, the decision making process of the buyer, the elasticity of demand (which in simple terms means the change in demand at various price points) and the position that it will be delivered to the market in, those positions being: is it new and “revolutionary”, is it an improvement or “evolutionary” or is it a similar product or service to many in the market already or ”an also ran”

In considering all of the above, the most important factor has to be the overall value that your product or service provides to the buyer. As a sales coach I constantly reinforce the value proposition in the sales process, and it is no different in the pricing approach. Businesses need to put dollar figures to the benefits the features provide. By monetizing the value to the customer the pricing consideration can be more clearly evaluated. A real quick example would be, if I introduce a product similar to others in the market, with improvements that are proven to save maintenance, shut downs and costly delays, is it wise to price it only a few dollars above the current market value, or is it worth much more in dollar savings over time for the customer?

Garage sale economics may dictate put the “stuff” out, price it to sell and close at noon to enjoy the Saturday, but if your price is too high it may need some fixing to avoid a long day standing on the driveway and a future trip to the dump.

Jeff Bowman, the “Attitude” in The Marketing PAD, provides workshops and sales consultations for businesses looking to grow. http://www.themarketingpad.com

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Filed under B2B, Innovation, Jeff Bowman, Manufacturing, Marketing, Sales, Strategic Planning

Tune Your RADIO to”Success 2012”

 By Jeff Bowman

During the first quarter of the new year, we must reflect on the successes and triumphs that we experienced this past year.  It was another complex year in terms of the recession, however I prefer to celebrate the victories we had rather than dwell on the difficulties we may have encountered.  In analyzing our achievements, we can better plan for increasing the business victories in the next year. The first quarter of 2012 is time to rev up the planning of sales and marketing activities for 2012.

2012 will bring many of the same challenges that we experienced in 2011, so we need to highlight our areas of success and plan around them moving forward as a sales organization.  It is important to stress that business should not operate in silos, with marketing having their planning meetings, finance theirs and so on.  A sound strategic sales plan is fully interdependent on the actions of every other employee in the company.  If operations decide to change shipping procedures for example it may impact sales, finance clamping down on days outstanding will result in a more difficult selling experience and then we may have new product introductions or changes in marketing budgets that directly affect sales. An overarching plan must be in place that incorporates the individual ideas, plans and actions from every department.

I recommend you tune your RADIO.  It is an analogy I use to assist business owners to identify and deal with issues affecting their success.

R – Review your successes and performance against your objectives, incorporating frontline accounts and testimonials. The sales force should meet to debrief about their experiences. Special attention should be paid to what was done right, what made the sales process easier, what made clients more acceptable to their calls. Focusing on the accomplishments creates a more driven and motivated sales representative. Who enjoys sitting in a meeting being reminded of negative sales trends, reduction of sales efforts, cut backs in marketing.  These are your frontline people, keep them interested!

A – Ask clients what they like about doing business with you.  Surveys can tell you important information, as well as demonstrate to the client that you are interested in their views. Everyone in the organization represents the company, and everyone can ask the clients for their opinions. If changes are suggested and undertaken, let the client know what you did to improve!

D – Dialogue creation. Focus on the many different ways there are to keep lines of communication to the clients and prospects open.  Twitter, blogs, newsletters, product updates, and surveys keep your name top of mind with the client.

I – Investigate the industry. Keep on top of the competition, be aware of emerging trends, understand where the customer’s real needs are and address then directly. Take the time to train your employees, so that their customer service and consultative sales skills are top-notch. (all employees who have any contact with any prospect or client)

O – Organize, set objectives and obtain results. Analyze the potential that exists in every territory or region that you sell into.  The potential is made up of many variables including the competitive environment, trends, population growth, demographics and is closely affixed to marketing activities. I have been working with businesses for 20 years in looking at “real” versus “imagined” potential, and I can tell you, a good understanding results in increased recognition of untapped potential. Create “realized potential” objectives and monitor the results quarterly.

Tuning into your business needs isn’t as easy as tuning in a radio station, however making the effort to tune into those distant and local areas of concern in the business will certainly improve the reception and your business success.

The Marketing Pad specializes in assisting and facilitating the “Success Planning Process”. Call us today to get you to the next level.  http://www.themarketingpad.com

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Filed under B2B, Communications, Customer Service, Jeff Bowman, Managing, Marketing, Media, Sales, Strategic Planning

I Boldly Went Where No Man Had Gone Before!

By Jeff Bowman

Last week I had the pleasure of presenting to a networking group in Bolton who have been meeting monthly for some time now and growing their businesses through a sharing of common experience.

This group was a Ladies Lunch and Learn Networking Group.  A group made up entirely of women entrepreneurs, hence my comment about sharing a common experience.  I was asked to present “Tune Your Business Radio” which speaks to the key areas to fine tune at the beginning of the year to ensure your business gains a strong foothold on its way to building success.

My preparation for the presentation was a little different than usual, as I was the first male to ever step foot into the realm of this female networking group.

I have been presenting workshops and facilitating for over 20 years now in many different industries including construction, nursing, not for profits, small and large business and some government agencies. All of these clients have their own diverse issues, as would a core of women business owners. I have been fortunate enough to work with Momstown.ca, which is a group of exciting momtreprenuers across Canada, so I understood some of the issues around entrepreneurship and motherhood, and the time and resources it takes to do both successfully. However I wanted to do a bit more research.

A couple of issues that I chose to focus on included the allocation of time to the family and the business, and the lack of mentoring resources for professional women entrepreneurs. It is critical that sound business practices and understanding the threats and opportunities that exist within the business are used in guiding the business along the bumpy road we have been on for the last few years. Sometimes it is all too easy for any of us to just throw in the towel and give up our entrepreneurial dreams to take an easier route to financial stability. As the old adage goes, working smarter is the key. Creating dialogue with clients using the variety of mediums out there will give you client-centric feedback as opposed to rumours and educated guesses. Understanding and recognizing true business potential at the start of the year makes the road to success much smoother, utilize facts to avoid basing goals on false potential. Understanding the position your business occupies in the client’s mind, and using potential based planning methodology will take hours off your weekly work routine, hours that can be spent with family.

As far as the mentoring and networking resources go, I am glad to see that there are many groups like the one I spoke at springing up in every city and town.  I believe it is crucial for women to have support mechanisms from other women in business. Check in your areas for groups such as Boards of Trade or Chamber of Commerce women’s groups, and Zonta, however don’t restrict yourself to women only networking or business groups.  There are many business issues that are common to every business, and being aware and informed about those issues will guide your future planning. Support, understanding and affirmation, are required to be successful, combine that with great mentorship and we all have the tools for business building.

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Filed under Jeff Bowman, Marketing, Media, Sales, Strategic Planning, time management