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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Marketing / Social Media

A lot of small to medium organizations in Oman have approached me complaining that their business is doing good but sales hasn’t grown in the past year or so. After looking at their individual cases, I realized that many of these business owners face the same problems or fear. I say fear because they complain that they don’t have enough cash to invest in marketing, or I don’t know much about marketing and can’t afford to pay a company to handle it.

For what it’s worth, I thought of posting this article to help new comers or small business owners boost their sales growth by using a marketing technique that is 100% free.

The process of social media involves combining the list of email addresses and contacts to work in tandem with your blog posts or e-articles.

The main aspect to a successful business or an event is to involve the customers in the planning process. With social media you can build up your customer communication or brand exposure by directly being in touch with them. For example, if you’re facing a concern and wanted your customer’s inputs, all you need to do is to put it down in a blog post and as soon as it’s uploaded make sure you alert everyone (e-mail and message all your contacts). The message must include a brief summary, the link to your blog post and a thank you note.

Social Media is nothing more than a tool that is direct and interactive in case you needed to reach your customers. The closest description to “Social Media” that I can give you is this:

It’s a strategic approach or a process that is done via the internet and combines several steps a marketer must do in order to increase the customer’s knowledge base regarding a specific product or service, which in return affects your sales growth.

Some of the best social media vehicles that works for us in the Middle East are:

Blogs


Facebook


Twitter


Linkedin


Youtube


Direct E-mails


The posts are for free and the affect of it rests in how big your contact list is and how many contacts you’ve reached. Another aspect you should consider is to increase traffic by using multiple social media vehicles. The more traffic you get the more people seem to believe that your products or service are better than you competitor.

Let your fans believe "Wow, these guys are everywhere! They are good and I need to be a part of this buzz"

G

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Quote1

“A group of people get together and exist as an institution we call a company so they are able to accomplish something collectively that they could not accomplish separately – they make a contribution to society, a phrase which sounds trite but is fundamental.” - David Packard (1912 – 1996)..

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Finance & Marketing..

SECTION 1

CAPITAL INVESTMENT

The main things you need to know when investing in a project is getting a picture of the return you will be receiving since the amount put as capital will be an expense extracted from the annual returns which will minimize the actual profit you make by the end of the year.

• Due to the price of machine and the operational cost you must know if the annual profit is large or small.
• Another factor that you MUST consider is the environmental impact to ensure that it costs no implications against financial rewards in capital decision.

Now to understand the above the first step will be to understand the Cash Flow.

By understanding the Cash Flow you will be able to figure if the investment is worth it or not. There is a method called “PAYBABCK” that will help financers determine the time it will take investors to get the initial outlay back.

However please keep in mind that this method is only good for short term goals.

The better option/method is called the “AVERAGE RATE OF RETURN” also known as ARR. This method is used to compare two different business or two different strategies and it will help you identify which has the best return for the investor against the capital put in.

If the capital invested for two businesses is not the same then you can still use ARR to find out the average rate of return and compare the highest percentage against the same year OR choose to see the “NET PRESENT VALUE (NPW) ratio.

NPV will also help you determine if the net profit received is large, therefore operational cost turns out to be low which makes it a good investment plan or if the net profit is low due to the high operational cost. Maybe it will be wise to consider leaving the money in the bank which might generate you a greater return.



SECTION 2


CAPITAL STRUCTURE

Keep in mind that money has a TIME VALUE, which means the money invested today is less then the same amount of money in three years from now. Investors always expect the initial return of the capital money considering the time value. An example, if I invest 100 rials on you today I will be expecting about 120 rials back in 10 years time because of the TIME VALUE resulted from the interest rate factor coming from central bank. Financers can calculate this and you must ensure they consider this in their proposal.

At this point the question you have to ask them is “What will the money we receive in the future really be worth in today’s terms?”

When deciding on how to get the capital you must remember that the capital amount is deducted as an expense which lowers the net profit figure.

The capital can be obtained through debentures
Once decided how the capital is structured/obtained you must remember that there are different types of Shareholders that consist of Company Owners and Outside Parties.

The “Outside Parties” can workout by taking a loan from banks against a certain interest rate or it can be from investors that are also split to three different groups:

1. Debentures
2. Preference shareholders
3. Ordinary shareholders

Debentures have advantages because they leave specific assets burden free, and thereby leaves the business opened for later financing. Debentures are generally freely transferable by the debenture holder. Debenture holders have no voting rights and the interest given to them is a charge against profit.

Preference shareholders
are investors that will receive a fixed amount of profit (dividend) annually or depending on the agreement. The advantage here is that the business can buy/take its shares back once it has completed paying all dividends as per agreed in the contract. However these shareholders have no voting rites.

Note: Preference shareholders have a cumulative advantage which means that if the business could not pay them this year then the amount will be carried to next year.

Ordinary shareholders
are investors promised a fixed percentage from the annual net profit. But these shareholders have the right to vote which gives them some level of decision making power within the company.

***

When business get's this intense and you have to increase your sales revenue, Marketing is the remedy that decides how fast you break-even, what is your potential success and what you should do.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Great words from great leaders

Six great Omani CEOs were asked by OER (in May 2009 Issue), how can a company retain its success after a report from Fortune 500 said that only 71 companies out of 2000 were able to stay in the list since its inception in 1955?

If you own or run a small to medium size company. The article in page 88 is a must read and it contains thorough explanations that are inspirational and direct.

Keeping the Legacy:

“Maintaining a heritage calls for concerted effort”
– Adil Ghouse, CEO, Consumer Products Group, Khimji Ramdas

Countries call is heritage but companies call it branding. The image of your company is built of reflections you’ve allowed it to adapt to and the culture is build of the workforce is values and behavior.

Basic Instinct:

“Start focusing on your priorities”

– Richard P Russell, MD & CEO, Blue City Company 1

Focusing on the basic elements of Business is what will build the bond between you and your customers. Once you share a bond, it takes a whole army to break what you’ve got.

Close to your knitting:


“One of the fundamental philosophies of our group is to be conservative”

– P Chandrasekhr, Group General Manager, Jawad Sultan Group

This takes us back again to basics. It is also what all consultants do. You only ask for their help when you are too deep inside the box and need an outsider to point stuff out.

People Power:

“It is only the people-focus that will keep a telecom company afloat whether it is a boom or bust time”
– Ross Cormack, CEO of Nawras

Before coming up with a new idea to revolutionize the world, ask the most important questions. What do the customers want? Where do they need our assistance? How can I improve things?

In the end our success is only possible by delivering what they really need.

Read The Writing on the Wall:

“A CEO has to be futuristic in his outlook and should not ignore modernization and innovation”
– Krishna Kumar Group, CEO of Al Anwar Holdings

Deliver solutions that will make tomorrow seem easier then today.

Future Ready:

“Our 40 year legacy inspires us”
– Giles Cunningham, CEO, Zubair Corporation

If you’ve succeed in finding solutions for customers 50 years ago, then you will succeed in finding solutions for customers today. However focusing on R&D gives you a good advantage over your competitors. Use it to change today for tomorrow.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Beware of the campaign you choose!!

Summary: A man finds himself in the doghouse after he gives his girlfriend a thoughtless gift.



For video Click HERE

This advertisement is a short 5 minute clip that was published in 2008. If you are a social marketer then you must have heard about this advertisement already. It was in almost every blog or in every tongue of every chronic net user. The short “4 minute” commercial is about a man that gives his girlfriend a vacuum cleaner for an anniversary present. The man's girlfriend leads him to a dog house and makes him get inside. When he crawls inside he falls into an underground prison filled with other men. The other men are all folding laundry while a loudspeaker gives instructions on how to be a good husband or boyfriends. The other guys then explain how they got there. When the man asks if anyone can get out he is told that one person has but they haven't figured out how. He is then shown a picture that was sent by the man who got out. It is a picture of the released man's girlfriend wearing a diamond necklace.

This JC Penny “Beware of the Doghouse” commercial is in every word the emotional side of Marketing that educators were and will always be talking about. Personally I have not been to a J.C. Penny ever and frankly I always found it hard to buy a jewelry gift for my lady. If J.C Penny was not in your consideration set, it will now be at the top of mind so as it is to me right now.

As for the success of “Beware of the Doghouse” for J.C. Penny, the campaign had one of the world’s most effective and positive impacts on awareness and perception. The campaign was fighting against a strong downward trend for both the jewelry category and department stores. The site was linked directly into the online sales channel so J.C. Penny sales ranking rose like a rocket in late November and early January, ranking near 2,000 before dropping south of 40,000 after the holiday. A Google search returns around 275 references and 200 inbound links. The video has been viewed almost one million times on YouTube and generated nearly 500 comments. These results were published in January 2009, I can’t imagine how far it has reached today.

The campaign was released to the public in late 2008, just before Christmas. The timing was so important and a life savor for lots of people that find it hard to pick up gifts. The clip is only a 4 minute show and its humorous which makes it fun to watch and very hard to forget. For entrepreneurs and managers that are looking at promoting their brand, a short commercial video that only needs to be published in the net with a little touch of social media is your best ticket to sensation.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Business in a time of crisis

This article is written out of my observation of companies that are facing a tough time with the economical downturn. Before I get to the core of this article I would like you to spend a few seconds of your time to understand my definition of Business. I believe it’s “a set of different departments that are engaged in different functions differentiating the method/style in which the organization chooses to operate by.”

Below is a little summary explaining the different functions in any given business:

All these functions are somehow interlinked forming an activity we call an “Organization”. However some organizations would like to focus on the inner side of these functions, therefore create sub-functions such as; Communication department, Customer-service department, PR department, accounting department, R&D department, etc.

There are a lot of other explanations to the above functions but the one that’s most relevant to our topic today is Chris Crum’s definition of Marketing in which he says “Marketing is what drives customers to your business, and customers are what drive growth, and ultimately survival.

In a time when the face of economy is down, organizations usually try to save money by reducing operational costs and budgets. Business owners and decision makers are forced to follow this practice that is a common strategic solution until the economy is back. We at Big Bear believe that a decision like this could affect your business a lot more then protect its existence. Some of the disadvantages for a strategic decision like this are as follow:-

1. Creates space for new entry as new competitors might take this as a chance to enter the market.
2. Customers turn to your competitors products and forget yours. People will always continue to shop and once you don’t remind people of your existence, people will automatically turn to the most obvious alternative.

Marketers globally have come up with low cost and effective strategies to market products & services without needing to minimize operational activities. Targeted marketing via internet marketing or social trends are only a few of the new strategies that can “Do more with less”. A combination of various strategic marketing methods is you’re way forward as most small and medium size business today are coming to realize that marketing is not about what you have. It’s mostly about what you choose to do with what you have.