The Niche Marketing Blog

Tools for understanding and reaching your market

Strategic Marketing Planning Made Simple – The 4P Business Thinking System

Business

Business (Photo credits: www.roadtrafficsigns.com)

[Editor’s note: Niche marketers – especially those who own or mange smaller businesses – tend to overlook the value of strategic and market planning. Part of the reason is lack of resources (e.g. time, personnel, etc.) and part of the reason is that the process can become overly complex.

The following article describes a simplified methodology for developing a strategic plan for the smaller niche business. Let me know what you think. Have you ever developed a strategic or marketing  plan for your business? If so, how did the process work out for you?  ~Scott]

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By Gogo Erekosima

An effective strategic marketing planning framework is a must-have element for any small business that wants to become a big business “when it grows up”. Unfortunately, many small business owners have as much interest in strategic marketing planning as a turkey has for thanksgiving. They avoid it.

Part of the reason why they avoid this very important process is because consultants and MBAs have conspired to make it a topic that only egg heads could love.

In working with my consulting clients, I have developed a simple framework for helping the every day business owner articulate a plan for strategic engagement with the marketplace. I call it the 4P Business Thinking framework.

The 4P Business Thinking Framework is a robust system for matching your solution to the needs of a marketplace, and then communicating that match in a way that results in sales and profits. Here is a brief overview of the 4Ps of the 4P framework.

1. People (or Profile)

For you or your business to exploit a market opportunity or overcome an industry challenge, you must have a very clear definition of the target customer. In the B2B (business-to-business) space that customer may be an organization, but the approach must still be crafted with individual decision makers in mind. In a B2C (business-to-consumer) context, you may have to define the demographic, psychographic or geographic profiles of your target prospects.

2. Problem

You must clearly define the problem your marketplace is desperate to solve for which you have an answer. In business, many ships have crashed on the rocks of market indifference because a company manufactured a solution for which the market had no problem. The time proven approach to value innovation in business is to deeply examine the clearly identified challenges of the customer.

3. Process (or Product)

What is your particular way of solving the market’s challenge that differentiates you from every other competitor?

This 3rd P in the framework is where you have a chance to stand out from the crowd of competitors for solving the problem of your chosen target market. Your process or product must be meaningfully different.

4. Passion (or Personality) and Proof

This last element is often flubbed badly by small businesses who blindly emulate the sanitized and often colorless communications of much larger firms. One of the embedded advantages a small business has is the ability to be “personal” and to communicate passion to the marketplace.

One large company that successfully communicates passion and personality in marketing is Southwest airlines. As a result of their commitment to personality in business, they continue to be rewarded with some of the highest customer approval ratings in the domestic airline industry.

If you manage a manufacturer of colorless widgets, or a buttoned-down professional service firm, you cannot afford to pass up the power of personality, passion and social proof in your marketing.

Some simple things you can do include digging through early stories of your company for narratives that may resonate, or capturing the experiences of your staff, clients and managers for your marketing campaigns.

Conclusion

Whether you’re planning for a new product or service, approaching a new target market or writing a direct mail sales letter, the 4P framework can be used to create tremendous value in your marketing planning process.

Gogo Erekosima, The Small Business Digital Coach is the CEO and Lead strategist at Idea Age Consulting – a Denver Business Consulting firm that promises to grow your small business by 24% or more in 24 weeks or less using their customized Business Growth Action MAPS.

Sign up today for a Marketing SWOT Analysis. This consulting module uncovers strategic marketing and business growth opportunities. This Consulting Package is valued at over $1500 dollars.

Article Source: Strategic Marketing Planning Made Simple – The 4P Business Thinking System

 

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Marketing Planning – Don’t Do SWOT

[Editor’s note: In both strategic, and market, planning processes, I have used the SWOT analysis on several occasions, and with much success. However, the author of this article does bring up several valid points regarding the shortcomings, and potential hazards, of the SWOT process. I have found that, the smaller the business, the less effective SWOT becomes. What are your thoughts? Have you ever used a SWOT analysis in your marketing (or niche marketing) planning? Feel free to share your thoughts here. ~Scott]

Swot analysis

Swot analysis (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) is a popular framework for developing a marketing strategy. A Google search for “SWOT” and “planning” turned up almost 93,000 hits (August 2004), most all of which laud the use of SWOT. Some students have said that it is the most important thing they learned at the Wharton School.

Although SWOT is promoted as a useful technique in numerous marketing texts, it is not universally praised: One expert said that he preferred to think of SWOT as a “Significant Waste of Time.”

The problem with SWOT is more serious than the fact that it wastes time. Because it mixes idea generation with evaluation, it is likely to reduce the range of strategies that are considered. In addition, people who use SWOT might conclude that they have done an adequate job of planning and ignore such sensible things as defining the firm’s objectives or calculating ROI for alternate strategies. I have observed this when business school students use SWOT on cases.

What does the evidence say? Perhaps the most notable indication is that I have been unable to find any evidence to support the use of SWOT.

Two studies have examined SWOT. Menon et al. (1999) asked 212 managers from Fortune 1000 companies about recent marketing strategies implemented in their firms. The findings showed that SWOT harmed performance. When Hill and Westbrook (1997) examined the use of SWOT by 20 companies in the UK in 1993-94, they concluded that the process was so flawed that it was time for a “product recall.”

One advocate of SWOT asked: if not SWOT, then what? Borrowing from corporate strategic planning literature, a better option for planners is to follow a formal written process to:

 

  1. Set objectives
  2. Generate alternative strategies
  3. Evaluate alternative strategies
  4. Monitor results
  5. Gain commitment among the stakeholders during each step of this process.

 

I describe this 5-step procedure in Armstrong (1982). Evidence on the value of this planning process, obtained from 28 validation studies (summarized in Armstrong 1990), showed that it led to better corporate performance:

 

  • 20 studies found higher performance with formal planning
  • 5 found no difference
  • 3 found formal planning to be detrimental

 

This support was obtained even though the formal planning in the studies typically used only some of the steps. Furthermore, the steps were often poorly implemented and the conditions were not always ideal for formal planning.

Given the evidence, SWOT is not justified under any circumstances. Instead, use the comprehensive 5-step planning procedure.

References

Armstrong, J. S. (1982) “The Value of Formal Planning for Strategic Decisions,” Strategic Management Journal, 3, 197-211.

Armstrong, J. S. (1990), “Review of Corporate Strategic Planning,” Journal of Marketing, 54, 114-119.

Hill, T. & R. Westbrook (1997), “SWOT Analysis: It’s Time for a Product Recall,” Long Range Planning, 30, No. 1, 46-52.

Menon, A. et al. (1999), “Antecedents and Consequences of Marketing Strategy Making,” Journal of Marketing, 63, 18-40.

The two papers (cited in this article) written by me can be found in full-text at http://www.jscottarmstrong.com

 

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Niche Marketing Strategy – Find a Niche Market

Hitting the bullseye with niche marketing

Image by viZZZual.com via Flickr

[Editor’s note: As we near the beginning of a new year, I thought it would be good review some of the basics of niche marketing. Today’s guest article takes a look at niche marketing – what niche marketing is and how you can use niche marketing to drive traffic back to your web site or blog. ~Scott]

By

In today’s internet world, the number of your competitors is increasing day by day. Especially if you are dealing with services, products or internet marketing, it is relatively simple for anyone to set up a website and the barriers to entry are very low. But in order to continue to succeed if you are an established business, or even if you are just starting out as an Internet Marketing newbie, you need to have a new way of thinking. You need to have a stealthy niche marketing strategy – a way to zoom in on untapped niches.

A niche market is one that primarily focuses on a specific product or service aimed at satisfying specific market needs. So, what niche should you look for? Unlike traditional marketing which is getting more and more obsolete by the day, a niche marketing strategy requires special tools and criteria to reveal highly-profitable undiscovered niche markets that have been overlooked by the masses. These strategies mostly boil down to using user-friendly niche market research tools, and up-to-date internet marketing techniques to help you find the most profitable niche market, improve customer loyalty with the least competition.

It is an art to capture and draw profit from a small market segment. Those who have exposure and have spent many years of their lives in mainstream marketing fields cannot really understand how to proceed in these new online niche markets. And, they will fail without the proper niche marketing strategy. Therefore, you need precision niche market research that can show you how to find a niche. Whether they realize it or not, every profit-seeking website on the internet uses this fundamental marketing strategy. The key to finding your niche is basically twofold: Divert and Convert:

Step 1 – Divert traffic from one location (Point A) to another (Point B).

Step 2 – Convert the Diverted traffic from Step 1 into profit.

There are many different ways of diverting traffic, including:

  • Pay Per Click
  • Ezine Article Marketing
  • Press Releases
  • Links From Other Websites
  • Affiliate Promotions
  • Email Lists
  • Blogging

… just to name a few.

  • Likewise, there are many ways to convert this diverted traffic into profit, including:
  • Promoting Affiliate Products
  • Hosting Content Network Ads (like Adsense)
  • Building an Email List (which you can then use to promote products)
  • Selling Your Own Product
  • Pay Per Action
  • Pay Per Lead

… plus many more.

There are almost an unlimited number of combinations of diverting and converting techniques that you can use to find a niche market that will make a profit. You just need to figure out a winning combination, and then it is guaranteed that you will make money. And, there is a powerful niche marketing strategy tool that will easily show you how to find a niche market under-the-radar, without much competition.

I am somewhat new to internet marketing. But, I have purchased many internet marketing products and services over the past few months. I have been looking for a way to start my own business from home. Like a lot of people, I have done the rounds, bought products here, e-books there, but in the long run only ended up going in circles. You see, finding “the right information”, training that you can trust can be the most challenging part of it. So many people are selling information that is worthless these days.

Now you can use powerful, top-of-the-line niche market research to create multiple streams of income online. If you want to get the jump on the competition, then watch these 5 newly filmed videos explaining 5 different niche marketing strategies at: http://website-marketing-strategy.org

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Valerie_Lombard

http://EzineArticles.com/?Niche-Marketing-Strategy—Find-a-Niche-Market&id=4143858

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How to Attract Customers Through Social Media Search Engines

This is icon for social networking website. Th...

Image via Wikipedia

By David Hale

Today, people who frequent Twitter and LinkedIn expect to locate market leaders in their markets. Your customers expect to see top-level content on all of your profile pages when clicking on links within the social networking search engine tools. By providing them with valuable content you will attract more and more customers who eventually purchase your products and services.

As an Internet marketer you need to incorporate all of the social networking sites you have optimized profiles on, into your marketing channels. You can do this by first placing social media icons on your website and blog. What this will do is encourage readers and visitors to your site to click on the icons which will link them to your social pages.

Here is where relationship building comes into play, or relationship marketing as it is called in the business world. This will allow people to get to know you and pick your brain. Give your viewers, customers, and subscribers a reason to check out your pages by offering them some freebie such as an e-book, manual, or special report. By giving them free valuable content, when the need arises that they need a product or service within your niche market, you will be the first one that comes to mind.

You need to make sure that your LinkedIn profile page is optimized by including all of your relevant market keywords and phrases into your content. This will enable your profile to be ranked within your industry focused environment. Also, make sure that you have your blog URL listed on your LinkedIn page so it will be frequently updated. This will also have your name and link to your page listed on the update reports your contacts receive.

Twitter now has a very powerful and useful search tool which is present on every profile page you look at. This search tool is a very strategic device to incorporate into your information gathering strategies. By consistently using your keywords and phrases in your tweets your information will be more likely to be listed higher on twitter search results along with Google Social Search listings.

By incorporating the above techniques into your social networking strategies you’ll start to attract more customers by treating your social media sites and search engines as marketing magnets.

If you are out to attract prospective customers and develop your online presence and exposure, you owe it to yourself and the financial future of your business to learn everything you can about social networking.

Want to discover more valuable Internet marketing and social networking strategies?

For more information on Internet marketing and free training, go to http://www.drdavehaleonline.com

Dr. Dave Hale, The Internet Marketing Professor, is one of the country’s leading developers of Internet marketing and social media curriculum for businesses and universities and specializes in online marketing communications.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=David_Hale
http://EzineArticles.com/?Social-Networking-Strategies—How-to-Attract-Customers-Through-Social-Media-Search-Engines&id=4616677

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Social Media Benefits Niche Marketing

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Social media sites are quickly becoming powerful tools for the niche marketer. Facebook has recently announced reaching 500 million users. YouTube is now streaming two billion videos a day. Twitter is expanding at a faster and faster clip.

These, and dozens of other social media sites, have turned the social media experience into a boon for the savvy niche marketer. How? Each of these social media sites have “search function” capability. This allows marketers to focus and follow conversations within their niches.

Keeping current on the latest trends, releases, and topics is powerful in itself. But, the real power lies n the niche marketer’s ability to interact, to comment, and to respond to the stream of information in which they are competing. This gives the astute niche marketer the edge by creating opportunities to be seen and heard by prospects.

If managed correctly, the niche marketer can be viewed as an authority, or expert, in their chose field, and this positioning can drive traffic back to a home page.

What does all of this mean for you? Quite simply, if you are not engaging in social media to help sell your products and services, you are leaving lots of money on the table.

Today’s tip: figure out who your target market is and use social media to connect with them.


Related videos:
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Internet Marketing Strategies – Conduct Market Research Quickly Using Twitter

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Twitter is one of the “new kids on the block” in the Social Media or Web 2.0 world. It has some fantastic social aspects and if used correctly it can be a great tool. You can use Twitter for market research, which should be one of your core internet marketing strategies. The best thing about using Twitter is you get the research done quickly-and for free!

Broad audience

One of the best aspects of Twitter from a marketing perspective is the broad reach you have. You can touch millions of people around the world. At any given moment there are literally millions of people twittering away.

You put a tweet out to the Twitterverse…asking a question and you will get short, spontaneous answers…these tend to be direct and not calculated because they are spontaneous. The Tweeple don’t take time to think about their answers…tweets are flying by too quickly for that…so they just answer!

You can either put out the questions manually as in “What is your favorite flavor ice cream?” or you could use one of the applications and create a poll or survey giving them specific choices.

After you get your initial results, you can even tweet the outcome giving people a chance to respond and further refine or clarify your research!

Eaves dropping

You can also conduct market research by listening in on other people’s tweets. You can find out for free what people are buzzing about, what they are looking for, problems they are encountering, solutions they wish they could find…or just info they are seeking.

Twitter has a search function built in so you can find people talking about a specific subject. You can also use different search applications to find comments. The hashtag is a popular way for people to identify a topic they are interested in.

So if I want to find out what people are talking about regarding ice cream, I could type “ice cream” in the search box, or “#icecream”. The # will return tweets by people who have put that exact phrase #icecream in their tweet.

So I could ask my question so I catch both groups-“what is your favorite ice cream flavor? #icecream” And I still have 91 characters left!

By getting this input, you can then direct your next project to solve a problem that you know exists! This is one of the classic offline and internet marketing strategies: find a need and fill it! This research might lead you to promote a different product than you had originally intended. Or maybe it gives you clues on how to write the sales copy to make your product more appealing. It might inspire you to create a new product or improve an existing product-or to provide a service that fills a need.

Learn fast act fast

Another one of my internet marketing strategies is acting while a market is hot and Twitter really helps here! Because you got the research quickly, you can also act upon it quickly.

So by using social media, specifically Twitter, you are able to implement at least three of your internet marketing strategies-market research, filling a need and acting quickly.

Tellman Knudson is CEO of Overcome Everything. He and his team at The Listbuilding Club are passionate about teaching others the ins and outs of list building and other internet marketing strategies. To learn more about using Social Media in your internet marketing business, visit http://ListSpeed.com/

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Tellman_Knudson

http://EzineArticles.com/?Internet-Marketing-Strategies—Conduct-Market-Research-Quickly-Using-Twitter&id=2285537

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Going Mobile

Graph showing smartphone marketshare for 2009

Image via Wikipedia

By Scott Spooner

In 1971,  British rock group, The Who, released their seminal album, Who’s Next, which featured a song titled Going Mobile. This was a song about a guy who decided to give up his rooted existence and go on the road.

39 years later, it looks like he’s got lots of company.

Recent research indicates that, on a daily basis, more people are accessing the Internet via their smart phones, than there are people emailing. That’s an astounding figure considering that smart phones weren’t even around a decade ago.

So, “mobile” has arrived and while not all pieces of the mobile landscape have been figured out, the smart business owners are already looking to mobile marketing strategies in an effort to get ahead of the curve.

What can you do to begin the process for your own business? Start by making sure that your web site is formatted for mobile devices.  If you are running a WordPress blog, it is a fairly simple process of installing one of several available plug-ins. I use WPTouch, but you can choose whichever one suits your tastes.

If you are running a web site, you will have to get into a little more programming. Contact your web site administrator and talk with him/her about adding some code that will allow the site to be formatted for mobile devices. Be aware that you will mostly likely have to set up an additional hosting service for the mobile site (I will cover this in another post).

Whatever you do (or do not do), understand that “mobile” is not only here to stay, but will most likely be the dominate platform of the near future.

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Surveying Your Customers

Here’s a short video that discusses the importance of surveying your customers as part of an overall market research strategy.

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