Posts tagged: Small Business
Knowing your key customers’ lifestyles and work behaviors can help create content to align your brand shoppersona with your target customer’s shoppersona. In this digital era, to communicate real value, it is necessary to provide meaningful experiences through content that is based on your carefully researched key customer persona. With exploding competition for the customer’s time and attention, brands must become the “go to,” “top-of-mind” brand name for acquiring that special “persona” humans seek. To ring that bell, as Ivan Pavlov’s studies in behavioral conditioning explored, brands must create web content experiences based on knowledge of what will activate the customer‘s want/need to shop and buy. Brands have always sought to learn how they shop and why they buy; now they must go deeper.
So what do digital marketers need in order to create their behavioral conditioning strategies? Starting with lifestyle and life work, learning your customers’ online habits: Do they spend a lot of time online? When: While at work? Only when at home? Any time on the go? For What: Are there categories of products they are more or less likely to shop for online? Where do they get relevant brand information; which blogs do they value; how much do they rely on friends and associates for referrals; what media and devices are they using …?
To gain and keep customers, a brand must align its “positioning conditioning,” to establish why the customer should consider changing their brand preference behaviors. Again we ask: How is your brand different and better in terms of what it offers the customer in their managements of life? How do you lead the customer to your touch points and get them to engage with your brand?
If you haven’t been thinking about how digital marketing is changing the behavioral conditioning in customer behavior, it may be time to update your knowledge. Specifically why and how potential customers are now shopping and buying. These insights can be used to create content for the new Native Advertising (see our July 2013 blog) that takes a new approach to how media and brands are communicating what products and services a brand can promise and deliver. Digital marketing strategies should concentrate on interactions rather than transactions. The primary goal is to develop new ways to approach your key customers with content that contains sincere concerns for helping them and developing experiences to build a relationship that is based on knowledge of their new behavioral shoppersona.
For more on Online Shopping Habits of Technology Consumers, go to these very interesting and current survey results: http://www.logicbuy.com/features/survey-online-shopping-habits-of-technology-consumers-infographic
Arthur & Peggy Winters co-teach SXB 200 Brand Marketing Communications for Image & Meaning and SXR 050 Intro to Branding: The Art of Customer Bonding.
For years start-ups have been sending investors and other potential funding sources their business plans. With more and more start-ups pitching these days, and funders having less and less time to review them all, a new trend is emerging about how to approach funders. It’s the one-page pitch. Get to the point immediately. Here are some basic questions the answers to which should be included:
· What’s the problem?
· How are you solving it?
· Who’s your customer?
· How will your solution make money (your business model)?
· What stage is your company in right now?
· How much money are you looking for?
· What are you going to do with the funds?
· What’s the payback horizon and how much return will the funder get on their investment?
What’s really good about the one-page pitch is that it can be a significant way to force you to clarify, condense and articulate your ideas.
John Ason, an angel investor, often speaks about the one-page pitch: he has approximately 1-3 minutes to look at your idea. And it had all better be on that one page. And not single spaced with no white space on the page. If it’s not visually inviting, he won’t read it. John always offers very pointed and amusing illustrations of how he wants to invest. When asked what John looks for in a management team, his answer includes passion but he also says the combined age of the two principals should not be more than his age. Another, related to return on investment, is that the payout should not extend past his lifetime – his event horizon (as is that of many investors) is a 10x earnings return on his investment in a reasonable time frame (usually less than five years).
To learn more about John, how he works, what he looks for when investing, what he’s invested in etc.
Check out Martin Zwilling’s post on pitching angel investors – BTW these points hold true for VC and other pitches as well.
Here’s a first time funder’s story
How to maintain integrity in the creative and entertainment industries is a central question to the new and struggling creative entrepreneur. What you’re willing to compromise can define your career.
In this digital age of increased transparency, consumers want to know what to expect from a business and they readily share that information to broad social networks. This is why it’s important to set a precedent and maintain it; still, there are certain moments that call for flexibility.
Is responding to these calls necessary every time, and if so how flexible should one be? While the answers to these questions depend on the situation, overall one should be able to respond to these moments in a way that is consistent with the company’s and one’s own moral and social values. Set aside time to figure out what you and/or your company stands for as a creative and professional enterprise. Outlining these values now may help you maintain your integrity as your business grows.
Read more to gain insight on recognizing precarious compromises and get tips on maintaining integrity in your business:
If fashion tech interests you, or you are a fashion tech person, then this event is well worth attending.
Be mindful of the triple C’s at all times:
Your Company, Your Customer and Your Competition.
It’s important to have a 360 view of your business universe so that you are prepared to never be caught by surprise and never miss an opportunity. At the point where the three overlap, you’re in the zone.
· You’re focused on their needs and wants
· At the same time, you’re keeping up with the trends, not just current, but anticipating and maybe even creating future ones
· You’re always staying in touch with them
· Where are they weak
· Where are they vulnerable
· What aren’t they doing that you can do
· What are they doing that you can do better
· What skills do you have in house – are you maximizing them
· What are your assets (especially intellectual property and capital – this means your employees)
· What kind of culture have you created that everyone lives in – internally and externally
For more on the subject, check out some strategic insight offered by the Harvard Review
The Design Entrepreneurs NYC (http://www.designentrepreneursnyc.com/) program is in full swing. One of the programs’ many offerings is an open classroom “mentoring” evening, where designers in the program can swing by and ask questions of instructors who are there for that purpose. It’s a great and informal way to get multiple opinions, points-of-view and advice on the designers’ company, business plan (which they write as part of the program) etc.
This recent Wednesday evening I was co-mentoring with Shawn Grain Carter, who teaches Fashion Merchandising and Marketing at FIT. The subject, as often happens, was brought up of designers negotiating with big companies – this could mean, contracts, licenses, royalties, intellectual property, employment, or all of the above. Many design entrepreneurs do these negotiations alone. Sometimes they feel they have enough knowledge to negotiate well for themselves. Sometimes they don’t know any better. Sometimes they don’t have the money to pay an attorney to go with them to help and advocate for them (and to keep them out of trouble). We discussed this in class and Shawn and I agreed that an entrepreneur absolutely needs an attorney to accompany them to such negotiation meetings. Or a business person, like an accountant. Or both. And Shawn advised everyone, and I agree, that they should have double A’s – an accountant and an attorney. They both keep you safe in any kind of business negotiation.
It’s a necessity in the fashion business but also in every sector. At the very least, there’s a second pair of ears listening to what’s going on and picking out important points that the entrepreneur might miss. At the very most, your A-team keeps you from making costly, and sometimes business-ending, mistakes. The world is littered with stories of failure because the entrepreneurs couldn’t or wouldn’t bring an attorney or accountant into a crucial negotiation (and, let’s face it, every negotiation when you’re a small business is crucial) with them.
I know you’ve heard me say this before…but repeating it never hurts…always use an attorney and/or accountant in contract reviews, negotiations, any business matter. The fees you pay your Double A-Team are minor compared with the money they save or help you get in the long run.
A few weeks ago Men’s Warehouse founder, George Zimmer was fired from the company he founded. It turned out he wasn’t the majority shareholder of the company. That led to his ouster.
No matter what kind of company you found, there are a few key points to ensure this doesn’t happen to you (unless you are just in it for a quick turnaround and flip, in which case that’s your exit strategy and what you strive for).
· When raising money, remember, the probability of having to give up more than 50% to get the money is very high. That means you’re giving up control. Often the founder is parachuted out with lots of cash. But if you want to build a company and maintain control, think carefully about the sources of your money. This is what is meant by “expensive” money.
· When taking on partners or starting out with partners, make sure there is a strong contractual agreement in place that covers who is in control of what and to what degree. Anything can happen, and the weird stuff often does – if your partner dies or gets divorced, you may wind up with an heir who knows or cares nothing about the business. Then your problems really begin, especially if they don’t want to be bought out (or you can’t afford to buy them out).
· Vision = Control as stated very clearly in the article link below. If you want to see your vision flourish, make sure you maintain control of your company.
· If your company has a Board of Directors, remember one of their main functions is to determine whether or not to fire you (and your management team). This is what happened at Men’s Warehouse. This is also why so many large corporations have a Board of Directors that is composed of cronies.
Advertising and Promotion (AdPromo) is now developing a new I.D. for marketing communications, which we could call MADMOBILE. This is recognition of the blending of Social Media, Global Technologies, and 2-way mobile communications. Much has been discussed about what advertising and promotion will get to be. Mobile advertiser/customer engagement and exchange in social media is the big think in AdPromo’s quickly changing present and exciting future.
The thinking behind some new innovations is to provide “glocal–(Global Localities) –with—mobile” opportunities for local AdPromo. Those on the forefront for developing these new services are employing their knowledge of changes in consumer behavior, which is being caused by, and satisfied by, the ever-expanding presence of Smartphones and social media.
These give the advertiser and promoter the opportunity for the delivery of local marketing communications. In the past, and still in the present, big business with its big money has used AdPromo to knock out small business. Many small-businesses can now make the most of the opportunity to advertise and promote to specific local targets through mobile “MadPhones” with a smaller, more effective and efficient budget.
In addition, there are recent connectivity innovations that enable customers to learn of a promotion without being in or even near a store, along with advances in Near Field Communications (NFC), receiving contact when they are passing near the brick and mortar store. More and more, retailers are encouraging word-of-mouth referrals by loyal customers, which is helping to build their loyalty through interesting engagements and an active relationship.
For now, customers are able to find advertising and promotions on their phones and tablets. Most importantly, a store can launch its advertising for a promotion in a few minutes, designing the message for today’s deals and targeting a specifically valued customer. The opportunity for retailers to present promotions in real time is a salient feature of the New World of MADMOBILE.
Arthur & Peggy Winters co-teach SXB 200 Brand Marketing Communications for Image & Meaning and SXR 050 Intro to Branding: The Art of Customer Bonding.
Creating a new business structure around a partnership or multiple founders is one of the most single important aspects of starting a new business. Like a business plan, your corporate structure, how you allocate shares, profits and control of the new business will help determine the fate of your company as well as the company culture (anywhere from hostile to win-win). This is a relationship, or more accurately, a marriage (so the culture would be more like dysfunctional to loving). Like a marriage, I highly recommend looking to the end of the company or partnership as you create the beginning – like a pre-nup. Seriously. Have everything worked out to cover the end and you will be good to go in the beginning. Because you never know how the relationship(s), or company, will end – will you be bought out? Go public? Be taken over? Get investment? Change direction to one that not everyone wants to buy into? Dissolve? Will founders or partners or you have a change of circumstances that lead to a desire to end the relationship? Will someone die and you are suddenly stuck with a spouse as a partner? All this needs to be spelled out upfront, because once the horse has left the barn…well, you all know how that one ends.
When I speak to multiple stakeholders at the start of their company, I go around the room and point out a scenario where one person decides they want to take more control of the company – maybe because they feel they are doing more work, or contributing more value or whatever. And ultimately that leads to someone else being screwed. I’ve had co-founders come back to me later and tell me that the scenario I played out in the meeting was exactly what happened. So protect yourself and your partners BEFORE YOU BEGIN.
George Deeb in Alley Watch provides some helpful hints and considerations that should be taken into account about how to split up equity in a startup.