Category Archives: Business

SWOT Analysis is need for business

The SWOT analysis begins by conducting a review of internal strengths and weaknesses in your organisation. You will then note the external opportunities and threats that may affect the organisation based on your market and the overall environment. Don’t be concerned about elaborating on these topics at this stage; bullet points may be the best way to begin. Capture the factors you believe are relevant in each of the four areas. You will want to review what you have noted here as you work through your marketing plan.

The primary purpose of the SWOT analysis is to identify and assign each significant factor, positive and negative, to one of the four categories, allowing you to take an objective look at your business. The SWOT analysis will be a useful tool in developing and confirming your goals and your marketing strategy.

Some experts suggest that you first consider outlining the external opportunities and threats before the strengths and weaknesses. Marketing Plan Pro‘s EasyPlan Wizard will allow you to complete your SWOT analysis in whatever order works best for you. In either situation, you will want to review all four areas in detail.

Strengths

Strengths describe the positive attributes,tangible and intangible attributes, internal to your organisation. They are within your control. What do you do well? What resources do you have? What advantages do you have over your competition?

You may want to evaluate your strengths by area, such as marketing, finance, manufacturing, and organisational structure. Strengths include the positive attributes of the people involved in the business, including their knowledge, backgrounds, education, credentials, contacts, reputations, or the skills they bring. Strengths also include tangible assets such as available capital, equipment, credit, established customers, existing channels of distribution, copyrighted materials, patents, information and processing systems, and other valuable resources within the business.

Strengths capture the positive aspects internal to your business that add value or offer you a competitive advantage. This is your opportunity to remind yourself of the value existing within your business.

Weaknesses

Note the weaknesses within your business. Weaknesses are factors that are within your control that detract from your ability to obtain or maintain a competitive edge. Which areas might you improve?

Weaknesses might include lack of expertise, limited resources, lack of access to skills or technology, inferior service offerings, or the poor location of your business. These are factors that are under your control, but for a variety of reasons, are in need of improvement to effectively accomplish your marketing objectives.

Weaknesses capture the negative aspects internal to your business that detract from the value you offer, or place you at a competitive disadvantage. These are areas you need to enhance in order to compete with your best competitor. The more accurately you identify your weaknesses, the more valuable the SWOT will be for your assessment.

Opportunities

Opportunities assess the external attractive factors that represent the reason for your business to exist and prosper. These are external to your business. What opportunities exist in your market, or in the environment, from which you hope to benefit?

These opportunities reflect the potential you can realise through implementing your marketing strategies. Opportunities may be the result of market growth, lifestyle changes, resolution of problems associated with current situations, positive market perceptions about your business, or the ability to offer greater value that will create a demand for your services. If it is relevant, place timeframes around the opportunities. Does it represent an ongoing opportunity, or is it a window of opportunity? How critical is your timing?

Opportunities are external to your business. If you have identified “opportunities” that are internal to the organisation and within your control, you will want to classify them as strengths.

Threats

What factors are potential threats to your business? Threats include factors beyond your control that could place your marketing strategy, or the business itself, at risk. These are also external –you have no control over them, but you may benefit by having contingency plans to address them if they should occur.

A threat is a challenge created by an unfavourable trend or development that may lead to deteriorating revenues or profits. Competition – existing or potential – is always a threat. Other threats may include intolerable price increases by suppliers, governmental regulation, economic downturns, devastating media or press coverage, a shift in consumer behaviour that reduces your sales, or the introduction of a “leap-frog” technology that may make your products, equipment, or services obsolete. What situations might threaten your marketing efforts? Get your worst fears on the table. Part of this list may be speculative in nature, and still add value to your SWOT analysis.

It may be valuable to classify your threats according to their “seriousness” and “probability of occurrence.”

The better you are at identifying potential threats, the more likely you can position yourself to proactively plan for and respond to them. You will be looking back at these threats when you consider your contingency plans.

The implications

The internal strengths and weaknesses, compared to the external opportunities and threats, can offer additional insight into the condition and potential of the business. How can you use the strengths to better take advantage of the opportunities ahead and minimize the harm that threats may introduce if they become a reality? How can weaknesses be minimised or eliminated? The true value of the SWOT analysis is in bringing this information together, to assess the most promising opportunities, and the most crucial issues.

Important Budgeting Tips

Managing the budget numbers can be simple, but managing a budget takes people, not spreadsheets. While budget numbers are simple, budget management isn’t. To make a budget work, you need to add real management:

  1. Understand that it’s about people: Successful budgeting depends on people management more than anything else. Every budgeted item must be “owned” by somebody, meaning that the owner has responsibility for spending, authority to spend, and the belief that the spending limit is realistic. People who don’t believe in a budget won’t try to implement it. People who don’t believe that it matters won’t worry about a budget either.
  2. Budget “ownership” is critical: To “own” a budget item is to have the authority to spend and responsibility for spending. Ideally a budget management system makes plan-vs.-actual results visible to a group of managers, so that there is peer pressure that rewards budgeting successes and penalizes budgeting failures.
  3. Budgets need to be realistic: Nobody really owns a budget item until they believe the budget amount is realistic. You can’t really commit to a budget you don’t believe in.
  4. It’s also about following up: Unless the people involved know that somebody will be tracking and following up, they won’t honor a budget. Publishing budget plan and actual results will make a world of difference. Rewards for budget success and penalties for budget failures can be as simple as peer group managers sharing results.

Your budget and milestones work together
As you develop your budget, keep in mind your business plan milestones. That’s where you set specific goals, dates, responsibilities, and budgets for your managers. It makes a plan concrete. Make sure your budget matches your milestones.

Ideally, every line in a budget is assigned to somebody who is responsible for managing that budget. In most cases you’ll have groups of budget areas assigned to specific people, and a budgeting process that emphasizes commitment and responsibility. You’ll also need to make sure that everybody involved knows that results will be followed up.

The ideal plan relates the budgets to the Milestones table. The Milestones table takes all the important activities included in a business plan and assigns them to specific managers, with specific dates and budgets. It also tracks completion of the milestones and actual results compared to planned results.

Provide marketing assistance to assigned Studio Leaders

Job Responsibilities:PRIMARY FUNCTION

Provide marketing assistance to assigned Studio Leaders and support the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) on marketing activities for the Company.

TYPICAL DUTIES

  • Work in conjunction with studio leaders, office leader, project managers and business development managers to develop, coordinate and/or assist with market research, production of letters of interest, credentials packages, proposal submittals, interview preparation, brochures, award submittals, advertising, speaking engagements and special events for assigned market groups.
  • Participate in market group meetings related to marketing coordination and business development efforts.
  • Assist in maintaining the company web site and developing the Office’s contributions to the company intranet.
  • Assist in developing and maintaining client project and proposal files, contact information and mailing lists.
  • Assist in the preparation and distribution of external communications for the office in the form of advertising, direct mail, email blasts and press releases.
  • Assist in managing marketing and project database in Deltek Vision.
  • Represent the Company at selected business development functions.
  • Perform additional assignments as requested by the Office Leadership and CMO.

Job Qualifications:SKILL, KNOWLEDGE, EDUCATION AND EXPERIENCE

  • Bachelor’s degree in Marketing, Business or Communications preferred.
  • Minimum three years of experience as a Marketing Coordinator, Marketing Assistant or related position, preferably in the A/E industry.
  • Intermediate expertise in Adobe Creative Suite: InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop.Experienced with Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel.HTML/CSS and CMS experience a plus.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
  • Ability to work well with others under strict deadlines.
  • Highly detail oriented, self-motivated, creative, enthusiastic and flexible.

Other Job Information (if applicable):PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS

  • Capable of traveling to and from external office sites.
  • Ability to use equipment for communication and documentation purposes.
  • Visual acuity to perform responsibilities.

Relying on academic management literature

Relying on academic management literature for guidance can be a fickle business. For example, while “first-mover advantage” was once lauded as the optimum strategy for market entry, it was shortly displaced by its close cousin “second-mover advantage”. The thought went that the “second mover” could learn from the mistakes of the pioneering entrant who was likely to run out of money while trying to educate the market. Of course, some of these initial pioneering entrants did not run out of money and ended up dominating their space, thus striking a blow for advocates of being a “second mover”.

For “first movers” there are a number of poster boys, like Twitter, the micro-blogging platform, which has become so dominant that successful market entry by a direct competitor would be difficult to comprehend. The launch of the iPad created the tablet market, which did not exist prior to its launch but has since been flooded with entrants. For some cash-rich entrepreneurs, with the pockets, vision and patience of someone like Steve Jobs, the lack of a market is an opportunity rather than a problem. However, in the majority of cases, there may be no competition because there are structural reasons why a market does not exist (such as a lack of demand or a market size that is currently too small to serve profitably). In other words, the entrepreneur may simply have misread the opportunity!

For “second movers,” you can generally enter the market without the cost of the first mover. A subsequent entrant can study the incumbent when deciding how to design and position their offering. After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Competition also helps from a marketing perspective – trying to educate and attract a market on your own is a very costly exercise. However, in some cases the first mover is so dominant, subsequent entry would not be advised.

In other instances market entry is not always so easily defined. A recent example from the U.S. is the almost simultaneous market entry of Gowalla and FourSquare, both location-based social networking sites. These were soon followed by Rummble, and a host of others.

For entrepreneurs the lessons are clear – there are different things to be aware of when you start your business, in terms of market entry. If the market does not yet exist you need to ensure you have deep pockets as marketing is likely to be extremely costly. You also need to be confident that you are not ‘misreading the opportunity’.

Forecasting Your Sales

Developing your sales forecast isn’t as hard as most people think. Think of your sales forecast as an educated guess. Forecasting takes good working knowledge of your business, which is much more important than advanced degrees or complex mathematics. It is much more art than science.

Whether you have business training or not, don’t think you aren’t qualified to forecast. If you can run a business, then you can forecast its sales. Most people can guess their own business’ sales better than any expert device, statistical analysis, or mathematical routine. Experience counts more than any other factor.

Break your sales down into manageable parts, and then forecast the parts. Guess your sales by line of sales, month by month, then add up the sales lines and add up the months.

The illustration gives you an example of a simple sales forecast that includes simple price and cost forecasts which are used to calculate projected sales and direct cost of sales and estimate total pound value for each category of sales.

Use text to explain the forecast and related plans and background
Although the charts and tables are great, you still need to explain them. A complete business plan should normally include some detailed text discussion of your sales forecast, sales strategy, sales programs, and related information. Ideally, you use the text, tables, and charts in your plan to provide some visual variety and ease of use. Put the tables and charts near the text covering the related topics.

In my standard business plan text outline, the discussion of sales goes into Chapter 5.0, Strategy and Implementation. You can change that to fit whichever logic and structure you use. In practical terms, you’ll probably prepare these text topics as separate items, to be gathered into the plan as it is finished.

Sales strategy
Somewhere near the sales forecast you should describe your sales strategy. Sales strategies deal with how and when to close sales prospects, how to compensate sales people, how to optimise order processing and database management, how to manoeuvre price, delivery, and conditions.

How do you sell? Do you sell through retail, wholesale, discount, mail order, phone order? Do you maintain a sales force? How are sales people trained, and how are they compensated? Don’t confuse sales strategy with your marketing strategy, which goes elsewhere. Sales should close the deals that marketing opens.

To help differentiate between marketing strategy and sales strategy, think of marketing as the broader effort of generating sales leads on a large scale, and sales as the efforts to bring those sales leads into the system as individual sales transactions. Marketing might affect image and awareness and propensity to buy, while sales involves getting the order.

Reasons You Need a Business Plan

When I am asked to explain why business planning is so important, my first inclination is to quote Lewis Carroll. In Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Alice comes to a fork in the road and asks:

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

For me this scene encapsulates perfectly the problems of not having an over-arching goal and plan for your business. Without a plan, or using a cookie cutter business plan template a business is essentially rudderless, and day-to-day activities are likely to be haphazard and reactive, in stark contrast to those businesses implementing a well thought out business plan.

The following represents a list of my top five reasons a firm needs a business plan.

1. To map the future

A business plan is not just required to secure funding at the start-up phase, but is a vital aid to help you manage your business more effectively. By committing your thoughts to paper, you can understand your business better and also chart specific courses of action that need to be taken to improve your business. A plan can detail alternative future scenarios and set specific objectives and goals along with the resources required to achieve these goals.

By understanding your business and the market a little better and planning how best to operate within this environment, you will be well placed to ensure your long-term success.

2. To support growth and secure funding

Most businesses face investment decisions during the course of their lifetime. Often, these opportunities cannot be funded by free cash flows alone, and the business must seek external funding. However, despite the fact that the market for funding is highly competitive, all prospective lenders will require access to the company’s recent Income Statements/Profit and Loss Statements, along with an up-to-date business plan. In essence the former helps investors understand the past, whereas the business plan helps give them a window on the future.

When seeking investment in your business, it is important to clearly describe the opportunity, as investors will want to know:

  • Why they would be better off investing in your business, rather than leaving money in a bank account or investing in another business?
  • What the Unique Selling Proposition (USP) for the business arising from the opportunity is?
  • Why people will part with their cash to buy from your business?

A well-written business plan can help you convey these points to prospective investors, helping them feel confident in you and in the thoroughness with which you have considered future scenarios. The most crucial component for them will be clear evidence of the company’s future ability to generate sufficient cash flows to meet debt obligations, while enabling the business to operate effectively.

3. To develop and communicate a course of action

A business plan helps a company assess future opportunities and commit to a particular course of action. By committing the plan to paper, all other options are effectively marginalized and the company is aligned to focus on key activities. The plan can assign milestones to specific individuals and ultimately help management to monitor progress. Once written, a plan can be disseminated quickly and will also prompt further questions and feedback by the readers helping to ensure a more collaborative plan is produced.

Better Business Plan

Is it the length of the business plan? The information it covers? How well it’s written, or the brilliance of its strategy. No.

The following illustration shows a business plan as part of a process. You can think about the good or bad of a plan as the plan itself, measuring its value by its contents. There are some qualities in a plan that make it more likely to create results, and these are important. However, it is even better to see the plan as part of the whole process of results, because even a great plan is wasted if nobody follows it.

A business plan will be hard to implement unless it is simple, specific, realistic and complete. Even if it is all these things, a good plan will need someone to follow up and check on it. The plan depends on the human elements around it, particularly the process of commitment and involvement, and the tracking and follow-up that comes afterward.

Successful implementation starts with a good plan. There are elements that will make a plan more likely to be successfully implemented. Some of the clues to implementation include:

  1. Is the plan simple? Is it easy to understand and to act on? Does it communicate its contents easily and practically?
  2. Is the plan specific? Are its objectives concrete and measurable? Does it include specific actions and activities, each with specific dates of completion, specific persons responsible and specific budgets?
  3. Is the plan realistic? Are the sales goals, expense budgets, and milestone dates realistic? Nothing stifles implementation like unrealistic goals.
  4. Is the plan complete? Does it include all the necessary elements? Requirements of a business plan vary, depending on the context. There is no guarantee, however, that the plan will work if it doesn’t cover the main bases.

Tips to be an Entrepreneur

In a world increasingly affected by globalisation, increased competitiveness and maturing products, the need for creativity and entrepreneurship has never been greater. Luckily, the attractions of becoming an entrepreneur have never been greater either, especially since a shift from a predominantly manufacturing- to a service-based economy has lowered the cost and barriers to entry for entrepreneurs. The British government has moved entrepreneurship (and support for it) to the top of their domestic agenda. Meanwhile, entrepreneurship has become a hot topic, with conferences, exhibitions, and even TV shows, such as “Risking it All” and “The Dragons’ Den” evidencing the popularity. But while the environmental conditions may be attractive, entrepreneurs still need a workable idea that is commercially viable. This article endeavours to assist wannabe entrepreneurs (wantrepreneurs) in coming up with ‘the plan’ so as to enable them to finally take the plunge into the world of entrepreneurship.

 

The environment

Before deciding on ‘the idea’ it is worth assessing the landscape thoroughly so as to consider the broader context and the impact that trends or changes may have on it, i.e. whether it is future-proof, etc. There are three main trends to look at – global trends, national trends and local trends.

Keeping up to date with global developments via The Economist or the BBC will certainly give you a good base to start from. However, to gain a more in-depth understanding of global changes from a business opportunity perspective, websites such as Trendwatching (www.springwise.com) are very useful. In an increasingly homogeneous global economy, it is obvious that what works well in one market can easily transplant into other ones with the minimum of localisation. Between them, these sites give a more in-depth insight into some of the latest emergent business ideas and can be considered in tandem with macro trends affecting us all, like environmental challenges, the increasing cost of oil, volatile currencies, etc.

On a national level, there are a number of trends that we are all familiar with in the UK: increased ubiquity of broadband access, the fact that as a population we are aging, increased expected life spans, growth in the number of single-person households, and so on. The key with all of these trends is to focus on the opportunities associated with these demographic shifts and trends. For example, it is safe to predict that an aging population will increase the demand for certain goods and services, such as home-help services, medication, nursing, and glasses, and that the growth in single-person households will increase the demand for convenience food products and more economical white goods such as smaller fridges and washer/ dryer all in one’s.

On a local level, there are also numerous resources we can use in assessing the local environment and, in particular, the likely demand for our goods or services. Websites such as ACORN (www.caci.co.uk/acorn) and UpMyStreet (www.upmystreet.com) provide extensive free demographic data about areas based on UK postcodes. These enable you to build up profiles of the local population and are ideal when you are looking to set up a shop or service to serve the local community specifically. Of course when it comes to local opportunities, these need to be assessed in conjunction with plenty of ‘on-the-ground’ research: walking in and around the area targeted for the new enterprise.

Tips to be a Marketing Assistant

Based in Raymond, Maine, Dielectric LLC is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. and is a leading provider of innovative broadcast products. From remote stations to major markets, Dielectric delivers products for every need since 1942 and prides itself on being a solution-oriented engineering company. The Company is a trusted partner of broadcasters worldwide. We design, engineer, and manufacture antennas, combiners, switches, diplexers, transmission lines and waveguides for television, and FM radio. We collaborate with the consultant community, as well as with its customers’ engineering staffs, to design advanced and reliable antenna systems.

Dielectric is seeking a full-time dynamic and organized and skilled Marketing Assistant to join our growing team. This position will support the work of marketing managers and company marketing operations by compiling, formatting and reporting information and materials as well as help to develop marketing campaigns.

Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Provide marketing tracking and research information by collecting, analyzing, summarizing data and trends
  • Coordinate and communicate with internal company partners (sales, marketing, engineering, finance, manufacturing) to ensure the most accurate marketing information
  • Compiling and distributing statistical information
  • Accomplishes organization marketing mission by completing related results as needed
  • Keeps all marketing information accessible by sorting and filing documents and up to date
  • Writing reports, company brochures and similar documents
  • Help to organize market research
  • Organizing and hosting presentations and customer visits
  • Assisting with promotional activities, support sales presentations, prepare mailers and brochures by formatting content and graphics, arrange printing and packages
  • Maintains marketing library and inventory
  • This position reports to Director of Marketing & Services

Required Experience:

  • College degree, BS/BA in Business Administration or relevant field
  • Must have experience using Adobe inDesign
  • Proven experience in a marketing field or relevant role including reporting skills, analyzing information, informing others, written communications, statistical analysis and financial skills
  • Proficient in a Windows based PC environment, Microsoft Office, and PowerPoint presentations
  • Knowledge of market research, data analysis and practices
  • Database input and update
  • Able to multitask, be self-directed and function independently in a fast paced environment
  • Excellent time management and efficiency skills
  • Excellent organizational skills and heavy attention to detail and numerical data
  • Excellent problem solving skills

Learn more about marketing manager

Bozzuto Management Company is seeking a seasoned Marketing Manager. The Marketing Manager will support Bozzuto Management Company by enhancing the revenue of properties through effective brand and property marketing. The Marketing Manager acts as an advisor to the business delivering impactful and meaningful programs, campaigns and communication strategies that position Bozzuto properties as a market leader.

Expected Contributions:

  • Understand unique marketing needs of each property and/or owner and deliver marketing programs and materials that meet expectations of all stakeholders.
  • Gather information, collaborate and work with SVP Corporate Marketing, SVP for BMC, Regional Property Managers, Property Managers, and clients
  • Partner with marketing/operations teams in analyzing local market/ customer & industry trends
  • Communicate effectively, drive execution, foster innovation, collaborate with others, solve problems creatively and demonstrate high integrity
  • Maintain professional internal and external relationships that meet company core values
  • Identify, recommend and implement new marketing trends in the industry
  • Drive properties’ performance by leading all marketing efforts.
  • Develop marketing action plans for properties
  • Implement interactive marketing – email communications, websites, banner ads, social media, SEO, SEM, mobile & video
  • Oversee all marketing, advertising, promotions, merchandizing and events.
  • Monitor, track, recommend & execute media buying
  • Analyze media trends through Lead2Lease, Call Source, Level One, Vaultware and Google Analytics
  • Maintain web content for property pages on Bozzuto.com
  • Keep current individual property websites within the Content Management System
  • Visit communities so each property is seen at least once a year
  • Assist in signage development & implementation
  • Evaluate photography needs and arrange for new photography
  • Assist with annual customer survey program and other relevant research studies
  • Improve property performance of under-performing assets by providing recommendations and specific marketing action plans targeted at these assets.
  • Meet objectives of each property while adhering to corporate brand standards.
  • Deliver and implement all marketing efforts on-time and on-budget.
  • In conjunction with the respective Regional Property Manager develop an annual marketing budget for each specific property
  • Manage advertising agencies
  • Manage the marketing transition of takeover properties
  • Identify and communicate press opportunities to PR
  • Foster new product development by communicating product key learnings to new product development team.

Required Education:

  • Bachelor’s Degree required

Required Experience:

  • Previous marketing experience in the real estate industry preferred.

Required Skills:

  • Leadership Competencies
  • Treats people with respect
  • Efficiency of execution
  • Flexible/adaptable
  • Personal Competencies
  • Integrity/honesty
  • Organization and planning
  • Calm under pressure
  • Intellectual Competencies
  • Analysis skills
  • Strategic thinking/visioning
  • Creative/innovative
  • Attention to detail
  • Motivational Competencies
  • Proactivity/takes initiative
  • Sets high standards
  • Interpersonal Competencies
  • Listening skills
  • Open to criticism and others’ ideas
  • Written and verbal communications
  • Technical/Functional Competencies
  • Interactive Marketing
  • Knowledge of leasing/PM industry
  • Microsoft Office Suite and HTML