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Added Benefits To Increase Sales

When someone makes a purchase they buy more than just a product or service. At the time the product or service is probably the most important element, but they also buy a range of benefits that can over the long-term become their reason for being satisfied or dissatisfied with their purchase and with your business.

These are called ‘added’ benefits because you add them to the products or services that you sell. They can make a big difference in how customers see your business and be an important differentiator between you and your competitors.

Make a list of the added benefits you provide. These can include:

– A product guarantee or warranty that reassures customers
– The service given by the sales team during a purchase
– The availability of your backup service – 24 hours, 7 days?
– The speed with which your company fills customers’ orders
– The follow-up from your business after the purchase
– How your location suits customers – is it convenient?
– Their perceptions of your business – stable, efficient, friendly?
– The quality of your product offerings – all your products and services
– Manufacturing locally – appeals to their sense of patriotism
– Your premises – attractive, clean, bright?

Some added benefits cost you nothing or very little. The way your sales team treats customers is a function of staff selection and training, and that doesn’t add much to your total wages costs. Others, such as the condition of your premises can be as costly as you want to make them.

It’s up to you as the manager to determine how far you’re willing to go to deliver the best package of added benefits with everything you sell.

Once you’ve listed your own added benefits, list the added benefits provided by your competitors. If they’re more successful than you at selling the same or very similar products the reasons could well be their added benefits package.

Conduct some simple research using groups of your own customers, and those of your biggest competitors if possible. Let customers tell you how they value the benefits you add, and how your benefits compare with your competitors’. Ask them for their suggestions as to what additional benefits you could provide to increase your sales.

Incorporate their comments with your own perceptions and analyze every added benefit that you and your competitors provide. Note why these benefits are attractive to customers and whether each is expensive or inexpensive to provide.

Are there some that are impossible for you to match (for example, location)? Which are you now providing but capable of improving? Which are you not now providing but could provide with minimal additional expenses?

Remember, you’re trying to put together the best package of benefits and probably won’t be able to match the competition in every category.

Now be creative and devise some new added benefits that aren’t on your lists. These can be time-related – offer a free inspection or service in twelve months, financial benefits – a guaranteed trade-in value on the old one when repurchasing, or an add-on such as ‘spend $30 more and get $100 worth of genuine accessories’. Add some benefits nobody else is offering and stand out from the competition.

Once you’ve worked out the full contents of your added benefits package you have to find a way to communicate them to your existing and potential customers. Start by educating every member of your team – not just salespeople but everyone in your business. Give each person a list of your added benefits so anyone receiving an enquiry is familiar with all of them.

Summarize these benefits for customers. You could put them into your monthly invoices, display them on the walls of your office, use them in your advertisements, or include them on the calendars you give away at Christmas. Just be sure your customers know what else comes with every purchase they make.

By putting together a really attractive package of added benefits and making sure everybody knows about them you’ll be able to increase sales at the expense of your competitors.

Article courtesy of RAN ONE: http://www.ranone.com/features/news.asp?ID=3963

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Exporting Made Simple

Businesses considering exporting their products often talk themselves out of it because they think it’s all too difficult. But exporting is a lot easier than most businesses at first imagine, providing that a few simple ‘rules’ are observed. First, let’s remove some common myths about exporting.

Myth number 1 – You have to be big to succeed

The majority of companies exporting have fewer than 100 employees and are classified as ‘small businesses’. There are many factors more important than a company’s size that will determine whether or not it will succeed as an exporter.

Myth number 2 – It takes a lot of specialized staff

It’s easy to get into exporting through a third party that specializes in exporting products on behalf of manufacturers. This is a good way to ‘test the waters’ and gain an idea of the product’s export potential.

Myth number 3 – It has to be a high-volume product

The product’s volume is irrelevant as long as it’s sufficient to meet the needs of the marketplace to which it’s exported. Quality, pricing and dependability of supply are much more important. By exporting to a country where the level of competition is significantly lower than in the ‘home’ market a rapid growth in volume can be achieved within relatively short time.

Myth number 4 – Business is transacted in foreign languages

A surprising number of people in most other countries are competent in English. More important, however, is that document translations are readily available and language is no barrier to exporting. Using correct language is usually an essential only for packaging and instructions for use.

Myth number 5 – It takes a special kind of product

If a product is successful in its home market it has a good chance of succeeding elsewhere without modifications. Even products past their market ‘peak’ at home can sell well in countries where the market’s at a less mature stage, making it possible to greatly extend a good product’s life cycle.

Having put these myths to rest, let’s now take a brief look at what it takes to do to become a successful exporter. The first thing it takes is a commitment in terms of both management time and money. A business that exports is not just expanding its current market; it’s entering a new one.

A company that wants to export its products must first clearly define its goals and develop a comprehensive marketing plan that covers every detail of the proposed operations, including selection of overseas sales representatives and distributors. Especially important is to be sure to allocate an adequate part of existing resources to support the overseas sales efforts.

Next it has to undertake a study of the markets into which it intends to export. It shouldn’t try to take on the world all at once; it’s more important to concentrate on getting established in just one or two overseas markets before trying to expand further.

It should consider using an export management company that can help with all the issues concerning research, promotion and distribution of products overseas. They can make an entry into foreign markets a lot easier and more than offset their expenses with sales success as a result.

Governments at state and federal levels are also glad to help exporters enter overseas markets, so they should be contacted when making export planning decisions. Any business wanting to export products to other countries will discover there are many sources of assistance for every step of the way.

There is one especially critical area that causes many export ventures to fail and that’s currency transactions. Exchange rates can fluctuate and make the actual value of a contract significantly different from when it was signed. Businesses should seek expert advice in how to cover themselves against these fluctuations before concluding any financial agreements.

Article courtesy of RAN ONE: http://www.ranone.com/Press_Room/news.asp?ID=4013

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Eight Crimes Of Marketing

We all make mistakes in business and some are more costly than others. Here are just eight of the marketing mistakes businesses make every day.

Go through your marketing plan carefully and see if any of these errors apply to you. It may not be too late to make changes.

Crime no. 1 – Cutting back on marketing expenditures when revenues drop

Marketing expenses are always the easiest to cut back in a hurry. However, reduced levels of advertising and promotions inevitably mean further reductions to income levels, so before cutting back in a hurry think about the consequences.

When revenues drop it should stimulate any business owner to make a careful examination of all expenditures, including marketing, but don’t allow it to trigger off a complete halt in marketing spending. That’s a guarantee that things will only get worse.

Crime no. 2 – Failing to do ongoing analysis of marketing results

If you’re spending money on marketing but don’t know which elements are working and which aren’t you’re probably wasting both money and opportunities.

Research, even on a modest scale, can tell you where your dollars work hardest and where they just aren’t working. Use this information to redirect your marketing budget so that you’re confident adequate support is being given to profit-generating sectors and funds aren’t being wasted elsewhere.

Crime no. 3 – Having all your eggs in one basket

It’s called the ‘marketing mix’ for good reason. All marketing is best done with a mixture of components. If all your marketing funds go into just one channel – say sponsoring local sports teams, you’re missing out on returns you’d get from other channels.

Try for a balanced effort that doesn’t place too great a percentage of your marketing funds into just one area. Leave some of your marketing budget as a reserve for opportunities that arise during the year so you’re able to capitalize on them without overextending.

Crime no. 4 – Being a D-I-Y marketing expert

Unless you’re incredibly gifted and have heaps of time to do everything you should use the services of marketing professionals to prepare your advertisements and other corporate material.

The same goes for your marketing strategy. Things change all the time in marketing and having a professional take a look at what you’re doing will give you a new and probably very useful perspective.

Crime no. 5 – Going on ‘gut feel’

You might think your marketing campaign is the best in the world. You might be convinced your products, pricing and promotion are all perfect and couldn’t be bettered. And, you might be right, but how do you really know?

Basing your marketing on research, having professional assistance in creating your campaign, and monitoring results with ways to measure outcomes are the only way you can be sure you have a good chance of getting it all right. ‘Gut feel’ is no substitute for careful planning and evaluation.

Crime no. 6 – Thinking you’ve had enough exposure

It’s easy for business owners to think their marketing communications have had enough exposure and decide to end a campaign, even a successful one.

Just be aware that the rest of the world doesn’t see as much of your marketing activities as you do, and it’s wise to keep using the same marketing tools until your research shows that response has dropped significantly

Crime no. 7 – Doing what the competition’s doing

It’s smart to keep an eye on what your competitors are up to, but it can be fatal to see them succeed in something and blindly follow suit with your own firm.

For example, if a competitor decides to specialize in a certain area and it seems they’re doing well out of it you might want to redirect some of your own resources into the same field. Or perhaps they decide to cut their hourly rates for new clients and you feel you should do the same. The risks are simply too great.

People aren’t after a ‘me-too’ source of professional work. They want to enjoy developed expertise delivered with outstanding service. They want value – not cheaper rates.

Crime no. 8 – Chasing new business at the expense of your client base

Your current and former clients represent your greatest source of income relative to expenditures. It takes five times as much effort to acquire a new client than it does to retain and existing one.

Spend some time developing a good CRM (Customer Relationship Management) procedure for your firm and always give existing clients priority. After all, if you went to a potential supplier and were told: “Sure, I can get it for you today. My other customers will just have to wait”, would you be impressed?

Article courtesy of RAN ONE: http://www.ranone.com/press_room/news.asp?ID=3907