Is your business positioned for Success or for Failure..?

Posted by andysalmon on 3rd April, 2014 with 0 comments

Correct positioning of your products and / or services has the potential to lead to increased profitability,  however get it wrong and you could be sending your business broke slowly.

So what is positioning all about?

In a nutshell, positioning refers to the point within the market where you place your products and / or services. What I regularly find is that where a formal positioning strategy does not exist, businesses tend to take a reactive approach to the market as opposed to a proactive one. When dealing with a client that is operating within a price sensitive market the result is often a predictable one; An overall reduction in price, leading to lower margins and reduced profitability.

Are you positioned correctly within the market..? Ask yourself these questions…

1) In simplistic terms are you a high, mid or low quality provider?
2) Do you price at the high, mid or low end of the market?

With regards to the first question, clients more often than not answer that their offering is of a high quality. I have a theory on this in that often businesses are started by individuals with a real passion for a product or service and that this passion is manifested as a high quality output. Unfortunately, the answer to the second question is often mid or low end pricing and this is prevalent within price sensitive markets where a lot of buyer power exists and this is where a potentially serious problem lies…

From my perspective, there is no right or wrong answer to the first question. It may give you a great feeling as a business owner if, for example you produce a disposable razor where the blade is of such high quality that it remains sharp for 200 shaves. Within the disposable market however, such a blade is an intangible benefit as the razor will be thrown out after two or three uses anyway. The consumer will not pay for benefits or enhancements that they cannot see, touch, taste, hear or smell.

The point that I’m trying to make here is that the only correct answer to the second question is the one that corresponds to the first (for example high quality = high price, mid quality = mid price, low quality = low price).

In the example of the razor manufacturer an option could be to consider moving away from the disposable market altogether and into the one where the high quality blade becomes a tangible benefit for prospective consumers of the product. Alternatively, realigning the manufacturing processes to produce a high volume / lower quality blade (thus reducing cost) and remaining within the existing market may be a strategy worthy of consideration. In other words, do yourself a favour and “Don’t try to sell what you want to produce, sell what your customers want to buy”.

Thus far I have focused on high end positioning however as a mid or low quality producer, positioning is equally important…

If for example you are a manufacturer of low quality / high volume household furniture and selling it through high value resellers at a premium price, the likelihood is that your product won’t meet customer expectations and you’ll end up with a factory where the machines sitting idle and a warehouse full of stock (and returns) that you can’t shift. If the products are appropriately positioned within the market however, the result may be completely different.

Try taking the 15 minute exercise below by asking yourself these questions;

1) What end of the market do I operate within?
2) Am I positioned correctly (strategically)?
3) Am I trying to sell what I want to produce or what customers want to buy?

Answering the questions above may help you to determine whether or not you are positioned correctly and if not, provide some ideas as to what needs to occur to bring the two elements into alignment.  Don’t forget, positioning your market offering correctly can be the difference between turning a profit and going broke slowly!

Andy Salmon.

Making the most of your Business Network

Posted by andysalmon on 3rd March, 2014 with 0 comments

Business networks have the potential to be a great source of leads via referral but how do you get the most out of participation in a networking group?

Having been active within a number of groups, my view is that the key to success is confidence. Whether or not you build confidence in your capabilities amongst the other members is a critical element in determining whether the flow of referrals will (or won’t) reach you.

Let’s think about the statement above for a moment…

You work hard to obtain and retain your customers. How likely is it that you would refer your customers to another business if you were not convinced that they could deliver a valuable product and or service..? Exactly!

That’s where the confidence bit comes in…

With all networking groups that I have been involved with, there have been a few members who were significantly more successful in getting leads than the majority were. Regardless of their product and or service offering these individuals had a few things in common. I’d suggest that you observe these members within your own group. What makes them different? Why is it that they are so successful where others are not? They may engage in a number of different activities however each of these promotes greater confidence in their abilities which breaks down the referral barriers.

Increasing the confidence of those around you, in your ability to deliver a valuable product or service can have the result of swiftly moving members of your business network through the cycle of Suspicion (Non referring) to Prospective Connections (possible future referrers of business) to Converts (confident that you can deliver a valuable product / service) and finally to becoming Disciples of your business who will readily refer you because they are convinced that interactions you have with their customers will act to further strengthen the relationship that they already have with that customer.

So… What are you waiting for? Start building confidence among the network members, gather your disciples and reap the rewards.

I’d welcome any questions or comments,

Andy Salmon.

How do you address customer service failures..?

Posted by andysalmon on 3rd February, 2014 with 1 Comment

Angry CustomerA customer service impact 2010 report concluded that 82% of customers abandon a brand after receiving poor customer service. The question of addressing damaging customer service failures was asked on an online forum. I answered and thought it may be useful to post an excerpt of my response here.

When I ran my IT business I had four golden rules that I applied whenever there was a customer service failure;

1) Own up to it
2) Apologise for it
3) Make things right for the customer
4) Put steps in place to minimise the chances of it recurring

I’ll expand on each of these points a little…

Own up to it. This one is pretty simple really. If you know that the issue has been with your systems and / or processes then it should be a case of making contact with the customer as soon as possible and owning up to it. Far too often I have come into contact with organisations that are so terrified of admitting that they have had a failure that they end up losing customers who would otherwise have been retained if they (the organisation providing the service) had just owned up to it.

Apologise for it. By this I mean a GENUINE apology. Don’t you just hate it when you call to complain about something and the person on the other end of the phone says something like “We’re sorry you feel that way” or “We apologise for any inconvenience caused” these responses do nothing to make irate customers feel any better at all.

Make things right for the customer. This is quite straightforward and often means dipping into your pocket in some manner. It may involve offering them a discount on something for their trouble or sending them a free gift. Either way, when a customer rings to complain you should try to reverse the initial feeling that we often have which is to go on the defensive. If a customer takes the time and trouble to complain about something rather than just going to one of your competitors they are actually doing you a favour by highlighting an area of your delivery that does not meet customer expectations – a gift as it were. This is especially true when you consider that the cost of engaging a business professional to highlight issues in your service delivery could easily run into many thousands of dollars. By offering a customer who highlights a service failure a free gift or a discount you’re actually way ahead financially in that you have exchanged with your customer, something of little value for something of significant value!

Don’t let it happen again. After resolving the immediate customer issue examine what went wrong and put some processes into place to ensure that it does not continue to occur.

I’d welcome any questions or comments,

Andy Salmon.

SWEDA seeks support for ‘Give Me 5′ Project

Posted by andysalmon on 13th January, 2014 with 0 comments

Give Me 5The concept is based on Micro-finance principles and SWEDA plans to run an initial pilot with local Colleges, schools and youth groups.

Give me 5 – will be a challenge where students and groups are brought together to create a local social enterprise and as such will undertake all of the associated enterprise activity. This will fulfil the requirements of one or more modules needed to complete their qualification but could also potentially lead to a more sustainable social enterprise – which may be able to be adopted by the sponsoring academy or associated college.

The Give me 5 principles are:

  • Groups are formed and generate ideas through the identification of areas of need within the local community. This can either be stand alone or alongside other provision (service providers) but their concept / idea / income generation should be able to be audited independently – and the impact (financial and non-financial can be verified)
  • Groups can be any size, but recommended min 5 – max 10
  • Groups will be provided with initial brief including background on social enterprise / legal structures and offered ‘introductory workshop’
  • Groups will be required to undertake some research in their local area to identify possible activity – community they wish to support (this can include an environmental project)
  • Groups can then apply for initial seed funding £5, £50, or £500. The requirements for each level are:

£5 – short term project up to 3 months – target return min £25 (keeping with the theme give me 5 in this case 5 times the initial seed funding) There should also be 1 other impact – this being the focus of the project e.g. health awareness or anti bullying or similar project. It may be theme based or seasonality based could like to an associated fair or similar.  At the end of the project not looking for sustainability – all profits made returned to SWEDA (giveme5.org.uk) to help fund future projects.

£50 – Medium Term around 6 months, target return £250, but could be a pilot for a more sustainable project – probably focus on a group or groups of individuals needing support, with 2 or 3 impact areas – all profits made returned to SWEDA (giveme5.org.uk) to help fund future projects. However if identified sustainable project developed and following return of target £250 further £500+ available – group and retain their own £500 (which they raised through the project) and move into sustainable stage. But agree to support Give Me 5 by 5% share of profits on an ongoing basis.

To find out more about how you may be able to get involved in the project, just get in touch.

Black Country residents encouraged to explore their entrepreneurial spirit

Posted by andysalmon on 25th May, 2012 with 1 Comment

Local residents of the Black Country are being encouraged to explore their entrepreneurial spirit and set up a new business through the help of a vital support project.

The Supporting Employment and Enterprise Development project (SEED) is supported by £249,500 from the European Regional Development Fund, which is managed by the Department for Communities and Local Government and matched and delivered by Access to Business (A2B) and SWEDA.

Carole Taylor, Access to Business Advisor stated “anyone who would like to find out more about becoming self-employed or develop a business will have a chance to attend one of our free events in Wolverhampton and West Bromwich.  A number of people in the Black Country wish to start their own business but do not know where to get the correct information.  We intend to have at our events a number of experts who will give useful information advice and guidance, giving presentations and information workshops, which will be extremely beneficial”

The first event will be at The Molineux International Suite, Waterloo Road, Wolverhampton on Wednesday 20th of June, starting at 10.30 am for introductions and presentations, followed by networking and an opportunity to speak to our experts.  The second event will be at The Public, West Bromwich, again commencing at 10.30 am on Thursday 28th of June. There will be a number of guest speakers and experts to give advice on Taxation, Finance, Banking, Marketing, Employment Law, risk of redundancy and Social Enterprise to name but a few subjects.

Norman Price, Deputy Chair of the West Midlands ERDF Local Management Committee said:

“Over the next 2 years, this project will provide the crucial support needed to get a new business off the ground, to local people in the Black Country. If we want to start making a difference in an area and help create businesses and jobs, those groups of people who need it the most, need to be targeted and supported. ERDF funding plays a major role in doing this helping them to make the big step into a new business, and I am delighted that we have been able to ensure this important support project can go forward.”

Carole Taylor, Access to Business Advisor concluded “Access to Business and SWEDA have successfully supported hundreds of businesses by giving invaluable advice and the confidence needed to become self employed.  In addition, anyone who is unable to attend the presentation in the morning can visit in the afternoon where everyone will have an opportunity to meet and talk to our experts and some of our existing clients who have already set up their businesses.

All of our events are free to attend however places are limited therefore anyone wanting to book a place should telephone Carole or Jess on 01902 572397 or Tony on 0121 525 2558 or alternatively email carole@access2business.co.uk or sweda@sweda.org.uk

Simplifying Social Media workshops – June / July 2012. Book Now!

Posted by andysalmon on 17th May, 2012 with 0 comments

Want to get started with Social Media but not sure how..?
sweda is pleased to offer a series of practical half day workshops to get your business up and running with LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook & Blogging. Based in our fully equipped IT suite you will work individually on a PC where we will guide you, step by step through the registration and start up process. You will come away with your account set up, fully operational and with a clear knowledge of how to make social media work for your business.

Who should attend?
Business owners who want to start using social media, current social media users who want to use their accounts more effectively or individuals who will be responsible for social media within their organisation.

What you will learn?

  • How to create your account
  • Develop and optimise your profile
  • Upload content
  • Privacy; Selecting the right settings
  • Connect with prospective customers
  • Develop your social media strategy
  • Protect your business online; The social media policy

 

Workshop Dates:

29th June LinkedIn

6th July Twitter

13th July Facebook

20th July Blogging

 

Time: 9:30am – 12:30pm

Venue: SWEDA

Workshop Cost: Only £50.00 per workshop

Limited places are available so book early by calling SWEDA on 0121 525 2558

Invitation to celebrate 21 years of SWEDA and our re-launch

Posted by andysalmon on 3rd May, 2012 with 0 comments

The team at SWEDA invites YOU to a client open day on Wednesday 23rd May 2012 at our offices between 12:00pm and 2:30pm – light refreshments provided.

SWEDA has a long history of providing support to the local community and tackling core issues such as unemployment, skills training and the creation of new self-employment / social enterprise opportunities.

Over the last 21 years SWEDA has diversified to meet the ever changing needs of the community, and we felt 2012 was the right time to review our activities and how we communicate with our partners, stakeholders and clients.

SWEDA has a unique reputation and ethos and we have worked hard to ensure that not only has this not been lost in the re-branding exercise, but that this is now communicated in all that we do and remains at the core of our future activity.

We are really excited to host this event which will allow us to share with you our new:

  • Corporate Identity
  • Website
  • Marketing Literature
  • Social Media
  • E.marketing

 

We want to welcome back old friends and celebrate the success of SWEDA and for those of you who don’t know SWEDA so well to welcome you into the SWEDA family.

We look forward to seeing you on the day!

SWEDA retains matrix Accreditation…

Posted by andysalmon on 20th April, 2012 with 0 comments

This week SWEDA has been successful in retaining it’s Matrix accreditation.

The matrix Standard is a challenging, outcome based Standard that is not only a benchmark of the quality of the services an organisation provides, but a key business improvement tool. Holding matrix accreditation is a demonstration of SWEDA’s positive commitment to providing our clients with the highest levels of quality service.

Click here to find out more about the matrix Standard

 

April – August: Employability Workshops at SWEDA

Posted by andysalmon on 13th April, 2012 with 0 comments

SWEDA is pleased to announce that We will be running a series of employability workshops from April through to August. These workshops will run over six, weekly sessions and are designed to provide attendees with the tools required to move forward. Themes include;

Week 1:Image

  • Self Management
  • Self Esteem

Week 2:

  • Confidence Building
  • Presentation Skills
  • Life Skills

Week 3:

  • Communication Skills
  • Telephone Techniques
  • Interview Techniques

Week 4:

  • CV Building
  • Transferrable Skills
  • Key Skills

Week 5:

  • Time Management
  • Importance of Presentation
  • Budgeting

Week 6:

  • Job Search
  • Work Placements
  • Volunteering
  • Self – Employment
  • Further Education

For more information call 0121 525 2558 or email sweda@sweda.org.uk

An Introduction to using IT in your Business. Interactive Workshop

Posted by andysalmon on 5th April, 2012 with 0 comments

Are you;

  • Thinking of starting a business?
  • Involved in a Social Enterprise?
  • Running an existing business?

If so – this interactive workshop is for you!

We will show you different tools and tips to help you to get more from the internet as well as making the most of Microsoft Office applications (find the hidden resources online and offline). Discover useful sites to help your business development – some you will have heard of already others you may be unaware of.

Social Media… Is it right for you, and if so, which platforms are most suited to your business.

There will be a Q & A session so feel free to send in your IT related questions so that we may answer them for you on the day.

Date;

13th April 2012

Venue;

SWEDA, The Business Centre, Church Street, West Bromwich, B70 8RP

Cost: Only £25 per person!

To book or for more details call: 0121 525 2558 or email sweda@sweda.org.uk