Customer Relationship Management (CRM) has become increasingly popular in recent years and many businesses funnel large proportions of their expenditure into this discipline. CRM campaigns that specifically focus on customer interaction and consumer confidence have become an integral area of operation for many businesses.
But there is another discipline that many businesses overlook and it is one that can provide improved long-term profits if implemented correctly – Product Relationship Management (PRM).
PRM’s primary focus is the product and how it will provide continuous long-term profit. Yes, a business needs to persuade consumers to make that initial purchase, but once it makes a sale a business should not be chasing customers for further business — it should make the customer do the chasing. This is where PRM has an advantage over CRM.
CRM promotes the benefit of a healthy customer base and the importance of maintaining contact with these customers. Whether this is by email, post, or phone, the emphasis is on continuous promotion. After all, if a customer bought the last product they may well show interest in other products a business has to offer.
The problem with this system is the unpredictability of human behaviour. People move house, change their email address, and get a different phone number. So as efficient as a business’s CRM may be, there is no factoring for personal detail changes by customers.
So are businesses blowing their budgets hiring CRM experts, when they should be channeling their efforts towards supplying products that offer the potential of a continuous long-term revenue stream? CRM may not be the definitive answer to long-term financial profit, but PRM may well be.
One of the biggest advantages with adopting a PRM strategy is that is allows a product to encourage its own future sales. This could be from something as simple as new must-have product accessories. However, the most profitable and successful PRM techniques are based around products that:
If a business implements PRM into its marketing strategy, it should be looking to sell products that fit one or more of the examples above and ensure that it stocks and promotes any related products that consumers will require in the future.
For example, inkjet printers need ink. Many printer models will only accept replacement ink cartridges from their respective manufacturers and this means owners of a particular printer are forced to buy specific ink cartridges. The original printer sale may not have yielded a high profit margin but the continued sale of replacement ink encourages numerous profitable future transactions.
The same applies to replacement parts for products. Many products will use unique parts that can only be supplied via a manufacturer. These will be sold at premium cost. Customers are forced to buy these products when required, especially if they wish to ensure a warranty is not invalidated.
CRM drives businesses to chase customers and keep them informed through interaction and correspondence. PRM can force customers to return to a business because they need it. This is the main difference between PRM and CRM.
The simple answer is yes. A smart business will integrate the two principles into one plan, increasing efficiency and long-term profit generation.
CRM can be used to attract new customers and keep them satisfied. PRM will supplement this strategy by ensuring those customers keep returning for future purchases and transactions. Every time a customer returns, his or her contact details can be verified and updated.
Businesses may lose contact with customers through CRM alone, but PRM can help drag them back. Lost customers become contactable once again and a new CRM process can begin. It is almost a perpetual cycle: CRM encourages a purchase, PRM encourages continued transactions, customer contact details can be confirmed, and CRM continues unhindered by a loss of contact.
Daniel Offer is a partner in the Facebook messaging application Chit Chat for Facebook
There seems to be a lot of noise about social media just now but let’s not forget that it is just a tool to help you market your business.
It is your window to the world – a much bigger world than was available before. But caution. With increasing use of social media comes the increased risk of committing one of the seven deadly social media sins.
Too often I see posts on Twitter, blogs or forums that are antagonistic, overly opinionated, inaccurate and just plain rude! Many of these are from business owners who are using social media to attract new clients or customers and who seem to have forgotten that professional ethics still apply in the social media world. What these posters seem to forget is that most people will view such social media content with the contempt that it deserves!
Social media can be over-consumed. Whilst it is easy to get carried away and get drawn into a social media conversation or debate — don’t over indulge in it. You still have a job to do! Manage your time using the age-old time management techniques.
Having a high opinion of one's own importance via your social media streams is not recommended. However having pride in your social media content, behaviour and professionalism should be actively encouraged. Pride can be a double-edged sword — make sure that you pick the right side of that sword!
Over-promoting yourself or your services on social media can be very off-putting. In fact it could have the opposite effect of leading to a loss of interest rather than the desired effect of generating marketing interest. Keep your social media content relevant, topical, interesting, helpful and not self-promoting.
Being lazy with your social media content just will not do. New ideas are required all of the time. Keep up to date with the latest news items, forthcoming events or deadlines and write content that incorporates these. Never copy anyone else’s content unless as a reference and with their agreement.
Professional envy is often evident via social media. Expressing your envy of others via your social media stream is something to be avoided. Why not learn from what is making them successful and apply it to your business — a much better and more fulfilling use of your time.
Needless to say, as in any workplace conversations, your social media behaviour should be above reproach. However to show a healthy lust or hunger for your subject matter, by demonstrating your enthusiasm, is to be encouraged. Being positive and motivated will draw people to your content and help to get your marketing messages across via your social media content.
Hopefully you will manage to avoid these sins but if not, you will need to visit the Social Media Confessional!
It’s Global Entrepreneurship Week this week and, now in its third year, the event is bigger than ever.
Global Entrepreneurship Week is all about inspiring and galvanizing would-be entrepreneurs and supporting them with training and mentors.
Here in the UK, we do need a bit of a kick up the backside it seems. While research show that over fifty per cent of us think we’ve got what it takes to run a business, only 5.8 per cent of us are in the process of setting up in business right now. That might sound a lot – it does to me – but compare that to eight per cent in the United States and a whopping 19 per cent in China.
So what’s stopping us?
The organisers of Global Entrepreneurship Week believe that five myths about setting up in business create significant stumbling blocks for would-be entrepreneurs. They are hoping to blow these myths wide open this week:
These so-called myths are part of the age-old debate about what makes an entrepreneur. But the fact is that, like it or not, the very word does conjour up a stereotype – the maverick inventor like James Dyson, the business pioneer like Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the empire builder like Richard Branson.
Sadly, there seems to be a consensus that you can’t be called an entrepreneur unless you’ve proved yourself by making your millions. And increasingly, you have to be famous too. In other words, you have to be a business A-lister.
And yet it is the continual innovating, risk-taking and sheer grafting of anyone that sets up a business that should earn them the title entrepreneur.
Like many such events, Global Entrepreneurship Week is being supported by a host of entrepreneurial A-listers, headed by Dragon Peter Jones. But what’s great is that it is also very much on the ground, with 36,000 events in the UK alone and business people of all kinds offering their services as mentors.
So let’s hope this week does kick-start a new era of entrepreneurship – one that embraces businesses of all shapes and sizes.
A digital brand is the collective impression of all that is online about a person or a business, including your own, and it is important in establishing and building customer trust and loyalty. Increasingly, businesses are using popular social networking sites such as Twitter to encompass their digital brand.
Unfortunately, many businesses rush to set up Twitter accounts without recognising that a digital brand communicates your quality, professionalism and standing, and that everything posted on Twitter (or online elsewhere) will contribute to your brand.
Furthermore, companies are letting their employees, who may be untrained and unaware of brand values, manage these accounts on a day-to-day basis. As a business, you should be aware of this, and make an effort to protect yourself on Twitter.
Just one misplaced Tweet by an employee could have a negative impact on your company. Earlier this year Vodafone was forced to issue an apology to thousands of followers on Twitter after one of its customer service staff broadcast an obscene message. Despite Vodafone deleting the message from its Twitterfeed, users of the service saved a copy of the Tweet and sent it across the internet.
The episode damaged Vodafone’s digital brand, and the company was forced to apologise to hundreds of individual followers.
The Vodafone case highlights the importance of choosing carefully which employees manage your businesses Twitter account. Those entrusted with the responsibility should be well aware of the tone, language and brand values you wish the business to express through its Tweets.
It’s not just existing employees that can bring damage to your business’s digital brand through Twitter misuse. Individuals associated with your company in any way, such as ex-employees, can bring harm through disparaging remarks made on their personal Twitter accounts.
Don’t shy away from Twitter, embrace it, but have a solid strategy in place. Make sure your business is proactive, and you can deliberately build a positive digital brand that is protected against Twitter, and which extends your ability to achieve awareness and create lasting customer loyalty.
Howard Scott is digital marketing director at agency, Sequence Digital.
How often do your clients say that to you? In a competitive marketplace, it’s so tempting to feel like you need to compete on price. After all, if you’re the cheapest, clients will flock to you won’t they?
Take a look at your marketing literature: your website, your latest leaflets or flyers. What’s the main message? I met with a prospective client recently and the message that was coming across loud and clear was “we’re cheap”. This lady runs a successful business, her team work hard and they’re making a profit. But I can’t help thinking that they could be making an easier profit, attracting easier clients and making a larger profit if they just thought about repositioning themselves.
Most businesses have a Unique Selling Point (USP) that extends beyond how much they charge. The trouble is, they rarely communicate that USP effectively. The downside to this? You’ll end up attracting customers who only want to work with you because you’re cheap. They won’t value what you do, they probably won’t want to spend what you want to charge, and they’ll just recommend more people like them. It’s a vicious circle.
Moving your marketing away from being “the cheapest” takes a bit of bravery. Putting your prices up takes even more courage. But trust me, if you can do it effectively you’ll start attracting the sort of clients who really value what you do, and they are the people who will be with you for the long term.
If you run a service-based business you’ll also buy yourself enough time to do the quality of work you really want to be doing. And if you can communicate the benefits of the value you’re offering effectively, you’ll finally hear those magic words: “you were the most expensive, but we want to work with you anyway.”
One of the first points to consider, when thinking about creating a business website, is the locality of your target audience. Are you aiming to attract customers from other countries, or are you concentrating solely on the country where your business is located?
There is a very good reason for asking this question and it is something that very few people consider when they develop a website. The domain extension you select and the actual physical location of a web hosting company’s servers can affect whether or not your website will appear in Google’s local search results.
Many small businesses only wish to serve a specific location within a country itself, say a particular town or district. For these businesses, local search can be very influential. Google is placing great importance on local search and it is important to a small business for their website appear within these results. But for this to occur, their website should have the correct domain extension and be hosted on servers that are geographically relevant to their target area.
When deciding if a website is relevant to local search results for a particular location, Google will examine two essential factors.
Has the website got the correct domain extension for that location?
Is the website hosted on servers local to the specific area?
Let’s take a closer look at these two factors:
Most web design companies and SEO specialists always insist that a business opts for a .com extension. Search engines do favor this extension in general but not when it comes to local search results. The only exemption here is local searches in the Unites States. In the US, Google automatically defers to .com.
The reason Google considers a website with a country-specific extension more relevant to local search is they assume (with good reason) that the site will likely contain content that is more relevant to search users from the same country. It is that simple.
The second important factor is the location of the server a website is hosted on. This is often overlooked by many web designers and SEO companies. It is not always prudent to go for the cheapest reliable web hosting company, without knowing the location of their servers.
This applies to all countries. Many of the popular web hosts have servers that are located in eastern European countries — where property, labour and utilities are cheaper. It is important to do some research before choosing a web host and if you cannot find the information on their site, phone or send them an email. Ask where their servers are located and if they are unresponsive, or dodge the question, the servers are probably not located locally.
There will be perfectly reliable web hosting companies with local servers and the difference in price between these and those with non-local servers will often be negligible. Google does rank server location when they provide local search results, so this is an important choice if you are looking to appear in these results.
There is another factor to consider for any small business that targets a specific local community. Servers located in the same locality as a particular location-based search query can also influence a website’s position in the local search listings.
As with domain extensions, Google presumes the website hosted in the same locality will contain the most relevant content for that area. This is not only country-specific; it can also be area-specific, so bear this in mind when choosing a web-hosting provider.
Google claims that one in five search queries is now a location-based search. At present Google is the prominent search engine and the above two factors do influence how a website is ranked in the local search results. Keep these factors in mind and give your website a local search advantage.
Daniel Offer is a partner in the Facebook chat programme Chit Chat for Facebook.