Dallas Business Consultant Elijah ClarkDallas Business Consultant Elijah Clark

Focus Groups

Qualitative research focuses on analyzing the in-depth details of why customers behave the way in which they do. It searches for the barriers in place that may affect a customer’s reasoning. For instance, a new company may want to know about their product in terms of how it feels, smells, and tastes. Using a qualitative approach would assist in finding the appropriate marketing or product solution. A qualitative research setting would be used to collect user information and explore the reasoning for their perspectives. In addition to those responses, details could be collected to determine how they arrived at their conclusions. Those details could include motives, emotions, and mental triggers. A focus group setting would be perfect for conducting qualitative research considering that focus groups allow for in-depth interviews with customers that can be used to gain valuable product insight.

Focus groups can provide your business with resources to seek legitimate feedback, conduct beta testing, and evaluate customers’ perceptions through real-time reviews. Focus groups are ideal for acquiring data for measuring status and trends while also providing your business the opportunity to decide the cost of products and services based on the opinion of topographically diverse participants. The core segment of focus groups are the connections among the participants. In particular, the interaction with participants could help gather less accessible data, which would not generally come to surface using traditional data collection methods. Focus groups are also more reliable than data mining on social media because of careful validation processes that consider time, commitment, and credibility of the results produced by study participants.

The drawbacks of using focus groups are that using the method would not help you observe participants in a natural setting, which often affect the results. However, in an attempt to analyze the reliability of focus groups, researchers concluded that the group setting was as reliable as other methods of interviews, and the credibility relied on the mentalities and demographics of participants. Considering focus groups take place within a group setting, participants could affect the decisions of other individuals. Therefore, using a structured process is critical to the success of focus groups.

 

Entrepreneurship and Leadership

Taxonomy of Leadership

By serving and supporting employees, you can create a positive and productive business environment. As a business owner, your leadership style plays a significant role in the success of your business and your employees’ perceptions of the business. By satisfying employees through listening to their needs, adapting to their situations, creating a positive exchange, and building trust, you will have the support needed to create and innovate within your business which is helpful in motivating employees and generating positive customer relationships.

Entrepreneurship

The elements of entrepreneurship include an appetite for risk and the ability to spot opportunities. The propensity to take financial and career oriented risks are often attributed to entrepreneurs. However, while entrepreneurs generally take risk involving business opportunities, they must also be innovators and willing to continually take risks that challenge the status quo.

As a business owner, you must be both an entrepreneur and an innovator to remain relevant within your industry. An innovative entrepreneur is more likely to challenge assumptions due to what is known as creative intelligence which enables discovery by engaging both sides of the brain. While your entrepreneur side may know what decisions need to be made, the innovator in you understands how to make them work for a purpose. If you don’t produce or motivate innovation within your business, you will eventually fall prey to businesses that do.

Management

Managing your business effectively involves more than meaning well and supporting popular causes. The functions of being a manager are planning, organizing, leading, and controlling. As a manager, your role is to cope with complexity and bring a degree of order and consistency to the business at hand. Exhibiting leadership traits means not only influencing others but also doing so in a manner that enables your business to attain its goals.

Leadership and management are two distinctive, yet complementary, systems of action. Each has its own function and characteristics, and both are necessary for success in an increasingly complex and volatile business environment. Of course, not everyone can be good at both leading and managing. Some people have the capacity to become excellent managers, but not strong leaders. Others have great leadership potential but have great difficulty becoming strong managers.

Social Media Reviews

Online networking is a gathering of internet-based applications built on the foundation of ideology and technical specifications of web 2.0, which allows for the development and exchange of user-generated content. Social media is a critical area of enthusiasm for marketing managers and practitioners seeking to evaluate and influence customers’ perceptions. Researchers found that 88% of marketers used social media and spent over $60 billion per year consistently on social media marketing. The most valuable social media tools for gathering marketing data are LinkedIn®, Twitter, Facebook, and online blogging.[1] The essential marketing applications of social media include content marketing, market research, and business networking.

Your business should use social media for presenting marketing endeavors and building relationships with customers. Having an influential social presence is critical to propelling your marketing and brand development strategies. Increasing knowledge, implementing social media strategies, and brand showcasing can benefit your business by exploiting the opportunities that social networks present. In conducting a study consisting of 236 social media users’ online interactions to evaluate predictors relating to social media sites, it was found that online networking had a significant effect on customers’ perceptions of online marketing and advertisements.[2]

In a large-scale field experiment comprising of 45,000 participants of an online mall, researchers found that both financial and value incentives were significant forces in generating brand awareness through social members.[3] If you grasp how to capitalize from online discussions, you can develop strategies that enhance your business’s reputation, profits, and brand awareness. Social influence is characterized as a propensity to accept data as evidence about reality. For instance, with online movie ratings, customers frequently rate movies based on previous ratings by other customers. This happens because customers using social media have a significant influence on the actions and suppositions of their peer groups.

The advantage of using social media for your business is to connect with those customers who can decidedly influence your brand’s notoriety and awareness. For an individual to be influential on social media, they need to present relevant substance within their reviews and have a reasonable social following. You could gain influential power by identifying, reaching, and bargaining with customers online. To develop these relationships of power, you should solicit influential customers and provide product samples and ask that they share their evaluations and feedback on social networks.

 

[1] Whiting, A., & Williams, D. (2013). Why people use social media: A uses and gratifications approach. Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal, 16, 362-369. doi:10.1108/qmr-06-2013-0041

[2] Vinerean, S., Cetina, I., Dumitrescu, L., & Tichindelean, M. (2013). The effects of social media marketing on online consumer behavior. International Journal of Business and Management, 8, 66. doi:10.5539/ijbm.v8n14p66

[3] Ahrens, J., Coyle, J. R., & Strahilevitz, M. A. (2013). Electronic word of mouth: The effects of incentives on e-referrals by senders and receivers. European Journal of Marketing, 47, 1034-1051. doi:10.1108/03090561311324192

Reputation Management

Customer feedback and reviews are influential and can affect how your customers engage with your businesses. The influence of a review is dependent on the value the reader of the review places on the individual who posted the review. Additionally, potential customers use reviews to pre-qualify your business by gaining insight into the ethics, products, and services your business offers. For reviews to be influential, the review must be honest, credible, and written by actual customers and not your business’s marketing department. However, the effect of influencer marketing is decreasing as customers have come to realize that businesses can influence the selection of reviews as a marketing tactic.

Your business should utilize product reviews as a means to improve sales and validate successful experiences and problem areas with current and potential customers. When developing marketing strategies, you should make an effort to take note of reviewer demographics and characteristics. A survey by comScore, an internet marketing and advertising company, found that 24% of online customers thoughtfully considered online reviews prior to making a purchase.[1] By examining the influence of reviews and eventual product sales in relation to commonalities between products and customers, marketing managers seeking to gain insight into the shopping and purchasing behaviors of customers can use these reviews as a method of obtaining information.

The value of customer reviews depends on the quality of the review and its substance, the credibility of the reviewer, and the nature of the review in addition to the number of reviews in total, the average review score, and the overall consensus of the reviewers. The internet provides numerous venues for customers and marketing managers to share and receive product knowledge through the sharing of experiences and insights. Customer-generated reviews were considered more trustworthy and credible than any other form of correspondence. Moreover, using the internet permitted customers to purchase products effortlessly and conveniently through websites including Amazon.com and eBay.com which permitted customers to search and compare products, brands, and reviews. In addition to the value of products, customers consider reviews, seller notoriety, and promotional product photos to be the most influential elements that contribute to making final purchasing decisions.

Some of your customers will be fundamentally influenced by information posted by previous customers and will consider those reviews most credible and trustworthy. Content style, source, and peripheral credibility cues in social reviews influence customer beliefs. It’s often difficult to discern the credibility of customer reviews, and your customers’ perception of reviews is a distinguishing factor in purchasing intentions. Therefore, expert reviews provide more credibility and trustworthiness, while guest reviewers, new reviewers, and reviewers with a low number of posts tend to lack credibility.

Online customer reviews constitute a focal point for evaluating customer decision making in terms of online purchases. The quality of customer reviews has a significant effect on the credibility, trustworthiness, and as a result, the perception of your business. Customers use reviews to help determine the trustworthiness of your business based on the ratings and quality of reviews. In using a web-based experiment to examine the quality and effect of product reviews on study participants’ decisions, research found that customers rated reviews based on the quality and the extent of the reviews. High-quality reviews were adequately detailed and generated positive evaluations. In a study of 577 participants, researchers concluded that expert opinions had a significant influence on the perception of reviews, as did visual presentations of reviews. Furthermore, observable characteristics of products had a notable effect on product perception and reviews.[2]

Reviews encourage purchases by helping to avoid confusion and limiting choice overload. Customer reviews and word-of-mouth have always played significant roles in marketing campaigns in that they help to increase product sales, reduce price sensitivity, and increase customer knowledge which helps to reduce the uncertainty of purchasing and increases customer satisfaction. After testing a sample of 203 customer review community participants on OpenRice.com, researchers determined that 69% of the participants shared reviews and rated the quality of those reviews based on various factors including reputation, sense of belonging, and the joy of helping others.[3]

 

[1] Ritchie, J., Lewis, J., Nicholls, C. M., & Ormston, R. (Eds.). (2013). Qualitative research

practice: A guide for social science students and researchers (2nd ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications.

[2] Situmeang, F. B., Leenders, M. A., & Wijnberg, N. M. (2014). History matters: The impact of reviews and sales of earlier versions of a product on consumer and expert reviews of new editions. European Management Journal, 32, 73-83. doi:10.1016/j.emj.2013.11.001

[3] Cheung, C. M., & Lee, M. K. (2012). What drives consumers to spread electronic word of mouth in online consumer-opinion platforms. Decision Support Systems, 53, 218-225. doi:10.1016/j.dss.2012.01.015

Viral Marketing

Social media marketing (SMM) is a form of internet marketing which is used to help achieve branding and marketing communication goals through participation on social media. SMM is a great way to better market your business online. Having a social networking presence for your business and interacting with potential customers is a great way to expand your brand name and awareness.

The benefit of a viral SMM plan is the ability to create a video that focuses on entertaining the customer while providing valuable information about your brand and what it offers. The video should provide information on the benefits of the business. The concept of the video should be informative and is intended to encourage viewers to share the video via social media and on websites where they are a member. After watching the video, the customer should be inspired to visit your company, call, visit your website, and share the viral marketing video and the information about your company to their friends. A viral marketing plan should be distributed via video and social networking sites such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and by using other multimedia embedding networks and websites. A viral marketing plan can easily create a positive image for your brand while also providing valuable promotional content to users.

Internet and Social Trends

The development of the internet has shifted businesses from paper-based and people-intensive purchasing frameworks toward electronic frameworks. In 2016, U.S. electronic commerce transactions accounted for $394.86 billion (11.7%) of total retail sales.[1] Online sales have seen a significant growth because of the internet. The progression of the internet and technology will continually add value to business and customer relationships and provide material for future marketing research.

Customers are moving toward the internet to develop knowledge, business insights, and for other personal reasons. Research has shown that businesses that utilize traditional marketing techniques and advertising methods have seen a decrease in revenue because consumers are moving online to search for businesses and make purchases. Considering the exceptional growth of the internet, businesses without a viable marketing strategy embracing the internet witnessed a lack of marketing effectiveness, product sales, and brand awareness. To counter the effects of the interpersonal communication that the internet presents, your business should obviously develop strategic marketing communication for targeting internet-based customers.

Using the internet to gather information aids in collecting pertinent data for better comprehending the perceptions of your customers toward your business. Given the development of the internet, you can utilize technology for storing and accumulating customer information. Likewise, because of the significant influence of the internet, you can also use the internet to help with establishing relationships with business partners and customers.

The internet affects individuals in their daily lives and can produce challenges for your business due to the accessibility of social media. Online networking has revealed an entryway for customers to express their concerns directly to your business, and this method of correspondence encourages interaction between your business and your customers. Subsequently, customers appreciate having their sentiments validated. However, the immediate and open forum of communication could present challenges for your business if you are not prepared to manage and grow with the online trend.

Customers have a significant influence on the brand awareness of your business as the opinions of customers can propel your brand reputation. For instance, inquiries, comments, and reactions on discussion boards often affect brand loyalty, social following, and purchasing habits. Given the internet, you have to carefully monitor your brand, public activities, and reputation if you want to stay ahead of customer concerns and problems that could impact your sales and business growth.

 

[1] https://www.digitalcommerce360.com/2017/02/17/us-e-commerce-sales-grow-156-2016/

Customer Service

These days, technology connects us in a way that we could have never imagined. And while this increased connectivity makes it easy for us to stay in touch, it’s important that we don’t let it stand in the way of real, personal engagement with customers. Think about a time when you called into a customer service line. You probably sat through a series of long, drawn-out automated messages, pressed a couple buttons, and after much frustration, breathed a sigh of relief when you were finally connected with an actual representative, right?

At the end of the day, people want to do business with other people — not machines and auto sequenced emails. By making a conscious effort to infuse more human interactions into your day-to-day communication with customers, it will be easier to build trust and deepen the relationship. Satisfying the needs of your customers ensures the survival of your business. A periodic check is required to discern the level of performance related to the current quality of services and products, followed by a plan to upgrade or enhance those services or products as necessary to build a quality relationship with your customers. In order to fulfill this goal, you must have a set of rules to measure and improve this quality.

Delivering quality services to customers is considered the most effective way to ensure that your business stands out from your competitors. The main ingredients involved in a quality relationship between your business and your customers are trust and commitment. Trust means confidence and security in the relationship you have with customers and can be treated as the biggest investment in building long term relationships. Lack of trust, on the other hand, weakens the relationship’s foundation.

Marketing A/B Testing

When developing marketing campaigns, you should always A/B Test, which is referred to as creating multiple campaigns for the same goal. By creating multiple versions of a controlled campaign, it could help your business determine the most effective campaign based on a side-by-side comparison.

Example.

In a study conducted by the Coca-Cola Company, taste was considered the most important factor for their declined sales between the 1970s and 1980s. In response, the New Coke was developed to enhance the flavor and generate sales. With the approval of more than half of the 200,000 blind product testers, the New Coke was introduced to replace the original flavored Coke— which was a disaster for the company. Because of the unfavorable results and backlash from customers, the New Coke was withdrawn from the market and the Coke Classic was introduced with the original ingredients. Regarding the Coca-Cola Company’s quantitative study and the New Coke, the test provided inconclusive results because of the lack of information given to the participants. Though the participants enjoyed the flavor of the New Coke, it did not outweigh their desire and loyalty of the original Coke. The New Coke’s example of relying on only one type of study displayed poor predictive validity. A customer’s like toward a product is not a good predictor of whether they would purchase the product over another product they also like. Had the Coke Company taken a segmented approach and kept both products on the store shelves, they could have had a better idea of which the users liked best and which would generate the most sales in a side-by-side or A/B comparison.

Most businesses who do A/B testing often fail to give their testing ad a chance at achieving its best possible results. Furthermore, without testing the ad properly, these individuals or companies may ultimately lose money, time, and potentially reject a successful ad that just never had the chance to prove itself successful due to the lack of owner knowledge. Having a control ad running throughout the testing of a new ad can save money and eliminate performance history as a variable in the test ad. By creating multiple copies of a control ad, you can avoid giving 50% of impressions to an unproven ad which may fail. Creating multiple copies of a control ad allows you to save on cost considering the control ad is always running. Instead of losing 50% of ad impressions to the testing ad, that percentage shrinks to 20% because of the additional control ad copies. In addition to this type of testing saving on cost and potentially accelerating the testing process, it also allows for you to create a valid testing environment by comparing the performance of the test ad against the copies of the control only.

Consumer vs Business Markets

In both business and consumer markets, the individual that will use your product or service is not always the same individual that makes the actual purchasing decision. For instance, a husband may purchase a product that his wife needs, or a parent for a child, or an employer for an employee. In these situations, your responsibility is to satisfy the decision maker(s) by providing them relevant information as to how your product or service can enhance their business or lifestyle.

Generally, when I walk into a jewelry store to purchase a gift for my wife, the sales representative will ask questions about my wife, not about me (until we start talking budget). In business, you need to ask the purchaser about the goals or intentions for the product or service, not about their basic needs. To make them happy, you have to sell the expectation that the individual receiving the purchase will be happy. When the decision maker is not present, you can generate more sales by focusing on expectation rather than the moment.

Business Market Purchases. When marketing to a business, you should concentrate on what is most important to the business which often includes statistics, facts, data, and a return on investment. Within the business market, the purchasing decision is generally made by multiple individuals. Your selling strategy should focus on each of the decision makers by way of the individual who sought out your business. This may include giving everything to the purchaser and letting that individual determine how to disperse the content to the decision maker(s).

Consumer Market Purchases. Consumers regularly make purchases based on factors which include value, availability, and emotional connections. In consumer markets, you will either sell to an individual or a couple. An example of a couple transaction is a husband wanting to purchase a new home. To do so, he would need to get his wife to agree to the decision. Similar to a business market, you need to sell to both but primarily satisfy the decision maker, which you should identify as you work to develop the relationship.

In both business and consumer markets, you can go a long way by getting the individual who contacted you to like you. If they like you and your business, they will fight on your behalf to influence the decision maker.

Sell What Sells

The goal of any campaign is to generate sales. Therefore, the ideal campaign should build trust, influence sales, and generate brand awareness. The trick to selling is to give customers what they want or something better. As a business, you need to focus your marketing campaigns on the services or products which have proven to generate sales. Your business should target and adapt your marketing strategies to highlight what customers want and will purchase, not necessarily what you want to sell. For example, if Product A (the product you least like) sells more than Product B (the product you want to sell), then you need to adjust your business and focus on the product that is generating a profit and sustaining your business.

When I started as a consultant, I worked under the business name Tex Design Studio (TDS) where I worked directly with customers to sell web design, SEO, marketing, and other services which I outsourced to artists and developers. After a few years, I had discovered that my TDS brand was not growing as I would have liked. Customers were calling the business for me, and me only. They were also Googling my name and referring me any not my company to their family and friends. Considering this, I realized I had been trying to push a brand on customers that they did not want. I wanted so badly to grow the company, that I made it difficult for those customers who wanted something entirely different. As I realized this and adjusted to the customers, I stopped pushing TDS and gave the customers the personal brand that they wanted by renaming my consulting agency Elijah Clark and Associates which proved to be much more successful than TDS ever was or could have been.

The customer is the ultimate power broker within any organization. And as the power brokers, they will set your selling price, name (or rename) your business, help you decide which products to sell, and let you know when it’s time to hire or fire employees. Because of the authority in which customers have on the success of your business, you should structure your marketing efforts on identifying and meeting the customer’s individual needs. Those needs must be met within all aspects of your business including price, customer support, and overall value.

1 2 3 4 7
READY TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS?
Copyright 2022 Dr. Elijah Clark Enterprises - Sitemap - Policy - Fees