Dallas Business Consultant Elijah ClarkDallas Business Consultant Elijah Clark

Strategy Contents

Contents

Table of contents so that investors can quickly find the information they are looking for.

Introduction

[Background]
[Summary of financial needs]

Executive Summary

[Company information]
[Market opportunity]

Benefits to the Community

Economic Development
[Describe jobs created by the business]
[How will purchases for the business help other local businesses?]
[Any additional information]

Community Development
[How will the company’s goods/services help the community?]
[Any additional information]

Human Development
[How will the business help its employees?]
[Any additional information]

Company Analysis

Form of Business Ownership
[Will your business be a sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation? Why?]
[Describe any necessary licenses or permits and your plans for obtaining them.]
[Will yours be an independent business, a takeover of an existing business, an expansion of an existing business, or a franchise?]
[Any additional information]

About the Company
[If you are taking over or expanding an existing business, describe any relevant history.]
[How will the business satisfy customer needs?]
[How did you choose and develop the company’s products/services, and how are they unique?]
[Any additional information]

Industry Analysis

[In what industry does the business operate?]
[Who are the competitors?]
[Have any other businesses recently entered or exited the industry?]
[How will the business be profitable, and what are the growth opportunities?]
[Describe any e-business opportunities.]
[Any additional information]

Management Team

[Who are the key members of the business team?]
[How will the company be structured?]
[How is the team balanced in terms of skills?]
[What is the company’s management philosophy and culture? What is your leadership style?]
[Describe the key management positions and compensation for those positions.]
[What other professionals will assist the management team?]
[Any additional information]

Manufacturing and Operations Plan

Location and Space Requirements
[Where is the planned location?]
[Discuss the location’s proximity to customers and suppliers.]
[Discuss tax rates and zoning requirements for the location.]
[Discuss transportation issues.]
[Discuss utility costs.]
[Will you rent, lease, or purchase the facility?]
[Any additional information]

Equipment
[Will you rent or purchase equipment?]
[Any additional information]

Labor Force

[Discuss the local labor pool. Is there a sufficient quantity of skilled people to meet the business’s needs?]
[Discuss wage rates and unionization issues.]
[Any additional information]

Inventory Control
[How will you control quality, inventory, and production?]
[Any additional information]

Purchasing Requirements
[Will you make or purchase component parts to be assembled into the finished product?]
[Any additional information]
Subcontractors and Suppliers
[Who are your potential subcontractors and suppliers?]
[Any additional information]

Labor Force

Labor Requirements
[How many employees are needed? Full time or part time?]
[What are the job qualifications?]
[Will you have written job descriptions?]
[What will you pay your employees? How does that compare with the going rate in your region and industry?]
[Any additional information]

Selection, Orientation, and Training
[Do you have a job application form?]
[What criteria will you use in selecting employees?]
[What orientation process will there be for new employees?]
[How will new employees be trained?]
[Any additional information]

Evaluation, Policies, and Rules
[How will employees be evaluated?]
[Will authority be delegated to employees?]
[How will you discipline employees?]
[What will you do when employees resign?]
[Any additional information]

Marketing Plan

Target Market(s)
[What is/are your target market(s) and what common needs can the business satisfy?]
[What are the current needs of each target market? Describe the target market in terms of demographic, geographic, psychographic, and product usage characteristics.]
[What changes in the target market are anticipated?]
[What advantages and disadvantages do you have in meeting the target market’s needs?]
[What are the relevant aspects of consumer behavior and product use?]
[Any additional information]

Environment
[What are the competitive, legal, political, economic, technological, and sociocultural factors affecting your marketing efforts?]
[Any additional information]

Marketing Objectives
[Describe your product introduction, improvement, or innovation]
[State the market size in dollars and units. Indicate your primary and secondary sources of data and the methods used to estimate total market size and your market share.]
[Describe your distribution plans.]
[Describe your pricing objectives.]
[Describe your advertising and promotion efforts.]
[How will the results of your marketing plan be measured and evaluated?]
[Any additional information]

Financial Plan

Startup and Operating Needs
[How much money do you have, and what is the actual amount of money you need to open your business (start-up budget)?]
[How much money is needed to keep the business open (operating budget)? Prepare a realistic budget.]
[What sources of funding do you anticipate?]
[Any additional information]

Financial Statements
[Prepare an income statement by month for the first year of operation and by quarter for the second and third years.]
[Prepare balance sheets for each of the first three years of operation.]
[Any additional information]

Financial Analysis
[Prepare a breakeven analysis. How many units of your products or service will have to be sold to cover your costs?]
[Reinforce your final projections by comparing them with industry averages for your chosen industry.]
[Any additional information]

Exit Strategy

[How do you plan to get yourself (and your money) out of the business?]
[Do you intend to grow the business to the point of an IPO?]
[Do you intend to sell the business?]
[How will investors get their money back?]
[Any additional information]

Critical Risks and Assumptions

[What will you do if your market develops either more slowly or more quickly than anticipated?]
[How will you react to competitor challenges such as underpricing or new products that make yours obsolete?]
[How will you react to favorable or unfavorable changes in the industry?]
[How will you react if there is a labor shortage or other labor-related issue?]
[How will you react if there is an erratic supply of products or raw materials?]
[Any additional information]

Appendix

Evolving Consumer Behavior – Case Study

CompanyEC’s (CEC) current marketing plan is not currently aimed at engaging the online consumer behaviors identified in the Meet the Connected Consumer study. The reason for this is not that CEC finds these studies irrelevant. It’s due to CEC simply not having the strongest of marketing plans. Currently, the marketing plan is to create backlinks mainly within forums and blogs within its niche market. Nonetheless, CEC does have its company brand within the most popular of search engines and social networking websites. What CEC could do to improve its marketing for this study is to place more ad dollars and marketing within the areas mentioned. A majority of CEC’ consumers have a MySpace, Facebook and Twitter account. With that knowledge, CEC could benefit greatly from advertising within these markets.

Being that CEC is an online-based company, using this consumer study for its marketing techniques could allow for the company to gain a true understanding of its online consumers. CEC could easily implement most of the web 2.0 techniques into its own company. Previously, the tag cloud technique was used on the main page of the website. However, this was removed due to room for further marketing. In addition, RSS feeds and social bookmarking tools are currently implemented within the website.

While this consumer study can be beneficial to use for marketing, it would also seem to be most affective with a dedicated team member to handle this portion of the marketing on a regular basis. This type of marketing needs to be kept and updated regularly, possibly on a daily and/or hourly basis. Assigning the task of keeping these techniques updated will be the best method to create its success. In addition to marketing, creating online contest and awards can also encourage user interactivity within the social networks (Welborn, 2009).

The Internet and customer behavior

The Internet isn’t changing the way that CEC’ customers behave mainly because the business has always been an Internet business. The only difference is the locations in which CEC is marketing itself. It has previously been marketed within locations such as Craigslist.org, Backpage.com, Yellowbook.com, and other local advertising websites. With the internet changing and advancing with user interacted web 2.0 websites, the business now has the opportunity of being marketed on broader networks such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and LinkedIn. In the order to create success within the web 2.0 market place, CEC needs to join this social online environment and make its brand positively known (Eikelmann, Hajj, Peterson, 2007).

With the thousands of additional social networking, blogs and forum type websites, CEC has a greater opportunity to build its brand name. Searching for the keyword “CompanyEC” on search engines will bring up a large list of the websites links and name within other websites. Currently, CEC has as many as 120k backlinks.

What the development of new websites and the growth in online networking, the Internet has been created as the largest marketing tool for CEC. This is done through a combination of CEC’ own online marketing and through previous customers promoting the brand online through their social networks. This allows for CEC to be found through many new, relevant and trusted sources on the Internet.

There hasn’t been any noticeable difference in how the users view the website or company or any changes within their decision-making process. Visitors are still looking to visit the website and find what they are looking for quickly with as little amount of clicks as possible.

Shifting behavioral patterns

CEC’ current marketing efforts are capitalizing on the shifting behaviors of its target audience. Ways in which is does this is through social networking websites, forums and blogs. With each of these online networks growing in users and in popularity, CEC has found many opportunities in joining these networks to build its brand name.

In addition to CEC’ own marketing techniques, potential and past consumers are also discussing the services offered through the company. While searching through the Internet for the company’s name, it has showed up on many additional forums and blogs through users own discussion postings. CEC has found that the company name in these situations is being used as references from previous customers or questions from potential customers. With seeing the affects of this type of marketing, CEC has placed high priority on customer satisfaction, as the users experience is likely to be shared throughout the Internet.

Brand evangelists

CEC has some great opportunities to create and identify brand awareness. The ways in which it creates them is by providing them a valuable service and simply ask them to tell their friends. A happy customer is very likely to tell their friends of the service they received from CEC. Creating brand evangelists doesn’t necessarily involve rewarding the customer with free services. The best method that has been proven successful is by letting the customer know that they are appreciated as a customer and advise them to please tell their friends of the service they have received from the company.

Previous customers are also likely to socialize about the service they received form the company without being asked. If they are happy, they will likely tell everyone why they are. Whether a Facebook, Twitter or MySpace status update, blogs or forums, they will tell their story of success. Customer satisfaction goes a long way when creating brand evangelists.

Ways in which CEC can identify brand evangelist is firstly by joining and staying updated with its social networks and watch for when the company name is mentioned. Another method is by understanding the type of user that the service is being created for. If CEC is creating a website for a consumer that is socially active, then it needs to place a higher priority into making sure that they are satisfied with their service. These users are likely to express their service online and their users are likely to take the advice as coming from a relevant and trusted source. Users with large social networks are a great opportunity for CEC to create brand evangelist.

Another great opportunity for CEC to get involved with its consumers online is by incorporating widgets into the company website. These widgets can be used to allow for CEC’ site visitors to communicate their thoughts and share them on their favorite social networking websites with the click of a button.

 

Credits

Eikelmann, S., Hajj, J., Peterson, M. (2007). Web 2.0: profiting from the threat. Retrieved May 21, 2010, from http://www.strategy-business.com/article/li00037

Schmitt, G. (n.d.). Meet the connected consumer. Retrieved May 21, 2010, from http://www.slideshare.net/gschmitt/meet-the-connected-consumer

Welborn, J. (2009). The eight essential steps for successful social media marketing. Retrieved May 22, 2010, from http://www.indelibuzz.com/?p=362

Viral Marketing Plan – Case Study

The benefit of a viral marketing plan is to create a video that focuses on entertaining the consumer while providing valuable information on your brand and what it offers. The video should provide information on the benefits of the company. The concept of the video should be informative and intended for viewers to spread the video via word of mouth and websites they are members of.

After watching the video, the consumer should be inspired to visit your company, call, visit its website, and share the viral marketingvideo and information about your company to their friends.

viral marketing plan should be distributed on video uploading and social networking sites such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and by using other multimedia embedding networks and websites.

Once consumers watch the video, the expectation should be for them to share it with their friends via social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube and email. By uploading the video to social networking sites like Vimeo and YouTube, the video will have its own embed code and link so that consumers can watch the video and then either link to it from their social networking sites and email, or they can embed them directly onto their own websites.

The unique thing about marketing via a video on a media website is that those videos can also be viewed from a users’ cell phone. This is another way for users to find the video and view it. By having a computer with basic Internet access or by having a cell phone with media output, users can search for and view the promotional video.

Users may find this message by searching for it on multimedia sites, or searching through search engines video search for specific keywords. The main expected audience should come form word of mouth marketing and through social networking sites.

By providing consumers a viral marketing concept that is entertaining in value, they will natural be curious as to who created the video and what that company is all about. The video can attract new consumers that couldn’t normally be reached from graphic animations.  A viral marketing plan can easily create a positive image for your company while also providing valuable content for users to want to share with family and friends.

Company Online Pressroom

In planning a pressroom section, there are many different elements that we would be sure to include. Those elements consist of:

Company Background Info

This section will be included to give the background information on the company. This will include information on how the company was started, the mission of the company and the company’s work ethics and beliefs. This section would be great for building user confidence and comfort in the company.

Executive biographies

The biography section will include information on each of the company’s CEO’s and top leaders in each department. The purpose of this section is to help and build a relationship with the site users by providing the site with a humanistic feel and allowing the users to get to know the writers and executives.

Contact Info

The contact information will allow for users to be able to contact the company if they have questions or comments to articles, blogs or other personal input on the company or website.

Latest News/In the news

This section will include the latest information on the company’s success and changes. This will be used to keep users updated on what is going on within the company.

Multi-media content

This will allow for the company to post multimedia videos of conferences, events or other valuable content that can help or update the users on the industry and the company.

RSS feeds and social media links

Users who wish to stay updated with the company will use these tools. This is another way for users to stay updated and ask question or leave comments.

Search capability

While this tool is not always needed, it would be great to have on the site once we gain more content within the press release section. This allows for users to easily find information on what they are looking for within the site.

Calendar of Events

This section will keep users updated on what the company is doing, when they are doing it and where it is taking place. This is yet another avenue for users to use in order to follow the company. This could also be used as a way to invite users to events that the company may be attending.

There are other additional elements to use within a press release website, however, these tools and functions are what I deem most important based on what services our company offers and the type of business that we run. With all of our business involving direct and/or verbal contact with our customers, these tools and functions will create a great network and option for users to get involved with the company on a more personal level.

Marketing Audit

Based on questionnaires obtained by the opinions of marketing experts, it has been determined that marketing audits are a paramount factor in business success.[1] A marketing audit can be an important tool in discovering potential risks within your business’s activities. Within the marketing industry, understanding how or why to market to a certain demographic is a key component to creating a successful marketing plan. To conduct an effective marketing audit, the method should have four major characteristics which include it being comprehensive regarding function, environment, and productivity; independent from decision-making managers; completed using a structured, systematic approach; and that it should be carried out on a periodic basis. A marketing audit can improve your marketing management and business problems by helping to assess and evaluate your business’s marketing ability, strategies, performance and effectiveness, problematic areas, and opportunities.

Having the ability to find and understand your customer, competitor, and product potential will make the process of marketing your product or service much easier. A problem often found in businesses is that they don’t develop marketing strategies or perform preemptive audits. These businesses come to realize, in the middle of their marketing efforts, that they have no real plan or a way to monitor the effects of their marketing campaigns. Having a plan of action serves to pace and organize your marketing efforts. Regular audits can help you identify business strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and risks specific to your industry and market. Furthermore, marketing audits can be used to direct the vision of your business, the value of products offered, and the effectiveness of current, previous, and future marketing efforts and organizational efficiencies. A good marketing audit should also assist with the implementation of a marketing strategy, and help in generating brand awareness and sales.

 

[1] Lipnická D., Ďaďo J. (2013). Marketing Audit and Factors Influencing Its Use in Practice of Companies (From an Expert Point of View). Journal of Competitiveness, 5 (4), 26-42. doi: 10.7441/joc.2013.04.02

Quick and Easy Marketing Methods

Newsletters should be branded if you intend to share company news and not get lost amongst the spam. Temper the marketing tone of your messages by integrating stories about your staff and customers.

Transactional emails are emails that directly promote products, promotions, and include emails sent to confirm an order or new account sign-up. Keep these emails succinct, but write with flair.

Videos are a great way to bring your brand to life. They are the perfect vehicle to introduce your products and services. Be sure to keep them short and snappy, perfect for social media sharing.

Business cards are pocket-sized promotional opportunities. Make sure they include relevant details like your social media handles and links to your website. Loyalty cards are also good for encouraging return visits to your store and should reflect your brand. Postcards are a fun way to raise brand awareness. Whether you choose to mail them, add them to your packaging, or distribute them at local businesses, they must be attractive if you want customers to view and keep them.

Most agencies know how to leverage their own email marketing skills to attract and nurture new business. However, they often overlook email as a communication channel post-sale. Email can be used to entice your customers in a scalable way as it provides the means necessary to continuously deliver added value over the course of your relationship. While many would argue that no one is looking forward to more emails, your emails should be relevant and thoughtfully written to ensure you don’t add to the SPAM issue.

11 Landing Page Must Haves

  1. The ability to pass the 3-5 second blink test. Meaning, will someone after looking at the land page remember what is being offered and why it is being offered?
  2. A gripping headline with clear and concise messaging that draws the visitor in.
  3. Because visuals are understood faster than text, infographic(s) or image(s) must be relevant as well as persuasive. In other words, the graphics must match so that an offer becomes tangible.
  4. lear targeted copy, free of garble goop, and irresistible. Put another way, the content copy has to entice a visitor to take action.
  5. No unnecessary navigation because once visitors notice it, it will distract them from following through with a desired action.
  6. Forms need to be easy, clear, and designed to encourage fill me. Only ask a visitor to supply what is necessary to follow-up.
  7. Don’t forget to include social share icons; however, the quality of the content will determine if it is deemed worthy to be shared by a visitor. In other words, poor content will not be socially shared.
  8. Make the privacy policy easily accessible because visitors are entitled to know what someone is going to do with their information.
  9. The submit button should scream a strong call-to-action, and don’t forget that the color of the button matters as well.
  10. Do display valid testimonials and third party seals of approval near key areas. Keep in mind that the bottom of the page may not be optimal.
  11. Have a unique “Thank You” page for each landing page that conveys assurances for why the visitor had to supply information, and provide access to what is being offer. It is here where links can be provided to other sections of the website.

 

TV Advertising Effective, Not. 25 Websites That Cannot Measure It.

Television still remains a strong branding medium, but it lacks measurability when standalone homepage URLs are used. Oh sure, Nielsen can provide past commercial audience view statistics based on remembrance surveys or from homes that have Nielsen boxes; however, today’s marketers need distinct data to understand what exactly drives converting traffic to a website. Say you’re an online marketer and your boss demands you buy one commercial ad space with the local market cable provider. Your contract buy stipulates 1000 showings across three networks for a 30-day period at a cost of $5000. How many converted commercial audience viewers can you confirm to your boss were attributed to that commercial? What is the resulting CPA?

Your Analytics show a bump in traffic over the 30-day period in the “all traffic report” for source/medium that reads (direct)/(none). To further twist things up, “new visitors” are 50% of all session visits for the 30-day period. Behavior indicates a 40% bounce rate, and total “completed goals” are 4% of all session visits. However, the question remains as to what amount of the new traffic or returning traffic is actually attributable to that television commercial, and what is the CPA?

You’re not using a custom destination URL, and the TV ads are not directly clickable by commercial audience viewers. There are no UTM tags, or gclid either. Even if you subdivide site traffic by “time”, you still don’t have any clearer a picture because you cannot assume that someone saw your commercial then immediately went online to your website. Are you getting the picture of the problem?

Here are 25 websites I viewed over the past weeks that use TV advertising (and I bet) that they are unable to ascertain what their associated CPA, let alone new visitor traffic is for their expensive TV ads because of sending audience viewers directly to their homepage.

  • Hotels. com
  • Expedia. com
  • Everyoneon. org
  • Progressive. com
  • Angieslist. com
  • Lumosity. com
  • Magicjack. com
  • Overstock. com
  • Esurance. com
  • Booking. com
  • Zillow. com
  • Trulia. com
  • Realtor. com
  • Travelocity. com
  • Wayfair. com
  • Trivago. com
  • Christianmingle. com
  • Comparenow. com
  • Match. com
  • Eharmony. com
  • AAG. com
  • Lumosity. com
  • Dealdash. com
  • Autotrader. com
  • Kayak. com

 

12 Online Ingredients That Convert Buyers

Intersecting with your website visitors expectations is no easy task, and getting those visitors to buy is a zigzag. There is not magic formula, and as the web continues to expand you need to define, plan, and execute your marketing better than your competition in order for them to buy from you over your competitor. Here are our battle plans to get your website visitors to buy from you.

  • Develop clear strong calls to action as well as visual signals
  • Mobile ready is great, but we advance mobile smart
  • Don’t detach mobile offers from desktop offers, or social offers because your potential customer who first viewed your website on his/her mobile phone via a social site does not want to have to remember if your desktop offer is now better than what originally registered
  • Deliver products and services that consumers want not what you think they want
  • SEO is no longer about keywords; it is about creating a differentiated brand that separates you from your competition
  • Social, social, and more social because today’s consumers place decision value on what someone says versus what you proclaim
  • Create websites that visually scream, “Buy From Me”, upon open because your visitors make their decision to click the back button before they even blink
  • Shape websites to be visitor intuitive not visitor confusion
  • Since websites cannot be everything to everyone, yours is built to be unique to connect, compel, and showcase your brand’s value
  • Test, test, and keep testing because understanding how to get more and more visitors to buy does not happen without
  • Forms, sign ups, and shopping carts collect only what is necessary because overkill kills the sale
  • Customize email marketing content to spur your recipients to click-thru instead of clicking delete

Social Reviews Dos and Don’ts

The don’ts:

Recently I received a private email from someone who befriended me about two years back on FaceBook. Bear in mind that I have never met this person or frequented his business. His email read:

“Dear Darryl,

I would really appreciate it if you would take a minute to support me on Stik.com. I hold myself to a high standard in business, and your review will help me establish trust with future clients.

My profile is here: www.stik.com/recommend/O**&666La*&^%n.()*tin.*&^guez

Best,
Martin
Owner-Operator
Fountain Valley, California”

Now granted, I get why he sent out such a request; however, I cannot fulfill such a request because I have never purchased or used any of the services his business provides. Additionally, the larger picture here is to grasp how many others did provide fake reviews that have never purchased, subscribed, or used any of the services his business provides. Why is this important you ask? Because paid fake or false reviews are spam, and in 2009 the FTC determined:

“paying for positive reviews without disclosing that the reviewer had been compensated equates to deceptive advertising and would be prosecuted as such.”


Now technically I would not have been compensated to write the fake review, but the firm who is collecting the reviews as well as hosting them on their site along with distributing those reviews across the Web is being compensated. That is to say, this type of posturing is nothing more than paid spamming because the firm who is being paid to collect these reviews has no factual valid way of determining if the reviewer ever actually consumed any of the products or serviced made available outside of someone merely having a FaceBook profile. Notice that I said factural. This type of spam is worse than any stranger writing a negative review about your business because the positive spam review is deceptive.

Here is another example of social review spam. In June 2013, an online social site, where I have a profile, sent this email to me:

“Hi Darryl,
Great news!
Your service profile “is ranked in the Top 3 among in Hayward.

Spread the word and earn 25 points.
Promote your highlighted status by adding a link to your website, and earn 25 points. Reply to this email to let us know when you’re done and we’ll award your points!“

Now as much as I do love holding outward social recognition rewards, I had to think beyond the cheap rush. See this social network did not do its homework concerning my location. In fact, their response to my WTF about their email stated:

“Our policy is to place you on the highest-trafficked “landing page” that is nearest to your place of business.

Getting listed on a landing page is determined by a fairly complex algorithm developed by our engineers. That algorithm takes into account many things, including the number of other people in your profession and area, the population of nearby cities, how many Thumbtack points you and others have, and the amount of traffic Google has in your area.

I guess thumbtrack’s algorithm and ideas about social scaling still need fine-tuning. In other words, their email announcement is worthless social spam.

See as an online marketer and business owner, I know you want 5 star reviews. What business today does not want 5 star reviews? Today’s social media craze helps sitr consumer to buy. Verily, social popularity is becoming the new SEO indicator when it comes to page rank for both large and small online businesses according to the machine lords; however, as tempting at it maybe to buy reviews or accept misaligned social recognition, think twice. Why? Because fake reviews from people who have never purchased your product, service, or interacted with your brand prior to giving positive reviews, are fakes. Additionally, fake social anything does not dress a business attractive seeing that it is nothing more than spam, and once the bots get wise your website will be punished.

So what can you do to organically increase your social review popularity online?

Here are eight social dos to get you started:

1. Engage with your customers online, and be sincere

2. Don’t make online social experiences complicated

3. Be a giver even if you don’t benefit

4. Don’t talk about yourself because it’s not about you; instead, talk about how your brand can benefit your customer

5. Visibly post on your website as well as on all your marketing material, which social environment(s) your business can be found

6. Do participate daily because no one wants to engage with a business that is not social

7. Do have a loyalty program, and encourage your loyal customers to tell their friends online as well as offline about your business

8. Listen to what your social audience says, and make necessary improvements to your business

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