Using the Marketing Mix to Maximize Customer Returns

The traditional marketing mix used by businesses comprised of 4 key elements thought to be vital to the success of any business. However, with the passage of time and the variations in the kind of products and services offered, there are 7 key elements today in the marketing mix that require constant evaluation to ensure the best possible results. These 7 P’s are:
Product

Price

Placement

Promotion

Physical Evidence

Process

People

Businesses use a unique combination of all these elements in an attempt to achieve the highest customer satisfaction levels.In this article, we will discuss all the 7 elements in detail and will explain how businesses can make constant variations in their product mix to maximize their goals.Product
What distinguishes your product or service from other products? While there are standard quality and service components to establish performance, the product or service needs to be somehow unique, some way better than its competitor. This “unique selling proposition” is mission-critical to the business’s success. Customer satisfaction with your product or service is of utmost importance. Though it’s important to offer a high quality or a more economical price, better availability or quicker delivery time, it is also essential to make sure that your product or service has something that is unique and that sets it apart from the competitors in the market.Price
Consider if the target market sees the price of your product or service as affordable. If the target market is not willing or able to buy, there is no chance to build your business successfully. If the price of your products is higher than competition, it is imperative to convince the market the value of the price premium.Placement
In order to capture the market, make your products and services accessible and easy to buy. If the customer can’t find you, they can’t buy from you. If you offer online sales, carefully consider the process customers must go through to buy online. A difficult purchasing process is a barrier to sales. Know where your target audience lives and shops in order to put your product in front where they can see and learn about it.Promotion
Promoting your product through the right channels to ensure highest exposure is essential to the marketing process. A promotion on broadcast TV or radio is expensive compared to other channels; they will reach people who may have no interest or not be qualified to buy your products. The costly reach of broadcast media can waste valuable marketing dollars with little return. If the channel is online, use the internet – and search engine optimization – to your advantage. Find out the keyword search terms that will bring the most amount of traffic. Leverage the content and position of the websites that feature your product to its best advantage. If promotion is direct mail, give careful consideration to a targeted mailing list. Direct mail can be more focused and waste less resources, resulting in a more exacting approach to your target market.Physical Evidence
Think about all aspects of your organization that your prospective customer encounters. From the cleanliness of the selling floor and lavatories in a brick and mortar location to the ease of website navigation, the visit should be a pleasant and hassle-free experience for the customer. Polite, courteous and well-trained staff should be a priority to convey an image of quality from the product to the people who help sell and re-sell the product. The primary and secondary packaging can elevate a simple useful product and make it more desirable. Everything that the customer comes in contact with comes under the physical evidence.Process
A lead generation process happens from the time your marketing is seen or heard by the customer until they take advantage of your call to action. The sales process starts from that call to action until the product or service is successfully delivered and paid for. Is the process well-tested and reliable? Is the experience the same from the customer’s point of view each time they interact with your company? How efficient is the sales process? If the process can be delivered from lead to sales in the optimum amount of time, conserving resources and expense, it can be replicated over and over to build more sales revenue.People
From the people who answer the phone, greet the customer, handle problems, process payments, follow up on the sale, and manage the team to the president of the company, all actions contribute to an image of quality and service. It’s common to hear companies say we have great customer service in today’s world, but how they deliver the great service is what holds great significance to the customer.How Companies Use the Marketing Mix
The marketing mix experiences a lot of variations throughout a product’s lifecycle stage. For example, if we look at the category of health supplements, a lot of the brands started off as delivering nutritional supplements to men and women in the market. However, in the development stage of the product’s lifecycle, brands were focusing more on gaining exposure through lower introductory prices and different promotional packages. As the brands crossed the Introductory stage and moved on to growth stage, businesses started catering to more specialized categories such as Teens, Men, Women, and the above 50 and began developing more products for each category. These line extensions are typical of a business in the growth stage. When a company is in the mature phase of their lifecycle, it is common to re-launch their products with innovation to capture the surge of business experience in the development stage. In the category of health supplements, many brands identified the opportunity of attracting customers looking for exercise and athletic supplements for enhance performance. This new market segment opened the doors of a completely new marketing niche for businesses that focused on diversifying the market and on increasing the market for this new category.Conclusion
Experienced marketing consultants such as 1st Straw Marketing ask a lot of questions to dive deep into the different aspects of business. Getting to know the perception of the market and the internal workings of the company selling products and services is essential to developing a strategic and tactical plan that can be successful. Depending on each stage of the product’s lifecycle and the influence of the market, business leaders and professional marketers are constantly evaluating their marketing mix and making changes to serve their target market better. Planning, review, evaluation and research goes into determining every element of the marketing mix and is vital to the overall success of a business.

Alternative Financing Vs. Venture Capital: Which Option Is Best for Boosting Working Capital?

There are several potential financing options available to cash-strapped businesses that need a healthy dose of working capital. A bank loan or line of credit is often the first option that owners think of – and for businesses that qualify, this may be the best option.

In today’s uncertain business, economic and regulatory environment, qualifying for a bank loan can be difficult – especially for start-up companies and those that have experienced any type of financial difficulty. Sometimes, owners of businesses that don’t qualify for a bank loan decide that seeking venture capital or bringing on equity investors are other viable options.

But are they really? While there are some potential benefits to bringing venture capital and so-called “angel” investors into your business, there are drawbacks as well. Unfortunately, owners sometimes don’t think about these drawbacks until the ink has dried on a contract with a venture capitalist or angel investor – and it’s too late to back out of the deal.

Different Types of Financing

One problem with bringing in equity investors to help provide a working capital boost is that working capital and equity are really two different types of financing.

Working capital – or the money that is used to pay business expenses incurred during the time lag until cash from sales (or accounts receivable) is collected – is short-term in nature, so it should be financed via a short-term financing tool. Equity, however, should generally be used to finance rapid growth, business expansion, acquisitions or the purchase of long-term assets, which are defined as assets that are repaid over more than one 12-month business cycle.

But the biggest drawback to bringing equity investors into your business is a potential loss of control. When you sell equity (or shares) in your business to venture capitalists or angels, you are giving up a percentage of ownership in your business, and you may be doing so at an inopportune time. With this dilution of ownership most often comes a loss of control over some or all of the most important business decisions that must be made.

Sometimes, owners are enticed to sell equity by the fact that there is little (if any) out-of-pocket expense. Unlike debt financing, you don’t usually pay interest with equity financing. The equity investor gains its return via the ownership stake gained in your business. But the long-term “cost” of selling equity is always much higher than the short-term cost of debt, in terms of both actual cash cost as well as soft costs like the loss of control and stewardship of your company and the potential future value of the ownership shares that are sold.

Alternative Financing Solutions

But what if your business needs working capital and you don’t qualify for a bank loan or line of credit? Alternative financing solutions are often appropriate for injecting working capital into businesses in this situation. Three of the most common types of alternative financing used by such businesses are:

1. Full-Service Factoring – Businesses sell outstanding accounts receivable on an ongoing basis to a commercial finance (or factoring) company at a discount. The factoring company then manages the receivable until it is paid. Factoring is a well-established and accepted method of temporary alternative finance that is especially well-suited for rapidly growing companies and those with customer concentrations.

2. Accounts Receivable (A/R) Financing – A/R financing is an ideal solution for companies that are not yet bankable but have a stable financial condition and a more diverse customer base. Here, the business provides details on all accounts receivable and pledges those assets as collateral. The proceeds of those receivables are sent to a lockbox while the finance company calculates a borrowing base to determine the amount the company can borrow. When the borrower needs money, it makes an advance request and the finance company advances money using a percentage of the accounts receivable.

3. Asset-Based Lending (ABL) – This is a credit facility secured by all of a company’s assets, which may include A/R, equipment and inventory. Unlike with factoring, the business continues to manage and collect its own receivables and submits collateral reports on an ongoing basis to the finance company, which will review and periodically audit the reports.

In addition to providing working capital and enabling owners to maintain business control, alternative financing may provide other benefits as well:

It’s easy to determine the exact cost of financing and obtain an increase.
Professional collateral management can be included depending on the facility type and the lender.
Real-time, online interactive reporting is often available.
It may provide the business with access to more capital.
It’s flexible – financing ebbs and flows with the business’ needs.
It’s important to note that there are some circumstances in which equity is a viable and attractive financing solution. This is especially true in cases of business expansion and acquisition and new product launches – these are capital needs that are not generally well suited to debt financing. However, equity is not usually the appropriate financing solution to solve a working capital problem or help plug a cash-flow gap.

A Precious Commodity

Remember that business equity is a precious commodity that should only be considered under the right circumstances and at the right time. When equity financing is sought, ideally this should be done at a time when the company has good growth prospects and a significant cash need for this growth. Ideally, majority ownership (and thus, absolute control) should remain with the company founder(s).

Alternative financing solutions like factoring, A/R financing and ABL can provide the working capital boost many cash-strapped businesses that don’t qualify for bank financing need – without diluting ownership and possibly giving up business control at an inopportune time for the owner. If and when these companies become bankable later, it’s often an easy transition to a traditional bank line of credit. Your banker may be able to refer you to a commercial finance company that can offer the right type of alternative financing solution for your particular situation.

Taking the time to understand all the different financing options available to your business, and the pros and cons of each, is the best way to make sure you choose the best option for your business. The use of alternative financing can help your company grow without diluting your ownership. After all, it’s your business – shouldn’t you keep as much of it as possible?

US Markets in green on Friday; Dow 30 up over 345 points, Nasdaq Composite, S&P 500 up nearly 1%

US Markets were trading in the green on Friday with Dow 30 trading at 30,678.80, up by 1.14%. While S&P 500 was trading at 3,701.66, up by 0.98% and Nasdaq Composite 10,690.60 was also up by 0.71 per cent

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US Markets in green on Friday; Dow 30 up over 345 points, Nasdaq Composite, S&P 500 up nearly 1%
Earlier today, Indian stock markets ended the week on a winning note. It was the sixth straight gains for equity markets. Source: Reuters
US Markets were trading in the green on Friday with Dow 30 trading at 30,678.80, up by 345.25 points or1.14 per cent. While S&P 500 was trading at 3,701.66, up by 35.88 points or 0.98 per cent and Nasdaq Composite 10,690.60 was also up 75.75 points or 0.71 per cent. A Reuters report said that today’s strength was on the back of a report which said the Federal Reserve will likely debate on signaling plans for a smaller interest rate hike in December, reversing declines set off by social media firms after Snap Inc’s ad warning.

Source: Comex

Nasdaq Top Gainers and Losers

Source: Nasdaq

Earlier today, Indian stock markets ended the week on a winning note. It was the sixth straight gains for equity markets. The BSE Sensex ended at 59,307.15, up by 104.25 points or 0.18 per cent from the Thursday closing level. Meanwhile, the Nifty50 index closed at 17,590.00, higher by 26.05 points or 0.15 per cent. In the 30-share Sensex, 13 stocks gained while the remaining 17 ended on the losing side. In the 50-stock Nifty50, 21 stocks advanced while 29 declined.