The Basics of a Product P&L

Creating a P&L for all products that you sell will ensure the success of your small business.  The purpose of a P&L is that it allows you to have visibility into your profitability, costs, opportunities for cost reduction, and better management of your final retail price points.

My favorite P&L template divides your inputs and factors into four sections: read more

Pricing Scenario: Shipping Through Distributor or Direct

If you own or manage a business that produces products or services that sell through a retail channel, there are two pricing scenarios that you need to develop so that you can determine what your selling price will be to either the retailer and the distributor that will sell to the retailer and within these two scenarios, two additional scenarios for a pick up price (at the manufacturing or warehouse location) or delivered price.  Potentially, you can have multiple delivered prices (full truck load, limited truck load, etc.) as illustrated below: read more

Clorox, Price Discrimination, and Line Segmentation

Take a look at the above: Both product lines are within the Clorox family of products – one is branded Clorox and the other is branded Green Works.  Although the image of Green Works does not show it, Green Works also offers disinfectant wipes and detergent.  Essentially, the Green Works line has the same product types as the Clorox line.  This is an example of both price discrimination and line segmentation.  Below I will walk through both price discrimination and line segmentation in action so that you can learn and hopefully develop creative ways to utilize the same strategies in your small business marketing strategy. read more

Going From Small to Big Business: What You Need to Know as a Manufacturer

So you have a product that you sell locally, for now.  Whether it is a local cupcake business, bread producer, toy manufacturer, etc. this will apply to you because your goal is success and the more success, the better…right?

Growing your business requires incremental dollar sales month over month, year over year.  Holding everything constant (product, price, distribution, placement, etc.) there is no reason to believe that the customers that you currently sell to or the shop that you currently sell at  will produce more sales one year over the next.  Therefore, the only way to grow when holding everything constant is to increase the number of stores that you are selling to. read more

Service Industry: The Job is Not Done Once Complete

A few weeks ago, I wrote about 3 Keys for a Service-Driven Small Business.  These 3 keys are most important before and during a job.  However, today I want to expand upon how to succeed as a service-driven small business by discussing one of the most important thing to do after the job.  Similar to sales or selling, the job is not done and the relationship is not locked-in once contact information is exchanged.  Likewise, your job as a service small business company is not complete once the job is done.  You must continue to follow-up after the job multiple times to check that everything is still good, everything has gone as planned, etc. read more

Quality Assurance and 3 Small Business Solutions to Improve Quality

Here me out for a second: quality assurance is one of the greatest challenges of small businesses.  I know that some of you might not agree with this statement because small business owners take pride and ownership in their business and are producing their products/services in a much smaller quantity than any large business would therefore, you assume that lower volume equals higher quantity.  However, my argument is that this is not the case.  Although lower volume should equal higher quality, the issue that small businesses have is a limitation of resources, which impacts quality. read more

What Social Media Platforms Are Right For Your Small Business

A little over a month ago, I wrote an article that discussed the “Social Media Marketing Fallacy“.  It is very easy as a small business owner to get caught up in the latest marketing bubbles.  I truly believe that Social Media Marketing is a marketing bubble because many create social media accounts to develop a social media marketing strategy, even though it might not make sense to be on certain social platforms.  If you are doing social media marketing correctly, the rewards could be great but if you are are using social media incorrectly, you are just wasting your time.  Here are some things to consider in your small business social media marketing strategy so that you are using social media correctly: read more

My List of What Not to do When Launching a New Item

There are many articles, books, writings, etc. that speak to what you are supposed to do when marketing a product – whether a new product or an existing one.  I decided to compile a list of my own for what not to do when launching new products because, frankly, there are too many dos out there and not enough don’ts. read more

Are You More Convenient Than Your Competitors?

Take a look around you.  If there is one thing that marketers do well, it is to make products and services more convenient for their consumers.  Convenience has been on trend for a long-time.  For example, the number of microwavable frozen foods has proliferated in the last 15 years.  Moreover, if you were to do an audit, I would bet that more frozen foods are microwavable than oven-only, although microwavable implies “oven ready”.  Outside of frozen foods, even the marketers at Tide have been challenging themselves to reinvent the way we do laundry to make it more convenient.  Tide has removed multiple steps in the washing process (detergent, stain-remover, and brightener) by combining into one process through the launch of the Tide Pods.  I don’t think there has ever been a trend as clear as this one that is screaming at you – the small business owner – to leverage immediately. read more

10 Ways to Analyze Your Business Performance to Increase Sales

If you are looking to increase business sales, you first need to analyze your business performance to determine the right marketing tactics that will help you to achieve your goals.  Below are 10 ideas to help you get started to analyze business performance:

  • Optimizing the Path to Purchase. If a consumer is standing in front of a shelf that houses your product or is scrolling through an online store to find a product to purchase, what matters most to the consumer?  Build a survey for your consumers to fill out so that you can determine what matters most to them.  As an example, if you are in the ice cream section at a grocery store – what is the first thing that you look for – Flavor? Brand? Price? Size?  Assuming it is size, what is the next point in the consumer’s decision tree: Brand? Flavor? Price?  Keep narrowing down so that you can find out what is most important to a consumer by building a decision tree analysis similar to the above.
  • Advertising Channels.  Do you know where your competition is advertising and how often they are advertising?  Try to find out what your competition is doing this way you can preempt your competition and reach the same consumers that they are trying to reach.
  • Product Mix.  Is your product or service line segmented to target a variety of consumers?  For example, Verizon Wireless offers a broad mix of phones, each targeting different consumers – Blackberrys for businesses, iPhones for the tech saavy/innovators, pre-paid for those that don’t need many minutes, phones with great cameras, phones that are waterproof, etc.  By offering a wide product mix, Verizon Wireless is maximizing their revenue by expanding the pool of target consumers.  Secondary, check out what your competition is offering to see if there is opportunity to improve your product mix.
  • Optimize Price Mix. Similar to number 3 above, determine if there is opportunity to segment your products not by product type, but by price bracket.  Not all consumers are willing to pay $120/month for cable TV, however, cable providers maximize their pool of consumers by offering pricing structures that segments their consumers based on what the consumer is willing to pay.  This is similar to pricing discrimination.
  • Leverage Surveys.  Different from number one on this list, use surveys to determine the attitudes and usages of your consumers toward your product/service, industry, category, etc.  This might give you some valuable insight that will help you to get an edge on your competition.
  • Analyze the Competition.  Is your competition launching new product or offering discounted pricing for a similar service?  If so, this might give you valuable insight on new suppliers (which could be helping your competition to drive down their price), industry trends (leverage research that the competitor might have that you don’t), or new product renovations (packaging concepts, product features, additional services, etc.)
  • Monitor the Price Gaps.  If you haven’t already learned by now, we have taught many times that there is a relationship between product benefits and propensity to purchase which can be quantified through a metric called elasticity.  If the difference in price between you and your competition is not being carefully monitored, you can be losing sales based on the elasticity impact.  Read this article on price gaps for more information.
  • Distribution Channels.  Is your product distributed in all channels that sell that product type (locally or nationally)?  To give yourself an easy start on where you should at the least be distributed, do some research to determine where your competition is distributed and you are not.  Fill those gaps to increase your sales.
  • Increase Awareness.  Leverage effective advertising strategies such as coupon marketing to drive trial of your product.  Design the coupon to entice repeat purchases so that your consumers continue to come back.  If you are a service company, design a clever advertising campaign that targets your niche of consumers.
  • Keep the Consumer Top of Mind.  Who doesn’t love free products or trials – offer these to bring new consumers into your pool.  Reach out to your target consumers via social media to engage with them, drive loyalty, and make them feel special.
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