Complex Business Solutions and Simple Applications

Programming business solutions into your company from scratch is a very long and arduous process. Even with a competent IT department, the actual development of an application is not easy to come up with. The hours of employee time that it takes to create the technically challenging programs can be exhaustive. This, obviously, is not very cost effective and it detracts from the work that is normally done by the IT staff.

Running software programs that are specifically designed to take those difficult situations and turn them into easy, point and click solutions is a much more cost effective idea. These are programs that have already been exhaustively created, tested, reworked, and made to be applicable for any business. Yet, there are many business owners that are unsure of whether or not this is a fast and effective way to solve their issues.

Technology in business has become so commonplace that most of the time there is little understanding of what actually goes into its creation. The companies that are able to produce this software and run a reliable service for various companies have invested a great deal of time and money into the process. This benefits your business because that is time and money that you do not have to apply while gaining the easy solution that you require.

How can one software program offer solutions to so many different issues and still be effective? This is what cloud computing is all about. The original program is designed to solve a specific problem and the additional issues are resolved through the cloud. This means that you can take on the additional applications that are required for your business to run smoothly and effectively. Because it is run on the cloud concept, you are not required to take on anything that you don’t find beneficial. Applications that are useless should not have to be required in a package purchase.

For small to medium businesses, the idea of creating this sort of wide spread problem solving software is overwhelming. There are many different software programs that offer a wide range of applications. The time devoted to research and software comparison is hardly a fraction of the time that would be devoted to the creation of such software from scratch.

As technology gains its place in the market and businesses come to rely on technological advancement more every day, the continued development of additional simple to integrate applications will help to continue to improve the outlook for small to medium businesses everywhere. The growth of such development will only serve your company more as you will continue to have easy solutions to those complicated problems.

Small Business Marketing – The Power of a Market Review

Conducting a market review is one of the most important steps in the small business marketing process as it provides together with a business review the information you need to create a dynamic marketing plan. All big businesses conduct these reviews as they know it can save time and money for their business.

A market review does not have to be complicated and a lot will depend on what information you can source. The important factor regarding a market review is to understand the key elements of your market and how these elements can affect your business now and in the future.

The key elements you need to look at when conducting a market review for your small business include:

Size of Market
Your market is simply the overall industry in which you compete. For example if you sell juice then you compete in the Beverage Market. If you sell holidays as a travel agent then you compete in the Tourism Market. Analyzing the size of your market can tell you whether it is growing or declining, help you to identify growth opportunities and for a new small business can determine if the market is large enough to compete in and operate a profitable business. There are many sources you can use to gather information on the size of your market and these include trade magazines, industry associations, search engines and local government websites and resources.

Market Segment Analysis

Segmentation is a process that looks at the total market and then divides the products or services into broad groups that have similar characteristics. In the examples above, whilst the total market is beverages, the segment that is the most important to a juice manufacturer is the Juice Segment. Looking at the total beverage market today throughout the world the leading soft drink manufacturers have entered many of the market segments such as bottled water to expand their business. Market segment analysis also helps you to determine where your small business marketing efforts should be concentrated.

Distribution Channel Analysis
A distribution channel is the way in which your product or service is made available to your customers so they can purchase it. Examples are supermarkets, personal selling (face to face selling), distributors and the internet. Analyzing the sales of each distribution channel in your market enables you to identify which channels are the most important for you to compete in to grow your business.

Market Trends
A trend is any significant change to your market that your business may need to respond to. Examples of market trends include changes to the economy, changing customer demographics, social and global factors (to name a few). If you conduct business in the USA at the moment or are intending to compete in the USA then the concerns about a possible recession and how it could affect your small business needs to be identified so action plans can be put in place to minimize the impact.

Market Seasonality
If a product or service is seasonal it means that the majority of the sales occur at one or a few times a year. Tax accountants obviously have increased sales when the end of the financial year occurs and tax returns and other government reporting are required. Understanding market seasonality factors can lead to your small business maximizing sales through this period and also may highlight opportunities to spread your sales throughout the year.

Competitor Analysis
Your key competitors need to be analyzed in order for you to identify their key strengths and weaknesses and how they compare to your own small business. Reviewing this area means that you can be smarter with your marketing efforts and be proactive against their weaknesses and of course defend against their strengths. One tip that all big businesses do is to have a competitor file with examples of their marketing activities, products or services.

Big businesses know the value of reviewing the market in which they compete and you can to. Remember you can start slowly and just review one section at a time and then put in place activities or make business decisions based on the review to grow your small business.

© Marketing for Business Success Pty Ltd 2008

Business Solutions in Online Survey Software

Whether you’re the VP of a large company or a small business owner, you want to know more information about your clients and your target market. Now that so many people are online the virtual plain of the Internets is one of the best places to contact your target market. To this effect, online survey software companies are a great business solution. They provide you with the ability to build surveys, send them out to mailing lists, and receive answers quickly and all in one software. Using this type of tool as a business solution, the sky is the limit!

Well, almost…. Not all online survey software companies will suit your specific needs. You’ll need to shop around. Online survey software companies all provide survey creators, data collection, and many similar features. How, then, are business people supposed to decide which tool suits their needs best? Survey creation is important because it affects what respondents experience during their survey and determines drop-out levels. It is important to keep in mind the contact management of the software: what features exist for publishing surveys? If you collect data then you most likely need to present the results and therefore the reporting capabilities of the software are also important. With all of these features available, we could choose any one of them to base our decision on. This choice depends on your and your business’ needs.

One way to make a decision, which may prove most effective for determining the utility of a software to your business, is to place more importance on the data analysis capabilities of the various software companies. To get meaningful results from your survey you need more than just numbers and percentages. You need advanced data analysis. Advanced data analysis includes using multi-level crosstabs to obtain brand feedback, for example. Another example could be conducting pricing analysis to measure the likelihood of purchase at a specific price point. To provide you with business solutions survey software has to go above and beyond simple survey creation and data collection. Advanced data analysis is imperative.

There is so much potential for survey software to provide real business solutions. It is important for you and your business to look for the features in each company that will best suit your needs. Here are some of the features that may provide potential solutions for your business:

Solutions for marketing:
Online survey software has the potential to help you to understand your current and future markets using analysis to identity clear action points that feed into marketing plans. Certain survey software companies have the potential to become meaningful market research tools for your company. By capturing customer feedback you can ensure that you minimize customer churn to build relationships and keep customers happy. You can also analyze survey data to speed up a new product development process and gather feedback from your target market on pricing, new product concepts and product features. By collecting feedback on advertising concepts, website design, packaging, logos, etcetera, you can improve current marketing campaigns and fine-tune future ones. For example, some software allows you to use multi-level cross-tabulations to obtain brand feedback from various populations; test advertising concepts using heat-map or video; and conduct pricing analysis with scale slider questions to measure the likelihood of purchase at a specific price point. This software even allows you to create multilingual surveys in order gather global feedback from your customers all over the world.

Solutions for sales:
Using online surveys you can capture valuable customer feedback to provide information to your Sales department about their current satisfaction and dissatisfaction levels as well as future requirements. Use this information to identify ‘at-risk’ customers, follow-up on leads to develop new business or upsell to customers who have unfulfilled requirements. Use trend analysis to measure changes in customer feedback over time. Using advanced analysis functions to identify clear action points that feed into sales strategy can optimize your business’ relationships with customers. You can evaluate the impact of advertising campaigns among your sales forces. Some companies make things a little easier by funneling survey data directly to your sales team with Salesforce integration. This way your Sales department is alerted to dissatisfied customers and provides the opportunity to build relationships before the customer dissatisfaction reaches critical levels.

Solutions for Human Resources:
They backbone of your business is the people who make it work: your employees. To optimize your business you need to make sure your team is fit, satisfied, and efficient. Survey software can provide innovative solutions to keeping your team satisfied and functioning at the top of their game. Using online surveys you can gather feedback from employees about corporate communication, benefits, salaries, satisfaction, training and development opportunities. With features such as ‘grouping’ you can develop 360-degree feedback from questionnaires, e-learning quizzes or even post-training tests. The feedback you receive will allow you to improve churn rates, improve internal communications, address areas of higher dissatisfaction, and develop appropriate training programs. The possibilities for gathering feedback are endless, but of course, once again, you have to use tools with advanced data analysis to deal with this data effectively.

Every business is looking for ways to improve their profits, satisfy their customers, and keep their employees happy. Online survey software is one way to provide your business with solutions and tools to achieve these objectives. It is important to look for attractive survey creators to optimize respondent experience and improve your chances of getting more responses. However, as I have emphasized in this article it is the data analysis components of the software that provide the most advantages and solutions for your business. There are several survey software companies that provide these types of data analysis tools. You need to shop around a find the tool that suits your specific needs. Engage in intelligent consumerism, go beyond the survey sending step, and demand more from your survey tools.

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