What can SME’s do to measure their performance?

March 29, 2010

Balanced Scorecard ProcessTime is what most SME’s lack; often time needed to monitor business performance. Balanced scorecards save time and enable SME’s to analyse their performance metrics in seconds – essential information to make decision making more effective. (Click on the image to make it bigger).

Once the domain of large businesses, balanced scorecards can now easily be implemented by SME’s and not for profits. The internet has transformed how performance information can be graphically represented and then communicated throughout an organisation.

And the benefit is the ability to transform an organisation’s strategic plan from a passive document into something updated and communicated on a regular basis and a powerful day-to-day measure of success to help Managers perform.

It has the power to measure far more than the figures, getting right to the DNA of an organisation. Yet it’s a relatively straightforward process to set up and once in place provides invaluable information about the organisation’s progress.

Generally speaking, four perspectives are used. These are:

Learning & Growth – covering employee training and attitudes related to both individual and corporate self-improvement.

Business Process – exploring the internal business processes. The goal is to provide managers with information to confirm that the business is running well.

The Customer – looks at customer focus and satisfaction, crucial markers of an organisation’s success. Poor performance here often indicate future decline.

The Finances – communicates traditional financial information such as, sales, cash flow, forecasts etc. You can also cover risk assessment and cost-benefit data.

To set up a balanced scorecard, having set the organisation’s strategy and direction, the questions to ask are, “What do I need to know to …..

1. ….keep travelling in the right direction without deviating

2. ….maintain the appropriate speed

3. ….keep our precious cargo in best condition

4. ….exceed our customer’s expectations so they order more”.

Once the perspectives and metrics have been identified, performance management software can then be used to get the right performance information to the right people at the right time, graphically presented for easy understanding.

Unfortunately, many people believe the balanced scorecard to be a piece of software, this isn’t the case. However, having made the initial time investment, the process can be simple and almost run itself. It doesn’t need to be complicated; the simpler the better in my opinion.

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How can SME’s compete with the big players when it comes to Marketing?

March 8, 2010

It’s quite a challenge, as they often don’t have the same resources or financial muscle. However, like David versus Goliath, SME’s can move quickly and stealthily, so one way is by adopting a ‘Guerrilla’ marketing mindset.

Guerrilla marketers are by definition creative and devise their own unconventional methods of promotion. They use all of their contacts, both professional and personal and examine their company, its products and staff, looking for sources of publicity and marketing edge.

When implementing guerrilla marketing tactics, being an SME is actually an advantage. Small organisations and entrepreneurs are able to obtain publicity more easily than large companies because they are closer to their customers, considerably more agile and can react far quicker.

So what are the 5 basic principles behind guerrilla marketing?

– primary marketing investment is creativity and time, not money
– the prime business measurement is profit, not sales
– it is about achieving greater value, and more regular sales with existing customers and creating new relationships
– drilling down to focus on the core business, rather than attempt to diversify by offering too many products and services
– using current technology, as a tool for efficiency, with the initial goal being to encourage interest.

Creating this mindset is quite often a seismic shift in attitude because it requires a very open mind. It requires an investment in time to learn about new marketing techniques and to discuss the business with staff, customers and suppliers.

It requires a very clear definition of what the business does and where it is going, a clear understanding of how competitors are performing and being able to put yourself in your customer’s shoes, asking, ‘What’s in it for them’, when they buy from you?

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Six principles to achieve a winning marketing direction

March 1, 2010

When you come to planning the marketing approach for your product or service, these are the six key questions to ask yourself, to make sure you get the best possible result.

1. What’s the ‘hook’ to make people interested and want to find out more?
Use creativity to catch people’s attention. Get them to spend time looking at your offer and create a desire within them to want to learn more. So what’s inherently interesting and special about your product or service, to make them want to do this?

2. Having ‘hooked’ people to start with, now’s the time to sell the benefits.
People buy benefits, not features. Benefits are what a product or service will do for them. That could be emotional, something communicating status. Practical, a benefit that is time saving. Or convenience; such as we deliver to you. Whatever people buy, they do so because of benefits. So the question to ask, from the consumer’s perspective, is “What’s in it for me”? The major benefit should follow from the ‘hook and don’t promote more than one or two benefits to start with.

3. Make sure your features and benefits are as believable as possible.
Write them in such a way that they will not be questioned and simply accepted. For a paint Company it might be a trusted Interior Designer saying something like, “I use xyz paint with kryptonite, because it quickly dries to a rock hard, smooth finish, avoiding dust and brush marks, giving a professional result every time”.

4. Get people’s attention.
People filter advertising out, unless it has something of interest to them. But avoid the creativity trap that makes the advertisement more interesting than the product it’s promoting. You don’t want people remembering the ad. and either associating it with the wrong product or failing to recall it at all!

5. Give people a ‘Call to Action’.
Be very clear about what you want them to do next. Call-in, email, text or phone for more information. Give them something free in return, as a thank-you for doing this. Tell people exactly what to do next, or some will do nothing even when interested.

6. Check your creativity works and that you are communicating clearly.
Make sure readers get the message and the whole message at that. Make sure there isn’t room for misunderstandings, even when they are reading it whilst doing other things. If 15% fail to get the right message that’s a lot of misinformed people that you are paying to promote to – you want 100% understanding.

Finally, compare your finished advertisement, commercial, letter, or brochure against the original creative approach. Does the idea still hold up against these six principles? If it doesn’t, then rethink the idea so that it does.

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