Tag Archives: business planning

Market Segments

Let’s start with defining market segmentation.

First, your “market” consists of the people who need your product or service and the people who want your product or service and are most likely to purchase it from your company.  Rare is the company that has products or services needed by “everyone.”  Manufacturers of toilet paper are one exception that comes to mind, but when you think about it, infants and children still in diapers are not “customers” in the sense they can make a purchase, and they don’t need toilet paper yet but that’s okay.

Market Segmentation Target

Second, market “segmentation” is a method for dividing up your potential consumer base into various, well-identified portions for the purpose of appealing directly to that group.  An obvious differentiation is between female and male consumers.  If your company manufactures and sells high-heeled shoes, women are going to be your strongest market segment.


Considering that group of consumers, it is likely you can further define your market into age-related segments.  Things constantly change, but high heels are less likely to be worn by females under the age of 15 and those 65 and older.  There are exceptions, of course, but what this tells you when it comes to marketing is that you are likely to have fairly well-defined market segments:  Women in the age groups of 15 to 24, 25 to 34, 35 to 44, 45 to 54, and 55 to 64 or similar delineations.

Rather than belabor the example, let’s get to the point.  The more narrow you can define your market segments, the more concentrated your sales efforts can be on each of those segments, and the greater your likelihood of success in expanding your market share in certain segments.

As professional business and marketing consultants, defining a customer’s market segments is one of the primary steps in developing an effective marketing strategy to build a company’s brand.  Advertising can be expensive, especially if the return on that investment is questionable or, shamefully, unknown.  Why would you market high heels to a male audience?  Or in a Super Bowl commercial?  Think about what makes sense.

Where the challenge lies is in determining the buying characteristics, or what we refer to as customer buying motivation (CBM), of each market segment.  Why would women in the 25 to 34-year old age group buy high heels more frequently than those in the 55 to 64-year old segment?  If you find it is job-related or as a need for social status, you have narrowed the potential appeal for your shoes to that age group.

The next step, and where professional help can prove valuable, is determining which delivery vehicle is best for conveying your sales pitch to that demographic audience.  In conducting research, you might discover (as we have) that women 25 to 34 may have a favorite TV program but they use the Digital Video Recorder (DVR) to fast forward through the commercials.  The challenge, therefore, is figuring out how to reach them with a message that encourages or convinces them to buy from you and become loyal to your brand.

We’re here if you need help with any of this.

Brand Your Work – Work Your Brand


Planning vs. Execution

How much time should you spend on planning the affairs of your business?

The simple answer:  Enough to know your plan and the resulting effort will have a reasonable chance of success.  Success comes in the execution of the plan, and evaluation of the ensuing results.

You can certainly over plan.  There are examples throughout history of companies that have spent so much time planning, revising the plans, and reviewing the plans that they forgot to execute the plan and the business failed.  Planning for the sake of planning is usually counter-productive.  It’s like changing for the sake of change.  Rarely a good idea.

One car dealership changed its catchy slogan for its location.  When the marketing staff was asked about it, they responded that they were tired of the slogan.  When they came to understand that their customers, and potential consumers, would lose their association with the dealership and make it harder to find them because of the change, the slogan came back.

Planning is the process of developing a strategy your company can execute with a reasonable measure of attainment.  It’s a rather simple process.  You determine what  you want to do, gain agreement from those involved in the implementation, figure out who has responsibility for the tasks that need to be accomplished, set a budget, and then you put it into action.

If, for instance, you plan to grow your business by 20 new clients each month for the next year, you should have more than an idea of how it’s going to happen.  If you’ve added five new members a month during the past year, you are now expecting to quadruple that sales performance.  The planning process involves rationalizing if it’s achievable, and laying down the groundwork to accomplish the objective month-by-month.

Monitoring, or tracking the results, is essential to the process of planning.  Using the 20 new clients per month example, if sales bring in 12 new clients in the first month, a quick analysis of how and why that happened assists in the execution strategy.  If the goal remains at 20, somewhere those missing eight new customers needs to be made up to validate the goal and the strategy for implementation.

Bring in 22 new clients the second month and now you’re down six.  What’s more significant, though, is that the sales people are starting to hit their stride.  They’ve had success and are gaining confidence in the process and belief in the goal.  That’s how the planning process and execution strategy work hand in glove to provide management with the tools so critical to growing the business and keeping the team motivated.

Yes, you can skip the planning process and trust that your company is on track.  You can “wing it” when it comes to measuring results and the performance of your sales team.  You can also feel comfortable repeating the same mistakes hoping for different results, then wonder why profits start to slip, customers leave for a competitor, and your business winds up closing.

We have found that planning can be as complex or as simple as you want, once you’ve laid a solid foundation, which is something Brand Irons can assist you with.  You also need an accountability partner to keep you focused on the execution of the plan.  It is far too easy to be side-tracked by the daily operations and avoid looking at the bigger picture.

Einstein’s definition of insanity:  Keep doing the same thing but expect different results.

Take the time to think things through; our philosophy on planning.

Brand your work – work your brand!

5 P’s of Business Success

Your definition of success is different than mine.  Is the wino who scores a cheap bottle every day less successful than the sales representative whose achieves the goal of 10 sales in a week?  It comes down to how you define success.

Success KeyWhen it comes to owning and operating a business, defining success is still a personal choice, although there are certain keys that can clarify the definition.  Here are five “P”s:

  1. Passion.  One of the first elements Brand Irons considers when taking on a new client is how passionate you are about your business.  The passion gets you up in the morning with eager anticipation for what you can accomplish during the day.  It motivates you to bring enthusiasm to every decision you make about the business.  It energizes your employees and that passion for your vision goes right through to your customers.  That passion for your enterprise sends you home at night encouraged by the results and excited about bringing it back tomorrow.
  2. Plan.  Various research projects have illustrated that people, especially business owners, who set goals and write down their plans are far more likely to succeed than those who feel goals and plans have little value.  Take some time to think for a few minutes:  Are you working in your business or are you taking the time to work on your business?  Working on your business means you do some research, study your competition, talk to your customers and personnel, and develop strategies to enhance your bottom line.  Try a different tactic and measure the results of how it worked.  Consult with professionals and others in your field who have been successful in their endeavors.  Think about things.
  3. Perform.  Your passion conveys a sense of urgency that follows the path you’ve laid out in your plan.  Another critical element is to execute the strategy, which means you and your people have to perform.  Your customers have expectations.  They believe in and trust you.  They know what to expect from your products and/or services.  It’s up to you and your team to make it happen and fulfill those customer expectations.  That’s why it is essential you stay in touch with your customers.  Get to know them and their needs.  What are they looking for, and is your company meeting those needs?  How can you enhance service?  Are there other products you could provide to help them solve their problems?  Do what is expected of you … and then do a little more than that.
  4. People.  Whatever your business, whatever you market, and whether you have employees or it’s only you, everything you do involves people.  Your customers are people; human beings with needs, wants, and wishes.  Your employees are people with a need to feel appreciated, who want to have value and make a contribution, and wish to be treatly fairly and honestly.  Your success in business is therefore wrapped up with people.  That means you need to establish and sustain relationships with these people, especially your customers.  Always remember that without customers – who are people – you have no business.
  5. Place.  The adage that it’s all about location is true, to a degree.  If you operate a restaurant or a retail establishment, your place in the community can be a critical element in your long-term success.  The same holds true if the primary place where your business is located is on the Internet.  If your web presence is old, stagnant, and hard to find, even the most elaborate website is a poor location.  Keep your place looking sharp.  Your parking lot should be as safe, clean, and comfortable as your place of business.  Your website should be up-to-date and your social media current and professional.  Remember, marketing is about perception.  If your customers think your place looks sloppy, that perception could reflect on your products and services as clearly as crystal.