The 7 Vital Ingredients To Maximizing Your Offline Business And Online Business

No matter what it is that you sell there are more people on the internet to buy than can ever walk through your door. Does that mean that I think you should close your doors and just operate online? No I believe that there are some huge advantages to combining the strengths of both channels.

That was Barnes and Noble’s biggest mistake when Amazon was just a small online bookstore that was bleeding cash. If Barnes and Noble had focused on their strength in brick and mortar locations and combined their “clicks with their bricks” they would be the largest online bookseller today and Amazon would be gone or limping along.

What are these 7 vital ingredients that I’m talking about?

1. You get to look a customer in the eye and ask them questions.

There are some amazing analytics tools available on the internet for tracking and surveying customers in my opinion they still are not a substitute for years of looking a customer in the eye, asking them questions and watching their response.

2. Many people still like the idea of going into a store.

The shopping experience is changing, but retail stores will not go away for a long, long time. I appreciate the convenience of the web for items that I know I want. But when I want to browse nothing beats a funky little store.

3. You can send people from your retail location to your online store.

This is a great marketing channel. You can have a slightly different inventory available online.

4. Your local clients will tell their out of town friends.

If you do a good job of servicing your local clients they will evangelize you to their friends. You can even provide incentive to those that bring you new customers.

5. You can form a relationship with your customers.

This is similar to #1 but the differences are that you will see them at church the ball games etc. They will see you as a real person, and probably refer to you as your business. You’ll be the furniture guy or jewelry lady, but it will make a difference in your business.

6. In store Pickup

This is especially strong if you have multiple locations – like Barnes and Noble had. You can allow people to pay for their items online and pick them up in your store. This will give you another chance to upsell to them. And there is nothing better than upselling someone who is picking something up that they already paid for because they feel like they are getting a gift.

7. In store returns

Yes, none of us likes to take returns. But there are some great advantages to having them return it to your store. First it gives you the chance to find why they really returned it. Rarely will you get the real answer online. Second it gives you a chance to change it into an exchange or upselling them something else.

Lean Six Sigma Meets Darwin And Market Segmentation

In today’s competitive environment, market segmentation is the latest buzzword and is being touted as the next big thing in corporate management, especially marketing and sales. Lean Six Sigma would have failed just like any other quality improvement methodology, but it survived the test of time because it was quick to adapt to the challenges of market segmentation.

Scope And Importance Of Market Segmentation

Market segmentation is basically a management concept that is utilized by businesses to classify potential customers into different categories based on their age, income, specific needs and other factors. The need for market segmentation was realized when businesses understood that not all their customers were satisfied with the products or services being offered. The feedback provided by customers went a long way in making businesses understand that every individual has his own specific needs and requirements; and as such, the same product or service will not be able to satisfy all customers’ needs and requirements.

However, since it is quite impossible to cater to the specific needs and requirements of each and every individual, businesses decided to take the middle path, (i.e. classify potential customers into different categories), each category representing the common needs and requirements of a certain group of individuals or customers. The aim was to design and develop specific products or services for each of these categories or market segments so as to satisfy the common needs and requirements of categorized group members.

It’s not surprising then, that businesses have extended their product lines; for example, automobile companies now offer everything from economy cars to luxury sedans and tour operators offer everything from low-cost weekend destinations to luxury cruises across the Atlantic.

How Lean Six Sigma Helps In Market Segmentation

Market segmentation is certainly beneficial, but the problem is that it often requires businesses to incur additional expenses on designing and developing specific products, making the same available to the target audience, and also on marketing and sales. Lean Six Sigma helps because it allows businesses to increase efficiency even at a time when many different processes are being carried out, all at the same time. By utilizing Lean Six Sigma tools and techniques such as JIT (Just In Time) and ROQ (re-order quantity), businesses can ensure that production is not effected and that costs are reduced substantially.

Increased efficiency and reduced costs compensate for the expenses that are incurred for catering to the specific needs and requirements of different market segments. This shows that without Lean Six Sigma, it would become quite difficult to derive all the potential benefits that are associated with market segmentation.

The benefits of Lean Six Sigma were being debated some time back, but its recent success with market segmentation has finally proved that when it comes to managing quality and efficiency, Lean Six Sigma is certainly the best.

Facebook Beacon – A Business Viral Marketing Paradise

Recently when Facebook released new services on their website, it was obvious that they were seeking to take their social networking site to a new level, a more business oriented one. Amongst the services are the Facebook Pages and Facebook Beacon, which work together to optimize services and publicize actions that occur through Facebook Pages. Each publicized one promotes actions of other Facebook users and businesses that utilize the service to expand their virtual borders.

This simple addition to an existing Facebook Page facilitates automatic responses to the interaction on the page. It is a free service that is offered in addition to the already popular social networking platform. This can be focused to isolate specific demographics to help promote, grow, and expand business online. It is also useful for identifying what other businesses may be interested in your products or services. This notification on a Facebook page as well as the client’s help to expand the applicable target audience by those who have used the services or purchased the said business products. This free addition has the potential to bring in significant revenue and exposure to a businesses as they are able to narrow down the specific demographics interested in what is being offered.

Facebook Beacon allows a given brand or business to have access to the viral distribution potential within the Facebook community. The stories, actions and more of the users activity on your business site is displayed in their personal profile, as well as in theirs and their friends news feed. The publication will behave as a word of mouth promotion, which is the most powerful method of marketing available. The additional benefit is that it may also be seen by friends and other networking individuals that may also be interested in the product or services offered. Thus this will maximize the possible exposure to the many thousands of Facebook’s international community members.

In all consideration for customer friendly interface, Facebook technicians have made the addition of code a simple process. First things first, a business needs to identify what actions specifically they want to be virally transmitted. This could be things as simple as a Facebook member clicking on the Facebook page, or it could be a detailed as what the customer purchased, and when. Once the required information is identified, the next step is to identify this to the Facebook Page, which is code written for you, by your inputting needed information. Typically it is only 3 lines of code to be added to the profile updates, and potentially millions of members will be able to find your site through community penetration.

With such a customer friendly process, adding Beacon, Insights (the service that tracks the penetration and reports on it), as well as other free services, it is a must have for businesses who want to facilitate their online exposure through the extremely fast growing Facebook community. This awesome potential proves the goal of Facebook and its founder to seek a global network of international communication and business promotion. Such a prospect is promising particularly for those who work from home in one fashion or another.