Market Research & Planning

Ready to grow? Research the market, conduct competitive analysis, and try out our marketing plan template to formalize your own marketing plans.

6 questions to ask before you name a brand

The naming process can either become complex and lengthy, giving you sleepless nights and fueling endless debate; or it can be an adventure that is focused and goal-orientated – leading to a brand name that appeals to all role players and your target audience. It’s not always that black and white, but keep the analogy in mind when you start veering off the path! Here are six questions to keep in mind from the get go.

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Calculate the value of existing and new clients

There are basically three ways in which to grow a business, namely: by getting new clients; increasing the share of wallet; or increasing the frequency of transactions with existing clients. Determining the value of a client can therefore be very useful. For example, there is definitely a difference in the way we look at a potential client that is worth R50 vs R50 000 to our business. Here is how to calculate the value of new and existing clients.

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Create your marketing plan

Whether your company provides products or services, your marketing plan is essential to your success. Your marketing plan should be a clear, concise, and well thought out document that guides you through your marketing program. Use this marketing plan template with our expert advice.

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Effective competitive analysis

For your small business to succeed, you need to know almost as much about your competitors as you do about your own company and customers. Unfortunately, many small business owners make the mistake of waiting until a competitor has opened up shop across the street and is cutting into profits to find out who and what they're up against. A competitive analysis allows you to identify your competitors and evaluate their respective strengths and weaknesses.

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Getting to know your target market

To ensure that your business idea stands out from the rest, it is important to know your target market. This can be done by considering the following questions first: Is the market saturated? Does your area really need the services you are offering? What is the competition offering? What do they do well? What’s unique about them? Can you reach your target audience? Once you are sure of your business idea, you need information about your market. Here's how to obtain it.

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How to select a niche market

A niche market is a subdivision of the market at which a specific product/service is aimed. It gives definition to the characteristics of the specific product/service that is aimed at meeting the specific needs of the market, as well as the price category, product/service qualities and the demography on which this should impact. A niche market strategy may help you focus your resources on obtaining clients for whom your product or service provides the best fit to achieve their goals, address their needs, or solve their problems. Here's how to find one.

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How to turn suspects into prospects into clients

We all know the proverb – “You can`t see the wood for the trees.” This can also relate to the markets we operate in. All people we view to be prospects for our business will not turn into paying clients, because they might have been suspects all along. Confused? Well, to understand this perspective you need to understand how suspects, prospects, and clients relate to each other. Find out how to be selective in your search for clients by reading this article.

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Identify new/niche markets to increase your market reach

The top line on your Income Statement indicates how much your sales were in a particular period in time. That figure is important to note, as your expenses get deducted from your sales to calculate profit. By saving on expenses you will only be able to increase your profit up to a point. But by increasing your sales there is no limit to where you can grow your business! Read on to find out more.

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Low-cost market research

To run a successful business, you must know your market thoroughly. Strong market research can provide you with a range of information about your customers, your industry, and your competitors. In your start-up phase, it will help you determine how feasible a business idea is. As your business expands, you can use research to hone your operations, product, marketing, etc. The challenge for many small business owners is to do your research on a tight budget. Here are five cost-effective methods you can try.

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Marketing, mice, and mouse “traps”

A while back the buzz phrase about a marketing strategy plan was that if you set the biggest, best mouse “trap” the largest share of the market was yours for the taking. Rather cheesy, I always thought, while having an internal giggle!!! You see, I’ve never been particularly fond of mice, nor felt the need to “Trap” anyone. Instead I prefer to have my “Cheese (cake)” and eat it!!! This is where the 5 P's of marketing come in.

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Neighbourhood marketing checklist for SMEs

Creating and executing on an effective marketing strategy is something that many SMEs struggle with, and without which many businesses may not be able to succeed. It is because of the “make-or-break” power of marketing that it is important for you as an entrepreneur or business owner to have the necessary tools at hand to develop a marketing strategy that ultimately benefits your business. To address this need, Basil O’Hagan has created a neighbourhood marketing checklist for SMEs to better help them attract customers, make sales, and boost profits.

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Pricing Q&As

Whether you sell a product or service, the price you charge your customer will have a direct impact on the success of your business. Unfortunately, pricing is one of the least understood facets of running a small business. Many small business owners calculate their basic costs, and then pick a price arbitrarily. Arbitrary prices, however, mean arbitrary results. Taking the time to evaluate all the factors that will impact your price will help ensure you develop an effective pricing strategy.

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Segment your audience

Customer segmentation is understanding your customers' unique characteristics and behaviors so you can come up with a marketing message that communicates with them effectively. It also helps you to spend your marketing dollars wisely, using only those vehicles that can reach your identified segments. Evaluate your customers against these five criteria to ensure that you have clearly segmented your audience.

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SME Survey

SME Survey (Pty) Ltd. was founded in 2003 by Arthur Goldstuck, Debbie Whittaker, and Celeste Whitaker. Key areas of responsibility include: research, analysis, report writing, presenting and consulting; project management, sponsorships, PR, media and marketing; and event management. SME Survey's vision is to maintain its position as the original and largest annual SME research and marketing provider in South Africa.

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The role and place of research in a business

Research is a science on its own. For this reason we very often complicate the task and content of research. This can discourage people from participating in research studies or even from giving their honest opinions on the questions posed. However, research offers us the opportunity to analyse and interpret consumer behaviour. This article further explores the importance of research (specifically market research) on your business.

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Time to finish off the wounded?

An old saying is that auditors arrive after the battle and enter the battlefield to finish off the wounded… Now is a good time to reflect where your business stands. Are you skating on thin ice, or are you in good shape? If you fall into that latter category you may choose to implement a major and aggressive marketing campaign designed to take market share away from those competitors who are worse off than you.

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Top six pricing mistakes

A sound pricing structure helps companies generate sales and build customer loyalty. The wrong pricing structure can leave businesses struggling to service customers and reach profitability. When you need to determine what to charge for your products and services, steer clear of these common pricing mistakes.

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Who is your customer?

Marketing is not about chasing any customer at any given price. You have to decide which groups of customers (called segments) are most attractive to the business and are most likely to boost profits. If you work in a niche industry, such as manufacture or mining, your target market will be alot more obvious and the process below can be simplified. However, if you provide services to the average Joe and Jane Public, more research is required. Here are some tips for identifying your customer (or market segment).

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Why is your customer your customer (or not)?

Why do new customers buy from your business? Why do existing customers stay with you? If you cannot give immediate and compelling answers to these questions then you are operating blindly. If you can answer these questions then ask yourself: “If those reasons are really strong enough for them to buy from me, then why don’t ALL the potential customers buy from me?” Read on to learn more about how to answer these questions.

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