23 Feb
2017

Niche Marketing to Boost Market Share

When developing your business it helps to consider the entire industry landscape, and where your business will fit in.

While success of a  product or service requires practical fulfillment of a need in the marketplace, you can boost your market share by identifying and targeting under-served niche(s). This can greatly improve the odds of business survival, especially in highly competitive or saturated markets.  First determine your present capabilities.  Will this type of expansion over-extend the company?  When executed efficiently,  supplying specialized markets can increase your net-margins, and even establish your brand.

Determining Your Niche

Choosing your market position will largely be determined once you understand what types of people purchase from you, and why.  Useful data can be gleaned from sources like competitors, industry/trade publications, and by surveying potential clients to determine sufficient demand.  Next develop a unique positioning strategy based on your company's strengths, capabilities, and current trends.

Successful Positioning

Be aware that success in market penetration will largely depend on the accuracy and integrity of market info!   The right data also makes marketing efforts much more effective,  as knowing the demographic data of the target audience ensures a "tailored" message they can understand.

History has shown us that even great products ideas can become epic fails when the market cannot understand them quickly enough.  This is usually the case with new inventions, or products that are "ahead of their time", (i.e. Web TV circa 1997, tablet PCs circa 2002...).

Once your venture is active, its wise to keep this research ongoing, as it will keep you bonded with your ideal clients as well as provide on-going feedback to help you improve your business.

This information is also useful in determining your marketplace advantages and disadvantages, while potentially uncovering new opportunities and trends to help you maintain a competitive edge.

Considering the potential benefits of this knowledge, who can afford to not study their market?  Combined with proper planning and responsible management, your business will retain market relevance while experiencing long-term stability.

Source:

Lambin, J., Chumpitaz, R., & Schuiling, I. (2007). Market-driven management: Strategic and operational marketing. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

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16 Feb
2017

Protecting Your Ideas

I counsel others about their business ideas, helping them analyze the best courses of action.   Often times securing the idea itself is overlooked.  Any time you develop or innovate a product, process, or concept that is a marketable trade secret, you have created intellectual property.  Before you take steps toward releasing your gift to the world, you can go about preserving your rights of usage by registering with the proper authorities to obtain a patent, trademark, or copyright.

  • Copyrights: A copyright is the right to reproduce a certain work if the work is in fixed form.  These are created automatically when any work is created. However it is helpful to register the work with the federal government, (U.S.),  to ensure enforceability.  Copyright protection lasts for 70 years, and is denoted by the symbol "©", or "P" for audio.

It is important to note that copyrights only protect against creation of exact duplicates, not creation of  similar works.

  • Patents: A patent is a grant of rights by the government, (U.S.), to an inventor.  This allows the inventor/ patent holder to exclude others from manufacturing or using an invention.  This protection lasts approx. 14 years for designs, and 20 years for utilities or plants.

I regularly scan patent directories for myself or clients to find out if an idea concept or process we are planning to build or market has already been addressed.

  • Trademarks: A trademark is a the right to a name, word, phrase, symbol, logo, color, design, or combination of these that distinguish an identity.   Similar to a patent it allows you to prevent others from using a mark that is similar enough to cause confusion.  Trademarks are designated by "™" and "®".
  • Servicemarks: Similar to trademarks, this term applies to rights of usage for services. Registration for both can be found here, (U.S.).
  • Trade Secrets: A major disadvantage of patents and copyrights is that the protection offered has a finite lifespan.  Trade secrets, however, last forever.  The only requirement is that the trade remains a secret.  No authoritative registration is required; by taking reasonable steps to maintain confidentiality, you could use the grounds of "misappropriation" when taking legal action.

Intellectual property laws are complicated, and continues to evolve to say the least.  Plan ahead, and use legal contracts, like confidential disclosure and trust agreements, to protect the integrity of your idea's development. If you have trade secret concerns, I encourage you to contact a referred attorney that specializes in Intellectual Property Law.

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9 Feb
2017

Adventures in Business

In my earlier experiences executing business ideas, I encountered situations where my progress would have been smoother, had I a deeper knowledge of self.

Starting   a business is not for the faint of heart.  As it has been said, "fortune favors the brave."

To be successful in business, you need a combination of hard (smart) work, skill, perseverance, and wisdom.

To measure your preparedness, it takes an honest evaluation of the responsibilities that come with running a small business, and the duties required.

Note that the definition of success can be subjective.  It definitely helps to think about what you would like to gain from your journey.

successful management of your business requires a valid evaluation of your skills to determine your capability.  What you want to know is whether you can develop them, hire a coach, or hire someone that already has them.

Most experts agree that the two most common reasons businesses fail early are that (1) the owner or management are inexperienced, and (2) the amount of money needed to start and survive is underestimated.

These are accurate points.  A strategy that helped me to overcome these challenges: Bootstrapping.

No one is born with business ability, it takes patience, practice, and courage, (PPC).

Happy new year this year, and every year. (Now get to work!)

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