Training Modules

Communication - Establishing effective communication is the key to an organization's success – particularly within a small-business atmosphere, where employees often wear many hats. ... By implementing effective communication practices within the workplace, small-business owners can help build a solid foundation for growth and success.

1)           Verbal Communication.

2)           Nonverbal Communication.

3)           Emotional Awareness.

4)           Written Communication.

5)           Communicating in Difficult Situations

 

 

 

VERBAL COMMUNICATION

What does verbal communication mean?

The sharing of information between individuals by using speech. Individuals working within a business need to effectively use verbal communication that employs readily understood spoken words, as well as ensuring that the enunciation, stress and tone of voice with which the words are expressed is appropriate.

 

People we communicate with will take away from us:

7% of our words

38% of vocal characteristics: tone, volume, inflection

55% of body language and facial expressions

 

 

Why is lack of confidence a barrier to communication?

Interrupting others while they are speaking also creates a poor environment for communication. Lacking confidence. Lacking confidence can be a major barrier to effective communication. Shyness, difficulty being assertive, or low self-worth can hinder your ability to make your needs and opinions known.

 

When you begin to say too much and feel like a train about to derail, put the brakes on and get yourself back on track … PAUSE!

Keep your objective in mind. ...

Put thought into your words.

Focus your message on three significant points.

Pay attention to your listener.

 

 

5 Communication Barriers

 

 

Most individuals are unaware of the static they create when they communicate. What do I mean by static? Static is created when what you say is inconsistent with how you say it.

 

For example, suppose you’re having a conversation and the other person says, in a boring, monotone voice, “I’m so excited to have this opportunity to work with you.” Their facial expressions are lifeless. They never look you in the eye while they’re fidgeting with a pen. Most likely you’d question their credibility and knowledge, and not act on what they have to say.

 

 

 

 

 

Communication Barrier #1

Lack of Enthusiasm

Do you really believe your product is better than the competition’s? Do you look as confident as you say you are? The benefits of your product will not be believable if you don’t communicate your passion, enthusiasm, and commitment through your facial expressions.

 

How to Avoid This Barrier: Show Some Enthusiasm

Begin paying attention to the type of facial expressions you use and when you use them. You may not be aware of when you frown, roll your eyes, or scowl.

Make sure your facial expressions are appropriate based on your topic, listeners and objective. When you’re smiling while communicating a serious or negative message, you create a discrepancy between your facial expression and your message. The same discrepancy applies when you’re communicating a positive message without facial expressions.

Once you have increased your awareness of facial expressions, practice the skill of incorporating them into your message, matching the appropriate expression to each situation. You wouldn’t want to have a stone-cold look on your face when you are expressing your passion for your company’s products.

 

Communication Barrier #2

Distracting Gestures

Most individuals I work with fidget with their fingers, rings, pen — the list goes on. If they don’t fidget, then they unconsciously talk with their hands. Their elbows get locked at their sides and every gesture looks the same. Or they’ve been told they talk with their hands, so they hold their hands and do nothing.

 

Throughout the day, notice how you and others use gestures.

 

Do you talk with your hands or gesture too often? If you’re constantly using gestures, you’re not able to think on your feet and you’re creating static.

Do your gestures have purpose?

Ask for constructive feedback from friends, family and co-workers: “When I gesture do, I look like I’m talking with my hands?” “Do I use gestures too often or not enough?”

How to Avoid This Barrier: Use Gestures for Emphasis

Confident speakers use gestures to add emphasis to their words. To gesture with purpose, avoid locking your elbows at your sides or creating the same repetitious gestures. Instead, expand your gestures from your sides and let your hands emphasize and describe your message.

 

Add variety to your gestures by relaxing your arms back to your sides after you complete a gesture.

 

“Static is created when what you say is inconsistent with how you say it.”

 

Benefits include:

 

When your gestures create a visual for your listeners, they’ll remember more information and will remember your message longer.

Gestures will grab your listener’s attention.

Gestures add energy and inflection to your voice and channel your adrenaline and nervous energy.

 

Communication Barrier #3

Lack of Focus

 

How to Avoid This Barrier: Stay Focused

When you begin to say too much and feel like a train about to derail, put the brakes on and get yourself back on track … PAUSE!

Keep your objective in mind. Think in terms of what your listener needs to know about what you want them to do, not what you want to tell them.

Put thought into your words.

Focus your message on three significant points.

Pay attention to your listener. Are they hanging on your every word or are they dazed? Are they attentive or fidgeting?

 

Communication Barrier #4

Verbal Static

Um… what perception… like… do you create… you know… when you hear… um… a speaker using… uh… words that clutter… you know… their language? Knowledgeable, credible and confident are labels which probably don’t come to mind.

 

The number one challenge individuals need to overcome to increase their influence is the ability to replace non-words with a pause. We use non-words to buy ourselves time to think about what we want to say. These words are distracting, and your listener misses your message.

 

How to Avoid This Barrier: Eliminate Filler Words

Want to learn more?

How to Stop Saying Um, Uh, and Other Filler Words

Benefits for you:

 

Think on your feet.

Get to the point and avoid rambling.

Take a relaxing breath.

Hold your listener’s attention.

Gain control over your message.

Benefits for listener:

 

Hear, understand and respond.

Act on what you say.

 

Communication Barrier #5

Lack of Eye Connection

The only way to build a relationship is through trust. When you forget what to say, you will look at the ceiling, floor.

 

How to Avoid This Barrier: Keep Your Eyes on Your Audience, Customer, Etc.

Want to learn more?

Simple Secrets to Improve Your Eye Contact

When speaking to more than two individuals, connect with one individual for a complete sentence or thought. Take a moment to pause as you transition your eyes from one individual to another.

 

NON-VERBAL COMMUNICATION

What does nonverbal communication mean?

Communication without the use of spoken language. Nonverbal communication includes gestures, facial expressions, and body positions (known collectively as “body language”), as well as unspoken understandings and presuppositions, and cultural and environmental conditions that may affect any encounter between people.

 

What are the six types of nonverbal communication?

  • Facial expressions. The human face is extremely expressive, able to convey countless emotions without saying a word.

Think for a moment about how much a person can convey with just a facial expression. A smile can indicate approval or happiness. A frown can signal disapproval or unhappiness. In some cases, our facial expressions may reveal our true feelings about a situation. While you say that you are feeling fine, the look on your face may tell people otherwise.

 

Just a few examples of emotions that can be expressed via facial expressions include:

 

Happiness -Sadness-Anger-Surprise-Disgust-Fear-Confusion-Excitement-Desire-Contempt

The expression on a person's face can even help determine if we trust or believe what the individual is saying. One study found that the most trustworthy facial expression involved a slight raise of the eyebrows and a slight smile. This expression, the researchers suggested, conveys both friendliness and confidence.

 

Facial expressions are also among the most universal forms of body language. The expressions used to convey fear, anger, sadness, and happiness are similar throughout the world. Researcher Paul Ekman has found support for the universality of a variety of facial expressions tied to emotions including joy, anger, fear, surprise, and sadness.

 

Research even suggests that we make judgments about people's intelligence based upon their faces and expressions. One study found that individuals who had narrower faces and more prominent noses were more likely to be perceived as intelligent. People with smiling, joyful expression were also judged as being more intelligent than those with angry expressions.

The eyes are frequently referred to as the "windows to the soul" since they can reveal a great deal about what a person is feeling or thinking. As you engage in conversation with another person, taking note of eye movements is a natural and important part of the communication process. Some common things you may notice include whether people are making direct eye contact or averting their gaze, how much they are blinking, or if their pupils are dilated.

 

When evaluating body language, pay attention to the following eye signals:

 

Eye gaze: When a person looks directly into your eyes while having a conversation, it indicates that they are interested and paying attention. However, prolonged eye contact can feel threatening. On the other hand, breaking eye contact and frequently looking away might indicate that the person is distracted, uncomfortable, or trying to conceal his or her real feelings.

Blinking: Blinking is natural, but you should also pay attention to whether a person is blinking too much or too little. People often blink more rapidly when they are feeling distressed or uncomfortable. Infrequent blinking may indicate that a person is intentionally trying to control his or her eye movements. For example, a poker player might blink less frequently because he is purposely trying to appear unexcited about the hand he was dealt.

Pupil size: Pupil size can be a very subtle nonverbal communication signal. While light levels in the environment control pupil dilation, sometimes emotions can also cause small changes in pupil size. For example, you may have heard the phrase "bedroom eyes" used to describe the look someone gives when they are attracted to another person. Highly dilated eyes, for example, can indicate that a person is interested or even aroused.

 

  • The Mouth

Mouth expressions and movements can also be essential in reading body language. For example, chewing on the bottom lip may indicate that the individual is experiencing feelings of worry, fear, or insecurity.

 

Covering the mouth may be an effort to be polite if the person is yawning or coughing, but it may also be an attempt to cover up a frown of disapproval. Smiling is perhaps one of the greatest body language signals, but smiles can also be interpreted in many ways. A smile may be genuine, or it may be used to express false happiness, sarcasm, or even cynicism.

 

When evaluating body language, pay attention to the following mouth and lip signals:

 

Pursed lips: Tightening the lips might be an indicator of distaste, disapproval, or distrust.

Lip biting: People sometimes bite their lips when they are worried, anxious, or stressed.

Covering the mouth: When people want to hide an emotional reaction, they might cover their mouths in order to avoid displaying smiles or smirks.

Turned up or down: Slight changes in the mouth can also be subtle indicators of what a person is feeling. When the mouth is slightly turned up, it might mean that the person is feeling happy or optimistic. On the other hand, a slightly down-turned mouth can be an indicator of sadness, disapproval, or even an outright grimace.

 

  • Body movement and posture

How we hold our bodies can also serve as an important part of body language. The term posture refers to how we hold our bodies as well as the overall physical form of an individual. Posture can convey a wealth of information about how a person is feeling as well as hints about personality characteristics, such as whether a person is confident, open, or submissive.

Sitting up straight, for example, may indicate that a person is focused and paying attention to what's going on. Sitting with the body hunched forward, on the other hand, can imply that the person is bored or indifferent.

 

When you are trying to read body language, try to notice some of the signals that a person's posture can send.

 

Open posture involves keeping the trunk of the body open and exposed. This type of posture indicates friendliness, openness, and willingness.

Closed posture involves hiding the trunk of the body often by hunching forward and keeping the arms and legs crossed. This type of posture can be an indicator of hostility, unfriendliness, and anxiety.

 

The arms and legs can also be useful in conveying nonverbal information. Crossing the arms can indicate defensiveness. Crossing legs away from another person may indicate dislike or discomfort with that individual.

 

Other subtle signals such as expanding the arms widely may be an attempt to seem larger or more commanding while keeping the arms close to the body may be an effort to minimize oneself or withdraw from attention.

 

When you are evaluating body language, pay attention to some of the following signals that the arms and legs may convey:

 

Crossed arms might indicate that a person feels defensive, self-protective, or closed-off.

Standing with hands placed on the hips can be an indication that a person is ready and in control, or it can also possibly be a sign of aggressiveness.

Clasping the hands behind the back might indicate that a person is feeling bored, anxious, or even angry.

Rapidly tapping fingers or fidgeting can be a sign that a person is bored, impatient, or frustrated.

Crossed legs can indicate that a person is feeling closed off or in need of privacy.

 

  • Eye contact

When evaluating body language, pay attention to the following eye signals:

 

Eye gaze: When a person looks directly into your eyes while having a conversation, it indicates that they are interested and paying attention. However, prolonged eye contact can feel threatening. On the other hand, breaking eye contact and frequently looking away might indicate that the person is distracted, uncomfortable, or trying to conceal his or her real feelings.

Blinking: Blinking is natural, but you should also pay attention to whether a person is blinking too much or too little. People often blink more rapidly when they are feeling distressed or uncomfortable. Infrequent blinking may indicate that a person is intentionally trying to control his or her eye movements. For example, a poker player might blink less frequently because he is purposely trying to appear unexcited about the hand he was dealt.

Pupil size: Pupil size can be a very subtle nonverbal communication signal. While light levels in the environment control pupil dilation, sometimes emotions can also cause small changes in pupil size. For example, you may have heard the phrase "bedroom eyes" used to describe the look someone gives when they are attracted to another person. Highly dilated eyes, for example, can indicate that a person is interested or even aroused.

  • Space

Have you ever heard someone refer to their need for personal space? Have you ever started to feel uncomfortable when someone stands just a little too close to you?

 

The term proxemics, coined by anthropologist Edward T. Hall, refers to the distance between people as they interact. Just as body movements and facial expressions can communicate a great deal of nonverbal information, so can this physical space between individuals.

 

Hall described four levels of social distance that occur in different situations:

 

Intimate distance— 6 to 18 inches: This level of physical distance often indicates a closer relationship or greater comfort between individuals. It usually occurs during intimate contact such as hugging, whispering, or touching.

Personal distance— 1.5 to 4 feet: Physical distance at this level usually occurs between people who are family members or close friends. The closer the people can comfortably stand while interacting can be an indicator of the level of intimacy in their relationship.

Social distance— 4 to 12 feet: This level of physical distance is often used with individuals who are acquaintances. With someone you know well, such as a co-worker you see several times a week, you might feel more comfortable interacting at a closer distance. In cases where you do not know the other person well, such as a postal delivery driver you only see once a month, 10 to 12 feet may feel more comfortable.

Public distance— 12 to 25 feet: Physical distance at this level is often used in public speaking situations. Talking in front of a class full of students or giving a presentation at work are good examples of such situations.

 

EMOTIONAL AWARENESS/INTELLIGENCE

 

Emotional Self-Awareness is the ability to recognize and understand one's own emotions. People with this competence can identify subtle differences in their emotions and know how their emotions affect their behavior, decisions, and performance.

 

Better Self-knowledge Leads to Higher EI, Which Leads to More Happiness.

And that’s exactly why EI is an important predictor of success in life and business. It goes like this:

 

High EI leads to greater self-knowledge.

And better self-knowledge leads to more happiness.

And more happiness means higher job satisfaction.

Higher job satisfaction leads to better results.

Better results lead to more acknowledgment.

Acknowledgement for our work makes us feel important.

Again, that improves happiness, results, etc.

 

  1. Identify Your Emotions

The first step is to identify how you feel and what triggers your emotions. Don’t worry about why. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself:

 

What are you feeling in different situations?

Do you get angry when you get criticism?

Do you get sad when people ignore you?

Do you freeze when you’re put on the spot?

 

  1. Interpret Your Emotions

Once you have a better picture of how you respond to different situations in life, it’s time to understand them. Think about these things:

When you’re angry, how do you respond to people?

And what you do think about that?

Why do you even get upset, sad, happy, angry, etc., in the first place?

Don’t judge and say, “I’m such a fool.” No, it’s all about understanding your emotions. Nothing more. Nothing less.

  1. Manage Your Emotions

This is a big part of succeeding in business. A leader doesn’t go with the flow or follows the energy of a group. A leader SETS the mood. But before you can set the mood in groups, you must master setting your internal mood. Answer yourself:

 

Can you snap out of a sad mood?

Can you cheer yourself up?

Can you slow yourself down when you’re too excited?

If not, work on it. Because you must have control over your emotions to manage them.

 

 

WRITTEN COMMUNICATION

Written communication involves any type of message that makes use of the written word. Written communication is the most important and the most effective of any mode of business communication.

Communication is about building relationships by conveying messages. Clear messages help build trust and integrity between the writer and the reader. Well-written communication helps define goals, identify problems and arrive at solutions

 

Examples of written communications generally used with clients or other businesses include:

Email-Internet/websites-Letters-Proposals-Faxes-Postcards-Contracts

 

Writing is used more today than at any point in human history. From Facebook updates and email blasts to text messages and business reports, words are everywhere. Written communication is anything that uses words and language in print or written on the screen, wall or whiteboard to convey a message.

 

How you use your words can, and should, vary depending on the platform through which you’re expressing yourself. In business, it means being a little more formal. On Facebook business pages, it means being a little less formal. In emails, it means being clear but concise. The legendary communications writer Marshall McLuhan once said, “The medium is the message,” and today that’s still true, but the medium defines the messages.

 

 

Demystifying Written Communication

Every professional writer is often told by other that they're "so lucky" they can write well, because most people lament how something is lost between the brain at the page.

 

But writing is like any skill or talent: the more you do it, the better you get. Don't do it and you'll fail every time. When you begin writing more, do it slower and more thoughtfully, and soon you’ll get more confident and the words will come faster. Journal daily for a brain dump because this helps your mind be clearer, which in turn helps other writing attempts.

 

And always, always edit. The difference between someone who thinks they’re barely passable at writing and the professional writer isn’t just about skill or practice or that intangible gift of talent – it’s also all about editing. Most professional writers don’t edit once or twice, they edit multiple times. When editing, pretend you don’t have a clue what you’ve written about, and read it as if you’re someone reading it the first time. Read it so you hear the voice in your head, and if you stumble on anything while reading it, it’s likely because you’ve not expressed that thought clearly. Try rewriting the sentence, reordering it or finding more specific words. And then edit again.

 

What Are the Elements of Effective Writing?

Word choice, syntax, punctuation and style are all the obvious elements of effective writing. Without them, the rest isn’t seen as credible.

 

But all that doesn’t matter if there isn’t a good central idea or objective behind the writing. What's the communication for and what needs to be understood? Or, in today’s language, what’s the takeaway?

 

Then, it must be organized well. The idea must be introduced in broad strokes in the initial paragraph and explained or expounded upon in subsequent paragraphs. Assume the person reading it isn’t as familiar with the topic and explain clearly but without being patronizing. Support the idea with evidence or examples or use quotes that bolster the message you’re conveying.

 

Conclude by referring to the idea you expressed in the opening, but avoid using clichés like, “in conclusion.”

 

For instance, let’s say you open a work email with something like, “Lately, some discussion has occurred around the idea of creating more client-facing documentation in order to improve communication and boost trust. I support this suggestion because…” A great conclusion would refer back to this opening, such as, “Ultimately, more client-facing correspondence may seem like another burdensome responsibility, but I believe the payoff would come from eventually receiving fewer queries out of the blue and creating a better ongoing dialogue and greater trust. I look forward to discussing this in more detail.”

 

Helpful Writing Books and Apps

It’s unfortunate to get judged on things like punctuation since it doesn’t come easily to everyone, but the reality is people tend to be more respected and trusted when they express themselves well in writing.

 

If you’re frequently feeling at a loss for words because you’re insecure about your grammar, syntax or punctuation, you’re far from alone.

 

Today, software like Microsoft Word has basic editing for grammar and syntax, so use those for first drafts. But there are new players on the block like the Hemingway Editor app, which also has a desktop site, where you can copy and paste your writing to see clear highlighted sections indicating where you’re going wrong with suggestions for improving it. Even professional writers use this app.

 

Several books are loved by writing pros, too, like William Strunk’s "Elements of Style" and Stephen King’s "On Writing_."

Basic Business Writing Tips

Stop and think. Writers think before they write, and it makes all the difference in being clear. Have a plan before you start. Don’t bury it. Keep your main idea front and center. Start there, don’t stick it three paragraphs down.

Keep it cheap and simple. Stop using $5 words – get your money's worth by speaking simply and clearly. Say "use," not "utilize." Don’t use jargon, don’t try to sound smart, let your ideas be smart.

 Everyday language will express your ideas far better and you’ll feel more comfortable as you write – and it’ll show when others read it.

Don’t waste words. Use as few words as possible and kill multi-word phrases. “End result” should just be “result,” and there are so many more examples. (Microsoft Word is great for pointing these word-wasting phrases out)

Reduce adjectives and adverbs. Use specific words. A "four-door car" is a sedan. Running fast is "sprinting." Use a thesaurus to broaden your choices.

Write more and read more to be better. Reading more books will be helpful in getting your head in a better space for writing. Writing daily, whether in a journal or in a long Facebook post for your business, will help you become more confident at expressing yourself.

Always know your audience. Who you’re writing for can, and should, change what you say and how? Be mindful of who's reading you.

Never send your first draft. Even professional writers stop to reread and rework their emails. The first draft is never perfect.

Edit, edit, edit, edit. Editing will change your life.

 

 

 

COMMUNICATING IN DIFFICULT SITUATIONS

 

Most people want to avoid conflict and potentially stressful situations – this is human nature. People often find it easier to avoid communicating something that they think is going to be controversial or bad, putting off the communication and letting the situation fester.

 

There are two distinct types of difficult conversation, planned and unplanned:

Planned conversations occur when the subject has been given thought, they are planned as the time, place and other circumstances have been arranged or are chosen for a reason.

 

Planned difficult conversations could include asking an employer for a pay-rise or perhaps telling your parents that you are leaving home to live somewhere else. Although these situations are, by their nature, difficult they are controlled and if time has been taken to prepare and think properly about how others may react, they can often end up being easier than imagined.

 

Unplanned difficult conversations take place on the spur of the moment; these are often fueled by anger which can, in extreme cases, lead to aggression.

Often, after an unplanned difficult conversation we feel a surge of emotion – regret or shame if things didn't go too well or potentially a boost to self-esteem and confidence if they did.  After such encounters it is wise to reflect and learn from our experiences trying to find positives and ways of improving future unplanned difficult conversations.

 

 

Dealing with Difficult Conversations

 

 There must be a balance between communicating something difficult and being as sensitive as possible to those concerned.

 

The skill set required to do this may seem somewhat contradictory as you may need to be both firm and gentle in your approach.

 

Recommended skills include:

 

Information Gathering

Make sure you have your facts straight before you begin, know what you are going to say and why you are going to say it.  Try to anticipate any questions or concerns others may have and think carefully about how you will answer questions.

Being Assertive

Once you are sure that something needs to be communicated then do so in an assertive (Not aggressive) way. Do not find yourself backing down or changing your mind mid-conversation, unless of course there is very good reason to do so.

 

Being Empathic

Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and think about how they will feel about what you are telling them; how would you feel if the roles were reversed?  Give others time to ask questions and make comments.

 

 

Being Prepared to Negotiate

Often a difficult situation requires a certain amount of negotiation, be prepared for this.  When negotiating, aim for a win-win outcome – that is, some way in which all parties can benefit.

Using Appropriate Verbal and Non-Verbal Language

Speak clearly avoiding any jargon that other parties may not understand, give eye contact and try to sit or stand in a relaxed way.  Do not use confrontational language or body language.

 

Listen

When stressed we tend to listen less well, try to relax and listen carefully to the views, opinions and feelings of the other person/people.  Use clarification and reflection techniques to offer feedback and demonstrate that you were listening.

 

Staying Calm and Focused

Communication becomes easier when we are calm, take some deep breaths and try to maintain an air of calmness, others are more likely to remain calm if you do.  Keep focused on what you want to say, don’t deviate or get distracted from the reason that you are communicating.

 

 

 

MARKETING

 

Marketing is the process of getting people interested in your company's product or service. This happens through market research, analysis, and understanding your ideal customer's interests. Marketing pertains to all aspects of a business, including product development, distribution methods, sales, and advertising.

Types of Marketing

Where your marketing campaigns live depends entirely on where your customers spend their time. It's up to you to conduct market research that determines which types of marketing -- and which mix of tools within each type -- is best for building your brand. Here are several types of marketing that are relevant today, some of which have stood the test of time:

 

•            Internet marketing: Inspired by an Excedrin product campaign that took place online, the very idea of having a presence on the internet for business reasons is a type of marketing in and of itself.

•            Search engine optimization: Abbreviated "SEO," this is the process of optimizing content on a website so that it appears in search engine results. It's used by marketers to attract people who perform searches that imply they're interested in learning about an industry.

•            Blog marketing: Blogs are no longer exclusive to the individual writer. Brands now publish blogs to write about their industry and nurture the interest of potential customers who browse the internet for information.

•            Social media marketing: Businesses can use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and similar social networks to create impressions on their audience over time.

•            Print marketing: As newspapers and magazines get better at understanding who subscribes to their print material, businesses continue to sponsor articles, photography, and similar content in the publications their customers are reading.

•            Search engine marketing: This type of marketing is a bit different than SEO, which is described above. Businesses can now pay a search engine to place links on pages of its index that get high exposure to their audience. (It's a concept called "pay-per-click" -- I'll show you an example of this in the next section).

•            Video marketing: While there were once just commercials, marketers now put money into creating and publishing all kinds of videos that entertain and educate their core customers.

The 4 Ps of Marketing

Product

Let's say you come up with an idea for a product you want your business to sell. What's next? You probably won't be successful if you just start selling it.

Instead, you need your marketing team to do market research and answer some critical questions: Who's your target audience? Is there market fit for this product? What messaging will increase product sales, and on which platforms? How should your product developers modify the product to increase likelihood of success? What do focus groups think of the product, and what questions or hesitations do they have?

Marketers use the answers to these questions to help businesses understand the demand for the product and increase product quality by mentioning concerns stemming from focus group or survey participants.

 

Price

Your marketing team will check out competitors' product prices, or use focus groups and surveys, to estimate how much your ideal customer is willing to pay. Price it too high, and you'll lose out on a solid customer base. Price it too low, and you might lose more money than you gain. Fortunately, marketers can use industry research and consumer analysis to gauge a good price range.

 

Place

It's critical that your marketing department uses their understanding and analysis of your business's consumers to offer suggestions for how and where to sell your product. Perhaps they believe an ecommerce site works better than a retail location, or vice versa. Or, maybe they can offer insights into which locations would be most viable to sell your product, either nationally and internationally.

 

Promotion

This P is likely the one you expected from the get-go: promotion entails any online or print advertisement, event, or discount your marketing team creates to increase awareness and interest in your product, and, ultimately, lead to more sales. During this stage, you'll likely see methods like public relations campaigns, advertisements, or social media promotions.

 

1)           How are market trends impacting my business?

6 Trends That Will Affect Your Small Business in 2019

 

Each year there seems to be a different set of trends impacting on businesses. The last few years have seen some significant changes in trends for businesses. A few years ago, it was a popular choice to get your niche business onto Facebook & Twitter before your competitors. It is now taken as a given that your business is making use of social networks.

 

 

•            Personalization

 

Not long ago it seemed globalization was the way to go. Now everything is becoming a lot more personalized and it is going to impact upon your business. Firstly, your advertisements are going to need to become a lot more targeted. There’s nothing more wasteful than an advert that the viewer has no interest in.

 

Secondly your products should start to become more personal. This is especially true for online services. All your customers are not going to have the same requirements and being able to offer them personalized solutions is going to add a lot of value to your offerings.

 

•            Alternative social networks and privacy

 

There has been a lot of talk recently about our privacy. Users are not liking the idea of social networks accessing our data and making billions by selling it onto advertisers. 2016 will see users of the internet becoming more concerned than aver with their privacy. social networks have responded by offering more privacy settings for users, but this is not enough. There have already been new social networks such as Ello start-up which are welcomed because of their approach to user privacy.

 

•            Image based sharing and promotion will continue to be popular

 

In recent years Infographics have become a great tool for marketers and image sharing has become more popular. 2016 will see these becoming increasingly popular between businesses of all sizes. Infographics have now become easier and more cost-effective to produce. They are a great way to market your business and are useful for both social media and blog posts.

 

Small businesses sharing images will also become increasingly popular. If you use social networking, then sharing images of your latest products or offers is a great method of cost-effective marketing.

 

•            Social media will dominate customer service

 

Users love to use social media to complain about businesses. However, businesses can often use this to their advantage. As the conversation is public, your business can promote its great customer service by responding to these complaints and getting them resolved in a professional manner. furthermore, users also like to use social media to ask questions about your business. Providing a promptly and accurate response is a great way to boast your customer service skills turn website visitors into customers.

 

•            The cloud will see continued growth

 

The cloud has been around for a while now. However, it is only recently that small businesses have come to see the value in taking advantage of the cloud. Cloud services are great for keeping your business data secure and accessing data on the move. By the end of 2016 there should be a significantly higher percentage of businesses taking advantage of the cloud.

 

The pricing of cloud services has also fallen, making it more affordable for small businesses.

 

•            Marketing will become more tech orientated

 

With the rapid speed at which technology moves at these days, marketers are going to have to me very technologically advanced to keep up. With new advertising space appearing on devices all the time it will be the ones that make cleaver use of technology that will shine through. Therefore, great marketers will need to be very confident with new technology which could see marketers coming from IT backgrounds.

 

2)           How does our target market make buying decisions?

A target market is a group of consumers or organizations most likely to buy a company’s products or services. Because those buyers are likely to want or need a company’s offerings, it makes the most sense for the company to focus its marketing efforts on reaching them. Marketing to these buyers is the most effective and efficient approach. The alternative - marketing to everyone - is inefficient and expensive.

 

Finding Your Target Market

To determine who your best target market consists of, start by answering three basic questions:

 

What problem does your product or service solve? Does it help soothe teething babies? Does it make men feel taller? Does it help companies garner more publicity?

Who is most likely to have this problem? In what situations do they use it? This is where you start breaking down who you should be focusing on. Is it individuals? Businesses? Families?

Are there different groups with different needs? You may have more than one target market, or market segment, based on how they use a product or service. For example, a bike shop may help families with young children choose a safe bike for their 5-year-old, while a 30-something athlete may want advice in choosing a professional racing bike.

Get a little more specific about what pain points your product or service addresses and then who typically feels that pain.

 

Zeroing in On Your Target Market

Once you are clear about who is most likely to need or want your product or service, it’s time to get even more specific about this group, or groups, of people. There are several different ways to define your target market, based on different characteristics. You should decide which approach comes closest to exactly describing your perfect customer:

 

•            Consumer or business – Start by clarifying if you have a B2B (business-to-business) or a B2C (business-to-consumer) offering.

•            Geographic – Local brick-and-mortar stores may find that their most likely customers are within a two-mile radius of their store, or within a zip code. This target market is defined geographically, based on where they live or work or vacation or do business.

•            Demographic – Describing your best customer demographically means that you define your target market in terms of their gender, age, income level, education level, marital status, or other aspect of their life.

•            Psychographic – Sometimes customers don’t fit into a group based on outward characteristics, but more based on internal attitudes and values. These are psychographic characteristics.

•            Generation – Many companies today define their target market based on which generation they were born in, such as baby boomers or Gen Y.

•            Cohort – Other companies find that their target market is better defined by looking at cohorts, or groups of people who had similar experiences during childhood, such as being raised by a single mom or attending boarding school.

•            Life stage – Other target markets are more alike because of the stage of life they are in, whether it’s post-college, retirement, newly married, newly divorced, or parenting young children, for example.

•            Behavioral – Another approach is simply based on frequency of use, or behavior, which could be a good choice for nail salons, car washes, or vacation rentals, for example.

 

 

3)           What is our market share?

Market share represents the percentage of an industry, or market's total sales, that is earned by a company over a specified time period. Market share is calculated by taking the company's sales over the period and dividing it by the total sales of the industry over the same period. This metric is used to give a general idea of the size of a company in relation to its market and its competitors.

 

How to increase market share.

 

Strategic Acquisitions

One of the fastest ways to gain market share is to acquire a competing company. When you buy another company, most of their customers will become your customers. If your business does not have the means to purchase smaller companies, you may want to consider acquiring high-volume salespeople from a competing business. Often, a customer’s loyalty resides with the salesperson, not the brand. In this way, convincing a competing salesperson to work for your company is like purchasing a competing business outright. Sometimes you can even purchase a competitor’s customer list if that business is being sold or closing shop. This will give you leads to those potential customers who will now be looking for a new provider of your products or services.

 

Technology and Innovation

Many small businesses lose market share because of their lack of innovation and technology. To appeal to more customers, you need to make sure that your business is as modern and technologically advanced as your competitors. Aim to be an industry trendsetter instead of simply following suit. You can do this by becoming more in touch with your target customer base. Hold frequent focus groups or market surveys to determine your customers’ pain points. Then, determine how your business can alleviate these pain points through new innovations to your products or services. For example, if you own a bakery and an emerging trend is eating organically, start offering certified organic baked goods. Or, if you own a take-out service and your customers are always busy and, on the go, develop a mobile app that helps your customers order quickly without ever needing to pick up the phone.

 

Frequent, relevant innovation lets your customers know that you’re a leader in the industry and assures them that there is no need to look to the competition for these advantages.

 

Market to a Different Demographic

A great way to grow your market share is to increase your pool of potential customers. If your product or service is more applicable to one demographic over another, think about ways you can tailor it to a new group of potential customers. When you’re developing or updating products, think about how they could be tailored to an older crowd, a younger crowd or a different sex. For instance, if you currently sell a fitness product to men to help them build muscle, consider what modifications you could make to tailor the product to women to help them slim down and tone up. By modifying your product for a different user group, you’ve greatly increased your potential customer base. Now you can use traditional marketing and advertising tactics to “convert” them into real customers.

 

If you live in a particularly diverse area, you might be able to gain market share simply by providing your products and services in various languages. Learn the specific demographics of your area(s) and use this knowledge to your advantage to incorporate these groups into your customer base.

 

 

 

Market Research

 

 

 

Market research consists of systematically gathering data about people or companies – a market – and then analyzing it to better understand what that group of people needs. The results of market research, which are usually summarized in a report, are then used to help business owners make more informed decisions about the company’s strategies, operations, and potential customer base.

 

Understanding industry shifts, changing consumer needs and preferences, and legislative trends, among other things, can shape where a business chooses to focus its efforts and resources. That’s the value of market research.

 

Meaning, if your research told you that scientists had recently created a new kind of fabric that helped the wearer lose weight just by putting it on, for example, your retail clothing store might want to adjust its buying plan to test designs using this new fabric. Or if you uncovered that shoppers in your area rely heavily on coupons in making a purchase decision, you might decide to test sending your mailing list a promotional coupon.

 

Market research can help businesses run more efficiently and market more effectively.

 

 

Types of Market Research

While there are several market research tools you can use, there are only two types of market research data:

 

Primary. Primary data is first-hand information you gather yourself, or with the help of a market research firm. You control it.

Secondary. Secondary data is pre-existing public information, such as the data shared in magazines and newspapers, government or industry reports. You can analyze the data in new ways, but the information is available to many people.

Using primary or secondary data, there are two types of research studies:

 

Exploratory. Exploratory market research gathers lots of open-ended data from many people to better understand a problem or opportunity. The goal is to gather perceptions and opinions regarding an issue, so your company can decide how to address it. But first you must understand how your market sees the issue.

Specific. Once you understand the larger market issues, or opportunities, you can use specific questions to gather information that could lead to a new product or service. Market research firms often use specific questions to gather feedback on a new advertising campaign, or to refine a planned new product.

Primary Market Research Tools

While primary research is more time-consuming and expensive, sometimes it’s the only way to get the information you need. The most common primary research tools are:

 

•            Surveys. Asking customers, a series of questions to better understand how they feel about a product’s features, or about the experience they had during their hotel stay, for example, are two possible uses of a survey. Surveys consist of a list of questions that can be shared with an individual by phone, in person, on a card or paper, or online using a survey software.

•            Focus groups. Bringing together groups of people with a common characteristic, such as age, hobby, or buying habits, to better understanding their likes and dislikes is a focus group. Focus groups typically consist of 8-12 people with a moderator who poses questions for the group to discuss. They are a useful way of getting feedback on a new product, new features, or new ad campaign.

•            Observation. When the researcher gathers information simply by watching how a subject interacts with a product, the technique is observation. This is often used in comparing preferences for several types of products.

•            In-depth interviews. Another market research technique is the one-on-one interview with an individual, during which probing questions are posed to better understand that person’s product preferences.

 

Sources of Secondary Data

When conducting market research to better understand industry trends and broader shifts, secondary research is often a good place to start. Some of the most useful sources include:

 

•            Industry associations and trade groups – most associations publish annual outlooks

•            Trade journals specific to your industry

•            Government reports - such as the Census or annual federal procurement results

•            Industry analysts – these individuals monitor the performance of public companies in your space

•            University faculty members – see what research reports they may have published

•            Websites – while Wikipedia isn’t a reliable source, there may be others that lead you to reputable sources and reports

•            Competitor websites and materials – to convince potential customers to buy from them, they may share useful statistics and reports

 

The purpose of market research is to provide information that will assist you in making better decisions, to help your company be more successful.

 

Common Types of Market Research

Market Segmentation. When conducting market segmentation studies, we're generally asking survey questions aimed at capturing needs, values, attitudes, behaviors and demographics. ...

Product Testing

Advertising Testing

Satisfaction and Loyalty Analysis

Brand Awareness and Reach

Pricing Research

 

 

Follow these steps to spending your market research dollars wisely:

Determine what you need to know about your market. The more focused the research, the more valuable it will be.

Prioritize the results of the first step

Review less-expensive research alternatives

Estimate the cost of performing the research yourself

 

 

Objectives of Marketing Research. The main objective of marketing research (MR) is to provide information to the marketing manager. The marketing manager uses this information to make marketing decision and to solve marketing problems. The purposes or objectives of marketing research are listed below.

 

Identify the consumer response to the company’s product.

Know the consumers’ needs and expectations.

Seek maximum information about the consumer, i.e. the know consumers’ income range, their location, buying behavior, etc.

Know the nature and extent of competition and the strength and weaknesses of the competitors.

Check the reaction of the dealers to the company policies.

Evaluate the reputation of the company in the market.

Identify and solve the marketing problems of the company.

Search for new marketing opportunities.

Find out alternative uses of the existing products.

Estimate the cost of marketing of goods and service.

Help company to introduce new products in the market and improve its existing products.

Assist a company to select a suitable channel of distribution and test the effectiveness of this distribution channel.

Facilitate company to select suitable sales promotion measures and test the effectiveness of the sales promotion techniques.

Aids the company to select a suitable media for advertising and find out the overall impact of advertising.

Help the marketing manager to decide about the quality of the product, product modification, packaging, pricing, branding, etc.

Provide information to top level of management for making objective, policies, plans and strategies.

Provide prerequisite information to forecast the marketing budget.

Supply up-to-date information about market trends, demand and supply position, etc.

Forecast the future sales and business conditions.

 

 

 

Market Research Examples with Types and Methods:

 

Quantitative and Qualitative market research types and methods such as surveys, focus groups, online interviews and phone surveys have become extremely popular and the latest addition to this category is social media market research. Here are 5 market research examples of the most used methodologies:

 

•            Online Polls and Surveys: Conducting online polls and surveys have become the most widely used type of market research technique to gauge opinions from a target audience. They are an extremely cost-effective medium of connecting with an audience and getting opinions or feedback about critical topics. Understanding whether a market is suitable for a target audience or whether a feature update will succeed and opinions about other such topics can be collected. Include the right poll questions or survey questions to create effective polls/surveys that will be instrumental in getting desired results.

•            Social Media Research: This market research example has become exponentially popular as a convenient alternative to focus groups or online interviews. Marketers now prefer posting on Facebook, LinkedIn or even Instagram to get quick opinions about product launches or feature updates. Conducting an online poll on Facebook or Instagram will be a prompt medium to get valuable insights from the right target audience.

•            Focus Groups: It is one of the most traditional mediums of conducting market research and have been implemented since the Second World War.  Focus groups are extremely filtered groups of 6-10 individuals, usually 8, who belong to diverse demographics and whose opinions and feedbacks are collected for market research. It is a qualitative market research category where this extremely diverse group will be asked a few questions in the presence of a moderator about new concepts, product launches or updates, new services, marketing ideas etc.

•            One-to-one Interviews: This market research example is one of the oldest and popular forms of conducting market research. They are systematic, with questions prepared much before the day of one-to-one interviews that will be effective in gaining the desired feedback from all the participants. They are usually considered to be focus groups but with a single person at a time. These interviews can be conducted anytime, anywhere and are recorded for analyzing content in the future. One-to-one interviews are sources for receiving unfiltered and impartial information from each of the respondents. As the interview can see the respondents, he/she can observe body language, confidence levels, and other such factors before drawing conclusions.

•            Phone Surveys: Phone surveys are traditionally used as an extension to focus groups and one-to-one interviews. They are conducted when the feedback received from the other two sources needs to be verified. This is done by calling a considerable number of customers/consumers and by collecting opinions and reviews about a product/service. This data will influential in accommodating improvements in products or services.

 

 

The 5 Step Marketing Research Process

1            Define the Problem or Opportunity. The most important part of the marketing research process is defining the problem. ...

2            Develop Your Research Plan. ...

3            Collect Relevant Data and Information. ...

4            Analyze Data and Report Findings. ...

5            Act.

 

 

The ultimate guide on how to conduct market research:

ADORABLY CUTE CREATIONS

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Leaha Young

Hand crocheted and embroidered items for baby, kitchen, bath, home decor, and accessories and sport items

ANGELA RAE'S COOKIES

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Angela Byars

I sell my decorated sugar cookies, bread and muffins at ACFM

AUBERT ACRES

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Julie Aubert

I sell my fresh jam & jelly, homemade  soap and craft items at Allen County Farmers' Market

BETTY'S CREATIONS

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Betty Cunningham

I sell my homemade crafts and baked goods at Allen County Farmers' Market.
My  cinnamon rolls are my best seller!!

BLESSED B CREATIONS

Sewing Studio

I sell purses, pillows, earrings, key fobs, etc. and do custom orders.

CASTLE FARMS FRESH MEATS

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Eric and April Castle

We sell our pork products at Allen County Farmers' Market

CHARLES BRIGGS

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Charles Briggs

I sell my fresh eggs and garden produce at ACFM

DEER CREEK HONEY

Ron Smail

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We sell our fresh honey at Allen County Farmers' Market

FINN & WILLOW

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Robin Schallie

Finn & Willow is a farmstead that sells pasture raised eggs, sweet breads, cobblers, pies, and other confections.

 Helen and Andy Roberts

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 Helen and Andy  Roberts

I sell my home made  jam, jelly and baked goods and produce at  Allen County Farmers' Market

HECK FARMS

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Ashton & Merinda Heck

Heck Farms is a locally independent grower and marketer of home grown, fresh and high-quality produce.

Debbie Goff

Deb Goff

I sell eggs, baked goods and  fresh produce at Allen County Farmers' Market

Mentzer Family Farm

Miles and Jennifer Mentzer

We are a family run pumpkin patch located just outside of Iola, Kansas. We carry a variety of specialty pumpkins available at our farm or Allen County Farmers' Market

MAZ'S PRODUCE

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Deb and Mark Mazankowski

We sell our fresh produce at Allen County Farmers' Market

PARKERS GREENHOUSE

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Calvin Parker

Our mission is to grow the best produce in Allen County, home grown, hand-picked and sold directly to you - from our family to yours.

PERRY'S PORK RINDS

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Kelly and Thaddeus Perry

Perry's Pork Rinds sells it's fresh rinds and fudge at ACFM

Prairie Storm Recreations

Rita and George Arnold

 We sell handcrafted iron products as well as fresh produce  at Allen County Farmers' Market.

Tadpole Hot Pepper Jam

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Carla Smith

Tadpole's Hot Pepper Jam is a unique pepper forward jam you won't find anywhere else

TASTE T FARM

Duwayne & Debbie Bearden

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Taste T Farm grows pasture-raised beef and chicken, and fresh, wholesome garden produce available directly to the consumer.

TIS THE SEASON

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Terri Johnson

I sell the following products at Allen County Farmers’ Market---
Jordan Essentials takes pride in our safe skin care solutions for the entire family that are proudly made in the USA! Innovative, multipurpose, naturally based and effective, we ARE the trusted name in family skin care! Our products at Jordan Essentials are made with botanical, natural ingredients and are affordable for every family!
Sugar Shack Country Candle Company takes great pride in our highly fragranced products.  Our ingredients are hand poured, hand labeled, and hand packaged by our dedicated employees.  We continue to be committed to the quality of our product while offering reasonable pricing.

THOLENS GARDEN

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Christine Tholen

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