Browsing Category: "How To Grow"

Starting a Fashion Line: How to Research and Implement a Flawless Business Plan

August 17th, 2016 | Posted in How To Grow

Starting a fashion line requires a large amount of research, especially for the new designer.

The first type of research you’ll want to do is market research. Browse the web for potential competitors, and compile them into a list. You’re going to have to research the following points about each of your competitors:

Mission Target Market (Demographics of their customers) Experience Sales Strategy (Retail or Wholesale?) Median Price Range Marketing Strategy (Social Media? Paid Advertising?)

Keep all of this info neat and organized, because you’re going to put it into a polished business plan later in the game.

Starting a fashion line requires researching your own target market, too. You need to define this group in its entirety. Find out the following things:

How much money do they make? What is their disposable income? Where do they like to shop? Where do they “hang out” online? How much money do they spend on clothing? What are their needs, are customers? How are their needs being met in the current market? Why will they be inclined to purchase your product?

In addition, you will need to start searching for suppliers. These are the people that will make clothing production possible. Starting a fashion line is easiest when using a full-service company that can create your samples from your sketches, and translate those samples into patterns, and finished products. Researching these companies in advance will give you a better idea of your options, and allow you to think about the type of supply chain you would like to have. Ask yourself these questions as you research:

Do I want to outsource, or produce in the USA? Where do these suppliers source their fabric from? What are the working conditions of overseas suppliers? How much experience do they have? What is their lead time? Who are their other clients? How will I import products back to the States? What type of company do I want to support with my business? What is the company’s stance on the environment, the planet, and bottom-line profits?

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Know More About Flexible Working

August 15th, 2016 | Posted in How To Grow

Working flexible hours, or flexi-hours as they’re often called, is a practise which has been increasingly used by many companies since the early 1970’s. With the advent of the digital age, home-computers, and the internet, a greater number of companies are looking at ways to increase company profitability, while improving job satisfaction amongst their employees.

Improved Company Employee Relations:

Many companies have turned to flexible working to better relations with their workforce, retain staff, and reduce sick-time. We live in an age where family responsibilities and work commitments have to be prioritised by many employees. These additional concerns can induce greater levels of stress, reduce output, and promote higher levels of sick leave. All of which have a negative financial effect for the company.

For many employees, the chance of working from home, beginning their working day a couple of hours earlier, or later, can make all the difference when juggling work and family commitments.

Even on the shop floor. If staff have to spend an hour or two commuting to work on crowded roads or packed trains, they’re not going to be in the best frame of mind to put in their most productive day’s work. The option of starting earlier or later, and finishing the same, may be all it needs to reduce travelling time, relieve stress, improve morale, and increase output.

Reducing Costs:

Work from home is the ideal situation for a large number of today’s workforce. Given the opportunity to do so, they provide higher levels of commitment and increased output. Working their own flexible hours they are more likely to start earlier or finish later should work load require, while taking thirty minutes off to take the kids to nursery school.

Many couples have found one partner working full-time, and one part-time, is the ideal way to manage family and work commitments. To take full advantage of this, companies are ‘sharing’ many office positions, allowing two members of staff to share the same job, desk, and computer, while splitting the working week between them.

The greater the number of staff able to work from home reduces the need to expand to larger premises with all the additional costs involved. While employees working fewer hours, so as to attend to personal or family needs, will feel greater company loyalty, and provide higher output.

Moving from Normal to Flexible Working:

Changing company practises from the normal 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. hours, to a flexible mode of operation, requires consultation with staff on all levels, including the factory floor. Most company bosses agree that, although the move can be challenging, it is not insurmountable.

Of prime concern to any business is keeping good customer relations. Maintaining continuity of commitments and delivery dates, while endeavouring to satisfy employee flexible working practises, can prove demanding in the early days. With the change in working practises, employees need to be kept up to date on company policy. They need to be aware of customer needs and those of their work colleagues.

While some may be allowed to work from home, others may not, and this could cause resentment between staff. The reasons need to be adequately explained as to why one can and one can’t, to avoid any build up of ill feeling.

Should the move to flexi-hours require certain staff members taking on additional responsibilities, adequate training needs to be put in place to provide a more versatile workforce.

A major change in Working Practises:

Although moving from normal to flexible working practises is a major change within any company, it doesn’t need to happen all at once. Many companies today work a mixture of both, bringing in flexible working where possible, while maintaining a normal working week where it is not.

Good communications are the key to any major change in policy. Discussing all concerns with employees; why the company wishes to move to flexible working, the employees job security after the move, and why some can go flexible and some can’t. Treat the workforce as a team with a ‘we’re all in it together’ attitude, and face concerns using a team approach, will usually resolve these genuine concerns.

The Boss remains The Boss:

From a management point of view, seeing half the workforce going flexible doesn’t mean you only have half the workforce to worry about. Ensure staff, with their new found independence, realise they still have a boss to answer to – company commitments to follow – and a work ethic they are expected to adhere to.

A win-win situation:

Carried out correctly, a move to full or partial flexible working can be a win situation for both company and employees. The company gains from reduced costs, saving money on having to obtain larger premises. With a less stressed, happier workforce, productivity increases, time off sick reduces, and a greater number of skilled staff are able to be retained. Many professionals these days actively seek flexible employment, accepting lower remuneration in return for greater time with family, or to pursue outside interests.

Employees benefit from a better balanced lifestyle. The difficulty of juggling home and family with a need to provide an adequate income is removed. They become happier, more relaxed, and family relationships improve. For all concerned, a win-win situation.

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When Client Communications Become Crisis Communications

August 9th, 2016 | Posted in How To Grow

Any situation that is threatening or could threaten to harm people or property, seriously interrupt business, significantly damage reputation and/or negatively impact the bottom line.

Developing a Strategy for the Unexpected

Businesses spend thousands on everything from research and development to sales strategies and marketing plans.  While cultivating clients, managing social media and buying advertising is necessary, there is one equally important area many companies seem to forget – crisis communications.   Whether this is because management just does not want to deal with a crisis until it happens, or because they do not foresee any public relations issues with their business/brand, failing to develop a crisis communications plan can be a company’s greatest threat.

Do you remember the Tylenol drug tampering crisis?  Those of you old enough to remember it probably had forgotten about it until now.  And, those of you who are younger may not realize that back in the 1982, this popular brand of over-the-counter medication was the subject of a horrible event dubbed the “Chicago Tylenol Murders”. A number of poisoning deaths in Chicago were attributed to the victims taking Tylenol, which had been laced with potassium cyanide by an outside source.  This crisis not only took Chicago by storm, but also shocked the world.  The fact that this atrocity did not destroy the Tylenol brand and has now become a distant memory is likely related to how the company handled the crisis.

Johnson & Johnson, the makers of Tylenol, faced the crisis head on by immediately alerting the public to stop using their product until the extent and source of the tampering could be identified. They took further steps to remove the product from store shelves and cease production. Although the company experienced a temporary set-back in sales, they scored big in the area of consumer confidence.  Thus, the brand is still thriving today, while the incident has become a model for corporate crisis communications planning.  In a nutshell, what restored consumer’s faith in the product was the fact that Johnson & Johnson did not immediately place “blame” on the culprits and portray themselves as victims; instead, they worked with authorities to help ensure public safety.  The Department of Defense has prepared an interesting analysis and case study of the crisis if you are interested in learning more.

There is much to be learned about how Johnson & Johnson handled this tragic event.  Having a plan to address the unexpected is vital to the longevity of your brand.  Even “squeaky-clean” companies can fall victim to unforeseen public relations nightmares. Situations which can occur in any company include:

  • Disgruntled employee spreading false rumors
  • Social media attack campaign
  • Sexual harassment claims
  • Accident involving and employee or customer
  • Hacking or stealing of customer information
  • Workplace violence
  • Wrongful termination lawsuit
  • Frivolous lawsuits

If your business is located in an earthquake or hurricane zone, you would have a disaster plan, correct?Having a crisis communications plan is equally important to protect your company and ensure its survival.

If you do not have a crisis communications plan, you are in luck as we are going to discuss some basic plan elements.  And, if your business has a plan, kudos to you! Feel free to use the following section to review your crisis communications plan elements and make adjustments if necessary.

Establish a Core Crisis Communications Team

A crisis communications team should be identified.  This core team can be comprised of various staff from throughout your company or organization.  Your company president, public relations director, legal advisor and human resources director should all be part of this team.  Other members may include department directors, supervisors and employee relations managers.  Try to identify staff from a cross section of employees.  Depending on the size of your company, an ideal core team is usually made up of 5-10 employees.  This team must be willing to drop everything on a moment’s notice and jump into action. Prompt response, investigation, and action are critical in any crisis.  If someone is not willing to work 24/7, then they are not good candidates for this assignment.

Identify a Spokesperson

All information concerning the crisis should be communicated through one official spokesperson.  This person should be confident and trained in how to handle media as he or she will likely be in front of cameras and answering questions at press conferences. The spokesperson should also be someone who appears reliable and trustworthy.He or she should be the only person providing information to the media and public about the event. All calls and inquiries should be directed to the spokesperson, and he or she must be accessible to media 24/7.

Develop Strategy for Internal Communications

Key messaging about the situation is imperative to help decrease rumors and misconceptions.  The crisis communications team needs to communicate – sooner than later – important information to the employees and board members as soon as possible.  Depending on the situation, this could be very sensitive, so the expertise of human relations, public relations and legal staff will most certainly come in handy. Who, what and how information is disseminated to staff needs to be determined.  Staff and board members should also be instructed not to discuss the situation with the public or media and to direct any inquires to the spokesperson.

Develop Strategy for External / Stakeholder / Customer / Client Communications

Your customers and stakeholders will need to be kept in the loop as well.  You will need to identify readily available means to communicate with them, whether it be through e-mail, e-newsletter or personal contact.  The crisis communications team will need to develop an official statement as well as possible questions from customers so responses can be thought through and prepared.

Practice Your Plan!

No company can anticipate every crisis.  However, you can examine your business unit and others like yours to determine issues most likely to occur. Conducting a “mock” situation with your crisis communications team can help you be better prepared in the event of an emergency. Where will the team meet to discuss and strategize?  How will each team member address his or her assigned duties?  Will the assigned team be able to work well together? Think of this is a sort of “fire drill”.  Understanding and practicing what to do in the event of a crisis is critical to helping ensure proper handling of the situation.

Having a crisis communications plan is the first step in being prepared for a sensitive situation. Remember, honesty tends to win out in the end. If you try to cover something up or are not truthful, it will show.  In most cases, a consumer can forgive a company who makes a mistake and owns up to it.  The public tends to have a more difficult time when they feel deceived.

If you do not have full time human resources, public relations and legal staff, consider outsourcing these individuals during a crisis.  Identifying and retaining experts in the event of a crisis can also be helpful.  And, since Social Media has evolved into a a major form of communication, consider having an expert help with the management and monitoring of social channels. As with any disaster, preparedness is key to ensuring the survival and sustainability of your company.  Good luck!

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Startup, SME: 7 tips to boost your business

August 7th, 2016 | Posted in How To Grow

How to establish the reputation of your business, build credibility with your commercial and institutional partners or attract the attention of new customers? Summer is the perfect time to rethink your brand, develop your strategy and bring some novelty to it all. Here are 7 tips that will help you boost your activity for September …

Refresh your brand

It is always difficult to grasp the summer for a contractor. The activity is minimized, it is perhaps time to get into the changes that you have always postponed. If you have not already done so, you can create a new logo for your company to be easily recognizable and evolve your visual identity to respond to a demand that may have evolved. This will allow at the same time state your logo on new media to reach new customers.

Call to novelty

Challenge your working methods by seeking a more effective and faster to accomplish your goals. Is there a new tool that will allow me to do better in less time? Are there new materials that would allow me to convey my best brand? It’s outside the box found what we need. Why not use Evernote to quickly manage your note-taking by integrating photos or voice recordings; create an account on Hootsuite to animate and synchronize all your social networks; or install Slack to facilitate communication within your company … yourself updated on new technologies and new Web services that will boost your productivity.

Take care of your community

“Ah! When I speak of myself, I’m talking about you. How do you feel it? “Victor Hugo said. Your users do not always make this shortcut. Vary your messages on social networks and do not speak (that) you. Share information that will inspire your community, make them want to know more. Ask her questions, ask his opinion, reveal stories or achievements of your customers, so that she feels involved and loved. Create a unique and useful content for your community – through a blog , or in a newsletter – to increase its commitment to your brand.

Be where your target is

Be present on social media that can be useful for your business and also think of those used by your customers. Consider how your target behaves on the internet and what sites they frequent. This is where you need to be. For a company that is immersed in a creative medium, for example, it is essential to be present on social platforms centered on the visual as Instagram or Pinterest. This is the best way of showing the success of its services.

Put yourself in your customers value through

A customer praised your service or your product? Do not be shy, do run the compliment in the rooftops: social networks, blogs, communication media, word-of-mouth … Make these easy to share customer testimonials. They represent a significant vote of confidence for consumers. You can also create a page on your site bringing together the positive testimonials you’ve recovered from your customers or include them in a relevant area. For example you can create a button to allow customers satisfied to send a tweet from their profile.

Remember retention

Your customers are valuable, do not underestimate. They can leave and never come back … Remember that retain a customer is 5-10 times cheaper than to acquire a new one. Invite them to reuse your service using all the tools available to you: offer them a sponsorship offers, loyalty points, point reductions. Customer loyalty should be part of your strategy: a very satisfied customer speaks to 3 people on average while an unhappy customer informed the other 12.

A little audacity

When preparing new content (article, video, computer graphics), do not be afraid to go out of the ordinary. Without being extravagant, you have the ability to innovate in your messages by combining business with pleasure to make your viral content possible. Consider the change as a real opportunity!

These tips should keep you busy this summer and help you best prepare the return with a new look, new jobs and a marketing approach that uses the power of community.

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5 tips to improve the customer experience

August 3rd, 2016 | Posted in How To Grow

The digital transformation of enterprises has changed their relationship with their customers, and instead of the brand in purchase decisions …

This remains a way to evaluate a bid to differentiate the choices available to consumers caught in the mass of information they can find on the internet. But the chaotic set of data is structured by the price comparison, the advices, blogs and websites that perform product testing. The mark can therefore be mistreated or lose all usefulness.

The figures relate to mergers and acquisitions show that a trend is emerging, that of abandoning the brand in favor of a strong customer relationship.

In other words, buyers prefer to invest in companies with loyal customers with a strong potential for cross-selling.

The massification of digital cameras combined with Cloud computing allows direct communication without intermediary; thus reducing marketing costs, optimize the customer lifecycle and improving the buying journey, resulting from the collection of opinions. Finally, this phenomenon has also facilitated the rebranding.

The assistance service is a way to build strong relationships with your customers, control your brand and increase your revenue. According to a survey conducted by Sprinklr 86% of them are even willing to pay more for a better customer experience (CX).

Thus see 5 points that should be addressed in the establishment of your strategy to build and manage relationships with your customers.

1. Collect and use feedback from your customers

The customer experience can constantly be improved if you take into account the positive and negative opinions. The collection of such data can be via notes, emails or platforms like Zendesk, User echo that facilitate their managements.

The feedback will also be used to offer products or services that better meet their needs. Involve them in developing your solutions, fulfill a need for recognition and highlight in the community also help to strengthen your relationship with them.

2. Anticipate potential pitfalls

The main purpose of the support is to help clients when they encounter a problem with your product or educate. But this team should be the last step, the last resort to consider. So be proactive and help design a center with the necessary documentation so that they can find all the information required: whether to open an account, find other offerings, your pricing, etc. Consumers n ‘ actually have no preference between a support platform available online or representative on the phone according to the study presented by the Harvard Business Review.

During exchanges by email or telephone, representatives will also provide links to the  tutorials the most consulted and relevant to your customers.

3. Be present on channels where your customers are located

Also according Sprinklr, 60% of customers contact at least occasionally brands on social networks, 11% and 5% very often often; hence the importance of having invested this channel.

Nevertheless, it is imperative to put in place a program to manage the negative opinions of consumers and avoid “bad buzz”; 55% of companies have still not developed a strategy to deal with it and 11% lost revenue due negative comments.

Finally, social networks also help to increase your ROI since customers who have established relationships with brands on these platforms spend 20-40% more.

4. Reduce the number of interlocutors

The preceding point raises another problem, that provide a consistent cross-channel user experience.

Avoid transferring consumers of a service or platform to another, as they will be more likely to lose patience and give up; and all the more so as there are points of contact.

Your goal is to limit their efforts to reach the right person, and solve the problem they encounter.

5. Improve empathy of your representatives

Empathy is a key component in the success of a support service. Understanding the client’s personality and needs can meet any underlying issues that he is not able to express; but also to adapt your message to facilitate trade. HBR shows that 24% of repeated calls by customer resulting in an emotional disconnect between it and the representative.

It should also avoid sending negative signals or issue a judgment culpability the customer of the unknowing.

Some companies establish profiles and typical scenarios that can meet their employees. They provide them with a list of questions and keywords that can recognize these profiles, also providing appropriate responses.

It is also possible to ask the support team to record the words or the reasons that have led to a client’s negative reaction to not reproduce these behaviors; or when it is not possible to respond to their request to change the regulation.

Finally, according to Edelman, 9 out of 10 respondents wish to have a sincere relationship with the company that delivers services, and two thirds one-way communication, with more commitment on his part. So there are expectations that go beyond just listening.

Conclusion

The IT consumerization questioned this model to shape a new way to communicate and increase the loyalty of its consumers. However, advertisements that are based on the brand attracting new consumers, increase the desirability of a product and therefore allow to continue to offer high prices.

Your goal is threefold: to build trust and a lasting relationship with your customers, answer their questions or requests; but also ensure your online reputation to sustain your brand.

The loyalty of a customer does not depend on his level of satisfaction, but your ability to solve its problems, while preventing problems from arising and to reduce to its efforts to finalize its request.

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