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Marketing and Business Planning 55 replies,55504 views

Icanhardly dodue diligence on othersif myvery own business planning is faulty. So, perhaps something called "Due Diligence" starts withasking myself thistough question ...willmy marketing and business plan work?
First, a few insightsintointernet risksfor newbiesthen alook at the basics of marketing and business planning. Following is the infoin this Topic (about which your views arewarmly invited)....
1. For Newbies: know yourInternet Risks ...
2. For Newbies: neverbelieve what you see on yourinternet computer screen ...
3. Nine out of ten new businesses go broke ...
4. For Newbies:get theImport-Export knowledge and identify the hidden costs ...
5. Financial Modelling ...
6. The difference between "Marketing" and "Sales"...
7. AMarketing Budget is essential ...
8. The Business Plan ...
9. Work Diary ......
10. Summary of Essential planning tools
1. For Newbies: know yourInternet Risks ...
Indoing business on the internet we mustrelyon muchmore thanournormal trusty"sixth sense". Some sayanythingless than"extreme care"is acertain way to losemoney when dealing with a potential supplier (or buyer) over the internet, including here on Alibaba.

The internet is plagued with resourceful criminals who willspend months building a relationshipunder cover of professional looking websites complete with sending high quality samplesthey do not actually sell. They even steal the passwords of genuine suppliers' websites. So, at times, you don't know who you are really talking with on the other end.And,these criminalshave been known toset uptemporary real offices to give you the comfort ofa real street address and phone numberwhen you cross-check. Or, they copy the name and address of areal registered company onto a fake website, and so on.Variations inthe criminal mind are endless in sophisticated schemes to steal yourmoney.

Alibaba, like other business-to-business('B2B')portals does not and cannot represent to you that all it's supplier members are genuine.On Alibabayou have thousands of very genuine and reliable suppliers -more genuine suppliers than anywhere else on the web. But, as elsewhere, Alibaba is infiltrated both bycriminals and shoddy manufacturers.

The price to youof freemembership in any B2B website is(a)take time to be aware of the unreliablenature of the internet (b)very carefully investigate a supplier once you enter into serious negotiations.Otherwise, B2B websites would have to charge big moneyfor membership for themselves tocheck out all the listed suppliers for you.There are no free lunches in this world.

Good newsisthere are 1,000s of genuine suppliers on Alibaba. It's just a matter of using extreme care to sort the wheat from the chaff.And, moregood newsis thatother topics in ourDue Diligence forum aimto help you to learn how to self check suppliers.
Perhaps the best news is thattrusty personal helpers are available on theground in Chinafor remarkably little cost. See here ...

2. For Newbies: neverbelieve what you see on yourinternet computer screen ...

I searchedfor "Treo 700P phones" under"Selling Leads" at the top of our Alibaba page. Here's the search result:
Now, here's what members say about those suppliers ...
Get the point?
Go to our Fraud forum to understandthatcriminals are furiously at work in all countries,including in China,schemingto steal your money.
That link is Alibaba's Fraud & Security forum moderated byrenowned international expert on web fraud, Mr Jonas Anderson, based in Sweden.
Video: see the cops busting Nigerian scammers here:
That web site you think is in UK or even in China may well bea front for just another Nigerian scammer (to mention but just one country,as every country on earth harbours 1,000s of smart internet scammers).
And, here's just a few members' bad experiences of the past year ...
3. Nine out of ten new businesses go broke ...
Nail a sign above your desk saying "9 out of 10 new businesses go broke in the first 12 months".
It's a statistical factthat around 85% of all new business start-ups in the Western world (save for old Europe) go broke in the first 12 months. That's for every sort ofbusiness, not just import-export.I am not colouring the subject - those are the hard cold facts.
If I had to pick justone key reason for that awful statistic, I would boil it down to living on hope rather than living on reality.
Were do I find reality?
It's all aboutputtingprecise marketing and business plans on paper. It's about bouncingyourwritten plans off experienced people. Not "yes" people like friends and family. Bounce the plans offhard nosed business people who've made the grade - people whofailed and came back and then failed and came back again. People who at the end of the day were successful.
Say to a successful business person"Here's a business plan. Pretend you paid me $5,000 to write it for you. What do you think?"
You won't find a better way to avoid going broke than that method.
Bottom line ...get rid of "hope".Work on "reality" andyou'relooking good.
4. For Newbies:get theImport-Export knowledge and identify the hidden costs ...
Before making business plans or even talkingseriously withpotentialsuppliers we mustlearnthe basics ofImport-Export along withthe meaning ofkey Trade Terms and the usual sort of Documents,Payment Methods and Shipping ... it's all here on Alibaba's several good forums. Your research on those forumswill also help you uncover all thehidden costs involved in Import-Export.
Now you need to assemble your many costson a financial model.
5. Financial Modelling ...
The many different costs in the whole activity chain of buying something out of say China for resale in your own countrymustbepunched into a financial model on your computer. Typical software lets youautomatically calculate % costs etc and see thebottom line projected profit. Change any line item and the bottom line profit automatically changes.Such software and the skill to use itisessential in even the most tiny trading business.
About 5hours of your time spent learning the basics of financial modelling, onsomething like Excel, is essential. Without those skills, you're back in the "nine out of ten go broke" league.
6. "Marketing" and "Sales",the difference...
"Marketing" is not"Sales". It's critical to know the difference.
Broadly, Marketing creates the atmosphere to make it easy for sales to happen. Marketing consiststhings like:
  • Marketing Strategy:your product must be aimed at consumers inone only ofthe Mass Market, Mid-Market or HighEnd (onlyone product in the entire history of marketing has ever succeeded in all three of those consumer areas).Aiming your product at all three in a **** approach confuses consumers resulting in your business going broke.
  • Target Market: strategy includes identifying a specificgroupof consumers (age bracket, etc) withinyour one Mass, Mid or High End market area.The better we identify our target group, the easier it is to make sales.
  • Researchyour competitors - "know your enemy".
  • Point of Difference orUnique Selling Proposition (USP) as it is sometimes called. Why shoulda customer walk past my competitors to come to me?
  • Writing our marketing material: brochures, adverts, websites, etc, all precisely pitched to our Target Market.
  • Developing our brand names and good reputation ('Image'). Chasing free editorial.
  • Devising tactics to turn first time buyers into repeat customers.
  • And, the list goes on and on is anything thatcreates atmosphere to make it easier forsales to happen.
"Sales"obviously is getting out and writing the orders ... tough disciplined work. This involvesskills like"closing" the sale - very different skills to Marketing.
A marketer is a creative person, a law unto himself, a person with few boundaries, a person wholives inside the head of your customer, a person who dreams and creates at any/all hours of day and night, a person who can send normal disciplinedpeople crazy.For a marketer, the thrill of the chaseiscreating original thinking / products - original ideas that work, ideas thatnobody else thought about.Top marketers are some of the world's highestpaid professional people.
A salesperson, unlike a marketer, is a welldisciplined person who works within a tight set of conventional rules to get the sales orders.A salesperson ismotivated by the thrill of closing a deal and the attendant cashbonus. Youdrive a good sales person crazy when you don't give him/her sound marketing back up.
Good sales people do not make good marketers and vice versa ...Selling and Marketing arevery separate disciplines involving very different ways of thinking.
7. AMarketing Budget is essential ...
Chaos occurs when (particularly) a mid-size business instructs its salespeople to do the marketing. It's happening in most mid-sizeChinese manufacturing companies today. It'ssending both Chinese salespeople and potential Western buyerscrazy -theclear lack of defined Mission, Image and professional Marketing Material is causingchaos between staff salespeople and potential buyers. The same happensin Western countries whena business owner tries to be both seller and marketer.
Mum and Dad shop-front small businesshappily gets away with nomarketer becausethese businesses ****mostly on word-of-mouth wherecustomers themselves do most of the marketing.They sensibly get marketing help for things likeGlossies and Image.
Too manysmall bizwebsites don't work because they are designed / written by agood owner or salesperson instead of by a marketer.The salesperson sees the world from his/her viewpoint whereas a marketer seesonly what the potential buyersees.In particular, owners like to start bytalking about themselves - the very last thing a potential buyer wants to hear in opening paragraphs.
Unless you have extraordinary talents, you cannot be both a Seller and a Marketer.
No matter what your business, you will likely not succeed unless you pay money for outside marketing help even in some small way.
8. The Business Plan ...
A Business Plan can be written anyway you want it. This design worksfor both tiny and large business:
  • Mission Statement
  • Objectives
  • Milestones
  • Budgets
Mission statement, in my book, is oneprecise single sentencestuck in the brain, like"I shall be the leading supplier of Widgets for the mass market inmy State".
Mission clarity and precisionmakes all future decisions much easier.Anyissue athand either fits the Mission or it doesn't. For example, the above Mission says"mass market" so product quality is hardly an issue-allthat really matters in the mass market is price.Having a clear simple Mission statement eliminates time wasting thoughts. A generalised Mission of"I amgoing into the import business" is a recipe for doom.
Importantly, oursub-conscious minddoes wonderful things when we have a clear long termgoal. Our subconsciousautomatically keeps us on track -guidesus along the shortest path to our goal. In absence of a clear simple goal we tend to wander in a criss-cross pathcovering maybe 10times more area than necessary.Little is more powerful than our subconscious mindat work on ourgoal -it ticks away while we are asleep at work or at play. Know your clear goal and your subconscious will somehow make you getthere ... just keep the Mission words simple.
Objectives is the generalmaster plan to achieve the Mission. It's the steps to reach the top of the ladder.It'sa spreadsheetofnumber of years / product variations / geography or whateveras necessary to achieve the Mission.Like, year 1 = $x sales at Timbuktu / other.Year 2= $x at Whatchama.Timing to complete each objective is important.But, goeasy on objectivesfor the first year where just achieving break-even is a prize.
Weperiodically review /adjust/change ourObjectives according to actual found conditions from year to year, but our Missionitself never changes.OurObjectives should consume no more than one page - a sort of general 3 or 5 year plan if you like.
Milestones - the same asthose mileage stones you whiz by on the side of a highway journey. Each marks one mile of a journey.This isshort termdetailedplanning forthe first year ahead.
Go to the year one Objective. Compilea list of the various elements of marketing, finances, etc necessary toreachthat year one objective. Each one ofthese elements is a Milestone- one step closer to the end of the journey.Research / work out / write down what must be done to get past each Milestone while noting the costs.
Budgets. Year one Budget now automatically falls into place - each budget sub-heading is one of those Milestones. We see these milestones whizzing by once we get the business up and going.
9. Work Diary ...
The only thing I have ever seen in common betweentop self-made successful people is that each runs a superior diary system for staying organised. I havenoticed thatthings likeeducation,background andIQ seem to have nothing to do with breaking through to top echelon level of business success.
However, Ihave never seen a single top echelon self-madeperson who does not run a superior diary system for staying organised.
A proper diary system results in a permanently clear mind free of those nagging "What did I forget" sort of feelings.It frees the mind to deal with real business in a very organised way.
The way to start a diary system is to empty the head of every specificthing to do that is on the mind. Scatter these itemsthrough thediary days, weeks and months ahead.Things like phone calls to be made, physical things to day both in the office and outside. Particular things to ask particular people.Then,whenever something comes to mind that must be done, just write it in the diary - both personal and business matters. After a week or sothisbecomes an auto habit without second thought.The head becomes completelyempty of "What must I do" stuff.
Importantly, a good diary must also contain promises made by others to get back in touch. For example, in a phone discussion today, the other person promises toring back with info in a day or day.Immediatelygo a few days ahead in the diary and note the persons name in the phone call section on the diary page. Denote the difference between calls expected from others and calls you mustmake by using simple little symbols. Business life, to a great extent, relies on promises made by others. Thesepromises must be tracked / followed up.
Critically, each diary page must be closed off each day. Transfer things not done today to future days and then slash a linethrough the page. That way, it's impossible to ever forget to do anything or forget to chase people who made promises to you.
10. Essentials ...
If I had tostart a newbusiness limited to the most basic tools,Iwould selectin this priority:
  • Clear Mission statement
  • Proper Work Diary
  • Budget and Financing
  • Point of Difference or USP (whya consumershould walk past my competitor and come to me).
  • Repeat Customers (devising tactics to turnfirst time customers intorepeat customers because arepeatcustomer is puregold).
  • Image (business and/or product image and consumer packagingbecause consumersbuy "image" they do not buy "product").

I trustmy thoughtshelpsomebody in some little way. It comes, not from books, but from many years of experience in managing both tiny andlarge scale complex projects. I have never seen even a small project survive without full and proper planning.
You are invited to postyour own ideasand questions about marketing and business planning below.
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Re: Marketing and Business Planning
Replying to [Aussie]:Fantastic article!!!!!!

Guidlines for not getting scammed can be boiled down to 2 basic points.

1. CONTROL YOUR GREED AND KNOW YOUR PRODUCT. If someone is trying to sell Seiko watches out of Pakistan for $5 each, it is a scam. Come to grips now with the fact that nothing is free. Also realize that high ticket items don't come from third world countries, it just doesn't happen. If a deal seams fishy, move on and find another buyer/seller. Believe me there are legit companies out there that will line up to do business with you.

2. DO YOUR DUE DILIGENCE!!!! Research the heck out of potential business partners. Just because you call the phone number they gave you and they are on the other end doen't make them legit. Read the post above and actually follow what they say, they are inteligent and actually took the time to put all of that down to help all of us, don't let their efforts go to waste.

Oh, and AUSSIE, thanks for the info, very well written article!!!
Re: Marketing and Business Planning
Replying to [Aussie]:
[em14] [em19] [em20]
What a MOST VALUABLE posting!! Thank you Aussie.
I read your artcle not ONCE but TWICE and I am sure I will come back and read it again.
Thank you.
Re: Marketing and Business Planning
Replying to [Aussie]:

Aussie, are you a marketing guru? Where can I buy your books?

About Our Company

Sophie Zhou & Associates
Sophie Zhou & Associates, providing one-stop professional business service solutions for overseas clients, which let the customers to obtain quotes or locate a particular kind of factory, or source the exact prod... More

Re: Marketing and Business Planning
Replying to [Aussie]: I must say it is an article defined as a must read..... [em1] Well done keep posting
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Marketing and Business Planning
Replying to [Aussie]:

Aussie, you're a great mentor! ![em19][em19][em19]

Your suggestion means a lot to me, and I can't find better words to say thank you a bunch! [em14]
About Our Company

Sophie Zhou & Associates
Sophie Zhou & Associates, providing one-stop professional business service solutions for overseas clients, which let the customers to obtain quotes or locate a particular kind of factory, or source the exact prod... More

Re: 1. Marketing and Business Planning
Replying to [Aussie]:
The article is quite a useful theory with some practical advice , especially for newbies. It is a pleasure to read it , since all you have touched upon in the article can for sure find a realization in the world of business.

Thank you.
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Marketing and Business Planning
Replying to [Aussie]: Thank you Aussie for the great article! You are great. Keep up the good work. I would love to exchange idea and learn from you. [em14] What do you think? [em19][em19][em19]
Reply to Posted Article
Great article. Know yourself. Make sure your task is understood, documented, and accomplished. Use a great diary system to make sure you plan your work AND work your plan.
Re: 1. Marketing and Business Planning
Replying to [Aussie]:Thanks so much for your insight. It's good to have someone who not only has the experience, but also, the willingness to share their knowledge from a realistic viewpoint. Superior advice for the uninformed self-starter. Looking forward to hearing what else you will pass along.
Re: 1. Marketing and Business Planning
Replying to [Aussie]: Bravo, Bravo[em1]

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