Business Should Learn some Lessons from the Video Game Industry

There have been a number of encouraging developments recently in the video game industry that can provide an example to businesses in other niches regarding developing new markets, products, and revenue streams.  Let’s take a look at some of these trends, and the lessons the general business community can learn from them: Huge Discounts Can Create New Customers – Steam is a popular online sales and distribution platform for PC games and software.  They recently ran a holiday sale in which some titles were discounted at rates of up to 90%.  Several developers reported that despite a 90% discount, the exposure they received due to the Steam sale resulted in sales figures greater than the rest of their year combined. Valve Creates New Market Out of Nowhere – Valve, the company behind Steam, recently debuted their living room ‘Steam Machine’ series, intended to compete with gaming and media consoles like the Xbox One and the PS4.  Bringing PC games to the living seems like a no-brainer, and little actual new technology or infrastructure was required to make this happen, just the idea itself. Taps Untapped Demographics – Video games tap those elusive dollars from males in their teens through their …

Some Challenges for Small Business in 2014

So far we have taken a look at some of the positive trends that small business can take advantages of in the coming year, but today we are going to take a look at some of the challenges and difficulties they are likely to face in the new year as well: Raising New Revenues – Companies that cannot take advantage of trends in online marketing will likely face increasing pressure to find new sources of revenue that may be difficult to locate and develop.  The growth of online shopping relative to traditional shopping is simply a game changer for almost every business and industry on the face of the Earth. Labor Difficulties – You may have heard about companies having difficulties finding qualified people to fill some of their most important jobs, particularly in extremely skilled positions like high-tech manufacturing.  While this is hardly new to 2014, the trend seems to be intensifying, and despite strong jobs numbers if your business finds yourself facing a critical shortage in terms of human capital it can be devastating to your organization. Health Care Expenses – Even if you delayed compliance with the new health care laws by renewing your policy at the …

New Year, New Markets

Hello everyone, and welcome to 2014.  We wish each and every one of our readers a prosperous and successful new year, with many interesting opportunities to take advantage of.  Today, in the spirit of the New Year, we are going to briefly touch on a subject we don’t often speak about: new markets.  ‘New markets’ as in going global, or expanding to literal new geographic marketplaces. The reason we don’t often speak about this is that it can be difficult for smaller businesses to engage in these tactics, which makes it essentially niche advice, but I believe there is a reason for addressing it now: mid-sized businesses.  You see, mid-sized business is positioned now better than ever before to take advantage of models like franchising, and really begin making the transition from local/regional organization to national/global. If you’re not sure how this can happen, watch the behavior of the Coca-Cola Corporation over the next five years or so in India.  While they are not exactly a mid-sized business, they are so alien to that market compared that the natural cultural disadvantages they face could possibly be insurmountable, regardless of budget.  Sales of Coke are actually lower than sales of ‘Thumbs …

What Will 2014 Reveal in the Marketing World?

As final retail figures have finally come in from all of the extended sales, one thing is certain; while Black Friday and other single-day centric paradigms may be coming to a close in the era of online shopping and shipping, online marketing is clearly the way of the future. We’ve discussed it in several articles over the course of this past year, and pointed out how even truly massive companies like Amazon and EBay are continuing to post astronomical growth figures based almost entirely off of online operations. While we haven’t often gotten very technical, we have also discussed some of the massive sea changes to the SEO landscape precipitated by Google and other search engines making changes to the way information is available. Together, this adds up to a boom time for online marketing in general; in many industries and niches it is still possible to lead the pack from an online perspective, as many older and established companies simply aren’t using their websites as anything other than glorified business cards currently.  Look for these opportunities to begin to slowly dry up and disappear now though, as even the most obstinate of companies is bound to recognize the trends …

Business Isn’t Just About Business

As we approach the holiday season, it is a time for reflection.  Too often, we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life, and we forget to take a moment to stop and look around.  It is important to remember in times like these that business isn’t just about business. Think about that for a moment; is your career a fundamental feature of who you are, or simply a means to an end?  Are there things which are more important to you than work?  Most people would answer that in the affirmative.  Many would cite their families as a good example of something which is more important, but you would find many others as well. Some people are really interested in serving their communities, others in pursuing an intellectual or philosophical ideal.  Some are even mainly interested in living a comfortable and happy life, believe it or not.  There are almost as many different values as there are people, and everyone is free to choose what they deem to be the most important. Are you one of the people who values something more than your career, whatever it may be?  If so, take care to keep things in …

Avoid These Holiday Marketing Mistakes

As we find ourselves right in the midst of another holiday season, businesses across the country are asking themselves how they can best position to take advantage of the season, and earn the most revenue possible.  However, in their zeal to grab those holiday dollars, companies often commit these common holiday marketing mistakes.  Make sure your business avoids them: Don’t Discount Too Deeply – Some retailers assume that bigger discounts are the way to go, but trying to compete on price with the WalMarts and CostCos is always a losing proposition for smaller businesses.  Find other ways to succeed instead. Forgetting to Advertise – Companies looking to improve the bottom line as the fiscal year ends often slash marketing and ad budgets to cut costs, but this can be counterproductive.  Advertising during the holidays has one of the best ROIs of any time of the year. No General Marketing – While it can be easy to appeal to individual portions of your demographic through specialized campaigns, don’t forget that you need an overall general marketing strategy to pick up those who aren’t already aware of your brand. Ignoring Feedback – While maintaining excellent service at all times should be a …

Getting Started With Online Marketing

If you own a small business, getting started with online marketing can seem overwhelming.  Learning how to do things on your own is a daunting technical challenge, and sometimes companies will not work with you unless you are willing to commit to a long-term contract or pay them relatively high costs.  This leads to many business owners making the huge mistake of ignoring their online marketing entirely.  While every business and niche is somewhat different, this solid three point plan can be applied to nearly any situation and is an excellent place to start in most cases: Build a Website – Building a website is almost always the right place to start.  These days you don’t have to worry about having a lot of fancy animations or expensive programming work done; people are consistently choosing simple, well-designed sites over those with gimmicks and gadgets.  Get something simple and tasteful created at a reasonable cost to give you a basic platform to start your online marketing efforts from. Find Your Customers – The next step is finding your customers online.  Depending on who you are and what you are selling, you can select from a variety of techniques.  Social media works …

Learning from Miley Cyrus

Believe it or not, business, sales, and marketing professionals can learn a lot from the seemingly innocuous, if much talked about performance of Miley Cyrus at the Video Music Awards this year.  She quite succinctly demonstrated what happens if branding is completely ignored and caution thrown to the winds.  Much as Miley’s public image has suffered during the blowback, your company or organization can also suffer if you ignore the image you have built up with the public and proceed in radical, different directions.  Here are three big drawbacks to dramatically changing your branding rapidly: Doubt and Mistrust Builds Up – If you completely change what your company is about, people are going to begin to doubt anything they know about you.  While this may help if your reputation was terrible, in most cases long-lasting businesses have significant goodwill built up that is of real value and should not be discarded lightly. Harder to Repair than Prevent – As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Taking care of your reputation and branding by proactively managing it ahead of the curve costs a fraction of both the financial resources and the time it takes …

Cyber Monday Results

Well, Thanksgiving has come and gone again, and with it the largest retail shopping weekend of the year.  Black Friday, and the newer but increasingly important Cyber Monday are interesting days, because they really help to identify large trends in marketing and sales that need to be adapted to in order to ensure continued success.  So how did the numbers pan out, and were there any interesting pieces of information to be gleaned from the data?  Let’s take a look: Mobile is Booming – We’ve been talking for months here at the blog about how traffic from mobile devices is going to be increasingly important, and this year’s sales numbers definitely back up that statement.  About 32% of all online retail traffic arrived over a mobile device, representing a growth of almost 50% from just last year. Tablets Beat Smartphones – For actual sales, it looks like people do a lot more browsing on smartphones, but a lot more purchasing on tablets. Social Media Driving Revenue – Both Facebook and Pinterest drove significant amounts of revenue, with the average order placed through both platforms being close to $100. Major Players Doing Well – Major companies such as Amazon and EBay …

Holiday Business Ideas

For our final post in entrepreneur month, we are going to take a look at some of the newest and hottest holiday business ideas that have really taken off in recent years.  We’re just going to rattle off a list here and won’t focus too much on the particulars, in the interest of giving you as many ideas as possible: Personal Shopping – Personal shopper services have grown by leaps and bounds in recent years, and offer the opportunity to charge sliding scales relative to your customer base. Present Wrapping – Another fantastic idea around the holidays, gift and present wrapping services require little capital to get going and have the potential to earn decent revenue. Catering/Cooking – If you’re talented in the kitchen, consider sharing your skills with those less fortunate.  You’ll not only be improving their holidays, you’ll also earn some cash yourself at the same time. Event Planning – Everyone wants to have the perfect holiday party, but event planning is much harder than most people realize.  If you have a talent for organization, consider marketing yourself as an event planner and helping make others dreams come true. Decorating – Have an eye for interior design?  Almost …