Archive for the ‘Blog Posts’ Category

Identifying Weaknesses in a Business

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Before you can begin to improve or grow your business, you have to first be able to recognize its weaknesses. By identifying weaknesses in a business, you’ll better know where your company falls short and what areas you need to make better to increase profits, efficiency, and productivity.

 

Follow these tips for identifying weaknesses in a business:

 

  • Look at every area of your business. Leave no stone unturned. Examine every department of your company and determine any shortcomings or areas where things may fall short, or could be done better. Is the department doing things as effectively as they could be? Is the general structure of the department working? Delve into each department’s politics and procedures, and pinpoint any problem areas. Also, be sure to look at how departments work together, too. A great company is only as good as the sum of its parts, so you need to ensure your individual departments are working together cohesively and cooperatively. It may be wise to consult managers in this step and get a feel for what weaknesses they may spot within their own departments.

 

  • Rate the severity. When you’re identifying weaknesses in a business, it’s important to note that not all issues are created equal. Take the time to rate the severity of each weakness you write down. How serious is it? How much does it affect your bottom line? How quickly does this need to be fixed? When you’re done with determining all your company’s weaknesses, you’ll likely have an exhaustive list. Rating the severity of each item can help give you some guidance as to what to focus on first.

 

  • Be honest and objective. It may be difficult, but in order to truly identify all the weaknesses and shortcomings of your business, you have to be completely honest and candid. This process is designed to help your company, not hurt it, so try to be as objective as possible. Doing so will better arm you to improve your business and its productivity.

 

  • Evaluate your employees. This doesn’t mean just review your employees’ performance, but instead, look at their jobs as a whole. Are job duties aligned in a way that is using your staff’s skills and resources to the best of their ability? Do some people have too much on their plate, while others have too little? Also, look at training. Are your employees properly trained to complete their duties? Are they incentivized and motivated to do better? These are all things to think about when looking to improve the efficiency and productivity of your company.

 

  • Check out the competition. Take a look at the marketplace as a whole. How does your business differ from the competition? Do your products or services offer something unique that stands out from the other companies? Especially look at the costs and value of comparable products. If someone else is doing it better, delve into why. How can you get your company to the level they’re at?

 

  • Take stock of your equipment. Look closely at your company’s equipment and technology. Is it all still in working order? What will need to be replaced soon? Specifically take time to analyze your computers, phone systems, and other resources. Technology trends change quickly and often, so these items tend to become obsolete in just a few years. Identify any items that are out of date or may need upgrading in the near future.

 

  • Consider your reputation. To really get a handle on the state of your company, you need to consider your reputation – how you’re viewed by customers, by the public, and by your industry. Would customers choose your product over another company’s? Is your brand trustworthy? If your reputation just isn’t where it should be, write it down as a weakness.

 

  • Include others. Once you’ve built your comprehensive list of weaknesses, have a review session with key players on your management team. Let them provide input on your list, and ask for any additional items they’d like to add. Then you can begin brainstorming ways to improve upon the areas you all agree show weakness.

 

Need help identifying weaknesses in a business? Here at the Connell Curtis Group, our strategic management consultants will use the SWOT analysis method to determine strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, so you can improve and better your company’s performance.

The Benefits of Marketing Consultants for Small Business

Friday, November 30th, 2012

A great product or service is one thing, but getting people to buy it is another. No matter how unique or groundbreaking your product is, it doesn’t matter unless it’s bringing in profits and making you money. To make this happen, many big name companies often consider hiring an in-house marketing person to help promote their services and products. Unfortunately, it’s often difficult for a small business to manage the funds or resources to do this. Luckily, there is another option; they can hire marketing consultants for small business.

 

As a small business, these consultants can not only bring awareness to your products and services, but they come with a plethora of other advantages and benefits that can help grow your company, too. The benefits of hiring marketing consultants for small business include:

 

Expertise

First and foremost, a consultant comes with expertise. After handling a variety of differing and unique companies throughout their career, they know how to recognize problems, identify needs, and devise solutions. They likely have built up a whole arsenal of tactics and strategies that are proven to increase visibility and market products successfully. Additionally, they have a real handle on the marketplace. They know what customers are looking for, how to reach them, and how to get them to buy.

 

Objectivity

When working to improve your business, objectivity is always important. Unfortunately, with an in-house marketing person, this is impossible. Due to internal politics and fear of retribution, in-house staffers just can’t provide a truly honest and candid assessment of your company and its needs. A marketing consultant can. They can look objectively at your business and determine the right solutions and strategies to get your products selling.

 

Affordability

An in-house marketing employee requires a lot of funding. From an annual salary and health benefits to the equipment, technology, and resources they’ll need, hiring a new staffer can get expensive. Also, while these costs may not break the bank for every small business, they still do one thing: take precious funds away that could otherwise be spent on actual marketing strategies and tactics. With a marketing consultant, you don’t have that. A consultant has their own resources, their own equipment, and their own benefits. Instead of all the annual overhead costs, you have a quick one-time fee that allows you to market your company without chipping away at your budget. Then, you can spend those remaining funds on what matters: your marketing efforts.

 

Freshness

In addition to objectivity, marketing consultants for small business also provide a fresh and unique perspective for your marketing efforts. All too often, in-house employees resort to old or rehashed strategies that worked in the past. Consultants won’t do that. A consultant will brainstorm new ideas and come up with unique tactics that meet your company’s current needs and the demands of today’s market. As a bonus, a consultant is also on the cutting edge of technology, and they’re in the know about current trends in the marketing industry. That means you’ll get the most progressive, up-to-date strategies possible when working with them.

 

Efficiency

With an in-house staff member, there may be lots of trial and error before a great marketing strategy is nailed down. It could be months, even years, before your services are being marketed and promoted in a way that works. You can’t wait that long. A consultant can help you now. They’ll recognize your needs, pull from past experiences, and implement strategies that they know will work and be effective. Instead of waiting around for an in-house employee to get their footing, you can rest assured you’ll see results quickly and accurately with a marketing consultant.

 

Want to learn more about how marketing consultants for small business can help your company? Contact the Connell Curtis Group today.

3 Tips for Creating Successful Marketing Plans for Small Business

Saturday, November 24th, 2012

A great marketing plan is at the heart of every successful business. It helps increase visibility to products and services, incites brand loyalty in customers and, best of all, it brings in profits. However, marketing shouldn’t be something you try aimlessly; before launching a marketing campaign, you should have a set plan that outlines your goals, strategies, and tactics. Not sure how to create one of these plans for your company? Check out these three tips for creating successful marketing plans for small business.

 

Know your Target Market

To create a truly effectively marketing plan, you need to know your target market inside and out. What are their needs and wants? How can you meet those needs? How can they best be reached? Break down your target demographic as much as possible and really get to know your customers. Discover their likes, their dislikes, and their lifestyles. The clearer you can envision your customer, the more you can tailor your marketing plan to them.

 

Recognize the Competition

Look at your current and potential competitors. Take time to analyze each of your competitors and discover what it is they offer in terms of value proposition. What is their pricing strategy? What is their mission? Do they have a competitive advantage over you in any way? Essentially, you need to be able to find out what they’re delivering, and think about how you can do it better and more effectively than them.  Also, think ahead to expected changes. If you plan to do a promotion that slashes prices, how will those competitors respond?

 

Define your Brand

How do you want your brand to be seen in the eyes of your customers? Trustworthy? Cutting edge? Young and hip? Write down a definitive statement that describes your brand’s mission. This will allow you to create and brainstorm marketing strategies that play into that mission and enforce the brand image you want to be known for. Essentially, it helps give some direction for your marketing plan.

 

Learn more about marketing plans for small business by contacting the Connell Curtis Group today.

Corporate Growth Strategies for Small Businesses

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

When it comes to corporate growth strategies, it’s not all about big business. Start-ups and small businesses can see great benefit from these tactics, too. From expanding the market to offering new products and services, there are numerous strategies that can help a small business grow and prosper in our changing economy.

 

Some great corporate growth strategies for small business include:

 

  • Segment your market. Instead of focusing on pleasing everyone, pick one subset or demographic and really focus on it. Carve out a niche and pour all your efforts into it. Whether you choose teens, families, dog lovers, or baby boomers, focusing on just one segment of the market will allow you to better serve those customers’ needs and really increase your profits.
  • Partner up. Sparse resources and minimal staff are inherent to the small business model. Often, to really grow and expand the company, strategic relationships and partnerships are necessary. It could mean joining up with a manufacturing facility and offering them a cut of your profits for the use of their resources, or it could be finding a local company that shares a similar market and devising a way to leverage that. Either way, the right partnership can go wonders for growing a small business.
  • Extend your reach. Look into expanding your reach physically. Consider opening store locations in a different city, or find ways to offer your products and services in a different venue. If you sell your product only at one physical location, think about launching an online store. If you only sell online, look into local markets that will allow you to sell your product in person.
  • Offer new products or services. You’ve segmented your market, now think of new products and services that your market could use or want and begin developing and launching those. Better yet, come up with services that complement your already existing products. If you can launch those new products as part of a package deal with your already successful products, you’ll see even more success.

 

Want to learn more about what corporate growth strategies can do for your company? Get in touch with the Connell Curtis Group today.

3 Key Benefits of Online Business Consulting

Monday, November 12th, 2012

Even when times are hard, many business owners find it hard to confess that they need help. They see hiring a consultant as admittance of defeat or of their own inadequacy, but that’s not what online business consulting services are about. A consultant can give you an unbelievable amount of power and leverage that you just can’t achieve on your own. It can help you increase sales, improve company efficiency, and streamline processes to make your business the most successful it can be.

 

In particular, there are three key benefits to hiring online business consulting:

 

Experience

Consultants bring with them a wealth of experience that likely spans a variety of industries and business types. They’ve seen what works and what doesn’t work, and they know first-hand best practices for business success. With their wide range of experience, they can easily spot inadequacies or problems in processes, resources, and business functions, and can provide applicable solutions that are proven to work.

 

New Perspective

With a consultant, you get a fresh, outside and non-biased opinion of your company. This is something that’s just not possible when using your own in-house resources for problem solving; they’re too attached, and they likely fear the repercussions of voicing truly honest concerns. A consultant can provide you with a candid analysis of your business and its problems – that way, you can tackle your issues head-on.

 

Knowledge

Transfer of knowledge is a huge part of online business consulting. When you hire a consultant, you get to work with them first-hand, learning the ins and outs of improving your business and increasing efficiency. Consultants often even provide hands-on training when companies are not adequately prepared to make the changes recommended. By the end of the process, your staff should have all the tools, knowledge, and skill sets necessary to put the consultant’s recommendations to use.

 

Want to learn more about how online business consulting can help your company? Contact the Connell Curtis Group today.

How to Get More Clients: 5 Quick and Easy Tips

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

No matter how well your business is performing or how many sales you’re bringing in each month, there’s always one thing you and every other company out there could use more of: customers. Modern customers are savvy. They want the best services for the best prices, and they’re willing to go the extra mile to get that. You can’t just throw up a TV commercial and expect them to come in flocks; you’ll have to learn how to get more clients in creative, forward-thinking ways that really address customer needs.

 

Try out some of these strategies:

 

Give a Freebie

Learning how to get to more clients isn’t just about selling to customers; it’s about enticing them. Try giving away a free gift that can get new customers hooked and introduce them to your services at the same time. If you’re an interior design firm, giving away a free ebook or report on the latest design trends or Feng Shui. If you’re an SEO firm, maybe you could offer complimentary website assessments. This way, you’re meeting the potential customer’s immediate need, while also getting your brand in their mind. After they’ve gleaned great info from your freebie, they may consider your products and services now or in the future.

 

Use the Web

The internet is a powerful tool. With very little overhead, you can easily leverage it to build up customers and cultivate client leads. If you don’t already have one, ensure your brand has a web presence. Most customers will look up a company before doing business with them. With this in mind, you should have a great website up, one that explains who your company is, what it does, and how its services can benefit customers. Make sure you have a mobile version, too. The majority of your customers likely have a web-capable smartphone, so the chances of them seeing your site on the go are high.

 

Social media can be a great way to bring in new leads, too. Set up a Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn page and include links to these pages in your newsletters, on your website, and other online resources. Your existing customers will likely be the first to join up, but once you start posting company updates, news, exclusive content and more, they can easily share and re-Tweet your content, exposing you to hundreds of other potential customers.

 

Pitch to Other Businesses

When figuring out how to get more clients, you don’t have to be all alone. Work the local business community to find potential partnerships you can leverage. Attend networking events and schedule sit-downs with company leaders to discuss how your services and products could directly benefit them and their business. If you sell cooking supplies, meet with leaders of local restaurants and offer to be their sole provider of kitchen items. Schedule a pitch meeting with local businesses and discuss stocking their in-office kitchens.

 

Focus on your Reputation

A great reputation can take you a long way. Customers do business with companies they feel comfortable with, ones that are known for providing great service and really delivering results. Focus on having top-notch customer service, offering quality products, and pleasing your existing customers. The happier your existing customers are, the more likely they’ll recommend you to a friend or family member. Also, ensure your company is listed on review sites, like Yelp, Google Places, and more, so when you make a customer particularly happy, they can post a public review for all potential clients to see.

 

Want to discover how to get more clients for your company? The Connell Curtis Group can help. Contact us today about our business consulting services.

10 Corporate Growth Strategies That Work

Monday, October 29th, 2012

Most businesses go through a period of stagnancy at some point or another. The same old tactics you’ve been using just aren’t working anymore, and you need something new and innovative to ramp up your sales and kick-start your success. Here at the Connell Curtis Group, we can help develop corporate growth strategies that can take your company to the next level.

 

We’ve found that despite changes in the economy, market, and consumer buying trends, one or more of these 10 corporate growth strategies can be implemented to bring business back from the dead:

 

1. Creating Partnerships & Joint Ventures

Create and cultivate partnerships that are mutually beneficial to you and the other parties involved. If you provide IT services, partner up with a local electronics store. When they sell a new computer, they can include your services in a warranty or add-on package. In exchange, you’d give them a small portion of each service you provide.

 

Look for companies with which you can build a cohesive, non-competitive relationship, sharing customer bases, manufacturing facilities, distribution systems and more. These can provide benefits not only to the bottom line of both companies, but to the customers of each as well.

 

2. Segmenting the Market

You’ve heard that old adage, “You can’t please everyone,” right? Well that’s the same sentiment behind segmenting the market, one of the most time-tested corporate growth strategies. Instead of aiming your products and services at everyone, segment that audience into varying groups. Maybe it’s by age bracket or gender, or maybe it’s by interest or education level. Once you’ve segmented, choose one group to focus on, and really pour your resources into it. Increasing sales in one segment exponentially can make up for lackluster sales across the board.

 

3. Leveraging Referrals

Never underestimate the power of a referral. People really value the recommendations of their social circle, so getting your existing customers to refer your business to their friends and family could mean big things for your sales numbers. Try creating an online or in-store referral program that rewards your customers each time they recommend you. It could be a coupon or free gift, or you could implement a points system in which they can consistently earn rewards the more referrals they give.

 

4. Mergers & Acquisitions

Though often risky, there are a lot of benefits to buying or merging with another company. You can expand your market share, increase your resources, and gain access to exclusive products, patents, technology and more. You also add value to your company and shareholders by increasing your product and service offerings. It’s important to be careful when going through with a merger or acquisition, though. Don’t go outside your budget and make sure the company you’re buying or merging with is one you can improve on or mutually benefit from.

 

5. Using Alternative Channels

As far as corporate growth strategies go, this can be one of the most game-changing. It’s about expanding your offerings into different venues, allowing customers to reach you and use your services in more ways than one. If you only sell in brick and mortar retail stores, launch a website and start offering online sales. If you already have an online store, try catalogs, phone orders, or other routes of delivery.

 

6. Launch New Products or Services

Unfortunately, the market isn’t always in demand for certain products. Try launching a new product that meets current consumer demands and needs and give yourself a whole new market to cultivate. If you provide headhunting services, but there’s a slump in job seekers, consider offering another service, such as human resources, to meet the needs of another, more booming market.

 

7. Widen the Scope

This is one of those corporate growth strategies that requires you to think outside the box. Try widening the scope of your company to meet different, yet similar, customer needs. If you sell women’s clothes, you’re meeting their need for apparel. Chances are those customers likely have a need for accessories or shoes, too. Try widening your scope to provide for those needs.

 

8. Increase Exposure

Just because you sell books doesn’t mean your products can only be sold in bookstores. You could partner up with grocery store chains, coffee shops, online retailers, airports, and more to increase exposure to your product line. Look for new and different venues in which to market, display, and sell your product. You could branch out of your current geographic area, too. If you only have stores in Oklahoma, try moving into Texas or Louisiana. The more exposure, the better.

 

9. Find a Niche

Tailor your products to a very specific market or customer need; then, dominate that market. As a result, instead of trying to make waves in an ocean of competitors, you’re a big fish in a small pond. You’ll have less competitors, more brand recognition, and more satisfied customers. If you manufacture refrigerators, look to narrow that product line a bit. Maybe you could start creating refrigerators that use only green, sustainable products, or you could create a line of colorful or patterned ones for the more adventurous home decorators. Either way, you’re creating a niche and tailoring your products to meet very specific needs.

 

10. Find New Uses

We talked about developing new products and services already, but what if you just improved on what you already had? Or found new uses for your existing products? Spend time working with and developing your existing services and products. Discover new ways they can benefit your customer and how they can serve different uses. Then, launch a marketing campaign toting those new uses.

 

Not sure which of these corporate growth strategies is right for your business? The Connell Curtis Group can help determine which venues are best for expanding your business and create a customized strategy just for you. Contact the Connell Curtis Group today!

Is it Time for Computer Technology Consulting?

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

In this increasingly plugged-in world we live in, very little of our business is conducted offline anymore. We bring in new customers and leads through our websites, we communicate with our colleagues through email, and we manage files and projects on our desktops, laptops, and tablets. With that said, it’s easy to see why such a large portion of a modern company’s budget goes toward the IT department and its resources. Keeping equipment and software up-to-date, staffing the department, and troubleshooting technology issues can get costly and time-consuming. That’s why we offer computer technology consulting here at the Connell Curtis Group.

 

Our computer technology consulting services can help cut down on your IT costs and enable you to function more efficiently. We’ll look at your computing systems, your equipment, and your processes, and we’ll evaluate their effectiveness. Are you allocating too many resources? Would cloud computing be a more cost-effective option than an in-house data center? Have you implemented automation for your processes? We’ll ask these questions and more in our consulting efforts, ultimately determining how to make your company more efficient, profitable, and streamlined in its computing.

 

Things we may consider for your business:

  • Cloud computing
  • Private cloud backup
  • Process automation
  • Resource allocation
  • Data center migration
  • Server updates
  • Call center changes

 

It’s important to keep in mind that technology is always changing. As a busy company, you just don’t have the time or resources to stay on top of all the latest and greatest tech trends that are happening. That’s where the Connell Curtis comes in. We’re in the know about the best emerging tools, trends, and technologies, and we know how to implement them to see the utmost success and efficacy.

 

Want to learn about how computer technology consulting can help you manage your business technology and resources more effectively? Call the Connell Curtis Group today.

Business Growth Consulting: Creating a Sub-Brand

Friday, October 19th, 2012

Sometimes, expanding your company isn’t just about working on the same brand, the same product, or the same line of services. Sometimes, it requires creating something new – a sub-brand. A sub-brand allows your company to move into a new category of products, claim a new niche, and target a new audience. With a sub-brand, you can tailor your products to meet the needs of a specific set of customers and launch your company into success in a new market. Business growth consulting at the Connell Curtis Group can help you determine if creating a sub-brand would be a good fit for your company.

 

Products that tend to work well with sub-brands include:

  • Unique products or services (first of their kind)
  • High-interest products or services
  • Products that have a large market
  • Products with specific attributes that set them apart from the rest (they’re green, they use different materials, etc.)

 

Often, it’s best to use your parent brand name as part of your sub-brand’s name; that way, you’re able to leverage your company’s history, reputation, and brand awareness to make your new venture a success. If your sub-brand offers services or products that are just too different from your parent brand, or you’d like to keep a distance between the two lines, using the name is not necessary. The Connell Curtis Group’s business growth consulting services can help determine which tactic is best for you.

 

Advantages of a Sub-Brand:

  • It can increase exposure to your parent brand.
  • You can reach a new audience your parent brand was unable to.
  • It can improve brand loyalty for your parent brand.
  • You can launch into a niche market that allows you to better serve your customers’ needs.

 

Disadvantages of a Sub-Brand:

  • It can dilute the power of your parent brand.
  • It can get costly to market, promote, and maintain a new brand.
  • Failure of the sub-brand could reflect poorly on the parent brand.
  • It may require corporate restructuring.

 

At the Connell Curtis Group, we’ve seen great success with creating sub-brands. Call the Connell Curtis Group today to learn about our business growth consulting and to see if a sub-brand would work for your company.

Confessions of an Internet Business Consultant

Monday, October 15th, 2012

Being an Internet business consultant can be a challenging juggling act between failure and success that requires the finesses of a world-class diplomat. There are several key challenges that consultants face in just about every engagement. The better prepared for each challenge, the better the chance for mutual success.

 

1. Executive Commitment

 

When the initiative at hand is to implement an Internet strategy that involves the face and image of the company, few people have less experience than executive leadership. It is imperative that any proposed strategy or implementation be presented in terms understood by the leadership. Give them entry points to “buy-in” so they are continuous champions of your particular mission.  If you do not include executive leadership at an early stage, you are likely to get pushback at crucial decision points along the way.

 

2.  Bridging the Gap

 

The task of working with the business team as well as the IT department at the same time can be a daunting proposition. You need a dual approach to your project with dual playbooks and plans that work in a cohesive and integrated way. IT people speak and respond in a different language than the business side. Their attitudinal biases can affect a project like a fast-spreading cancer. At the same-time, the realities of IT infrastructure, resources, and implementation are hard for the business side to understand given their penchant for quick results.

 

3. Who Knows the Market?

 

The best tools are worthless if they are not used in the proper manner or for the right job. The Internet is no exception. Research and analysis must be at the heart of any proposed strategy. Your Internet business consultant must be given access to the market intelligence that is required for proper planning and targeted execution. When building an online business that includes ecommerce functionality, search engine optimization, search engine marketing, social media marketing, and interactive web apps, you have to begin with the end in mind, just like any other strategic plan. Each step will build on the other, and the synergistic nature of integrated strategies will begin to produce measurable results.