Thursday, July 30, 2009

What is Market Basket Analysis

Market Basket Analysis is a modelling technique. The basket enables us to diagnose on who is buying what product and what he/she 'may' 'most probably buy'. Based upon the theory that if you buy a certain group of items, you are more (or less) likely to buy another group of items. To put it simply it is Affinity Analysis.It is a technique that discovers co-occurrence relationships among activities performed by (or recorded about) specific individuals, groups, etc.

In the case of retailers with stores, market basket information enables the retailer to understand the buyer's needs and rewrite the store's layout accordingly, develop cross-promotional programs, or even capture new buyers (much like the cross-selling concept).

The set of items a customer buys is referred to as an itemset, and market basket analysis seeks to find relationships between purchases.

The challenge has been how to leverage this data to produce business value. Most have already figured out a way to consolidate and aggregate their data to understand the basics of the business: what are they selling, how many units are moving and the sales amount. However, few have ventured far enough to analyze the information at its lowest level of granularity: the market basket transaction.

At this level of detail, the information is very useful as it provides the business users with direct visibility into the market basket of each of the customers who shopped at their store. The data becomes a window into the events as they happened, understanding not only the quantity of the items that were purchased in that particular basket, but how these items were bought in conjunction with each other. In turn, this capability enables advanced analytics such as:
  • Item affinity: Defines the likelihood of two (or more) items being purchased together.
  • Identification of driver items: Enables the identification of the items that drive people to us that always need to be in stock.
  • Trip classification: Analyzes the content of the basket and classifies the shopping trip into a category: weekly grocery trip, special occasion, etc.
  • Store-to-store comparison: Understanding the number of baskets allows any metric to be divided by the total number of baskets, effectively creating a convenient and easy way to compare stores with different characteristics (units sold per customer, revenue per transaction, number of items per basket, etc.).

Monday, July 27, 2009

When Bad Buzz Happens to Good Companies

It seems almost inevitable these days: You run a search on your company's name or product and a negative review, remark or blog post appears in the top listings. What do you do? Don't  ... lose your cool and try to retaliate, It often does more damage than good. Instead what you probably could do is:

Do your best to resolve the issue with the dissatisfied person—publicly. It shows that you are persistent and take your customers' satisfaction seriously.

Take action to push the negative reports down in search-results pages. Submit a press release to PR distribution sites, or start a new blog about your company's products or services. Make sure you share the good information about your business, such as favorable stats or testimonials. All that good news will likely be listed in search results before the bad stuff.

Use social networking to build—and spread—positive buzz. People will refer your site if it has appeal for their peers. So provide pertinent and buzz-worthy info.

So in short: Hold your head up high. With proper planning and a few positive strategies, you can mitigate any damage done to your rep by a few bad comments—and you may boost your goodwill in the process.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Maximize Your Social-Networking Investment

You don't get to be a social-networking superstar without paying your dues. You ought to try to maximize the value of the time spent.You should talk about others eight times for each thing you say about yourself. There's a good reason for doing so: The more you discuss what others say and do, the more likely they are to reciprocate. You're going to be more successful in social networks if people have an idea of the real you—not just the business you, not just the consultant you. But beware of sharing TMI [too much information], a common mistake in the world of social networks. Some people go crazy and they're all out in the ether, talking about weird stuff.

Make your brand talk. But not chatter away.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Home Office writer

If you're working out of your home, you most likely have some sort of a home office. No matter what type of home office you have, there are some things that every office should have. Get ready to get rid of the clutter and get your home office looking more modern and better than ever!

Essential Home Office Tools:

What do you need for an effective home office? Don't fall for all of the high-tech, fancy gadgets on the market today. To have an effective home office for general business that will meet your everyday needs, you only need the following:
  •  An all-in-one printer, fax, copier, and scanner
  • Either a desktop computer or laptop computer
  • A working landline or cell phone
Those three things mentioned above are the essential tools needed
in your office. Get rid of that old scanner, the dated fax, and the
crappy copier and pick up an all-in-one. This saves space and
leaves no room for clutter, not to mention how easy it is to
operate. Throw away the filing cabinet and scan documents and save
them onto a hard drive. Get rid of your old bulky CRT monitor and
turn it in for a new flat-panel LCD.

A Separate Space For Work

Get out of your bedroom office (if you can) and use that spare
bedroom to convert it into the ultimate office space. You need a
space dedicated to work, so that way your work won't invade your
personal area, as each day you will technically be "commuting to
work" when going to your own personal office.

A separate space is also beneficial because if gets you away from
distractions. This way, you go in, do your work, and leave. Very
similar to a job away from home, except the commute is much shorter!

Keep It Clean - Keep It Simple

There's no need to go overboard when dressing up your office. Keep
the walls a dark color. Avoid bright painted walls. Avoid excess
clutter on the walls, such as too many picture frames or paintings.
Also make sure your desk is clean and organized. A cluttered desk
is a distraction, which will eventually lead to you not getting
done what you need to get done.

Take some of these things into consideration when getting your home
office ready. I can assure you that these tips will make for a
better, more modern home office.

Tweet Like You Mean It

Lots of companies are trying out to see how they can use Twitter to promote their products and services. The fact is a few good tweets can also provide great customer service. 

Send out tips on maintaining your products. Your years of experience can help you gain credibility on Twitter as a leader in your profession,

  • A jeweler can tweet a few tips on cleaning and maintaining that wedding ring. "How often should you have the prongs checked?" .
  • A dry cleaner can tweet advice about attacking a stain before you bring a garment in to be cleaned. Or he could talk about treating stains on a variety of fabrics, one tweet and one fabric at a time.

Announce new arrivals of inventory. These tweets can be particularly effective when targeted to customers who have registered their product preferences.

Twitter isn't the sole solution to surviving the recession, but it can be one of the many strategies you employ to reach new and current customers.

So go on, Reach out and tweet someone. If you make a list of 10 or 20 tips, you can send one out each day, Ross says. What a great, free way to provide active customer service during the downturn.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Economical methods to touch your customer

Start with e-mail
If you can get your e-mail through and read, it can be a quick and cost effective way to generate responses and identify qualified leads. However, e-mail experts will tell you that most unsolicited commercial e-mail is now blocked, and they privately admit that from 20% to as much as 70% of opt-in e-mail never gets through the spam filters, or past the delete key, to be read by prospects. If you want to generate the maximum number of leads from your database, you need use other lead generation tactics too.

Reach customers and prospects with direct mail
If your budget is tight, consider personalized, laser-printed letters or postcards. These formats are some of the lowest cost-per-touch mail formats and are a way to reach prospects you can't e-mail. These mail pieces are getting through and getting the attention of your prospective customers. They also are cost effective (if the other tips are followed) on a cost-per-lead basis.

Use search engine optimization or paid search if you want more leads that represent short-term sales opportunities
You need to increase the likelihood of being found at the top of the search engine results when buyers are actively searching for products or services like yours. Despite what the SEO experts say, optimizing your pages can be as easy as putting the right words or phrases in the right places on your Web pages. If you can't get to the top of the results that way, consider spending a portion of your limited marketing funds on carefully targeted pay-per-click ads.

Leverage social media as another inexpensive way to stay in sight and in mind with your prospects
Being in sight and in mind at the right time is often the key to generating qualified, sales-ready leads. All it costs to use social media, like LinkedIn or Twitter, is time. Start by investing an hour a day to read whatever you can find on the subject. Soon you'll know more about social media marketing than most. Then, join appropriate LinkedIn groups and search in Twitter for terms related to your products or services. Observe for a while to get a feel for what's working, and then jump in and start contributing to the conversation. And even if it doesn't get you lots of leads, it will keep you from twiddling your thumbs because you have no budget to do marketing.

Use multi-touch direct marketing to increase your chance of being in-sight and in-mind at the right time with your prospective customers

You'll generate more by touching 1,000 prospects three times with your direct marketing, than you will by touching 3,000 prospects once. Each contact is another chance to be in the right place at the right time.

Make offers that your prospective customers can't refuse

Compelling offers or calls-to-action are the key to getting prospects to identify themselves and take the next step in their buying process, from awareness to inquiry to consideration to qualifying as sales-ready leads. With this in mind, create a suite of offers each designed to address those different stages of your prospects' buying cycle. Be sure to include some "buy-now" offers intended to incentivize prospective customers to buy now rather than later.

Avoid one-size-fits-all messaging

Group your prospects and customers by similar industries, company sizes, applications or job functions. Then tailor the messages to address each group accordingly. For example, use jargon that demonstrates a familiarity with their industry. Address a specific problem that is widespread in companies their size. Make relevant offers that address their unique application for your products or services. Use testimonials from others with similar job functions. These tailored messages will increase the number of sales-ready leads generated.

Focus first on your existing prospect and customer database

The in-house database is often the most productive source of short-term leads and sales. That is because the people in the database have already expressed an interest in your products or services by responding to previous marketing programs, inquiring or buying. They also may have been added to your prospect database because they were similar to your best customers, or they appeared likely to have problems or needs your products or services can solve. That makes them the right people to target with lead generation campaigns.

Marketers weave web of loyalty

Many multichannel merchants are investing in the e-commerce customer experience as a way to drive results even as economic pressures force them to cutback in other areas. These retailers are also delving further into the connection between online customer experience and customer loyalty.

While most areas are being cut, and online efforts are not immune, retailers see the online experience as an investment which can increase sales through better conversion rates and decrease costly customer service calls.

In general, retailers understand that a good user experience will enhance loyalty. Companies are just starting to really explore how to merge channel behavior with loyalty programs. Major retailers are considering giving good customers a coupon for the e-commerce Web site after an in-store purchase is made as a way to stimulate multi-channel behavior. 

For now, most retailers are focused on ensuring that customers can find what they are looking for without encountering problems. A smooth shopping experience that keeps them coming back and encourages them to recommend the site to others is the goal. These efforts run the gamut from site optimization to bells and whistles such as product recommendations, video product descriptions, live chat and customer reviews. 

There's a high degree of correlation between good customer experiences and consumers' willingness to make subsequent purchases from a company, according to the recent Forrester Research report The State of Customer Experience, 2009. 
One of the key areas for improving online customer experience is relooking at product landing pages; Often, consumers come to a 
product page through a search engine, so the product page becomes a default landing page. This requires many firms to rethink content and layout of pages.And as companies put more content and functionality on their Web sites, it has become harder for customers to find what they are looking for.

Retailers are looking into what are the barriers to buying online and trying to address these. Whether it's a new customer or an existing one, the goal is to make it easy for people to shop, transact and keep coming back to the site. The issue is similar to what retailers face with their offline stores. If a shopper has to wait online or can't find what they're looking for in a bricks-and-mortar store, they're not going to come back or recommend the store to someone else.

Live chat is also being used to improve the customer experience online. In a recent survey by live chat software company BoldChat. Sixty-two percent said they are more likely to buy again from the site because of the live chat interaction.

Getting it write

You may still be thinking, "That's okay - I know how to write!" But do you? You may know how to put sentences together and you may understand the basic rules of grammar - but that's not the same as writing effective copy.

If you write marketing materials without a thorough understanding of good copy, you could be doing your business a disservice. This is because you might not be using the best ways of getting your points across.

If you want your business to succeed (and who doesn't?), it's vital that whatever is written about your business shows you in the most favourable light possible. So choose your words carefully!

Copwriting tip 1
Write short words, short sentences and short paragraphs! This will make your marketing words more readable. Writing short sentences, in particular, will make your copy flow.

Copywriting tip 2
According to the old adage, 'The more you tell, the more you sell'.  So, the more you write - the more you will sell. Hence the requirement for 'long body copy' (i.e. more words). Remember that it's only the people who are actually in the market to buy - who will avidly read every single word you write.

Writing for your audience

You might enjoy esoteric word choice or complicated sentence structure, but you don't want to lose your readers or send them reaching for a dictionary. Likewise, consider their perspective—what they value and what will interest them.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Differences between Social Channels

Social sharing sites. From written reviews to rich media, users share information of all forms on social sharing sites. This includes videos, photos, and more. And all of this user-generated content can be made instantly available to millions of users and site visitors. Think YouTube, Vimeo, and Flickr. These are three popular examples of social sharing sites.

Social networking sites. If you've ever heard of a little site called Facebook, you are familiar with a social networking site. Basically, these sites build communities of users that share a common interest -- hobbies, high school, ex-girlfriends, you name it. They serve as a means for people to meet new people and stay connected with friends and families (and even enemies). They also allow businesses to connect with other businesses or individuals. Communication is a huge part of social networking sites and includes tools such as email, instant messaging, and real-time posts on an individual's profile. Today's other popular social networking sites include LinkedIn and MySpace.

Social news sites. Just as the name says, the main purpose of a social news site is to exchange newsworthy information. Digg, Technorati, and Reddit are good examples. On these sites, users submit photos, videos, news articles, blog posts, and more for others to view. Often, other users can vote on which pieces of newsworthy information they like the most. The submissions with the most votes will usually appear on the social news site's front page, increasing the chances that others will see it.

Social bookmarking sites. One example of a social bookmarking site is Delicious. Users of Delicious can store, organize, search, and manage their favorite web pages online. They can also make their bookmarks public, or choose to share them with just a few specific individuals or groups. Other examples include Diggo, Blinklist, and Simpy.

Social review sites. These are sites that give consumers a platform to be heard. Users can submit reviews on specific products and companies, including advice, testimonials, and personal recommendations. Examples of popular social review sites include Epinions, Viewpoints, Yelp, Omgili, and Buzzillions.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Be focused

Vagueness is often our first impulse when we're getting things down.But it's specificity that gives our descriptions power.In your first draft, use as many clichés as you need to, just get the story down. In your revision, however, treat every single cliché as an opportunity for brilliance. Ask yourself how you can describe this in an entirely new way.

Part of being specific in description is also being original, avoiding the usual path. But there may be times when you use a mix of vague and specific details to highlight certain qualities in your characters.To work on this: Ask yourself the most naïve questions possible to access the sensory cues that conjure the situation for a reader (and that in life we absorb subconsciously): What sounds evoke the scene for you? What smells? What images? What physical responses would you have to this situation? And if questions don't work for you, find some other way to visualize the scene. If you can't picture it, how will you enable your reader to do so?

In fiction, description should not only paint a picture for the reader, but also contribute to the plot and reveal something about character. Choose your details carefully. There's a fine line between lush description and the kind that chokes the reader.If you fear you're in danger of crossing that line, consider which elements of your description serve the primary elements of your plot and which are gratuitous.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Direct marketing - a measure to tracking

Direct marketing is a sub-discipline and type of marketing. There are two main definitional characteristics which distinguish it from other types of marketing. The first is that it attempts to send its messages directly to consumers, without the use of intervening media. This involves commercial communication (direct mail, e-mail, telemarketing) with consumers or businesses, usually unsolicited. The second characteristic is that it is focused on driving a specific "call-to-action." This aspect of direct marketing involves an emphasis on trackable, measurable positive (but not negative) responses from consumers (known simply as "response" in the industry) regardless of medium.

If the advertisement asks the prospect to take a specific action, for instance call a free phone number or visit a website, then the effort is considered to be direct response advertising.

Sales Diagnosis

Most sales reps think that they're uncovering customer needs by merely asking about them.  Unfortunately, most of the time, the customer is either too close to the problem, or lacks the knowledge required to figure out what's wrong.  As a result, the wrong needs are surfaced, resulting in a solution that won't work.

The analogy between a B2B sales rep interviewing a customer and a physician interviewing a patient.  Here are three conversations:

Patient: My stomach hurts.
Doctor: No problem. I have a special introductory offer…

Patient: My stomach hurts.
Doctor: What do you think is causing the pain?
Patient: I ate too much last night; I need a strong antacid..
Doctor: No problem. Here's a prescription…

Patient: My stomach hurts.
Doctor: In what way and at what times?
Patient: After I eat pizza, I get this burning sensation.
Doctor: Have you noticed an itchy mouth when this occurs?
Patient: Well, now that you mention it, yes.
Doctor: It sounds like you may have an allergy.
What kind of pizza have you been eating?
Patient: Actually, it's been pepperoni the last few times.
Doctor: We'll run a few tests, and if it's from the pepperoni,
a change in diet will take care of your stomach problem.

Most sales reps tend to have conversations with their customers that are either like version 1 or version 2.   Version 1 is the old "pitch whatever you've got" routine.  Version 2 is what usually passes for "consultative" selling — it assumes that the customer knows the problem and simply needs a solution to that problem.

Version 3 corresponds to the way the B2B sales world really works.  Most of the time, the stuff that you're selling is outside of the understanding of the customer and probably addresses problems that the customer doesn't really understand.

Therefore, it's your job to correctly diagnose those needs and, only then, figure out what's good for what ails them.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Direct Marketing

Direct marketing is a form of marketing most commonly done via leaflets, brochures, letters, catalogs, or print or digital ads mailed, emailed, or distributed directly to current and potential consumers.

The direct marketing process should also include database management, telecommunications, and digital media access.

Marketers should take full advantage of the technological advancements made to enhance direct marketing outreach.