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Friday, July 11, 2008

Business Marketing Strategy

Business Marketing Strategy
by: Joy Gendusa

The term might sound like it is esoteric or stratospheric, so let’s take the mystery out of it so you can devise and implement your own business marketing strategy that fits in to your small business plan.

Strategy comes from a Greek word “stratagein” meaning “to be a general”. Think of a strategy as an overall plan of action needed to win a war. The smaller, detailed actions are called tactics. You can have tactical plans which help you achieve your strategic marketing plan or overall business marketing strategy. That’s simple enough, isn’t it?

A business marketing strategy or strategic marketing plan is an overall plan of marketing actions you intend to take in order to accomplish a specific goal for your company.

Start with a goal: $2 million in sales this year; expand into new premises by a certain date; double the size of the company in 2 years… whatever the goal may be. Something realistic but challenging. That's the "war" you want to win. Guess who the general is.

Then work out a simple, overall plan of the major marketing steps needed to accomplish that (for example):

1. Publish a newsletter for all existing customers and mail out quarterly.

2. Work out 4 special offers in the year and promote them to all our customers.

3. Set up on-line shopping and expand the web site.

4. Direct mail campaign promoting the web site to all customers.

5. Get mailing lists of (target markets) and do a series of 3 mailings of postcards to them and follow up on and close all leads.

6. Etc.

You get the idea. Don’t rush this. Do your homework. What worked in the past? Read up on successful marketing campaigns.

Your business marketing strategy needs to be laid out in the right sequence and you should have some idea of budget when you write it. “Run a series of 30 second TV ads during the Superbowl” might sound like a good thing to do but can you afford it? On the other hand, when you build your business marketing strategy you mustn’t try and cut corners. If you don’t promote heavily, it doesn’t matter how good your product or service is, no one will know about it and you will go broke.

What really works when it comes to marketing?

Many business owners don't have a good enough answer to this important question. I learned by a combination of study and trial and error.

From my own hard won experienceI have discovered that a real marketing campaign will take into consideration at least the seven points which are outlined below:

1. Target Your Market

Your marketing will produce the best results for the lowest cost when you target prospects with the greatest need for what you offer.

Identify the best people to send your postcards to. Design your postcards to appeal to their greatest need.

If you are able to break down your target market into sub markets you can then write postcards that specifically speak to the needs of those people (an example is breaking down your own customer list into customers who buy most often, customers who spend the most money with you, customers who have been your customers the longest and then making them special offers based on the category they fit into).

2. Create A USP For Your Business

USP stands for "Unique Selling Proposition".

It is a statement of what is different about your company and its products. Your USP gives the reason people should do business with you. It amplifies the benefit of doing business with you and your company. My USP is POSTCARD MARKETING EXPERTS.

Create your own USP and put it on all your promotional materials, invoices, shipping labels etc.

Use your USP to communicate the benefit of doing business with you and why you are better than any of your competitors.

3. Always Make an Offer

Make sure you ask your prospects and customers to do something when they receive your postcard. By offering them something you know they are likely to want and giving them a smooth path to respond on, you are making it easy and desirable for them to respond.

4. Create and Maintain a Database of The Customer Information You Collect From The Responses To Your Mailings

Most people who receive a postcard from you won't contact you the first time they receive one.

But once they contact you, you must create and maintain a database which allows you to repeatedly contact them with offers to respond to.

Fifty percent or more of many businesses' sales come as a result of following up with people who were previously contacted, but didn't buy right away.

No kidding, repeat contact does drive sales. One-time mailings can get response, but are bound to leave sales on the table. Those sales can be picked up with repeated mailings.

5. Take Away the Fear of Loss

People don't want to be fooled, plain and simple. Unfortunately trust does not run high today between customers and businesses in general. People have been disappointed too many times by being sold one thing and getting another.

A guarantee or warranty is a good way to reduce or eliminate the customers’ risk of getting something other than what they bargained for.

Guarantees and warranties increase response and sales by reducing customer risk.

6. Expand Your Product Line

Getting new customers is more expensive than selling to existing ones. By regularly developing new products and services to sell to your customers and offering these new products and services to them, you can expand your business efficiently and easily.

7. Test Your Postcard Promotions

Track the effectiveness of your postcard mailings. How many people responded to your mailing? What dollar amount of sales resulted from those responses?

Is the money you are spending to attract new business giving you a good return? What can you do to make your marketing more effective? Change your offer, headline, price, the timing of your offer. When you do track the results and improve your response.

These are the points to follow when designing your own marketing strategy. When you are done, you will have laid out the steps needed to accomplish your goal using existing resources to achieve a great marketing ROI (return on investment).

After that, you simply have to get those steps executed and that might require further planning but it is all in the context of your main business marketing strategy.

About the author:
Joy Gendusa founded PostcardMania in 1998; her only assets a computer and a phone. In 2004 the company did close to $9 million in sales and employs over 60 persons. She attributes her explosive growth to her ability to choose incredible staff and her innate marketing savvy. Now she’s sharing her marketing secrets with others. For more free marketing advice, visit her website at

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Trading Psychology: Mistakes in a Trading Environment

Trading Psychology: Mistakes in a Trading Environment
by: Raul Lopez

When it comes to trading, one of the most neglected subjects are those dealing with trading psychology. Most traders spend days, months and even years trying to find the right system. But having a system is just part of the game. Don’t get us wrong, it is very important to have a system that perfectly suits the trader, but it is as important as having a money management plan, or to understand all psychology barriers that may affect the trader decisions and other issues. In order to succeed in this business, there must be equilibrium between all important aspects of trading.

In the trading environment, when you lose a trade, what is the first idea that pops up in your mind? It would probably be, “There must be something wrong with my system”, or “I knew it, I shouldn’t have taken this trade” (even when your system signaled it). But sometimes we need to dig a little deeper in order to see the nature of our mistake, and then work on it accordingly.

When it comes to trading the Forex market as well as other markets, only 5% of traders achieve the ultimate goal: to be consistent in profits. What is interesting though is that there is just a tiny difference between this 5% of traders and the rest of them. The top 5% grow from mistakes; mistakes are a learning experience, they learn an invaluable lesson on every single mistake made. Deep in their minds, a mistake is one more chance to try it harder and do it better the next time, because they know they might not get a chance the next time. And at the end, this tiny difference becomes THE big difference.

Mistakes in the trading environment

Most of us relate a trading mistake to the outcome (in terms of money) of any given trade. The truth is, a mistake has nothing to do with it, mistakes are made when certain guidelines are not followed. When the rules you trade by are violated. Take for instance the following scenarios:

First scenario: The system signals a trade.
1. Signal taken and trade turns out to be a profitable trade.
Outcome of the trade: Positive, made money.
Experience gained: Its good to follow the system, if I do this consistently the odds will turn in my favor. Confidence is gained in both the trader and the system.
Mistake made: None.

2. Signal taken and trade turns out to be a loosing trade.
Outcome of the trade: Negative, lost money.
Experience gained: It is impossible to win every single trade, a loosing trade is just part of the business; our raw material, we know we can’t get them all right. Even with this lost trade, the trader is proud about himself for following the system. Confidence in the trader is gained.
Mistake made: None.

3. Signal not taken and trade turns out to be a profitable trade.
Outcome of the trade: Neutral.
Experience gained: Frustration, the trader always seems to get in trades that turned out to be loosing trades and let the profitable trades go away. Confidence is lost in the trader self.
Mistake made: Not taking a trade when the system signaled it.

4. Signal not taken and trade turns out to be a loosing trade.
Outcome of the trade: Neutral.
Experience gained: The trader will start to think “hey, I’m better than my system”. Even if the trader doesn't think on it consciously, the trader will rationalize on every signal given by the system because deep in his or her mind, his or her “feeling” is more intelligent than the system itself. From this point on, the trader will try to outguess the system. This mistake has catastrophic effects on our confidence to the system. The confidence on the trader turns into overconfidence.
Mistake made: Not taking a trade when system signaled it

Second Scenario: System does not signal a trade.
1. No trade is taken
Outcome of the trade: Neutral
Experience gained: Good discipline, we only need to take trades when the odds are in our favor, just when the system signals it. Confidence gained in both the trader self and the system.
Mistake made: None

2. A trade is taken, turns out to be a profitable trade.
Outcome of the trade: Positive, made money.
Experience gained: This mistake has the most catastrophic effects in the trader self, the system and most importantly in the trader’s trading career. You will start to think you need no system, you know better from them all. From this point on, you will start to trade based on what you think. Confidence in the system is totally lost. Confidence in the trader self turns into overconfidence.
Mistake made: Take a trade when there was no signal from the system.

3. A trade is taken, turned out to be a loosing trade.
Outcome of the trade: negative, lost money.
Experience gained: The trader will rethink his strategy. The next time, the trader will think it twice before getting in a trade when the system does not signal it. The trader will go “Ok, it is better to get in the market when my system signals it, only those trade have a higher probability of success”. Confidence is gained in the system.
Mistake made: Take a trade when there was no signal from the system

As you can see, there is absolutely no correlation between the outcome of the trade and a mistake. The most catastrophic mistake even has a positive trade outcome, made money, but this could be the beginning of the end of the trader’s career. As we have already stated, mistakes must only be related to the violation of rules a trader trades by.

All these mistakes were directly related to the signals given by a system, but the same is applied when getting out of a trade. There are also mistakes related to following a trading plan. For example, risking more money on a given trade than the amount the trader should have risked and many more.

Most mistakes can be avoided by first having a trading plan. A trading plan includes the system: the criteria we use to get in and out the market, the money management plan: how much we will risk on any given trade, and many other points. Secondly, and most important, we need to have the discipline to follow strictly our plan. We created our plan when no trade was placed on, thus no psychology barriers were up front. So, the only thing we are certain about is that if we follow our plan, the decision taken is on our best interests, and in the long run, these decisions will help us have better results. We don’t have to worry about isolated events, or trades that could had give us better results at first, but then they could have catastrophic results in our trading career.

How to deal with mistakes

There are many possible ways to properly manage mistakes. We will suggest the one that works better for us.

Step one: Belief change.
Every mistake is a learning experience. They all have something valuable to offer. Try to counteract the natural tendency of feeling frustrated and approach mistakes in a positive manner. Instead of yelling to everyone around and feeling disappointed, say to yourself “ok, I did something wrong, what happened? What is it?

Step two: Identify the mistake made.
Define the mistake, find out what caused the mistake, and try as hard as you can to effectively see the nature of that mistake. Finding the mistake nature will prevent you from making the same mistake again. More than often you will find the answer where you less expected. Take for instance a trader that doesn’t follow the system. The reason behind this could be that the trader is afraid of loosing. But then, why is he or she afraid? It could be that the trader is using a system that does not fit him or her, and finds difficult to follow every signal. In this case, as you can see, the nature of the mistake is not in the surface. You need to try as hard as you can to find the real reason of the given mistake.

Step three: Measure the consequences of the mistake.
List the consequences of making that particular mistake, both good and bad. Good consequences are those that make us better traders after dealing with the mistake. Think on all possible reasons you can learn from what happened. For the same example above, what are the consequences of making that mistake? Well, if you don’t follow the system, you will gradually loose confidence in it, and this at the end will put you into trades you don’t really want to be, and out of trades you should be in.

Step four: Take action.
Taking proper action is the last and most important step. In order to learn, you need to change your behavior. Make sure that whatever you do, you become “this-mistake-proof”. By taking action we turn every single mistake into a small part of success in our trading career. Continuing with the same example, redefining the system would be the trader’s final step. The trader would put a system that perfectly fits him or her, so the trader doesn’t find any trouble following it in future signals.

Understanding the fact that the outcome of any trade has nothing to do with a mistake will open your mind to other possibilities, where you will be able to understand the nature of every mistake made. This at the same time will open the doors for your trading career as you work and take proper action on every mistake made.

The process of success is slow, and plenty of times it is attributed to repeated mistakes made and the constant struggle to get past these mistakes, working on them accordingly. How we deal with them will shape our future as a trader, and most importantly as a person.

About the author:
Raul Lopez is the founder of A site dedicated to provide high quality Forex training.

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