Retirement Planning may be looked at as having two distinct phases; the Accumulation Phase and the Distribution Phase. Let’s take a look at both.
The Accumulation Phase is the period of time between starting your working career and your ultimate retirement. This is the time when you set money aside for future use. This money, when combined with Social Security and a company retirement plan (if any), will provide the income after you stop working. We can debate the “best” way to accumulate retirement dollars until the cows come home and never reach a conclusion. Asking the questions about should I invest in mutual funds or the market, or should I focus on guarantees with CDs, money markets, annuities or permanent life insurance can and should be answered with a resounding YES! After all, the alternative is not accumulating anything at all. Each savings or investment product has plenty of merit and each has ample drawback. There is no one right answer, but there are abundant “next right answers”. If indecision leads to inaction in your accumulation phase the results will be foreboding. Consider using some of each and develop a plan that fits your comfort zone.
The Distribution Phase is the period of time between the end of a working career and, well… the end. The concern here is that we have no idea how long a time that will be. So, we run the risk of a) running out of money before running out of time, or b) not enjoying our retirement lives because we are holding onto our money in fear of running out. The key issue in the distribution phase is having a plan that will account for, as best we can, how long our money can last, the income that we may enjoy from that money and steps we may take to assure that we will enjoy retirement without worry about running out of money. After all, once you hit retirement the paychecks are in the rearview mirror. Every plan needs to make sure there is a guaranteed source of income that cannot be outlived. An income at the very least that will cover living expenses: food, utilities, shelter and clothing. So, not to put too fine a point on this, some of your retirement money should find its way into an annuity.
Putting the two phases together to achieve a retirement income goal requires action, determination and ongoing attention. This is an activity that should not be postponed regardless of which phase you may be in currently. Retirement planning needs to be proactive, taking the action to pay “you” first and to consider and plan for life’s contingencies. Otherwise, you may be dependent on the “Blind Squirrel” strategy. That being… even a blind squirrel will occasionally find a nut.
When my mother was forty-three, she was divorced after twenty-two years, and five boys – and I’m number two.
In the settlement, she received a lump sum of money. She lamented, “What am I going to do now? I have never had to make financial decisions on my own, and now I have this money and I have to make it last a lifetime!”
I asked her, “Well, what are you going to do now with your half of the settlement?”
“I am not going to make any financial decisions right now,” she answered. “I’m just going to put all my money in the savings account at the bank until I figure out what to do.”
Years later, I realized that not making a decision was a decision. And it was not a good one.
Whether you believe the challenge of financial planning necessary, interesting or overwhelming, not creating a plan, is indeed creating a plan.
What are the essential elements of financial planning? What are the ingredients that you will need for your financial plan? There is more to financial planning than just how much money you have. The best plan for you contains so much more.
In order to create your financial recipe, you also have to look at these seven essential ingredients to create the best plan. To help all better remember them, here is a fun acronym. You have to start with A RECIPE.
A Desire to Leave a Legacy
Recognizing the Need for a Plan
Evaluating your Wants, Needs, Goals, and Desires
Courage For The Journey
Professional Management Team
Estate Documents Needed
A Desire to Leave a Legacy
When your assets transition to loved ones, this will be your last statement to them. They will remember if you transitioned love, knowledge and understanding, or if you transitioned angst, frustration and confusion.
Recognizing the Need for a Plan
How do I create my legacy? With a plan! We have all heard this before, if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail. The same is true with your financial planning. You must plan to succeed!
Evaluating your Wants, Needs, Goals, and Desires
Where do I start with my plan? Write down your goals and your dreams. Compare this with your wants and desires. Prioritize your bucket-list and you have just begun your
Courage For The Journey
Even the best plans falter. We all know the world and the economy are unpredictable. But if the economy as we know it continues, then downturns really present strong opportunity. You have to have courage to capture that opportunity.
The best way to outpace inflation and increase purchasing power is with diversified investments. They are needed in your recipe and need to be understood.
Professional Management Team
Once you have your plan in place and have identified your goals and dreams, then you need to assemble your professional management team. Like sport teams need a coach to bring together all the strengths of the players, your team will bring together your unique bucket-list and coordinate a path to success.
Estate Documents Needed
The federal government allows us to make financial mistakes, which are in the favor of the federal government. Our legacy needs to be safeguarded, beneficiaries need to be named, trustees and various people need to be appointed to ensure that in life, as well as death, your desires are carried out. Without estate documents in place, this is unlikely to occur as you desire.
Now you have the essential ingredients for a well thought out financial plan. My goal for you, while alive you live. Creating A RECIPE will help you live, well!
A look at Individuals who have given up in the markets trade lack an edge, a sort of stock trading secret tip off that helps to leverage the trading platform to work in their favour. Any reference to the investment in stock industry is usually on a friendly chat or seeking advice from a expert for ideas in investment, the first remark will be about caution in opposition to losing money. To certain extent the first remarks are true due to the greed that comes as investors are hunting for a rich harvest without much planning. The stock marketplace is a good opportunity to prosper especially if you are aware of some of the stock trading secret tips.
One stock market place analyst was responding to a question as to which is the best stock trading tricks and techniques by saying (Little jovially of course) “Buy when it is low and sell when it is on a high”. But jokes aside there is some truth in that expression about stock trading. But to know what is low and what is high, it takes some Minor calculated risk, good amount of reading and some experience in the discipline.
Basically there are three sorts of investors; the Day trader who buys the stock during the business hours of the trade and sells them for a profit or a loss before the closing bell of the same day. Then there is the second one who buys stocks, pays for them and sells them for a high within a short span of time; called a short-term trader. The third lot is like a visionary, who buy those stocks which they think are like thoroughbred race hounds which will win long races and bring them good profits following a year or two. But on what stock trading secret information you will apply to select which category you want to invest calls for some planning, reading and experience as mentioned earlier.
Any government policy alterations in a sector or an industry will have a positive or negative impact immediately in the stocks of those companies dealing with that industry or sector. Oil market place companies stocks will soar high with news about the Authorities proposing to hike the costs in a day or two. The Day trader will make some quick revenues by acting on this news by buying on a sign of the upswing in the selling price of the stock and will sell when he thinks that the industry will not go any further than that on that day. This calls for a good control of your urge to wait for a further raise in the price tag. If the stock you bought soared two to three percent on that day, then that is the best time to sell them and wash your hand of that stock for the day. To fix your mental target as to when you will sell what you have acquired in a day trade is the stock trading secret of the day trader.
Sifting through the experts comments, content articles in business weekly, business channels, e.t.c., about the progress and possible direction a particular stock item will swing, will give the short-term investor opportunity to buy those stocks and say about one or two week immediately after the stock will reach that point which he envisaged about and what the experts advised about. The short term stock trading secret is to sell half of such stocks bought and to sell again when the it hits the next high within a different one or two weeks.
The in depth research about a company, its imaginative and prescient of the future, the leading team of the company and their position in the industry will make a long term investor to buy those stocks and wait even if in between there is a downward trend in those stocks. Eventually the wait and the effort for the research pay rich dividends as well as some good earnings margin when he sells them later in parts like in short term trading. Go ahead and make a good investment today in stocks.
These three steps will set the ground work for success with your day trading account. Many beginners simply start trading by funding a forex account. That’s a sure way to blowing up your account. Do the preparation correctly, and you’ll save yourself a lot of trading capital.
Planning your strategy is vital to long term success in the markets. Prepare a detailed written trading plan that will become the blueprint for your success as a forex trader. This is a working document that you will refer to regularly and make occasional adjustments to occasionally. Include the following core components to your plan:
• Overall beliefs about the market and how you are going to trade.
• Instruments traded and time frame. Choose the currency pairs and time frames to meet your needs.
• Entry Rules. These should be a precise set of rules that must occur before you can enter a trade. The rules must be concise and direct with no room for objective observations.
• Exit Rules. Exit rules are extremely important. Your entries will be useless if you do not have a definite set of exit rules. Include three types of exits: Initial Stops, Trailing Stops and Profit Targets.
• Money Management. Strict money management rules are vital. Work out exactly how much risk you are prepared to take per trade, what your maximum draw-down will be and how you are going to calculate your stops. Solid money management will ensure consistency.
• Contingency plan. What are you going to do if a worst case scenario occurs? Write down possible disasters such as a power outage, or your broker’s platform crashing and devise solutions for each. This way when a disaster occurs, you’ll know how to handle it.
Once your trading plan is in place it’s time to build your forex trading strategy. There are two major phases that need to be done to complete the building step.
Phase. 1. Enter the trading rules as per your plan into the desired trading platform or software program. Choose the forex pairs or financial instruments that you selected in your trading plan then apply the appropriate time frame, indicators, instruments and expert advisers (EA’s). Set up the default trading size and stop losses into the system.
Phase 2. Once you are satisfied that your forex trading system will meet your trading plans and objectives, it’s time to test it. Testing is vital to determine the possible success of your forex trading system. You will need reliable historical data to test your system in order to ascertain its performance ratio accurately. You may need to make adjustments to your plan if you are not satisfied with the results of your back-testing. Remember to test your system in different market conditions and be careful not to over-optimise. Historical results do not guarantee future returns.
In order to turn your auto trading system into a consistently profitable trading program you should take the final step of automating it. By planning and building your own system you now have a strategy that will suit your needs. By automating your system you will ensure that it is implemented accurately, efficiently and consistently. Automation takes out the emotional aspect of trading that hinders so many traders.
In order to identify the true success of your trading plan it needs to be traded in a live market environment where all the signals that it gives, all the stops it triggers, and all the position sizes it recommends, need to be adopted 100% of the time. It is very unlikely that a manual trader is able to achieve this. However, an automated trading program using high quality trading software will. By following your system closely with error free trading you increase your probability of success.
Build your own automation by using the scripting language of your preferred platform (MQL4 and Ninja script are popular choices). This will ensure that you have a strategy that will suit your needs and fit your plan perfectly.
By planning, building, and automating your trading program, you are increasing the probability of your success in the markets and ensuring that it will be implemented profitably and consistently.
As far as the market size is concerned, without any doubt, the Forex market is the biggest market around the world. It boasts an average turnover of over $4 trillion per day. With the passage of time, this big but decentralized market became extremely popular. Primarily, this happened because of a number of innovations in the world of technology over the past few decades. Today, with the help of technology, millions of traders can enter the Foreign exchange market. If you are new to this market, given below are 5 facts that can give you a deeper insight into this business world.
1. Small gains add up
Although Forex is one of the top markets in the word, most traders don’t make huge profits in the beginning. At first, they analyze the market and do a few trades with small amounts of money earning small gains. With the passage of time, the small gains add up. This type of traders has a great deal of trading experience.
Actually, your goal should be to use the right strategy in order to keep earning without suffering from huge losses.
2. The Selection of a reputable broker is important
For an ROI, the Forex market offers an endless pool of opportunities. But it’s really important that you sign the contract with a good reputable broker. By good, we mean a broker who is regulated and licensed. Proper research is required to make sure you hire a broker who is professional and established. They should offer different types of services including good customer support.
3. Emotions are not important
By nature, trading is an emotional undertaking as your hard earned money is at stake on the market that is volatile and unpredictable. But if you enter the market with an emotional mindset, you will be more likely to suffer from failures. Actually, when you are emotional, you tend to make rash decisions.
If you don’t want this to happen, you may want to put together a trading strategy based on a trial trading account, which is known as demo account. In fact, learning to trade objectively is only possible if you set your emotions aside when trading. This will raise your odds of making a return on investment on a regular basis.
4. Insider trading is a false belief
Unlike what most people may have told you, there is no truth in insider trading in the Forex trading market. So, it’s important that you keep in mind that you will have to make your decisions on the basis of the current conditions of the market and the most recent news. In other words, there is no magical way or short cuts to make profits.
5. Simple Strategy Works better
Lastly, if you are looking for a solid approach to gain success in this trading world, you should use a simple strategy instead of a complicated one. In other words, you should opt for a simple but tested strategy on the basis of a deep market analysis. You can apply this strategy throughout your trading career.
Understanding the tiny facts about the Forex market is mostly what it takes to be a successful trader. Many people from a standoff-ish point of view see Forex trading as so much hard work meant only for professionals with long years of experience in the finance industry – but there is more to it. What many do not know is that just about anyone can make a huge fortune from the Forex market with the right idea and the right practice.
It is true that there is need for hard work and experience, but that is just the secondary aspect of what one needs to succeed as a Forex trader. People readily skip the primary facts that form the foundation of a successful trader, thinking they are negligible when they are not. A stable psychological state of mind is one of the primary factors that have so far proven immensely important in trading successfully. The weird thing about it is that anyone, new or seasoned professional traders, can fall prey of the damage that comes from not having a sound mind towards trading Forex. It takes constant efforts, irrespective of past records, to keep one’s head above water in the world of currency exchange.
TAKE A LOOK AT THE FOLLOWING SCENARIO
Mr. A is experienced in the finance industry as a professional analyst and trader. He has worked with so many finance organizations, learnt a lot in the process, and even developed some awesome theories that earned him a noble price. Obviously, he is highly sought after at all times, and there is a long waiting list of huge finance firms asking for his consultation and partnership. Mr. A finally agrees to work with one of the big companies as the team leader of a group of exceptional high end professionals like himself, and the whole world’s eyes were on them to see how they will fare. Definitely, Mr. A and his team are expected to change the story of the organization for good; everyone expected that. The question now is how good will the outcome be? You can imagine the surprise when Mr. A and his team lead the company to its demise. Yes, the company closed down as a result of wrong calculations amplified by leverage.
What went wrong with Mr. A and his team? The only logical explanation to that is that they were too proud of their achievements, and as such were psychologically damaged to the point that they thought they knew it all. They felt they could control the Forex market since they are an excellent group of analysts working together, probably the best group of analysts in the whole wide world. That right there is psychological instability, and it does not go well with Forex trading.
HOW TO MASTER THE PSYCHOLOGICAL ASPECT OF Forex TRADING
Meanwhile, this story is real. It happened to LTCM funding company, and there is so much the finance world can learn from that when it comes to mastering of emotions while trading the Forex market. Here are some points to help:
1. ALWAYS WORK WITH MODERATION:
Do not put all of your eggs in one basket; never. There will always be better opportunities in future, so it makes no sense to feel like “it is now or never”. Greed is at the top of the list of the problems encountered by Forex traders. It is important to always seek profit and attach importance to financial success, but it should not be the driving force of the traders.
To make sure greed does not prevail, ensure strict adherence to discipline. Traders should always learn to stick to their trading strategies at all times. Every anticipated move should be based on principles established by the diligent study of the market.
2. WHAT IS THE WORSE THAT CAN HAPPEN?
In the career life of every Forex trader comes a time of indecision. No one can control the Forex market, and that is more than enough reason for many to fear. There are times a trader may be on a failing streak, and it looks like the strategy is not what it should be. Well, it is the Forex market; no one has control over it. The best any trader can do is to stick to the plan, and keep a bit of an open mind towards the opinion of others based on proper research. Indecision should be highly avoided, even at the point of fear.
To avoid the implications of trading fears, traders should learn to stick to the strategy of course, and avoid random decisions. Also, traders should avoid leveraging their accounts unreasonably, thereby risking too much. Always have it in mind to stake just as much as you are willing to lose.
3. DON’T GET HIGH:
The thing about getting high is that your state of mind is elevated in an unrealistic manner. A trader that gets high on Forex trading is tempted to believe that Forex will give him unlimited wealth no matter the approach he takes. Even traders that may not have ever experienced failure in trades should not get high or euphoric on that. In most cases, people that are in a euphoric state of mind while trading Forex end up frustrated because they allowed their feelings of might to blind their reasoning. If you have been on a winning streak for a while, be careful not to think that you have mastered Forex trading so much that you can trade without your strategy and still get good results. Anyone that dares to do that is simply high; and is doomed to fail at a point.
Always have it in mind that all strategies have flaws, no matter how long it has worked perfectly well in trades. The market changes, therefore strategies need to be altered to suit the change as required. A trade can only be successful if the trader has put in time to study the market and applied profitable principles of trading, not the other way round. The case of LTCM is a very good instance of this case.
4. IT GETS BETTER:
Again, a trade can only be successful if the trader put in time to study the market and applied profitable principles of trading. It is possible to lose several trade one after the other; it happens even to the best of Forex traders, which can lead to panic. However, this is not enough reason to quit as many may be tempted to, rather, the trader should put in the required time to study the market and apply the right principles.
Note that periods of market volatility causes panic more than any other factor. Volatility can make a sound strategy seem like it is useless, which is true. Strategies for trading a volatile market environment are not exactly the same with non volatile market conditions. Some traders prefer to use a different strategy entirely, or stay away from trading the Forex market in such times.
Workforce management solutions (WFM) are the driving force for insurance companies; particularly larger departments such as policy administration, underwriting, claims processing, shared services, and contact centres.
Learn to keep balance in managing your workforce
Ensure proper skill levels and mixes: Ensuring that operations teams consist only of experts can get expensive. This is why it’s important to assign a mixture of skill levels within the team – teams can have both junior and senior workers. The senior team members can mentor juniors and help with complex cases. Additionally, some team members can be cross-trained. This would allow teams to lend and borrow resources with each other.
Ensure flexible, real-time workforce management: When it comes to workloads there are daily spikes and lull times. This is the area where real-time workforce management increases efficiency to soften the extremes. For example, additional resources could be used to cover workload spikes, or employees can volunteer to leave early without pay.
Manage team cycles: Management styles for Adhoc / firefighting are confusing, thus they show lower performance. Activity consistency is important to manage teams and operations to improve performance results.
For example, Monday can be the day to discuss plans for the upcoming week, Tuesday to review the week prior and talk about key insights. Wednesday could be used to plan strategies for the next week. Another way to increase performance is to have daily huddles in the morning. In fact, there are numerous recurring operations management routine choices that can be implemented.
Balance loads across teams: To keep efficiency consistent, operations leaders can monitor workloads across all teams and make changes as needed. For example, leaders can transfer some of the workload from busy teams to teams with more capacity. Another method operations leaders can use is lending staff to assist other teams. Significant workload imbalance across teams increases employee dissatisfaction because they begin to feel like job distribution is unfair.
Plan your workforce efficiently
Improve resource forecasting: Knowing what future demands on resources will be and forecasting correctly means significantly fewer resources will be wasted. Insurance companies can hire the number of staff they need rather than hiring extra staff just in case they need them.
Improve forecasting horizon: Forecasting significantly into the future means companies will have time to hire the optimal staff from both a compensation and skill-set perspective.
Be aware of seasonality and consider it in planning: It’s important with workforce planning to consider changes in workloads during different seasons. Without considering changes you run the risk of having too many or too few resources; thus, negatively impacting performance. For example, work is busier for car insurance companies at the beginning of winter because of the impending frost and ice on the roads.
Monitor trends and embed them into planning: Knowing and embedding trends into workforce planning allows you to increase or decrease your organization’s team when the volume of work grows and decreases. This also takes away the risk of low performance and backlog.
Which WFM program is suitable for insurance providers?
The nature of operations is a complex topic. To run workforce operations efficiently requires an appropriate WFM solution for areas such as planning, forecasting and scheduling. Additionally, it offers transparency in regard to staff skills, performance and potential bottlenecks.
Every workplace has its own microculture as a result of its sector, its location in the world and the diverse range of individuals who make up the workforce. Culture isn’t just a case of ethnicity, though, it’s a way of thinking and acting. At an individual level, we might define culture as being the way a person thinks, acts or speaks based on their experiences and background. At a group or company level, however, the culture can generally be seen as the historical experiences and collaboration of the people that make up the group.
Unlike an individual, who we assume has some control over their experiences, thoughts and general way of thinking, corporate culture is often guided by group guidelines and rules. Another, potentially larger, influencer on corporate or group culture is internal hierarchy. The ‘higher ranked’ or ‘louder’ parties of the group often sway the culture to follow their experiences and beliefs. The opinions or thoughts of the ‘lower ranking’ or ‘quieter’ members of the group are often deemed less important by the group en masse. This, ultimately, also becomes part of the group’s culture.
This discussion regards corporate or group culture and how establishing, both actively and subconsciously, a company’s culture can impact external and internal perceptions of that company. In particular, we are looking at the differences of a cold ‘corporate’ and perceived professional company culture versus a more relaxed, warm and approachable, business model.
Of course, everyone who works anywhere always strives to be professional – that’s how it should be. However, some companies seem to believe that being professional also means being cold, unapproachable, target-driven and competitive rather than being supportive, approachable and co-operative.
Is this the right way to drive up profits? Does a cold, competitive environment achieve targets at the expense of workforce morale and happiness? Is it sometimes worth losing staff members if, at the end of the day, they’re merely seen as dead weight because they can’t keep up?
The answer is that it depends…
Cold and professional and warm and approachable work best in different industries and sectors. The financial sector, for example, is best served by an unemotional, facts and figures-driven workforce. It’s also important to meet targets and to break barriers and this can only realistically be done if everyone’s focused on the job rather than organising their next potluck meeting.
A similar culture has to prevail in a company that’s innovating, disrupting or making big changes. Amazon is probably the best example we have right now. The fast-paced, unforgiving workplace culture there, from the warehouse floor right up to Bezos himself, is legendary. The culture in Amazon is described as ‘gladiatorial’ which is what you need if you’ve decided to take on every retailer everywhere in the world and change the way they’ve always done things forever.
This approach still needs professionalism, however. Amazon isn’t a swashbuckling pirate but a well-organised, fine-tuned and exquisitely well-informed machine. No real room for feelings there. You might see this as cruel, hard, unfair or wrong, but Amazon will simply tell you you’re in the wrong arena…
What about warm and approachable?
Where do pictures of the harbour bridge, posters of Thai celebrities cute puppies and fluffy kittens fit in? Apparently, according to Japanese researchers, ‘kawaii’ helps people to get the job done and done better. Interestingly, the 2012 study found that photos of adult cats and dogs improved people’s focus and diligence only slightly. It’s almost as if people have a need to nurture; well, actually, they do.
In some industries and companies, warm and approachable will get the best results which leads to increased professionalism and profits. Of course, in some places if you were caught staring at kittens in order to improve your performance, you’d be out on your ear for time wasting.
Other companies, however, like Netflix, see kitten-staring, chatting about issues and taking whatever time off you fancy as time invested, not wasted. This company sees nurturing and developing its people as the key to its profits. Oddly enough, it seems that giving people a bit of leeway and letting them set their own targets and have a gripe at the boss also works. People at Netflix are also professionals. Hmmm…
Similarly to how a ‘colder’ culture may enforce both internal & external trust and confidence in a financial company, a ‘warmer’ culture should allow for greater exploration of creativity. Artistic based industry; design, marketing, photography, musical, creative, etc, are probably more likely to see an increase in productivity and efficiency in a more relaxed, emotional environment.
As a Director myself, and as I write this article, I’m finding myself analysing my own company; what our culture is and what I’d like it to be. I own a small digital agency in Bangkok, Thailand. As a creative company, I’d like to think we fall more on the warm, approachable side of the scale. That’s definitely the side I’d like to sit on at any rate. We don’t wear suits to the office, we don’t have punch cards, we listen to music, drink way too much coffee and love a good chat.
Can you be warm and professional at the same time? I’d like to think so. We’re fairly relaxed and I’m fine with that for my type of business. Of course, that isn’t to say we don’t have systems and methodology. It isn’t to say we don’t have rules and guidelines and it certainly doesn’t mean we aren’t professional in the business we conduct. In our case, the warmth and approachable vibe we convey is helpful to the type of service we provide. Design and marketing is a personal thing, different to each of our clients and I think we wouldn’t be able to do our job as effectively if we were teetering on the colder ‘professional’ side of the cultural fence.
Where do you find yourself and your business? Is it what you want to portray? Is your company culture the best for your clients and staff?
Ultimately you can take your pick, it seems, because both models work. Be advised however, the larger and older the company, the harder it may be to change that company’s culture. How you may want to appear and act, and how your staff and clients see your business may be two different things.
The key differentiator between two startups is pace. Things need to be done at a faster pace for startups to be competitive against large companies. And, in order to react to market conditions and changing consumer trends, startups today rely heavily on data analytics. The power of being able to gather, identify, understand and execute upon patterns of data is critical for long-term success of companies as well as for advancement of humanity.
Any organization can leverage the exponential data growth but size is on the side of smaller businesses that are perfectly suited to act on data-derived insights with speed and efficiency, unlike large organizations that are often less nimble and hindered by clunky, legacy IT infrastructure. All that’s required is somebody in the business that understands two key fundamentals: data analytics and data science.
For example, for a startup organization, product marketing act as a growth catalyst in establishing brand value in the market, which is very costly and usually eats up a huge part of the budget.
However, while a business can be built on a combination of inspiration and perspiration, being able to manage analyses and interpret data requires a very specific skill set that will actually enable innovation and drive it forward. From predicting and reducing churn to winning business from new and existing customers, the opportunities are endless.
Data Analytics can help startups in identifying and reaching out the right target market for launching product(s) and providing better return on the marketing investments. Moreover, it can also help in understanding the customer needs and leveraging their requirements for designing or updating offerings.
Advertising and marketing without data based insight are akin to trying to hit a target in an unfamiliar dark room with only 2 to 3 bullets in your gun. While Big Data science is evolving, and is not fully precise, it does tell you the direction in which to shoot, so that your probability of hitting the target is higher.
Whether you are looking for funding, thinking about the best way to deploy your latest round of investment or a scale up looking to fuel growth, here’s five quick ways analytics and data science can help you:
Evidence-based decision making: One of the rarest commodities when a business is in the growth stages is time. Decisions are taken in days, sometimes hours that in more established organizations would take months. Young businesses especially spend most of their early stage time probing the market and looking for the right product offering to execute upon. Unlike an established company, one mistake can cost its future so having a data scientist on board is the key to being able to gather and analyses data from multiple channels to mitigate risk and improve decision making.
Test your decisions: Making decisions and implementing change is only half of the battle; it’s vital to know how those changes affect the company. A data scientist can measure key metrics related to important changes and quantify their success (or lack thereof) so that learnings are made and substantiated when it comes to playing back results to investors and moving the business forward.
Perfecting the target audience: Everything from social media profiles to website visitor reports contains data which can help a startup pinpoint its target audience – and therefore target them more effectively. Even if it has gone as far as roughly identifying its demographics, a data scientist can identify key groups with laser precision through careful analysis of disparate data sources. This in-depth knowledge can help tailor products and services to key customer groups.
Making use of the information: Data has to be at the fingertips of every decision-maker, which are usually most people in the business at its early-stage. This is reflected in the data science and analytics space right now with predictive modelling and machine learning both attracting huge amounts of interest – a sentiment underlined by the recent acquisitions of DeepMind. It is not hard to see why when this particular type of data management enables real-time responsiveness when it comes to translating the raw data into insights, which can be transformed into actionable applications to propel business growth.
Here is something many entrepreneurs need to understand when it comes to marketing: there is no such thing as guaranteed results.
There are too many factors about your marketing campaign that no one can control. Among them, there is the behavior of the overall market, competitive pricing, demand for offers like yours, current events, and others.
It would be anti-ethical for any marketing agency or freelancer to guarantee ABC results if you invest XYZ amount of money. But it does not mean that there are not ways to get the most out of your marketing budget (according to the circumstances).
Here are seven ways you can maximize your marketing efforts – whether we are in a recession or a booming period.
Do Not Confuse Marketing with Networking
If you are marketing your business, you need to understand the difference between connecting and communicating with your community and sharing / promoting your business.
Do not take to social media or networking events to present your sales pitch right away. People do not like it when you sell stuff to them. Instead, connect first by hearing about their problems, and communicate with them in ways they can solve those problems.
There will be time for you to promote and share on social media and at networking events. But you need to build a relationship first. That way, your audience would not feel like you are selling to them, but that they are taking advice. Because they trust you.
I am a firm believer in A/B testing. It is the best way to keep your marketing campaigns rolling and not waste your budget.
You do not want to throw money away with marketing that is not appealing to your market. That is why it is imperative that you constantly test your letters, ads, and emails to see what is getting the attention of the market, and what is persuading them into buying.
Cut What Does Not Work
Once you start testing your marketing efforts, you will know what to keep and what to drop.
You do not need to be everywhere at once. You need to be where your market wants you to be.
Do not waste your time on Facebook if the people are not responding. Stop sending letters if there are no sales coming from them. And please, do not waste two million dollars on a TV spot that won’t produce any ROI.
Inbound Marketing vs Outbound Marketing
I believe both inbound and outbound marketing have a place and are beneficial to every business. But they have their place in the marketing process.
Outbound marketing should be the focus when you are starting out. You need to let people know that you are there to help them. Thus, you should be sending emails, making phone calls, and making the first step to connect with the market.
Once you have set up a reputation for your business, then inbound marketing takes over. Because people will be looking for you. They will look at your website, your blog, and your social media channels.
So, do not disregard either marketing strategy. Just place them correctly according to the level of growth of your business. Outbound marketing when you are looking to prove yourself, and inbound marketing when you have an established name in the market.
Cold Calling as a Marketing Tactic
Most people are afraid of cold calling. Honestly, I believe “terrified” is a more proper term.
That is the reason many dismiss this tactic from their marketing strategy. But I think cold calling is as practical a marketing tactic as any of the others.
You need to make that first connection. And if the market is not coming to you, you might as well go to them.
And cold calling is not as bad as people make it out to be.
All you need is a good script and some thick skin (to handle rejection). And after a couple of times doing it, you will feel comfortable approaching targets and converting them into leads.
You can divide any marketing campaign into three facets: strategy, content, and design.
If you have experience in marketing planning, website design, and copy and content writing – then, by all means, go for it. Although I would recommend getting a critique from a professional on each, just to go safely.
But, if you are marketing your business, and have no prior planning, writing, or designing experience, your best bet is to hire professionals for each endeavor. They will know what to do to present your product in the most appealing way possible to your market.
There is also the choice of learning things yourself, but if time is not on your side, then I suggest hiring the professionals anyway until you can take over after getting some marketing seasoning.
Plan Your Marketing
You might have expected this to be tip number one. But I wanted to make sure you understood some things before we got into time management.
But now that we got the small details explained, here is a template to develop a weekly marketing schedule:
Mondays: Market research to find targets
Wednesdays: Content marketing
Fridays: Website updates
Every day: Networking on Twitter and LinkedIn
Make sure to separate (at least) an hour every workday to do your marketing. You can perform a marketing task each day to keep your efforts moving. Also, make room for at least half an hour of networking – online or in person.