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Exclusive Zpd.TIPS from Z promotion & design
Volume 1 - 2000

The Zpd.TIPS archives has been divided into 5 10-week periods. As you click on the links below, you will be taken to that section of the tips.

Volume 1 Number 1


Welcome to the 21st Century… you’re now an official recipient of Zpd.TIPS.

Designed to be a weekly marketing "newsletter" from Z promotion & design, Zpd.TIPS is intended to be a very short email providing the best integrated marketing tips I can offer you and your company. Of course it is also a shameless attempt to keep Z promotion & design in the forefront of your mind. If for some unexplained reason you would like to be removed from my mailing list, please click here, and tell me…

And the first Zpd.TIP… One of the best ways to keep in touch with your clients is through a newsletter – it can be a regularly scheduled email, a password-protected page on your web site or even the more traditional paper variety. We all have incredibly hectic schedules - sometimes we just have to remind our clients that we’re still here.

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Volume 1 Number 2

Welcome to week 2 of Zpd.TIPS.

Online Searches and such…

There are actually over 2700 different engines, directories and "link sites" available to promote your web site.

But as you imagined, the top 13 sites that help traffic flow are:
Alta Vista, AOL Search, Excite, Google, HotBot, Infoseek, Lycos, Magellan, MSN Search, Northern Light, SNAP, Switchboard and of course Yahoo!
Each of these engines uses different ranking methods including Title, META Tags, Page Text, Alt Tags, body text and in the case of Yahoo! - personal, individual site review.

For effective marketing throughout the life of your web site, it should be created around your keywords. Begin with a keyword list, use that list to create a description, use that description to develop your opening paragraph and make sure you have descriptive titles and alt tags – again using those keywords!

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Volume 1 Number 3

Good morning. This week's tip is a useful web site I stumbled across.

If you're interested in the numbers of the online world - who's on, how long they remain, how many site they visited and more, Nielsen//NetRatings.  Be sure to read "Hot Off The Net" and follow the "more stats" link at the bottom.

The daily stats for January 13, 2000:
Total Unique Audience = 24.4 million
Average Time Spent Per Person = 30 minutes
Sites Visited Per Person = 3
Total Home Internet Usage for the U.S.= 12.4 million hours online

Have a great week!

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Volume 1 Number 4

Happy Monday! This weekend I spent some time considering my advertising for 2000 - how much, where, will cash flow support it and what are my expectations. And as you might expect, voila! another Zpd.TIPS was born.

Although advertising differs with each company, the bottom line is to increase business. So, as you examine your own company's advertising, consider...

What are your (realistic) long and short-term goals - elicit a response... develop an image... enhance an image...

What media combination works best to meet your goals - print... the internet... broadcast... direct mail... a fax campaign... guerilla type...

Create a plan and stick with it - don't give into knee-jerk reactions, give your plan time to work

Develop a campaign - create an image that people recognize as yours.

Provide an in kind service in exchange for advertising (or logo placement) to supplement your plan

How 'bout a PR supplement - has your company accomplished something newsworthy - imagine (in print) your story on page one and your ad on page 2!

Thanks to everyone for your topic suggestions... you can expect to see them in upcoming weeks!

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Volume 1 Number 5

I hope everyone (in the RTP area) has thawed out and that business is returning to normal.

During the weekend I managed to clean out my bulging rolodex (yes, I still keep business cards in a rolodex along with my "Outlook" contacts file). I also spoke with a client about reordering cards this week. Of course you suffer the consequences with a Zpd.TIPS about business cards...

The design...

Although many people immediately put business card information into an outlook file, when you initially hand someone your card you are presenting yourself and your business on a billboard. And unlike the traditional billboard you have to read at 60 mph, your audience has plenty of time to go back and read the card as often as necessary.

Don't ignore this advertising venue...

In addition to your logo, your name, title and contact information (including web address) be sure to include as much information about your business and what you do as possible. Z promotion & design has even designed a business card-sized, 3-panel brochure - just ask Emily Toone at TPS, Inc.

Use color and good design - it creates a great impression and encourages the recipient to read the card.

Be creative - use the back... as a calendar... a coupon... a directory of information... don't waste the space.

When you order or reorder business cards, order as many names as possible at once - it keeps the cost down.

If your card is expensive to print (embossing, 4-color process, spot varnish, etc.) it is more cost effective to print extra shells during your initial printing and add the names and other contact information as required (new employees, new email addresses, etc.).

oops... this got long this week... sorry.

Have a great week! I hope to see many of you at the Conference on Entrepreneurship at The Fuqua School of Business this Saturday (2/5).

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Volume 1 Number 6

Good Morning!

For those of you (locally) who attended the Conference on Entrepreneurship Saturday, I hope it was as successful for you as it was for Z promotion & design! And welcome to those attendees who have been added to our list... a quick stop at will provide some details and past tips.

At the conference, I was surprised and impressed with some of the giveaways and thought it was worth a thought or two Monday morning.

The purpose of a giveaway should be to get and keep your name in the forefront of your (potential) clients' mind. They are excellent at trade shows, when meeting potential clients for the first time, as a thank you to an existing client or as a holiday gift.

Give away something useful that stays close to your client - and make sure it has your contact information prominently displayed.

Give away an item that is conducive to the type of show you're sponsoring and the type of response you desire. A bag gives you excellent name visibility at a large show, but it won't stay on a desk very long afterward.

Look for something a little different - an item that gets people talking and stopping by the booth.

Order plenty of what ever you're giving away - if it's a hit, you'll be giving away more than you anticipated!

If you're at a show, get a special giveaway or two to raffle off - a great way to gather business cards.

Thanks and have a GREAT week!

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Volume 1 Number 7

This week's tip is actually an interesting web site discovered by a recipient from our list. The site provides mathematical equations I'm sure you learned in school, but forgot only because you don't use them everyday. However, from time to time you may need them (to put your marketing budget together, to discover the surface area of a cube, help my kids with their homework...) and isn't nice to know they exist somewhere.

Here's the link:

And if you dig a little deeper into the site there's a lot more as well...

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Volume 1 Number 8

Happy Presidents’ Day!

And for those of you who feel that a federal holiday means less traffic on the way to work… happy Monday!

This week a word or two about web site freshness… when was the last time your site was updated? And how did you let people know changes were made? Is there a reason for visitors to come back …each day …each week …each month.

Remember, no matter how much you enjoyed last week’s episode of "The West Wing" (just a small editorial comment), you don’t want to see the same episode every week.

Have you considered adding any of the following to your web site…
tips for your industry… a joke of the day… a weekly cartoon… becoming an industry portal… an affiliates style program...
anything you do to increase traffic can mean increased profits.

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Volume 1 Number 9

Today Zpd.TIPs takes a quick look at getting the most out of your creative dollar. As you begin to look at developing marketing collaterals, pay attention to the economies of scale available to you.
Like what? you ask…

  • If you’re writing copy… you can use variations of it for your web site, your brochure, your sales sheets...
  • If you’re shooting video… plan to shoot for a sales or training tape, a commercial, web site elements, an interactive CD...
  • If you’re heading to the printer… you can save money when you print similar items at the same time...
  • If you’re developing a web site… some of the same elements (graphics, video, audio or text) will work in your PowerPoint presentation… on an interactive CD
  • If you’re creating an interactive training CD… it can be added to your web site...

Have a great week!

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Volume 1 Number 10

Ever consider a Human Resources/Marketing alliance? Here are a couple of ideas...

You can attract employees and boost your image simultaneously with an advertising campaign. Put out the call for applicants while presenting the benefits and assets of your company. It really works.

Look no farther than The Home Depot who (according to Newsweek) has had a great deal of success attracting new associates, while enhancing its image through its current television ad campaign. On a smaller, local scale, The Plantation Inn Resort has been advertising for employees on television for years.

And, on the other side of human resources... if you’re looking for clients…

Use the Sunday classifieds for sales leads. After all, these leads are qualified, to a degree. You already know the potential client is looking for a designer (for example) when you make contact. If pays off more often than you may think…

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Volume 1 Number 11

First, welcome to all the new subscribers who joined us via the web last week!

NCAA Basketball, in the guise of March Madness, is upon us. That means lots and lots of commercials… the same commercials… the same commercials over and over again …at every time out. If you find yourself in the market for a new radio or TV ad, think about variety! Perhaps two or three commercials as part of your overall campaign – check out the new NIKE "Bracketville" campaign.

The economy of scale theory applies here. As you plan your advertising campaign, get those creative juices thinking in terms of more than one commercial along the same theme.

By producing multiple commercials at the same time you can save on:

Shooting – by shooting similar scenes at the same time you can save money on fees for producing, directing, acting, lighting, make-up, etc….

Editing – you can save money by editing more than one spot at a time, rather than coming back at a later date.

In the long run, a campaign of multiple spots can be more cost effective, and have a more positive impact on your audience than if you produce commercials one at a time, as separate elements.

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Volume 1 Number 12

With apologies to those recipients of Zpd.TIPS who keep us informed through their tireless efforts as journalists…

What to grow your business with very little additional effort?


As you complete a project, win a contract, bring on new staff, bring home an award or accomplish something for which you’re proud, send out a press release.

Although all of the local, regional or national press may not agree with its newsworthiness (if I may use that word), some may… others may find a story hidden in the release you never envisioned. All publications provide specific instructions for submitting press releases or editorial content – just follow the instructions.

There is very little money can buy that is better for growing your business than a well-placed article or the consistency of mentions in the media for jobs well done.

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Volume 1 Number 13

Last week I ran across a tip among my many emails I thought was worth passing along. The credit goes to "The Markus Allen Organization" –

When you write your sales letters or emails put your benefits up front. The first sentence should feature the benefits of your product or service. Since time is a tight commodity (and getting tighter everyday), get to the point early, then draw your reader into the details.

The Markus Allen group recommends:

"How'd you like to fly to Paris for just $199, round trip ... including FREE gourmet meals ... and FREE limo service?"

This is where I disagree. Their opening line sounds cheesy… too sales-like and similar to fourteen thousands emails that I deleted this morning. I feel there is still enough time to inject your own personality into yours sales communiqués. Give your potential clients a chance to meet you through your mail - but do get to the point early!

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Volume 1 Number 14

What’s the value of having your name associated with a community project, venue or event? Is it worth providing your service for free or at a discounted rate? Is it worth paying (in some cases big bucks) for your association?

It may be. But before your decide, consider…

  • How will your name be associated?
  • Will you be a name sponsor? or The name sponsor?
  • How will the community view you? – as a philanthropist? an expert in your field?
  • Where and how will your logo be used?
  • Will it generate more business?
  • Will it open new markets to you?
  • How much time and money will you have to dedicate to the project?

In most cases the benefits outweigh the risks… but look closely before you decide.

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Volume 1 Number 15

E-mail is great – a very convenient and a wonderful way to maintain contact with our clients, customers, friends and family. We’ve used it to redefine sales and marketing approaches (i.e. – this weekly addition to your e-mail).

However, remember the fine art of personal contact?! Although not always necessary or practical, make the phone call – make the visit. When you do…

… you become a person(ality) – making it easier to be remembered.

… the intent of your communication will be clear – can you say innuendo… or my favorite - sarcasm!

… you get the opportunity to develop a relationship with the receptionist – your most powerful ally or enemy in any office.

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Volume 1 Number 16

Not sure I would consider this week’s Zpd.TIPs as actual marketing, rather view it as a self-reevaluation.

As of this writing, we’re still unsure what last week’s economic changes mean… perhaps nothing… but it got me thinking about how a drastic economic change might impact my clients, my business and therefore life in general. Have you considered how a downward economic trend…

  • will impact the way you do business?
  • will change the direction of your business?
  • will change your life and the life of your family?

and then…

  • how will you react?
  • are we as prepared for downward trends as we are for success?

The intent is not to depress you, rather to encourage you to make sure each day holds some meaning… and Fun!

I’ll close with a quote from the late Harry Chapin, I would encourage you to stop and think about before you delete this email and return to your hectic day…

"…it’s got to be the goin’ – not the getting there that’s good!"

in short… are you doing what you love doing – or just waiting for an IPO?

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Volume 1 Number 17

So, your web site has been designed, you’ve used keywords, meta tags and submitted to as many online searches and directories you can think of… yet your traffic is lower than you want and sometimes you can’t even find yourself… help!

Although I never give guarantees regarding search or directory placement, I do take the time to resubmit my site every sixty days or so… keeping in mind that sites such as Yahoo and Snap have rules regarding how often you can resubmit.

Has it worked for Z promotion & design? I’d like more hits (wouldn’t we all) but based on the stats I capture about my site, the major online search (yahoo, excite, hotbot, lycos, altavista) and two advertising-based directories account for most of my referrals. After all, almost half of the recipients of Zpd.TIPS found us online!

Have a great week! Spring is here (in the Northern Hemisphere)!

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Volume 1 Number 18

It may be time to review your marketing plan…

A marketing plan is a living document that is your business’ road map to success. It should be a written, physical document that is reviewed from time to time to ensure changes in your current situation and company goals are taken into account.

I always recommend a company’s marketing plan start with "today" and move toward a specific goal. Since "today" is a relative term, and goals can change – a regular review is recommended.

Zpd.TIPS is going to spend the next few issues dealing with the questions you need to answer (at least consider) as you review and/or write your marketing plan. Take this next week to review your plan and see if you think it needs an overhaul.

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Volume 1 Number 19

Last week we began our adventure into the structure of your marketing plan. To continue, consider your marketing plan in 5 sections.

1 – An Executive Overview (summary): Lays the foundations and establishes parameters for your current marketing agenda. 
2 – Market Analysis: Analyzes market trends; defines segments; evaluates your competitive strengths and weaknesses; prioritizes distribution channels and qualifies your marketing opportunities. 
3 – Marketing Strategy: Qualifies and quantifies your marketing objectives; sets time frames for break-even and profitability; details and rationalizes specific strategies and tactics; sets budget guidelines for sales and distribution. 
4 – Communications Strategy: Establishes message and media guidelines for advertising and other communications options, as well as budget guidelines. 
5 – Plan of Action: Assigns marketing tasks and responsibilities; identifies suppliers and sets up a critical path for implementing your marketing campaign. 

Next week Zpd.TIPS will begin to dissect each section…

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Volume 1 Number 20

Last week we looked at the 5 sections in a marketing plan…

The Executive Overview (summary), The Market Analysis, The Marketing Strategy, The Communications Strategy and The Plan of Action…

Because I believe the Executive Overview is best written as a summary after the other sections, that will be the last area discussed.

The Market Analysis – this section may require an outside market research firm to help you gather the information you’ll need. However, the Internet, libraries, trade journals and government statistics will give you a great place to start.

The first question you’ll need to answer… What is your company’s macro-market? In other words…

Complete this sentence: Our (company’s) total potential marketplace encompasses __________ (Project the widest market scope of practical interest you – i.e. worldwide, US only, your city?)

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Volume 1 Number 21

To review… last week Zpd.TIPS looked at the first question in the Market Analysis phase of your marketing plan…

What is your company’s macro-market? In other words…

Complete this sentence: Our (company’s) total potential marketplace encompasses __________

(Project the widest market scope of practical interest you – i.e. worldwide, US only, your city?)

As we take another step into the Market Analysis…

Complete this sentence: Our marco-market is based on (broadly define your product or service category – i.e. packaged frozen dinners, marketing/consulting services, Internet service provider, yours?), usually selling in the range of $____ to $____ per (unit, hour, square foot, yours?).

For pricing information you can check your competition’s ads or promotion literature, including the Internet.

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Volume 1 Number 22

This week the Zpd.TIPS step by step marketing plan is going to help you examine your market potential and growth…

Revenues from all sales last year in this marketplace amounted to approximately $________. A one-percent share of the market equals $_________ annual gross sales. – fill in these numbers and a realistic percentage of market share and you’re on your way to determining your market potential.

During the past several (years/quarters/months) the market has been (growing/shrinking) at a (rapid/steady/slow) rate. This rate trend is attributed to (briefly explain the reason(s) for the market trend – economic conditions/changing lifestyles/changing work styles/new technology/an aging populations/ etc…)

and finally…
Market activity is strongest among the (consumer/ business/ industrial/ institutional/ professional/ other?) sector(s).

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Volume 1 Number 23

This week the Zpd.TIPS step by step marketing plan is going to help you examine market segmentation…

Fill in the […] with your specific information.

Our [domestic/domestic and foreign] market segment(s) include [consumers/ business/ professionals/ private institutions/ public institutions/ industry/ government agencies/ others?], as defined by "Target Market Definition."

What is the "Target Market Definition"? – stay tuned.

Begin to think in terms of your market’s demographics. Next week I’ll provide a complete list of variables.

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Volume 1 Number 24

As you consider the list that follows, imagine your customer and make choices accordingly… the art of market segmentation is just beginning!

location: where does your customer live (inner city /urban/ suburban/ rural/ ?)
age: what is your customer’s age group (juvenile/ teen/ young adult/ adult/ senior/ ?)
gender: (male/female/both)
education: (high school/ university educated/ technical school/ professional degree/ ?)
occupation: (student/ retired/ professional/ blue collar/ ?)
income: (fixed/ middle-income/ $35K-$50K/ ?)
marital status: (single/ couple/ divorced/ marriage planners/ ?)
family role: (head of household/ equal partner/ breadwinner/ ?)

Next week… psychographics and sociographics… fine tuning your customer.

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Volume 1 Number 25

It’s time to look at psychographics and sociographics in our ongoing Zpd.TIPS step by step marketing plan.

Using any of these indicators will help you better identify your customers…
attitude: (decision-maker/ independent/ leader/ follower/ self-determined/ ?)
motivation: (traditional values/ protective/ comfort seeker/ status seeker/ ?)
family: (empty nest/ full nest/ expecting/ ?)
home: (single home dweller/ apartment dweller/ home owner/ renter/ ?)
recreation: (golf/ racquet sports/ jogger/ dancer/ board game/ card player/ ?)
hobbies: (cooking/ sewing/ gardening/ carpentry/ auto restoration/ reading/ ?)
entertainment: (comedy/ theater/ movies/ tv/ music/ ?)
work ethic: (hard working/ self-sacrificing/ underachiever/ initiator/ ?)
business travel: (frequent flyer/ occasional flyer/ usually drives/ train/ bus/ ?)
drives: (one car/ two cars/ new car/ domestic/ imported/ luxury/ SUV/ RV/ ?)
wears: (designer labels/ off the rack/ trendy/ casual/ bargain/ ?)
eats: (meat & potato/ health foods/ diet foods/ gourmet/ exotic/ fast food/ fine dining/ ?)
imbibes: (tobacco/ wine/ liquor/ beef/ coffee/ ?)
health & beauty: (analgesics/ antacids/ laxatives/ vitamins/ nasal sprays/ skin care/ baby care/ ?)
eco-politics: (environmentally aware/ concerned/ conservationist/ ?)
pets: (horse/ dogs/ cats/ birds/ exotic/ none/ ?)

…others you can think of…

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Volume 1 Number 26

A non-consumer target market definition may be detailed or general, depending on the nature of your business and the information available. Use as many of the following indicators as possible to sharply pinpoint your market segments.

Type: (specify the type(s) of businesses, professions and/or institutions you are targeting).
Size: (indicate small/medium/large – or indicate size by ranking in marketplace and/or by dollar sales volume and/or by number of employees and/or number of offices/outlets and/or their annual appropriations for you r product or service/etc.)
Geography: (Give location of head office / branch office(s) and/or business venue i.e. North America/Atlantic Canada/Northwestern United States/ etc.)
Decision-Maker: (names, if you know them)
Title: (specify – i.e. CEO/ President/ General Manager/ Chief Financial Officer/ Sales Manager/ Production Manager/ etc.)
Responsibilities: (briefly describe the duties – i.e. runs the organization / coordinates marketing/ supervises product development/ purchases office equipment/ etc.)
Powers: (permitter/ decision maker/ influencer/ adviser/ initiator/ motivator)
Viewpoint: (global/ departmental/ other?)
Emotional Influences: (achievement/ pride/ duty/ status/ advancement)
Practical Influences: (quality/ cost/ productivity/ efficiency/ cost-effectiveness/ safety/ security)
Limitations: (geographical/ departmental/ requires purchasing approval – specify from whom, if you know)

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Volume 1 Number 27

The Zpd.TIPS step by step marketing plan begins to look at prospective customers.

A list of prospective customers may be developed by a research company, or you might develop your own list. Many trade magazines, business journals and associations publish directories naming and often profiling their participants and members. Most of these are available through media reps. In addition, you can gather lists of potential customers through your local chamber of commerce, phone books, business newspapers and magazines and of course the Internet.

As you collect information, you should maintain a prospect list that includes:

  • Company Name:
  • Type of Business:
  • Size:
  • Person to Contact:
  • Phone / Fax / Email:
  • Address:
  • Web Address:
  • Lead Developed By:
  • Comments:

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Volume 1 Number 28

The Zpd.TIPS step by step marketing plan continues its look at prospective customers.

A brief summary of your experience with customers is an excellent and inexpensive form of market research. A single case history can provide valuable market insight, even if it only shows you what you could be doing better for your most important customer. Several case histories can help you spot trends; reinforce strengths and overcome weaknesses; target new business agents; optimize your human and financial resource; design or adapt your merchandising, advertising, and/or customer service strategies; set new goals, and anticipate changes in your infrastructure. [If case histories are too numerous to include here, append them to your marketing plan.]

(Name of Client) has been our customer since 19__/2000.
They heard about us through [our ad in the name of media/ PR in name of media/ from name of other customer/ through our telemarketing campaign/ via cold calls/ visited our booth at name of trade show/ other?]. 

They chose us for reasons of [quality/ cost/ style/ selection/ location/ service/ reputation/ other?].

Their first order was for (describe the product or service they bought and quantify in term of volume and/ or dollars).

Since that time they have [increased / decreased/ maintained] their volume with us largely due to (specify – ie. quality/ service/ price/ location/ competition/ other).

Currently they are spending about $ _____ per [month/ year] with us, and our relationship is [improving/ holding steady/ in need of review]. 

We [are/ are not] their only supplier for our type of [good/ service]. Their business with us accounts for ___% of their overall spending on similar [goods/ services].

Next year’s sales goal for this client is $______. 

This will be accomplished by (describe how you will hold and if possible build this business – ie. business as usual/ improved service/ more choice/ better price/ special promotions/ other?).

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Volume 1 Number 29

To recognize opportunity and set realistic goals it helps to know how your market "pie" is divided among the participants in that market. A more detailed competitive analysis can help you develop strategies expressly to achieve your goals. To better know your competition read what is written about them in your industry or trade journals, and what they say about themselves in their own advertising, promotional materials, annual reports, web sites, etc. Compare their products or outlets, prices and packaging. Talk to their customers, suppliers, and dealers. If possible, attend trade shows, examine your competitors’ new lines, and strike up conversations with their booth attendants and visitors.

At present our market is shared by approximately (how many?) _______ participants, ranked as follows:

Name of Competitor Current Market Share

#1 (name here) _____%

#2 (name here) _____%

#3 (name here) _____%

#4 (name here) _____%


Include your company, if you’re currently a participant.

New Participants:
During this period (how many) _____ new participants have entered this market.

Successful new participants have taken share from [major players/ all participants/ expanding market base/ other?].

New participants who succeed do so thanks to [product differentiation/ innovation/ quality or features/ greater value/ more service/ distribution/ advertising/ other?].

Those who fall out tend to do so because of [lack of product innovation/ poor quality/ high price/ high production cost/ inadequate distribution/ inconsistent communications/ competitive counter pressure/ other?].

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Volume 1 Number 30

This week the Zpd.TIPS weekly marketing plan is looking at Merchandising, Selling Position, and Price Point.

Our key competitors merchandise their [products/services] as follows: [write a brief description] -

  • you can glean most of the data from competitors’ advertising or other promotion materials, including the web, packaging and point-of-sale materials. You can also survey their customers; if not feasible to do this yourself, talk to a market research provider –

Selling Position
Name each competitor and describe their main selling point(s) in any of the following areas; repeat this process of each of your competitors.

Performance/ Function: (specify – e.g. "competitor #1 positions their frozen dinners as "Low Calorie dishes that taste good enough to actually eat").

Features / Bells and Whistles / Guarantees: (e.g. "competitor #1 guarantees satisfaction or your money back).

Breadth of line/ Options: (e.g. "competitor #1 pushes variety with their "Celebrity Chefs of the World" position that lets you "Dine in a Different County Each Night").

Reliability / Delivery:
Durability/ Service Life:
Serviceability/ Ease of Repair/ Quality of Service:
Aesthetics/ Style/ Color/ Touch and Feel:
Quality Image/ Reputation:
Craftsmanship/ Expertise:
Prestige/ Popularity/ Acceptance:
Price/ Value:
Availability/ Accessibility:

Price Point
Indicate price range for each direct competitor’s entry – i.e. $ _______ to $ ______/ premium price/ high end/ competitive price/ mid range/ bargain price/ economy/.

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Volume 1 Number 31

(indicate the channels through which each competitor’s entry reaches the end-user, as follows)

Direct – via [media advertising/ sales force/ manufacturer’s representative/ direct mail/ showrooms/ proprietary outlets/ in-home/ telemarketing/ trade shows/ internet/ other?]

Through Retail Stores – via [jobbers/ wholesale distributors/ others?]

Through resellers or repackagers [i.e.: direct marketers/ chains/ original equipment manufacturers/ others?]

Our Competitors’ Strength and Weaknesses:
Our key competitors’ most notable strengths and weaknesses are: (briefly describe the strength and weaknesses for each key competitor, in the following areas: )

Product / Service Strengths:
Performance / Function: (eg: competitors #2’s frozen dinners deliver a large, satisfying portion with relatively few calories.)
Features / "Bells & Whistles"/ Guarantees:
Breadth of Line/ Options:
Reliability / Delivery:
Durability / Service Life:
Serviceability / Ease of Repair / Quality of Service:
Aesthetics / Style / Color / Touch & Feel:
Quality Image / Reputation:
Craftsmanship / Expertise:
Prestige / Popularity / Acceptance:
Price / Value:
Availability / Accessibility:

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Volume 1 Number 32

Last week I said we would look at your competitors’ product/service weaknesses. Well to keep this short, apply your competitors’ weaknesses to last week’s (strengths) list. That will give you your competitors’ product/services strengths and weaknesses.

Now, this week’s installment of the Zpd.TIPS weekly marketing plan looks at your competitor’s marketing strengths and weaknesses.

Competitor Marketing Strengths/Weaknesses:
(Indicate each key competitor’s marketing strengths in any of the following areas. Then show their weaknesses in the same areas regarding poor performance or known failures.)

Franchise/ Brand Awareness/ Customer Loyalty
Market Segmentation
Dealer Network
Sales Force
Marketing Budgets
Supplier Support
Purchasing Leverage
Materials and Labor Costs

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Volume 1 Number 33

Over the past few weeks we’ve been looking at our competitors – their strengths and weaknesses in marketing and products/services. This week we’ll wrap up the competition with an examination of their corporate strengths and weaknesses.

Your Competitors’ Corporate Strengths/Weaknesses:
(Isolate each key competitor’s corporate strengths and their corporate weaknesses [in terms of poor performance] in the following areas.)

Financial Resources/ Leverage
Human Resources

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Volume 1 Number 34

How you optimize your strengths and overcome your weaknesses defines your marketing plan. So evaluate your liabilities as objectively as you do your assets.

Our product/services strengths and weakness…

We can differentiate our offering from the competitions’ in terms of…
Features/ Bells and Whistles / Guarantees
Breadth of line / Options
Reliability / Delivery
Durability / Service Life
Serviceability / Ease of Repair / Quality of Service
Aesthetics / Style/Color / Touch and Feel
Quality Perception / Image / Reputation
Craftsmanship / Expertise
Prestige / Popularity / Acceptance
Price / Value
Availability / Accessibility

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Volume 1 Number 35

This is week 35 of Zpd.TIPs and as the step-by-step marketing plan makes its slow and steady progress it’s time to take a look at goal setting for your company.

Goal setting requires both facts and vision.
Facts about the size and makeup of your market and the real costs of developing that market.

Vision to see how far you really might go, within the finite parameters of your market and resources. You may envision opportunity beyond your immediate means. In which case you have two options. You can start small and "roll out" into additional markets as your business grows. Or, you can look for venture capital, Government grants, bank financing or wealthy relative and friends.

Long-Term Goals
Within (how many?) _____ [months/ quarters/ years] we expect to capture a minimum ___ % share of the market segment(s) we defined earlier in the marketing plan. This share amounts to about $________ gross annual revenues.

Short-Term Goals
Our immediate goal is to reach $________ in sales within (how many) ______ weeks/ months.
Break even should occur within (how many) _______ weeks/months.

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Volume 1 Number 36

Today, as promised Zpd.TIPs takes a closer look at determining your break-even point.
Your break-even point occurs when your up-front investment has been recovered through revenues from sales. You’ll be better able to calculate this point after determining your marketing strategy and communications strategy.

Upon reaching break-even we will begin to realize a net profit of approximately $_______ per sale, against gross revenues of $_______.

Profit equals Price minus Cost.
Price and cost elements to factor into this equation are developed in the weeks to come.

Reinvestment of _____% of profits (figure 10% - 100%) following break-even will be necessary to pay for (specify – e.g. additional product development/ market rollout/ line extension/ packaging upgrade/ increased media advertising/ other?)

Investment –
To reach our short-term sales objectives we will need to spend $____ during the first (how many) _________ weeks/months. In addition to this amount, a cushion of $______ (figure 5-15%) is considered prudent to cover unforeseen costs and to provide tactical maneuverability. Our marketing costs after reaching break-even will be paid out of cash flow from sales.

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Volume 1 Number 37

Product Strategy time... as the Zpd.TIPS step-by-step marketing plan continues.

Product Strategy looks at Positioning, Pricing and Packaging. Zpd.TIPS, in living up to its commitment of brevity, will break these into 2 weeks.

Positioning –
Our selling position will be based on ______ (single out the key selling points as you determined them under "product/service strengths" with secondary emphasis on _____ (list the secondary benefits your product or service).

Pricing –
As you previously determined, the average price to the end-user for competitive [products/services] is $ ______ per [unit/ sale/ hour/ etc]. The high-end market range starts at around $_______ and reaches $______. The low end starts around $_____ and drops to $______.

The wholesale commission to [distributors/ jobbers/ manufacturers reps / agents/ other?] average ____% of price to the end user (figure 15-25%).
Retail margins average ____% of price to the end-user (figure 35-50%).
Markups by direct-marketers come to _____% (figure up to 100%).
Total reseller markups come to _____% price to the end-user.
Our product will be prices to compete in the [middle/ upper/ lower] price range, at $_______ per unit.
This price point will [cover wholesale and retail margins/ support our quality image/ enhance value perception/ give us a perceived-value advantage vis-à-vis competition/ other?].
We will offer a _____% discount to (indicate to which markets you might offer a discount [seniors/ students/ schools/ other?].

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Volume 1 Number 38

Product Packaging

Select A or B from the list below –
A – Packaging is integral to our [quality image/ brand personality/ shelf impact/ value perception/ freshness/ convenience of use/ merchandising/ shipping requirement/ other?]
B – Packaging is not critical to our strategy because (explain why not – we sell direct, so shelf impact is not critical/ other?).

Our packaging is shown in [appendix #___ / page #____/ exhibit #____].

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Volume 1 Number 39

Market Strategy
Begin with the "Scope" by completing this statement as it applies to your business.

Our marketplace encompasses (i.e. Metropolitan New York/ Midwest/ America Free Trade Zone/ Western Hemisphere/ Worldwide/ other?).

Now, select either A or B
A – Our budget and infrastructure allow for immediate distribution and communications support throughout this marketplace. or....

B – We will roll-out into this marketplace in measured phases as follows:

Phase 1 markets include (specify initial marketplace – eg. The Maritimes/ New England/ Montreal/ Atlanta/ Southwestern US/ yours?)

Phase 1 activities include establishing distribution and supporting sales via communications strategies (to be outlined later in the communications strategies section).

Phase 1 sales objectives are set at $ ________ gross revenues.

Phase 1 goals should be reached within (how many) ________ weeks/ months/ quarters.

"Green Flag" to proceed to Phase 2 will go up when Phase 1 sales projections have been reached.

"Red Flag" will go up if Phase 1 objectives are not met within the pre-mentioned timelines. In that event we would reevaluate our objectives and strategies.

Phase 2 markets will encompass (next larger market scope – eg. Atlantic Provinces/ California/ Canada/ US/ North America

Phase 3 markets will encompass?

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Volume 1 Number 40

This week the Zpd.TIPS step-by-step marketing strategy looks at your Sales & Distribution Strategy

Direct Sales
[Most/ Some/ All] sales will be through resellers, as follows:

Direct Sales will be through [direct-mail catalogue/ telemarketing/ company-owned stores/ company-owned showrooms/ expositions/ promotional tie-ins/ others?]

Sales to Resellers:
[Most/ Some/ All] sales will be through resellers, as follows:

Type of Reseller: (specify – eg: distributors/ jobbers/ manufacturer’s reps/ franchisees/ OEMs/ other?)
Markets Served: (specify for each reseller)
Commission on Sale: _____% of resale price = $_____per unit.

Some wholesalers in highly competitive markets charge a fee for taking on a new product line; this is in addition to their standard commission on sales. This one-time fee covers advertising or other sell-in costs they might incur to get your product into the stores they serve. Some distributors will take on new lines only on consignment: you don’t get paid until your products sell off the shelf. In most cases, you must guarantee to take back or give credits on merchandise that fails to sell-out.

Retailers impacting our market include:

Type of outlet Markets Served Number of Outlets
Chains – (specify: grocery/ drugs/ sporting goods/ fashions/ linens/ hardware/ other?)
Specialty Outlets (specify: florists/ pet shops/ computer stores/ party stores/ other?)
Direct Marketers
Network Marketers
Home Party Marketers

Total Outlets ________

Marketplace Served: (specify for each outlet).
Sales to resellers will be accomplished by a sales force organized as follows:

Corporate: VP Sales and Marketing/ Other?
National: National Sales Manager/ Other?
Regional: Eastern Sales Manager / Central Sales Manager/ other?
Line: (How Many) ______ salespersons (under each regional sales manager)
Quota guidelines will be established by [VP Sales & Marketing/ National Sales Manager/ Other?]

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Volume 1 Number 41

This week the Zpd.TIPS step-by-step marketing strategy looks at your
Selling Tactics
Sales leads will be developed by: (select from these or add your own)

A – telephone calls by sales personnel/telemarketing company – as will be determined by your communications strategy (coming up in a few weeks)

B – cold visits by sales personnel

C – response driven direct mail promotions to prospects, containing (promotional letter/ product flyer/ company or product brochure/ product samples/ price lists/ response mechanisms (also to be determined in the communications strategy section)

D – response driven media advertising, per guidelines established in the communications strategy section

E – trade shows/consumer shows, per guidelines established in the communications strategy section

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Volume 1 Number 42

Selling Tools/Deals/Incentives

note: Selling tools refers to any communications materials designed to help sales personnel, dealers or distributors sell your product or service. A selling tool may be as simple as a catalog price list or as sophisticated as video presentation. "Deals" are extra discounts or bonus quantities used to leverage sell-in to stores. "Incentives" are rewards or bonuses for meeting specified sales or purchase quotas.

From the list below select A and/or B C...

A – selling tools will include:

  • Samples (provided by you to resellers, to help them sell)
  • Demos (Indicate if demos will be offered free or for a self-liquidating price)
  • Pamphlets/ Brochures/ Catalogues/ Specification-Price sheets
  • Pouch Folders/ Presentation Binders (containing printed materials, graphics)
  • Audio-Visual Presentations (graphs/ slides/ videocassette)
  • Ad Slicks (dealer ad with space for store logo)
  • Other?

B – Sell-In deals will include (Specify – eg. fully paid or co-op advertising; merchandisers; special deal price/ bonus quantities, gifts and/or other considerations/ other?)

C – Incentives will include (Specify – eg. performance-driven bonus plan/ vacation trips/ car allowances/ stock options/ gift merchandise/ frequent-user points/ other?)

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Volume 1 Number 43

Customer Service Strategy

Customer satisfaction is crucial to a "Total Quality" approach. To make sure we provide the highest level of customer service, the following programs and procedures will be fundamental to our service philosophy:
from the list below, select A and/or B C D:

A – Inventory:
Sufficient stocks will be maintained at (Specify eg: company’s warehouse(s)/distributors’ facilities/ other?)
Our inventory system will be computerized
Back-Up suppliers will be arranged
Just-In-Time production methods will be used

B – Order Processing:
Orders will be speedily processed via (specify: eg: computer system/ network with regional distributors/ field personnel via link/ LAN/ Fax/ Cellular/ Modem/ Web/ Other?)
Method of payment will be [terms/ letters of credit/ COD/ credit card/ retainer/ other?]

C – Delivery:
On-time delivery will be ensured to the best of our ability via use of (specify: ie: air-freight/ company’s rolling stock/ distributor’s rolling stock/ field personnel/ express courier/ first class mail/ automatic stocking/ Internet/ other?)

D – Support Services:
Customers will be given (Itemize customer services – ie: guarantees/ warrantees/ financing assistance/ try-before-you-buy rental program/ 1-800-HELPLINE/ on-line technical support/ classroom training/ fast spare parts delivery/ 24-hour field service/ Internet help/ other?)

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Volume 1 Number 44

Budget Guidelines

Some of your sales and distribution costs cannot be estimated before you have obtained estimates from your suppliers. A list of suppliers, as well as budget guidelines for advertising and other methods of communications will be developed as your marketing plan progresses.

To implement our sales and distribution strategies, moneys will be allocated as follows:

Itemize costs for options selected previously:
Selling Tools: $____________
Distribution Fees: $____________
Customer Support: $____________
Other: $____________
Total: $____________

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Volume 1 Number 45

Marketing Communications Strategy

The topics we will cover during the upcoming weeks include:

Advertising, Sales Promotion, Direct Mail, Telemarketing, Publicity/Public Relations, Events Marketing, Shows & Expositions, Brochures & Collaterals, Budget Guidelines.

Marketing success largely depends on communicating the right selling message to the right market, in the right manner, at the right time. Media advertising, the traditional vehicle of the selling message (sometimes equated with the message itself) may be used on its own or mixed with more interactive or cost-effective communications modes, depending on your business and/or market. Ad agencies and media buying companies earn a commission (typically 15%) on advertising they place for a client, however media planning and other related services may be obtained for a fee.

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Volume 1 Number 46

Advertising Guidelines

Media Advertising refers to any paid advertising carried into a market via the Media – from a classified ad in a small newspaper to a network TV campaign.

The Media measure advertising value and set their rates based on GRPs (gross rating points) – the product of "reach" multiplied by "frequency".

Reach – tells you the size of your market in any give media, usually based on circulation or viewing audience.

Frequency – the number of times your ad appears in that media during a campaign period, or flight.

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Volume 1 Number 47

Media Advertising Objectives

complete these sentences:
Consistent with budget guidelines and all other guidelines established in the section, advertising in selected media will be [the principal component of/ a key component of/ a minor component of] our marketing communications campaign.

Media Advertising allow us to reach [all/some] important market segments, as previously defined in our market segmentation section.

The principal role of our advertising will be to: (from the list below select option which answer your specific marketing objectives and/or which optimize/overcome the "strengths and weaknesses" previously identified in this marketing plan).

  • Create top-of-mind awareness for our [company/ brand/ product/ service (and/or) outlet(s)].
  • Create the desired [corporate/ brand] image, consistent with Creative Guideline –to be established –
  • Create a predisposition on the part of our prospects to buy our product/service, when a representative calls.
  • Generate sales leads/customer inquiries [via a response mechanism – coupon/ 1-800 number/ etc.]
  • Generate dealer inquiries [via ads in media read by distributors and dealers].
  • Produce an immediate purchase response [via 1-800 number/ order form/ etc.]
  • Support retailers [via fully paid or co-op advertising].
  • Attract investors [via corporate ads in business and financial media].

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Volume 1 Number 48

Free Advertising

Leverage editorial coverage

Editorial coverage is free advertising with which many magazines support their paid advertisers. Media sales representatives certainly can’t guarantee you editorial coverage, but they can sometimes influence editors or at least give you the names of editors or freelance writers most likely to pick up your story. So don’t be reticent when dealing with media representatives. To help close a deal for your advertising dollars, they can prove to be very helpful.

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Volume 1 Number 49

Message Guidelines

Complete these sentences to help you determine your message...

  • Our focus of sale will be: (indicate your central selling idea or unique selling proposition, based on your Product Strengths – determined earlier in the marketing plan [vol. 1 no.34]
  • Secondary emphasis will be placed on (list other important selling points – e.g. “seven gourmet recipes”/ “cholesterol free” /  “convenient to prepare and serve” / yours?)
  • The desired response will be: (consider the motivation you want your advertising to produce – e.g. remember our name/ rush out and buy / for more information return the coupon below/ order now by phoning this toll-free number/ yours?) 
  • Brand/Corporate Identity: (indicate whether your company name or brand logo should be prominent or discrete; note whether a new logo is to be developed; also if a logo applications manual will be needed).

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Volume 1 Number 50

Creative Guidelines

to help determine your creative

  • Advertising in all media employed must be relevant, easy to understand and consistent in tone and manner. 
  • Advertising should reflect the following [corporate/brand] personality characteristics: Contemporary/ Traditional/ Trendy/ Wholesome/ Successful/ Fun to be with/ Safe/ Reliable/ yours?

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