Internet Marketing Opportunities in Developing Countries

Before we Start, Chuck the Term: “Third World”
At the outset, and without wanting to offend, please allow me to caution about the use of the term “third world”. “Third world” and “third world countries” are outdated and politically insensitive terms, having the connotation of inferiority, backwardness, sub-standard, low etc., and also denotes inferiority of the people of those countries. Something like: “Third grade people live in third world countries”. It is terminology associated with and rooted in imperialism, colonialism and the oppressive regimes of the “superior conquerors”

Perceptions of and Approaches to Developing Countries are Crucial for Marketing Success in those Countries
Notwithstanding the above and without venturing into the very role of imperialism and colonization in the creation of these discrepancies, the reality of wealthier and poorer nations cannot be negated. Hence, the more acceptable and less patronizing terms for “third world” would be “developing countries”, or better still, “emerging market economies”. I think a shift in how people in emerging market countries are referred to and perceived would probably be a prerequisite for successful business and marketing ventures in such countries. It is inevitable that the perceptions and attitudes about the people targeted for marketing purposes will infiltrate the marketing approach and strategies.

Developing countries: Fertile Ground for Home Business Opportunities
Human beings have vastly more in common than the differentials of income, status and standard of living. As much as poorer people may not have the material means to be perceived as potential customers or clients, as much should their aspirations, their drive and hence their potential to achieve and succeed never be underestimated. With this in mind I have no doubt that the market for products with skills development and income generating components integral to them, is absolutely massive and gravely neglected in developing countries! Just consider this against the background of the sky high levels of unemployment in developing countries. In the vast majority of cases unemployment = poverty. However, unemployment does not equal a lack of ability. More often than not is it merely about the absence of opportunity which is sadly overwhelmingly more prevalent in emerging market economies. Furthermore, there are a disproportionately higher number of well-qualified and computer literate unemployed people in developing countries compared to the number in developed countries. Hence, developing countries offer very fertile ground and untapped opportunities for quality home based work and business opportunities.

Internet Affiliate Marketing is Ideal for Developing Countries
This is especially true for internet marketing type positions that require a nominal financial investment to get started, and more so for affiliate marketing positions where the products have been tested and tried and where comprehensive guidelines for an effective internet marketing campaign are provided together with the tools, including product websites, to greatly enhance the chances of marketing success.

In considering the developing world for marketing purposes it must also be borne in mind that all developing countries have a strong developed component. In fact, there is a middle-class boom taking place in most of the developing world with the economic growth rate of many developing countries by far surpassing that of developed countries. This is the reason why these developing countries are also referred to as emerging market economies. It tells us a tremendous lot about the potential of these countries for new business opportunities.

3 Of the Best Offline Business Development Strategies

There are multitudes of marketing strategies, both online and offline.

However, the very best and most effective strategies, which you have the most control over, are those that target your ideal clients directly.

Think of these two scenarios:

Scenario 1: You purchase a list of 1,000 contacts that meet your criteria of an ideal client profile. Think about marketing to that list of 1,000 names.

Scenario 2: Be really specific in who you would like as a client, and do the research and draw up a list of five or ten companies and the names of the appropriate people inside them you would like to work with.
Think about marketing to those ten people – to Jane, and Mark, and Jeff, and Sally and…

Doesn’t having a very clear picture of who you are marketing to make you hone in on what your messages need to be? Why would those people want or need to work with you? Why is your solution the right one for them? Why would they choose you over other businesses?

Visualising the people you want to market to, versus a nameless ‘list’ will definitely improve your chances of success. If you use all or some of these strategies, you will be able to market to your selected five or ten people directly and personally.

The concept of directly marketing to your ideal client applies equally for B2C marketing, but the execution and scale will obviously vary. This example focuses more on B2B marketing.

Strategy 1: Referrals – But Not a ‘System’

There are many ways to do this as a ‘system’, but my personal preference is to ask for referrals and introductions from clients who love you.

Turning referrals into a ‘system’ has an air of entitlement, and I don’t think that contributes to good business practice. I know that when people hand me a deck of cards (yes, a deck… could be their business cards or cards with a special introductory offer) and ask me to give them out to people, it usually bothers me. On the one hand, I feel a sense of obligation, simply because I’ve been asked, and on the other hand, I feel that the relationship has been ‘violated’ in some way because I now have an onus of obligation by receiving the cards!!

I don’t need cards to refer people to new business opportunities. I do it all the time. A personal referral is far more compelling than handing someone a card with a special offer – I think.

If you ask clients and connectors who love you, if they could refer you to someone who has a business or challenges ‘just like theirs’, you have a far greater chance of being introduced to a really great contact who could become a prospect.

By turning a personal form of marketing into a ‘system’ with expectations and an onus of obligation on others, in my opinion, is not the way to do it.

Done the right way, with the right people, this is a great strategy to connect directly and personally with the right people.

Strategy 2: Outreach to Specific Targets

As outlined above in scenarios one and two, an outreach program is likely to have more impact when you have more control over who your target market is. If you think in terms of specific contacts, you can then start thinking about how you reach out to those individuals in those companies to introduce yourself and your business. You can see them in their office; you can develop a sense of what they would respond to and what sort of communication would have the most impact.

When you draw up your list of ten, let’s say, be clear about the industry or niche they are in, the size of the business, their challenges, and think about the real fears and frustrations of the people you want to target.

When you have that information, you can start to craft your message:

  • what do you need to say to get their attention
  • what do you want them to know about you
  • what do you want them to do?

You have complete control over who you contact and how you reach them. Learn as much about them as you can before you prepare your marketing campaign.

There are many ways to implement an outreach program, including the next strategy. Typically, it includes mail (email or direct mail pieces via postal mail), phone, in person follow up, special offers, invitations and calls to action (you want your prospects to do something once you’ve contacted them).

My final piece of advice on this strategy is this: what would work for you? What have people done in the past to get past the gatekeeper and get to you (in a good way, not in a way that has a negative impact on you)? Use this as a screening test for your program strategy, before you send out the first piece of your outreach program.

Strategy 3: Host Your Own Events

When you host, you have control over the guests, the format, the selling and marketing around it. That’s what makes this such a great strategy.

Reasons for an event:

  • a celebration of something
  • a launch of something (product, service, alliance, new business unit, book, etc)
  • calendar events: end of financial year, Spring Racing Carnival (for those in Melbourne), Grand Final Eve (for those now in all states of Australia), Christmas, etc.
  • Entertainment – speaker, entertainer, music etc
  • Social – good food, good wine, good group of people, music, fun

Keys to remember:

  • The purpose is to make new contacts and likely prospects
  • Ask your guests to invite a friend or colleague who may be interested in knowing your company or other guests (if you ask the right clients and connectors to do this, they’ll bring the right kinds of guests for you to meet. You don’t want someone to bring the junior from their office – because that doesn’t achieve your goals as host).
  • The goal is to create a great experience for your known guests, as well as your new guests, and send the right messages to the people you are trying to get to know and turn into prospects
  • Do it well – don’t skimp, make it a quality event, and again do the ‘test’ – ask yourself if you’d have fun if you were a guest.

Offline strategies are always required as part of your overall marketing program.

Business Process Consulting – Business Development and Risk Management

Succession planning is a critical linchpin in building the bench strength of a business into a positive long-term future, as well as a key element of business risk management. Most of the business literature on this particular subject focuses on succession planning as an exiting strategy. This focus is a strategic blunder.

The emphasis on succession planning as an activity to be considered and implemented toward the end of the business life cycle is wrong-headed. Such emphasis represents a short-sighted perspective, characterized by a significant lack of strategic thought and intent. It is particularly surprising, given the current demographic changes and trends in the market.

Some of these key trends that need to be considered from a corporate team building and strategic perspective, in analysing both the internal and external environment include:

  • an aging population
  • labor and skills shortages
  • the emergence of Generations ‘X’ and ‘MTV’ into management roles, and
  • an increasing number of women assuming management and leadership roles in business.

Business owners and managers need to be open to employing people who are better than they are and different to them. This willingness becomes a crucial attribute in underpinning productive succession planning. Effective business owners and managers regard such planning as an opportunity for ongoing growth and development for themselves and their businesses.

Thinking about succession at the recruitment stage is therefore critical for the ongoing success of the business, as its principals and managers move toward leaving their company for whatever reason.

Successful business owners and effective managers are committed to bringing the next generation of leaders on from the very outset. To that end, the three critical strategic decisions that must be made are to:

  1. recruit learners
  2. create a developmental culture, and
  3. inculcate leadership as a function that delivers results.

One – Recruit Learners

Aligning succession planning in business begins when people are first recruited into the company.

In the employment of new people, demonstrable technical skills or experience, managing with and through others, and verbal and numerical reasoning capabilities are all-important elements to be considered.

But by far, the most critical factor to consider is that the people being recruited into your business must be avid learners and open to ongoing learning and development. No other single attribute will prove as meaningful in their prospects for long term success.

Two – Create a Developmental Culture

The developmental culture that we want to create in our business environment is underpinned and informed by the people at the top. The people at the top, therefore, must themselves be lifelong learners. Furthermore, they must embody the desired development culture of the value based business by being open to new ideas, by listening intently and by incorporating different ways of looking at things into the business environment.

They must model the development that they want to encourage in the people around them.

One of the risks in creating this type of business environment is the loss of good people to other businesses. It happens. People do get “poached,” and they do move on. On the other hand, when engaging in the risk management of adopting this approach, one must ask the following question:

“What would happen if we did not develop our people, and they decide to stay?”

In the end, a developmental culture in a business attracts talent like a magnet, since prospective employees see the business as one that offers more than merely a paycheck. On balance, this capacity to attract good people should more than offset any risk of losing them.

Three – View Leadership as a Function that Delivers Results

Succession planning is reinforced throughout the value based business by the pragmatic philosophy that leadership is taking responsibility for getting things done, not a position that is held.

Organizations are much flatter than in the past, which means that the hierarchy is now created by the alignment of the Mission, Vision and Values of the business, as well as by its strategic business objectives.

Leadership is a function. Leadership is the ability to see a gap between what is and what should be and the willingness to take responsibility for closing it. Leadership can also be the ability to create a gap between what is and what should be, where such a gap is necessary to propel the business forward, and, then, taking responsibility for closing it.

By defining it this way, leadership becomes an activity that can be learned, demonstrated and taught, at any and all levels of your business.

Web Business Development – The Rewards and Pitfalls of Going Online

Introduction

If you have never considered a web site for your business, ask yourself how much business you would have without your telephone. For centuries, businesses worked just fine without them, but now it’s hard to imagine operating a business without one. At some point, every organization had to make a choice to install a phone line or risk going belly-up. A similar make-or-break point is quickly approaching for businesses without a web site. What debatably is a luxury now will soon become a necessity. But as scary as this scenario may seem, there are steps you can take to make sure your business enterprise makes the transition successfully and, in the process, capitalize on the new avenues to the customer that a web site creates.

So, What is It and What Can It Do? To get us started by using the simplest of terms, the internet can be considered a network of computers around the world sharing information. An individual personal computer that requests the information is called a “client” and the numerous computers that store and dish out the information are called “servers.” A web site is simply a collection of related web pages served from a single server. Pages can be “static” (displaying predetermined pictures and text, also known as “content”) or “dynamic” (interactive pages that can be changed by the visitor). Most web sites for small businesses are stored and operated by a server maintained by an internet service provider, or “host.” Before a web site can be exposed to the world, a host must be chosen. Common considerations in choosing a host are cost, storage space, reliability, security, programming languages supported, and speed (if you’ve ever wondered why some web pages take so long to download to your browser, the speed of the host server is one limiting factor).

The name of the web site (www.getsolidblue.com for example) is called the “domain name.” A master list of domain names is maintained that tells a client which server to contact when a page from a given domain is requested by a browser. Before a web site can be opened, a domain name must be purchased (these can be cheap — mine was $5 per year — or expensive, if the domain name has already been purchased by a “broker,” who holds the domain name hostage until it is sold to the highest bidder). A fancy, expensive domain name is not necessary for most small businesses (all of the common variations on solidblue.com were already taken, for example, so I simply named my site getsolidblue.com instead).

Things to Consider Before Staking Your E-Claim The most important consideration before you jump into the online business world is what your site will be used to do and how complex you want it to be, as this will greatly influence your ultimate cost. If you simply want to tell people what products or services you sell, a small static site will do. If you want potential customers to take an action on your site, like purchase your products (“e-commerce”) or request a catalog, you will need a developer to write the instructions for your application (also known as “code”). Brainstorming possible things to put on a site is one of the real joys of owning one. A distinction must be made at this point between “design” and “development.” While the terms are often used interchangeably, they can in fact require very different skills. For the purpose of this conversation, “design” refers to the attractive placement of graphics and text on a page and “development” refers to the creation of a full application which could include forms for the user to fill out, buttons for ordering and paying for products, and so forth. The complexity of the site is usually determined by its purpose. Advertising by itself requires the sound use of design elements, while e-commerce or another functional purpose also requires proper development, including efficient access to product information, secure order processing, and an intelligent storage scheme for customer account information.

Keep in mind that advertising online is completely different than advertising in a newspaper or on television. The latter are passive media, requiring nothing of the consumer other than looking at the message. The web is an interactive medium, requiring the consumer to actively seek you out. A good way to attract potential customers to your site is by offering them something just for visiting. For example, a carpet retailer might offer a tutorial on the best way to install carpet, which might in turn cause the customer to choose that particular carpet retailer when he or she is ready to purchase.

Another major consideration is whether your site will require a “database.” A database is a storage place for information, organized to store information (or “data”) in a logical and efficient manner. The many uses and inherent power of databases can make a dynamic web site a critical business tool. They can be used to store product information (including pictures), customer purchases and preferences, and even the text and graphics that will appear on your web pages.

That last item is called “content management” and is quickly becoming an expected feature of a well-designed web site. It allows the web site owner to make changes to his or her site by simply changing the data in the database, without requiring a call to the web site developer or designer. It can be used to change the price or description of a product, or to promote weekly or monthly specials or promotions.

Jumping In: What to Look For and what to Avoid Finding the right designer is key to the success of your web project. Do a quick search online and count the number of web designers offering “Three pages for $999!” or similarly vague promises. Purchasing a web site for your business should not be treated like a trip to the local strip mall to buy sneakers. It will be the face of your business for every potential customer that visits it, and the first impression it gives will stick in the visitor’s mind, for better or worse. As such a flexible opportunity to express the merits and values of your business, it makes little sense to adopt a generic, one-size-fits-all strategy.

Designers operating such budget shops depend on high volume to turn a profit. You are unlikely to get any kind of individualized attention, and if you want the technical aspects explained to you in even general terms, you’ll probably be directed to a vanilla “frequently asked questions” list. In addition, changes to your initial design may be prohibitively expensive (this is where budget operations make the bulk of their money), the code may well be insecure and shoddy, and proprietary language in the contract may even prohibit you from allowing a third-party to alter the code.

Likewise, designers that charge flat hourly rates for work performed may be a poor bet as well. You may be charged for things that you could easily do yourself, like registering a domain name, or regularly changing content (provided a robust content management feature is not included in the original design). The open-ended nature of the hourly pricing model leaves you open to cost overruns, as well, and you can bet the designer will try to take as long as possible to get the most money out of you.

A much better option is using a local, flat-fee consultant to create your web site. Your project will be given individual attention, and you will actually be able to meet the person to whom you are entrusting the online aspect of your business. A flat-fee model also ensures that you will know exactly what you are getting and exactly what it will cost. Think about it: don’t you feel better taking your car in to a trusted mechanic and securing an estimate before the work is actually performed? Why would your business deserve any less?

Other things to be wary of are promises to submit your site to 10,000 search engines or something similar. In fact, there are only a handful of search engine providers (like Yahoo!, Google, Ask.com, and MSN) and the others use these mega-indexes to return their results. Also, submitting your URL to search engines is often free and very easy to do; don’t pay someone to do it for you unless you just don’t have a few minutes to do it yourself. If you think search engine positioning is critical to the success of your business, find an advertising agency that specializes in it. Similarly, if you expect the content of your site to change periodically, insist on (and be prepared to pay for) a good conent management system.

Conclusion There is no business that can’t benefit from a well-conceived and well-designed web site. From providing a convenient contact point and advertising space to delivering an easy and secure way to order your products to granting others a way to view internal information that might otherwise be delivered by paper, a proper web site can make or break a business in the 21st century. Key to success is knowing exactly what you want your web site to be and finding the right designer to create it. That would be someone who truly is a “consultant” and not simply someone who will throw things together for the lowest price.

With intelligent planning and a little creative thinking, you will find owning and running a web site to be an incredibly rewarding aspect of doing business.