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Our firm has been working with Anne Yeiser for many years. She has provided us with valuable guidance in technical marketing and communication projects and other initiatives. Anne has always demonstrated professionalism, and dedication to our needs. She has helped us grow our business, and we intend to continue to rely on her expertise for many years to come. I recommend her without reservation.

Kim Wickliffe, CEO
Kentuckiana Nursing
Kentuckiana EncouragerCare

Wolf Mountain's property owners are from all over the country, with some year-round residents and others visiting at various times. Keeping them all up to date can be a challenge. Our website Forum and Blog by Day Communications help us perform that task and they work very well. We recommend Day Communications for website work.

Harry Micka,
POA Manager

Wolf Mountain

Dear Anne,
Your dedication to quality has enhanced the image of The History Link through our new website... THANK YOU tremendously! Your technical knowledge of developing a state-of-the-art website was obvious as you applied many unique options, plus in the total finished product. Your sense of creativity is also apparent from page to page; you even enhanced our corporate logo. Your professionalism was appreciated throughout the project, through thorough communication, consistently, and expert advice.The website you created several years ago for Master of Ceremonies is still getting a “WOW” response from our potential clients. That is why we only considered Day Communications to produce this new website. As today’s clients are searching the website for such event marketing services first, we have to engage them in that first impression. The History Link website will do just that, again THANKS TO YOU! I heartily recommend DAY Communications to anyone seeking not only website creation and development services, but any areas of your expertise. Most sincerely,

Linda Surbeck, CSEP, CEO Master of Ceremonies

Anne Yeiser completely redesigned and continues to update the CEC website to keep our school relevant with continual changes affecting online user experience. Anne always communicates quickly and rapidly updates changes for needs such as closing classes as students enroll. Her web design and customer service would be an asset to any business.

Beverly Clark, Director
Christian Educational Consortium

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Simple Research for Better Sales

Why and how to do simple research to improve your market odds

You don't need a Ph.D. in marketing research to practice it. Using simple methods you can discover most of what you need to know in order to successfully market your product or service.

For knowledge about the marketplace and your industry, simply read and listen. Read one national newspaper at least once a week, a news magazine or two of opposing editorial viewpoints, the most important trade journals of your industry; attend business meetings, and watch TV news and analysis programs. Visit websites of the news media giants and your industry's trade association or join pertinent newsgroups and read their articles. Do all of this with an eye toward how the trends will affect your firm. Open your eyes and ears to what is going on. What could be a more simple method of doing research than that?

For knowledge about your offering, try a simple technique called Attributes Listing. Research means to travel through, to survey; it is careful, systematic, patient study and investigation in some field of knowledge, undertaken to discover or establish facts or principles. Attributes Listing is a way of creative problem solving. It's an idea finding method--a simple research technique. You want to discover everything pertaining to what you offer. Next make a list of benefits. Sometimes these overlap with attributes, but they are the aspects of your product that benefit the customer, not simply its descriptive features.

A research technique that can help in listing benefits is Brainstorming. First, state the problem, such as, "What features of  this product will most benefit my customer?" Then, going around the table each person makes a statement and no one is allowed to criticize or even  analyze the statements made. All ideas, no matter how crazy, are important contributions. Someone keeps a list of the ideas which can be later evaluated and studied in depth.

Next, try a Competitor Analysis Matrix, another simple research technique. Make a grid by putting the names of two to five of your competitors across the top, and down the side you will have your list of attributes which has both your strengths and your weaknesses clearly delineated. Now fill in the blanks under your competition's headings and see how your offerings stack up. Be sure to compare your pricing with theirs and your advertising with theirs as well as all aspects of your marketing program.

Another simple technique is the direct-response split run or more simply, split testing. If you are sending out a direct mail letter to try to get people to call you, send two letters to a random sampling, each with a different lead paragraph or headline. This can be easily done, especially with your own computer. You will see whether one approach has a greater appeal than the other. Then do the larger mailing using the most successful lead in.

Finally, do research on your prospect. One expert says you should know 25 needs of your prospect before ever approaching them--even to set up a meeting. Although you would focus only on three or four of those needs, knowing 25 gives you the edge you need. Discover their needs by investigating their firm and products. Visit their website. Also, much can be discovered at the public library or by asking associates for insights.

Research Is an Active Verb

An acrostic from RESEARCH to encourage studying a new concept before leaping to launching

Research is an active verb. Remember that. You may jump to wrong conclusions if you rush into a new venture before carefully researching it. Think of what each letter in R-E-S-E-A-R-C-H stands for before you start up...

R is for research. Don't leap-- instead, do research. Think: what is intuition? It's a sense of the marketplace. How is it developed? By keeping ones ear to the ground. You must inform your intuition--Develop your sense of the marketplace by studying it. Chance favors the prepared mind. Even highly intelligent people do fail in their ventures when they don't do basic research.

E is for Examine the trends. What are the political, legal, environmental and societal factors that could affect your offering? And if you have an idea based on a particular trend, is that trend complemented by other trends? For example, the nonsmoking trend is complemented by the fitness trend. This means that it is more likely to continue rather than fizzling out as fads do.

S Seek out opinions. This is termed collecting primary data. Using methods such as focus groups, questionnaires and interviews, find out what people think about your idea. In the case of market creation, you may not spend much effort on surveying your prospective customer, but you can still ask the experts. Other people who have been in business longer than you, have valuable insights to offer. For consumers, statistical laws indicate that to assure nearly 100% accuracy, roughly 300 responses for each demographic characteristic should be solicited. A demographic is a feature of the consumer such as his/her age, sex, family status, education, occupation, or income. Sometimes geographic info or job title can be pertinent. To gain an accurate concept you must sample 300 people ages 25-30, 300 people 30-35, and so on. Also, survey 300 males, 300 females; 300 high school graduates, 300 college; 300 from the east, 300 from the west, etc. The idea is to survey a large enough number from an adequate sample in each group since groups are not homogeneous. If you are seeking validation of secondary data, that is, of written information, how much is enough to verify your primary research? For consumer markets, 25-50 personal interviews, 50-75 telephone interviews, and 100-150 mail surveys.

For industrial or commercial products, do secondary research first because users, specifiers and buyers in commercial markets are far less demographically diverse. Their preferences or subjective interests are very narrow. They only need products and services to do their job, and their attitudes have a single focus: performance. Thus it takes fewer interviews to validate assumptions and costs less. Here, you are looking for repetition of attitudes, opinions or facts. This can be derived from 5-10 personal interviews, 10-15 telephone interviews and 25-50 mail surveys. A low sample rate works because questions are narrowly focused on performance, competitors trends, price, delivery etc. There is less invasion of the respondent's ego, biases or privacy.

E Evaluate the competition. At a minimum you need to know the names, logos, colors of your competitors to avoid duplicating their image. Do you have a significant differential? Is the niche you seek to fill of negligible interest to major competitors? Would you be able to defend this offering against an attack by a major competitor?

A Analyze the marketplace. Is the segment you want to serve of sufficient size and purchasing power to be profitable? Does it have growth potential? Here is where you figure out your pricing which is a key to your success. Be sure to charge enough to cover advertising and promotional expenses.

R Review your resources. Do breakeven analyses and payback period analysis. Do you have the financial and material resources and the skills to effectively serve your target? Also, know your products and services, their attributes and benefits. All this brainstorming leads to message development and a better grasp of your marketing challenge.

C Check out your target. Understand your customer. What makes him or her tick? Maybe you have a good idea but you need to refine it. Look at the lifestyle, values and personality characteristics of your target.

H Hypothesize. After you have done your research, then hypothesize. A hypothesis is an unproved theory. It's a proposition tentatively accepted to provide a basis for further investigation. Either your hypothesis will be, "I don't think this idea will work—" or "I think it will be a good idea."

After you've written your hypothesis, be honest. If you suspect you've got an unworkable idea, go back to the drawing board, refine your idea or start with a new one, and then do your research again.

©2014. DAY Communications/fastzone.com. All rights reserved.

TREND WATCHING - A book review

How to predict the future!

by Anne Yeiser

What is your method for analyzing the need for new products and services? When it's impossible to survey every potential customer, how do you make your public relations and marketing decisions?

Trend Watching by John E. Merriam and Joel Makower gives a technique for research and prognostication through simple counting and measuring of stories in the news media. Why would this method provide insight for market analysis?

The media create trends, say Merriam and Makower, which steer the economy and society. Basically, media messages (we're speaking here of news, not ads) exert influence on the public mind, leading to later action. In our time, "Nothing really happens unless the media cover it." And the amount of coverage is an indicator of trends.

This does not mean that journalists are the chief movers and shakers of society, since what they report is what is happening and what people want to know. Events, developments and concerns are the stuff of news flows, and by finding patterns in these flows, you are using information about information to keep pace in an age of rapid change.

Trend watching is how John Naisbitt formulated his predictions in Megatrends. It is being practiced by major corporations in order to see where society is heading and better meet market demand. "It is not a public affairs operation; it is an attempt to understand social change and to find useful answers for the operations team." If they do it and make millions, why not you?

What is trend watching?

To be a trend watcher, you need to read or watch news media, count issues and events, record them for later examination, and use that data to formulate predictions about what may happen over the next one to five years.

Trend watching is not market research, which gathers data on what groups of people are thinking, but it is a support for this function.

Trend watchers recognize that in this Information Age, the key to business profits is knowing how to find, acquire, use and sell information. The successful entrepreneur must be able to discern how bits of information are related, and sort through the "noise" of the glut of messages to retrieve meaningful data.

It is important for trend watchers to look at the news flow on national and local levels, and to review a variety of media, including newspapers, news magazines, TV news shows, specialty publications, and trend-setting media such as The New England Journal of Medicine or Science Magazine.

The exact mix of these depends upon your objective in trend watching, but it shouldn't be necessary to scan more than three newspapers (perhaps one national), several general or specialized magazines and two TV programs. Through setting up a simple system, scanning rather than reading, and, if possible, utilizing employees to help with the project, your trend watching will not take up an excessive amount of time.

The first step is to determine what you want to know. For example, if you are a builder, you need to track information in the areas of construction costs, finance, zoning and housing styles, among others. Don't let your list of categories be longer than 50 items, including both major titles and subheads.

Next, select the publications and programs that bring you stories on your topics of interest. Merriam and Makower describe a system for counting and calculating media exposures, and you may wish to purchase their book for the instructions. Basically, the count consists in adding the numbers by issue and by medium over a given period of time, which also entails measuring the amount of time or space each news item receives, converting them to percentages, deriving percentages for each medium, and crunching (making a single index of) the numbers.

You are then in a position to analyze and predict trends which may affect your business. Remember, a key to success is linking causes and effects among seemingly unrelated matters.

As the authors point out, we are all trend watchers on an unsophisticated level. By infusing our day-to-day watching with some rigor, we can sort through all the "noise" and glean messages to help steer the future. Large and small firms have used trend watching to find new products or new markets, gauge public relations, judge the competition, and detect dangerous market conditions. By trend watching, you keep score of what the public is learning, what it wants to know and what it chooses to ignore.

Merriam and Makower stress that we need to do this to cope with the massive changes and uncertainty that characterize our era. A lack of vision and an inability to plan may translate to a failure to compete.
[Note, although this book was published before the impact of the Internet, its insights are valid. Trend watchers of today must also add websites to their list of media to scan.]

Reprinted by permission of publisher from TREND WATCHING, by John E. Merriam and Joel Makower ©1986 AMACOM, a division of American Management Association, New York. All rights reserved.

TO THE MOON! Inc. 5000 2007 List revelations

by Anne Yeiser

After a quarter century, the Inc. 500 has become the Inc. 5,000: America's fastest growing private companies. Before 2007 is a distant memory, let's look at the top ten in this list of premier entrepreneurs. This is a treasure hunt for business opportunities and ideas. Be sure to visit Inc.’s website to find out which industries are expanding most rapidly, which companies in your state made the list, which ones are planning an IPO, and more.

The 2007 Inc. 5,000 was compiled by 70 reporters. The growth rate of each featured company is based on revenues for the years 2003-2006.

Number One in the Inc 5,000 is MemberHealth (Ohio). They earned their growth rate of 20,128.9% (over three years) the new-fashioned way: by tapping into Medicare Part D and processing 52M prescriptions in 2006. Thank you, Uncle Sam.

Number Two is Cedar Point Communications (CPC) (New Hampshire) with a growth rate of 14,853.3%. This was achieved by serving one very big customer, Comcast. CPC makes telephone switches for residential voice customers of the Cable giant. There must be a lot of people who have ditched their land lines!

Number Three is Hospital Partners of America (North Carolina) with 12,227.2% growth. Their doctors are also their investors. Maybe this will be the new revenue model for doctors if Barrack or Hilary becomes President.

Number Four, Red Ventures (North Carolina), is an advertising and marketing company with revenues of $34M in 2006 and a growth rate of 9,470.5%. They help companies like DirecTV to get customers and limit their clientele to firms that are "Great Brands."

Number Five is Genoptix Medical Laboratory (California) with 11,391.9% growth, from $209K in 2003 to $24M in 2006. It provides lab services for area hematologists and oncologists, and software applications that help in giving diagnostic tests, speeding up patient care. It's one of two labs in the US that offers CellSearch System, the only FDA-approved test to identify tumor cells in breast-cancer patients.

Number Six, Fusion Solutions (Texas), had growth of 9,301.7%. It is an HR firm that focuses on niche areas such as workers who understand WiMax and IPTV, where clients have trouble finding qualified help.

Bill Me Later (Maryland) is Number Seven with a growth rate of 8,650.9%, up from about a half million in '03 to $53+M in '06. It provides an online payment system used by merchants like Wal-Mart. It only asks for birth date and SS number, bypassing Credit Card fees, thus charging merchants 40% less per transaction.

Number Eight is Groupware Technology (Calif.) with growth of 7,579.1%. It specializes in servers, storage, network security and enterprise-wide communications systems, helping clients buy, design and install the most advantageous computer system.

Number Nine is M Space Holdings (New York), which builds, sells and leases modular buildings, and provides finance options for customers. Its growth rate was 6,402.1%. With the rapid pace of change, modular has found many niches.

And Number Ten: By Light Professional IT Services (Virginia), a Department of Defense client that is expanding the military's network bandwidth capacity in order to coordinate troops in wide areas and numerous countries. Sporting a growth rate of 6,311.3%, it is a service-disabled, veteran-owned small business.

Inc. is starting a network, IncBizNet, to connect U.S. entrepreneurs and let them share their philosophies, news and much more. They will be able to discover which vendors are reputable and to make progress in areas that will open doors to greater profitability as their growth rates soar TO THE MOON!

Straight up: Second Annual Inc. Magazine Fast 500 Review

by Anne Yeiser

What can we learn from the 2006 winners of Inc. Magazine's 500 fastest growing U.S. private companies? Visit Inc's website. The growth rates of the top 12 span from 5629% to just over 2300% over a three-year period. You can take a look at their industry, revenue and number of employees, etc. in the matrix. Each column of info came from the Inc. Magazine website, but I added the Trend column. You may not agree with my evaluation of which trend is revealed in each success.

Health Maintenance is a major trend, enabling riches for five of the top 12, though the companies benefiting from that trend vary broadly in their offerings. Current U.S. demographics suggest that the need for Health Maintenance services and products will continue.

Reading more about why these companies grew so quickly on the Inc. website is very interesting. We can learn a lot from those who succeed. I will pass along what I learned:

1. Litle & Co- Helping your customer reduce expense and frustration in a central operation of their business could help you make money.

2. Airborne Health- A lot of people are worried about their immune system. What can you do to address this concern in your store or services?

3. Digital Lifestyle Outfitters- People, especially younger ones, are on the move and want to "do media" EVERYWHERE. Get up to speed on an integrated mobile marketing strategy.

4. Try to key into more than one GROWTH INDUSTRY with your product or service. Edible Arrangements tapped into three: fresh fruit, gifts, and specialty foods.

5. SUNRx- Are you in an industry where your competitors are taking advantage of customers? Do the right thing.

6. United Bank Card- Do people need certain hardware to use your software? If you can, give them the hardware. Do the math.

7. Method Products- A lot of people really do care more about scents than cents, and about being friendly to the environment.

8. StubHub- If you paid a couple of hundred for an event ticket and can't use it, you probably would love to sell it for a good price, and ebay is just too big. There must be other niches ebay is willing to give up.

9. Ancillary Care- BioTech is creating new treatments. How can you help Uncle Sam to help others?

10. MemberHealth- Another "How can you help Uncle Sam to help others?"

11. Advanced Equity Financial- Cut employees loose; rehire them as independent contractors.

12. A triple play in trends! In this case, helicopters are needed by the wealthy, the government, and for security needs, and all are growth sectors.

REVOLUTIONARY WEALTH - A book review

Future Shock. The Third Wave. Power Shift. And now, Revolutionary Wealth. Having read the first three of Alvin Toffler's bestsellers on how life is changing and why, I searched for his fourth major work in 2000. His series clarified for laypeople the evolution from a "first wave" agrarian-based economy to a "second-wave" industrial to the knowledge-based "third-wave" economy, and his prognostications were very useful. I needed the one I was sure would be out in 2000, but it wasn't there.

Future Shock, published in 1970, prepared us for the information age; The Third Wave, published in 1980, further interpreted the movement toward electronic empowerment; Power Shift, published 1990, prophesied a change in the very nature of power. Then, the Tofflers, as Alvin included his wife Heidi, stated they would not publish a book in 2000. The turn of the millennium was not a good time --too many uncertainties. Finally, in 2006, Revolutionary Wealth joined the line up of hallmark achievements for these very special authors.

What's in their book for you? A mind-blowing discourse on what goes on in the first decade of the 21st Century and what to look for; an expansive digest of world trends and events that are churning up the "third wave." A reader might be lucky enough to amass revolutionary wealth by keying into one of the featured trends of the knowledge economy. For example: "The new wealth system demands a complete shake-up in the way increasingly temporary skill sets are organized for increasingly temporary purposes throughout the economy." This prediction may lead you to challenge your staff to find ways of meeting American customer desires by supporting their new and changing family configurations.

Or, you may be the powerful player who pushes legislative change to keep pace with societal need. The Tofflers note that while business and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are moving at speeds of 100 or 90 mph, labor unions, education and legal institutions are lagging at speeds of 30 to only 1 mph. This is an amazing dilemma if your law suit is never settled until your actual business need ceases to exist.

Knowledge Described
Taking a bird's eye-- or more like a satellite-view of production and human labor over history, one sees a bright future despite the glaring hardships besetting nations, economies and workers at the present. A glance at the facts of knowledge reveals why the knowledge-based economy holds immense potential for people relative to the agrarian and industrial epochs… Knowledge...

  • is inherently non-rival - the greater the number of people who use it, the more likely it is that someone will generate more knowledge from the same bit of it.
  • is intangible
  • is non-linear - tiny insights can yield huge outputs
  • is relational - a unique piece attains meaning only in context with other bits
  • mates with other knowledge - the more there is, the more possible combinations there are
  • is more portable than any other product - can be distributed instantaneously to the next cubicle or to ten million in Hong Kong at the same near-zero price
  • can be compressed into symbols or abstractions - unlike tangibles
  • can be stored in smaller and smaller spaces - coming soon is storage nano scale
  • can be explicit or implicit - shared or not
  • is hard to bottle up - it spreads.

(The above list is an edited version of the ten features on pp. 100-101 of RW.)

Can you now understand why more job creation is simply a matter of exercising our collective imaginations? Factories exported to Mexico? So what. China manufacturing more and more: Big deal. America, you are the giant of the knowledge economy! Realize your prowess!

Other messages are not so fun: Desynchronization between the deep fundamentals like time and space and our major institutions is a serious dilemma. MUCH more troubling: Our educational system is not preparing students to work in the new economy that is striving to get in sync with the deep fundamentals.

The Tofflers put stock in science. If the trends and realities of this accelerated day and time are shocking and unwieldy, apply scientific method and planning. This, in their view, is an effective salve for the human condition.

Prediction: In an age of NGOs becoming past-masters at negotiations and missions accomplished, we can expect human cloning and such other possibilities to occur. One NGO will fight against particular agendas; another will successfully advocate. The clout of NGOs will eclipse that of nations.

Insights for the US
RW is not blithely proglobal. It does not turn a blind eye to China's military budget "estimated to have shot up at least sixfold between 1991 and 2004" (p. 322) and its theft of intellectual property (p. 377).

RW sees that the great powers including America are less and less great. And in the current climate of anti-American sentiment worldwide, where is the appreciation for her contributions? Winston Churchill's statement about the U.S. Marshall Plan under which the WWII-torn nations were rebuilt as "the most unsordid act in history" is quoted.

As you can see, the book runs the gamut from reasons to regard your prospects with amazement to woeful potential turns of fate for the red-white-and-blue.

From the "24 hour street" in Curitiba, Brazil, to "obsoledge" in the internet, to the unpaid work of prosumers, to the rise of para-money, to sensor technology that is emerging as one of the most important industries of the future, you will like Revolutionary Wealth, if you enjoy roller coaster rides.

Revolutionary Wealth, by Alvin and Heidi Toffler. Published by Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2006.

Questions to provoke critical thinking about the marketplace

There is a growing focus in business on:

  • healthcare
  • security
  • efficiency and
  • internet.


Which of these represents the area of greatest potential financial trouble for your business? For your customers?

What should your company do to avoid the dip in profits that will result if it does not change the way it is addressing this area of challenge?

What specific advice can you offer customers to help them continue to grow in the face of these challenges?

Seven Sources for Innovation Opportunities

The foremost management consultant of our time, Peter F. Drucker, promoted a provocative concept on how to make a profit: "Because its purpose is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two--and only two--basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results: all the rest are 'costs'." He further taught that bright ideas are the riskiest and least successful source of innovative opportunities. Instead, he advised the systematic, managed, purposeful and organized search for changes and the systematic, managed, purposeful and organized analysis of the opportunities such changes might offer for innovation.

He said that to 'practice' innovation, we must be students of change, and suggested monitoring seven sources for innovation opportunities. Four of these lie within the enterprise and are primarily visible to people within that industry or service sector. Three involve changes outside the enterprise or industry. Here is a list of the seven sources, taken from his book, Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Practice and Principles.

  1. The unexpected. The unexpected success, failure or outside event.
  2. The incongruity-- between reality as it actually is and reality as it is assumed to be or as it "ought to be."
  3. Innovation based on process need.
  4. Changes in industry structure or market structure that catch everyone unawares.
  5. Demographics-- population changes.
  6. Changes in perception, mood and meaning.
  7. New knowledge, both scientific and nonscientific.

The lines between these seven sources are blurred and they often overlap, nevertheless each area requires separate analysis.

First source: The Unexpected. Look to see if a particular product or service has been in greater or lesser demand than anticipated. If so, ask, Why? What would it mean to us if we exploited the unexpected success? What would we have to do to convert it into an opportunity? Set aside time to discuss unexpected success or failures. Do it for your clients, too.

Second source: The Incongruity. A discrepancy between what is and what should be. An example of this is given in Drucker's trademark book noted above. In the early 1980s a midwest securities firm did not assume that people invested to get rich and to play the market. Small business people and successful professionals who had modest spending habits were approached in respect to investment opportunities, to preserve their wealth not to trade. They took the bait. Eventually, money market funds were invented for this type of investor. The big securities firms thought all investors wanted to trade. They didn't. Do you have any misperceptions about who your best customers might be?

How does one find incongruities? Listen for customer complaints. These indicate that what the supplier or producer values is different from what the consumer values. They indicate an opportunity for an innovation that is specific and has a good chance of success.

Third source: Process Need. This one is task focused rather than situation focused. A process is perfected or redesigned or a weak link replaced. For example, a motel that was short on help and was having problems keeping up with the laundry simply installed the washer and dryer in the room behind the receptionist desk. That way, in her or his spare time, the reservations clerk could do the sheets and towels.

Fourth source: Industry and Market Structure Change. An obvious example is deregulation. Watch for rapid growth of an industry. If an industry grows significantly faster than the economy or population, structural problems will occur and changes are certain. Also, when technologies converge, change is certain.

Fifth source: Demographics. Changes in population, age structure, educational status, income. Discover these in the census findings at your public library or online.

Sixth source: Changes in Perception, Meaning, Mood. For example, today there is a trend called "downaging." No longer do we see people who are 50 as 50. We see them as 45. We see those who are 70 as 65 or younger. Think of Raquel Welch. How old is she? The cosmetic and medical industries have changed the way we regard age and the way we look. What products and services would address this change in perception?

Seventh source: New Knowledge. It has been said that in the information age, we will need a college education every three years to keep pace with all the new knowledge. That, of course, is impossible for all but bionic brains, but we can stay informed in our respective areas of endeavors, and get together with associates and friends from differing backgrounds to exchange ideas.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Practice and Principles by Peter F. Drucker. Harper & Row, 1985.

Critical task: Ask the right questions

What industries are hot?

Of these, which ones are most likely to use our services? Why?

Which of our services are the hot industries most likely to use?

How are we pursuing these specific businesses?

Which of our people can best provide these services?

Specifically, how many of our people does it take to provide ______ to ______?

What will their time be billed?

Is this fee in line with other competitors, including those firms that are not on a par with our length of service (depth of experience)?
...
Is the Internet doing my job?

If so, how can I counter its intrusion?

How can we improve our website?
...
What is the probable effect of the top five franchise successes on my business?

Have these franchises entered my local market yet?

If so, how will their presence affect my clients who are their competitors? List 10 ways you can help your client to outperform this newcomer/up and coming threat.
...
What is the current status of artificial intelligence relative to my field, and what will its effect be on my industry this year? In two years? In five years?

How can we use AI to help our clients?
...
What is the state of manufacturing in our area?

How many jobs have been lost? Were they lost to foreign competition or to robotics and smart software, etc?

How will these losses affect our bottom line? Our clients' revenues?

Simple Research for Better Sales

Why and how to do simple research to improve your market odds

You don't need a Ph.D. in marketing research to practice it. Using simple methods you can discover most of what you need to know in order to successfully market your product or service.

For knowledge about the marketplace and your industry, simply read and listen. Read one national newspaper at least once a week, a news magazine or two of opposing editorial viewpoints, the most important trade journals of your industry; attend business meetings, and watch TV news and analysis programs. Visit websites of the news media giants and your industry's trade association or join pertinent newsgroups and read their articles. Do all of this with an eye toward how the trends will affect your firm. Open your eyes and ears to what is going on. What could be a more simple method of doing research than that?

For knowledge about your offering, try a simple technique called Attributes Listing. Research means to travel through, to survey; it is careful, systematic, patient study and investigation in some field of knowledge, undertaken to discover or establish facts or principles. Attributes Listing is a way of creative problem solving. It's an idea finding method--a simple research technique. You want to discover everything pertaining to what you offer. Next make a list of benefits. Sometimes these overlap with attributes, but they are the aspects of your product that benefit the customer, not simply its descriptive features.

A research technique that can help in listing benefits is Brainstorming. First, state the problem, such as, "What features of  this product will most benefit my customer?" Then, going around the table each person makes a statement and no one is allowed to criticize or even  analyze the statements made. All ideas, no matter how crazy, are important contributions. Someone keeps a list of the ideas which can be later evaluated and studied in depth.

Next, try a Competitor Analysis Matrix, another simple research technique. Make a grid by putting the names of two to five of your competitors across the top, and down the side you will have your list of attributes which has both your strengths and your weaknesses clearly delineated. Now fill in the blanks under your competition's headings and see how your offerings stack up. Be sure to compare your pricing with theirs and your advertising with theirs as well as all aspects of your marketing program.

Another simple technique is the direct-response split run or more simply, split testing. If you are sending out a direct mail letter to try to get people to call you, send two letters to a random sampling, each with a different lead paragraph or headline. This can be easily done, especially with your own computer. You will see whether one approach has a greater appeal than the other. Then do the larger mailing using the most successful lead in.

Finally, do research on your prospect. One expert says you should know 25 needs of your prospect before ever approaching them--even to set up a meeting. Although you would focus only on three or four of those needs, knowing 25 gives you the edge you need. Discover their needs by investigating their firm and products. Visit their website. Also, much can be discovered at the public library or by asking associates for insights.