Monthly Archives: October 2017

How Can Marketing Work in SME’s?

Lack of time, money and resources—these are not the main shortcoming of small and medium-sized companies when it comes to marketing. Above all, they lack clear strategies.

By Jens Kügler

“We can not afford expensive marketing campaigns”. How often do we read or hear statements similar to these. The fact is: marketing is often in a poor condition in small and medium-sized companies, the backbone of the German economy. In SME’s, day-to-day business often covers everything. Short-term sales and business volume dominate the entrepreneurial activity. There are hardly any resources for branding or brand maintenance. The problem is obvious: Without consistent marketing, sustainable business development is difficult or even impossible.

But how can marketing work in a small business? The editor Lena Herrmann provided some interesting ideas today in the online edition of the marketing industry medium W & V Werben & Verkaufen. In her article headlined “Small Business: The Four Biggest Marketing Issues and Their Solutions,” she suggests to put marketing at the top of the management ladder. A board member only for marketing could prevent that only the fast-moving sales outrage everything else.

Customers must have to be bound to the brand emotionally. To create these conditions there has to be a marketing manager in the board caring for brand building and brand management. According to the author, marketing must be integrated into all processes in the company.

Lena Herrmann discovers a typical marketing problem in many companies. It’s the waste of time and energy for action without clear objectives. For example, many invest in supposedly cheap channels like Facebook, Youtube or Instagram because “everyone does that”. Every marketing strategy must aim for clear goals. A goal may be the development and launch of a new product. Or the positioning of a company with certain values and attributes. After that, the selection of the most meaningful channels should follow.

Despite these attempts at maneuvering criticism in the field of electronic media, the article is a plea for the use of digitization. According to the author, only those who stay in touch with latest developments and do not refuse modern technology will survive. However, this does not mean to be the front runner on all channels. Rather, the market should be observed: Successful adaptation and learning from the mistakes of others is a good way to go ahead here.

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“Do I have the skills to be self-employed?”

In decision-making to become entrepreneur or not, personality checklists and questionnaires may help. Anyone who replies to the questions in these self-tests too often with no is clearly better off in the safe employment situation with fixed income and regular working hours.

By Jens Kügler

“Are you healthy and physically fit?” This question may be stunning in the context of company founding. Yet, the following question makes it a bit more specific: “Can you imagine what physical and psychological strain you have on expect, especially in the first few years?” All of this is not part of the admission questionnaire of a polyclinic or psychiatry. With these questions, a checklist of the German Federal Ministry of Economics starts under the heading “Your personal requirements”.

The following question clarifies the issue more strongly: “Are you ready to do without your holiday in the first years?”. With questions such as these, a potential business founder can approach the response to the core issue. The core question is: Can or should I start a business? Physical fitness actually plays a major role. The founder must be a hurdler and marathon runner—in a transposed sense. He must be able to grab and have perseverance. More than an average person.

Anyone who wants to start a company can have a wide range of motivations. Is it the desire to be his own boss—or to have no more boss above him? Is it out of unemployment or lack of job prospects? Or does the founder hope to become a rich or wealthy as entrepreneur? These are actually some of the most common desires and goals of founders. And they are understandable wishes. But the statistics of market researchers and the Ministry of Economics also make clear: Who starts with these motivations, has the best prospects to … fail!

More successful are, statistically speaking, those enterprise founders, who start due to self-fulfillment or to implement their own business idea. These are people that many Germans refer to as Unternehmertyp (“entrepreneur type”/business kind of person). Founders like these do not start out of necessity, but convicted or enthused. If you enthuse and motivate others, you will also convince potential customers. And only that brings the strength, discipline and perseverance that a company’s foundation requires. In the first few years a company can not be built in a 35- or 40-working-hour-week. The entrepreneur has to work 60 hours or more—and at the weekend, too. Only then he has the prospect of success. There must be the willingness to do so and also the physical as well as the mental power.

Let’s return to the core question: Can or should I start a business? Let us supplement and answer it with another question: “Am I such an entrepreneur type”? Here, the checklists from authorities and ministries, as well as from business consultations, can provide first indications. Entrepreneur types are quick to make decisions, take risks and don’t get discouraged by setbacks. They are also characterized by the fact that they have reached most of their goals in the life to date. Another point is leadership experience. This is almost more important than professional know-how, because the latter can be acquired by employees and strategic partners. Only those who can lead and delegate, only those team players can lead a company. This can be determined with some certainty based upon the honest answers to the checklist questions.

“Does your family keep your back free?”—this is also asked in the personality test described above. And it’s a very good question as only if the private environment fully supports the plans, the entrepreneur’s success is likely. The family has to cope with the fact that daddy (or, in case of a female founder, mum) can spend less time on private life. In short, everyone who is concerned with the idea of setting up a company should first examine himself in-depth.

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Talentism: The End of Capitalism!

Karl Marx had already predicted that capitalism would perish. Surprisingly, now, 150 years later, others apparently announce the same. In particular, it’s the Switzerland based World Economic Forum and some German papers.

By Jens Kügler

“Protect the workers!”. It’s not a communist party that published this slogan, although it sounds like a Red Front fighter’s claim. Last week I read it—somewhat baffled—as a heading on Zeit Online, the web platform of a German newspaper. Now, Zeit can not be located in the neo-liberal spectrum, especially since former social democratic Chancellor Helmut Schmidt was one of it’s publishers. But does it have to sound so socialistic …? No, there is, of course, something quite different that it’s all about.

Under the headline mentioned above, Zeit Online reports about a recent study by the World Economic Forum (WEF). The magazine quotes WEF-founder Klaus Schwab: “Well-educated, creative workers are becoming increasingly more important than capital, for the world is in a transition from capitalism to talentism.” Therefore, the protection of workers’ rights is an important location factor and decisive for the competitiveness of a country.

Listen up! Hadn’t we always heard that a country was more competitive, the more lawless the workers were (I remember the old Marxist dictum of exploitation). And the conclusion was that workers’ rights should be reduced for productivity. Today, what WEF announces is that competitiveness increases with more flexibility and appropriate protection of workers’ rights.

There is talk of the positive role of safe jobs and good working conditions in times of skills shortage and competition for the best. Social peace certainly also plays a role. Less strikes, e. g., mean more production. And people are happier. Thus, quality of life becomes a competitive advantage! A “balanced relationship” is decisive, as the study says. On this point, Germany is well positioned.

Speaking of the countries: The study is called “Global Competitiveness Report 2017-2018” and focuses on the question of which countries are the most competitive. The result: Switzerland is number one. This is no surprise due to Swiss high-technology, only insofar as the wage level there seems to be astronomical for a German (and the price level, of course, even more). After all, the Swiss have taken the top position for the ninth time in a row, since the study is carried out annually. Ergo: High wages don’t mean less productivity, on the contrary.

By the way, the USA came second in front of Singapore. Germany is fifth. A good result—leaving Sweden and the United Kingdom behind us. But it also says that German companies can still learn from their American and Swiss competitors.

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