Tracking Information to Maximize Marketing Efforts

You’ve hired a marketing consultant. It’s a big investment to get your organization’s name out there. At your first meeting, the consultant asks a lot of questions for your marketing plan. What differentiates you from your competition? How much new and repeat business do you have? What is your most popular service or product? For non-profits, What results does the community see from your programs?

Can you answer these questions? If the necessary information isn’t there, where do the answers come from? You could gather your team and come up with some good guesses and examples. But should your marketing plan be based on anecdotes? Sure, the individual stories are valuable; but you need more information than that to get the most from your marketing investment.

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Enough Inventory – Or Too Much?

Your good reputation depends on meeting demand. Being profitable requires managing margins. Businesses and non-profits that depend on inventory, such as retail stores, restaurants, and food banks, need the right tools to manage those margins and stay profitable.

A retail business owner with inventory headaches was referred to me a while ago to get help managing her inventory. She was frustrated with tracking everything – too cumbersome and too little information. Her bank account told her that business was good, but she didn’t really know which items were driving those profits and which items were just taking up space. My task – find a cost-effective, easy-to-use solution to track inventory and provide information to manage turnover, margins, etc.

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Are Vendors Delivering as Promised?

When I talk with clients and networking partners, they often bring up a costly problem – finding out the hard way that a vendor they depended on did not deliver as promised. I’ve heard so many examples: The accountant who didn’t keep the books. The IT technician who didn’t fix the computer. The supplier who shipped the materials late.

Outsourcing can be great but it comes with risks. Vendors who don’t perform waste your time and money, and damage your reputation.

Here are the four simple and cost-effective steps I advise to clients for staying on top of vendor performance:

Define Expectations

Avoid surprises and misunderstandings by documenting your performance expectations in a vendor agreement. The document should address performance that drives the essential success factors for your business, such as specific results, quantity, quality, and due dates.

Get Proof

“Trust but verify” should be your mantra for verifying expectations are met. For goods that you purchase, verify that you received, in usable condition, the quantity that was ordered and invoiced. For services, verify that they were provided before paying the invoice.

Spot Check

You can’t look at every detail, but it’s a good idea for your vendors to know you are paying attention. Invoices from new vendors should be reviewed in detail to ensure that prices and other terms are accurate. Periodically review invoices from vendors you’ve used for a while, just in case there’s a slip-up.

Regular Conversations

Spot checking doesn’t replace knowing your vendors and communicating with them. If something changes or doesn’t seem “right”, you should ask why and follow-up if the answer doesn’t make sense. Ignoring red flags could cost you money and your reputation.

Using my advice, businesses can overcome their fear of being let down or taken advantage of by vendors who do not deliver. We all need help. It’s worth the time and attention to make sure the help you pay for is delivered.

Finding Reliable Vendors

A new client was referred to me recently. Her business had grown and she realized it made no sense to continue doing her own accounting, marketing, and other back office support. But she was concerned about finding reliable vendors who would add value and save time, not create more work for her. She had heard horror stories about vendors who charge a lot and don’t deliver. Could I help her prevent that from happening?

My new client was right to be concerned. It’s crucial for businesses and non-profits to select vendors who deliver as promised. Your reputation and bottom line depends on it.

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