Profitability Objectives


Many firms have some type of profitability objectives for their pricing strategy. Management knows that:

Profit = Revenue – Expenses

and that revenue is a result of the selling price times the quantity sold:

Total Revenue = Price x Quantity Sold

Some firms try to maximize profits by increasing their prices to the point where disproportionate decrease appears in the number of units sold. A 10 percent price hike that results in only an 8 percent volume decline increases profitability. But a 5 percent price rise that reduces the number of units sold by 6 percent is unprofitable.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

 

Translating Information into Action


Information must be actionable, if it is to be of value to you. That means it must include a customer profile (most often consisting of demographics and buying behavior—psycho-graphics—that enables you to assign all of your customers to one or another of your defined segments. Unless you’re both ready and able to use the results of all this effort to alter your marketing strategy, your money is probably better spent elsewhere. Segmentation only pays off if you use it to fine tune your marketing program.

If you have computed the lifetime value for each segment, you can now make a very scientific assignment of resources to customer groups. You can be selective in this process. If you choose, focusing on just a few segments—or even one. In fact, that may be a good way to validate your ideas before you institute any large-scale changes in your marketing strategy. The important thing is that you use the information to adapt marketing into a more customer-focused and less product-centered approach.

Often you can finance new marketing initiatives by re-deploying the budgets previously spent in pursuit of unprofitable business, because you can now recognize it for what it is. Screening out can be as important as targeting.

You can then assign an appropriate percentage of your marketing budget to each segment which merits pursuit, echoing the percentage of profits that segment has the potential to generate. Consider members with lower grades within a well-defined, profitable segment as areas of opportunity. You know that companies with a given cluster of needs and buying behaviors can be profitably attracted to your offerings and way of doing business. All that remains is to focus on expanding penetration there.

Put your marketing imagination to work. Because you now understand the priorities of each segment so well, you’ll also know how to determine the most potent messages for each, and the media mix that can best deliver it. In addition, because the economics of each segment are clear, you can develop a plan that matches communications alternatives to allotted budget on a cost-per-contract basis.

As a result, most of your money will be invested where the profit potential for developing loyal customers is the greatest. Whilst this strategy appears to be self-evident, it too seldom happens in real life decision-making, since quantification of potential profitability by market segment is sadly lacking.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Levels of Management


Many organizations have multiple levels of management—top management, middle management, and first-line, or supervisory management. These levels form a pyramid. There are generally more middle managers than top managers, and still more first-line managers. Very small organizations may have only one manager (typically, the owner), who assumes the responsibilities of all three levels. Large businesses have many managers at each level to coordinate the use of the organization’s resources. Managers at all three levels perform all five management functions, but the amount of time they spend on each function varies.

Top Management: in business top managers include the president and other top executives, such as the chief executive officer (CEO), chief financial officer (CFO), and chief operations officer (COO), who have overall responsibility for the organization. Top managers spend most of their time planning. They make the organization’s strategic decisions, decisions that focus on an overall scheme or key idea for using resources to take advantage of opportunities. They decide whether to add products, acquire companies, sell unprofitable business segments, and move into foreign markets. Top managers also represent their company to the public and to government regulators.

Middle Management: Rather than making strategic decisions about the whole organization, middle managers are responsible for tactical planning that will implement the general guidelines established by top management. Thus, their responsibility is more narrowly focused than that of top managers. Middle managers are involved in the specific operations of the organization and spend more time organizing than other managers. In business, plant managers, division managers, and department managers make up middle management.

First-line Management: Most people get their first managerial experience in first-line managers, who supervise workers and the daily operations of the organization. They are responsible for implementing the plans established by middle management and directing workers’ daily performance on the job. They spend most of their time directing and controlling. Common titles for first-line management are foreman, supervisor, and office manager.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Usage Analysis and Customer Retention


Segmenting markets by consumption patterns can be quite insightful for understanding your customer mix. Differentiated marketing strategies are needed for the various user groups—first-time users, repeat customers, heavy users, and former users. By classifying customer accounts based on usage frequency and variety, companies can develop effective strategies to retain and upgrade customers. There are many highly informative, low-cost applications of usage analysis that should be considered by management.

By classifying customers into usage categories, management can design appropriate strategies for each market segment. The objective is to move customers up the ladder, where possible. The implication of usage analysis is that all customers are not equal; some (the heavy users) are clearly more important than other categories.

The Pareto principle, or 80/20 rule, is insightful in the context. In a typical business, approximately 80% of sales comes from about 20% of customers (also, note that generally about 80% of your sales comes from 20% of your goods or services). It is important to defend this core business, as heavy users are primary attraction targets to key competitors. These highly valued customers require frequent advertising, promotions, and sales calls and ongoing communication efforts.

By knowing who better customers are—through geographic, demographic, psychographic, and benefit research—we have a solid profile of “typical users.” This information is very helpful in playing subsequent customer attraction/conquest marketing efforts. Realize that the marketing information system, the database, plays a key role in customer analysis and decision making.

For unprofitable customers, the company often needs to find new ways to serve them more effectively. Technology such as ATM machines, ICT, can be used in this regard. Quarterly contact through a newsletter and direct mail or access options such as toll-free telephone numbers and websites maintain adequate communication with low-volume users. In some cases, it may even be desirable to sever the relationship with certain unprofitable customers.

A good understanding of our customers’ purchasing patterns helps us keep our customers and gain a larger share of their business. Share of customer (customer retention focus) has supplanted market share (customer attraction focus) as a relevant business performance dimension in many markets. Share of customer is adapted by industry and goes by such names as share of care (health care), share of stomach (fast food), and share of wallet (financial services). If a company can increase a customer’s share of business from 20 to 30 percent, this will have a dramatic impact on market share and profitability.

Recency, frequency, and monetary value (RFM) analysis is a helpful tool in evaluation customer usage and loyalty patterns. Recency refers to the last service encounter/transaction, frequency assesses how often these customer-company experiences occur, and monetary value probes the amount that is spent, invested, or committed by customers for the firm’s products and services.

A more effective strategy is to classify customers via usage analysis and design differentiated marketing approaches for each target market. In sum, usage analysis can greatly assist us in our customer retention activities. Think about how to “hold” heavy users and key accounts, upgrade light and medium users, build customer loyalty, understand buying motives to meet or exceed expectations, use appropriate selling strategies for each targeted usage group, win back “lost” customers, and learn why nonusers are not responding to your value proposition.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please contact www.asifjmir.com

Corporate Butchery


The gap between vision and reality is particularly evident in the arena of corporate transformation. Many corporate transformation programs are carried out with the subtlety of the crazed butcher wielding a chain-saw. The blind pursuit of flattening the gierarchy or overhead reduction can have unexpected consequences as follows:

  • The section that is cut out might hold valuable knowledge or be a vital component of a key cross-functioned process. Many companies settle down to the task of amputation without first identifying the key processes that deliver the value sought by customers. These are the nerves and arteries without which the organization is dead meat.
  • Areas and activities that lose money may still generate contribution.  Cutting them out, without reducing activity elsewhere that does not add value for customers, could result in a heavier burden upon other units. Further activities may appear unprofitable in the light of the relocated costs.

Much of the damage results from the application of approaches that were accepted with some reluctance practised and regarded as legitimate in the bureaucratic organization. In the network organization, however, they can be dangerous, and may also be in direct conflict with its articulated values.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please contact Asif J. Mir