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Conflict Management Styles and Techniques

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After decades of study, it’s become undeniably clear: people are different. As shocking as this revelation might be, it’s true. People have different opinions, different motivations, different wants and desires. And just as undeniably clear is this: sometimes, those differences can lead to conflict. People will disagree. One person’s wants will conflict with another’s. People will slip up and end up disappointing each other, and in the end, someone is going to end up upset.

Many will cry, “But can’t we all just get along!?” The question is simple. In an idealized world, everyone would be able to get what they want, and no one would be upset. The answer, however, is a bit more complicated. It’s certainly possible for people of differing opinions and circumstances to work together to find a solution that works for everyone, but it might require some effort. And in some situations, there simply is no ideal solution. In these sorts of circumstances, a diplomat may need to dig deep into his or her bag of tricks to find a resolution. Whatever the situation, the first step in conflict management is to determine exactly what sort of conflict has arisen. By paying close attention and learning where the root of the conflict lies, you can then determine which style of conflict management best fits the circumstance.

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Different styles of conflict resolution

When faced with a conflict, there are several different options for just how to resolve it. Some are more effective than others, and some can be even more destructive than the conflict itself. If a person isn’t careful, he or she could even escalate the conflict. Essentially, conflict resolution styles can be boiled down to five core types.

1. Competing

The most adversarial technique, competing generally involves forcing one side’s ideas and concerns to the forefront, overriding those of the other side. While this method can certainly lead to a quick resolution to the problem at hand, if not handled properly, it can create more problems along the way. Competing is most effective when one side considers their personal goals to be more important than personal relationships.

While controversial, some circumstances do exist where competing is the proper method. When speed is critical and no other method is proving effective, it may be necessary to simply push one side’s solution forward at the expense of the other. This method may be necessary in order to stop violence, or to counter a life-threatening situation. It may be useful to end a stalemate after no common solution can be found. It is important, however, to keep in mind that this can harm the relationship between the involved parties, and much of the energy that could be used to solve the problem will likely be expended in the argument itself. Also, there is no guarantee that it will lead to a satisfactory conclusion, meaning all of those risks and potentially damaged relationship will have happened for no reason.

2. Avoiding

Avoiding, or withdrawing, is basically a non-approach to conflict resolution. Rather than addressing the conflict, the person simply ignores it. Depending on the circumstance, this can be either a temporary or permanent solution.

Avoidance does not necessarily mean sticking your fingers in your ears or burying your head in the sand. As with the other conflict management styles, it’s important to pay close attention to the circumstances surrounding the conflict and determine  whether avoidance would, in this instance, be an example of running away and hiding from your problems, or merely of picking your battles.

As a temporary solution, withdrawing from the conflict can grant an opportunity to gather information and decide upon the best solution. Just don’t make the mistake of trying to avoid indefinitely a problem that must be faced. Doing so could make things worse.

3. Accommodating

Accommodating is basically the opposite of competing. It entails one party forgoing his or her own concerns and addressing the other party’s concerns first. Much like with competing, this method can be useful in the event of a tight deadline where it is important for the parties involved to come to a consensus quickly. It also applies well in a case where one party is simply more interested in the outcome than the other. The accommodating person is basically saying, “I don’t care!” and walking away from the situation.

This method can work well in some situations, but in other situations, it is markedly less than ideal. Conceding specific points can help to grant you valuable perspective. On the other hand, giving in constantly not only prevents the conceding party the things that they want, it can actually make that person seem weak. Over time, it can even become habit to simply give up when a conflict arises, which is also unhealthy. When determining whether or not to concede in a given situation, it’s wise to observe each situation separately and try to find a balance between the two options. Speaking of which…

4. Compromising

Compromise is one of the best ways to satisfy both parties. This strategy generally works when both parties are on equal footing. Each party has to be willing to bend to a certain degree so that the two can meet in the middle at what is hopefully something that works for everyone.

One of the biggest benefits of compromise is that it can bring about a faster resolution to the conflict.  Additionally, each side is able to get at least a part of what they want, meaning neither party is left out in the cold. Still, it’s not always an ideal solution, and it’s not always permanent. Compromise, while usually satisfying everyone involved for a short time, does not necessarily solve the conflict, meaning that conflict could show up again a few months down the line. It does not necessarily bring trust with it over the long run, and so once one of the parties becomes discontent, Still, in other cases, it can work wonders, leaving both of those involved quite pleased with the result.

5. Collaborating

Finally, collaborating is an attempt to show that both people or entities involved in the conflict are on the same side. The goal is for both sides to win. Rather than each side giving up certain desires to reach a consensus, both sides work together to ensure that as many desires are fulfilled as possible. This is the long sought after “win-win” approach. It brings commitment from both parties, as well as shared responsibility for whatever results come about.

Collaboration particularly works in a situation where it is important for the parties involved to agree and continue an amicable relationship. It works very well in environments where collaboration is encouraged and the people involved already hold a high level of trust for each other. Perhaps its biggest downfall is the fact that it takes a lot of time and a significant amount of effort. If a quick resolution is necessary, then it may be more prudent to select a different technique.

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Potential sources of conflict

One of the most important aspects of resolving any conflict is determining the source. Sometimes, problems arise based on the way the company is run or the workload is distributed. Other times, industry problems may arise that have a negative impact on the company and its employees. And sometimes, people just don’t get along. Whatever the cause, recognizing where the problem started is the first step on the path to resolution. Let’s take a look at some of the more common reasons that problems can arise at a workplace.

Interpersonal conflicts

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Fuel for the fires of workplace conflict can come in many forms. The source for angst and frustration are not always immediately visible, but there is always a strong undercurrent at work. Being observant and listening to normal everyday conversations can provide clues and help you know when to step in to diffuse a potentially volatile situation. Any company that employs more than one person carries some level of risk that a conflict can be brewing at any given time. The United States Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics found that between 2002 and 2009, the rate of nonfatal workplace violence has declined by 35%, but even without violence, it is still a serious issue that can cost a business money.

1. Personality clashes

Add a teaspoon of vegetable oil to a half cup of water, cover with a lid and shake it well. No matter how hard you try, the oil and water will not mix. Like oil and water, some personality types simply do not mix. Nothing can be more miserable for employees than the feeling of being stuck dealing with someone whose personality clashes with their own. A negatively-thinking person may be unable to stand the constant irritation of someone who is constantly positive and happy person. The same can be said of the negative vibes that positive thinking employees have to endure. At some point there will be conflict. A survey conducted by Forbes in 2015 demonstrated a nearly unanimous response that personality clashes were the number one reason for workplace harmony.

A variety of personality tests can be administered to better help determine which employees would work well together and which pairings might produce friction and conflict. It is much easier to take the time to determine this ahead of time rather than spending extra effort monitoring volatile situations, or waiting for a serious clash of personalities that might cost your business money.

2. Employees bringing personal problems to work

Work hours only reflect a portion of the day for most employees. Life happens for everyone, and there are always challenges. It is difficult to shut off emotions and not bring outside problems to the workplace, but every effort should be made to create a drama-free work site. Everyday stress needs to be balanced with a compassionate take on situations that employees experience.

Stay in tune with the demeanor of employees so that you can recognize when they are stressed and seem anxious. Place information in key areas where employees gather for breaks to recommend sources of localized assistance for food, legal, medical or financial emergencies.

3. Gender and race conflict

It might seem strange that in one of the most technologically driven societies, discriminatory situations can arise involving gender and race. The cold hard fact is that prejudices still arise from time to time and create complete chaos when conflicts flare. Both situations are centered and driven by hate and fear, meaning things can spiral out of control quickly.

It is important to offer sensitivity training any time there have already been conflicts regarding gender and race, or if the possibility of future conflicts exists. All employees, no matter their position, must understand that discriminatory behaviors and problems with not be tolerated.

4. Co-worker jealousy

When one coworker feels they are being treated unfairly in comparison to another, jealousy can breed. This may simply be a false perspective, but even the slightest tint of favoritism for one employee over another can stoke the fires of conflict. If there are significant differences in pay, benefits, promotions and vacation days, it will begin to evoke feelings of jealousy in employees who feel slighted.

The best way to handle this type of conflict is to have strict policies in place when it comes to pay, benefits, off-time, and opportunities for promotion. Adhere to the guidelines, and make decisions and opportunities fair for everyone. Feelings of jealousy will die off if there is no fertile ground to permit it to grow.

Business operations conflicts

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Sudden, unexpected changes in a business’s operation, or even a poorly planned infrastructure, can create an atmosphere that is the perfect breeding ground for conflict. Businesses have to streamline at times in order to stay on top. Below are some of the more typical reasons that conflicts can happen when it comes to business operations as a whole.

1. Perceived unequal pay and job duty distribution

Nothing can give birth to feelings of unequal treatment faster than pay rates and unfair distribution of work. Employees talk, and if one is making a significant amount less while doing equal or more work, there will be a conflict at some point. Policies forbidding employees to discuss wages with one another never work, and even if they did, they’re illegal.

Complete company transparency is the best way to handle this type of potential conflict. Allowing employees to see how and why raises are given is a golden opportunity to build an incentive to work well. Listen to feedback from employees regarding the number and intensity of tasks that are expected to be completed in a given workday and whether those tasks are fairly distributed. Often, managers are unaware of tasks that aren’t reasonably possible to complete in the time allotted, so employee feedback is absolutely necessary to fix these problems. Once these problems have been identified, a few changes to balance things may be all that is required.

2. Supervisor/Employee clashes

How well do your employees and supervisors work together? This is another source of conflict that may revolve around a difference in personalities. Supervisory and management personnel may have the credentials to direct a group of people, but how refined are their people skills?

Management level employees should optimally have the skills to work with all personality types in all situations. Providing social occasions involving all levels of personnel allows everyone to come together in a more relaxed environment. Added opportunities for supervisory training can also help you develop an eyes-on-the-ground approach to possible conflicts and quell them early on.

3. Dramatic policy or operations changes

At times, businesses have to dramatically change operational procedures, and it can leave employees feeling frustrated, since they are not part of the decision-making process. Sudden major changes can throw people off their game. It is not surprising to see upticks in the number and severity of conflicts during these times of stress from change.

Offer as much notice and explanation as possible before implementing large-scale change. Create a positive outlook from the start that all can embrace. Offer plenty of transition time and training as is possible in order to mitigate the inevitable frustration and stress.

External business influences

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Not all workplace conflict starts and ends within the company’s direct influence. Keeping up with the pace of the world in business can force changes and reconfiguration, causing conflicts to erupt where there were none before. Below are two of the most common sources of conflict caused by outside forces.

1. Economic downturns

The world economy often takes unpredictable turns. When the economy falters, it directly impacts the financial structure of a business. This can lead to something as simple as employees being offered fewer hours each week, or situations as dramatic as mass layoffs. When companies feel the pinch of a tough economy, it is only a matter of time before it trickles down to the employees.

When possible, assure all employees on a regular basis that their jobs are secure. Trimming hours is usually more preferable than the thought of losing a job altogether. Give as much advance warning as possible if there is the real possibility of having to let employees go. Not only does this give them time to prepare for the worst, it builds trust between them and the company.

2. Technological changes

The fast pace of the business world creates demand for companies to stay on top of technological advances. Huge changes that bring businesses more in line with the world’s operation can be intimidating to employees who may not be technologically inclined.

Ongoing training should be provided for employees who are struggling to learn how to operate new equipment and computer programs or systems. This provides necessary stress relief and helps keep conflicts to a minimum.

Tips to keep in mind

During the actual process of observing, analyzing, discussing, and finally resolving the process, there are a few things to keep in mind that might hopefully keep tensions from rising too high. We’ve already mentioned the first, but it bears repeating.

1. Listen carefully to determine the entire scenario, then troubleshoot

The key to finding a common point on which to agree is understanding. By paying attention to what the other person is saying and trying to learn what they really want, it’s much easier to determine which concessions will be worthwhile. Then, together, you can troubleshoot the issue accurately and form an effective solution.

2. Remain neutral

The instant you become combative or take an offensive stance, the other person will respond in kind. If communication breaks down to the point where neither side is listening to the other, then you will never find a solution that works. All of your energy will be spent fighting each other. Keeping a neutral tone and mindset, on the other hand, communicates that you are not trying to take something from anyone else. It boosts your credibility and significantly increases the likelihood that the other person will listen to what you have to say.

3. Make resolution the priority, not “winning” or “being right.”

It is all too easy to fall into the trap of assuming that the only way to solve a conflict is to “win.” Being so certain that your way is the only right way is a sure way to alienate the other person. People who feel that they are being ignored or talked down to will often dig in their heels. Instead, respect that the other person may have some good points himself and again, be willing to listen.

4. Focus on the situation at hand, not the past.

Assigning blame is focused on the past. The thing about the past, though, is that it’s already happened. It can’t be changed. It can’t be fixed. It can’t be undone. Holding a grudge or trying to figure out whose fault it is in the moment is counterproductive, clouding judgments and distracting from solving the real problem. While it is important to figure out what caused the conflict in the first place, doing so when faced with a conflict is not the ideal time.

When it comes to conflict, one of the best pieces of advice we can receive is to prepare ahead of time. Knowing the best way to interact with someone—whether that person is a customer, a coworker, a friend, or a family member—can help prevent escalating problems and keep a difficult situation from spiraling out of control. For in-depth training on how best to handle conflicts with other people, take a look at the conflict resolution training offered by Shapiro Negotiations, N.I.C.E. vs. Nasty – Dealing with Difficult People.

Brand Architecture

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One of the biggest challenges every corporation or organization faces is presenting a clear brand to the public, otherwise known as brand architecture. There are four major approaches to creating a brand architecture: umbrella, product, endorsed, and monolithic brands. Many channels can be used to show these branding choices off to consumers, but social media is increasingly the most talked about these days.

What Does a Brand Architecture Do?

At its base, your brand architecture is a promise to the consumer. If you’re an American traveler in Africa, seeing a brand like Kentucky Fried Chicken or Coca-Cola carries a specific promise that whatever you’re about to purchase approximates a specific expectation of quality. KFC is KFC whether you buy it in Fort Wayne or Guangzhou. If you own an Apple iPhone and then elect to purchase an Apple Watch, you do so with the expectation that Apple’s clean and straightforward iOS interface will be there to reduce your learning curve. Buy the brand and get the quality you expect—that’s the underlying social contract proposed by any successful brand architecture. 

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The Umbrella Brand

The logic behind the umbrella brand  is to foster a good name that can be readily transferred to other products and services. The goal is almost always to create brand extension, allowing customers to buy into an entire lifestyle. The net effect, when done well, is to transfer good will and trust gained from a single successful purchase into a desire to buy other products and services within the branding family. 

The Axe brand of men’s products from Unilever represents a strong example of this type of strategy. Axe is not thought of by consumers as a Unilever product. In fact, consumers rarely think about Unilever when purchasing the products from any of the company’s brands. Axe’s brand architecture creates an umbrella over an entire family of colognes, body sprays, shampoos and other products. It’s such a thoroughly developed name that if you’re familiar with the products, there’s a good chance you have a mental picture of the type of customer who purchases those products too. 

A few companies take the umbrella approach to a grander scale. Virgin might represent the most extreme example. The company is an umbrella brand attached to everything from musical acts to commercial space flight. The name is plastered on airliners and soda cans. The brand is strongly attached to the lifestyle fostered by Richard Branson, Virgin’s founder. Consumers are expected to identify with his somewhat outsider and eccentric persona. By extension, purchasing the Virgin brand is a way for those consumers to tell themselves and others that they, too, are mavericks. 

The Product Brand

The product brand architecture stands strongly by itself. If you think about a product such as Pampers diapers, there’s a good chance that you cannot recall the actual parent company’s name. (Pampers are made by Proctor and Gamble.) The logic is that the brand itself becomes insulated from the parent company. 

This can be beneficial for a number of reasons. If a company wants to offload the branded property, it’s wise to not have it too strongly attached to a specific parent brand. For example, it’s hard to imagine any company except Sony ever selling a Playstation. 

Another benefit is that a company can easily come into the market at a lower price point with a weaker product without creating brand confusion or convincing consumers to purchase the cheaper item. For example, car brands sometimes suffer if consumers conclude that they can obtain a similar product at a better price point. Chrysler once sold the New Yorker while also selling the Dodge Dynasty. The two cars were very similar and both had a good reputation among consumers. Ultimately, though, the parent company was forced to kill the cheaper Dynasty line. 

The Endorsed Brand

The endorsed brand architecture is a bit of a hybrid of the umbrella brand and the product brand. The previously mentioned Sony Playstation is a strong example of this approach. It’s difficult to picture one without the other. Especially in the Playstation’s early days, the endorsement from Sony’s trusted and long-established name gave the gaming console credibility and helped consumers take the leap to purchase the company’s first foray into the video game market. 

Using an endorsed brand architecture helps lead the consumer gently toward a strong, positive conclusion about a product. In the ideal scenario, a parent company will transfer good will from one successful product up the chain to the umbrella brand and then back down the chain to another product. Unfortunately, this approach has a poor track record. For example, Apple has worked hard to turn the goodwill it has with consumers after the success of the iPhone into successful launches for everything from home media centers like the Apple TV to the Apple Watch. In several of those cases, though, these products have largely failed to gain the traction that Apple hoped to achieve. 

The Monolithic Brand

The monolithic brand architecture stands above the individual products themselves. BMW buyers have for years been purchasing cars with model names that most consumers can barely remember. People who buy a BMW X5 don’t tell people they bought an X5 in the way that someone who purchases a Ford Mustang says they bought a Mustang. The buyer simply tells their friends that they purchased a BMW. Model doesn’t matter because the BMW make is monolithic. 

The major pro of a monolithic approach is its simplicity. This is great for companies like BMW because, in the popular imagination, the firm only does one thing. BMW doesn’t need to spend a ton of money launching new products because the monolithic brand does all the heavy lifting. 

In comparison, look at the trouble that Ford had launching its Five Hundred series while killing off the Taurus. The Ford brand wasn’t strong enough to sustain the 500, and many consumers were angered by the death of the trust they had invested in the Ford Taurus. Ultimately, Ford was forced to abandon the Five Hundred and revive the Taurus.

The pro can quickly become a con for a more diversified company, since it can be hard for consumers to understand what’s going on when they see a narrowly defined brand attached to something else. This is especially hazardous if consumers decide this represents a cheapening of the brand when they see its name being slapped on everything with no regard to the original promise of a single product with a high standard for quality. Think of every designer fashion brand that ever went south by introducing a line of perfumes and handbags that found its way into a Walmart or Target store. 

Brand Architecture in a Social Media World

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Social media has rapidly become one of the most popular methods for companies to showcase their brands where consumers can interact with them. The huge number of social media channels, covering everything from Facebook and Twitter to the next cool thing tweens will be swiping their thumbs across in six months, makes this a uniquely challenging branding environment. The speed, low cost and ease of use of social media, however, more than make up for some of the potential headaches that can accompany its use. On social media, your customer service and sales teams are directly connected to your customer base, and those customers have willingly opted in to this connection. If your sales teams have been trained in effective sales techniques like those taught by Shapiro Negotiations, these connections can lead to trusted relationships, increased sales, and a positive reputation.

With social media, you can speak directly to the most engaged consumers of your brand. A Twitter user who follows Beyonce has bought into the brand that she’s selling. This means there is none of the waste and inefficiency that comes with spending millions of dollars pushing an advertisement over the heads of millions of people who will hear and immediately discard it.

A Twitter follower isn’t just a buyer. They’re often a believer in the brand itself and can be quickly converted to an ambassador for the brand. The right tweet from Michael Kors doesn’t stop at the follower who reads it. Often, that follower will retweet and blog about the tweet, spreading the message to yet another subset of consumers. 

The brand’s message quickly gets blasted at more eyeballs, and along the way the follower is attaching his or her own good faith to the brand. Every individual is, to some extent, a miniature brand. The guy who’s waiting to see an announcement from Ford about the next model of the Raptor isn’t just a guy who wants to buy a truck so he can drive to work. He’s a person who has invested a lot of personal effort into telling other people that he’s an off-road enthusiast. The net effect is that his retweet lends additional credibility to the brand for any reader who trusts him. 

Social media channels take many shapes. A company needs a presence on sites like LinkedIn too. While it’s easy to think of LinkedIn as a hiring channel, it also ties together many people who are enthusiastic about brands. They may have worked as employees, or they may be attached to other companies in the same sector. 

Which Brand Architecture Fits Your Company?

Some big companies can be differentiated according to their respective brand architecture. Probably, the branding structure each of them has been implementing simply works well based on many factors.

On the other hand, a strategy alone is not enough to make it work. Before you implement any brand architecture, you need to know which one fits your company. It is better to consider a lot of factors that determine, which type of brand architecture you should adopt.

Factors to Consider When Determining Your Brand Architecture

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1. The Size of Your Company

For the sake of simplicity, let’s assume your company isn’t huge. You have a few good products to showcase, and you’re still creating brand awareness with the public. Would you consider the Umbrella brand architecture? Unless your company compares with giants like Google (now under the umbrella of Alphabet) or Procter and Gamble, it might be a bit unrealistic.

Meanwhile, a Monolithic brand architecture, though perhaps ironically named in this case, may do well for your company because you have a few strong brands within your portfolio. Large companies are not the only ones that find success in the Monolithic architecture. Some companies that are  just new in the market can utilize it properly. Still, while it is not necessarily limiting in all cases, when it comes to choosing a brand architecture, size does matter.

2. Long Term Objectives

Building a brand architecture takes time. Even if there are major events happening within your companies, you can’t simply change your strategic goals without evolving your long-term goals at the same time. If your objective is to launch more sub-brands in the near future, an Endorsed brand architecture may encourage your ambassador brand to boost your sub-brands, leveraging itself at the same time.

3. Market Profile

What are your products? For whom are they made? How strong is the competition? Take this questions into account as you profile your market. Many companies invest heavily in market study such as surveys in order to have a complete view of target markets. Figure out where your client demographic fits in, then use that to develop your own plan as you build your brand.

4. Mergers and Acquisition

Mergers and acquisition are generally instigated by one of two events: bankruptcy or expansion. When one company is about to go bankrupt, they will often merge with or be acquired by a stable company to avoid losing everything. On the other hand, two competing companies may merge in order to strengthen their positions or to expand.

How do these changes impact brand architecture? When two companies merge, competing brands will become consolidated under a single family brand. The inferior brands from one company will no longer have to compete with the superior ones from the other. Instead, one will often become part of an Endorsed or Umbrella brand architecture, becoming part of a broader suite of products.

5. Market Changes

In consumer markets, nothing is permanent. Even giants that were once thought to be invincible can fall. Economic upswings and downturns often impact markets, causing consumer spending to rise and fall on all brands. Such dynamic movement often reduces the a company’s ability to stick to with a particular branding strategy. Remember, the market is ultimately what dictates which strategy is works for individual companies and in given situations. Choose the architecture that works best for your company, but realize that you may be forced to adapt in the future.

6. Management

Your company’s management infrastructure also has an impact on your brand structure. The size of your sales force and the efficiency of your customer support may become factors that can have a strong influence on how you shape your brand architecture. If it is reasonably within your company’s budget, it may be wise to conduct a consultative study to find out how best to structure your brand. On the other hand, the brand structure itself may prove to be important or complex enough that you are required to adapt your management structure to match.

Conclusion

Building a brand architecture requires the ability to commit to the long-term vision of a company. It’s important to be able to imagine where your company is going. Will it dip its toe into a number of industries, the way Virgin has? Will it monolithically sell one product from now until the end of time, like BMW? Your brand architecture is a specific contract that you make with the consumer, and it’s important that whatever approach you take allows you deliver on the implied contract that underpins the entire arrangement.

Market Segmentation Vs. Mass Marketing

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Theory and Strategies of Mass Marketing 

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Mass marketing is a market strategy whose aim is to appeal to the largest portion of the market while ignoring demographic differences in order to reach the highest number of potential customers possible. This strategy focuses on high sales volumes at lower price points, traditionally using radio, television and print media to gain maximum exposure for the product. This market coverage strategy is the opposite of niche marketing and seeks to appeal to all customers regardless of niche or segmentation by offering products that are useful to a wide variety of people with different needs. 

Mass marketing is most effective when used to advertise products that are considered necessities, which a large number of people are already guaranteed to be shopping for anyway. By building brand awareness through memorable advertisements, this strategy aims to alter the behavior of consumers so they will be directed towards the product being marketed. By producing goods that are needed by a large market and offering them at competitive prices, a mass marketing strategy increases the potential for high volume sales while reducing the costs of manufacturing through mass production. 

Products that are mass marketed often practice planned obsolescence in order to reduce the cost of production and ensure that consumers will have to come back and buy the product again. By manufacturing products with low quality materials, companies can ensure consumers will need to replace their items, creating opportunity for future sales. A large number of these products are considered staples—items that customers regularly purchase after they wear out or are used up. Staples can be promoted as being cheaper, even if less durable, because they are sold at a low enough cost to make recurring purchases affordable. 

Mass Marketing Techniques

A number of mass marketing techniques are used to appeal to the largest audience possible. The shotgun approach, which attempts to reach the audience with advertisements on traditional media such as television, radio, and the internet, has been widely used and is likely the most familiar technique Advertisements utilizing the shotgun approach present a non-exclusive message that appeals to a broad range of customers. 

Guerilla marketing is another commonly used tactic in mass market strategies. This strategy aims to produce advertisements that capture the attention of a large market with exciting and memorable messages while engaging consumers in a positive way. By utilizing online distribution methods, this strategy tends to minimize the cost of advertising while offering companies the ability to interact with a large base of viewers. In theory, guerilla marketing leaves a stronger impression with consumers by cutting through the noise of a saturated market. 

 

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Disadvantages of Mass Marketing 

Although mass marketing is widely used, a number of disadvantages that can make this strategy less effective should be considered. An increasing number of consumers are dissatisfied with the “one size fits all” approach and seek out more specialized products than those offered under the mass marketing umbrella. The rise of online reviews has muted the swaying power of advertisements, taking the effectiveness of directing messages about their products away from companies and placed it in the hands of consumers. The effectiveness of mass marketing to attract customers has decreased as marketing strategies attempted to replicate traditional advertising efforts in the new world of online marketing. 

Culture and location’s impact on how advertising messages are received is another disadvantage of mass marketing. A mass marketing campaign may be successful in one region while failing to make an impression on consumers in another. The geographic location and culture of a consumer base have an impact on how those consumers respond to a message, and consumers in different regions will often require different services and products related to their locations. By targeting advertising in regions that may not have a need or interest in a type of product or service, companies can end up wasting money on marketing efforts that don’t attract new customers. 

Because of the high cost of mass market efforts, this strategy often yields a lower return on investment than other strategies, in spite of its potential to generate high volumes of sales. Production costs for advertising spots, as well as the cost of placing those ads on the radio, internet, and television mean that this strategy often requires a large marketing budget. While mass marketing can be successful for general products and is typically considered low risk, the potential of a company’s message not resonating with consumers could lead to money wasted on failed advertising. 

Customer Experience

As the internet has risen to prominence over recent decades, it has become apparent that a better user experience for customers is more and more important, and mass marketing strategies have failed to maintain the effectiveness they had in the past. Consumers find online reviews on sites like Amazon and Yelp to be more trustworthy than commercials and advertising, meaning companies can no longer take the same liberties regarding quality in their products. Word of mouth has become a powerful tool for marketers, and the first step in generating that kind of buzz is to produce goods that can back it up. 

Audience segmentation is the process of determining which consumer traits characterize a certain group, or segment of a given market. In mass marketing, marketers ignore audience segmentation in favor of reaching all consumers in a large market and appealing to their needs with a product that most people need or use. However, by not targeting a specific niche, mass marketing can lead to dilution of branding efforts by causing consumers to become bored an oversaturated environment. 

By understanding a narrow niche of consumers, companies can better serve that segment of the market and create stronger relationships with their customers. By establishing itself as a provider of quality products or services and catering to a specific segment with a marketing strategy that resonates with customers on a deeper level, a company can generate positive word of mouth and spread its message effectively and efficiently.

 

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Segmentation and the Sales Funnel 

One element of sales psychology not taken into account by mass marketers is the concept of buyer personas. Buyer personas are theoretical, idealized versions of customers who purchase a company’s products. These personas help to focus marketing efforts by describing the type of consumer that the advertisement is trying to reach, giving marketers deeper insight into the behaviors and patterns exhibited by their customers. By understanding the potential buyer personas that a marketing effort targets, a company can fine tune its product development to best appeal to the given market segment.

The “sales funnel” is the buying process consumers go through in order to acquire goods or services from a company. By understanding the target segment, companies can fine tune their market efforts to appeal to their consumer base while delivering goods or services in a manner that best fits that particular niche. Studying buyer personas, marketers can better understand the different ways that consumers receive and respond to different sales techniques, allowing for the implementation of a sales funnel, staffed with salespeople who have been given proper training in effective sales techniques like that offered by Shapiro Negotiations, that nurtures that persona. In addition to buyer personas that map out the ideal customer, personas can also be developed to describe problematic customers and develop tactics to prevent problems with these customers before they arise.

By advertising with buyer personas in mind, companies can tailor products and content to the appropriate segment, resulting in greater market penetration and more effective marketing campaigns. By nurturing specific buyer personas and providing them with the optimum sales process, companies can increase their customers’ satisfaction and foster a more positive user experience. With a strong product and effective market segment research, rather than the broad and unfocused technique involved in mass marketing, marketers can increase their appeal to consumers through targeted strategies that improve customer satisfaction and leave a lasting impression.

How to Negotiate an Extra Day Off from Work

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The workforce is more competitive than ever these days. With the economy on the upswing, more businesses are trying to find employees and entice those who may have given up on finding steady work. This being said, we all need a day off from work occasionally. Whether you’re sick, dealing with a family emergency, or just need a “mental health day,” a day off gives you the chance to rest, recharge, and breathe. You can negotiate for extra time successfully if you follow the right tips.

Know Your Workplace’s Policies

Every workplace, and often every department supervisor, has a different policy when it comes to time off. Some companies, such as Xerox, allow employees to buy extra vacation time, deducting from your pay using pre-tax dollars. Others have similar leave without pay (LWOP) policies, and some will allow leave with pay depending on the circumstances.

For example, you are more likely to get leave with pay to take care of a chronically ill child or other family member. However, never take any policy for granted. Do your homework, especially in regard to your department or supervisor. How often does this department or person grant extra time off? Under what circumstances? How many vacation or sick days are negotiable? Answer these questions before ever bringing up extra time off.

Be Calm

Negotiating extra time off can sometimes be emotional. You may want the extra time because you’ve been given a heavier workload than usual, or perhaps you are expected to do others’ work without overtime or credit. You may need the extra time because you’re unexpectedly ill or because a family member has a serious need.

These situations can tempt you to get angry or even cry during negotiations. Try to avoid this. Although most employers are understanding, too much emotion is off-putting. Anger especially can make you look disrespectful or ungrateful. If you have a pressing need or a grievance related to extra time off, take a deep breath and prepare yourself. You could even practice the request with a trusted colleague.

Respond to Needs

Ideally, you’ll ask for extra time off when it’s convenient for both you and your boss. Sometimes though, this isn’t possible. If you must ask for extra time off during a busy season, be prepared to compromise. If you really want a week, perhaps you could compromise and take three days. If you need four days, maybe you can take two.

Empathize with your supervisor. Say something like, “I know we’re in a busy time. What can I do to help?” Offer to check in during your time off, or come in on a day you’d normally be absent to make up for the extra time. Additionally, offer to work with the people who’ll cover for you so they know exactly what your duties entail.

Be Confident and Warm

When negotiating for time off, be confident, but be friendly. Avoid “closed” body language like crossed arms; this can make you look demanding. Emphasize your hard work or remind your boss of something you’ve done well, but don’t say things like, “I deserve this.” If you’d like extra help, check out our negotiation training for assistance.