Get ahead of the rest: Smart marketing ideas for small businesses

The only people in the world who can change things are those who can sell ideas. – Lois Wyse, famous American advertising executive, author, columnist So now that you’ve taken the plunge, turned your great idea into a business and got it up and running, it’s time to start thinking about getting your name out there.

The only people in the world who can change things are those who can sell ideas.
– Lois Wyse, famous American advertising executive, author, columnist

So now that you’ve taken the plunge, turned your great idea into a business and got it up and running, it’s time to start thinking about getting your name out there. When a small business is still in its infancy, it’s very often difficult to factor marketing into the budget because money is tight. There is, however, light at the end of the tunnel. When you have a very small (or even practically non-existent) marketing budget, you simply have to be smarter about your marketing. After reading this, you’ll be ready and armed with the information you need to ensure you’re able to be clever about your business’s marketing.

Expand your network

Networking is one of the easiest ways not only to spread the word about your business, but also to meet other entrepreneurs in the industry as well as potential customers. There are often regular networking events to attend (usually for a small fee, if not for free) which provide the perfect opportunity for you to market your business, mingle with the right people and hopefully start building relationships that will make your business a success.

Helpful tip: Be sure to go to networking events prepared. Take some business cards with you and remember that first impressions are important, so be sure to make a good one.

Social media is power

Whether we like to admit it or not, social media can be a powerful marketing tool. By choosing one or two platforms as a means of connecting with your clients, you’ll be amazed at how it easy it becomes to spread the word about what you and your business offer. Social media is far-reaching and as long as the channels you choose are ones that your specific target audience will relate to, it’s almost guaranteed to do great things for your business. It can also be an excellent way of getting valuable feedback, suggestions and ideas from clients so that you can improve your product or service accordingly.

Establish a basic website

We live in a technological world in which most people turn to the Internet when they want to find something. That’s why it’s important to have an online presence in the form of not only social media, but a website too. Initially it only needs to be something simple that explains what you do and how people can get in touch. You can build it up over time and make it more visually appealing, but in the beginning, it’s really about just making your business more accessible to the masses. Producing relevant content that will interest your clients is also a simple yet effective marketing tool you can begin to implement once your site is up and running.

Use email marketing

Sending out a monthly or fortnightly newsletter to a group of people who have signed up to receive it is a great way of building up a database and keeping interested parties in the loop. Be sure to make whatever you’re sending out interesting and informative because the last thing you want to do is spam people. Email marketing is simple yet effective, and a great way of informing clients about promotions, specials and the latest news within the business.

Focus on customer service

There is one form of marketing that is free yet highly effective – and that’s word of mouth. When you offer an exceptional service or quality product, they will practically sell themselves. People who are impressed with a business and what it offers, tend to share their satisfaction with their friends and family. That’s why it’s important to treat your clients well through impeccable customer service – it’s a sure-fire way to get your name out there.

Before you can work out a smart marketing plan, you first need to work out which marketing options will work best for you and your business. Once you know:

  • what you hope to achieve through marketing
  • who your customers are
  • what you budget is
  • how much time you have to dedicate to marketing
  • who your competition is,

you can get started on crafting a smart marketing plan of action that will hopefully take your business to new heights.

 

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Here’s what you should be doing differently when it comes to your small business

Sometimes in business, entrepreneurs just get it right. Others will look on in awe and wonder what the secret to their success is and what they could be doing differently in order to become as successful. Establishing, running and growing your own business is one of the hardest yet most rewarding things you can choose to do, and it requires consistent patience, persistence and dedication. 

Sometimes in business, entrepreneurs just get it right. Others will look on in awe and wonder what the secret to their success is and what they could be doing differently in order to become as successful. Establishing, running and growing your own business is one of the hardest yet most rewarding things you can choose to do, and it requires consistent patience, persistence and dedication. As a small business owner you need to be constantly re-evaluating your business to ensure it’s performing at its absolute best. Here’s our list of a few things you should consider doing differently, if you aren’t doing them already.

Tweak and diversify

In order to have a successful business, people have to buy what you’re selling, be it a product or a service. If you noticed that sales have taken a dip, it may be time to make some changes to the things on offer. This doesn’t necessarily have to mean complete replacement, but perhaps only a few tweaks here and there. For example, you may consider creating new packages for clients that consist of a handful of your products, thereby adding value. You may find this better speaks to the needs of customers, something that should be constantly being met by your business. Diversification can also be an effective route to go and involves branching out a little. If you own a fashion business, you could think about expanding into garment care by offering a range of products that can be used to maintain the items of clothing you offer. You can end up not only appealing to already existing customers, but to an entirely new consumer market as well.

Don’t just market your product – sell your story

The key here is context. Consumers will be far more inclined to buy your product if they understand how it can help solve their problems. So how do you as the business owner go about achieving this? It’s simple: you provide the story behind the business. People tend to connect with stories, especially when it comes to those linked to specific products. The story will automatically inject meaning and emotion into the purchase process, but most importantly, telling a story brings a human element to the often clinical business world. By putting a face to the brand and sharing the story behind it, consumers are bound to feel more connected to it, and connection can not only lead to more sales, but to brand loyalty as well.

Embrace technology

Whether you like it not, the reality is that the role technology is playing in the success of small business is becoming more and more important every day. You can’t expect to grow in a technologically saturated world by turning your back on it. We don’t mean becoming tech-savvy overnight and investing in every possible element of technology pertaining to your particular business, but rather embracing it slowly but surely over a period of time. A good place to start is with social media– when used correctly, it can completely transform your marketing strategy…and for the better. Another thing to consider is the power of the Cloud. Software that operates within the Cloud can help to change how you run and manage your business dramatically. Sage One Software provides you with a fast, efficient and simple way of dealing with the financial side of your business, such as payroll and accounts. Don’t shy away from technology – it could be just the ingredient you need to boost your business.

Don’t compromise your vision

Among other things, flexibility and adaptability are two important aspects to bear in mind when it comes to running your own business. There’s no doubt that you will experience bumps in the road that require you to adapt and make changes fast, but in doing that, it’s important that you don’t lose sight of your purpose and core values. This can be easier said than done, but at the end of the day, if you compromise your vision and the principles you hold dear, you may end up regretting it. By all means make adjustments at times, but that shouldn’t mean having to sacrifice your vision completely.

Part of running your own business is learning as you go. You will stumble at times but the important thing is to get up and keep moving forward. Observe the businesses around you – you can only learn from them.

 

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Ways to improve your small business

Running your own small business comes with its ups and downs, but successful entrepreneurs are always finding ways to improve and grow their business. It can take quite some time before a small business is up and running, and for many business owners there’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears that go into building a business.

Running your own small business comes with its ups and downs, but successful entrepreneurs are always finding ways to improve and grow their business. It can take quite some time before a small business is up and running, and for many business owners there’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears that go into building a business. Once a business has been established there are always ways in which it can be improved so as to become the best business it can be, and more importantly, to deliver a product or service of the highest quality to its customers. Here are a few ways to improve your business and take it to new heights.

Set goals

It’s important for entrepreneurs to have a clear vision of where they see their business going. It’s of no use simply to float along without a clear plan. Setting various (and realistically achievable) goals will provide guidance and help a business to get to where it wants to be. It always helps to have something to work towards too and when those goals are eventually achieved, it can only boost morale and encourage further hard work. Nothing beats the addictive feeling of accomplishment.

Stay on top of things, especially the finances

Finances are undoubtedly at the centre of a business because without generating revenue, a business cannot survive. Being in control of your finances is key to ensuring that your business runs smoothly and thrives, so make sure that you’re staying on top of those expenses and cash flow. Financial trends are always changing so in the long run, it pays to have an expert keeping a watchful eye over the financial side of the business. This is especially useful if you’re not too great with numbers. Hire an experienced accountant who can look after the financial matters.

Monitor trends

The landscape of the business world is constantly changing and as a result, so are its trends. These changes can have an effect on your business so it’s important for you to monitor them and make sure you’re up to date and relevant in your approaches and stance. This will also help you be sure that you are delivering the best possible goods or services to the most important people in your business: the customers.

Be smart with your marketing

Many businesses end up wasting huge amounts of money on marketing that ultimately isn’t very effective at all. As an entrepreneur you’ll want to invest in low budget marketing, but marketing that nonetheless has a high impact. Spend wisely in this area of the business – you can even learn more about marketing yourself and then possibly run it internally, as opposed to employing an external provider. This can drastically cut costs and the money can be better spent elsewhere.

Motivate your staff

Happy employees almost always automatically mean a more successful business because of the high performance level. It’s vital to motivate your staff on a regular basis because they are, after all, the backbone of the business and if they’re not performing at their best, the chances are that the business will suffer. Motivated and talented staff is a winning combination and the more motivated they are, the more you’re likely to see your business improve more and more.

Deliver killer presentations

Getting in new business can only help your business grow and develop further. Ensure you have a well-oiled sales team or work on those presentation delivery skills so that you deliver powerful pitches and presentations to potential new business. Once people see how good you are there’s no doubt they’ll want to offer you their business.

Do what you can to improve your business over time and remember that it’s a process. Take those small steps so that your business can ultimately grow by leaps and bounds.

 

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Four ways to boost your brand

A brand is so much more than merely a slogan or logo. In fact, it’s more about the ethos and core values at the heart of a business. This is why it is particularly important that you as a business owner do whatever you can to ensure that you are projecting the best possible image you can to potential customers.

A brand is so much more than merely a slogan or logo. In fact, it’s more about the ethos and core values at the heart of a business. This is why it is particularly important that you as a business owner do whatever you can to ensure that you are projecting the best possible image you can to potential customers. Impressive branding is critical to the success of a business and the key is to elicit an emotional response from people each time they hear your name. Your business needs to be reaching and touching its target audience, and if it isn’t, you may want to reassess your current branding strategy. To get you started, here are four things you can do to boost your brand.

Make your purpose clear

Potential clients need to know exactly what your brand is about, why it exists and why your business does what it does. It’s important that your brand makes it very clear what it stands for and why people need what you have to offer in their lives. Keep your message simple and relatable, and highlight the benefits of buying into your product or service – after all, people want to know why they should choose your brand over another. Focus on doing what you can to facilitate a meaningful connection between your target audience and your brand.

Establish yourself as an expert in the field

Your brand needs to have a well thought out strategy that allows you to establish yourself as the stand-out, go-to brand in your particular industry. Showing people what makes you different and better from your competitors will help draw potential customers and will also assist with keeping current ones loyal. Establishing yourself as the authority in your specific field will garner support and respect for your brand which almost always puts you ahead of the rest.

Display reliability and continuity

Nothing leads to brand loyalty more than a constant display of service excellence, impeccable customer service and fierce commitment to quality. Your brand needs to maintain people’s positive perception of it by impressing them on a permanent basis and providing them with a consistent experience. Being considered “reliable” comes with a brand’s ability to keep its promises to customers, striving for perfection, always going above and beyond and maintaining a good reputation. Customers should never feel disappointed or let down by a brand, so as a business leader you should put measures in place that ensure that this is a rare occurrence, or better yet, one that never happens.

Tell your story

A heart-felt story at the centre of your business is a fantastic way to connect with your audience. Making your story an integral part of the brand will remind people that they’re not only buying into a product or a service, but also into the person behind the business. People tend to be drawn to something that has a personal story behind it because very often they will be able to identify with it in some way. Your story will help your audience understand why you do what you do and will convey your passion to others – something that is sure to inspire and make your brand have more of an impact.

Step back and try and look at your brand from the outside. Pretend for a minute that youare a potential client and then ask yourself: “Would I buy this product or use this service?” Once you have a clear view of the image you’re projecting, you can then start to tweak certain things to ensure that your brand is the best it can be.

You may also be interested in reading Ways to improve your small business as well asTips for growing your small business successfully.

 

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Is your business using social media to its full potential?

It’s safe to say that social media is not just a passing marketing fad, but rather a powerful marketing tool that is here to stay. When used correctly, it can prove to be very beneficial for your business, ultimately contributing to its growth and overall success. There are still quite a few skeptics out there, but hopefully after reading this post, they’ll be more willing to give it a chance.

It’s safe to say that social media is not just a passing marketing fad, but rather a powerful marketing tool that is here to stay. When used correctly, it can prove to be very beneficial for your business, ultimately contributing to its growth and overall success. There are still quite a few skeptics out there though, but hopefully after reading this post, they’ll be more willing to give it a chance. Here’s how clever use of social media (at little cost) can benefit you and your small business.

It increases brand awareness

Any opportunity to increase your visibility and recognition as a brand should be considered golden. Think of social media networks as new pathways leading customers to your brand as well further channels through which your brand’s voice can be heard. Ultimately, this will make you more accessible to both existing and potential customers. You’re also likely to see an improvement in brand loyalty as a result.

It allows for a more humanised connection

Interacting on social media enables brands to come across as more humanised, something that will automatically facilitate a more meaningful relationship with customers. Showing the human side of a brand helps people better relate to it because after all, customers prefer to do business with other people, as opposed to companies. Chances are that having a strong social media presence will result in higher conversion rates as well.

It helps create a higher brand authority

Social media platforms are an excellent way for potential customers to see how others feel about your brand. Very often, people tend to turn to social media when they want to compliment a brand or make a complaint, so it’s an easy way of determining whether or not the brand is perceived as being valuable to the general public. Also, the more people are talking about a brand or following it, the more likely they are to be seen as an authority in a specific industry.

It increases your opportunities for conversion

As mentioned previously, social media helps with conversion rates simply because the more content you put out there and the more conversation you’re involved in, the more opportunities your brand will have to entice potential customers. Each time you post or comment it provides a chance for someone to react which could lead to them visiting your site, which in turn could lead to a possible conversion. At the end of the day, every positive interaction with your brand increases the probability of an eventual conversion. You’re also bound to see an increase in inbound traffic when you use social media correctly, and more traffic means more people are being reached which ultimately means more conversions.

It enriches your customers’ experience

Just like emails and phone calls, social media is a tool for communication as well. It gives you the opportunity to publicly demonstrate the quality of your customer service and to strengthen your relationship with your customers. Social media can be the perfect way to show customers how much you care about them by responding to their needs, requests and comments by taking immediate action. This will only help customers believe in your brand more, enrich their experience with you, and hopefully as a result, recommend you to others. Your brand should always be all about your customers and the immediacy social media provides, can be used to your business’s advantage.

It helps you to learn about your audience

Social media can provide insight into your target audience which can be a huge advantage to your brand. It is an excellent social listening tool that allows you to gain valuable information with regards to the interests and needs of your customers. Once you have this insight, you can then use it when it comes to perfecting your product or service, as well as creating relevant content. You can tailor everything in accordance with what your specific audience likes and responds to, and in that way, ensure you deliver what your customers are after. It’s no use offering oranges to people who are really looking for apples.

Whether or not you believe in the power of social media, the one thing that you can be sure of is that your competitors most likely do, and therefore may be one step ahead in the game. Start small: pick one platform that will resonate and fit best with your customers, and then focus on perfecting it and building a following. Once you see the success it brings, you’re likely to try your hand at others.

Do your business and brand a favour and make sure you’re using social media to its full potential – you won’t regret it.

Sage Onlines offers a great platform for your business to start engaging socially. Visit www.sageonlinetools.co.za for more. Sage One online accounting software can also help your business reach its full potential. Get in touch for more information on its range of products.

 

Credit: http://www.forbes.com

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