How can small business owners make their companies stand out from the crowd? Finding effective, easy-to-execute marketing strategies can boost your business by helping you engage your customers while attracting new ones. Here are some proven ideas to help your business thrive!
(BPT) - With over 30 million small businesses in the U.S., it's tough to stand out from the crowd. Successful small businesses turn first-time customers into repeat business, building momentum and growing sales.
How can you achieve this? Marketing. Finding effective, easy-to-execute marketing strategies can boost your business by helping you engage your customers while attracting new ones. Here are some proven ideas to help your business thrive:
Engage first-time customers
Show new shoppers that they matter. Send welcome emails and recommend products to complement what they bought. Offer special deals to keep them coming back.
Utilize positive customer reviews
Did you know over 60% of consumers read reviews before buying? Reviews can include ratings, testimonials, photos, videos and more.
Treat reviews as marketing gold, sharing them with customers and prospects to build trust and increase sales. You can generate and integrate them into your website, on social media and other marketing efforts.
Turn shopping carts into opportunities
Let’s face it, plenty of potential customers add items to their online shopping carts and never check out. While these “abandoned carts” seem challenging, they're an opportunity.
An effective way to convert abandoned carts into sales is by drawing on the power of customer reviews. Adii Pienaar, vice president of commerce product strategy for the email marketing platform CM Commerce, says small businesses can change their fortunes with this approach.
“Our most successful small business customers don’t just send a reminder email to shoppers about items left in their carts,” said Pienaar. “They take it a step further and include positive reviews and ratings about that product with the follow-up, knowing how much importance buyers place on others’ experiences. By featuring personalized product reviews for abandoned cart items, there can be a recovery rate of 5-10%.”
Spark interest with special offers
Entice new and returning business by offering discounts, encouraging shoppers to give your business a try.
Also, if you don’t have one already, create a loyalty program for frequent shoppers, or a referral special for those inviting friends to your website or social media.
Shoppers don't want mass emails treating them like just another number. Small businesses that tailor emails based on each customer’s shopping experiences and interests are far more successful in driving sales.
Creating customized content may sound complex, but it all comes down to how you organize your customer list. For example, segment your customers by which products they’ve purchased, then use this information to inform them how to best use their products or remind them when it’s time to re-order.
Personalization really pays off when you incorporate dynamic content — information that changes based on a person’s interests — in promotional emails. Use a customer's previous purchases and shopping interests to generate ideas on products to complement items they already bought. For example, recommend a similar flavor of cupcakes to ones they ordered before.
These proven marketing approaches can springboard your business to success. But, how do you get started?
Marketing has greatly evolved, with many new, easy-to-use tools. You don’t need to be a marketing expert, technical whiz or creative designer to use them.
For example, CM Commerce is an email marketing platform designed for small ecommerce businesses. It can easily create professional email campaigns to enhance and grow your business.
To help small business owners, CM Commerce features pre-built email marketing recipes for everything from welcome emails and newsletters to abandoned cart reminders and more. Business owners can follow these guidelines and put their email marketing plans in place with a single click.
“I always recommend small business owners invest in email marketing,” said Pienaar. “It’s a cost-effective way to establish your brand and regularly reach your customers and prospects. Most importantly, email marketing has the potential for huge returns and can truly make your business stand out.”
For more tips and ideas to grow your business, visit The Marketing Resources Hub.
Sales positions have changed more in the past decade than any other time in history, becoming more complex, competitive, and tech dependent than ever before. This article explores three ways that sales positions have evolved and how you can adapt your business to account for these changes. This will help ensure that your business continues to be successful throughout the sales evolution.
Being a salesperson has always been a challenging yet rewarding job, but the position is a lot different than it was in the past. Sales positions used to be simple. You had a product, and you found a buyer. Just like that, the commission checks were rolling in. However, in these modern times, sales can be more complex. Here are three ways that sales positions have evolved and how you can adapt your business to account for these changes.
With the explosion of technology, there are so many programs and devices designed to enhance the sales experience. In fact, it's rare to find a salesperson that isn't using some sort of technology, such as handheld credit card readers, laptops, cellphones, and more. In order to keep your sales team up to speed, your company should provide access to all of this technology, rather than assuming they will invest in it by themselves.
Perceptions of Salespeople Have Changed
As with any industry, some bad apples in the sales industry caused many negative stereotypes about salespeople. It's like a stain that seems to linger no matter how hard you try to clean it. You must protect your business from these bad apples. There are some attitude and personality traits you can test for. It would be a good practice to test all of your salespeople, so you don't end up with bad apples staining your company's reputation.
More Competition Than Ever Before
Technology keeps consumers connected with each other, but it also keeps businesses connected with consumers. Now advertisements can be tailored to buyers without a salesperson needing to be present. Often, this means that by the time a salesperson gets around to pitching to a potential new customer, this person has been bombarded left and right with competitors. Now salespeople must work harder than ever to gain a customer's loyalty. You can't stop your competitors from advertising, but you can make sure to advertise just as much to bridge that gap between your salespeople and consumers.
It's true that sales positions have evolved over a short amount of time, but your salespeople don't have to be left behind. The three tips above are easy to implement within your business and your sales team. This will help ensure that your business continues to be successful throughout the sales evolution.
Not sure how to transform your business to be more tech-savvy? We recommend reading this article next.
Today, to stand-out and gain not just customers, but to gain loyal customers, you need to deliver superior value to them - and provide them with what they truly value in the service equation. It is no different in the hotel business. In fact, delivering outstanding service is absolutely crucial today, literally 100% of the time. Here's what business and leisure travelers are truly looking for today.
Whether someone is traveling for pleasure or work, they want to be comfortable in your hotel at the end of the day. Not all hotels are built similarly or function the same way. Some are better quality than others. The different features that a hotel provides are referred to as its amenities. These could encompass anything from free Wi-Fi to a hotel pool in which guests can swim whenever they want. Depending on what they’re looking for, amenities will often determine the hotel that people choose, so your hotel should at the very least provide the following basics:
Good WiFi and Cell Coverage
More and more hotels, cafes, and buildings are providing free Wi-Fi to their guests. Just because WiFi is available doesn’t mean it’s of good quality. There are a number of ways that you can improve the technology of your hotel. There are systems that reduce cellular dead zones so that customers can stay connected on your property. There’s nothing worse than a spotty connection that drops out all over the place.
Basic Kitchen Appliances
A small refrigerator can make a big difference in how comfortable a hotel room is. Guests aren’t going to be grocery shopping for the week, but it’s convenient to have somewhere they can store snacks or leftovers from dinner. A microwave allows guests to heat up their food. A lot of people don’t like to eat out the entire time that they are away from home. These small kitchen appliances can make a huge difference for guests.
A lot of people like to work out on a daily basis to keep up with their fitness level and mental health. When away from home for work or vacation, a gym facility on-site is very beneficial to guests. You don’t need to have a ton of expensive equipment available, but a few treadmills and cable machines can help people get their workout in for the day.
A lot of a hotel’s success relies on word of mouth from previous guests. It is also helpful if people want to return to your facility the next time that they are in town. Having as many amenities for your guests as possible, particularly the technology-related ones, will help increase your positive reputation and bring more guests to stay at your hotel. If people don’t feel like they were comfortable or had enough conveniences available to them during their stay, this is the reputation you will form in the hospitality industry. So to give your hotel the best chance of success, consider including amenities like the ones listed above.
Expert Advice for Entrepreneurs from Google for the Christmas Season (and Really, for Anytime of Year!)!
(BPT) - Small businesses have a major impact on their communities: 67 cents of every dollar spent on small businesses stays in the local economy. But when it comes to growing their businesses, nearly one in four small business owners say marketing is one of their biggest challenges. As small businesses prepare for the holiday rush, they are investing in digital marketing to reach new customers and stand out online.
Below are a few easy, effective ways to grow your business during this busy time of year from Kim Spalding, global product director for small business ads, Google:
1. Be discovered and build a website
People are increasingly searching for small businesses. In 2019, search interest in “mom and pop shops” hit a three-year high.
To make sure holiday shoppers are finding your business, Google My Business is a free and easy way to help businesses show up in Search and Maps. Businesses can attract customers by creating a profile where they can update their store information (like their holiday hours), create free posts that promote a special holiday offer or event and reply to reviews. Platforms like Wix and WordPress also offer free accounts that help small business owners build mobile-optimized and budget-friendly websites.
Once you have a website, adding a basic map or store locator can help customers more easily find your store by showing them your store’s location on a map and giving directions.
2. Make it easier to sell online
Ensuring customers’ online holiday shopping experience is easy and seamless is critical. Shopify is a complete commerce platform that lets you start, grow and manage a business. Shopify enables you to sell in multiple places including web, mobile, social media, online, marketplaces, brick-and-mortar locations and pop-up shops.
3. Reach more customers
Small business owners have a lot on their plates — especially during the holiday months — and finding the time to create engaging content can feel impossible. Hiring a copywriter from services like Fiverr frees up time for small business owners to focus on running their businesses while expert freelancers draft copy to attract customers.
A simple way to reach customers quickly, Smart Campaigns, created specifically for small business owners, takes 15 minutes to set up, and can help small businesses create and optimize ads to attract customers to their website or Maps. Smart Campaigns saves small business owners time by optimizing their budget across Google Ads to deliver the results they crave.
Expanded Local Campaigns can help businesses increase foot traffic by surfacing Promoted Pins that appear on the map when users are getting directions and planning their route to a destination.
4. Get a customized online business plan
Even though most business owners know their customers are on the web, 80 percent still aren’t making the most of digital tools that can help them reach more customers and work more efficiently.
Google for Small Business is a free, one-stop shop to help small businesses simplify how they select and use the online tools that can help them reach more holiday customers and work more efficiently. First, business owners input their business name, answer a few questions about their business and select a goal. Then, they receive a step-by-step, personalized plan of recommended products to help them stand out online.
Growth for small businesses isn’t always about doing more, it’s about getting things done in less time, with less complication and less worry. This holiday season, these tools can help businesses thrive by providing the support needed to connect with more customers and meet goals.
Your new business is finally up and running and you feel like a kid in a candy store. You are happy, you have all your ducks in a row, and you feel ready for that first sale. Here are five things that you need to know in order to be successful in your business now and in the future.
It's About the Experience
Businesses thrive on customers having a great experience when buying a product or service, so it's up to you to make sure that this happens for the people that you serve. Make sure that your customer's journey is a pleasant one every single step of the way.
Providing a good experience for customers is important for future growth and success because these customers are going to be able to speak well of their experience with your business. They're also the customers most likely to come back repeatedly. The way you approach customers and communicate your brand can greatly impact your success. If you’re struggling with business growth, then you may want to examine your marketing strategy. Ultimately, customer experience is what will drive your business forward.
Reputation is Important
Being able to manage your online reputation is important if you want to have a successful business. Once you've established a solid customer base, ask these customers to review you on outlets like Google and Yelp. Also, you can politely invite them to send in video testimonials of their experiences with your business, which you can use for marketing on your website.
By utilizing customer testimonials to manage your reputation, you'll be able to gain new customers faster because you have built a trust factor with your audience. If you're concerned about asking your customers for testimonials, don't be. Your customers will love to be involved in the process of your success and offer you their perspective on their positive experience in working with you.
Your Mindset Holds the Key
Some people say that the key to success is knowing how to make a sale. The true key to success is in your mindset.
Your mindset holds the key to your ability to be able to market yourself well to your target audience. If you have limiting beliefs on how many sales per month you can make or how many clients you can work with in one year, then you'll see that come to fruition in your business. Train your mindset so that you're setting yourself up for success and eliminating limiting beliefs from the get-go.
Your Business Shouldn’t Be a Replica of Someone Else’s
It's very easy when you're starting out in business to play the comparison game. Especially if your business is a year old or younger.
There may be people who have been in business at the same time as you and you see them and feel like they're crushing it with their sales goals and client testimonials and pretty photo shoots.
The truth is, your business shouldn't be a replica of anybody else's business. Your business is a living, breathing entity of its own that is specific to you and how you operate and who you serve. Don’t try to copy someone else.
Be at Peace with Failure
While you may feel like failure is one of the worst things that can happen in your new business, that could not be further from the truth.
Use failure as a stepping stone to learn what you need to know to run your business successfully. Everything in your business that doesn't work out the way you expected it to has a solution on the other side of it.
By using these five things as guideposts in your business, you're setting yourself up for success and less frustration when failure hits.
Want more ideas to help you succeed in business? Read all about The Business IDEA today!
If your marketing strategy is older than three years, it could be time for an update. Moreover, if you find your messaging is not getting the results you want, maybe it's time to go back to basics. If you work on the fundamentals of a good marketing strategy, then the results should fall in place.
Revisit Your Audience Personas
It's vital for your company to understand the likes and dislikes, backgrounds, age groups, political affiliations, dreams, and aspirations of your ideal audience persona. Consider the type of audience that would be the best match for your product and/or service. If you haven't evaluated your audience personas in years, now is the time for an overhaul — especially if your products and services have changed over time. If something isn't "clicking" with your marketing, this may be the step you need to get back on track. You can then use your updated audience personas to get back in sync with their needs and wants. Sundance explains that all this information is vital to understanding how to interact meaningfully with your target market.
Understand Your Product and Service
For this step, perhaps you should take another look at analyzing your product and service. What market need does it meet? How is it unique from similar products and services? What sets it apart from your competitors? No one can market your product and service better than your company can. While you do need customer advocates, the basics of product marketing starts with your understanding. If sales have stalled and you feel like you don't know where to take your marketing campaign, then it may be time for a refresh. Digital Marketing Training Group recommends participating in ongoing training to stay up to date on the latest trends and standards in the digital marketing industry. You can then apply your knowledge in furthering your marketing goals.
Get to Know Your Competition
When getting back to marketing basics, your company might be so focused on your product line and customers that you forget any other obstacles that might be lurking around. MarketResearch.com warns that one such hurdle in your quest for market domination would be your competitors. It is critical to get to know your competition. You can learn from their mistakes and avoid similar pitfalls.
You can also gain a better understanding of why your target audience might purchase from them instead of your company. In addition, you might learn from their successes and apply some of their winning strategies. Not to mention, you can study their segment of the marketplace to find any opportunities to sell more of your products and services.
Embrace Strategic Partnerships
In order to grow, some companies need to find allies. For instance, if you look at the history of McDonald's, Ray Kroc partnered with local bakeries throughout the nation to ensure a consistent baked product for every McDonald's franchise. As far as your company stands, think of a partnership that can work in a mutually beneficial way. If your company sells lipstick, you might partner with an eye shadow brand to sell kits instead of individual pieces. In terms of marketing, you and your partner benefit from exposure to new consumers.
There you have it, the basics of marketing. At times, going back to basics is all it takes to get your company moving in a forward direction once more.
One of the challenges facing small businesses today is trying to deliver the same customer experience as larger competitors. As technology advances and takes on an ever-growing role, small businesses can tap new innovations to better communicate with customers, save money and simplify operations. These tips can help you establish a strategy that can benefit both your business performance and customer experience.
Digitally Transforming Your Business
(Family Features) One of the challenges facing small businesses today is trying to deliver the same customer experience as larger competitors. As technology advances and takes on an ever-growing role, small businesses can tap new innovations to better communicate with customers, save money and simplify operations.
As small business owners look to transform digitally, they face a number of options, from upgrading their technology to optimize shipping operations and decrease costs to adopting digital marketing tactics to better understand and target their customers. While it can be difficult for a small business that is well-established using analog processes to switch to digital, the key is to start with the final objective in mind; in other words, begin by defining your end goal. Once you’ve determined the desired outcome of digitizing your business, these tips can help you establish a strategy that can benefit both your business performance and customer experience.
Reach customers through digital marketing
Beyond the content, an effective strategy establishes connective links between all your marketing touchpoints, from email to blog and even to your traditional tactics, such as direct mail and more, all with the goal of boosting credibility and visibility via search engine optimization and foot traffic.
Optimize operations through the cloud
“The SendPro C-Series is designed to take the guesswork out of shipping and mailing,” said Jason Dies, executive vice president and president, Pitney Bowes SMB Solutions. “These digitally connected sending devices allow users to better manage their sending operations on one platform, providing the confidence that they selected the right carrier and class of service for each expedited envelope and package, track all shipments from one dashboard and provide consolidated visibility and control of postal and carrier expenses. Plus, the open platform allows developers to create new applications specific for the needs of small business owners.”
Make decisions based on analytics
Use mobile to communicate with customers
Find more tips for transforming your business for the digital age at pitneybowes.com/us/digital.
Elements of a Digital Transformation
Before diving head-first into a digital transformation, consider what aspects are most important to your business.
Boost Business Digitally
Google G Suite is a cloud-based productivity suite that helps teams communicate, collaborate and get things done from anywhere, and on any device.
Yext puts businesses on the map by letting companies manage their digital knowledge in the cloud and sync it to over 100 maps, apps, search engines, GPS systems and social networks, as well as facilitating face-to-face and digital interactions that boost brand awareness, drive foot traffic and increase sales.
Promote by Acquisio is an advertising solution that helps businesses get new customers with zero expertise needed by creating tailored ads, providing optimization, on-the-go text notifications for incoming leads and tracking of all recorded incoming calls from ads.
Nimble is a simple social sales and marketing CRM that helps companies nurture relationships across email and social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
DocuSign lets people sign, send and manage documents anytime, anywhere, on any device, replacing traditional methods that require printing, faxing, scanning and overnighting documents.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (two business owners)SOURCE:
(BPT) - The dollar, the euro, the pound, the yen… the currency people use around the world has many different names, but it all shares something in common. Paper forms of currency are out and digital payments are in. The security and convenience of card based electronic payments and digital payments are driving a global shift away from cash. As consumers and merchants around the world become more and more digitally connected this shift will continue to accelerate.
All over the world, the shift toward cashless payments is well underway. On the beaches of Cabo San Lucas, taco and tamale vendors are starting to offer their delicious food to customers with the swipe or tap of a card on a mobile phone. In Singapore, consumers can rent bikes, pay for their morning coffee and split their dinner bill without ever needing cash, and in Warsaw, as cashless payments are becoming increasingly accepted, tourists can start to tap and pay their way around the city without carrying cash.
Changes abroad, changes at home
The United States is seeing similar changes. Cash and checks are on their way out and swiping, dipping, tapping and clicking are filling the void — benefiting consumers and businesses alike.
A recent Cashless Cities study from Visa, set to be released later this year, finds that if businesses in the top 100 U.S. cities transitioned from cash to digital payments, those businesses and their cities would experience net benefits of $312 billion per year. Businesses in New York City alone would net $6.8 billion while saving more than 186 million hours in labor. But the benefits of taking checks and cash out of the system do not stop at labor cost efficiencies. They include:
* Convenience. Consumers and businesses alike benefit from the speed and convenience of electronic and digital payments. Faster checkout times mean more sales for businesses and more time to spend on the important things in life for consumers.
* Security. Accepting cash payments has always placed businesses in a bind; as their revenue increases, so does their risk of falling victim to theft. Transitioning to cashless payment options enhances security and reduces risk for businesses and their customers.
* Reduced costs. Cash payments must be counted, stored and transported. There are costs associated with all of these processes. Adopting cashless payments saves businesses time and money.
Moving forward to take advantage of cashless opportunities
Many businesses across the country are already benefiting from going cashless, but for companies — particularly small businesses that have yet to take the leap — now is the perfect time to make such a change.
Visa is announcing The Visa Cashless Challenge, a call to action for small business restaurants, cafés or food truck owners to describe what cashless means for them, their employees and customers. Visa will be awarding up to $500,000 to 50 eligible U.S.-based small business food service owners who commit to joining the 100 percent cashless quest.
Business owners can learn more about the challenge and the other benefits of going cashless at www.visa.com/cashless. Complete rules and information will be available on the website on Aug. 15.
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