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.
An employer's top responsibility is to create a workplace that is as safe as possible. This article examines what companies should do to minimize the chances of a workplace accident.
Companies that don't make employee safety a top priority may have a hard time attracting or keeping quality employees. They may also struggle to find customers who are willing to put up with their inability to take safety seriously. Let's take a look at what companies should know about minimizing the chances of a workplace accident.
Create a Culture of Safety
It is critical that everyone within your organization understands the importance ofminimizing accidents in the workplace. Everyone from the owner to the person who takes out the trash should look for hazards and try to mitigate them. Ideally, management will make themselves available to employees who want to offer suggestions or report hazards. Managers and ownership should also make sure that they take accident reports seriously and that they don't retaliate against those who report an accident. While employers are not required to hold an injured worker's job while he or she recovers, it can be a good idea to do so as it shows loyalty to a quality employee.
Who Makes the Rules?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is one of the key federal workplace safety enforcement groups. Many businesses focus heavily on being OSHA compliant and failing to do so could result in heavy fines and other penalties. In some cases, companies could be forced to close until they have fixed any issues that OSHA inspectors find. States may have their own version of this agency, and these state agencies typically enforce rules that are similar to those set at the federal level.
Learn From Your Mistakes
Employers are encouraged tolearn from their mistakes as doing so can minimize the chances of an accident happening again in the future. For instance, if an employee slips on a wet floor, it may be a good idea to purchase shoes with specialized soles. It may also be a good idea to review policies related to machine guarding or any other relevant policy after an accident occurs. Ideally, your company will opt to improve those policies or offer employees more training to help them understand their responsibilities in a given situation.
An employer's top responsibility is to create a workplace that is as safe as possible. Even if OSHA or other regulatory agencies didn't exist, there are many benefits to creating a safe workplace. A key benefit is a happy workforce that is loyal to its employer and more productive overall.
Here is another article you might enjoy: Top Tips For Women Just Entering The Workforce
The challenge of entering the corporate world presents unique challenges for women. Here are three areas of concern for females going into the world of work - whether in their 20's or 50's - and expert advice on how to not just survive, but thrive in today's environment.
Women face unique challenges in the workplace that can hold them back from reaching their full potential. Whether you're in your 20s and just starting out or have finished your degree and are preparing to re-enter the workforce, here are some excellent career tips that are all about empowering you in your professional journey.
Know Your Value
Unfortunately, companies are often invested in their own well-being. They consider employees expendable and have high, fixed expectations that cause employees to question their own competence and self-worth whenever they fall short. Do not play down your talents or abilities in an interview or around co-workers. Although it is intimidating, speak up for yourself when others try to speak for you or tell you what to do. Bullying comes from bosses, too, and far too many supervisors abuse their authority and use it as a way to degrade employees, especially females.
Research the positions you're applying to extensively. Learn about the average salary, and make sure you're being offered what your skills are worth. Do not undervalue the potential of your own contribution to a company, and don't speak passively about your achievements. Even if you are entering the workplace with limited experience, speak strongly about your passion, abilities and greatest strengths.
Safety can be a challenge for women in the workplace. Understand that workplace bullying and sexual harassment is never your fault, but you are not forced to just deal with it. Addressing the last point, by knowing your own value, you can set clear boundaries and know how to respond when they've been crossed, or you've been violated. Workplace harassment, especially of sexual nature, is not always as obvious as you expect. Know what kinds of attention cross the line. Inappropriate comments, off-handed remarks, and flirtatious messages passed off as "jokes" are unacceptable. Avoid going in storage closets, parking garages, or stairwells alone, especially after-hours. Workplace safety for women is a major topic of discussion in every industry, and it improves only when women take stands against unwanted behaviors.
Many women either have either a passive or aggressive communication style. The former is rooted heavily in frequent apologies, unspoken feelings and not knowing how to say no to something you don't want to do. Aggressive communicators are defensive and always on-guard, prone to conflict and believe they have to "strike first" and stand their ground to avoid being taken advantage of. You do not have to be "nice" to everyone. Being courteous and respectful is important, but your need to be kind to others shouldn't enable them to be unkind to you. Take ownership of your feelings by using "I" statements. Say "thank you" instead of "sorry," and make eye contact when you're talking to or listening to others.
Getting started in your career can be challenging, but there are tools like the ones above that can help you to succeed. You are a valuable asset to companies out there—you just need to be able to help employers see it. Embrace the opportunities you'll have to learn and grow, and don't let anyone take your power and you’ll be able to better succeed as you enter the workforce.
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.
Innovations in technology that have allowed the person to try their hand in business have also provided a plethora of opportunities for helping a business to succeed. Today, industries of all kinds rely on technology to maintain a streamlined service for their employees and customers. But is technology that important to business? The following list details some of the ways tech can be utilized to enhance the day-to-day operations of a business.
If you run a retail business, nothing can cost you as much in both your budget and sales than an unorganized inventory system. Thus, one of the most important features a retail business must have is a high tech point-of-sale system. According to Celerant Technology, learning how to use a retail POS is an important investment that can transform your business, so it's essential to utilize all the features available to you. These POS systems allow you to have a detailed and live report on your inventory. Consider introducing training for your employees to use this system as they will probably be the ones interacting with it the most.
Communication Tools and Apps
Communication apps and tools have saved thousands of businesses over the years. This is because information is a highly valued asset in business. Communication tools, such as Facebook Messenger and Instagram, can allow your company to take advantage of minute-to-minute opportunities. Also, video communication tools like FaceTime have provided small business owners the ability to negotiate via the internet with their clients or potential vendors. This alone has provided countless opportunities to less-established businesses, which, according to BroadVision, are opportunities that would not have been there if it weren't for these communication tools and apps.
Often, it is not the lack of marketing or sales that bring down a business, but the lack of accuracy within its financial records. Your own lack of organization can easily create issues with your local county or even the IRS. There are currently hundreds of financial software tools out there that have saved businesses from going through these ordeals. They often provide you with notifications dealing with your taxes and updates on changes to the law that could affect you.
Technology is not something people should fear as a tool that can steal jobs. It can supplement and enhance your team's efforts, opening the doors to a business' growth. Simply follow the list above to begin implementing these technology tools and suggestions into your own business.
(BPT) - If there’s one thing that keeps small business owners up at night, it’s cash flow problems. Without solid cash flow, businesses can lose employees and suppliers, and watch as their normal business operations fall apart. When small businesses run into these issues, they often struggle to find a way out, making cash flow problems feel like quicksand. Thankfully, it is possible to pull yourself to safety. Here are just some of the ways small business owners can adapt their business practices and overcome the nightmare of poor cash flow.
Rethink your invoices
If you’re not sending invoices out as soon as possible, start right now. It’s simply the only way to get paid. But beyond that, you may consider changing your invoice policies to encourage timely payments from your customers. You can offer a small discount if they pay before the agreed-upon term, charge a late penalty or consider invoice factoring or financing. Whatever you do, keep on top of your invoices because they’re ultimately the key to solving any cash flow problem.
Take stock of your tech
Your technology investments were supposed to improve operations and drive efficiencies to save you money. But did they? Consider taking stock of your existing technology infrastructure. You may find hidden, costly issues that hinder your ability to maintain solid cash flow. For example, if you invested in an ecommerce site but it has poor UX design and doesn’t accept popular payment options like PayPal and Apple Pay, you’re leaving money on the table.
If you’re not a tech expert, it’s critical you have a technology partner that you can count on to give sound advice. Dell Small Business advisors can provide insight into the latest advancements and help guide your decisions to improve both your operations and your cash flow.
Upgrade your accounting software
If you’re using outdated accounting software, you may be turning a blind eye to potential cash flow problems. Newer accounting systems come with advanced monitoring capabilities, can automate invoices and generate cash flow reports. These reports provide insights into your cash inflow and outflow, so you can quickly identify and resolve cash flow problems. The best method to take charge of your company’s financial health is to have the best information available, and the simplest way to do that is with powerful accounting software.
Making long-term investments may be reckless for small businesses tight on cash. But there are other ways to make your money work for you while maintaining liquidity. For example, you can direct your accounts receivable payments to a high-interest savings account so you start earning interest immediately after your invoices are paid. You can then move money to an interest-earning checking account to pay for your regular expenses. You can also use money market accounts or certificates of deposit (CDs) to improve your cash position. The important thing is to change your investment mindset and find ways to maximize every dollar coming in and going out.
Optimism is an essential characteristic of any entrepreneur. But if you’re letting that optimism get in the way of sound business practices, you’re only setting yourself up for failure. For example, buying more inventory on the simple belief that you’ll hit your sales targets during the back-to-school season is a fool’s errand. Stop playing the “hope” game and go back to your data. Set realistic targets and expectations and build your cash flow strategy around that.
While cash flow issues can certainly be alarming, they can also be temporary. By taking these steps and developing a thoughtful approach to your inflow and outflow, you can resolve cash flow problems and strengthen the financial health of your business.
The business world sometimes appears full of automatons. Working like a robot has the benefits of keeping an employee away from controversy, but the approach won't help someone wishing to get ahead. Standing out positively often leads people to success. How can you stand out under the bright light of excellence? Here are three ways traits that will help you to do just that.
Innovators and originators can achieve more than copycats. Small Business Trends explains that a business professional who brings something new and exciting to the table could create a trend that reaps incredible profits. Look at Tony Hawk, the skateboarding entrepreneur. Skateboarding remained a popular subculture for decades and spawned many cottage industries. Hawk, however, took things in a new direction and devised a billion-dollar skateboarding empire.
That said, originators will always deal with detractors. Great new ideas regularly face rejection. Radical and revolutionary ideas upset people stuck in a comfort zone. If you believe in your plans, don't let naysayers discourage you. Be flexible enough to withstand constructive criticism, and keep going forward to promote your ideas.
Sadly, integrity isn't always the most common trait among people in the business world. So, someone with integrity garners attention. Honest workers and managers are an asset to a company and the entire business world.
The idea of the corporate whistleblower typifies integrity. Meissner Associates says that finding out that the business you work for is engaging in fraudulent activity can put you in a tough position to decide if you should expose their wrongdoing, or do you remain silent. People with integrity usually make the right decision regarding whistleblowing. Let the image of the whistleblower be your guide.
The stereotype of business professionals focusing only on making money and selfish pursuits isn't always accurate. Unfortunately, many professionals do become self-absorbed and greedy. Would Bill Gates fall under that description? Microsoft's leader spent countless hours raising and donating money for charitable causes. While the average worker can't match Gates' monetary contributions, they can match his passion and attitude. Even doing "little things" for others could paint a tremendously positive picture of you.
The London Business School recommends that you allow your standing in the business community act as a way of doing good things. Explore philanthropical endeavors, and don't always focus on personal gain. Others will notice your selflessness. Ironically, you may experience career success by putting others' needs ahead of your own.
Success in the business world requires that you appear unique. Embracing endearing traits helps with this goal. Each individual has a set of personality strengths. Play to your strengths, and create the best quality work you can produce. Standing out requires more than fits and spurts of effort; apply yourself consistently in the workplace, and you will see good results.
Want to learn more ways to make your business stand out and thrive? Check out more content like this from our Video Ideas for a Better Business Life!
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