Five Tips to Help Your Business Gain a Competitive Edge

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It is critical to your business’ success to stand out from the rest. With these five top tips, you can’t go wrong.

Promote Your Business

Above all else, this should be an obvious one. If no one has heard of your business, there is little merit in investing your time and money in developing it. In order to promote your business it’s worth investing some time looking for a great advertising company. Advertising is the most powerful way to reach customers and ultimately promote interest in your business, leading to increased revenue.

Exceed Customer Expectations

Once you have your marketing campaign in place, one of the next most important things to focus on is retaining the customers you have just succeeded in attracting. This can be achieved by going that extra mile to increase customer expectations, most notably through excellent customer service. No matter what your business, proving to your customers that they come first is the best way you can hope to not only retain their loyalty, but to ensure they recommend you to others. This can be through word of mouth or by the much more far reaching online review. Attaining great reviews can transform your business as each positive review builds upon the next and trust amongst potential customers in your business grows. 

Treat Your Employees Fairly

Your company’s employees are just as important as your customers. Without them, you would not be able to successfully get your business off the ground. Mistreating employees can be detrimental to morale and will ultimately be damaging to your business. Employees who feel they are truly valued and respected will be much more willing to work hard for you when crunch time comes. Managers at the highest level need to convey to employees how they believe they all should be treated in order for this to filter down the chain. This is explored in more detail in ‘Become the Manager Employees Want to Emulate’.

Reward Customer Loyalty

Simple schemes such as the loyalty cards offered by a myriad of businesses can be enough to keep customers coming back time and again. Points based systems which reward customers once they spend a certain amount can be a great incentive. It is also worth investing in the necessary technology to support this, such as creating your own app to allow customers the ease of being able to view and collect points on their phone, as well as receive special offers only available to ‘loyal customers’.

Listen to your customers and act on their feedback

Nothing shows customers that your business is the one for them like a clear demonstration that their feedback matters. Be sure to follow up on negative feedback on a personal level, as well as to make wider changes when issues affect a range of customers. In addition to this, following up on positive feedback can also go a long way. Thanking customers who have taken the time to write positive reviews and ultimately increase your customer base can make them feel valued and more likely to recommend you.

Thinking Of Starting Your Own Business? Be Sure To Steer The Ship Away From These Icebergs!

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For many of us, especially the millennial generation, climbing the career ladder can be inherently frustrating. When young people emerge from the world of education and enter the world of work, they often find that the assumed truths on which they were raised wither under the lights of experience. The hard work and endeavor they’ve been conditioned to believe would live to success and fortune are barely enough to get them on the bottom rung. In an era where graduates outnumber vacancies, undergraduates are often being trained for jobs that don’t actually exist. Thus, bright and talented individuals can spend years wasting away in cubicles while their skills atrophy. Is it any wonder that entrepreneurship is an increasingly attractive to young people?

For a number of reasons, millennials make great entrepreneurs. Nonetheless, starting a business, even one with relatively low startup costs is a risky business. If you wish to set sail on the path of business ownership, be sure to steer the ship away from the following icebergs…

Lack of market research

When you have an idea for a business that you’re passionate and excited about, it’s easy to assume that everyone will share your passion. But even if your business mentors, business angels, prospective vendors and everyone else you show your business plan to get excited about your business… Unfortunately, this doesn’t necessarily mean that consumers will.

This is why your business plan needs to be backed by meticulous market research. The qualitative and quantitative data you glean from this can allow you to refine your idea to ensure that it resonates with your target market. If you don’t take the needs of your consumers into account, you can’t expect them to get excited about your brand.

Crippling startup costs

In a lot of ways, applying for startup funding is like applying for a mortgage. Just because you can borrow a certain amount doesn’t mean you should. Securing business startup funding can be tricky and if you are allowed to borrow a large amount you may well be tempted to go for the maximum possible amount you can for the betterment of your business. But this can hobble your new startup with debt.

The repayments and interest rates can place a stranglehold on your cash flow, meaning that it can take years for your business to become profitable.

Under investing

While new entrepreneurs do well to be conscious of the purse strings, they should also be wary of under investing. Under investment in your business can curtail the quality of your products or services and make your life a whole lot harder. If you under invest in outsourced help, you can find yourself doing too much by yourself  and this is a recipe for burnout.

Don’t be afraid to invest in managed IT services like as these are usually much cheaper than managing your own IT infrastructure. Likewise outsourced HR and digital marketing can also generate significant returns on your investment.

Assuming your customers’ loyalty

Finally, as dangerous as it is to assume “if you build it they will come”, it’s even more dangerous to assume that they will come back. It costs a great deal more to attract a new customer than to retain existing customers. Make sure that you offer a rewards system or loyalty scheme that incentivizes customers to return to you rather than taking a chance on your competitors.

How to Gain Satisfaction and Loyalty From the Customer

Guest Post by Chris Madden

The marketplace is changing with business owners getting less and less face time with their customers. With more transactions taking place online, businesses and marketing agencies need to get creative on how they can engage with customers. Here are a few things we can do to build customer loyalty and trust online.

1. Get Personal

The web as a whole is extremely impersonal, so take advantage of photographs of your business and your staff along with contact details. Social media however, is perfect for developing a connection with your customers. Often times, brands tend to speak in their“corporate voice”. This does not foster a real connection, lacks responses and people can see through it. Marketers need to know not only where their customers are on social media but what is the best way to interact with them. When businesses can “talk human” you foster brand loyalty and can potentially increase conversion rates.

2. Stay updated

Your team should be pumping out content regularly on your blog and even updating the content on your website. The benefits of doing so are two fold, not only does it improve ranking as Google will crawl your site more frequently, but it also reassures customers that your services will be updated as well. Whether it’s your in house team handling your website content or an agency that offers website design and can make updates be sure your editorial calendar is organized and tasks are delegated.

3. Special Occasions

Gifts such as birthday cards, anniversary cards and holiday cards are great tools you can follow up with. You don’t need to spend a fortune to show you care. Get creative and come up with interesting gift ideas that tie into your business or personally with your customer.

4. What Are You Doing for Customers

Keep your customers in the loop on exactly what you are doing for them. This can be in the form of a newsletter that is emailed out to existing customers. It could even be a phone call. Whatever strategy you decide to use make to point out to customers what great service you give them. If you never mention what you’re doing for your customers, they may not notice. It shouldn’t come across as “cocky” but coming from the angle of “i doubled checked for you” or “I filed the paperwork so you don’t have to worry about it” shows you care and gives the customer added value.

5. Engage on Multiple Channels

Consumers today expect to find the address of a retailer online. More often they check product details and availability both online and in the store. Then they order using whatever channel they want either online, in-store and increasingly social media. Make sure you are engaging on multiple channels and managing what is being said about your business. If a problem should arise that a customer vocalizes on Twitter for example, be sure to respond and resolve the issue. Businesses and marketers in the new marketplace have an opportunity to generate more ROI and improve relationships with their customers online. Do an audit of your business and see if you are set up for customer satisfaction and loyalty success.