A Startup’s Guide to Digital Marketing

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For any small business, advertising and marketing is of such a high level of importance. How will people know about your business and know to use your services or buy from you if they don’t know that you exist? In the modern day and age that we are in, there is a new element to marketing with digital marketing being one of the ways that you can help to market your business. But what is digital marketing all about? Put simply, it is advertising that is delivered through digital channels. Your social media channels for the business are channels of digital marketing, as well as apps if relevant, emails, web pages, search engines, and other digital channels. 

If you are new to digital marketing, then here are some of the basics to get to grips with. There are plenty of things that you can do yourself, as well as outsourcing to someone else like Your Marketing People, for example. So here are some of the things that you can be thinking about and putting into place. In 2020 and beyond, your business can’t be functioning well without some digital marketing behind you.

Search engine optimization (SEO): this is all about being found online when someone searches for your website. They may also be looking for something generic, like wedding planners in Houston, for example. If they do that, then you need to make sure that if you are a wedding planner in Houston, that your site comes up. This can be done in a variety of ways, starting with a blog on your own website, and building up some relevant backlinks. Think about keywords in your website too, because if the words ‘wedding planner’ or ‘Houston’ aren’t mentioned, then it will impact how much your site is seen. 

Content marketing: this is all about creating backlinks through content. The content can be on your own channels, as well as placed on other channels like blogger’s sites, for example. Content marketing also relates to video, images, and other kinds of content that can be shared and seen online. Using things that are relevant, as well as alternative image tags, it can help your content be seen by the people looking for it.

Social Media Marketing: social media is a great tool to have in your digital marketing arsenal, as it can be free to use, but can be a real benefit. You can talk to customers in real time, share content, improve brand awareness, and so on. When you build up a loyal following through the content that you share, then it can be a big benefit to your business and help sales.

Email marketing: your customer email list is something that can be really vital. You get to land your business information right into someone’s inbox with offers and deals tailored to them. You can also see who opens what, what offers appeal to them to make them click through, and so on. It is a vital part of digital marketing that can be neglected, but it is important.

5 Ways to Promote Your Small Business to Reach New Customers

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As a small business owner, you must set both long and short-term goals to help you develop a thriving business. One of your most important goals is to reach for more customers. Why? This is because a growing network of clientele means more business opportunities and higher returns thus giving your brand the chance to grow. Here are five ways you can expand your customer base:

1. Create a Free Google My Business Account

Many businesses – large and small – usually set up Google My Business accounts because it’s free and when used properly, can be a very powerful marketing tool. Another advantage is that by setting up an account, your business will be easily discoverable even if you operate in a physical store/business location. This is because prospective customers are more likely to search for information related to your business online. Plus, you will see a boost in your business’s credibility. A study found that businesses with accurate information such as its opening hours, website links and reviews on Google are twice as likely to be seen as trustworthy to potential customers. 

2. Direct Mail Marketing

When you hear direct mail marketing, you are more likely to think along the lines of ‘outdated’ and ‘junk mail’. But direct mail is more than just a form of unsolicited advertising, it’s still an effective way to reach out to new clients and statistics support this claim. Direct mailing accounts for the largest portion of advertising spending ($38.5 billion) in the United States. Including your potential customer’s name can increase opening rates by 135% and 39% of consumers try out a business for the first time because of direct mail. Successful advertising agencies design various direct advertising packages and advertising costs for businesses looking to reach out to new shoppers and direct mail advertising is an example of this. Perhaps it’s time to re-think your stance of direct mail marketing.

3. Have a Business Website

Having a regularly updated website will help you stay one step ahead of your competitors. You will have easier access to new customers through the widening of your business’s radius thereby expanding your market, response rates and feedback between you and your clients will be more effective as having a website allows two-way communication to take place. 

4. Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing involves using social networking sites to connect with your audience to build your brand, drive sales and increase your business’s website traffic. Many social media platforms come with analytical tools that provide you with insights such as audience demographics, peak periods, number of post views and clicks to guide you on how to plan a strategic, correctly targeted advertising campaign. 

5. Word of Mouth Marketing

Word of Mouth (WOM) marketing is still relevant because people are more likely to make purchases based on the recommendations of their close friends and family. If you are dedicated to building relationships with your clients, you will more likely see boosts in your WOM marketing tactic. Plus, WOM works for small businesses with tight advertising budgets.

These are some of the ways through which you can promote and grow your small business into a successful and profitable venture. No matter what service you provide, ensure that all your goals should have your customers – old, new or potential – are at the forefront.

3 Things To Look For In An Excellent Business Website

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No matter how big or small your business is, you will need a website to place yourself online. The majority of shoppers begin their journey with a Google search, meaning they find companies through websites. If you don’t have one, you won’t be seen. 

Additionally, it’s not enough to just create a bog-standard business website. No, it needs to have specific features and traits that make it effective. Bearing that in mind, here are some things to look for in an excellent business website:

SEO-Friendly

If a website is SEO-friendly, it means it ranks well in search engines. In essence, it’s easy for the search engine to find the site and categorize the pages into different searches. Therefore, your website will appear more frequently and higher up the search engine rankings. From here, you can bring in more traffic, meaning your website is basically a magnet for leads. An SEO-friendly website will typically have great content that incorporates keywords, an excellent structure, lots of links, fast loading speeds, and so on. As a general rule, the more user-friendly a site is, the more SEO-friendly it becomes. 

Valuable Content

A good website has some content that gives a bit of information to consumers. An excellent one provides valuable content that users can take advantage of. Your small business needs a website that gives as much information to users as possible. Provide all your contact details, business info, service details, and more. Include frequently asked questions to offer instant customer service, and write blog posts to further extend the information you provide. When a website has valuable content, it makes it easier to draw people to it. Not only that, but this helps to enhance your reputation and gain a sense of authority. In doing so, this will build trust with consumers and can make your website convert. 

A Good ROI

Lastly, you have to look for a good ROI from your business website. Essentially, this means that your website generates more money than it takes to build and run it. One way to almost guarantee this is to opt for a proper web design service. As it mentions on https://rsmconnect.com/website-design/, when a website is designed by professionals, it shows! A professional-looking website can attract more attention and bring a whole host of new customers to the party. In turn, this helps you generate a better ROI by gaining new customers and making more money. Also, the advantage of professional services is that you trust experts to build and maintain your website. As a result, they can use techniques and methods that are more cost-effective than if you did it all by yourself. Thus, the cost of running your site decreases as the profits you earn go up. 

The big question to answer is whether or not your website has all three of these things. If you can tick them all off, it means you have an excellent and effective business website. If you can’t, you have to focus on getting all three lined up to enjoy online success.

Starting a Small Business the Millennial Way

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By now, you’ve probably heard the trope that millennials can’t afford anything valuable on their own, be it a car or a house. While there is some truth to this, there’s no denying the massive business potential millennials have. This passionate, collaborative generation has come of age in a most exciting time, mainly one where the formerly-reigning baby boomers are beginning to close up shop–literally.

As the baby boomers begin to enter their golden years, a question of the small business owners among this group is going to transition out of ownership. A 2016 survey shows that 54% of small business owners in the United States plan to close their business in the next ten years. This number comes on top of the 72% who have no real exit plan for closing, which leaves a big question as to who will take their places.

However, what looks like an impending economic crisis is a surprisingly serendipitous business opportunity. One of today’s rising entrepreneurial trends is millennials buying baby boomer-owned businesses. The exciting thing is there are a few massive advantages to this.

First, let’s set the record straight about this fascinating generation of youngsters. Financially, they’re a bit hit and miss. Among all the living generations, millennials are most likely to default on a credit card, with 3.6% of millennial credit card accounts are delinquent 90 days or more. However, millennials also have the most commercial and consumer credit reports available out of all the generations. These comprehensive credit reports can work to millennials’ advantage when looking to buy a small business.

Furthermore, millennials are much more diverse than their predecessors. For example, 87% of baby boomers who acquired small businesses identified as White, compared to a much lower 48% among millennials. This increasing diversity means millennial business owners will be able to appeal to a broader demographic, especially among typically-underrepresented ethnicities like Hispanics, Asians, Pacific Islanders, and African-Americans. A more diverse and inclusive market is likely to produce substantial economic results.

But it’s hard to deny that the prospect of starting a business from the ground up is overwhelming for someone of any age. If you’re a millennial who wants to step into the business world with relative security, consider buying a baby boomer-owned small business. For a generation as saddled with debt as millennials, buying an already-established business usually means you won’t have to worry about any more outstanding debts. Moreover, an established company likely has the reputation, credibility, and proven business models that most startups can’t match in their early days. A bonus is that the old owner will usually advise you and teach you how to run a small business, specifically theirs so that you can make fewer missteps and keep boosting your revenue.

If this business venture sounds promising to you, you’re in good company. Many websites now exist to show companies available for purchase, so you’ll never be in short supply of an opportunity. Just make sure to research all companies extensively, meet face to face with the owners to get a better idea of how you two will gel, and of course, don’t sign that dotted line until you’re sure you have the resources and motivation to give it your best shot.

4 Things For Small Businesses To Remember in Times of Crisis

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As businesses of all shapes and sizes dust themselves down and take stock of how they’ve been affected by the pandemic, it’s fair to say that for most the struggle is not yet over. The notion of putting their entire operation on hold, or making drastic changes to the way they operate probably didn’t strike them as even possible, much less likely. Indeed, for those who were thinking about going into themselves prior to the crisis, the whole thing probably looks like a huge cautionary tale. Why would any right-minded person choose the path of entrepreneurship when it seems beset on all sides with hurdles, pitfalls and the occasional bear trap.

Still, while this will (hopefully) be the last pandemic of its kind in living memory, crises go with the territory when running a business. A crisis certainly shouldn’t put anyone off starting a business, but it should certainly remind them of the importance of preparation.

Here are 4 things that all small businesses would do well to remember in times of crisis…

It’s okay to ask for help

When starting out in business, it’s common to be very particular when it comes to doing everything your way. After all, one thing that business mentors preach consistently is the importance of having a USP and filling a gap in the market that your competitors have left open. As such, you may not consider the value in Small Business IT Support Services or outsourcing your marketing to a Digital Agency. However, these measures can not only save you money in air weather but provide help, guidance and support when things go awry within your business, your industry or the global economy at large. 

Look after your team and they’ll look after you

Navigating your way through a crisis alone can feel damn near impossible. But when you run a small business, you’re never alone. You have intelligent, talented, passionate and dedicated people all around you. Look after them, and they’ll look after you.

Make sure that their working environment is safe, clean and conducive to restfulness, mindfulness and productivity. Invest in their training and development. Invest in employee recognition platforms that make them feel valued and give them confidence and motivation. 

Never underestimate the power of customer relationships

In times of economic crisis, consumers are undoubtedly wary. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t retain their loyalty. Invest time and effort into your relationship with them, respond to them promptly and professionally on social media. Show them that you value their custom and that you’re committed to delivering excellence. They’ll stick with you through thick and thin. 

Keep an eye on your metrics, but don’t lose sight of the one metric to rule them all!

Finally, in the age of big data, it’s easy to struggle to see the woods for the trees, especially when in panic mode. While there are lots of important metrics which should be tracked through the good times and bad, don’t neglect the one metric to rule them all… your margin. If you aren’t profitable, your business simply can’t function. Use this online tool to calculate your profit margin and adapt your strategy accordingly.

3 Keys Spends For Your Small Business

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When you run your own small business you will no doubt be facing daily challenges around your costs and profits. Every business owner would like to reduce their outgoings, but today we want to flag a few areas that are worth investing in, these are 3 key spends for your small business.

Invest in your team

Investing in your team is one of the most powerful investments that your business can make. 

The first thing you will need to invest in is in hiring the best possible people to work with you. Finding the right person to fit in with your existing operation can be challenging and it can take a fair bit of time and money. You will need to feel confident that the applicant has the right skills and personality for your team and you will then need to ensure that you have put adequate training in place for them.

Training is key for all of your team, and you can choose to do this yourself or you might like to bring in outside trainers or send your staff out on appropriate courses. When all of your team members are well trained they are likely to be more effective, more productive and more confident in their roles. This should in turn free up your time, reduce any customer complaints and increase your business turnover. 

It is also worth spending the time and money training, coaching and rewarding your team to improve your staff retention and motivation. Take the time to recognize good work and behaviors to boost morale. 

Work closely with providers and suppliers

Few businesses can operate effectively in isolation. Most of us need to work closely with other providers and suppliers and spend wisely with them.

For example, your business might want to look into working with a good range of food suppliers such as umami foods along with local distribution centers and fleet management companies. You will be looking to strike that balance between getting the best deal at a price that you are happy with and forging a reliable and professional relationship with all providers so that you can trust that they will not let your business down.

It can be tempting to look for the lowest costs at every turn, and this can be an easy but costly mistake that startup businesses make. On occasion the cheapest might also be the best in the market, but do ensure that you are checking their dependability and service levels too.

Spread the word about all that you do

When you start your business, you are going to need to let people know about it and you must spread the word about all that you do. 

Your business marketing costs could vary hugely as there are so many ways that you could choose to promote your business. It is worth trying a few of the more cost effective options first and then finding out what works best for you. 

As a minimum, you are going to want to invest in a professional and user friendly website, utilize social media effectively and if you have premises, order some suitable signage.

Choosing the Best Accountant for Your Small Business

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So you’ve started a small business, and things seem to be going well! Numbers for the first year look good, and now it’s time to file those dreaded taxes…

…but there’s no need to reach for the antacids just yet. Finding the perfect accounting company for your small business doesn’t have to be an insurmountable task. With just a quick list, you can find the accountant that’s the perfect fit for you.

Compatibility

It seems like a no-brainer, but a lot of businesses don’t actually take this into consideration, and they should. You want an accounting firm that is likable, personable and seems to understand and like you and your business. Of course accounting is a somewhat emotionless job, but that doesn’t mean that you have to settle for an accountant who seemingly doesn’t care one way or the other about your business. Someone who is surly and dispassionate probably isn’t going to go the extra mile to try and save you money.

Picking an accounting company with a team of dedicated, friendly and helpful employees is a must. 

Reputation

You want to pick a firm that has a good reputation among their clients – everyone from small businesses like yourself, to larger ones and even individuals. Do they have a lot of clients? Have they gotten them great returns? Do they have a good rating? You should find the answers to these questions before making any concrete decisions. 

Experience

When it comes to your business, you can’t be too careful. You want an accounting team who has many years’ experience dealing with businesses just like yours, who know the ropes, the ins and outs of budgets, payroll, taxes and everything in between. These seasoned accountants won’t miss a single opportunity for a deduction or write-off. They know the special laws and guidelines, incentives and work-arounds. The professionals who have been at it for a while are the ones you want. 

Fees and Costs

You should be prepared to pay your accountant a fair rate for working on your taxes, especially if you have a lot of paperwork and documents to go over. Doing taxes isn’t a walk in the park, and the costs reflect that. 

That being said, some accounting firms take advantage of their clients by charging exorbitant rates, coasting on the hope that their clients don’t know any better, or that they’re so desperate to hire an accountant that they’ll accept higher rates. Don’t fall for it. Take the time to compare various accountants in your area and find the ones that offer fair rates that aren’t overly inflated or full of extra fees and service charges. 

Choosing the best accounting company for your small business need not be a hassle or a lesson in anxiety. With so many reputable companies and individuals doing taxes in your area, you’ll have a wealth (pun intended) of candidates to choose from, all offering excellent service and dedicated to getting you every penny they can on that tax return.

Using Storytelling To Market Your Business

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If you’re at the point where you have launched your own business, whether it be a small business that you are in independently, or you have a large workforce, you will find that marketing is one of the critical tools to improve in your chances of success, in all areas. If you are good at marketing, or you have hired somebody that is, you will see the following of people arriving at your door. But when it comes to marketing, there are many forms, many different ways in which to get your product or service seen, and different opinions. But storytelling is one of the more powerful marketing techniques that you can use. But what does that mean? And what do you need to do to use it successfully in your business?

Find your story

Everybody has a reason or a purpose for setting up their own business. Whether it be a lifelong ambition to fulfill, a new career to help achieve your financial goals, or to inspire your children and provide for them. Whatever your reason for wanting to own a business, there is a story in that. Many companies create this story from the very beginning and share it every step of the way. And the market really enjoys following and joining in the successes of a new business. This can also be true if your business isn’t particularly new, and you want to re-launch or rebrand your business. Working out precisely what your story is, and how that will benefit your business when told, is your bread-and-butter.

Tell your story

Writing your story down, and documenting it in great detail will be very beneficial to you from the beginning. Talking to other people within your life or business, who can help give you an outside perspective will also help you with the detail. Getting the story accurate, and being able to communicate that to your potential customers and clients will put you on the right track. Of course, it’s worth ensuring that your story is backed up and kept securely within ‘the cloud’ via a company such as Syscomm. But ultimately getting your full story written down, so you can see it exactly as it is, will help you share with the world.

Share your story

Sharing your story can be done in many ways, of course, we instantly think about social media to connect with their audience. Still, if you have a connection with other forms of media, such as newspapers, and your story is unique and exciting, you will find plenty of avenues available to share your story. Breaking it down into bite-size chunks, and sharing it regularly online, it’s going to be difficult, for some, but if done right can be precisely what catapults your business into a high position.

If you find sharing my new detail about your business difficult, then consider sharing the story of how your products or services came to be, how you produce things, and your business ethics are also great ways of storytelling. If you have a creative person within your business, then they should be able to write and show your story quickly. So don’t overlook this form of marketing, and see what it can do for your business.

Moving Your Business from One Place to Another

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If you’re operating a business on a brick and mortar basis, you’re going to have to put a whole lot of focus on making sure your business can grow and expand. Increasing competition from the realm of Ecommerce means that you’re going to have to be increasingly savvy with your decision making and sometimes that means having to shift your company from one place to another more lucrative spot that holds more potential for increased sales. This, of course, can be a difficult process. But here are a few areas you might want to focus on, as well as some tips and tricks to make it easier and a greater success!

Consider Location

Location is often the main reason for people moving their small business. When you first start out your journey, you probably have a limited budget and consequently are likely to have your business in a low cost spot that potentially has limited footfall. But by now, you should be well aware that footfall can have a huge impact on your profits. A higher passing footfall means giving your brand greater exposure to the public. The more people who pass by generally means there will be more people passing through your doors, purchasing goods, and generating profit.

Consider Size

Another reason you might be considering a move is because your business is expanding, you’re taking on more staff, and you’re going to need more room to house everyone. Always consider getting somewhere slightly bigger than you need. Your small five-person size property simply isn’t going to cut it after a few months or years. Give yourself room to expand even further, as this will reduce the number of times you have to move.

Making Moving Simple

Have a Cross Over Period 

It’s sensible to have a cross over period for the move. You don’t want to have to move the entire store or office in a single day. Reduce pressure by having a week or even a month when you have your current commercial property, as well as access to your new one. This will allow you to take a gradual and phased approach.

Hire a Van

So many small business owners think they can move their entire business in their own car. But there’s often furniture and pieces of equipment that would have to be stacked in a car in a dangerous way to get it from A to B. So, use van hire that will give you a vehicle big enough for the job.

Consider Employees

Before moving your company, consider how this will impact employees. Some will already be commuting a long distance to get to work and may not be able to travel any further if you happen to move further away from their home. Weigh up the pros and cons of recruitment and decide whether you’d rather maintain the employees you have.

These are just a few areas you should take into consideration when it comes to moving your small business. Take them seriously and everything should go pretty smoothly!

Why Small Manufacturing Businesses Fail

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As an entrepreneur, you want your small business to succeed, but you can’t succeed until you’ve made the business secure and stable. In the world of manufacturing, businesses fail for a wide variety of reasons. To make sure you’re doesn’t, it makes sense to find out why small businesses in this industry so often do. Read on to learn all about that and take steps to ensure a similar fate doesn’t befall your company.

A Lack of Purpose and Focus

Starting a business without really knowing what its focus will be or what its niche is will almost always end in disaster. Many entrepreneurs mistakenly believe that being vague and keeping their options open is wise, but in practice, it really isn’t. Be sure to clarify these things before you get your business off the ground. That way, you can hit the ground running with purpose and focus from day one.

The Wrong Colleagues and Collaborators

No business exists in isolation; they all have colleagues and collaborators, as well as vital suppliers. They rely on these companies and individuals to carry on running their business smoothly. If you need Red Diesel, for example, you’ll need to find a supplier who can provide you with it reliably and consistently. Working with the wrong companies and suppliers will only hurt your business and maybe even cause it to fail in the end.

Insufficient Capital

This is the classic cause of business failure. When you run out of money and you struggle to cover basic costs, it won’t be long before the business is dead in the water. But that’s not the only scenario that describes the problem of insufficient capital. Sometimes, businesses can fail to grow enough in their early days because they don’t have the necessary startup capital in place. This can lead to rapid failure.

Poor Management

Poor management leads to unnecessary mistakes and once they start to mount up, it can really impact the business’s chances of surviving. Good management is about making sure the fundamentals are taking care of and that the business operates in a sensible and coherent way on a day to day basis. It’s not uncommon for young entrepreneurs to get this badly wrong because they lack the requisite experience.

Try to Grow Too Quickly

A little early success can be really positive but it can also be misleading. Just because your business does well early on, that doesn’t mean it should grow too fast. Trying to grow too quickly is liking trying to run before you can walk. Be sure to put a sustainable growth plan in place and don’t get carried away with early success. Growing the business in a steady way is usually the best way to go.

There are many reasons why small businesses fail in the manufacturing industry, but the reasons mentioned above are certainly among the most common. Be sure to address the concerns mentioned above if you want to make sure your manufacturing business operates in a successful and sustainable way.