Category Archives for "Small Business"

Finding Speaking Engagements to Promote Your Business

Many local business owners feel that trade shows are the best opportunity to get out and showcase their expertise. This is likely why around 40 percent of business-to-business marketing budgets go directly to trade show exhibitions.

As it turns out, though, speaking engagements can also build you up as an expert in your field and generate leads. For those who have never done this before, here are a few ways to find speaking engagements to market yourself and your business.

Act as a Consultant

Promoting yourself as a consultant to a company is one of the few ways to snag a paid speaking engagement. You won’t get huge crowds, but you will begin building a reputation as an industry thought leader. Find a business that encounters problems you could help solve, and once you've done this, take the owner out to lunch to talk about an agreement.

Have a Dedicated Web page

Local business owners who want to market themselves and their company through speaking engagements must have a dedicated section of their website. This page could contain testimonials, areas of expertise and even videos of prior speaking engagements. Regardless of your overall goal in offering these on-site presentations, utilizing your website to look more professional is essential.

Utilize Conference Directories

While they may not be chock full of conferences within five miles of your business, online conference directories are still a powerful tool. You can peruse sites like Confevent or All Conferences to find nearby events that are related to your industry. You can then reach out to the individuals running the events to inquire about speaking.

Plenty of local business owners never even consider speaking engagements, but this is just a lost opportunity to build brand awareness and show off your expertise. Even if you aren't a great public speaker, sending a similarly-knowledgeable manager or partner can accomplish the same thing for your company.

Marketing Tips for Those with No Time to Market

It’s impossible for a business to be successful without marketing, but sadly, budding entrepreneurs don’t always have time to promote their company. After all, building a successful business rarely leaves time for posting regularly to social media.

Fortunately, there are a variety of marketing tips that business owners with no time can utilize.

Get Customers to Market for You

You might not have time to get online and promote your business, but your customers likely do. You can offer incentives to your patrons – such as discounts or free items – for leaving honest reviews about your company on sites like Yelp and Google.

And since over 80 percent of people say honest reviews are the most credible form of advertising, you can rest assured that future clients will take these testimonials into consideration.

Bring in the Professionals

Potentially the best way to market when you don’t have time is to hire someone to handle the promotion of your company. Many local business owners feel they can handle marketing on their own, but in all honesty, this is like someone trying to perform surgery without medical training.

Marketing isn’t something that just anyone can do. If it was, everyone would do it. Hiring a professional to handle your advertising will certainly pay for itself in the long run.

Market at Events

If you don’t have time to market, you certainly don’t have time to advertise at events for free. If you sign up for a booth at an event, though, you can sell your product or service while simultaneously marketing them.

Hand out business cards, hold contests and provide samples at these events. You’ll still be making money while simultaneously getting the word out about your company.

Marketing is no doubt a time-consuming commitment, but it’s an important one if you hope to find success. Fortunately, you don’t have to choose between doing your job and promoting your business. The aforementioned tips will go a long way in ensuring this.

3 Mistakes You Must Always Avoid with Referral Marketing

The most trusted form of advertising in the world – with over 80 percent of consumers ranking it at the top – is word of mouth. Unlike social media, email and other forms of marketing, though, these referrals are contingent on people being motivated to make them.

Luckily, there are ways to influence this type of behavior, but if you’re making the following customer referral mistakes, you’re hurting your business.

1. Not Offering Incentives

Word of mouth has long been a trusted form of marketing, but in many cases, people aren’t going to do it just out of the goodness of their hearts. Oftentimes, in fact, they never even give positive retail experiences a second thought.

This completely changes, though, if they’re incentivized to refer family and friends to a certain company. This could be a discount, free product or gift card for every person they refer to the business.

2. Not Utilizing Social Media

The term “word of mouth” seems to dictate one-on-one interactions in real-life situations. In the modern world, however, it’s simple for local businesses to progress their word of mouth via social media.

This could be anything from asking followers to tag a friend who would “Love this meal” or “Needs this car” to offering incentives for honest online reviews. The internet is a huge part of our daily lives, and you should remember that when trying to get potential customers sent your way.

3. Not Going the Extra Mile

Whether an individual was seeking recommendations or just given one out of the blue by a friend, it typically makes them feel special. It’s as if they’re in on a secret because they “know somebody who knows somebody.” Business owners need to keep this feeling alive.

It’s essential to go above and beyond for customers who have been referred. This will let them know that the recommendation was given in earnest, and they’ll be much more likely to return later.

Of course, the biggest word of mouth and referral marketing mistake is not having a strategy at all. Once you’re over that mountain, though, avoiding the aforementioned can go a long way in making you successful.

3 Tips for Successful Marketing at Trade Shows

Trade shows present a great chance for networking, but at their core, these gatherings are meant for businesses to market their products or services. In fact, trade shows generated a full $12.6 billion in revenue during 2015 alone.

This statistic proves that trade show marketing is valuable, but this is only the case if local business owners are using the right strategies – such as the following.

1. Promote Ahead of Time Via Social Media

One tried-and-true method of getting attention at a trade show is by marketing the event ahead of time. Use social media to let clients know the event is coming up. It’s smart to provide great reasons – and even incentives – for why a person should show up and come to the booth. It’s even smart to start a hashtag prior to the event and then utilize it on the day of.

2. Use Guerrilla Marketing Tactics

In a perfect world, every trade show attendee would be attracted to a booth based solely on the quality of the product or service being offered. Unfortunately, this isn’t a perfect world, but guerrilla marketing tactics can make up for this.

One great trade show guerrilla marketing tactic is holding a raffle or contest. Others might incentivize potential clients to tweet something about the booth. Still others simply provide a cell phone charging station to ensure people show up. Guerrilla marketing works if a business owner can figure out which tactic works best for them.

3. Utilize Employee “Plants”

When trade show attendees see a crowd gathered around a booth, their inclination is that something special is going on. It’s simply human nature. This is why business owners should have a few employees come to the show dressed in normal clothes. These workers should gather around the booth and act interested. This will attract others who may actually show real interest.

Trade shows are a powerful marketing tool, and business owners should prepare for them months in advance. This preparation along with the right promotional tactics can go a long way in securing part of the aforementioned $12.6 billion in yearly revenue.

3 Customer Loyalty Plans that Actually Work

Customer loyalty is a tricky thing to come by. In fact, one study showed that nearly 80 percent of consumers would jump ship within a week of a single negative customer service experience. This obviously makes customer service important, but gaining loyalty requires much more.

Man showing presentation Loyalty Plan

Fortunately, business owners can use the following customer loyalty tips to hang onto their best clients.

1. Create a Customer Loyalty Program

One of the quickest and most utilized methods of garnering customer loyalty is through a simple loyalty program. These once were nothing more than “We’ll punch your card for each purchase, and on the 10th purchase, you get something free.” They’ve evolved greatly since that point.

Now local business owners can get clients to sign up for loyalty programs through their email, apps and a variety of other methods. Come up with a way to incentivize customers to be loyal, and they’ll remain loyal.

2. Strive to Fix Every Perceived Misstep

While touching base with every upset customer may seem like a tedious task, it’s important to remember that many national franchises do just that through their social media channels. Whether someone takes to Yelp, Facebook or calls in with a complaint, budding entrepreneurs should do everything in their power to make things right.

If customers know a manager will go the extra mile to keep their business, they’ll understand how important they really are.

3. Get Personal

Consumers don’t want to feel like just another cog in the machine. They want to feel that a company looks at them like real people – not just profits.

When someone takes the time to comment on Facebook, have a marketing manager reply. If someone leaves a positive review online, the business owner should take the time to reply. Get personal with clients, and they’ll feel like they’ve found a home.

Fostering customer loyalty is never going to be an easy job, but it’s certainly one worth engaging in. The best marketing tactics in the world mean nothing without customer loyalty, so it’s something that every business owner should focus on.

Why Business Cards Are Still a Vital Marketing Tool

Whether it’s social media or a website, most local businesses have a variety of digital marketing tools at their disposal. Of course, this doesn’t mean that offline measures aren’t still effective.

The good, old-fashioned business card, for example, is still an effective marketing tool. It’s not just a method of keeping in contact with other professionals, and the following benefits prove it.

Creates Legitimacy

The biggest benefit of having a business card to hand out is the legitimacy it lends to a company. An entrepreneur without a business card is like a company without a website. It’s just not normal, and people will view it as unprofessional. Becoming an industry thought leader is essential, and creating legitimacy is the first step in the process.

Statistics Do Not Lie

When people discuss marketing statistics, it’s typical to explain how effective something like videos or email newsletters can be. When one delves into the statistics related to business cards, however, it becomes clear these miniature billboards are effective.

Current data shows that a company experiences a 2.5 percent increase in sales for every 2,000 business cards handed out. This may not seem like much, but one only needs to look at the math to understand how big this is.

Business owners who print their own cards spent about $0.05 per card. This ends up costing $100 for 2,000 cards. Even if a business only brings in $50,000 in a year, a 2.5 percent increase is $1,250.

Helps with Networking

Some local business owners think they’re going to set out and succeed with only their hard work and investors. In reality, success usually requires relationships with both those inside and outside of an industry.

Setting up mutually beneficial marketing relationships and exchanging information on suppliers are just some of the benefits of strong networking. When meeting other professionals that can potentially help a business flourish, a business card gives off a strong first impression and ensures an entrepreneur’s contact information isn’t forgotten.

While the entire world may seem digital, it’s still important for local business owners to work within the offline world. Having a professional looking business card is one of the best ways to accomplish this.

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Ideas To Get One New Customer Per Day

It's easy to get lost in the big picture, in the large, scalable planning that views customers as numbers and values and conversion rates rather than individual people. And, of course, there is a certain stage in every business where this becomes a necessary evil. Or, at least, it can be hard to put in that individual attention when you're servicing thousands of individuals per day.

Even so, one of the best ways to grow early on is to focus on getting just one new customer per day; delighting some one person so much that they just can't help but tell everyone they know about their wonderful experience with you.

In fact, since word of mouth is so powerful, your efforts put into this kind of approach are usually amplified and end up reaching more people than you originally thought.

Here are just a few ways that you can win over a new customer every single day.

#1 Twitter search

Go to search.twitter.com and start looking for conversations using keywords in your market.

Think about the types of conversations people in your target market might be having and seek them out. Now, here's the trick: engage with every conversation you see. Don't advertise, just offer comments where you are qualified to, send a funny gif in response to someone describing a common struggle in the industry, etc.

Now, when you find someone who looks like a hot lead (for example, they're asking the twitterverse if anyone knows of a company that offers exactly what you do), jump right in!

Let them know you'd love to help, and that you would like to offer a discount for them as a first time customer. More often than not, they'll take you up on it.

#2 The unnecessary gift

So let's say you find someone on twitter, or Instagram, or reddit, or some community talking about your topic and realize that they might like what you have to offer.

Instead of asking for their business straight up, consider taking on the role of a (not creepy) internet stalking and finding out from their profiles or previous posts what they like, what their interests are.

Then, message them saying you're a company offering what they're looking for but that you would like to send them a small gift.

Mail them a note with a small piece of memorabilia related to their interests, along with a note letting them know you're there to help if they decide to order some day. Sure, spending $20-50 mailing gifts to a lead might seem excessive, but the potential for long term ROI is huge here.

#3 Kill them with kindness

You know which customer service interactions people are most likely to remember?

It's not the ones they have with products that are fantastic from the beginning, it's the interactions that start off with a problem, but which you or your company handle with poise and an unwavering commitment to making things right.

No matter what, being nice to people is the right move, and don't underestimate the ripple effect this can have on people hearing that you are someone they want to give their business to.

5 Things That Happen When You’re Authentic & Giving

Despite the prevalence of social media platforms for several years now, companies seem to just not quite be able to crack it. Through some need to treat every platform that comes along like every platform that ever has been, despite them having vastly different effective voices and mediums, is insanity.

And yet, every single day a search through the twitter accounts of emerging and startup brands will indicate a massive disconnect: People still don't understand that, at its core, authenticity wins on social media.

If every action you take on social is guided by the consideration for what will be honest, helpful, and genuine to your followers - and not what is going to sell me the most products - a few funny things happen.

1

You can't get caught in lies because there are none

When you aren't tweeting half-truths that favor your brand, or trying to bend stories to best reflect the part of an industry you live in, you aren't at risk anymore for getting caught up in a web of lies. Consequently, PR disasters rarely befall companies that practice more honesty on their social media channels.

2

People tend to tell other people about your genuine nature and generosity

People as a whole, fundamentally, enjoy being treated well. The brands you want to tell your friends and family about are not the ones that came across as shady, they're the ones who told the truth.

They're not the ones who messaged you asking them to buy their product, they're the ones who said "thank you" just because you took the time to comment on their Instagram picture.

3

You start to build a brand, not just make a sale

Temporary webshops and one-off affiliate marketers are all about making sales in the short term, but ongoing businesses are equally concerned with building their brand.

Treating social media as a branding tool rather than a selling tool, at least initially, is a great paradigm shift that can help marketers utilize it better and for the right purposes.

4

You'll be happier about what you do

Everybody has a unique conscious and there's no one-size-fits-all solution to business ethics, but most people feel better when they can put their heart and reputation 100% behind what they do.

For social media, that might mean that building a genuine community in which your brand is a thought leader is much more rewarding than just trying to hi-jack hashtags to flog your products.

5

You grow faster that your standard marketing projections predict

Social media is a not a linear projection, it's a game of slow, meager, but genuine growth until you hit a point of critical mass and then your efforts start to snowball.

It's a game of patience, but it's once that doesn't ever come to fruition if you can't learn to play with a more gentle marketing touch than you would in traditional paid media. Learn to master it, however, and you're sure to be rewarded.

Small Business Trends to Prepare You For 2017

No small business owner can be effective if they are not up to date on current trends. Missing out on or simply ignoring emerging trends can leave an organization stagnant. Most trends, however, are not difficult to come to grips with if they are known.

Small Business Trends to Prepare You For 2017

All of the following are 2016 trends that you likely missed out on but must prepare for ahead of 2017.

Mobile Apps Are Bursting Through

Large corporations have long been on the app bandwagon. Local companies, however, have been nervous about making the leap. Considering the fact that many business owners felt they had little to offer in the way of an app, this was no real shock.

New studies, though, have shown that half of small business owners will have their own app by 2017. While this still does not mean an app is important for your organization, it may be time to start brainstorming ideas.

EMV Payments Become the Standard

EMV payments have been the talk of every industry since 2015. You have likely seen these types of payments with terminals that require debit cards with chips to be inserted.

While only 25 percent of debit cards were designed with this chip by February 2016, this number will continue to rise.

By 2017, customers will consider EMV the industry standard, and they will feel as if retailers who don't accept these payments are putting their financial information at stake. Implement this adaptation and then use it as a marketing point.

Generation Y is on the Scene

For years, businesses have concentrated on Millennials due to the huge increase in the demographic. Those individuals, though, are not the youngest group you must cater to.

Individuals in Generation Y are currently entering their 20s, so company owners must begin to focus on this cohort. Not altering marketing to bring in these new adults could hurt your company in 2017.

Changes will never be easy in the business world, but if your company has any hope of surviving, they have to take place. By keeping up with emerging trends, particularly those that will affect 2017, you can stay on the forefront of marketing.

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