/Marketing Your Business

2017 Financial Goals for Small Business Owners

If you are a small business owner, you should be setting goals as early as possible so that you are not caught behind the eight ball as the year goes by. Sweeping changes are expected in 2017, and you’ll need to be ready. For example, it’s predicted that 2017 will be the year that video finally overtakes text as the No. 1 form of communication on the internet. 2017 will also mark the rise of the independent mobile commerce culture, and, of course, virtual reality is on the immediate horizon.

Here’s how to prepare for the changes ahead.

Target Your Niche Even More Precisely

In order to grow your business, shrink your marketing. The major search engines, like Google and Bing, continue to reward localization and punish wide-net marketing strategies. There is also more competition in 2017 than ever before, including premium prices on the best keywords. You will need to stretch out your long-tail keywords even further and delve more deeply into a local or niche culture in order to get that organic traffic that drives the highest conversion rates.

Bother People

Many small business owners believe that the advent of new communications technologies means an automatic influx of customers. Even with the hands-down best product on the market, this is never the case. More robust communications only means more noise as potential consumers are bombarded with a deluge of advertisements and indirect marketing. In order to stand out, you have to personalize your messages – even going customer by customer. You cannot be afraid to bother people, and rejection cannot bother you.

Create an Emergency Fund

The businesses that are prepared for emergencies well ahead of time will be the ones that have a strong chance of thriving in 2017. Make sure you have access to an emergency budget just in case the market gets a bit unpredictable and your business takes a hit. If your funds quickly run out and you find yourself managing debt some time in the next year, then make sure you look into debt management plan (DMP) options. A DMP, which is usually offered by a counseling service or financial services company specializing in debt management, will help you tailor a solution to your situation and create monthly payments within your budget.

Shore up Your Free Business Listings

Before you get into all of the advanced marketing strategies for 2017, you need to have all of your basic bases covered. Make sure that you have a business profile on all of the major search engine business platforms. Competitors today have no problem cannibalizing your listing and driving traffic away from you if you do not. Also, make sure that your NAP is exactly the same on all of your business listings, abbreviations and all.

Automate Your Social Media

You actually need to spend less time on social media if you are going to be successful in 2017. This does not mean that your customers see less of you – only that you spend less time actually producing your messages and opening lines of communication. There are simply too many automation tools that you can take advantage of to stay on social media all day. The longer that you stay on social media for business, the more likely you are to gradually drift over into wasteful clicking that will eat away at your workday.

Stretch Your Budget

If you are a small or midsize business, your money will be moving in many different directions at once – marketing, operations and administration – and you will need to learn how to use financial leverage in order to keep everything afloat. There are certain credit card strategies that you can take advantage of in 2017 if you have the right partner. The financial industry is finally beginning to catch up to new technology, and bankers are happily doing more business with their best customers through these new avenues. Make sure that you understand the wealth of new techniques that are now at your disposal.

Prepare for the new year by taking control of your small business finances. By using even one or more of these strategies, your business will be able to face any and all of 2017’s challenges.

10 New Year Resolutions to Ignite Your Practice, Business or Life!

Every year we start fresh with a new year and a new set of goals. The New Year celebration is one of my favorites for this very reason. It’s not like starting over; it’s just adding to what we’ve already done and fixing the things that didn’t work as well as we had hoped. We make resolutions to achieve goals. I’m not talking about quitting smoking or losing weight (although those are great goals), I am talking about making money and doing more and achieving the financial goals we need to live happier lives. Here’s a few of those goals that I will be sharing in an upcoming webinar on astutemy.com:

Build a solid marketing plan and give it time to work

I know, it sounds a bit old school and I agree that it is in some ways. But if you have no plan, you have no future. I’m not saying a company can’t be successful without one. I am saying that with a plan, you can make better choices, move faster, stay focused and manage your budget with ease. To begin, you must set a strategy and define your goals. Then, you must define how you will achieve them using various tactical methods. Then, be relentless. Work harder than you have ever worked in your life. Whatever it takes. And most importantly, focus on ROI (return on investment).

Step outside your comfort zone

I know, it’s scary out there. You aren’t sure if you are making the right choice and you often feel like you have to step out of your comfort zone. Facing the challenges you have in front of you is hard and you to do things you don’t always like to do. But you have to do them because no one else will do them for you. Take risks and leap and jump in. Stop procrastinating. Conquer your fears. Speak in front of a large group. Ask for the sale. Be bold.

Be the best entrepreneur you can be

You sometimes think you are the chef, waiter and busser all at the same time. Well, you are! This is what is wonderful about being an entrepreneur. It’s also what’s so challenging about the role. Nothing is above or below you. You do it all. Later, you can delegate these tasks but no one will ever do it as well as you can. If this statement is not true, you are not the entrepreneur you think you are. You may need a partner to enhance your abilities or a team. You have to be honest with yourself and know your strengths and weaknesses. Compensate where you must and be great.

Stop kidding yourself

When things are going right, change it up. Stop thinking it will get better and make it better. Try something new, but also allow things time to work. Have patience and perseverance. Be strong willed, but not stupid. Trust your gut.

Fix what’s broken

So you don’t think you’re a good writer? Learn to write. Can’t close a sale? Learn how! Do you make poor decisions? Get help. Feeling drained? Eat better and exercise. Don’t have a certain skill? You get the drill.

Improve your workspace

A comfortable chair, an ergonomic desk, a fast computer, good lighting and maybe a little music might help you flourish. Invest in yourself and your work. Don’t go crazy. You don’t need the best, but you do need good stuff to get the job done. Then, work towards the best. Achieve more and earn what you need to get to the next level.

Focus on your personal life

If you aren’t happy at home, you’ll never be great at work. Be sure to balance your life and be present with your family. Work hard, play hard. Give yourself time to breathe and enjoy the ride.

Do what you love

If you don’t love what you do, stop right now and find what you do love. You cannot be successful if your passion is not properly aligned with your goals.

Master your most important skills

Be great at something. Focus on what works for you and what brings the best return and be great at it. Don’t limit yourself. You can learn more every day and you must. Learning must never stop and learning more about what is important must continue daily.

Be the boss

Not everything you do will be adored by your staff, but everything you do MUST be adored by your customers. Being the boss can be hard and it can be very lonely. No one will ever be you, so don’t set the bar too high with your staff. Set a bar however and push them to reach it. Be strong, confident, wise and be human. But never let anyone keep you from achieving your goals. When you make a decision, stand by it and never give up.

 

By | January 3rd, 2017|Marketing Your Business|4 Comments

How To Use Live Video Chat For Your Small Business

In the past fifteen years, technology has transformed the way in which we communicate. In both our personal and professional lives, we have more channels available to us than ever: text messaging, instant messaging via social networks, and live video chat. The latter is a cutting-edge way for individuals to speak with others across the globe, and continues to become more valuable, with the video platform as a service (PaaS) market expected to generate $1.7 billion in 2020.

Live video chat may be ideal for friends and family to communicate in an intimate way, but it also holds great potential for businesses. For smaller enterprises especially, video chat can help you to increase engagement and gain an edge over your competition.

How?

  1. Live Video Chat is More Convenient for Consumers

Live chat is a common form of customer service today. E-commerce sites of all sizes offer this feature, allowing buyers and prospects to speak with real agents.

However, live chat tends to be text-based, with both parties forced to articulate themselves through the written word. This can be frustrating if your concern is of a technical nature, or requires a long, complex explanation.

On top of this, customers are forced to wait for agents to read their messages and compose a response. Today’s buyers want the most convenient solution – and this is not it.

While 90 percent of buyers questioned found live chat to be a helpful customer-service feature, live video chat offers a better quality of care. Its convenience allows consumers to speak face-to-face with a company representative from their home or workplace. Articulating your problems verbally, using gestures or visual aids, can be far easier than struggling with spelling and grammar over text.

Agents can provide solutions in less time, and use visual materials to walk customers through complex issues. 36 percent of buyers would be happy to see video chat offered as a support option, so every business should make it a priority for the future.

  1. Video Chat Boosts Your Sales

Sounds too good to be true?

Live video chat really can increase your sales over time. Video chat enables companies to offer helpful service as and when needed, without frustrating consumers with a constant presence. Anyone who shops in brick-and-mortar stores regularly knows how irritating over-zealous sales reps can be.

When asked about traditional text-based live chat, 63 percent of consumers stated they would be more likely to go back to a site providing this feature. As video is the next step in live chat, it is a must-have for any business, big or small.

Live video chat gives support agents the freedom to read body language and customers’ tone without infringing upon their personal space. Screen-sharing platforms also allow agents to see what potential buyers are looking at, which makes closing a sale easier.

  1. Live Video Chat Reduces Expenses

Enterprises of all sizes are concerned with their expenses. Even the biggest budget can be risked by unrestricted spending, so finding new ways to minimize outgoings is key.

Integrating live video chat helps companies to cut costs in two key areas.

First, as video allows agents to speak with consumers faster than text-based alternatives and use visual aids unavailable in voice calls, they can work through more queries. As a result, you will need only a smaller team of reps on hand.

Secondly, live video enables you to speak with colleagues and clients face-to-face, without having to pay for travel. For example, if you regularly fly a couple of employees across the country to speak with a client, you can save time and money by switching to video calls instead. The only thing missing is a handshake.

  1. Improve your Training and Collaboration

Just as live video chat makes external meetings far easier and cost-effective, it works the same magic on internal meetings. Pulling people away from their desks for brief idea-sharing sessions and feedback can take valuable time out of the day, and getting employees together may be difficult when they are required to be elsewhere.

With live video, employees can ask colleagues quick questions or make suggestions without having to leave their desks. This makes collaborating on documents, presentations, or pitches far easier and causes less disruption to schedules.

Training new employees is also streamlined. Rather than having to shadow others during their first few days, newcomers can ask questions without leaving their desk or pulling others away from theirs.

  1. Live Video Chat Gives you an Edge

While live video chat will go on to become a common customer-service feature, it is still something of a novelty for many consumers. By integrating it into your services as soon as possible, you can gain an edge over your competitors and provide a more intimate, higher quality of care.

However, before you invest time and energy into setting this up, it is vital to find the right service first. While it may be financially appealing to go with a cheaper solution, you may end up causing yourself more problems along the way.

Tony Zhao, CEO of video chat company Agora.io, discusses the importance of a quality channel: “Never cut corners with your customer service. Live video chat depending on poor connections, in regions without an efficient infrastructure, can cause lags, dips in sound, and sub-par video quality.

“Understandably, such interruptions risk chasing consumers away. Instead, you should prioritize paying for a quality solution which guarantees smooth, efficient service. For example, our Agora.io infrastructure has 80 data centers around the world, which pick up dropped data packets to ensure uninterrupted video chat connections. Giving your customers the clear and stable treatment they deserve.”

 

Live video chat stands to revolutionize the way in which we communicate with businesses, forging more personal, stronger connections between buyers and sellers. With the best service, your business stands to generate more revenue, offer more convenient care, and stand out from your competitors.

Have you thought about introducing live video chat to your company’s everyday operations?

By | December 22nd, 2016|Marketing Your Business|0 Comments

10 Steps to Starting an Email Newsletter to Market Your Business

If you are looking for an effective way to increase sales and keep your business in the forefront of customers’ minds, email is the perfect solution. With an ROI of $38 to every one dollar spent, according to a survey last year, email marketing can pay off big for a small business. After all, we all get email, and most of us check it multiple times a day.

Inundating prospective customers with daily emails about sales or discounts isn’t the way to get their attention, however. Instead, try offering them something useful: an email newsletter. Here are 10 steps to starting your own.

  1. Clarify your goals. As with every other type of marketing you do, it’s important to set specific, measurable goals for your email newsletter. Do you want it to get customers to visit your website, call your business or actually walk in the door? What numbers constitute success? How will the newsletter integrate with the rest of your marketing efforts to reach those goals?
  2. Decide on content. A newsletter must be more than just a marketing message — it should also offer some valuable, useful information to readers. For example, if you own a garden supply store, you could share 10 tips to prepare your garden for winter, a list of 5 essential garden tools, or the 3 biggest mistakes new gardeners make. Think of questions your prospective customers have or problems they need solutions to, then develop content that answers them. You can also announce new products or services, upcoming events at your business, and sales or other promotions.
  3. Be consistent. How often to send out your email newsletter depends on your available time, type of business and desired goals. However, once a month is a good starting point for most businesses. If you send your newsletter less frequently than that, you won’t achieve your goal of building brand awareness. Consistency is key, so send your newsletter out regularly at the same time of the month and the same time of day—such as 9 a.m. the first Tuesday of each month.
  4. Collect email addresses. The FTC’s CAN-SPAM Act strictly regulates email marketing. You can’t send your newsletter to people unless they sign up for it. Put a sign-up box near the top of your business website (all you have to ask for is the customer’s email address) or use a popup message. Collect email subscribers offline, too, by asking customers to sign up during the sales process. Offering an incentive for signing up, such as a code good for 20 percent off the first purchase, will help build your email list.
  5. Choose an email marketing service. Email marketing services provide email newsletter templates that make creating your newsletter easy. They also handle the grunt work of sending out the emails and gathering data about how customers interact with them. Constant Contact, Campaigner and MailChimp are popular email marketing services; ask other business owners for their recommendations, too.
  6. Select a template. Choose a template design that fits the type of content you plan to include and harmonizes with the design elements of your business brand. Make sure the template is mobile-friendly, since the majority of emails are now viewed on mobile devices.
  7. Create a welcome message. When someone signs up to receive your email newsletter, send a confirmation or welcome email thanking them for subscribing and letting them know what to expect. For example, tell them how often they will receive the newsletter and how to change their newsletter preferences or unsubscribe. Your email marketing service can set up this welcome email to send automatically.
  8. Include calls to action. Remember your newsletter goals? Include clear calls to action to achieve those goals. For instance, if you sell clothing online, news about your new fall fashions could include a link to “Shop Now.” Links should always go to specific landing pages—not just to your website’s homepage. Make sure the landing pages are mobile friendly in case users click through on a mobile device.
  9. Encourage pass-along readership. Grow your email newsletter audience by asking readers to forward the newsletter to a friend or colleague who might be interested. (Be sure to include a link at the bottom of the newsletter that tells recipients how to subscribe.)
  10. Track results. Email marketing services gather lots of data about how recipients interact with your emails, and provide analytics tools you can use to slice and dice that information. How many recipients open your newsletter? How many actually click on a link? Of those, how many actually take the desired action (such as making a purchase from your website)? Slice and dice this data to see what email newsletter topics, times of day and subject lines work best. Use what you learn to continually improve your email newsletter.

Which Candidate Will Be The Best President For Small Business?

Quite the question, right? But relax, I’m not here to get on a political soapbox and tell you who to vote for. Rather, I’m encouraging you to think about what’s important to you as a business owner and as an individual.

I’ve observed that Republicans typically tend to push for less regulation and encourage more business boosting initiatives than politicians in the Democratic Party. And the Democrats tend to push for initiatives that are in the interest of the middle class, the class that includes most small business owners. Of course, what candidates say they’re going to do and what actually happens don’t always match. Good intentions don’t always come to fruition because there are many obstacles that stand in the way of execution. Sometimes plans that sound too good to be true end up being just that after more research into their feasibility is done. And sometimes, sadly, candidates simply don’t follow through on their promises.

If you review each candidate’s website, you’ll see what their intentions are for small businesses. Below, I’ve listed what stands out to me:

Trump’s Pro Small Business Initiatives:
• Putting a stop to overregulation that makes it difficult to start and run a business.
• Lowering the business tax rate from 35% to 15%.
• Renegotiating trade agreements so American companies have a fair shake when pursuing doing business with other American companies.
• Increasing the production of American energy onshore and offshore (which potentially—eventually—would cut energy and transportation costs for all Americans, including small businesses).

Clinton’s Pro Small Business Initiatives:
• Stimulating small business lending by easing burdens for community banks and credit unions.
• Allowing entrepreneurs to defer student-loan payments with no interest while they start their businesses.
• Offering incentives to state and local governments to cut the red tape involved in starting a new business.
• Simplifying the tax filing process and creating a standard income tax deduction for small businesses.
• Cracking down on big businesses that don’t pay or late pay small businesses.

Devil Is In The Details
Clinton’s website goes into more detail about her proposals than does Trump’s, giving us some peace of mind that she has thought things through. But could her position on some other key hot button issues (like health care and raising the minimum wage) hurt small businesses in the long run. As for Trump, will what he proposes benefit the smallest of businesses or only large corporations?

According to the weekly reader poll, SmartPulse, in SmartBrief on Leadership, 69 percent of business leaders believe this year’s elections will either tremendously or moderately affect their businesses.

It’s clear the business community is tuned into and watching this presidential election closely.

Whether you’re starting a business or running an existing one, you should be, too. Think about what you want for the future of your business and your family—and vote on November 8 for the candidate you believe will work to fulfill your vision.

Photo: Adobe Stock

                               

5 Reasons Your Business Needs a Blog

More people are purchasing goods online than ever before, and adding blog content to your website helps capture the attention of digital shoppers and beyond. U.S. eCommerce sales in the second quarter of 2016 reached $97.3 billion, an increase of 4.5 percent quarter-over-quarter and a whopping 15.8 percent increase year-over-year, according to the Department of Commerce. When your company provides blog content your potential customers are searching for, you build trust in your business and increase positive sentiment about your brand, which leads to sales when blog visitors need your product or service.

Your competitors are already blogging. The Content Marketing Institute reports that 77 percent of businesses have a blog they use for content marketing, and the same percentage planned to produce more content in 2016 compared to 2015.

If you’re still on the fence about whether or not to add a blog to your marketing tool set, consider these five advantages.

1. A Blog Is Agile Marketing

Unlike ordering hundreds of T-shirts for a giveaway donning a logo that may change next week, or investing in banners and flyers that become useless and irrelevant when your next promotion is over, a blog is changeable in an instant with minimum cost to your marketing department. You can update it quickly with breaking news about your company and post trending content based on popular hashtags on Twitter. You can also create evergreen content for your audience, which can then be re-purposed into everything from eBooks and info-graphics to podcasts and webinars for years to come.

It’s also fairly easy to measure a blog’s effectiveness, so you can adjust your strategy accordingly. Compare that to spending big money on print materials, where performance is much more difficult to track. Content marketing expert and author Jay Baer presents an easy way to calculate blogging on his site, Convince & Convert. And by working with content creation and management software such as ClearVoice, you can scale your efforts more easily.

2. A Blog Boosts Search Engine Optimization

If your business sells a service or product that has dozens, hundreds or thousands of competitors, ranking higher in search results makes you more visible to those who are searching for your solution online. GE Capital Retail Bank reports more than 80 percent of shoppers who are making a major purchase conduct research online before deciding on a retailer. By tailoring blog content based on the content those shoppers are looking for, your brand is more likely to appear in their search results.

For example, if you’re a flooring installation company, and you discover your target customers are often searching, “Is carpet or hardwood better for my floors?”, you could create a blog post using that exact question as the title so that it shows up in results to that query.

Regularly creating new content — at least weekly is optimal — based on keywords that relate to your brand and what your target customers type into search engines provides a cue to search engine bots to continue to crawl your site and index your posts in their results. Featuring guest bloggers who link back to your blog on their own credible sites, creating content that is so valuable that other reputable sites link to it as a credible source, and guest blogging on other legitimate sites in exchange for a link back to your blog page mean your blog builds authority to search engines and boosts your entire website’s search engine optimization, which in turn benefits your product pages, too.

3. A Blog Increases Your Brand’s Exposure

In addition to gaining more traction on search engines by blogging, by producing content your web visitors will enjoy and feel compelled to share means your business is equipped with a powerful new arm in your marketing department: brand advocates. These content consumers share your blog on their social media pages, they email its content to their friends who need it, and they reference it when someone mentions a need for a product or service you offer.

While it is obviously relevant to include content on your blog that relates directly to your service or product, the better content strategy is to aim to be helpful, not sales-y. Blog content should educate, entertain and delight, so that it maintains attention and keeps visitors coming back for more.

By promoting blog content through your own social media channels, email newsletters, etc., you’re allowing it to be picked up and spread to completely new audiences by people they place confidence in. Since Nielsen reports 92 percent of people trust the recommendations of friends and family over all over forms of advertising, using a blog to engage your customers so much that they want to tell their friends about your business is of paramount value.

4. A Blog Establishes You as an Authority in Your Space

Speaking of trust, creating blog content that gives actionable advice to readers, video viewers or podcast listeners extends your reach beyond content creator to one of dependable expert.

Say you sell gluten-free flour. By producing content related to delicious gluten-free recipes, how to navigate ordering at a restaurant when you have celiac disease, and how to be a better baker with instructional cooking videos, you’re presenting content that benefits your current customers as well as those who haven’t bought it yet. You’re going to show up more in search results related to these topics, so you’ll reach new audiences — people who need your product but haven’t discovered you yet. Plus, you’ll gain return visitors who keep coming back to learn more about how to thrive in a gluten-free lifestyle.

Producing trustworthy, educational, useful content may also lead to significant publicity opportunities, such as guest spots on morning television news shows or being included as a source in a larger story. A blog legitimizes your leadership in your industry, since it allows you to become the site large audiences turn to when they want to learn about topics related to what you offer.

5. A Blog Connects You With Your Customers

Your competitors have blogs, and your customers love to read blogs. Blogging platform WordPress reports more than 409 million people view more than 22 billion blog pages per month. They read them while they’re at work, they read them while they’re waiting in a doctor’s office, and they read them on the subway. You have an audience who is thirsty for content.

By blogging, you not only provide them with knowledge or entertainment, you also build a relationship with your visitors. By integrating a commenting system, you can glean insights on the demographics of your readers. You can learn about their thoughts and opinions and what types of content or products they want from you. They can tell you what they’re loving about your brand and what they wish would be improved upon.

Get Going!

The possibilities of what your business can achieve by launching a blog are vast. A blog allows for real-time marketing, for you to improve your website’s and brand’s reach among current consumers and new prospects. A blog enables you to give helpful information to those who can turn into significant, loyal brand advocates for your business. With dozens of free blogging platforms to use and the power of content ideation within everything from your staff’s ideas to what people are talking about on your social media channels, getting started can bring more positive exposure to your business and improve your marketing efforts.

                               

6 Ways to Get Better Results From Your Facebook Marketing

Have your Facebook marketing efforts stopped getting the results you want? Facebook is constantly changing, and that means your Facebook marketing strategy has to change, too. Try these six tips to get better results from your Facebook marketing.

  1. Be consistent. Have you ever visited a company’s Facebook page, only to find they haven’t posted in months? It’s important to post regularly on Facebook to maintain your business’s presence. Consistency is more important than quantity: One study found the 100 most successful companies worldwide post, on average, just five to 10 times each week. To maximize your post results, use Page Insights, a free Facebook analytics tool, to see exactly when people engage with your posts the most; then post at those times.
  2. Post photos and videos. Images attract attention. In addition to posting photos or videos from your business, such as pictures of your restaurant’s latest specials or a video demonstrating a new product, share relevant photos or videos from elsewhere around the web. Add brief text to image posts. Shorter text gets more attention—plus, if you keep your text under 140 characters, you can re-use it on Twitter.
  3. Include a call-to-action. The point of Facebook isn’t just to get likes, comments and shares. You want people who see your posts to take an action that leads to a sale—such as visiting your business website, coming into your store or calling your business. In addition to putting a call-to-action in your posts, you can also put a Facebook Call to Action button at the top of your Business Page. There are seven options, including Sign Up, Book Now, Contact Us and Shop Now. Just make sure the hyperlinks in your calls-to-action go to the correct landing page on your website. For example, if your call-to-action is “Book Now,” users should go to a page where they can book an appointment online.
  4. Piggyback on trending topics. Posts related to hot topics of the moment, such as The Olympics or the Academy Awards, generate buzz. Check out the trending topics on the right side of Facebook to get ideas. You can create your own posts about these topics or share others’ posts. Keep them non-controversial to avoid offending potential customers.
  5. Use tags and hashtags. Tag other people or businesses in your posts, and the post will show up in their news feeds so their friends see it. You can also ask customers to tag or check in to your business in their posts—for example, if they post pictures of a meal at your restaurant. Finally, use one or two relevant hashtags to make your post stand out to people interested in that hashtag.
  6. Advertise. If you really want to improve your Facebook results significantly, try advertising. Facebook advertising is extremely affordable for small businesses and allows you to target your audience very narrowly.

One Facebook advertising option is to boost your posts, which puts them higher in your audiences News Feed. Just click the Boost Post button to see your options, schedule your Boost and set a budget.

You can also create Facebook ads to do everything from getting viewers to your website to promoting special offers. Use Ad Targeting to target specific demographics based on age, gender, location, special interests and more. Custom Audiences lets you deliver Facebook ads to your existing customers, while Lookalike Audiences allows you to target Facebook users with demographic profiles similar to your existing customers. You can also add call-to-action buttons to ads to really drive sales.

By trying these six tactics and monitoring your Facebook results, you’re sure to improve your engagement and ROI on this important social media channel.

Is your Facebook marketing strategy now back on target? It may be time to consider taking your business to the next level and incorporate or form an LLC. Call CorpNet.com for a free business consultation at 888.449.2638

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at rieva@smallbizdaily.com, follow her on Google+  and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.

Image: Adobe Stock

 

                               

How to Brand Your Business

Businessman drawing Brand Building concept on blurred abstract background

You’ve developed an attention-getting business name and a logo that reflects it—and trademarked them, of course! Now how do you use these elements to brand your business?

When you start a business, first, it’s important to understand what branding is. Often misunderstood, branding is different than marketing or advertising, but marketing and advertising are used to brand a business. Confused? Think of your brand as the “personality” of your business—the feeling you want prospective customers to have when they think about your products and services. Your brand might be homespun or sophisticated, all-American or exotic, cutting-edge or retro.

Got it? Now, start by understanding your brand. Can you sum up what your brand stands for in one sentence? For example, “Helping Hands is the in-home care service that provides seniors with friendly care, and their loved ones with peace of mind.” If you haven’t already done so, create a mission statement sharing your company’s ongoing mission. For example, “Helping Hands enables seniors to age in their own homes while staying healthy, safe and happy, and eliminates care and worry for their loved ones.” Continue reading “How to Brand Your Business” »

By | January 28th, 2016|Marketing Your Business|0 Comments

Is Your Marketing Working? How to Measure the Right Data

Business man pointing the text: MetricsIn our dreams, we’d have infinite resources for our marketing efforts and we’d dazzle the world with our intricate and clever strategies that bring abundant customers and build massive loyalty. Dreams are fun and they can inspire us to grow in new directions, but the real world is a bit more constrained. Yet within these real world limits it is important that marketing campaigns have meaningful and determinable outcomes.

In order to measure results, you’ll have to take an in-depth look at your data. The great news is that there is a lot of data out there, but the not-so-good news is that you have to ask the right questions in order to get relevant answers. For example, if you only ever measure the volume of your Twitter audience, you might lose sight of the fact that there are a substantial number of automated accounts aka Twitter bots, as well as fake accounts and accounts that are all but abandoned. Focusing too much on vanity metrics can distract you from valid information.

So what are reasonable metrics to take into account when measuring the success of your marketing efforts? While much of the answer depends on your unique goals, such as building brand awareness, increasing retention or revenue, or conversion, there are some rules of thumb that can help you evaluate elemental data points to ascertain where your marketing currently stands.

Website Metrics

Take a look at the total number of visitors. If your goal is simply to build brand awareness, you may be satisfied if this number increases over a certain period. However, if your goals include wider long-term gains, you’re going to have to look deeper at the numbers and investigate some indispensable data such as the source of your traffic, the number of new vs. returning visitors, the bounce rate of those visitors and whether or not a visitor took a specific action like signing up for your newsletter or following you on social media.

Remember, measuring your marketing efforts via your website is going to look different from web analytics. Web analytics regarding the technical aspects of your website can influence your results — if a pop-up takes more than a few seconds deploy, your bounce rate will increase — but marketing analytics regarding your website will show how your audience is responding to your marketing efforts. Continue reading “Is Your Marketing Working? How to Measure the Right Data” »

By | December 17th, 2015|Marketing Your Business|0 Comments