When you’ve decided to take your brick-and-mortar business online, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the options that are available to you. Luckily, there are only a few things you need to have to successfully market your business online: high quality web copy, a great web design and some basic marketing skills will serve you well.
Whether you run an online business selling graphics or web copy, or a brick-and-mortar business providing contracting, grey water systems or plumbing installations, these skills can help you find new business.
Web Copy that Converts
One of the most important elements of successful online marketing is having web copy that converts visitors to your website into buyers. Your copy should, obviously, be well written and free of grammatical errors. However, it should also showcase the benefits of your product or service and convince buyers they need to make a purchase.
Good sales copy walks the reader through the purchasing decision, showing off the product or service that’s being promoted and ending with a strong call-to-action that asks the reader to make a decision immediately. If you’ve got good sales copy on your website, your product practically sells itself.
High Quality, Professional Web Design
If you’ve ever attempted to make a purchase online, only to be turned away by a website with pop-up ads, garish colors or loud, intrusive music, then you know the importance of a professional website design. A professional logo and header design, combined with a great quality theme and layout, can make your website very attractive to potential customers.
In addition, your web designer can work in buttons that link your visitors to your social networking profiles, links to photos or videos that show off your product, and more. He or she can even include an introductory video of you speaking to potential clients, if you like.
Brand Yourself as an Expert in Your Field
As you begin to market yourself online, it’s important to remember that everything you do is tied to your brand. Take the time to have a logo designed that coordinates with your website, and use it on your social networking profiles.
Use the same head shot consistently on all your profiles, so your face is easily recognizable and visitors can link your face with your products and services. Your goal is to brand yourself as the voice of authority in your field, so people know they can come to you with their questions.
Network, Network, Network
While face-to-face networking at business luncheons and dinners is still important for brick-and-mortar business owners, social networking is also incredibly important.
Using social networking sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+, business owners can reach a huge audience of potential customers. These daily contacts can lead to referrals, new business and joint ventures, so be sure to take advantage of the huge contact base available to you through social networking.
This guest post brought to you by Steph who enjoys blogging about how to market your business online, whether you sell grey water systems residential or fine jewelry.
In these hard economic times, small businesses and large ones alike must do everything in their power to not only survive, but also thrive. While accomplishing this though, you do not want to cut corners. As the age old adage goes, you want to measure twice and cut once. You may spend more time ensuring the cut is accurate, but you are not loosing money on material lost by the cuts being the wrong length.
With that said, lets go over 3 different areas where a business can save money without cutting that proverbial corner. The 3 areas we are going to cover are Marketing/Advertising, Employees, and Overhead. Its uncertain how much can be saved, as it depends on the business, but a penny saved, is certainly a penny earned.
Search Engine Optimization: There are numerous companies available that offer SEO, though they can be expensive at times. However, with a little research, any business can optimize their own webpage and go through the motions to rank higher for specific key words in search engines. It may take some time, but once you become familiar, it’s quite simple and very effective.
You have to figure, if you spent the time and money to build a website for people to view, people need to view the website for it to have any impact. If traffic is not driven to your website via search engines such as Google, than its as if you had a brick and mortar store front, with nobody entering.
Email Marketing: Some people believe that email campaigns have begun to fail, just as direct mail is believed to have done in the past. Though, just as direct mail, email-marketing campaigns are still effective if directed towards the correct demographics, and for the right reasons. Direct mail is still very popular for coupon campaigns, as people may not use snail mail themselves, but they still love to save money given the chance.
Email campaigns are quite useful as there are no costs associated with sending them out. You can target specific customers dependent on how your database is set. The only problem is that fewer and fewer people view spam mail. So what you send has to be personal, which takes a little planning. But if done correctly, it’s a free means of advertising, and you can target any number of people. The only hard cost associated with it, is the time spent creating the campaigns.
Social Media has become one of the most popular means of advertisement nowadays. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google +, Tumblr, Hubpot, Blogger, BlogSpot, or Trendit, there are countless outlets for your business to gain recognition through.
Again, as the same is with email-campaigns, there is no cost associated with using these social media outlets, but time is needed to do it correctly. You need to get customers to sign up to these, but convincing them of this is easier than you might imagine. Giving away a free cup of coffee or promising deals in the future is enough for most people to sign up.
Students are often in need of work experience in a given industry. They provide a low-cost means for a motivated employee. Some would say interns should work for free, however, nothing in this world is free. Also, if you’re one to employ a student without some form of compensation beyond experience, you should be ashamed of yourself. That shows you don’t care about your employees as a whole, or value the work that the intern is doing.
What is being proposed here, is that rather than having 4 full time employees only have 3 with one intern. Having the intern pick up the less important tasks around the business. You will still save money, and not come off as a greedy penny pinching employer. What you are essentially doing is paying for experience. The more you know, the more you’ll get paid. An intern, having very little experience, obviously doesn’t deserve the pay that other, more qualified employees have.
Most business experience lulls and peaks in their sales, dependent on certain times of the day, week, month or year. Very few businesses experience sales evenly throughout the day, all year long. So it only makes sense to have full time employees if they are always going to be busy. But if there are times where it’s known business will be slow, there is no point having a full staff sitting and waiting for business to pick up.
Determine what the lull and peak sale times are for your business, and plan accordingly. You may be able to reduce staff during certain periods, which if done, can save a tremendous amount of money.
This may seem obvious, but as obvious as it is, many businesses still treat their workers as an expendable commodity. Meaning that if one quits, they can just hire another because there are numerous people searching for jobs. However, this is counter-intuitive for two reasons.
One is that employees are the soul of a business. They are the ones that deal, face to face with customers on a daily basis. If your employees are not happy, chances are the service they provide will not be good either. So disgruntled employees result in un-satisfied customers. If employees feel they are not respected at their job, they are likely to not care whether they keep the job, nor take pride in the work they do. This all becomes noticeable when they interact with customers. Remember, a customer only needs one reason to not use your services again. After all, think of what it took to get them to buy from you in the first place
The second is you have to take into account the time it took to train a particular employee, and how much was spent on that. If a business has a high turn over rate, they are throwing money away hand over fist. There is money lost both in the training process and the lack of work being accomplished or done correctly due to a lack of knowledge. Also, employees are not slaves and shouldn’t be treated as such. If you treat your employees with kindness, fairness, and respect, the work they provide will undoubtedly be of higher quality.
Buying in Bulk
You can save a good deal of money by making your purchases in bulk. Though, the only time this works is when you know you are going to be able to sell the entirety of the order. It doesn’t do any good to purchase more than demand dictates, as that does not reduce overhead, but rather makes it more unmanageable.
Also, this only works when what you are purchasing in non-perishable. Again, if you know you can sell it in time, then that’s all the better, but otherwise you will simply be wasting product due to spoilage. You can also work in conjunction with other businesses to make purchases in bulk, this works well for restaurants when they want the reduced price, but cannot sell enough before it goes bad.
Just In Time Inventory
Just in Time inventory is the exact opposite of making purchases in bulk. It is when you either order the product after the sale has been made, or know exactly when sales will be taking place. You have to imagine that if you spend money on inventory that sits around waiting to be sold, that was money that could have been spent elsewhere. If you have $400 of merchandise that won’t sell for another month. That $400 may have been better spent on marketing or raising employee moral.
Purchasing inventory once a sale is made can only be done for certain products such as custom-made and tailored items. Anticipating when the sale of certain items will take place may be a bit difficult if you have no history to go off of. But if a business has been in operation for some time, there will definitely be trends, which if studied, can tell you when certain inventory items are needed.
Drop Ship Inventory
Drop ship inventory shouldn’t be considered inventory at all as the name is misleading. But if this option is a viable one for your business, it literally reduces the overhead cost of inventory to nothing.
Drop ship inventory means that when someone buys an item from you, you then purchase it from the manufacturer and have it sent to the customer immediately. The product never has to actually pass through your businesses hands. In essence, it means you are the middleman. You’ve essentially made money by making an order on the behalf of a customer, and charging them for that service.
This is common for online clothing outlets, and wholesale sites. They never actually have an inventory in house; they essentially sell the service of bringing products to the attention of potential customers. In that sense, they are nothing more than a marketing agency, marketing without the needed consent of the manufacturer.
Hopefully some of these steps will help to reduce the costs associated with your business. The thing to take away from this is that there are numerous avenues which all lead to the same place. So long as you choose the right path, you can cut costs, without cutting that proverbial corner.
This article was written by Damien S. Wilhelmi, an online marketing guru, SEO upholder of White Hat law and self acclaimed idiot. I am writing on behalf of Premier Trade Solutions, a Purchase Ordering Finance company.
If you think printed marketing materials aren’t worth your time and effort, think again. Tangible, printed materials are still extremely effective. Your marketing strategy should be more than just social media. It should include stellar, seductive paper products like posters, direct mail, and brochures, too.
Brochures in particular are important to have. They’re a great way of telling potential customers exactly what you want them to know, and there’s something about a well done brochure that makes your business seem successful and reliable. The key, of course, is the “well done” part. If your brochure looks sloppy, unattractive, or amateur, it will have the exact opposite effect you want it to. Here are some tips for designing an effective brochure for your business that works.
Hire a Professional
Just about every business can benefit from a brochure, but very few of them are design businesses. If you don’t have any experience with designing print materials, it’s a good idea to hire an expert. It will require a little investment, but the money is well worth it. And remember that you get what you pay for – don’t go with the cheapest designer, go with who has the best samples and testimonials.
Focus on Visual Appeal
Even when you hire a professional, they still require your input in order to produce what you want. And although they can make lots of helpful suggestions, they will ultimately make the design you request. If you aren’t so sure, it’s a good idea to trust their professional opinions. But you should also keep in mind that the most important part is that the brochure is visually appealing.
Make good use of color, and go with simple, bold designs over busy, chaotic ones. Use a font that is easy to read in a size that won’t require your reader to squint. It’s very important that any photographs you use also look professionally done and not like they were taken on your personal digital camera, even if they were. Photos should be clear and also uncluttered.
Highlight What’s Most Important
When writing the copy for your brochure, do your best to make it short and to the point. Revise and edit until only the most necessary information is included. People do not want to read very long brochures – the point of a brochure is that is gives the highlights. Provide all your relevant contact information including address, telephone number, and hours of operation. As for your services or products, describe them only very briefly and focus only on how your customers will benefit.
Be Personal and Inviting
Finally, the entire tone of your brochure should be personal and conversational. You want your business to seem professional, but at the same time you want to be friendly to your customers. Make sure that you invite them in some way to take advantage of your business. Invite them by telling them to call now, make an appointment, or come in for a visit. If your brochure is effective, they’ll most likely take you up on your offer.
Ethan Hollande is a business student who works in Miami printing services. He often writes articles aimed at business professionals with the goal of helping them with marketing strategies.
Photo Credit: dvn225
It is a sad truth that a lot of businesses fail before they can even take off. Small businesses and even large corporations are not immune to the changes of demand and supply and how the market reacts to the product that they sell.
However, there is a way to reduce the risk of loss and bankruptcy in companies. This is through the use of the workforce planning method, which streamlines the workplace for maximum efficiency, profitability and market growth. It is a simple way to make use of the talent that you acquire through your employees and make the most out of it while ensuring that you are getting a return on your investment.
The Basics of Workforce Planning
Workforce planning always starts with the talent that you acquire. Depending on the nature of your business and the number of people who need to work for you company, you should be thorough in making sure that you hire the right person for the right job. A talent, in this case an employee, is the fundamental block through which you build around an efficient workforce. If at this point the talent is not at par with the position he or she is in, then there is a breakdown in the planning process.
The second part of planning your workforce depends on the company that you would like to project. The vision and the mission of the company should be satisfied by the employee, and any other areas for growth and development should be considered. Planning through this strategy applies to workforce assignments, workshops and other activities that may further develop the talent that they possess.
Lastly, workforce planning rests upon the fact that the organization of the workforce is streamlined. Employees should know their horizontal and vertical superiors, as well as see to it that the operations escalate and are disseminated directly to the employee who has the job requirement for the task. Proper division of labor and appropriate definition of ones task is key to a successful workforce plan.
The Advantages of Planning Your Workforce
A planned workforce will reap the benefits of an efficient company, but it can also develop and harness information to the company’s advantage. For instance, more people who work on the job that they specifically assigned to can possess and produce new forms efficient and strategic planning that can work as a gain to the company. By the end of the day, these advantages will only be reflected if employees in the said company are happy, fit and well compensated.
There is an art to workforce planning that needs to be executed by the employer or employees that he or she entrusts with planning the workforce. This is a key part of ensuring the success of the business, so it is only but necessary to look through the company’s objectives and see to it that all of these present and future objectives are and will come into fruition. Planning the workforce is a shield against unpredictable business failure.
Julian Hartley is a workforce planning and outsourcing solutions expert for DinaliC.com.
Talk to most managers about giving employees feedback and they’ll almost certainly start shaking and run away screaming. We’ve all had experience of giving and receiving feedback and let’s face it, it can be difficult. The problem is with the wide range of possible outcomes – get it wrong, the employee won’t listen and will resent you, but get it right and you can transform a situation.
But how many managers are really capable of providing constructive feedback to their employees, whilst feeling comfortable about it and confident that things will work out the way they anticipate?
Giving feedback is rarely taught – it’s a skills that is expected to miraculously arrive when people become managers. The truth is that delivering feedback is an art and an underrated one at that.
Common wisdom says that feedback should be delivered as a sandwich – say something nice about the employee (bread), deliver the feedback (ham), and send them on their way with an encouraging word (bread). But this approach rarely works since the ham is usually meagre and is lost in the bread. If the employee only hears the ham they leave having been told off and not encouraged.
Here are a few pointers towards a better approach:
- Remember that feedback is for good things as well as bad, it offers reward for good performance and guidance and encouragement for the not-so-good.
- Go gluten-free – cut out the bread and get straight to the point.
- Separate positive from negative feedback and serve them at different times.
- Don’t store it up, as it’s best delivered close to the behaviour being commented on
- Acknowledge good performance as often as possible and the occasional constructive feedback will go down easier.
- How you say it is crucial and pronouns are the secret sauce:
- For praise, start the sentence with “you” – “You did a really good job…”
- For criticism use “I” – “I’m not happy with ..” as they can’t argue with the way you feel
In summary, I ask you to offer your employees a feedback smorgasbord of intriguing nibbles rather than a crusty old sandwich. Some they will love and others might leave a bad taste but the overall experience will be rewarding.
Your employees are hungry for feedback and you can’t give them enough. Serve it right and you will inspire better performance and leave a taste for even more.
Jonathan Richards has been involved with HR for several years and is the co-founder of Breathe HR Online Software For SMEs
One of the most important things you can do for the success of your business is to build a solid brand identity. It is often under appreciated, however, to the detriment of business. A great deal of work is involved in the design and creation of a business logo. This makes sense, however, since your logo can make or break your business’ success. The logo gives customers the initial impression of your business and can lead customers to want to learn more about your company.
Finding a Graphic Designer
One of the most important decisions you can make in respect to your brand is hiring the right graphic designer. Although there may be some chances to get graphic design free, this is one area in which you get what you pay for. Since visual appeal can do wonders for your business, this is one area where you want to invest a little money. A combination of a great business name and an effective graphic logo will give you a solid start in building a solid brand identity. Since it is so important, you should take as much time as you need to look through design portfolios to find a designer that you think will fit well with your company at a price you can afford. The portfolios are so important now that many graphic designers even put their portfolios online for your perusal.
The Value of Your Logo
A quality designer can generate creative ideas and can meet your business’ deadlines. Do you recognize McDonald’s or Coca-Cola strictly by site? That is because those companies hired the best graphic designers to design their logos. That is why it is important to thoroughly peruse each designer’s portfolio to determine who shares your vision and taste and who can understand what you hope to achieve with your business. If you aren’t sure what to do, read up on the fundamentals of graphic design. Most graphic designers feature these articles on their websites so you can get the information you need to make the right choice. Read up on graphic design services as well as logo design and then take the time to thoroughly understand what you want, how you want your business to be perceived, who you are marketing to, and what are the best ways to get your message across and to stick in customers’ minds.
Although a company logo may seem to be a very small, insubstantial part of your business, branding is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal. By having a logo that truly represents your business, that is appealing to customers, and that is memorable, you can see dramatically increased profits and sales. If your company doesn’t already have a professionally designed logo, make sure you start shopping for a graphic designer that can meet your needs today. While it is true that this process can take some research, time, and money, it is one of the most necessary steps if you want to see unparalleled success for your company.
Robert Richins is a writer for How2becomeapoliceofficer.com. He helps students go back to school to become a police officer by finding them the best online programs.
When it comes to events, corporate styles are often the most difficult to plan, with various decisions on how things should be organised, right down to how the schedule should read. There are commonly a number of people involved in the planning of a corporate event or conference, often making it difficult for the main organiser to please everyone. Employing the assistance of a professional event management company can often take much of the stress away from organising a high calibre event. To ensure that your event runs smoothly, an event management company will be with you every step of the way to make certain that things are moving forward as planned.
Choosing an Event Management Company
If the pressure is high and you cannot afford to risk the success of your corporate event, hire an event management company that is reputable and reliable. Companies with years of planning experience will provide you with first class service and recommendations to make your corporate event run smoothly. Although your event management company will be there to guide you in the right direction for success, you also want a company who will cater for your specific needs and alter their advice to suit the culture and objectives of your company. For a successful corporate event, ensure that your event management company is capable of planning for the number of guests that will be attending. Whether you have 5 or 50, 000 guests joining you at your corporate event, your company of choice should be able to cater for all of your needs, right down to the smallest detail.
Create a Timeline for your Event
Particularly with corporate events, it is crucial to create a carefully thought-out timeline, not only for the day, but also for the upcoming weeks to the event. Firstly, begin by creating a planning timeline, including important company details, such as the goals and objectives of the event, a number of possible dates and locations, along with any promotional or marketing materials that may be needed. Upon the finalisation of your planning timeline, you will be able to create a detailed schedule for the day of the event. Including important information in your schedule, such as the time of guest speakers and the arrival of important guests, can help you to create a successful and stress free event.
Planning and executing a successful corporate event can often be challenging, particularly when the organiser has minimal experience in event coordination. If you have been appointed with the task of organising your company’s next major corporate event, consider employing the services of a professional event management company to ensure that the event runs smoothly and everyone leaves happy. The secret to planning a successful corporate event is to organise and finalise plans well before the date of the event, ensuring that you are prepared for any unexpected surprises on the day!
Tara has worked on a number of high profile, corporate events and writes regularly on the topic. While running an event yourself can seem like the more cost-effective option, she recommends that you look for a specialist management company, such as DNA Event Management, in order to have them take the reigns and manage the project. The stress and time consuming nature of running a large, corporate event can take its toll on you. Is it really worth adding that burden on top of your daily routine?