For Overwhelmed Business Owners: How Online Marketing For Small Business Gives You Breathing Room

Online marketing for small business owners can be somewhat tricky, but, if done successfully, it can make running a small business simpler. Online marketing can make a business successful while, at the same time, allow a business owner an easier time running her business. So, how does online marketing for small business really help business? Does it really make things easier for business, or simply simpler?

Online Marketing For Small Business Or Fail

Well, let me put it this way, small business needs to be aggressively marketed, no matter what, or the competition will eat it alive. If your business is not marketed properly, it will fail — plain and simple. As it is, the never ending race for new business is exhausting and consumes the bulk of my time. I love courting great prospects and the challenge to convert them into great customers. What’s better than bringing a great customer into your family? How can business get any better than growing your family of great customers?

So, why should a business be marketed online as opposed to marketed elsewhere? Let me show you several reasons:

First of all, marketing online gives small business owners a greater sense of control over where and to whom the business is marketed. To whom ought you to market your business? Understand your two or three best customers intimately and coalesce that intimacy into buyer personae. Focus on your buyer personae. If you’re not selling Pampers or used cars, do not market to Pampers and used car buyers. Online marketing is much better than traditional marketing for laser focus on target markets.

Focus On Online Marketing For Small Business

If your business sells rare antiques, you don’t want teenagers to be the majority of people seeing your advertisements. With online marketing, a business owner easily chooses on which online media to market her business. She can monitor the demographic viewing her website to help determine whether or not that online media is where she wants her business advertised. Marketing to the right demographic is one of the most important factors in generating sales, because targeted leads are more readily closed. This is accomplished most easily marketing small business online.

Furthermore, online marketing for small business makes growing business easier because online media are more readily changed. They don’t need to be as on top of marketing strategies as they needed to be when they ran ads in print or some other offline media. Have you ever tried to change the color palette on a billboard? How quickly can you change from black-and-white to color Yellow Pages spread?

What does this mean? Well, I’m not saying that a business owner won’t have to monitor her marketing strategies closely. Whether they are online or off, one size never fits all. Some techniques will work and others don’t. Some strategies may work today and no longer work next year.

Measure Online Marketing For Small Business

Nevertheless, it’s far easier to monitor effectiveness online, and easier to test multiple alternatives simultaneously. With a simple click of a button, the business owner can see how many websites visitors she’s attracting from particular advertisements.

More to the point, it’s easier than ever to gather metrics and measure crazy stuff like visitors to leads to sales ratios. How profitable is your Yellow Pages campaign? Traditional offline marketing cannot provide clear cause and effect metrics. It’s exceedingly difficult to monitor how much interest in a business is being generated from TV commercials, newspaper ads and telemarketing calls. Online, these statistics are readily monitored.

Online Marketing For Small Business Is Smart

Overall, online marketing for small business is just plain smart! Making the business owner’s life much simpler is perhaps the single greatest benefit of online marketing.

Top 5 Ways to Generate Leads for Small Businesses

The ever-increasing competition in the world of business has meant that small and home-based businesses can effectively run against industry giants and survive, even grow and be successful. Yet this same competition brings into stark relief the importance of generating leads successfully and converting them into paying customers. There are myriad ways to generate more business, both traditional and non-traditional, and either can be just as effective if implemented carefully, creatively and innovatively.

1. Networking Events

One of the oldest and surest ways to generate more leads is networking. Chamber of commerce events, happy hours, after-hour mixers, business get-togethers for various purposes are excellent ways to get your business name in front of prospects. Remember, you can simply exchange business cards and still get good leads even though you are not a savvy social animal. Just make sure you are creating a database and saving all the information in a CRM system.

2. Trade shows

Most industries host exclusive trade shows, expos, and exhibitions to showcase their products and services. Get in line, set up a booth, and provide a more hands-on experience and understanding of what you do and why you should be chosen. Ask those interested to fill out forms and surveys, and build a database with their information to capture and convert leads.

There are many CRM systems out there if you research online. Remember, the key here is to adapt to faster ways of building customer database so you can get the marketing started. This is NOT the time to contemplate about how much you can save. Invest in the right tools early so you get the dividends later.

3. Your Website/Blog

If you want your small business to succeed, you must have a website and preferably a blog. I can not stress this enough but these tools are not only useful to ‘display’ your business info but also valuable resource to generate leads. You can offer free goodies on your site such as ebooks, research papers, webinars etc with content packed with value for your end users and they would be happy to provide you with their contact information in exchange to get more valuable stuff from you in the future. Use proper strategy to incorporate the location of the opt-in forms.

4. Customer Referrals

A happy customer is worth $10000 dollars worth of marketing. Do your best job to serve your existing customers and they would be happy to spread the word to their friends and relatives. Don’t be shy to ask for testimonials and referrals and encourage their participation in advocating your business in the community in exchange for exclusive promotions or giveaways.

5. Social Media

One of the newest tools that is very effective, free and easy to use for small business is social media. Create buzz and generate awareness of your products and services on Facebook, Pinterset, Google+ and other platforms that will engage your friends and their friends. Use creativity to attract and offer something of value to those who would participate in a survey or promotion.

Small Business Management – 2 Tips for Effectively Leading Employees

In today’s Lean Start Up culture of small business, the major thought among many owners and operators is the need to output products and services at an optimal quality and high level of productivity that satisfies market demand. Naturally, the adherence to these principles increases the probability of the business to experience robust revenue and profit growth in addition to increasing market share. For the most part, these outcomes are desired highly by small business owners, but they also pose a considerable business risk in the form of employee mismanagement.

The labor component of any business easily can account for at least 30% of the total cost structure depending on the business model utilized (i.e. manufacturing, retail, service). Thus, management prioritizes its monitoring and oversight of this cost component to ensure proper balance and alignment with production output and ultimately market demand. In doing this, though, employees are often treated as components of a business’s production cycle instead of human beings. The tendency of management to treat and manage employees as objects rather than people can have a negative impact on the business both in the short and long-term.

Owners of small businesses can and should learn to “lead” and not manage their employees. Webster’s Dictionary Online defines management as “the act or process of deciding how to use something”. Since most small businesses consist of no more than 5 employees including the owner, there’s a close camaraderie among employees and owners that helps in making the production process more flexible and agile in regards to changes in market demand. The downside to this strength is that management fails to learn how to lead their staff. As a result, employees are not empowered to think in creative ways to enhance the business’s competitive advantage for the long-term. Instead, they are relegated to menial and automated tasks similar to a machine. We are not discounting or understating the value of an employee that performs menial and automated tasks, but it’s management’s responsibility to ensure that each and every employee’s ability is maximized for the business’s success.

Two key small business management tips for “leading” employees are:

Tip One: Reward and Recognize Employees Early and Often
The implementation of this first tip is easy and straightforward. The power of getting results with this tip is from a commitment to consistency. Small business owners should set up a personnel reward and recognition system that incentives their staff for taking calculated risk within their scope of work to think creatively in enhancing the long-term competitive advantage of the business. Examples include gift cards, certificates, novelty items, etc. The goal here is to reinforce behavior that adds value to the business and these come from leading them to think creatively of ways to do their jobs better and more efficiently.

Tip Two: Delegate Effectively
This second tip focuses on empowering your employees rather than micro managing them. Effective managers know that the line between empowerment and micro managing is slim, but with experience and foresight, managers can implement this tip with ease as well. Empowering employees is all about clearly communicating expectations and vesting authority in them to accomplish the desired goal. Delegating effectively holds amazing value for owners of small businesses because it’s a way for them to replicate themselves exponentially.

Why Branding Is Important for Small Businesses

Often small businesses fall into two traps around branding – that they can’t manage it because they are small and that it is primarily about products anyway. While branding does feature the products or services that a business offers, this is only a small part of it. And branding is something that can benefit businesses of all sizes as well as being accessible to everyone. Here are a few reasons to seriously consider working on your company branding.

What is Branding?

Branding is about creating a unique identity for your business that means even when you sell the same products or services as someone else, you can stand out from the crowd and attract customer attention. Small business branding can often be seen as difficult to do as you can’t compete with the big company in terms of resources or manpower. And while this might be the case with resources, it doesn’t mean your branding can’t work for you just as well as theirs.

People relate better to companies that have strong branding and an identity. They vote for which branding works for them with their shop visits, clicks or purchases. By having strong, cohesive branding, your company can be the one that they notice, feel a connection with and therefore purchase from. It can also create brand loyalty and those crucial returning customers.

Recognition Leads to Trust

One thing studies have shown is that recognition of a brand builds trust and people are more likely to buy from a company if they feel they can trust them. Therefore, trust and reputation are key to business success and branding plays a big part in this.

By having that strong, identifiable brand, even the smallest company can begin to build trust with customers. This leads to customer loyalty – 48% of customers say they are more likely to become loyal to the brand during their first experience or purchase with them.

There are lots of ways to create that brand to build trust with everything from catchy slogans and memorable names to attractive and eye-catching colour schemes being used. But the most effective brands combine something of everything. They work on the principle that we retain only around one-tenth of the information that we see when we read something.

But if you include visuals with that information, this rate of retention rises up to almost two thirds. Therefore, having that catchy slogan paired with great graphics, a clear colour palette, brand voice and other elements means you have a better chance of people remembering what you do. That’s why visuals are so popular on social media and almost three-quarters of marketers use them ahead of even video.

Brand Reputation

As you attract attention for your brand and build trust, then you start to create a reputation, be it online or in the physical world. Reputation is crucial for business – it covers everything from customer interactions, product standard, feedback and even how you reward your customers.

That strong, positive reputation can even convince people to buy. 91% of shoppers asked in one study said they were more likely to buy from a brand that they viewed as ‘authentic’ than one that they didn’t. So building that brand reputation can gain you customers in a big way.

Using marketing teams to manage your reputation may seem like something that a small company cannot manage but this isn’t the case. By having external experts who take on tasks such as checking customer feedback, managing social media and creating the right content, you can quickly build and enhance your business reputation.

Making Sales

A strong brand increases the number of leads that you will generate and this, in turn, means making more sales. However, you need to maintain your reputation and standards when generating these leads or the work done by the brand can vanish. Response times, voice and even the actual content you use to handle leads all needs to be consistent with the brand.

Following through on your promises also helps build that reputation. Have a clear customer process with times outlined so customers know what to expect and make sure you follow it – that way people are impressed with what you do and more likely to tell others.

Business Growth

That strong, cohesive brand is crucial for other areas of the business growth. Staff morale, for example, can be a problem. If staff are demotivated, don’t know what the company stands for or feel unimportant, then this can lead to bad customer service. This damages the brand.

So by having a clear brand that employees can get behind, you can offer a better service to your customers. Staff feel proud to talk about what the company does or the services that it offers. And they learn to talk with the brand’s voice, ensuring all of their communications with customers offers consistency. This makes the company seem more friendly and approachable and this is another reason that customers become loyal to the brand.

Branding also stands out to potential investors in the business. According to a study by Reuters, some 82% of investors said that the strength of a company’s brand and name recognition were important factors in a decision to get involved with a business.
What this shows is that from all aspects of the business, branding is crucial. You need to have a presence that is recognisable from your social media profiles and website through to your physical store if you have one. The brand rules how you talk to customers and ensures staff can believe in it.

There are lots of ways that branding can help with business growth and success. This means that having a strong brand and optimised strategy to use it is vital to the long-term success and profitability of your company.