7 Tips to Help Small Business Owners Achieve Success

In today’s austere economy, small businesses could gain a leading edge over their competitors by first evaluating where they stand and then implement some solutions to ramp up their marketing campaign. The key factor is to embark on a marketing campaign that is interactive, where the opinions of your customers count and to emphasize that you are listening to them. It is essential that the customers know that you value their participation in the business transactions. To begin, there are seven tips that will help small business owners to gain momentum and achieve success.

1. SEO

Evaluate your business website’s search engine optimization. Even if you plan to hire an SEO consultant, it is important for the savvy business owner to learn about SEO so that you can work with the consultant as a team. Two websites offer information to help interested people to learn about SEO: Seobook offers a free course, “7 Days to SEO Success”, and Hubspot offers free eBooks, which includes “Learning SEO from the Experts”. Marketing software for small and medium-size businesses can be purchased from Hubspot. Mike Volpe, Chief Marketing Officer, places great importance on their blog because it is an integral part of their marketing strategy to drive traffic to their website.

2. Articles and Blogs

Write and publish articles and blogs to establish your standing as an expert in your industry. When you provide articles about relevant information pertaining to your industry, you will gain status as a thought leader and you will build credibility and trust. In your blogs, you can communicate and connect with customers. If a complaint is sent to you, view this negative comment as an opportunity and not a threat. You have the opportunity to show the customer and other potential customers that you are a problem solver and that customer satisfaction is your priority.

3. Press Release

Write a keyword friendly press release about your product or service. By submitting this press release to Google News and other websites, many people will read about your business.

4. Market Segmentation

Analyze your customer base and obtain market segmentation knowledge. When you sell a product, think about the profile and focus on what qualities are most important to the group of customers who are most likely to buy the product or service. You would design the advertising to talk to this particular group in their language to satisfy their wants and needs.

5. eBook

Offer an eBook with information that customers are seeking. This project is two-fold. First, you will enhance your reputation as an expert in your field. Second, in this marketing effort, you will obtain information about your customers. The opt-in page will collect the customer’s name and email address. You may wonder about what topics would be appealing to customers.

For example, a landscaping business could write an eBook about water-wise gardening and offer the eBook for free on the business website with information about the number of gallons of water that would be saved. The objective is for the customer to create the project. The business owner could also provide pricing information of the plants and materials such as the drip irrigation supplies. Most likely, after reading about the advantages of saving water and being friendly to the environment, the customer would call the landscaping company to do the actual work of installing the drip irrigation system and to put in the drought-resistant plants. To assist customers, the business could also suggest the Home Depot website, where they could purchase rain barrels to collect rain water from the wet season for watering the garden.

6. Contest

Hold a contest to attract many entries and additional customer data. For example, you can give away a laptop computer, iPhone or iPad. An opportune time is the anniversary celebration of your business. The investment will bring returns that are manifold. First, you are promoting good will for your brand and business. People are generally very excited about contests and will most likely spread the word to their family and friends. More importantly, as customers and potential customers enter the contest, you are adding many names to your email list.

7. Email Marketing

Traffic and customers are the lifeblood of a business. Conduct email marketing to reach more customers and potential customers. The collection of emails can be done in several ways. The above tip # 5 (offer an eBook) and Tip #6 (hold a contest) are great ways to collect names and email addresses. If your business is a brick and mortar business in addition to your online business, the face time with customers is very important as well. In addition to good customer service, instruct your sales staff to ask for the customer’s email address and offer an incentive. Tell the customers that you will email a coupon for 10% discount on their next purchase and that you will notify them about special sales.

By implementing some or all of the above tips, your business will be more successful because you are using an interactive marketing strategy. The important benefit to emphasize is that you are the business owner with initiative and you are implementing proactive measures to gain a leading edge over your competitors. Your customers will feel that they are part of the process because they have choices and their opinions count.

4 Basic Aspects of Small Business Marketing

Small businesses often work with a limited budget and amount of resources, thus it poses a major dilemma in terms of marketing the business to compete with larger corporations. One mistake that small business owners often commit is that they often spread themselves too thin. Thus, there is no focus on their small business marketing and they often produce little to no impact on their target audience.

Experts point out that there are 4 basic points that must be considered when marketing a small business: business plan, marketing plan, market research, and budget.

Writing a Business Plan

Your small business plan should cover at least one year but leave a tab wherein you can input monthly reports. Experts also suggest that you update it on a quarterly basis, such that your business could adapt to changing market trends.

You need to make small business marketing your priority when writing a business plan. You must specifically look into the medium-term, say 2 to 4 years into your business. Here is where you need to get all areas of the business involved – from financing, manufacturing, supplies, personnel, and marketing. Thus, it leads you toward the next most important aspect of your small business planning- the marketing plan.

Marketing Plan

Here are some tips to consider when coming up with an effective small business marketing strategy:

  • Create a rallying point. But you have to instill that internally first, such that the people involved in your business has got a good sense of where you are headed and fill in on their roles.
  • Come up with a specific and detailed plan of action within a specified time period, such as the next 12 to 18 months. Be as narrow as possible so you can attain focus.
  • Use your marketing plan as a step-by-step guide towards operational activities. You need to identify goals and assign tasks.
  • Always look at the big picture in your small business marketing plan. Oftentimes, you focus too much on the details that you fail to analyze whether results are visible on a larger scale.

Market Research

Another important aspect in every small business marketing is to conduct market research. The purpose here is to come up with a plan on how to resolve marketing problems that may arise. Some of the key areas to prioritize during your market research surveys include product differentiation, market segmentation, and other related data.

Budget and Resources

The final but equally important aspect in marketing a small business is the ability to maximize the limited resources available. Below are tips you can use to make the most out of your small marketing budget:

  • Since ads are expensive to produce and run, you need to look for ways of sending your advertising message directly to your intended audience with a fraction of the original cost. Recycling ads is also another tip to save money and effort.
  • If you have come up with an effective advertising campaign, stick with it. With limited resources, you have to settle with the ones that produce results instead of experimenting.
  • Research for inexpensive advertising approach that will produce more leads, particularly go for free ads.
  • Do it yourself instead of paying for others.

Combine all four key aspects when coming up with an effective small business marketing plan to ensure that you get effective results in less time.

Tips for Small Business Owners in an Economic Downturn

Recession Tips for Small Business Owners

Open up the pages of any local newspaper and you will find some mention of the recession, and how small businesses are suffering in getting through this economic downturn. Small business owners are being forced to get creative and think outside of the box in regards to marketing, finances, and management in order to stay profitable.

Some of the following tips may be considered common sense for some in regards to how to conduct their business but some of these other tips may be brand new strategies for business owners and will help their bottom line tremendously.

1. Stay on top of the money! This may be second nature for most businesses, regardless it’s very important to keep close tabs on the company’s cash flow. Sales may be going through the roof but if you don’t know you’re cash flow you could still be in the red.

2. Align yourself with complementary businesses. I was eating at a local Vietnamese restaurant and I noticed that they were offering frozen yogurt from the frozen yogurt shop next door. That was a smart partnership for the yogurt place because this Vietnamese restaurant was always busy and the reciprocal relationship between the two was probably mutually benefiting each other’s bottom line. Other businesses can learn from this strategy of partnering up with businesses that have the potential to reciprocate business.

3. Go through your rolodex. I know that as a business owner you get so busy that you don’t have time to go through your client management system and call on old customers but this an essential part of staying profitable in an economic downturn.

4. Network, network, network. This is the simple most important thing you can ever, you are only as good as your network because the saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” is a very true statement.

5. Trim the fat. Catered sushi, champagne lunches, and free food in the kitchen will need to be curtailed in a down economy, so some of the perks that you and your employees enjoyed during a good economy may need to be cut from your budget.

6. Love your customers (even more!). You can’t afford to lose one account, customer or client, so if you own a restaurant make sure you’re out in dining room and canoodling with your patrons. If you own a print shop, make sure that every customer get’s their expectations exceeded, maybe offer them extra prints for free, or offer free delivery.

7. Look for bargain hires. Do to the unemployment rate and the economic downturn there are a lot of overqualified people out in the work force; make sure you take the opportunity to snatch these people up at a discount.

8. Re-brand old products. Get creative and brush the dust off your old products and re-package them, re-name them, add simple economic features to them or try something clever to get people to buy again.

9. Don’t stop marketing; market more. Some entrepreneurs say that a recession is not a time to slow down; it’s a time to step it up. Why? Because there’s a lack of competitors, and once the economy turns around you’re going to have a head start on every Jack and Jill starting a business like your own.

10. Plan for the recovery. This recession is not going to last forever, and those that have sufficiently prepared for the worse and the best are going to be positioned, and set up for success.

11. Last but not least, stay positive. Positivity is the number one element as a small business owner; it’s infectious with our employees, customers and your loved ones. Those that can be a beacon of light in this storm will stand out from their competition and will survive this economy.

Quality Tips On Marketing Your Small Business Online

Owning a small business is a challenge enough, but without some tips on marketing your small business online you could see that it is going to be impossible to see the success that you want to have. When you get these tips you will quickly notice that it is going to be easy to market your company to the level that you want it to reach and then you will be able to turn the reigns of daily operation over to employees because it makes you so much money on a daily basis.

One tip that you can use to market your business on the Internet will be to look at the competition that you will be facing. Doing this you will be able to see what kind of features they are offering on their site, but you will also be able to see what you need to do for your businesses site to make it more attractive to people.

Another tip that can help out is to do some research on the keywords that you need to be targeting. For example if you have an Irish store you will want to think about the products that you carry and use a keyword research tool to see what words you should be using on your site. Then you could see that some people are going to be looking for the specific title of the item that you carry and that could lead to more people being able to find what exactly they want from your site based off of their search.

Something else that you will find is that can be helpful will be to write articles about your items. Doing this you could either use it as a review article about the pros and cons of each product, but you could also use it as a way to build links back to your site. Then you could also see that the article you write could be enough to encourage people to purchase the product from you based off of your review.

Being able to market your business is something that you may be used to doing without the help of the Internet, but with the changes in the marketing world you probably know that the Internet is the way to go. That is when you should have some tips on marketing your small business online to ensure you have success.