Posts Tagged ‘small business’
Thursday, July 5th, 2012
If you run an off line retail shop and you’re wondering how you can compete with your online counterparts, well, don’t think you can’t. You might actually have an advantage.
Online-only stores have no way to take cash payments. If a customer prefers to pay cash, that’s too bad. The options are a credit card, wire transfer, or online pay service such as PayPal. There is no “pay cash and I’ll pick it up at the store” option.
The brick and mortar retailer, however, can market themselves online and take payments off line – even in cash – which gives you a stealthy advantage over your online counterparts. Don’t believe me? Then just ask Wal-Mart, which has been offering a “pick up and pay at the store” service for a short while now. The service is quite popular. And with some old fogies still distrustful of online payment systems, credit card fraud, identity theft, and other digital crimes, it’s a welcome service for many consumers.
This advantage doesn’t just extend to large retailers. Small businesses can also set up a cash option for pick up orders. This gives you a distinct local advantage and, by the way, why not list that as a benefit for doing business with you on your website? Encourage your customers to buy local – from you.
Sunday, July 1st, 2012
Small business owners all over the world are about to get a big boost in helping them brand their businesses online. If television advertising has been off limits to you because of the high cost of production, maybe you can turn to online video marketing – or video branding if you prefer – instead.
It seems that YouTube is working on putting together a marketplace where video marketers and on screen video talent can hook up. Think of it as a celebrity endorsement agent for YouTube channels.
Let me break it down into the simplest terms I can think of:
- A particular YouTube celebrity has hundreds of thousands of subscribers on her YouTube channel
- Her audience just happens to be the same audience you are trying to reach
- You connect with this YouTube personality through YouTube’s talent marketplace
- You pay the connection fee (a fraction of what it would cost to get a real life celebrity to endorse your product)
- The YouTube celebrity makes a video endorsing your product or service
- The video goes out on the YouTube celebrity’s video channel, your own video channel, and you embed it on your own website and promote it through social media with the celebrity’s help
Do you think that would be effective marketing? I do. Would it be effective online branding? You bet it would.
And what if that celebrity was so good at endorsing your product that you hired her to be featured in several YouTube videos, maybe even hundreds, over the course of a few years. You could have your very own Aflac duck voice or William Shatner-like voice of credibility promoting your brand online.
Coming soon to a YouTube channel near you.
Tuesday, June 26th, 2012
Marketing Pilgrim has an interesting take on video marketing. I like what Frank Reed says in this paragraph:
You must consider how your product is able to be ‘pitched’ via video. It’s that simple. Whether your business is large or small people want to know what you do in the quickest and easiest format for them. So what if you feel that video is too expensive? So is losing business to lesser competitors because you are counting the wrong things as important in your business. (emphasis his)
I think, more and more, small business owners are being faced with a choice. Either enter the video marketing arena and make an honest go of it or risk losing business to the competition. It’s an expensive choice either way you go.
Video marketing is not a necessity. I wouldn’t recommend it for every client, but videos are powerful marketing tools. You can do a lot more in a video than you can in straight content. It’s a powerful medium. But how you go about producing and promoting your videos also makes a big difference. It requires a commitment on your part to promoting your brand and developing a presence with your own video channel.
What are your thoughts on video marketing? Is it time for small businesses to seriously consider this medium?
Friday, June 22nd, 2012
Just because your business is small doesn’t mean it has to look small. You can look like a big brand with just a little effort. All it takes is a little planning and some ingenuity, then the elbow grease to go with it. OK, scratch the elbow grease. You aren’t tiling your kitchen floors. But you do need to work hard.
Branding is a strategy. To achieve success with it you need one key ingredient: Consistency.
But that’s not all you need. You can be consistently boring. What you want to do is build your brand and that means connecting with your audience in thoughtful ways over a period of time. Here are 4 ingredients to great branding that every small business owner should know:
- Create a logo that is simple, easy to recognize, and that speaks to your audience. This is harder than it sounds, but it can be done. Make your logo stand out. You do want people to associate it with your business.
- Choose colors that compliment your images and your message. Make them attractive to your audience.
- Be consistent. Pick a header and go with it. Don’t keep changing your logo and color scheme.
- Persistence. Just as you want to be consistent, you also want to be persistent. Stay the course. When you get bored with your logo and branding elements, your audience is just starting to recognize them. The last thing you want to do is change them.
By branding your small business you give it a little bit more edge and room for success. You’ll be glad you did it that way.
Thursday, June 14th, 2012
Many small business owners don’t have the budget or the resources to manage their own online marketing strategy. That’s why they come to us. But the importance of such a strategy is something that I like to stress because we are fast approaching a time when having no online marketing strategy at all is sure suicide for your business.
There is more than one way of course to approach online marketing. Every business is different, therefore every business should have its own strategy. There is no such thing as a cookie-cutter marketing plan.
That’s why Small Business Mavericks favors a custom-designed Internet marketing strategy. We start by identifying your target market. After that, we identify the features and benefits of your product or service and develop the emotional triggers that lead to sales.
Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is what sets you apart from the competition. We help you identify that as well.
At the heart of your USP is your competition. We carefully review your competitors’ products and services and your own and determine what sets you apart in the marketplace. After that, we begin the keyword research that is going to help you target your message to the right audience for your products and services – keeping your USP in mind.
Then, we implement your plan and put your brand on the Internet map.
Is this an easy process? Not by a long shot. But it is a necessary process, no matter how small or large your business is. If you haven’t created your online marketing plan yet, now is a good time to start.
Sunday, January 15th, 2012
What’s the biggest threat to many small businesses in 2012? Most small business owners would probably point at their competitors. Others may point to the changes made to search algorithms and the effect it may have on their search rankings. Whilst these are threats that need to be dealt with, the biggest threat could come from hackers.
There has been a gradual shift in fraudulent activity in recent years with hackers slowly switching their focus away from big businesses and on to small businesses. Big business has the time, money and resources to guard against any hack attempts on their data. Small business has neither the time nor money, and in many cases, the know-how, to protect their data. This makes them easy targets for hackers looking for the personal details of customers, particularly credit card data.
Data protection is an area that small businesses will need to deal with in 2012. Any breaches could leave a business wide open to legal proceedings from customers, and we are talking about group claims here, not just one off claims. Protection of data needn’t be a costly exercise. You do need a very secure website, particularly when it comes to securing your data. This will be one area where the cost of protection for your site could outweigh the risks associated with an unprotected website.
A professional website development team can help to ensure your website is safe from hacking. The cost would be minute compared to the cost of a successful group law suit against either yourself or your business. Is your data safe? Could someone hack your website and then proceed to download all the personal details of your customers. If you’re not full protected, talk to a professional webstite development team.
Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012
If you are one of many people out of work and have been out of work for a while, take the initiative and start a small business. It is not as hare-brained as some may think. One, the United States needs more businesses and you need to go to work. Think about the skills you have and utilize them to start your own business.
New business start ups have been steadily declining for several reasons. However, the country needs new business as that is how this country was started, by entrepreneurship and hard work.
Even if it is not your skills, but maybe something in your area that needs a certain product. For instance, if you live in an area that does not have specialty furniture, like rustic furniture. If you know that there are enough people in the surrounding area that would purchase from your store, go for it. It could be any number of things that might be easy start up businesses in your community.
Options for financing include visiting with lenders in your area or applying for a small business loan through the small business administration. They have a number of resources available and can help those wishing to start a new business.
Another consideration is starting your business from home. If it is possible, it will save you thousands of dollars in start up costs alone.
There are a thousand ways you can start your own business. It also beats sitting around waiting for that job interview to call. Take the initiative and be your own salvation. Once you get the business going, you will be glad that you started it.
Monday, January 2nd, 2012
If you look at several websites, you will see different links that will take you to related content. This is a great way to pull your website into the related content. How do you do it? It’s actually quite simple and you will be amazed at why you have not used links more.
There are a lot of different techniques but the main one is using document sharing sites. On document sharing sites like Scribd, you can upload your documents into a pdf file. They can then be distributed all over the Internet. Create links in the document back to your website. This increases your chances of getting found in the search engines.
At the same time, you can also search for relevant content to add to your website. This is a great way of sharing information and using various ways of getting back to your site.
It’s also important to link to previous content within your own website. You may have written an article or something a couple of years ago. But it is still relevant and will get readers to read that as will.
Link building or link marketing has been around for a while but it is still a very resourceful tool for your online business. You can always visit with consultants to find out which link building technique or sites that are best suited to your needs.
One thing to remember, where you get back links is more important than what you do. Be sure to use multiple sources to get the best exposure.
Saturday, December 31st, 2011
For small businesses, making more sales is what keeps your doors open. We have talked about a lot of ways to boost your business and get your name out there. It’s been mentioned a couple of times, but mailing lists are one of the most important marketing tools you will have.
It’s important to keep mailing lists up to date with current postal addresses and email addresses. You may only use this list to send out newsletters or flyers every once in a while.
Think about ramping up your mailing list by adding new customers to the list and using it for more than a newsletter. You could make several templates of how-to tips, products, or did-you-know facts. Whatever your business is, use that business for all kinds of ideas you can use in a mailing list.
Most regular customers will expect your mailings as they are used to getting them, but new customers like the feeling of a welcome letter maybe coupled with a discount coupon in appreciation of their business. It makes them feel like you value them, which you do. You just need to do something to reinforce that feeling.
The single most important thing you can do in building a business is to build customer confidence in you and they will come back. Customer loyalty goes a long way in making a business a success. Mailing lists help you do that. You may not see a regular customer but once every month or so. Let them know about special sales that they might be missing in between their visits.
Think about your mailing list. Clean up any discrepancies and ramp it up for the coming year and you will be surprised at how much it will help you and your business.
For ideas or help with setting up mailing lists, visit a small business consultant who can get you on the right track.