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Monday
Oct212019

3 Great Ways to Market your Local Business

market your local businessBuilding a business can be extremely time consuming and difficult to start. Gaining traction in an age filled with big businesses with even bigger marketing budgets is hard for small businesses. Luckily, you don't always have to compete on a national level. Standing out in your local area is a lot easier than competing with the other national big companies. If you're a local company in any city, from Seattle(which happens to be the 18th largest city in the U.S.) to New York, focusing on local marketing is a great strategy. Luckily, there are many ways you can go about marketing your small local business in order to gain traction in your local area.

Local SEO

Google is the number one search engine, with over 70% of the market share of the search industry. With that much traffic, it's easy to see why you need to be appearing at the top. But going about normal search engine optimization can be an extremely lengthy process, where you'll be competing with large sites. However, it can be made easier if you focus your efforts on local SEO. The first step in this is making sure your "Google My Business" profile is set up, and you have updated that with all of your current information. Next, you'll want to make sure you're setting up your profile in the same way on local business sites like Yelp. After this, a link building strategy will help Google know that you're an authoritative source, helping you rank higher. Alongside this, create posts on Google My Business talking about the industry and your business. You can talk about a multitude of things, from any sort of sales that you have going on to maybe the size of your industry and how it is growing. If you're in the trucking or delivery business, for example, you may talk about how there are 500,000 reefer trailers currently in use in the United States, followed by how the industry is growing and why your business is standing out.

Local Signs and Billboards

In the digital age, it can be easy to get wrapped up in a digital marketing strategy, but depending on your target market, you may want to step back and look at what your buyer persona does on a day to day basis. If they traverse your city and aren't very active on the internet, then it might be a good idea to invest in signage around your town. You should appeal to people who are driving, walking, and even biking around your town, creating various media that appeals to these people. There are twice as many bicycles in the world over cars, at more than 1 billion. Make sure to create advertisements that people who are riding bikes around the city can see, and understand by glancing at it quickly.

Social Media Ads

If your buyer persona is active online and frequents social media, you may be able to see success investing in social media advertisements. Depending on what platform you choose, you're able to select the exact demographic that you want to target. In this case, you'd want to choose people who reside in your local area.

For social media advertisements, it's usually made up of two parts: a creative visual and supporting copy. For the visual, you can create a photo, video, or graphic to capture the audience's attention. You can do this through a great looking graphic, appealing directly to a consumer's needs, or giving them a surprising fact. If you're a window replacement company, for instance, you can add the fact that 38% of heat loss happens through windows and doors, with something supporting that saying if they are struggling with their energy bills, they should reach out for a consultation. Your copy can then support this, talking about why the consumer should choose you over your competition, or why they need your services in the first place.

Building your local business can be made easy through the help of a great marketing strategy. Before implementing this, you want to make sure you know who your buyer persona or target market is and why you're the best company from them. With this foundation, you're sure to see success.

Monday
Oct212019

Marketing Principles for Your Services Business

marketing principlesStanding out in a crowded market place can be difficult when you're running a services business. How can you differentiate yourself against the big-name competitors? Luckily, the internet has provided an opportunity for small service-based businesses to get their name in front of more and more people. There are tons of tips and tutorials on how to increase your reach and visibility online, but how do you get those people emotionally invested in what you have to offer, leading them to close the deal with you? Here, we'll go into some great marketing strategies to build an emotional connection with your target customer and get them to become a paying customer.

Benefits-Based Marketing

In the world of advertisements, it's fairly common to see feature-based marketing. This includes phrases like "made with high quality materials" or "one terabyte of storage." These tell you the features or properties of the service or product. In some cases, these can work well. However, if you want to get your target customer emotionally invested in your product, you need to ask the question: "What good does that feature do?" This opens up a world of possibilities.

Say you're a septic company, trying to market to the one in four homes with a septic system. Instead of just saying "We'll install, repair, and maintain your septic system," you can add on to that, "so you can focus on what matters in your life without worrying about your septic system." Or if you're an urgent care clinic, talking about the price of your services. You can say that the average cost at a retail clinic is 30% to 40% less than at a doctor's office, but that doesn't stir up any emotions. To this, add something relating to how they can use this saved money on something else that they want. This adds a whole other level to your marketing copy, speaking on a deeper emotional level to your consumer.

Fear-Based Marketing

While the sound of this might sound a little shady at first, this is actually a very common marketing tactic. Fear of missing out (FOMO) is widely used when talking about exclusive deals with a deadline. This could also include showing facts to your target market that could open their eyes to things they might not have otherwise known about. For instance, as a veterinary clinic, you could mention that a female flea can lay 2,000 eggs in her lifetime, urging them to come in for flea removal services.

Or for an example of FOMO as a home remodeling business, you can make your consumer aware of the fact that 30 percent of home remodeling activities are through major additions and alterations. You can then tell them how they don't want to miss out on having the home of their dreams, or being able to sell their home for more money.

Social Proof

A final way to build an emotional trust with a possible customer is to show them various forms of social proof. The main way to do this is to get endorsements from either a mass amount of people, or a few from sources people trust.

For the first way of gaining social proof, getting 5-star reviews on sites like Google Reviews and Yelp. Consumers are likely to spend 31 percent more from a business that has excellent reviews. In order to get said reviews, you can either ask directly for them from customers who you've done a good job for, or provide some sort of incentive. For instance, offering some percentage off their next order if they show you their 5-star review.

Outside of reviews from other consumers, getting endorsements from high-authority brands, businesses, foundations, and people can be tough, but can pay dividends. If you are in the Carribean, and looking for a golf course, you would trust one in Providenciales that has been ranked one of the top 10 best courses in the Caribbean by "Caribbean Travel & Life." Or if you were looking at a digital marketing agency, seeing that they have been endorsed/written articles on big sites like Moz, Search Engine Journal, Inc, Entrepreneur, etc., makes them feel like a more reputable brand. Or if you see they've worked with big, popular companies, you know that they must be worth it to them, so they'll be worth it to you.

Whichever way you choose to market your business, be sure to incorporate these general marketing tactics into your plan. Focus on creating an emotional bond with your potential customers, and help them see the urgency of their situation. If you're the business that can help them through their tough times, you'll be sure to be successful.

Wednesday
Oct162019

Solopreneurship: Could It Be Right For You?

In today’s world, entrepreneurship is incredibly common; we live in a time when people are encouraged to follow their dreams, start their own company, and find the business success they have always wanted. 

Given the sudden increase in the number of entrepreneurs in the world, it’s unsurprising that some have chosen to redefine the concept of starting and running a business. Rather than following the conventional route of hiring staff or partnering with a like-minded friend or family member, some entrepreneurs have chosen to do things very differently indeed, and chosen to embark on the exciting journey that is solopreneurship. 

What is a solopreneur? 

A portmanteau of the words “solo” and “entrepreneur”, a solopreneur is a business person who starts and runs a business alone. This is in contrast to more standard business models, where the workload is usually shared with a partner or full-time staff members. 

So solopreneurs do everything for their business?

Not necessarily - in fact, it would be quite unusual for a solopreneur to perform every role required to sustain a modern business. Usually, solopreneurs will turn to external agencies to assist with various important aspects of their business; seeking graphic designers, advertising advice, and specialists in IT consulting for businesses to help ensure the business has all the fundamentals it needs to succeed. 

However, as these services are outsourced rather than completed by in-house staff, the business is still considered to be run by a solopreneur. 

What are the benefits of running a business as a solopreneur? 

Solopreneurs have the freedom to dedicate their time to delivering results for their business; there’s no need to deal with issues such as recruitment or employee management to deal with. 

What’s more, solopreneurs are in complete control of their business and its future, which many find empowering, and they also realize the dream of being their own boss in its entirety; they can arrange their schedule and their working hours exactly as they prefer, as there’s no need to align with employee requirements or base themselves in a specific business location - they can work wherever they want, largely whenever they want. 

What are the downsides of running a business as a solopreneur? 

For most, the biggest downside is the lack of support: solopreneurs are the sole decision-maker for their business, which can often be a significant weight to shoulder. However, this downside can be offset by networking with other solopreneurs and joining business forums online; these measures help to ensure that they always have somewhere to turn when they need advice, guidance, or support. 

In addition, solopreneurship can sometimes be lonely - but again, this can be addressed by choosing to use coworking spaces, joining business community groups, and so on. 

Could life as a solopreneur be right for you?

If you feel that you would thrive in an environment where you are the sole decision-maker, and that you’d prefer the flexibility of being able to set your own working patterns, then solopreneurship could definitely be an option that you may want to consider. 

It’s also worth bearing in mind the fact that running a business solo isn’t a permanent commitment; you could start out working alone and outsourcing to various agencies, but then decide at a later point that you’d like to hire employees too - and there’s absolutely nothing to stop you doing so. As a result, if you’re intrigued by the idea of solopreneurship, then it might be worth giving it a try at least initially and seeing how you get on. 

 

Friday
Oct112019

Exhibiting At A Trade Show - What To Remember 

Trade shows and exhibitions are a great way to advertise your company or product, giving you both visibility and credibility in a room full of potential customers. But exhibiting at a trade show can be daunting for even an experienced exhibitor. What should your stand look like? What do you take? We’ll explore the answers to these questions below. 

Why do you want to exhibit?

Before we go any further the first thing you need to do if you are thinking of exhibiting at a trade show is to sit down and consider your why. Why do you want to exhibit? What are you hoping to achieve from an exhibition? What does success look like? Answering these simple questions will help to give you some direction as to how to set up your stand and the kinds of things you may want to take with you in order to achieve your goals. Some examples of reasons why people exhibit at trade shows are:

  1. To strengthen their companies brand
    Exhibiting at a trade show is a great way to add credibility to your brand and be seen as a key player within your industry. A well designed and professional stand reflects well on your brand and company and will help potential customers to feel that you are a business they can trust.

  2. To generate targeted leads
    One of the most common reasons why people exhibit at trade shows is to generate targeted leads. Most trade shows are centred around a theme or industry which means that you can pretty much guarantee that the people in the room are your target market making it a great place position yourself.

  3. To close sales
    For companies that sell products that require little lead time then trade shows can be a great way to close sales and get products moving off the shelves. Many companies offer trader show deals to help close sales quickly on show days. Trade shows can also be great at closing more complex sales as they provide a great way to network with potential customers and to reinforce the value of your product.

  4. To be immersed in the industry
    Although lead generation and sales are both valuable to your business so is being immersed within your industry or sector as this allows you to see where trends are going and to adapt accordingly. Exhibitions offer fantastic networking opportunities and possibilities to create new strategic partnerships.

What should your stand look like?

Your exhibition stand is your chance to stand out from the crowd, it should be on brand and attractive and give passers-by enough information for them to understand what you do and what you have on offer. In an age where people are surrounded by visual media, a dull exhibition stand is not going to attract the attention of passers-by and you could lose out on some potential face to face contact. Some key things to consider when designing your stand include:

  1. The structure
    Your architectural structure is the backbone of your stand and so it’s important to consider how you want your stand to look as well as how easy it will be to erect. 71% of marketers agree that the least amount of budget should be spent on the underlying architecture of an exhibition stand because although it is important it doesn’t attract attention in itself. One way to make sure you don’t spend excess on your structure is to make sure that it can be used for multiple stand designs.

  2. The branding
    If there’s one thing you must get right on your stand it’s the portrayal of your brand. Your brand is what makes you unique and will make you recognisable from afar. A well-branded stand should be instantly recognisable and portray all of the key elements of your brand message. When thinking about the branding of your stand also take into consideration the uniforms of your staff and any materials you may be handing out to ensure they all align. 

  3. The knowledge you wish to impart for visitors to take away

Most exhibition stands tell the story of a company or their product so think carefully about the knowledge you want to impart on your visitors, what do you want them to take away? Do you want them to learn the features of your product? To see your company values? To read a testimony or a quote? Whatever it may be ensure to have it on your stand in pride of place and consider whether something interactive like a TV would help to better impart your message.

What to take with you 

This list would probably be shorter if we focused on what not to take with you to an exhibition, and in all seriousness, there can be a lot to remember. What you need to take with you to an exhibition will depend a little on the duration of the show, how many people you have with you and if you have help setting up your stand but we’ll try to cover the essentials below. 

Equipment 
  • Your stand and graphics or any pop-up banners (don’t forget these!)

  • Any portable displays such as a leaflet or business card holder

  • Chargers, batteries and extension leads (have you paid for a socket?)

  • Sellotape, Blu-Tack and pins for last-minute fixes

  • Scissors or a cutting knife just incase

  • Pens and paper for notes 

  • Your laptop or tablet (Do you have wifi?)

Sales materials and stationary
  • Visitor incentives such as gifts and freebies, for more promotional ideas, click here

  • Business cards

  • Flyers, leaflets & brochures

  • Forms for prospective customers’ details

  • Promotional offers

For you and your staff
  • Your exhibitor badges

  • Food & water

  • Comfortable shoes 

  • Tissues (you never know)

  • Wet wipes (perfect for a freshen up)

  • Chairs or stools if not provided

  • A camera to capture moments for social media 

  • A big smile!

If your show is for more than one day and you’re also staying overnight then there may be a few other things to add to this list and you’ll want to remember to bring plenty of changes of clothes to always feel fresh and your best. 

 

Exhibiting at a show can be a really a fun and exciting way to promote your brand, smile, be energetic, engage with passers-by and be genuine and the sales leads will come to you. 

Friday
Oct112019

Cutting The Costs Of A Company Vehicle

A company vehicle can be an expensive asset (and it can even more pricey if you own a fleet of them). To help cut costs, here are several steps that you can take.

Lease, don’t buy

Leasing can work out more affordable and practical for many businesses. While you may not own these vehicles, you don’t have to pay as much up front. Leasing also gives you access to a higher quality vehicle that you may not otherwise be able to buy, plus you can upgrade once your lease contract runs out, allowing you to always drive a vehicle that’s relatively modern and presentable. You may pay more in the long run through leasing, which can be a drawback. That said, you can terminate a lease at any point, which you cannot do when buying a vehicle on finance.

Compare business vehicle insurance rates

Business vehicle insurance rates can be high, so it’s worth shopping around. Bundling business vehicle insurance with other forms of commercial insurance can sometimes save you money. You should also consider what you really need to be covered for. Extras like windscreen cover aren’t always worth the increased rates.

Take advantage of tax deductions

Business vehicle expenses such as fuel, insurance, repairs and lease costs are tax deductible. Make sure that you’re recording all of these expenses so that you can take advantage of this. This could include keeping receipts of fuel and repairs. These tax deductions can be more complicated if you own a fleet and you may want to hire an accountant to work out these deductions for you.  

Encourage efficient driving

You can save cost on fuels and repairs by the way you use your vehicle. This could include driving smoothly and taking direct routes. If you have a fleet of vehicles and multiple drivers, it could benefit you to monitor drivers using fleet tracking services and dash cams. This will ensure that drivers keep to routes and don’t waste gas. You could also give out rewards to those that drive economically.

Hire the right drivers

You should carefully consider who drives your business vehicles. By only allowing drivers with a good driving history to use your vehicles, you’ll save money on insurance. Drivers with a good history are also less likely to have accidents or commit driving felonies, potentially also saving you money in insurance claims and lawsuits. Make sure to put a screening process in place when hiring drivers that checks all of this.