What’s the first image that pops in your mind when you think of people who work from home? If it is somebody wearing casual pajamas and lying in bed with their laptop, you’re one of many to have fallen into the trap of the working-shirking from home cliché.

In fact, the idea of office-based productivity is so deeply anchored in the collective mindset that it is increasingly difficult for most home-based workers to feel positive about their performance. It doesn’t mean you can’t tackle challenging projects and heavy workload in your home office.

On the contrary, home-based employees and freelancers are more likely to maximize their productivity and creativity. Indeed, removing most office-related interruptions and disturbances – from commuting stress to co-workers’ disruptions – can improve not only your mental focus but also the quality of your input. In other words, people who work from home work more and better. However, they tend to be worse about their contribution, doubting their professionalism and compensation with prolonged working hours.

How do you create a professional feeling – for yourself and your clients – when you can’t rely on the office to give your business skills the structure the universal conscience expects? How do you convince others to take you seriously and see beyond the PJs cliché?

It’s the question that keeps countless solo entrepreneurs and freelancers awake at night. Injecting professionalism in an environment that is not commonly associated with high-quality work is challenging, but it’s not impossible! Here are a few ideas to get started:

Working from home doesn’t have to mean losing professionalism!

Working from home doesn’t have to mean losing professionalism!

Dedicate a room at home just for your work

To keep the PJs cliché at bay, you need to pay close attention to your working environment. You may not need to commute to the workplace, but it doesn’t mean you can’t have an office. On the contrary, creating a home office enables you to keep your work and your home separate.

If you’re still trying to complete projects on the corner of your breakfast table, it’s time to plan some much-needed improvements. Designing your home office is crucial, not only to your productivity but also to your perception of your work. You’re more likely to take your work seriously if you’ve got a space for it.

Organizing your home office is the secret to making a small room feel just as competent and professional as the typical business workplace. Consequently, you need to focus your attention on establishing a clear storage system. You can’t afford to keep loose sheets and stationery in random piles on the desk.

Knowing where everything is is the administrative baseline of your office. Keeping everything tidy and clean is the foundation of office management. And finally, keeping track of your budget through the organization replaces the work accountant. In short, you’ve got yourself a functional office place at home.

Getting the right equipment is fundamental

You can’t cut costs on your work equipment. At the top of the list, you want to make sure you’ve got the office devices you need. You can’t achieve anything without a reliable laptop or computer and a broadband connection.

Your home office also needs a printer – nobody can go entirely paperless –, work software tools and a phone – whether mobile or a Google Voice line. Additionally, as each business is different, you will need to explore your equipment requirements in depth. If you need to meet clients regularly, you might be interested in finding out more about leasing a car for your independent business, for instance. A car lease would give you access to a new vehicle, which encourages a positive first impression when you visit clients.

If you take it seriously, others will

Your behavior can influence the way you feel about your business. There’s no denying that working in casual pajamas can be a comfortable option, but that’s precisely what gives an unprofessional impression.

Indeed, your brain instinctively becomes more relaxed when you wear your night clothes, meaning that you won’t be as productive. Instead, if you make the conscious decision to dress up for work, you create a mental barrier between home life and professional life. It’s all it takes to build a professional attitude at home.

For your family and friends, seeing you getting dressed for work and staying consistent with your schedule encourage them to take you seriously. As a result, relatives are less likely to disturb you when you’re at home because they know you’re working.

Practice your conversational skills with clients

People who work from home tend to have fewer professional interactions during the day. Consequently, conversations with clients can feel a little awkward or forced at times. There’s no secret. You need to prepare for all questions so that you can shine with expertise and professionalism.

Ultimately, you’re an independent, so your clients need to ask you questions they wouldn’t ask a company. Be honest and open about your career. If you’re new to the freelancing world, let them know where you come from. A carefully crafted portfolio is crucial during these interviews, but it doesn’t replace your personality.

Keep your skills up-to-date

You can’t expect clients to trust you with their projects if they fear your skills aren’t suited for the current market. As an independent professional, you can’t afford not to keep up with the latest business trends.

You should make sure to take business classes on everyday business requirements as well, from business writing to entrepreneurship. There’s nothing worse than an expert who lacks business know-how. You can boost your professional profile with free classes as well as paid for online studies.

Make time for a real break

Last, but not least, when you work from home, you tend to skip breaks. As a result, clients can get in the habit of contacting you at any time, which can affect your professional interactions. You need to establish healthy breaks throughout the day, for yourself and to encourage clients to think of your services as a business. Take the time to eat at lunchtime or to enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning. Applying an office break policy to your home business is a game-changer.

Professionalism is the complex mixture of how you act, how you think and how you feel. For home-based workers, it’s about creating an environment that is suitable for the business mindset, from what you wear to the equipment you purchase.

With 28.8 million small businesses in the world, it can be tempting to join the crowd. One big barrier to entry is figuring out what you want to build your business around. For this, you can turn to your natural strengths or areas that excite you.

One area that you may turn to is art! Luckily, the art industry is growing rapidly, with a market value of $64 billion as of 2019. So how do you go about getting into this industry? Here are 4 steps to make sure you start on the right foot.

1. Choose your Niche

Before starting out, niching down will make sure that you avoid as many problems as possible into the future. As a beginner, it can be helpful to try out as many areas of art as possible so you can learn what you enjoy doing and what you are best at. However, if you’re someone who is ready to get paid for your art, it’s best to niche down and specialize in a very specific area. Take photography for instance.

As a beginner photographer, you’ll be taking pictures of everything. But if you’re ready to start a business, it’s important to get really good at one area.

Are you best at shooting professional headshots or candid wedding photos? Or if you’re selling prints, are you a specialist in landscape, animal, street, or architecture photography? Asking these questions early on can help you get really good at one thing, centralizing your focus into getting better. This way, your quality of work is a lot higher, clients will be much more willing to hire you if you specialize in what they want, and you’ll have better knowledge of the industry.

2. Create a Plan

As boring as it may sound, creating a business plan is an extremely important part of building your business. This plan will help you make tough decisions and can be an anchor point for you to turn to when times are rough.

On top of this, your business plan can keep you on track during the good times, allowing you to plan out the vision for your business and set goals to stay focused. Here are some questions to help you get started.

  • What is the vision/purpose of your business?
  • What do you want the business look like in one year? 2 years? 5? 10?
  • Who’s your target market? Who are you selling to?
  • What does your cash flow look like?
  • How much art/many clients do you need to stay afloat?
  • What will you do to scale?
  • What is your exit strategy?

While these questions might seem trivial, they can prove to be essential to define. Take defining your target market, for example. If you don’t know exactly who will be buying your art, can you be sure that there are consumers out there?

42% of businesses fail due to a lack of an available market, so there’s a lot weight on this question alone. Creating this plan might seem like a trivial “business” task that won’t make you money, but, it might just save the future of your business

3. Manage your Finances

Finances are one part of your business that may fall by the wayside while focusing on your art. However, this can cause a multitude of problems. Knowing your expenses and income for your business can give you an outlook on your financial situation in general, to know if you’re making enough money or if you should consider producing/selling more or raising your prices.

It’s also important to know about any debt you may have or may want to incur to help your business grow. If you have to pay down any debts, you’ll want to use your business funds to pay these off as fast as possible to ensure that you are saving on interest, yet balance it with investing in your business today.

Speaking of which, if you think that your business can benefit from some sort of loan to invest in your business, you need to know what options are out there. Big banks only approved 26.9% of small business loans, leaving the other 73.1% to other lenders. It’s important to shop around for the best interest rates and features, alongside knowing the reason and proof behind why you should get a loan in the first place.

You’ll also want to make sure the legal side of your finances are in check. If you’re working as a freelancer, you have to know how to report your income and expenses on your personal tax return. However, if you have a legal business structure like an LLC or corporation, the way you file your taxes is going to be extremely different.

4. Grow your Brand

Marketing is essential for people to know that your business exists. There are two main areas that you can invest in to get the word out and help sell people on your business.

Word of Mouth

Word of mouth marketing is one of the strongest ways to gain clients. 92% of consumers trust recommendations from family and friends over any type of advertising. So how do you use this to your advantage? Here are a couple of ideas.

  1. Provide stellar work and customer service for current clients
  2. Put customer testimonials on your social media and website
  3. Start a referral/finder’s fee program

Use these to build trust with your customers and to encourage them to tell their friends and family about your art.

Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is a vast field, including areas such as SEO, PPC, social media, email, and your website in general. Depending on what industry you’re in, you may see success in different areas.

If you’re someone who is selling prints or doing lower-ticket client work, then working on your social media might be the best bet. This allows the platform to put your content out to possible clients, where they might come across your work at no cost to you.

If your revenue per client is higher, then you might be able to afford to spend more money to get your name out to them. You may find success in PPC campaigns like Google Ads, where you could make upwards of a 200% return on your investment.

Go and Build Your Business

Art and creativity are extremely important in our technology-filled lives. When surveyed, 94% of people say that their workplace is made more welcoming with art, with 61% agreeing that it stimulates creativity.

Building an art business to fill the demand for this is a wonderful idea. There are, however, a few items that you need to keep in mind while starting your business to ensure your success. But most importantly, never lose your passion and love for creating something beautiful. Now it’s time to go and build the business of your dreams.

When it comes to your small business, you want to do everything in your power to ensure that things are going smoothly. But there may be some unexpected factors that could be impacting your customer conversion that doesn’t have to do with your business model or products.

Here are three unexpected things that could be slowing down your new business sales and what you can do to get them back up again.

Unhappy Customers are Customers that Don’t Convert

Using only video marketing on your website

It’s true that video marketing can do wonders for your business. Experts say that using a video on just your landing page can increase conversions by 86% and 70% of marketers say that video increases their conversion rates better than other marketing formats. Movement even gets your consumers’ brains going.

But it’s important to remember that consumers like to get their information fast. It only takes 10 seconds for people to form an impression about your brand and 0.05 seconds to form an opinion about your website.

If your website only provides information about your business through a video and nowhere else, and that video provides the information slowly, consumers will click away from your website fast. Include information in videos and in written formats so your consumers can get their information in a way that works best for them.

What’s more, you want to make sure your video marketing has audio and captions. Non-hearing consumers won’t be able to interact with your website if there aren’t any captions and hearing consumers won’t be able to multitask if they have to watch the screen to know what your business does.

Not having a phone number or address listed on your website

When you’re operating a small business and you’re working from home or your business is completely digital, it can be tempting not to list any phone number or address on your website. After all, putting a personal phone number or listing “101 Storybook Ln Apt #4” on your website may not feel very professional. But not listing a phone number or address on your website can make consumers feel uneasy, like you may not be a real company.

Of course, renting an office space and getting a permanent land line may not be in your budget. So what’s the solution?

We’ve found great success using inexpensive voice-over-internet phone lines (e.g. Google Voice) and virtual addresses (e.g. DaVinci Virtual) to provide that added level of comfort that the customer often need.

For example, in our trampoline dropship business, we saw a near 50% increase in sales by simply adding a phone number to the header and an address to the footer of our website!

Having an Unprofessional or Confusing Checkout Process

The less friction you introduce into the sell, the higher the conversion rate will be. This is common sense, and yet we see business after business injecting unnecessary processes into the checkout process.

This relates to both in-person and digital transactions.

We lived overseas for quite a few years in a country where the checkout process at many stores was ridiculously complicated! I remember going to one of the big local electronics stores to buy an HDMI cable, and spending 20 minutes in the checkout process. To simply buy a cable I had to:

  1. Tell the store salesperson which cable I wanted.
  2. The salesperson then personally took the cable to counter where someone would package the item in a bag, and staple the bag shut.
  3. I was sent to a separate window (and person) to pay.
  4. Once paid, I had to take the receipt to a second window where I received my “warranty”.
  5. With the receipt and warranty in hand, I returned to the counter where my cable had been packaged and that individual stapled the receipt and warranty to the bag.

As a customer, the entire process was a huge turnoff that dissuaded me from shopping there ever again. It would have been much easier to grab the item, take it to a self-checkout, and walk out the door 30 seconds after picking up the item!

The same can be true of online checkouts. Does your online store have too many steps? Too many pages from when the customer selects ‘Buy’ until the point when the customer finishes the process? If so, you’re losing sales!

Many businesses supply their staff with mobile devices for their work, like laptops, phones and tablets. Once you’ve handed over the devices to the team, you shouldn’t just forget all about them and assume staff will keep everything safe. It’s important to protect your company’s information and data (especially if you store any client data) with proper mobile device security. There are a few ways that you can do this to reduce the risk of breaches, device loss and other security issues.

Security Policy for Mobile Devices

Make sure you have a well-defined security policy in place to protect your devices. Any staff that are issued a company owned device should agree to the policy, including yourself. You can include rules about physical security. For example, make staff agree to never leave any company owned devices unattended or left in the car once they’ve left the office. Include some rules about proper device usage. This could include rules like not allowing staff to download apps that haven’t been approved by the company previously, or not allowing family members to use company owned devices or not using work devices for personal use. These policies protect your devices from malware and from unauthorized persons accessing company data.

Mobile Device Management

Enterprise mobile device management solutions allow you to remotely manage device security for all company owned devices. Whether you use an outside agency for this or manage device security from your in-house IT team, you can use MSM to configure security policies and automatically push these policies to any company owned device, whether they are in the building or not. You can control things like access to applications and block apps that sap productivity, automatically download apps that are required for work, and manage app updates yourself. You can automatically push any security updates to your devices to keep everything safe.

It also allows you to track the physical location of your owned devices, which can help if a device is lost or stolen. You can also track device usage, so you’ll know if any of your staff are using your devices for personal use, or are wasting company time when they should be working.

Track the health of your devices and any warranties that may need updating, enforce data encryption, wipe a device that has been lost or stolen or push out company device policies automatically, without bringing the devices back to the office.

Malware Protection for Mobile Devices

Malware is everywhere. To protect against it, make sure that any company device has strong malware and antivirus protection. Keep this protection up to date. You can use MDM services to update all the devices automatically, wherever they happen to be, meaning that you can’t accidentally forget one. Your malware protection should be maintained in order to protect against a range of attacks.

Offer staff training about how to spot malware online. Make sure that they know not to open suspicious looking emails and not to click on strange links or open unrecognised attachments. Make sure the training includes how to tell if a website is secure, and what to do if they think their device may have been infected. Your IT team should be monitoring device health too, but the main user is likely to spot a problem faster, as they use it everyday.

Authentication Solutions for Mobile Devices

To log into your devices, you want a more secure solution than simple passwords and usernames. Passwords that are used should be secure; don’t allow staff to use anything easy to guess. Ideally, strong passwords should include random strings of letters, numbers and special characters. Require device users to change passwords regularly, so they can’t be hacked.

Use multiple times of authentication. A password is one type, so add a couple more. Passwords are known as a knowledge factor, but you should also use a possession factor and an inherence factor. Knowledge factors are things like PINs, passwords and usernames. Possession factors include things like require you to have the device in your possession. This could be something like confirmation codes or one-off passwords sent via text message. Inherence factors are usually biometric. Requiring staff to use something like their fingerprints to log into a device would satisfy this criteria.

For extra security, you could also add location and time factors. These are not secure on their own, but can add some extra security. Location factors use GPS data to allow or block certain requests. Time factors block access to features between certain hours, such as after work when nobody should be using the system.

If you’re running an ecommerce business, then your number one concern should be ensuring that your website is built to make it as easy as possible for your customers to get access to the products that they want. Yet, still, we see countless examples of poorly designed, poorly marketed, and poorly supported websites failing to get the conversions they need. Here are four barriers you should recognize and do what you can to demolish.

No One Can Find Your Online Store

Marketing an ecommerce website is different from marketing any other website. You’re not just trying to give your business the online presence it deserves, you’re trying to extend that presence to your products, as well. When focusing on SEO efforts, make sure you’re focusing on product pages. Make sure your items make it to the Google Shopping search function. Consider PPC ad campaigns based not on your website alone but on specific products or categories that are well-suited to appeal to more niche audiences. Give your product lineup some real visibility, since it’s what’s going to be drawing most visitors in the first place.

If your analytics show that people start the buying process but neglect to finish it, take a closer look why. Streamlining the process and removing some steps from clicking the “Add to Cart” button and finalizing the sale can help. If you can’t shorten it, consider using navigation breadcrumbs so your visitors can at least see where they are in the process and how many more steps they have to complete. You should also consider using automated email marketing that reaches out to customers who have abandoned their shopping cart, encouraging them to pick it up again.

Payment Snafus

If you get common complaints or people asking why you don’t accept certain payments, then you could be missing one of the methods that your particular market prefers to rely on the most. Ensure that your website can accept credit card payments and consider any other methods that you might want to support. PayPal is another of the biggies, and any website that lacks either of these payment methods could risk alienating people who are ready to finalize that sale.

Not Enough Support

Even if your site is well designed and well equipped to handle all kinds of customers, you should expect that some are still going to have some problems and some questions they need help with. Having an FAQ to answer some of the biggest questions might work well enough, but the most effective implementation of support is to have a live chat app installed on the website. As such, you can have members of the team ready to offer support, or even AI-driven bots that can direct visitors to the right pages or content based on a series of questions.

Does your ecommerce website suffer from any of the issues above? If so, it’s time to reel it back, get back to the drawing board, and implement the elements of good design that can turn your business into a success.

Your business collects a huge amount of data about your customers. If you know how to analyze it properly, your can use that information to direct you marketing campaigns. Businesses that make use of their data will find it a lot easier to pick up new customers and maintain a good relationship with their existing ones, but there is a big downside to all of that data. It’s up to you to protect it and a data breach can be devastating for your business. You will lose the trust of your customers and you may find yourself on the wrong side of the law, so it’s vital that you protect it properly. The problem is, a lot of new business owners don’t know where to start with data protection. If you are starting a business, here are some important tips on data protection to help you avoid any disasters.

Know What You Are Collecting

This might sound stupid, but do you actually know what data you are collecting about your customers? You’d be surprised how many business owners don’t really know exactly what information they hold, and if you don’t know what information you are collecting, how are you supposed to protect it properly? It’s important that you have a clear idea of exactly what information is collected, how it is collected, and where it is stored. This will help you to work out which assets are the biggest targets for hackers, so you can direct security resources more effectively.

Hire The Right IT Team

Simply buying and installing some security software is not enough to protect your data. Hackers are always finding new ways around security software and they can easily pick up on any weak points in your system. That’s why you need to hire an IT service provider to manage your security for you. They will monitor systems and patch weak points as they find them, and they can keep your security software up to date so you always have the best protection from hackers. You’re not an IT expert so you are not qualified to handle security on your own. If you want to be safe, it’s best to leave it to somebody that knows what they’re doing.

Be Careful With Emails

Email is a great tool, but it can be a big danger in terms of data security, especially when you are sending mass emails. Hackers may use your mass emails as a way of attacking your customer’s computers, and that will reflect very badly on your business. You also need to watch out for any incoming emails that contain malicious links. If you click one of these links, you open yourself up to attacks. When you are sending sensitive data over email, there is also the chance that it could be intercepted and stolen, so you need to be incredibly careful with your emails. Always make sure that you encrypt and password protect any emails with private data on them, and never open an email and click a link unless you are positive about the source.

You can’t afford to make any mistakes when it comes to data protection, so make sure to follow these simple tips when you start your own business.

Did you know that the average US office employee can get through as much as 10,000 sheets of paper in a single year? When this is scaled up across all employees working within even a very small-sized business it amounts to an eye-watering number.

All businesses, big and small, should look to save paper not only because it can save them a lot of money but also because it can have less of an impact on the environment. So if you think your paper usage is still a little too high then here are 5 things you can do to help reduce it.

1. Store all documents electronically

The easiest way to reduce printing is not to print at all. If your company is still in the habit of printing and filing as a storage solution then it’s time to change to Cloud Solutions. By storing all of your documents electronically on the cloud not only will you have access to them from anywhere in the world with an internet connection but you’ll be saving a ton of physical space and paper wastage too. We all know that 99% of the documents we have filed in the office never get looked at, so they may as well not be looked at online instead.

2. Reuse scrap paper as draft paper

There’s always a lot of waste paper hanging around the office from letters, misprints and draft documents etc. This paper could be repurposed as scrap paper. Keep a scrap paper pile for making notes, doing any drawings and conducting any brainstorms on and also use it for any non-essential draft printing to save on using up valuable quality paper. When you’re done with the reused scrap paper, you will have given it a second lease of life and can then recycle it.

3. Print double-sided rather than single-sided

Printing double-sided can help to reduce your paper usage by half, which is an instant improvement. Encourage all employees to print double-sided as standard unless absolutely necessary.

4. Build a paperless culture

The best way to ensure that everyone in your workplace is saving paper on a day to day basis is by building it into your workplace culture. Clearly define your company values and include one on working sustainably and consciously to help reduce unnecessary paper wastage. Ensure that your office is also well equipped to support proper recycling processes by providing plenty of recycling bins and opportunities for people to use draft paper.

5. Proof and preview

It may never be possible to cut out printing in your workplace altogether but you can make sure that when you do print you are careful to avoid mistakes.  Proofread and preview every document very carefully to avoid mistakes and misprints which will cause you to need to print more than one version.

You can use browser extensions such as Grammarly to help you with your spelling, punctuation and grammar and always have a third party read the document as they can often pick up mistakes that your eyes have missed.

As a small business owner, you likely have a lot of parts of your company to juggle that many larger business owners are able to delegate to others. For example, while many business owners with larger companies have someone directly responsible for managing shipping, you might have to handle it yourself as an entrepreneur. Good shipping is important to customer experience, and 72% of businesses say improving customer experience is their top priority. If you’re looking to improve your company’s shipping as an entrepreneur, here are just a few things you should know.

Doing It All Yourself Is Tricky

If you’re looking to invest in having your own trucks to manage transporting goods and shipping products to customers, be prepared to spend a lot and have a lot of work to do. If you only have to ship the occasional large item and you already own a pickup truck, you may be able to manage it well enough. Pickup trucks currently account for 16.4% of auto sales in the United States, and many of those are to entrepreneurs who need a vehicle capable of hauling items.

However, as soon as you start looking to manage a fleet of trucks of your own, you’re dramatically increasing the amount of work you have to do. Trucking with a fleet of your own can seem appealing at first, largely because of how much it improves your ability to ship farther distances and engage an international market. Approximately two-thirds of Canada-US trade is moved by truck, and owning your own fleet makes that more of a possibility in the future. However, maintaining trucks is difficult, and purchasing trucks that are ready to make long trips like that isn’t cheap. You’ll need to be ready to maintain your trucks, including updating any coatings they have in order to keep your products safe. Coatings have two primary functions: decoration and protection. Owning and maintaining a fleet costs your company money, so depending on your shipping needs, you may be better off outsourcing your shipping to carriers.

 

Keep Track Of Carriers

If you’ve decided you won’t be managing your trucking and shipping yourself, what’s the next step? You’ll first want to find a carrier that’s trustworthy and you know will be able to get your products to your consumers within a reasonable time frame. Shipping across all industries has seen increasing expectations when it comes to delivery speeds thanks to the rise of e-commerce, so you’ll want to find a carrier with trustworthy estimates. Don’t feel like you have to take the first carrier you find; do some price comparisons first and see which will offer you the best prices long-term for large amounts of shipping. Also, keep convenience in mind – will you have to bring your items somewhere to be shipped, or will someone be able to pick them up from your place of business? Do some homework on your options and you’ll be sure to save money over time.

Calculate Costs Fairly

Finally, one of the most important factors you’ll have to consider when improving your shipping policies is how much it’s going to cost both you and the end consumer. Few people are excited about having to pay for shipping, again thanks to the rise of affordable or even free shipping among leading e-commerce giants. If you’re worried about how shipping costs will look, try integrating the cost of shipping into the cost of your products. Of course, this only works if your shipping costs are stable enough to predict, so be careful about how you approach this. Ultimately, it’s important to not sacrifice your operating costs for the sake of improved shipping, so work to find a pricing model that’s most suitable for your business and industry.

The Bottom Line: Your Bottom Line Matters

Overall, shipping costs can be difficult to navigate, especially if you’re operating as a small business or even a single entrepreneur. Luckily, there are plenty of options available for smaller companies looking to ship their products as long as you know where to look and what you’re able to spend. Use these tips to help set up your shipping and you’re sure to see improved profits and reduced operating costs over the life of your 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.

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.