Sunday, April 20, 2014
Customers are the reason that every company is in business – without them, there simply would be no business. That is why customer service is so important to not only large corporations but also small businesses. Depending on company’s structure, customer service efforts are made in person, over the phone and/or through email. Since customer service personnel may be the only contact to customers, it is important provide the best service possible.
In a competitive market, great customer service can be the key to setting your business apart from the rest. If two businesses offer the same products or services with similar pricing, how does a customer make their decision? In most cases, it is how they are treated and how valuable they feel their business is to the business.
When customers have a bad experience with a business, studies say they will tell at least ten other people. Social media has taken this one step further and bad publicity can reach further into a customer base. Because of this, it is important to provide great service and have customers leaving their experiences with your business carrying smiles and happy stories to share with their family and friends. Word of mouth publicity is one of the biggest marketing resources, so make sure the message is a good one!
When customers have unresolved issues or complaints, it is common for them to register their grievances with organizations such as Consumer Affairs, Better Business Bureau, or even take it to the court system. Situations like this can cause major damage to a business’s reputation, not to mention its sales. In order to avoid issues that escalate to this level, it is important to implement and uphold a high customer service standard.
Customer service is a high calling – dealing with disgruntled, unhappy customers is tough. But, when it comes to maintaining and increasing sales as well as protecting a business’s reputation, great customer service is the easiest way to make an impact and have customers telling others about their positive experiences. You may not be able to satisfy every customer, but you have to try. Even the effort will be recognized and that can be the difference in customers using you over your competitors.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Getting the Most Bang for Your Marketing Buck
When starting a small business, knowing where to invest time and resources can be a delicate balance. One of the areas that many small business owners neglect is marketing under the notion that they do not have enough funds or hours in the day to make a big impact on their customers. Marketing is essential to launching a business and maintaining a strong customer base. When money is tight, there are some ways to help stretch your marketing dollar without sacrificing quality.
Do Not Recreate the Marketing Wheel
When developing a new marketing campaign many business owners start from scratch creating content such as posters or advertisements. More times than not, small businesses are generating marketing pieces that already exist or is very similar to what they have already done in terms of overall style and message. Instead of wasting time and resources starting over, it is much more cost effective to look at older campaigns and see if elements that have already been established can be repurposed.
During the brainstorming phase, pull out old marketing pieces such as flyers, emails or postcards – review these pieces and see if they can be tweaked to fit the current campaign. Unless there has been a major overhaul in the branding or messaging of the business, these older materials can be used as templates for more current marketing pieces. Reusing old files, even as just a skeleton for new content, will help eliminate unnecessary work and give a basis in which to work from with the new content.
Be Efficient with Content Creation
In the small business world, there is usually one employee who handles creating materials for a marketing campaign. This person creates one version of a marketing piece at a time and then customizes this single piece into multiple other versions, one for each local market or customer base. Although this may seem efficient, creating and finalizing pieces in this manner can be time consuming for the employee and a long run process for the business, not to mention financially straining.
A simple way to streamline this process is by bringing in a professional graphic artist to help with customization. Once the main marketing piece has been created, a graphic artist will be able to create the individual versions that are needed for each market segment quickly. Although this may seem like it would cost more money, graphic artists can be much more efficient with small changes and allow the in-house employee to move on to the next marketing piece and using their time more wisely.
Utilize Distributed Marketing Solutions
Content creation is usually what small business owners pinpoint as the most expensive aspect of marketing – in reality, planning, implementing, and distributing campaign materials can be where most marketing dollars are invested. For business owners on a budget, this can be a daunting and even panic inducing thought. To manage this process correctly and within budget, consider using a marketing solutions program to help save money and keep timelines on track.
Small business owners face many challenges and knowing where and how to invest money can be one of the biggest issues. It is vital to remember the importance of marketing in order to build a solid customer base – even when funds are scarce, there are ways to still implement a successful marketing campaign without breaking the bank. By streamlining content creation and utilizing the services of professionals, small business owners can get the most bang for their marketing buck!
Sunday, April 13, 2014
As a small business owner, I am always looking for ways to save money in my daily operations. In addition, through meeting new people, I find ways for people to save money in different types of operations. I have put together a small list of the things that I think will help most of you keep some extra money in the bank and allow your business to continue to grow.
· Contract Workers or Work from Home Employees - depending upon your business, you may be able to take advantage of some tax laws that enable you to employ contract workers. If so, you will notice a significant decrease in the payroll taxes you have to pay. Even if you cannot hire contract workers, allowing your staff to work from home often results in lower salaries, since they have no travel costs. Explore both of these options if available.
· Office Share - do you really need a full time office? Renting a space can be very expensive and for many business owners, it is a complete waste of money. If you are only bringing clients into your office occasionally, consider splitting an office with another business or using a company like Regus that allows you to use an office only when you need to but also provides a very professional set up when the office is in use.
· Advertising - you would love to have a commercial for your business, but you cannot afford it. Have you ever considered doing a YouTube commercial instead? You can promote it in on your social media channels and it will help in your overall rankings!
· Vendors - if you are physically buying products, your vendors can provide significant savings in several different areas. For instance, they may offer a discount if you buy in bulk. If you are able to get terms, you may be able to purchase products that you can sell rather quickly but would not normally be able to front the money to purchase. Even if you make a smaller percentage on the sale, it is found money because you were not even able to offer the product before! In addition, vendors will sometimes help with advertising and marketing if you are highlighting their products in the campaigns.
· Buy in Bulk When Possible - look for items that you use all the time, like paper, ink, etc... When good deals come up, buy these items in bulk when you can. For instance, an office supply store offers 100 percent rewards on up to five cases of paper. You use about one case per month, but you will eventually need to use this paper. Why not buy the five cases now and get all of your money back in rewards points? Now you have all of the money you usually spend on paper to spend on other supplies or perhaps boost your advertising efforts.
When you own a small business, you need to get creative when it comes to the monthly budget. Take a hard look where you are spending your money each month and there are surely more than a few areas where you can trim the budget or use some of my suggestions here to save money.
*Photo Courtesy of 401(K) 2012 via Creative Commons License
Thursday, April 3, 2014
Most people who are interested in the business world will go to college and take a few business courses. Although these courses can be helpful, there is no way that they can prepare someone for every bump they may find on the road to success. Dani Johnson has created a blueprint for other people to follow her example and recreate her amazing success.
Simply hearing the story of how she got where she is today is an inspiration for many people. When Dani was a teenager, she became a mother and found herself homeless by the time she was twenty-one years old. She did not let any of this stand in her way and began selling products out of the trunk of her car, making a million dollars when she was just twenty-three.
It is difficult to imagine how a young woman like Dani could overcome such odds to become so successful. When asked about this, she mentions that her faith has been the driving force that helped her overcome every adversity. Her deep spirituality helped guide her through many struggles and even allowed her to guide others through theirs.
In fact, after she became a success herself, Dani began mentoring other people. She knows what it is like to start with nothing and to have to earn everything for yourself. Luckily for everyone else, she knows exactly which steps she took to get to where she is today and is willing to share that information with others.
It is perhaps not even her own success that is so amazing but the way that Dani has used it for good. These days, she is no longer in the retail industry but literally spends her life helping other people to become successful. This selfless attitude serves as an inspiration to millions of people who change their lives with Dani’s help and then pay it forward.
Dani Johnson is an inspiration to people around the world because she stood up in the face of adversity and turned her life around. After becoming a teenage mother and living on the streets, she became a millionaire as a result of her own resourcefulness. Today, she spends her time mentoring other people and helping them to achieve the same success that she has. With her faith as her guide, she hopes that she will be able to spread her valuable message to people around the world.
Monday, March 31, 2014
How to Use Social Media to Drive Business
For small business owners, large marketing campaigns and pricey advertisements are usually not in the budget. But, just like with all businesses, there is a need to market a company’s products and services. One marketing channel that has proven both inexpensive and effective for many businesses is social media. The recent increase in popularity on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest has made using social media an effective platform for businesses to market themselves at little to no cost.
Why Social Media Marketing is Effective
Think about what you see when walking through a mall or having a meal at a restaurant – almost everyone you come across in public has some kind of smartphone device and are, more often than not, checking their social media sites for updates from friends, family, and their favorite companies. The accessibility of customers through social media makes this kind of advertising a no brainer when it comes to marketing a business on a budget. Although it may seem simple to launch a Facebook or Twitter page to promote the company’s products or services, some planning needs to occur before the campaign is launched in order to achieve the level of success desired and meet marketing goals.
When starting a social media marketing campaign, it is important to ask some key questions and make sure this strategy will be effective for the business. First, decide what the social media marketing campaign should achieve. Is it more business? More exposure in the market? By defining what outcomes are desired it will be easier to plan the campaign. Next define what social media channels are appropriate for your customer base.
If the company is looking to make more business to business connections, LinkedIn may be a good choice. If the company is trying to reach consumers directly, Facebook and Twitter may be a better option. By answering these questions ahead of time a social media marketing campaign will be more organized and driven toward the desired results.
Social media is everywhere – smartphones and computers allow consumers to have access to social media sites 24 hours a day. Using this platform to promote a business is an inexpensive and effective way to reach a small business’s target audience quickly and easily. Even though this may seem like a no brainer, proper planning is needed to make sure the campaign stays on track, presents a consistent message to consumers and will yield the desired outcomes for the small business owner.
Are you ready to start your own small business? Need ideas or a small business mentor to you get you started? Contact Stacy O'Quinn today! Click here.
*Photo Courtesy of Acid Pix via Creative Commons License