Be Your Own Brand Ambassador: How to Market Your Small Business
15 December

Be Your Own Brand Ambassador: How to Market Your Small Business

Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been in business for decades, it’s always a good time to review your marketing strategies to make sure you’re getting the best exposure possible. With ever-changing technological advances, small business marketing efforts can evolve quicker than you may imagine, rendering your entrepreneurship irrelevant or unseen rather quickly. With a few good business practices, however, you can stay on top of the changes and become your own brand ambassador, keeping your venture at the forefront of your market.

How to Market Your Small Business

According to Forbes.com, “Marketing is a concentrated effort to push your brand across a variety of platforms and hope that enough makes it through to your customer.” Often times, your business needs to be seen a number of times before it is truly recognized and converted to business, so the more you brand, the higher your chances of a successful effort. This is Marketing 101 and likely something most business owners are already aware of. So how do you convert this concept into something that stays current?

Becoming Your Own Brand Ambassador

The most important step to marketing your brand is organization and revision. This is the process of taking a look at what areas you are currently marketing your products and services and analyzing how they are performing. You’ll want to highlight areas that are working well – are customers bringing in mailed fliers or using certain promo codes you issued? These are things you’ll want to continue, or even tweak to keep things fresh. You’ll also want to note which areas aren’t bringing in the traffic you’d like to see so you can either rethink them and try a new angle or scratch the idea altogether. This process of reviewing what’s currently going on is one that should be repeated at least quarterly in order to stay relevant and give you the best response time.

Research Current Trends

If you want to stay relevant, you need to make sure your business is growing and moving along with technology and the digital age. Doing a little research will help you ensure you’re reaching the full extent of your client base with your marketing efforts. Take a look at what related businesses are using to promote their brand: are they pushing social media platforms or improving their mobile-friendly visibility? Also, take a look at more organic resources in your area that you could tap into. Is there an up-coming local festival or charity event you could sponsor or get involved with? These should give you ideas for what is trending currently and how you can adapt your branding efforts to match the trends.

Network, Network, Network

Let’s be honest here, of all the methods an entrepreneur can market their goods or services with, few compare to the benefits of networking. Networking is simply the act of getting out into your community and/or line of business and making connections with others. This is done by attending conferences, joining local organizations such as a Chamber of Commerce or utilizing communal work spaces, sponsoring related events, and just plain being seen. By doing this, you’re expanding the potential client base by bringing awareness to your business as well as giving yourself an essentially limitless pool of future connections.

Recap and Adapt

To recap, the best thing you can do to become your own brand ambassador and increase your bottom line is to review your efforts frequently, research what’s trending, and get out there and network in your community and trade. By keeping up with what is working, and changing what is not, you’ll be able to stay on top of marketing trends and boost your brand more effectively.

The Best Strategies to Increase Your Bottom Line
15 November

The Best Strategies to Increase Your Bottom Line

Whether you’re a new business owner or a veteran staple in your market, business owners share one major concern: how to increase their bottom line. Let’s face it, the point of being in business is to turn a profit, so naturally, finding ways to increase that profit would be a prime topic of discussion, yes?

Traditional Means

Many business owners are familiar with the concept of spending money to make money – it’s Business 101. More often than not, business owners need to invest funds into proper areas (marketing, staffing, office space, products and services are just a few of these) in order to boost their sales. These are considered the traditional means of boosting strategies, but they are not the only ways to achieve a bottom-line bump.

Non-Traditional Means

It may surprise you to know there are actually ways new business owners (and even veteran business owners) can improve their bottom line without spending a single dime. Yes, you read that right – there are ways to fatten your pockets without thinning them first. How? Let’s take a look at some of the lesser known, non-traditional means of increasing your bottom line.

The Best Strategies to Increase Your Bottom Line

“Getting over that seven-figure (revenue) hump is often an indicator that your business has longevity to it. But getting there can be tricky, stressful, and time-consuming,” writes Forbes.com.

Learning how to get to that pivotal revenue point boils down to initiating successful profit-boosting strategies. It’s also about minimizing the outflow of cash needed to implement these strategies since without minimization, the profit boost can be negated. Not to mention, it’s tough to let go of funds when you’re trying to increase them.

Tweak Your Online Marketing Strategies

One of the easiest ways to add to your profit margin is by pairing up with other local businesses or related products and services. Essentially, by including promoted products or reviews via a link inside your existing digital marketing strategies can bring about extra cash flow. How? It’s what’s described by Forbes as Affiliate Marketing and means that by utilizing links within your website for other products, your business can earn funds each time your customers follow the link.

Utilize Your Email Lists

Another completely free asset you can use to boost profits? Your email lists. As advanced as digital technology is today, it’s easy peasy to set up automatic emails to your customer base that will entice them to visit your site. Don’t let your customer contact lists sit dormant, use them to promote your business by way of sharing blog posts, upcoming events, and even set special VIP sales as appreciation for those on your current list.

Initialize Semi-Annual Audits

Simple as it sounds, one of the best ways to boost profit margins is by cutting your expenses. Make it a priority to go through your budget a few times a year and make sure you’re only sticking with the things you need for your business. If certain areas are no longer working, don’t be afraid to cut them before they eat up more of your existing budget. Also, be sure to take stock of all of your material items and products, to ensure you’re not continually pouring out funds for items that have very little benefit to you.

Overall, the best tricks you can utilize to keep increasing your profit are ones that make the most of your existing resources. Be sure to maximize your budget and audit yourself frequently, as well as continuing usage on all of your available (and free) assets.

Seasonal Planning: For More Than Just Seasonal Businesses
15 October

Seasonal Planning: For More Than Just Seasonal Businesses

You may think holiday marketing doesn’t apply to your particular business niche, but the truth is, seasonal planning is for all businesses, no matter the goods or services provided. If your business is hand-crafted toys or candies, it’s quite obvious the holiday season is peak time for sales, but it’s also the same for practically every other form of business out there.

Know Your Angle

If you’re struggling to come up with an angle for your seasonal strategies, start by looking at your books. Find out what your customers have been interested in the most and use that information to anticipate what they may be needing shortly.

Remember that holiday planning isn’t all about retail sales and shopping. Consumers also have needs for specific services, practical items, and unique finds as well. Figure out what you can offer them and plan to highlight that for your campaign.

Begin to Prepare

Understanding that seasonal planning begins well before the holiday season begins, is the most important aspect of your process. It’s recommended to begin your planning months in advance – some even beginning as early as mid-summer. Why?

By allowing yourself ample time to research your top performers, study customer habits, and brainstorm with your team members for campaign ideas, you’ll give yourself the best chance at a highly successful campaign. You should always allow plenty of time for changes, new ideas and stocking any necessary supplies for the season.

Take Stock

Seasonal planning is more than simply finding the greatest marketing campaign to put out there this year. It also entails making sure you are fully stocked on any anticipated items, well-staffed for an influx of customers, and prepared for all your basic needs as well. How do you do this?

Start by taking inventory on your stock. Determine what items you’ll need to order if you are in the retail business. Plan for any additional stock items like shopping bags, receipt paper, shipping supplies for online orders, and any seasonal items like specialty flavors of coffee or printed fliers to hand out at purchase time.

Plan Your Schedule in Advance

Another key seasonal planning step is to make sure you are fully staffed to cover any potential increase in customer activity. It can help to make up schedules well in advance to allow employees time to plan for working hours around the holidays, as well as note any potential scheduling issues before they become problematic down the road.

Get Festive

Even if you’re not big into the holiday scene, getting festive at work is part of the seasonal planning process and your customers (as well as employees) will appreciate the gesture. There are a number of ways you can accomplish this – from simple decorations to planning events for employees and/or clients.

If you need ideas on how to get festive, include your team members in a brainstorming session to get their input – this is especially helpful in coworking spaces where members come from all walks of business (and all walks of ideas!). Not a coworking space? No problem – do some online research on local events to see what fun things are going on around you that you could include in your seasonal planning.

The best thing you can do is understand that seasonal planning takes time, and it’s not something you want to miss out on. Start planning early and get those festive ideas flowing to set your plan in motion!

Why You Should Have Already Begun Your Seasonal Planning
1 October

Why You Should Have Already Begun Your Seasonal Planning

It may seem like Summer is still lingering on (and in some cases, that’s quite true), but like it or not, the holiday season is just around the corner. Though it probably feels strange to be thinking about Thanksgiving turkeys and Christmas decorations when it’s still warm enough for that swim suit, now is actually the perfect time to go full-swing into your seasonal planning.

Holiday Seasonal Planning, No Matter the Reason

Whether your business is full-blown retail toys or a small research firm with a streamlined consumer base, you need to prepare for the holiday season. No matter what service or product you have to offer, there’s a holiday angle for you to help drive seasonal business and you need to be planning for it – yesterday.

Why You Should Care

If you think your specific firm or business is unaffected by the holiday influx, we’re here to tell you you’re wrong. Since the holiday season is “the main time of year when people are out buying products and services not for themselves, but for other people,” Forbes.com explains it’s the prime opportunity for businesses of all walks to grasp their share of the shopping season.

Since gift-buying is vast and diverse (Santa doesn’t just deliver toys nowadays), finding ways to market your own business during this time is essential to grasping the best possible outcome. Shoppers love to find the “It” item of the season and are always on the lookout for the most unique items, so don’t be afraid to market your products and services no matter how unorthodox they may seem for the holidays.

Find Your Niche

By looking at your history, you should be able to find a pattern of top sellers and items or services that have peaked the most interest with your customer base. If you’ve never focused on seasonal planning before, start with your top sellers and run a campaign focusing on them as a starting point.

While you’re examining your historical sales, you can also familiarize yourself with customer-specific purchases. This will allow you to tailor discounts and offers to your clients, based entirely on their personalized needs and gives them an attentive message about you as a business.

Why So Early?

You may wonder why it’s such an important time to begin holiday planning, being fresh off the heels of summer. We’ll tell you why. Early planning allows for a seamless transition into the biggest spending season of the year, and it gets your customers thinking about how they want to spend their funds ahead of the season.

By strategically planning your holiday marketing campaigns, you will be planting ideas into the minds of your consumers, allowing them to prepare for how they’ll be shopping that season.

There’s also another important aspect to keep in mind: online sales. Since we are seeing a major shift toward online shopping in recent years, earlier seasonal planning allows consumers to use their favorite medium to shop (i.e., online shopping) while still allowing ample time for shipping before the holidays.

Holiday Strategies

If you’re looking for a unique spin on your holiday planning, try looking at what is available in your area. Perhaps you could do a collaborative work with a related company (think discount party catering with office rental space promos for corporate Christmas parties) or offer certain charitable donations to area shelters or fundraisers with a portion of their funds.

There are endless ways to market your goods and services for the holiday season – the key is to find the right angle for you and figure out what motivates your customer base. Above all, the most important thing you can do for your holiday planning is to begin now.