Are You Growing Your Small Business Too Quickly?

Photo by CC user Виталий Смолыгин on http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/

Photo by CC user Виталий Смолыгин on http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/

If your small business is taking in lots of new customers (along with retaining many of your older ones), you are likely feeling pretty good about things.

So, is there anything to truly worry about as you look out over the financial landscape?

Unfortunately, there can be storm clouds out there, specifically in growing your small business too quickly.

As great as growth is for a business, it must be managed properly. Otherwise, one can find themselves with too much work and not enough time and/or resources to complete that work. They can also discover that they do not have all of the financial resources they need to handle the demands.

Take Baby Steps Early on

So that you can grow your small business at the proper rate, remember these tips:

    1. Big picture – What is your brand’s big picture? Are you planning to stay local or would you like to take things nationally at some point and time? Can you manage your small business all on your own or will you have to seek help in the form of full-time or part-time workers? Lastly, do you have the means to get fast cash for your business if needed? There may very well come a time when you need a fast capital infusion to keep your business moving forward, perhaps even to save it from going under. Recognizing the signs of when one or both could be occurring is important;
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    3. Never forget your customers – One of the most (if not the most) important tips in successfully running a small business; never forgetting who got you to the business world in the first place. Yes, those people you call customers, they can never be forgotten and/or taken for granted. Just as people look to maintain healthy relationships in their personal lives, relationships in the business world are equally if not more critical. One of the dangers of growing too quickly is losing touch with what got you to where you are in the first place. Yes, growth is certainly good, but do it at a managed pace;
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    5. Where to turn for financial assistance – If more financial capital is required to let your small business truly take off, where are you going to get it from? Some business owners may have just enough extra capital on hand to do it all on their own. Others, meantime, may turn to family or friends, perhaps with the idea of encouraging one or more of them to invest in the small business. Still others will seek to do business with financial loan companies, banks etc. No matter who you turn to for the financial push you need to move your brand forward, make sure you understand each and every word of the contract drawn up between parties. It is especially important that if you so choose to seek financial assistance inward (family, friends etc.), a contract is put together. Some may think that dealing with people close to them doesn’t require an official contract, but not having one can be the death of a relationship should things go sour;
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    7. Need help or don’t need help? – Your last big decision in determining if it is time to grow your small business is seeking employees. Some small business owners are perfectly comfortable being in charge of all aspects of their companies, meaning no help apply. Others, however, know that moving the business forward will require additional hands on deck. One of the dangers in moving too quickly with your business is bringing on employees, which translates into paying them. Some business owners will look to cut down on expenses (salaries, health insurance etc.) by hiring people for less than 30 hours a week, including using independent contractors. Once again, this is where your business smarts come into play. If you grow too quickly, you may end up finding worker salaries and other benefits will eat into your profits. By the same token, not acquiring the assistance you might very well need could end up in too much work at once for you, potentially leading to burnout.

     

    Growing your small business at just the right pace can oftentimes be a tricky call.

    When you need some financial help along the way to grow as the business climate dictates, knowing where to go for it might be the biggest call you ever make.

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Does Your Business Truly Know Its Customers?

Does Your Business Truly Know Its Customers? ... photo by CC user geralt on pixabay

Photo by CC user geralt on pixabay

In order for your business to achieve customer satisfaction and solid revenue stream year after year, you truly have to know what your customers want.

While there are different ways to go about discovering such details, too many brands don’t make for the needed time and effort to learn the necessary data. As a result, they can end up missing out on growing their brands, leaving the competition to pick up the pieces.

That said your business can and should regularly review its data capturing methods, seeing what has been effective and what needs retooling.

With that being the case, does your business truly know its customers?

Gathering the Vital Data

So that your brand can truly decipher the mix of data vs. information vs. insight, remember these tips:

  • Demographics – First and foremost, knowing who you are trying to market to (and ultimately sell to) means having as much data as possible on people. When you understand factors such as gender, age, income, you have a much better feel as how best to undertake marketing campaigns, campaigns you hope lead to sales. You can use a number of tactics to better gather the demographics, notably through surveys, polls etc. If some customers are hesitant to respond and/or give you their time, provide them with an incentive or two to fill out an online survey or answer a few questions in-person or over the phone;
  • Priorities – In marketing to customers, you sometimes have to set priorities, especially if you’re a smaller business on a budget. While the larger brands typically have more money and manpower for marketing and advertising needs, the smaller guys are oftentimes limited. That said set priorities in which products/services you offer get the top marketing. Some companies pull out all the stops especially during the holiday season, others will look to ring-up big-time sales during the summer months;
  • Mobility – If you’ve been asleep at the wheel when it comes to mobile marketing, change that moving forward as soon as possible. With more and more consumers all but demanding mobile marketing, your brand can’t just pass on these opportunities to connect with consumers on their various mobile devices. If you’re a startup business, mobile marketing should be one of the first tasks you undertake. If you’ve been around for a number of years, you’ve hopefully been able to see in recent years how mobile marketing has blossomed;
  • Competition – Even though you should never duplicate your competitor’s efforts, watching (even analyzing) what they are doing is important. Seeing how they communicate with consumers, what they offer consumers, and their success or failure results, should all be of interest to you and your brand. One of the ways to monitor the competition is via social media (see more below). You can look at their actions on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more. The feedback they receive from consumers can actually benefit you, especially as to how you do your marketing campaigns moving forward;
  • Socializing – When it comes to your social media efforts, they should be one of your company’s top priorities. As mentioned earlier, engaging with customers (the ones you have now and the ones you hope to have soon) is an important part of analyzing your success and failure ratios, especially as they pertain to your marketing and advertising campaigns. No matter which of the popular social networking sites you are active on, regularly monitor and analyze them, looking for the latest trends. You can truly learn a great amount of details about consumers by listening to what they say on social media. Remember, consumers in the past (before the Internet’s arrival) would typically comment to business owners via in-person visits, phone, regular mail etc. With millions of consumers on social media, they can post comments in seconds or minutes, giving business owners lots to think about. Lastly, any engagement you have with consumers on social networking venues always needs to be positive. Even if a consumer or more than one rips your brand, avoid firing back a nasty response. It makes both you and your brand look silly. Finally, as a great tool as social media can be, never let it replace the one-on-one contact you have with consumers in person.

 

So, can you say that your business truly knows its customers?

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Is your company taking credit for a smooth business operation?

Top notch customer service is at the nexus of a smooth business operation ... photo by CC user rahulrodriguez on Flickr

Photo by CC user rahulrodriguez on Flickr

In order to run your business down the path of success and not failure, you need to make sure you are giving customers everything they want and then some.

With that being the case, what exactly are you doing to make sure consumers have all the options needed to make their browsing and buying from you as smooth as possible?

If you’re not sure, take the time now to put a winning game-plan in place to ensure smooth business operation.

Technology is a necessity for smooth business operation

Start the process by looking at what level of technology you are provider customers with.

If it is great, then you don’t need to make any major changes. On the other hand, brands with average to poor technology offerings for their customers are the companies looking for trouble.

In order to best determine what level of technology service you are providing customers, look at the following and see where you’re at:

  1. Website – Face it; your website is your company’s greatest selling point. Without a formidable website, your brand will have trouble reaching countless consumers, many of whom could be your next customers. Review your site regularly to make sure it is firing on all cylinders. If your site offers an Ecommerce store, it is imperative that it is running properly 24/7/365. With more and more shoppers doing their browsing and buying online these days, it is imperative that your Ecommerce store (if you have one) works flawlessly. This is especially true when shoppers go to the “checkout” phase of a purchase. Nothing frustrates customers more than taking the time to fill out all the needed information for a purchase, only to have the credit card processor fail. That’s why it’s important to use a reliable credit card processor. Even without an online store, always review your website, looking for any potential shortfalls that could have a negative impact on business;
  2. Customer service – Put yourself in the shoes of customers for a moment. Don’t you get frustrated when you phone or email a business over an issue, only to essentially be ignored? It happens more times than not, leaving many customers disappointed, a disappointment that can lead to them changing businesses. Make stellar customer service a priority when it comes to your brand. Whenever a customer has an issue with your brand (online shopping, in-person matter etc.), always make their problem your problem. If you stop and think about it, bad customer service will become your problem sooner rather than later if you start losing business over it. Your website once again oftentimes plays a key role in this department. If customers are emailing you and/or reaching out on social media, make sure you do not keep them waiting when it comes to response time;
  3. Consistency – Whether you have been in business for many years or just recently started up your company, consistency is something you should never overlook. How you treat your customers, how you promote your brand, even how you go about ordering supplies, all should show a degree of consistency. While there is nothing wrong with trying out some new initiatives (in fact, encourage this), most customers want to know that they can count on your business for efficiency and dependability. Unveiling some new tech initiatives, especially things such as mobile marketing (see more below), are great ways to increase the odds of landing new business;
  4. Mobility – Speaking a moment ago about mobile marketing, how much of a role does it play in your present business affairs? If the answer is little or not at all, change that moving forward. As more customers turn to their mobile devices to browse and ultimately buy goods and services, you need to have a presence there whether you want to or not.

 

In today’s world, taking credit for running a smooth business operation is something you should be doing on a regular basis.

No, you’re not tooting your horn too much to say you’re on top of your game as a business owner.

What you are doing is reassuring consumers that you are a brand they can trust.

When you do that, your business stands to reap the public relations and financial benefits for all to see.

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How to Avoid Startup Failure

Despite the growing popularity of startups, small companies and independent businesses fail each and every year. While some companies fail due to product errors, a dip in the market, or, unfortunately, a particularly bad idea, many companies actually have the skills, product (or service), and passion to build a financially stable company.

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However, there are key mistakes many startup owners make, unknowingly sealing their businesss fate. Before quitting your current job and opening the doors to your new business, make sure you have researched the venture adequately, and know to avoid these specific mistakes:

Hiring In-House for All Positions

Small businesses should avoid hiring in-house employees for all positions. When building a business, the beginning financial stages tend to fluctuate dramatically, and hiring too many employees on can lead to an unstable financial structure. Moreover, in todays economic business age, many businesses are downsizing marginally, using third party companies to outsource certain business tasks to, such as accounting, payroll, and other human resource positions.

Companies like National PEO work to provide small and large companies alike the ability to delegate tasks and work more efficiently by outsourcing. This is a smart business practice, as you are not only confident in the ability of the company, rather than relying on an employee, it also saves you a great deal of money.

Being Unprepared

Starting your own business will turn your life upside-down temporarily. First-time business owners are often not prepared for the upset running a company brings to their accustomed lifestyle, as they find themselves working more hours for less pay. This unexpected change can leave business owners feeling drained and overwhelmed, thus it is important to ensure that if you are going to start a business, you are prepared for the changes.

Thinking Your Product Is Your Business

Many people have a brilliant idea for a product or service, but they have absolutely no idea how to run a business. More often than not, they attempt to build their business around the product, but, unfortunately, that often leads to quick success but longterm failure.

While a product does solve a problem, providing customers with an answer to a need, it is not a stable foundation for a business, as it does not bring customers back to a business. There needs to be something deeper within the business than a product.

Ignoring the Market Research

Many people who believe they have a great idea often ignore the market research, especially if the research is telling them they need to change their business plan. Most first-time entrepreneurs are guilty of holding onto their idea and being resistant to change, as they are adamant that their idea will work.

There is nothing wrong with hanging onto an idea that you believe in, as it is critical to be passionate about your business if you want to be successful; however, when the market and experts are educating you on tweaking your idea, it is a wise idea to heed their advice. The results are usually astounding, as their expertise can provide you with the link you were missing before.

Expecting Overnight Success

Unfortunately, all businesses take a great deal of time to pick up momentum. Many new owners underestimate the amount of time it will actually take to sell a product, find clients, or, generally speaking, turn a profit. It can be easy to attribute the competition you are facing to getting lucky or having overnight success, but building a solid business takes time and dedication. Most overnight success stories are filled with financial woes, sleepless nights, and plenty of almost-failures, but they managed to overcome the problems and build a stable business. Thus, when starting a company, do not be surprised at the amount of time it takes for you to grow. Keep your head down, work hard, and visualize the future success.

Believing Money Solves All Problems

Many business owners are guilty of thinking that if they could just turn a profit, find financing, or make another sale, all their problems would be solved. While all of those thoughts might be helpful to the business, it will not solve all of the businesses problems. Throwing money at problems will never solve them, thus you need to fix the holes in your business model first.

These tips can help you avoid devastating mistakes that could lead to ultimate failure.

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The important role of the quality control supervisor

The quality control supervisor, often referred to as just QC, is the person tasked with monitoring production on an assembly line, and coordinating the activities of workers whose job it is to inspect materials and products to ensure they meet the standards set out by the company. Quality Control is an essential aspect of all manufacturing industries, be it clothing, electronics, food, fabricated plastic products, glassware, molded components, pharmaceuticals etc.

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The QC supervisor’s exact duties vary from industry to industry, and from company to company, but usually include creating sketches of product prototypes and the standards required. They also include creating inspection procedures for new products, identifying the devices needed to complete these tasks, and supervision of workers. Once a sketch of a new product prototype is completed, it’s then distributed to the necessary departments, such as engineering, inspection workstations and production control.

Quality control will carry out inspections of products at each stage of the manufacturing process. To carry this out, QC supervisors will need to use various devices such as shadow compartors and gauges to measure the quality of each product tested. If defects are found, the product will be examined more closely to see if it can be rectified. If no remedy is available, the particular batch of products may be scrapped. In the case of prototype products, these will be scrutinized even more closely to ensure they meet the company’s standards.

One crucial, yet not always obvious, aspect of the QC supervisor’s job is customer service skills. QC supervisors are often tasked with satisfying customer’s needs or resolving their complaints, while at the same time maintaining good relations with them. In addition, QC supervisors often have to work closely with suppliers and subcontractors to ensure the materials, parts and outsourced work are received to the company’s satisfaction.

The minimum qualification for a quality control supervisor is a high school diploma in most countries. However, certain companies that have more stringent standard requirements may demand a higher education from their candidates. In particular, companies usually look for employees with strong communication and math skills. Other necessary skills include an extensive knowledge of assembly lines, machinery and the industry itself. In addition, QC supervisors must also be trained in the use of specific tools, computers and gauges that are required to test the company’s products and materials. Finally, quality control supervisors need to have a solid understanding of the company’s production processes, needs and requirements, health and safety standards, and also the products being manufactured.

 

In our perspective, production companies must always try to find ways to make systems easier. This is not to make the company more cost-efficient necessarily, but to keep their workers happy. If tasks are too physically and mentally strenuous, people will leave their jobs. ITO has more than 55 years in the industry making companies more streamlined, profitable, efficient, and most of all, people happy.

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Come Home to Assisting Others in the Community

Running a home business keeps many men and women busy for more hours than they might like at times.

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That said having your own business out of your residence doesn’t mean you can’t reach out to help others as many small and larger companies do on a regular basis. While the latter oftentimes have more resources to help individuals and families both locally and nationally, those working out of their homes with a business can do many good things for people in need.

While you may think that you don’t have enough resources in place to assist others, there are myriad of ways you can do just that. It oftentimes just comes down to a little time and effort on your part.

So, are you ready to reach out to your community as a business leader and give a helping hand to others?

Put Your Business to Good Use

In order to do good things for those in your community, try these ideas as a home business owner:

  1. Community – There are likely many fund-raising type events going on in your local community on a regular basis, so get active in them if you are not already. You can work with other business owners, the local chamber of commerce and so on to make good things happen for others. It is not uncommon for home business owners in communities to network with one another, so this is another avenue of outreach. Get together with other home business owners and do some brainstorming as to how you and others can assist individuals and families locally. If there are local fairs and other such events going on, make sure you register to attend. Not only are you showing others in the community that you are there to help, it is also good public relations for your home business;
  2. Nationally – Many of the bigger-named brands are regularly active in doing good things for others on both a local and national level. Las Vegas Sands Corporation is a good example of a business that has done a number of outreach efforts for those in the communities it is present in and elsewhere for that matter. From a Las Vegas reading week – that is going into some local elementary schools to read to children and provide books for the kids – to embracing International Mentoring Day through a UNLV Partnership – the company has been an active player. While you likely do not have the resources of a brand like this or others that are active both nationally and worldwide, you can learn from their activities. Take a look and see how you can do likewise on a smaller and more local level;
  3. Socializing – If you’re not already using social media to promote your home business brand, what are you waiting for? Social media is a great tool to use for your home business, one that can certainly be used when you want to do good things for others in your community. Look to blog posts or create your own that discuss fund-raisers, reading events, special runs and walks etc. on a local level. You can also turn to forums on local websites and even in your area newspaper/s or magazine/s that discuss events to help raise funds for others. Social sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram etc. are also good avenues to travel down. If you have a business Facebook page, put a post on there about a fund-raising event that your home business would like to sponsor and/or participate in. Share the post with as many people locally as possible. In a short amount of time, that post will hopefully circulate among others in your area, allowing it to get maximum exposure. Also look for similar posts that others running businesses in your community have posted, providing them with ideas and your participation in if you so choose.

While it will of course take up some of your time, helping others in need is a very rewarding thing that one can do in life.

In the end, it may also help drive some business your way, something every home business owner is sure to appreciate.

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Organizing Your Office for Business Success

Learning how to organize your business office can help you achieve long-term business success. The more organized an business is, the more productive it is, as organized businesses are efficient businesses.

When an office or business is disorganized, important documents can be lost, deadlines can be missed, and the whole business can slowly start to get behind, leading to loss of profits, dissatisfied customers, and potentially a business failure.

For those who are not naturally organized, or are feeling overwhelmed with the state of their office, here are a few simple organizational tips to help get things back in order:

Go Digital

Many small businesses do not use the technology available to their advantage. Whether the investment seems too hefty a price for a small business to make, or they simply do not realize the tools they need to help their business become more efficient, not going digital can be a huge mistake.

When it comes to keeping track of records, other important documents, and project files, store them digitally through a cloud storage system, such as Google Drive, Dropbox, or other similar systems. The benefit is that not only are all the documents in one accessible location, they will also never be lost. Moreover, they can be viewed from any location and from multiple accounts, making it easy to keep employees informed and do business on-the-go.

Lastly, depending upon your business, consider investing in the right software programs, such as salon software if you are a spa or salon business. These types of software programs help keep your business running efficiently, such as providing your business with the tools and help it needs to be successful and productive.

Paper Files

For the paper documents you do have, take some time to go through them and get rid of anything that is no longer relevant or out of date. Not only will these alleviate some of the clutter, it can also help you recall where certain files are when you need to find them.

A great way to free up space is to scan them, turning them into digital files that you can store in your cloud system. Paper invoices, bills, receipts, and other statements can be scanned as a record, allowing you the ability to throw away the paper files and free up space in your office.

Email

While email is digital, a cluttered inbox can be as chaotic as a cluttered file box. Many businesses and business owners receive hundreds of emails a day, and if they are not organized properly, it can be easy for an inbox to start overflowing, which can lead to emails getting buried in your inbox.

Letting your email get out of control can lead to important emails being lost in the hundreds of messages. This break down of communication can lead to a loss of profits, or a loss of customers, should a customer have a question or complaint that never gets answered. Moreover, be sure to regularly check your spam folder, as many legitimate emails get filtered as spam for one reason or another.

Finances

Being disorganized with your finances can leave your business in financial ruin. It is imperative that you are up-to-date with your books, bills, and other financial obligations. Many businesses, especially small businesses, do not keep track of their finances as well as they should, and find themselves in the red at the end of the year, or with money missing from their business.

Staying on top of your finances will allow you to see if a business never invoiced you, if a payment is missing, or if you missed a crucial payments and are accruing late fees. Additionally, keeping your finances in order allows you to be ready and organized for tax season. As a small business, it is critical you have all receipts, expenditures, income, and other business financial papers accessible for your taxes.

Before tax season arrives, check in with your tax advisor or accountant in order to make sure you have all pertinent information you need for your taxes.

Organization will help you be more productive in the office, allowing your business to run as efficiently as possible.

Image Source: https://pixabay.com/en/calculator-paperclip-pen-office-178127/

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Trade Up for a Better Home Business

If you sell products or services out of your home, what are you doing to make sure your customers get top-notch customer service each and every day?

For some home business owners, that task can be challenging given all they have to do as a one-person show. Others, however, are able to pull it off, knowing that their customers will always rank as the most important item on their to-do lists.

With that in mind, what are you doing as a home business owner to improve your brand?

More specifically, what are you not doing, and how can you correct that moving forward?

Give Consumers What They Want

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Start out by reviewing your customer service procedures, including what information your website provides them before they might even have to talk to you by phone.

Look at your website to see if it covers the following:

  • Basic information – Your website should have basic company product and/or service information on it. Such things as what your brand offers, how long you have been in business, how to reach you etc. are all necessities your site needs. The information should be in areas on the site that are easy to find, meaning customers (current and potential) do not have to feel like they are surfing through a maze to find it;
  • Product or service instructions – If you sell a certain product, do you have information about it on your site? Products typically come with how-to manuals, giving customers the basic of how to put it together, how to operate it etc. Take an example from Trade Bit, who offers repair manual downloads on countless products. While you likely only sell one or a number of products, it is a good idea to download such manuals on your site, allowing customers access to them if they do not have the paper version handy. Doing so just makes for smart marketing tactics for your brand;
  • Error-free copy and links – There are many ways to make your home business website look professional, one of which is making sure it is free of errors and broken links.  One of the more irritating things for customers (current and those you are hoping to convert) is coming onto sites where links do not work, copy is loaded with errors, and a simple search for this or that seems to take forever. As a home business owner, funds may be a little tight at times or seemingly all the time. That said it does not mean you shouldn’t be spending money where funds should be directed. Spending some extra money for a professionally-done website is certainly worth the investment;
  • Eye-catching imagery – Your home business website also needs to be appealing when it comes to imagery. If you have a dull site that is full of copy and very few images, it will more times than not bore viewers. This doesn’t mean go nuts on photos etc. but do have them strategically placed on the site for maximum exposure;
  • Social component – It shouldn’t come as a surprise that your website needs as much attention as you can possibly give it. One of the great ways to go about this is via social media. In the event you haven’t up to now, promote your site on social networking sites and allow consumers to do the same for you. For any web copy you have, leave icons at the top of the page so that visitors can tweet, share, pin etc. This will put your site and its offerings out in front of the eyes of countless others. Also be willing to share other’s copy, including those who you may invite to guest post on your blog. Once again, this sharing component presents you with more opportunities to market your brand.

Part of being a sound home business owner is being able to market your products or services to the general public without too much hassle and effort.

If your website has been on the backburner for some time now, take the time to get it up to speed.

Remember, your website is a key component of your overall marketing strategy, so make sure it is a fine representative of your brand.

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Could 3D printing revolutionize manufacturing?

Is it possible that do-it-yourself manufacturing could one day be a reality where the vast majority of products are concerned?

Similar to how the Internet helped to level the playing field, 3D printing could well do the same in the manufacturing sector.

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With 3D printing, very soon you might not need all the capital to be able to make things. Soon, everyone will have the opportunity to produce hundreds of their own goods, at least on a small scale.

3D printing is being applied to everything from concrete to chocolate and even cells. It’s being used by corporations and consumers alike, who understand how the technology has the potential to give them a competitive advantage, whether it’s in business or just to save the individual some money.

3D Printing for all?

3D printing isn’t a new technology. It’s actually be around for years. However, it was only recently given its cool new moniker, whereas before it was known by the much more stale term “additive manufacturing”, which meant creating products layer by layer. However, the term 3D printing has taken over as the technology has now become cheap enough to be “consumer-friendly”, which means the vast majority of people can take advantage of it. In addition, new techniques and advances have been made, and the Internet is helping to make it more popular.

The technology has come so far that industry is now bracing itself for change. Manufacturing for the masses is set to become the next big industrial revolution, allowing everyone to take part in the process. This will be similar to the time when computers were made widely available to the public, having previously been restricted to only big companies and governments.

Today, 3D printing can be done at home, in the office, at schools, inside hospitals, meaning non-manufacturers can now manufacture all kinds of items.

As a result of its popularity, 3D printing is also being considered by numerous new industries, including the aerospace, automotive, defense and healthcare sectors. With 3D printers now capable of printing new materials, and producing bigger objects at that, it’s now possible to manufacture all kinds of complex things, such as aircraft parts, more aerodynamic car parts, and so on. In the future, the military might be able to manufacture spare parts right on the battlefield.

This article was brought to you by the Norwegian packaging company Pall-Pack AS. Pakkemaskiner is Norwegian and means packaging machines. With the widest range of packaging machines, we have the right one for you.

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Marketing to Capture Results For Small Business

Any business owner knows that marketing in smart, innovative ways is key to capturing business. You want to grab the attention of new customers while keeping your current ones returning. A smart marketing plan will help you do this. Keep it alive, innovative and always working.

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Do it Yourself

You may be very adept at marketing your company yourself. You’ll save money this way, and get things done the way you want. Remember, the key here is to get the consumer’s attention. Whether they are your current customer or you’re looking for new clients, attention is the key. Here are some fun ways of grabbing it:

  • Create custom stickers and work them. You can create custom, die-cut stickers with your logo or artwork and send them into the big, wide world. Include them in your shipping and mailings. Stick them on your car and your friends’ cars. Have them in your stores for your customers to grab and stick them on their stuff.
  • Go altruistic. Share a gift card on your social media. Small businesses have recently shown their altruistic side by screenshotting a gift card (think Starbucks) and letting their customers have a treat on them. It’s lovely to see the gratitude, and when you’d think some person would scoop it all up, no one does. Everyone is grateful and enjoys sharing the good will.
  • Use social media. Let your followers do the work for you, and everyone benefits. Invite your followers to share the photos with your product or brand in it. You can even offer a reward for the one that gets the most likes.
  • Create a contest. Let your clients be your marketers. Invite them to design a new logo, come up with a new catch phrase or create the next flavor. You’ll see great results this way.
  • Sponsor a team or be a school partner. This is a win win. You’ll see lots more customers coming in and you’ll be supporting the community. You can offer seasonal discounts (like promotions on flowers during prom season if you’re a florist) or weekly specials (like 10% off your meal with spirit wear after a football game if you’re a restaurant).
  • Host a 5K. You can donate the money earned to a non-profit of choice (perhaps related to your business). You can hand out promotions, discounts, those stickers, and other information at the race. You’ll form bonds with partners and let your customers see you in a new light.
  • Sell t-shirts. Have t-shirts for sale in your storefront or restaurant with your brand. Encourage customers to tag you in social media when they wear them. People love t-shirts of their favorite things.
  • Host open houses. If you have a storefront, have an open house. You can have wine and cheese in the evening, or cupcakes and cookies. You can donate a percentage of the purchases made during that time, and just be on hand to chat with and get to know customers. It’s a nice way to say thank you.

Stay Relevant

It’s important to stay relevant with what your company stands for. Keep the context to where it makes sense. For instance, you’re not going to advertise your Birthday Parties for Kids in a club where young singles go. You don’t want to advertise that club on the back of your kid’s softball jersey, either. Think how things work together and play off one another, and do what makes sense.

Outsourcing Marketing

Business owners need to wear a lot of hats. Some slip on quite easily, while others may be a tougher fit. If marketing isn’t your thing, hire someone else to handle it. The money spent will probably be worth it, because marketing is an essential part to running a business. Outsourcing marketing can get you started, feed you ideas and get a strong customer base. A consultant can help you with techniques you can work on by yourself. Sometimes it pays to let the experts handle it.

Look around for more great marketing ideas to see what fits for you. From stickers to t-shirts to community clean up days, you can go in whatever direction you desire. The trend in marketing these days is to make it personal, relevant and community oriented. Let your customers see a human side of you and your business. Share it with them, and they in turn will end up sharing it with others.

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