5 Professional Business Gigs Your Company Is Missing

Every business owner knows that there are certain functions of their company that need to occur in order to survive. Most of these functions may vary from company to company, but there are some functions that companies either try to tackle themselves or completely ignore that can be damaging to their success. If you want your business to be successful, the following are five professional business gigs that you simply cannot ignore.

Image Source
Image Source

1. Transcription Services

Audio and video transcription is a professional service that most businesses overlook, but it can be extremely valuable to your company. Transcription services can be a great way to provide a hard copy of company or client meetings, brainstorming sessions or even audio notes that were taken about an upcoming project. Having a hard copy of these events can be extremely beneficial in case of technical errors or issues.

Transcription services can also be extremely beneficial for your company’s SEO efforts. If your company has a large amount of audio or video on your website, having these items transcribed and placing the transcription on your website can provide the search engines with the necessary keywords they use to rank your site. This can help improve your overall ranking.

The best part of transcription services is that you can generally hire a third-party company to do this for you instead of hiring a full-time (or part-time) transcriptionist for your company.

2. Copywriting Services

Content marketing has increased in popularity over the years, and without strong content, whether on your website or other marketing collateral, your company is not going to be very successful. Using a professional copywriter can greatly help your company.

A professional copywriter has the expertise to provide your business with the content you need to reach your audience. They provide a clear and concise message, and they ensure that the copy, tone and style of writing are consistent between all channels. Having clear and consistent content is a great way to strengthen your branding efforts, and providing error-free content shows your audience that you believe in quality.

There are plenty of freelance copywriters throughout the world that are ready and willing to help your business succeed, or you can always hire a full-time copywriter as part of your staff.

3. Graphic/Web Design

By now, you know just how important having an online presence is to your business. Today’s consumers are turning to the Internet to research products, services and companies before making a purchasing decision, and if your audience can’t find you online, your chances of earning business are slim.

Some companies take the cheap route and use a website design site such as Wix.com to create their business website. These companies choose from a variety of templates, add in their own copy and consider their website complete. While these boxed design sites are easy and cheap, hiring a real graphic and/or web designer is much more beneficial for your business.

Using a graphic/web designer allows you to create a site that is truly customized to your needs, and it will help you stand out from all the other companies using boxed websites. Your company can either opt to use a freelance graphic/web designer or hire one for your staff.

4. Community Manager

Social media has made a big impact when it comes to business marketing. Some companies have yet to jump on the bandwagon, and some that already have are still struggling to manage and maintain their site effectively. This is why it’s essential that your business hire a community manager.

A community manager is an individual (or a team of individuals) that is dedicated to maintaining and monitoring your company’s social media accounts. This person will set up all your company’s social media platforms, post regularly to these accounts and engage with your audience, perform customer service and make you aware of anything that occurs on these sites that could help or hurt your brand.

Having a community manager ensures that someone is constantly watching your online presence and communicating with your audience. It also keeps the rest of your employees from guessing who’s supposed to be monitoring these accounts and allows them to get back to, and stick with, their normal job responsibilities.

5. Blogger

Blogging is important to the online success of your business, and while some companies put the responsibility of the blog in the hands of the copywriter or community manager, you can also opt to hire a professional blogger to tackle this responsibility.

Blogging requires a certain writing art form that is different than other writing styles. Content needs to be engaging, concise and informative, otherwise it’s not going to be effective. Having a blog for your company is a great way to share your company’s knowledge and expertise and attract consumers to your company. Plus, it’s a great tool for search engine optimization.

Regularly changing the content on your website keeps the search engine crawlers coming back to your site. The more keywords these crawlers find, the better your site will be ranked. If you don’t change the content on your website often, having a blog attached to your website can help ensure that your website and blog remain highly ranked, increasing your visibility.

Having a blogger on staff can ensure that your blog is regularly updated and well maintained, and it can give your company an advantage over other companies that have yet to start blogging.

About the Author: Frank Simmons is a freelance writer and avid blogger.  He writes articles that are informative and engaging and often focuses on business and blogging.

Why Your Promotional Flyer Is Going Straight In The Bin – And What You Can Do About It

You have spent a lot of money on a promotional flyer to advertise your business, you have printed it on good quality paper and you have paid a distributor to hand them out all over your city. Unfortunately, as soon as your flyer is pushed through the mail slot of 99% of doors, it will be headed straight to the rubbish bin or recycling box. All of your hard work has gone to waste to create something that will probably only used by your customers to line the bottom of their birdcages.

License: Creative Commons image source
License: Creative Commons image source

Why are your promotional flyers destined for the bin? Is there anything you can do about it?

Take a Close Look at Your Flyers – Are They the Best They Can Be?

Take a look at the flyers that you have been distributing and ask yourself whether you can really blame your customers for throwing them away without a second thought. Do they stand out from all of the other advertisements, or are they boring and ordinary? It can be difficult to look at your flyers objectively because you are emotionally invested in your business, but try to look at them from the perspective of someone who has never heard of your company or what you do. Would the flyer pique their interest?

Unfortunately when you are distributing flyers for your business you will have a lot of other promotional mail to compete with. Unless your flyer has a great offer or is very interesting and eye-catching, you can’t really blame most people for recycling it with the pile of other junk mail.

Tips for Improving Your Flyers

The good news is that there are a number of ways you can improve your flyers and make it more likely that your customers will pay attention to them and save them. Here are a few tips to apply to your flyers to help them avoid a one-way trip to the rubbish bin.

  • Make the largest text eye catching. The headline or the largest text on the page should be something that makes the reader look twice. Too many flyers simply state the name of the company, which won’t catch the customer’s interest.
  • Use a large and impactful font for this big headline, which will make it more readable and make it stand out in a pile of papers from across the room.
  • Most of the time, people look at images first and then read text. Use an interesting main graphic or a vibrant colour image to grab the attention of the reader. Make sure that it is obvious how the image is related to the text.
  • Follow up the headline with strong and simple points that outline what you have to offer. Focus on the benefit of your product or service for the customer… what’s in it for them?
  • Avoid too much text. People will get bored reading the flyer and you will lose their interest.
  • Include a call to action at the end. Perhaps you want them to visit your website and sign up, or request a free report, or order a free trial. A leaflet or a flyer with no call to action is a wasted opportunity.
  • Take a random sampling of all of the other common flyers that come through your door. Does your flyer look like every other one? Think about how you can make it stand out, such as using an unusual colour or printing it on a shiny or textured surface.

These are just a few of the main ways that you can make it less likely that your promotional flyer will end up going straight in the bin and instead be read by your potential customers.

About the Author: Paula Whately is a blogger and entrepreneur in London who recently had a new flyer designed for her business. With the new design in flyer distribution, London customers were calling her at a much higher rate than usual.

Old Tricks And Traditional Skills Still Vital To 21st Businesses

You would think, with this being the bright shiny and thoroughly wired 21st Century that the more traditional skills associated with the secretarial world would be thoroughly redundant. However, despite the fact that our lives are dominated by computers, tablets, Smartphone’s and a whole range of peripherals and apps that can be added to them, some traditional skills remain in high demand.  From copy typing to audio typing and transcription services, traditional skills still remain in high demand. The latter, in particular, remains a crucial part of content creation for many industries, from humble minute taking to full scale TV transcriptions. Transcription services today are also an important feature for conference organisers and transcription offers a number of significant advantages.

License: Creative Commons image source
License: Creative Commons image source

The Bigger Picture

Recording and filming any event was, in the past, a difficult task which required a significant number of professionals and an equally large (and cumbersome) amount of equipment. Today any event, from a pop concert to conference can be (and is) recorded on a phone and the film is often uploaded to the web in seconds. However convenient this may seem it does not replace the need for accurate and professional filming or transcription. In large conference centres where a number of speakers may be talking at one time, or where question and answer sessions are part of the presentation, both professional filming and transcription still have significant advantages.  Unlike audio or video files, fully transcribed events offer users a fast look up for significant points and sections. With transcriptions now available digitally, the simple use of the find function can take you straight to the point in a way that no amount of film footage can.

Old Skills and New Methods Combined

Post event publications of transcribed documents have a number of advantages. In terms of web publication, transcription offers a handy SEO tool. The broader the scope of your written content, the more opportunities for lead generation via search engines; again in a way which means that video content alone will not be as beneficial.  Also the more traditional print press, while happy to receive audio or visual material, will often rely on transcribed versions of a presentation or conference to make their own jobs easier and making things easy for journalists means they’ll be able to find time to fit your piece in.

Applied Technology

Although transcription is an old skill, long pre-dating the internet, the technological revolution has made the process of finding reliable transcription services easier and more affordable. Most transcription services operate online and transcribers themselves can be located just about anywhere in the world. This has driven down the costs of professional transcription and can open up opportunities for these services. This means any content you need to promote in overseas markets can be quickly made available in a variety of formats or languages. The process is speeded up to almost light speed thanks to modern technology. This gives modern businesses a greater and faster reach than in the past, making it possible for firms of any size to go global.

New Opportunities

While transcription services offer advantages to a range of industries they offer specific advantages to conference organisers in any field. Post conference transcripts can be marketed alongside podcasts as part of a full package for both attendees needing to refer back to the conference and as a valuable product in their own right to sell to a wider market. Working with a professional and established provider makes sense in this context and planning ahead will also make the process run more smoothly. Contacting a transcription service provider well in advance and involving them in the planning of the event will help you both to create a package that suits your needs which will result in a quick and efficient turnaround on the end product. Despite the massive advances in technology and the opportunities that it has opened up for business it seems that some of the oldest tricks are still the best.

About the Author: Pipa Rose is a freelance writer who has a keen interest in business. While technology has made business presentations and conferences far easier and more accessible for many, she believes that many traditional skills such as transcription services still play a crucial role.

Small Business: Shopping Online for Big Savings

As a small business owner, you need to conserve your financial resources as much as possible. Fortunately, there are multiple ways to utilize the Internet to save money on essential supplies and services. In fact, the vast majority of items that an office company uses will be available for a discount online, and most other industries can also find better prices by simply conducting a quick Internet search.

Saving-Money
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Buying in Bulk

Although you can definitely get discounts on every day office supplies by buying them in bulk quantities at a brick and mortar store, you will most likely be able to save even more from an Internet-based retailer. For example, Amazon sells several common items that small businesses need in bulk, and they also offer a subscription service that will enable you to save even more on the supplies that you use on a regular basis. When you factor in the free shipping and the fact that you will avoid spending money for gasoline, it becomes easy to see how much money you can save by buying items in bulk off of the Internet.

Buying in Smaller Quantities

If you are looking for individual items, it is still usually a better idea to shop online. There are several price comparison websites that have been created with the purpose of enabling consumers to quickly find the absolute best price on any given item. Additionally, some of these sites even include local store prices to help you determine if it makes more sense to buy a specific item locally. You can also download an app for your iPhone that will help you compare prices online for items that you are looking at in a store.

Saving with Comparison Sites

Every company needs to have business insurance and you will also need automobile insurance if you have a company vehicle. Although you could simply get a quote from the insurance provider that you use for personal purposes, you will most likely end up spending more money. Instead, you should use sites like www.monkey.co.uk to help you gather several quotes from various national and local insurance companies. Once you have all of the quotes, you will be able to compare the pricing and available options to easily determine which policies make the most sense for your company.

Shipping Costs and Transit Times

If you absolutely need an item today, you will need to go to a local store to pick it up. Unfortunately, that purchase is probably going to cost a lot more than it would have online. Therefore, whenever you have time to wait, you should always shop online. Most companies offer free shipping over a specific dollar amount, and expedited shipping options are usually available. Even if you end up paying for shipping, you will still save money in most cases.

Shopping online for the majority of your company’s supplies and essential services is one of the best ways to keep your budget in line. If you are not using online comparison sites, you are wasting money on a daily basis.

About the Author: Researcher Shelby Warden provides this information for small business owners who need to watch their bottom line. Small business owners who go to www.monkey.co.uk to compare insurance plans and costs not only get the best online prices, but can even choose a charity to receive a £10 donation when they purchase a policy.

 

Is Outsourcing Fulfilment Services The Right Choice For Your Business?

Is Outsourcing Fulfilment Services The Right Choice For Your Business?

License: Image author owned
License: Image author owned

Fulfilment Services

Order fulfilment and distribution is the life blood of any business. If orders are not filled quickly and effectively, and distributed fast and without incident, then you can wave goodbye to your customers.  For a number of reasons, many companies find themselves unable to carry out their promotional services in their entirety. Many large businesses, especially multinational enterprises, choose to outsource promotional logistics to help out in promotion of their various products and services.

While outsourcing fulfilment to a dedicated logistics firm obviously incurs some significant initial outlay, it is a cost that a large company can well afford, when the cost of undertaking the promotional service themselves is taken into account. Relieved of the problem of promotional logistics and fulfilment, the sales team is freed up to focus on more important factors such as keeping the sales end of things running smoothly and effectively. It is primarily for this reason that so many larger companies and business entities choose to look for promotional logistics service providers.

What To Look For When Identifying A Fulfilment Service Provider

As the internet age draws on, we find ourselves more and more overwhelmed with information. Every decision is made both easier and harder by the sheer number of options we are presented with when researching a service provider online. It is essential however to devote a bit of time to establishing your fulfilment needs and researching the fulfilment services offered by various companies, identifying the ones which best suit the specific a, individual needs of your company. It may seem arduous to trawl through a lot of providers websites, but getting the choice of service provider right is as crucial to the success of the business as doing the promotion itself.

It is not only the costs attached to undertaking promotional activity yourself that your business is set to save when outsourcing fulfilment services; your company will also be able to redirect the man power and other resources that you would have used on promotional activities to other enterprises. The benefits attached to this decision must be equal or greater to the cost of having to outsource.

Adding value

Promotional activities are often an additional cost to the company and they can only be valued by the contribution they make towards increasing the sales volume and popularity of the products or services. The only way to ensure that the value of the promotion services is felt by the company is by ensuring the service provider delivers quality services that are both timely and very professional. Whether collecting various promotion requirements, delivering customs clearance services, or drop shipping promotional merchandise, the service provider must provide these services with ultimate professionalism.

The challenge then is for the service provider to offer a reliable service of the highest quality, so that your business will retain its customers in a competitive industry. If the service provider fails to consistently exceed expectations then you can quickly begin to seek better service providers or build your own promotional teams from your sales divisions. This puts you as a business owner considering outsourcing fulfilment services in a really strong position, as potential service providers are constantly striving to offer the best service they can in a competitive market. Likewise, of course, fulfilment service providers are assured of customers who will always need promotional services in order to stay relevant in very competitive markets and to retain their market share.

About the Author:Kate Parker is a blogger and SEO writer who has written extensively on order fulfilment. she has written this article on behalf of Vision Logistics.

Business Isn’t Always Glamorous

When many of us think of long-term, sustainable profits we may envision a large multinational import-export company or a banking conglomerate generating billions in revenue each year. While these sectors are all indeed vital to the economy and can pull in uncounted millions, an often-times overlooked area that offers the opportunity to produce a steady and dependable income stream is the area of waste management. Let us get a better understanding as to why this industry is one of the most profitable business sectors.

License: Creative Commons image source
License: Creative Commons image source

Trash Does Not Disappear

Whether we find ourselves in a booming economy or one where the word “crisis” tops the headlines more often than we would prefer, societies still generate rubbish. Simply because an economic downturn may grip a region does not mean that people are consuming less goods. In fact, there may actually be more trash and junk to collect as individuals and households relocate; leaving massive piles of refuse and goods on the street. Therefore, the fist advantage of junk removal is the simple fact that there will always be business.

Better Usage of Waste Materials

The days of taking a few tons of trash and depositing them in an unsightly landfill are quickly coming to a close. 21st century environmental policies now dictate that much of the waste generated must either be recycled or even used as an alternative source of energy production. Thus, the waste industry has rapidly “gone green”. The main advantage here is that this situation gives junk removal companies the ability to diversify their current operations. This allows waste industries to realise more profits as they now can offer a valuable commodity to other organisations. Many CEOs are highly aware of this, as seen in this article.

Government Subsidies

Another benefit not to be overlooked is the fact that many governments are now providing handsome subsidies to those companies who develop and maintain environmentally-friendly policies. This lower carbon footprint is actively encouraged and industries such as waste management have the ability to take advantage of this extra influx of funds. Also, let us not forget that these more ecologically-aware policies will help protect our environment for generations to come.

Turning Trash into Cash

While these aforementioned benefits are particularly relevant for larger corporations, let us not forget that smaller enterprises can benefit from other aspects of junk removal. Not only can one person’s trash be another person’s treasure (as in the form of antique furniture, copper pipes, etc.) but due to the fact that we live in what has been called a disposable society, older electronic devices are more frequently thrown away. There are many rare-earth metals in this equipment including silver, palladium and even gold. Many smaller disposal companies will actually reprocess these for the metals they contain and turn a considerable profit from what would otherwise be simply known as refuse.

So, it is easy to understand why waster disposal represents a significant income opportunity. Although not the prettiest of industries, the profits that can be generated are quite attractive.

About the Author: John is a freelance business feature writer working with Skip & Bin hire in the UK – a comparison site for waste management services who work with skip hire companies to help promote their best deals when availability is high.

Does Your Company Need a PEO?

Owning a business requires time, patience and a great deal of effort to ensure its success and longevity. A professional employer organization (PEO) will spend time researching your business needs and deliver a cost-effective plan to meet them. Instead of endless piles of paperwork, staying current with employee regulations and interviewing, you can focus your attention on running your company.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/76657755@N04/7214600922/
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/76657755@N04/7214600922/

PEO FAQ

1. What is a PEO?

Professional Employer Organization may be an unfamiliar term, but they are extremely valuable. A PEO provides a variety of services that includes human resources functions, payroll assistance, safety and employment resolutions, regulatory compliance, professional orientation and much more.

2. How can a PEO Benefit Your Business?

  • Improve the safety of the workplace environment through seminars and training workshops.
  • Oversee worker’s compensation issues and follow-up on injuries or claims.
  • Control spending by focusing on their primary duties instead of tedious work.
  • Reduce payroll and wasteful accounting expenses.
  • Implement and structure human resource services such as company policies, employee handbooks and vacation scheduling.
  • Refocus the attention on revenue generating tasks such as sales and marketing strategies to help the company grow and flourish.
  • Manage employee health and dental benefits.
  • Stay on top of current regulations and compliance in regard to end of the year reports, state laws and filing any necessary documentation pertaining to the guidelines.

3. How will a PEO Improve my Workplace Environment?

In addition to the many benefits a PEO can provide for your business, the remainder of the employees in your workplace will reap just as many rewards through their outsourcing.

  • Efficient and timely payroll services – No longer will you have to worry about payroll and getting paychecks out to your employees in a timely fashion. This is part of a PEO’s job and can take the headache out of tallying up regular, overtime and salaried hours for the employees and making sure everyone gets their check when they are supposed to. Managing the correct deductions is just as important when it pertains to insurance, expense and tax related issues.
  • Improved employee/employer communication – Proper communication is necessary for any successful business and a PEO can ensure that a company stays on top of important dates such as employee reviews, insurance deadlines and other relatable items.
  • Maintain a peaceful environment – A professional and knowledgeable PEO can take all of the worry out of managing a proper business by providing guidance on legal compliance, safety and risk management services for your company.

If you’re company is having trouble staying on task with their benefits, unable to set a budget for monetary compensation to your employees or having issues with human resource maintenance and employee hiring, it may be time to hire a professional employer organization. A PEO can get your business on the road to effective planning and help the company stay focused on growth.

About the Author: Researcher Shelby Warden writes articles to help small business owners reach their goals. Since 1997 Midwest HR has been identifying new, cutting-edge ways to positively affect the bottom line and overall growth of businesses of all sizes. Read their extensive PEO FAQ for more details on how a PEO can help with payroll, tax administration, risk management, worker’s compensation and legal compliance.

Quick Tips For Reducing The Cost Of Doing Business

No business can afford to pass up on any form of cost saving tips in this tough economy. There are always ways that you can cut back on your business’ expenses without sacrificing quality, but you need to look for them. If you are not actively searching for lower prices, how do you know that you are not paying too much?

coins
License: Creative Commons href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/meshal/40297406/sizes/z/in/photostream/” rel=”nofollow”>image source

Here are a few quick tips for reducing the cost of doing business:

Audit business expenses

Every company needs to analysis and justify each business expense a few times each year. Make it a part of your quarterly strategy or at least annually and always start by re-quoting your supplies. If you don’t find a better deal out there, you can always negotiate lower prices or better terms with your existing suppliers.

Increase staff productivity

In today’s modern world, the first step to improving productivity is searching for technological advancements. Manual entry is a thing of the past and there are now automated systems for nearly anything you need to accomplish in a typical business day. There are automated marketing systems, invoice generators, and automatic order processing, including payment. The less time your staff is spending on entering paperwork means more time they can be spending on innovation and growth.

Cut staff if needed

You may also discuss some positions are not as necessary as you think. For example, if you only need to process less than fifty invoices per week (which is typical for a small business), then you probably don’t need to hire a full-time bookkeeper. You could enter the transactions yourself in less than an hour and save a considerable amount on labor expenses.

Use video-conferencing instead of meeting in person

To save the expense of commuting between locations, try using video-conferencing whenever possible. If you also use file sharing program like Google Drive, you can both even work on the same document without having to email it back and forth.

Use less expensive forms of marketing

Social media marketing is being used by more big business as a way to connect on a more person level with potential consumers. It is relatively inexpensive, especially when you compare it to all other mediums for global advertising. Create an engaging website, an interactive blog, a fun Facebook page, and an intriguing Twitter feed.

 Reduce your paper costs

You can save time and money by switching to paper saving online solutions. Use email, online calendars, and online billing software to reduce the amount of paper you use. If you email invoices directly to your customers, you will save on both paper and stamps!

Take action and start saving money today by auditing your business expenses, increase productivity, take advantage of video-conferencing, use inexpensive marketing methods, and reduce your paper cost. These little things can add up to an incredible savings for your company.

About the Author: The article is posted by Gerwyn Wallto. You can find other related articles here.

When, What And How To Outsource

If you’re running an expanding small business it can be difficult to know what you can do in-house, and what you should outsource. There are special circumstances for both – what your company actually does, how reliant you are on the service, and what resources and money are available to you – but there are also general rules that can and should be applied when the decision to outsource is made.

When to Outsource

You need to evaluate what you can do effectively and economically in-house first, naturally.

Running a small business eats up a lot of your time. If you find that you’re cutting time and resources from the jobs integral to your business, just so you can do tasks such as bookkeeping and payroll – it’s worth considering outsourcing.

However, when judging the relative value-for-investment returns offered by outsourcing versus in-house work, don’t just include the cost.

The skills your staff have built up while working for you, their familiarity with your business and your needs, and their greater reliability can all be hidden advantages to using in-house services. So even if it works out more expensive to do everything in-house, you might decide that paying a premium for reliability and known quantities is well worth it.

Conversely, you might decide that your staff’s skills make their time more valuable in real terms than the amount you are paying them – so even if a freelancer costs more, your in-house staff could spend their time better.

Finally, make sure that no editing is required. Editing of outsourced writing or coding might take no more than 15 minutes a pop, but it still adds costs on top of costs. Your time, and the time of your employees, is valuable. Be absolutely sure that you factor in the time-cost of editing outsourced work.

outsourcing dilemma
Image by: Robbert van der Steeg.

What to Outsource

The benefits of outsourcing are that you get to shift tasks that may have been sapping a lot of time and a great deal of money from your company simply because your workforce doesn’t have the skills or motivation to perform these tasks quickly and effectively.

Don’t ever outsource something just because it’s not an enjoyable task. You need to consider whether that task is one of the important things that people come to your business for – give that up, and you’ll compromise your standing as a company.

Do, however, consider whether a task is taking longer because your skilled and professional staff are given no motivation to complete it quickly – that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should outsource the task in any case like this, just that it is an option to be looked at.

Outsourcing data entry tasks might be worth it, for instance, if your company’s paid staff are mostly writers, and thus aren’t interested enough in the task to complete it quickly. If there are opportunities within the company related to data entry, however (being in charge of Content Management Systems, for example), you might find that the work gets completed very quickly and efficiently indeed.

There’s little point in punishing staff for completing boring work slowly, though – it’s easier and creates less ill-will to outsource the work to somebody who gets paid more if they work faster and harder!

There are a lot of tasks that make sense for most businesses to outsource because teaching someone the skills required doesn’t make sense given the limited time they’ll be spending on the task.

Bookkeeping and payroll only generally take half a day a week, so there’s little point in training someone in-house specifically to do that. Similarly, there’s hardly any point in hiring an IT guy if your company consists of relatively few computers – it makes more sense to bring in freelancers.

How to Outsource

When you’ve decided what you need to outsource, shop around for the best deal. Think about what packages are on offer, and whether you need to choose someone local or not. Anything where you might need an on-site visit (for example, IT management or office interiors) will need to be local, with say, an hour of where you are based, whereas tasks that only involve digital communication are fine to be based further afield.

It’s not necessarily a good idea to outsource overseas – even though the costs might be compelling, often you get what you pay for, and your service may suffer.

Think of how comprehensive the service needs to be, and don’t be afraid to negotiate on prices and what you think should be included. Many companies offer flexible rates, depending on both the service and the business.

Outsourcing should be utilised to complement your key business objectives. Ideally it should be implemented to allow your skilled workforce to concentrate on their primary role. If this is done correctly, you will see your business grow and achieve success.

Any outsourcing horror stories to share? Great successes? Let us know in the comments!

About the Author: James Duval is an IT-for-business specialist who is addicted to his Xbox. He writes blog posts for Interaction UK London.

Get Ready For The Trade Show Season

Trade show season is almost upon us!  In fact, for some industries, it’s already begun.  Toy Fair took place last month, Auto Shows are already taking place, and next month will see the Gadget Show Live along with the first of Europe’s major Games Festivals.  If you want to make an impact this year, you’d better start planning your booth, and contacting trailer producers and poster printers now!

trade show tips
Are you ready for 2012 trade show season?

Trade Shows or Festivals?

The state of the economy right now means that many business owners can’t afford to attend several events per year, so they have to plan their events strategy carefully, taking their display trailers only to the events with the biggest impact.  The trick is figuring out what kind of impact you want, and who you’re trying to reach.

Sponsoring festivals and sporting events is a good way to raise brand awareness and generate goodwill.  If your message is a simple one, such as “Come buy your guitars from our music shop”, or “We sell football kits”, then generating awareness in this way is a good start.

If your message is more complicated, or you want to reach a wider range of people than you would at a local event, then you should consider attending a trade show.  Some trade events are industry only – such as the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles.  This event is attended by international press, investors, video game publishers, and buyers for stores from all over the world.  If you’re preparing to launch a product, and want to generate a lot of buzz, this is the place to do it.

Other events are open to the public.  At public events, there are a lot of companies competing for the attention of the visitors, and in many industries there’s an ever-increasing battle to produce the flashiest display trailers, offer the best swag, and pull the biggest publicity stunts.  If you’re on a tight budget, getting into this kind of battle is a bad idea, unless you’re sure that you can create a lasting impression.  People who visit your booth for a free inflatable sword and shield or other crazy gift set won’t buy your product – but people who visit your booth to demo your product and pick up a catalogue might well turn into customers later.

Keeping Costs Down

Trade shows are great for networking.  Ideally, you should try to attend any shows that are local to you, and also try to find room in your budget for a major, highly respected show elsewhere.  The power of being able to say “As seen at the Frankfurt Auto Show” should not be underestimated.

To keep costs down, start negotiating with trailer producers early, and show space as soon as you can to take advantage of early bird discounts.  Try to get bulk discounts for posters, business cards, and other essentials.  While you’re at the show, take advantage of any networking opportunities – get out there and hand out cards to people at other stands, and take the time to see what other people are doing.  Trade shows aren’t just good ways to spread the word about what you’re doing – they’re good ways to find out what’s happening in the rest of your industry too.

Image: Yodel Anecdotal / Flickr