Increasing small business profit with recession proof marketing plan – top concerns

Sales in small business are usually all that keeps the lifeblood of the entire set up going and hence it’s no big deal to conclude that the marketing plans are nearly the soul of every business strategy making. When the strategy goes wrong – everything goes wrong and when the real damage has been made, there is hardly any ‘good fix’ available for the solution to make a comeback. Though it may seem to be a little boring to some entrepreneurs but they are required to invest some portion of their quality time to develop a market plan that is not just operative but also recession proof.

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

Marketing plans should be made to ensure business success in the long run but there are various factors that might affect the entire setup and one of them is recession. However, when you know you have taken time to get back to the basics and walked on the path you were expected to, even recession fails to hamper your business productivity. Curious to know what they are? Very quickly, we will tell you about the pointers you should keep in mind while designing your small business marketing plan that would also help you boost your small business profits.

So who is your target market?

This is one of the concerns that may be sounding obviously noticeable but unfortunately not many prefer to have an eye for detail on this one. If you are not thinking on this one at an early stage, you are probably going to spend a lot of your time and energy sometime soon. You are wasting a lot of your budget, time and effort when you are not figuring out your target market. Here are a few more pointers that can help you with this

  • It is always better to design immensely great and effective marketing campaigns which are also designed keeping in mind the much smaller audience than targeting wider audience poorly
  • It is not always possible to offer and be everything for every group or market; it is rather advisable to focus entirely on a smaller section that is your target audience and work in that direction
  • Look for the other businesses in the same sector and find out how and what they are marketing and to whom. You can also join their online communities and learn a few things from them but don’t plainly imitate

How are you going to reach your prospects?

Now when you have explored your target audience, the next obvious concern in line should be – how you are going to get your message delivered to them. A lot of entrepreneurs feel that keeping their active feet on social networking websites is going to serve the purpose completely – this is a prevailing myth! You can choose to focus on your local market first, particularly when you are a local small business. Your presence in some much notable industry trade show should do the needful. A good telecommunication campaign should also be capable of serving the purpose.

You will actually require a good mix of the marketing channels in order to reach to your target market rather than chasing every ‘looks to be promising’ networking channel without identifying your goals.

Are you going to keep your marketing strategy ‘agile’?

This is going to be one of the toughest calls – full of challenges. It is extremely important for you to ensure that your business has adopted agile marketing approach to the strategy in place. Since the modern and the digital marketplace are well known to change at the blink of an eye, it becomes important to position your business in a way such that it is open to marketing strategies. This will ensure that your business remains recession proof which means adaptability is the key.

Make sure that you analyse and also measure your marketing strategy from time to time rather than looking through it after months. Don’t forget that it is equally important to have a good deal of flexibility in your small business marketing plan. This would also help you in smartly adapting to the changing customer requirements and the shifting markets. This would further ensure that your small business can not only generate the desirable leads but is also capable of bringing on the new prospects even during the most unpredictable times! Face the recession and challenge the market with your recession proof strategy and by now you know that it’s possible!

About the Author: Colin Boykins is a passionate blogger and social media addict. He is currently associated with a UK based supplier of platform trucks – Flatbed-Truck.co.uk.

How Google+ Local Can Improve Your Business

When it comes to your business, you are always looking for great way to help it improve. Whether it’s a new product or service, a new marketing campaign or even a new company process, there is always something you can try to make your company more successful.

Creative Commons: Image Source
Creative Commons: Image Source

One of the latest crazes that businesses are implementing is the use of online review sites such asGoogle+ Local. There are many benefits to claiming your business page on different review sites, but claiming your page on Google+ Local can greatly improve your business in the following ways.

It can help you learn what your customers think about your company, products and services.

Knowing what your customers are thinking about your business as a whole as well as your products and services is important to your overall success. When your customers leave a review for your business on Google+ Local, it can help you learn what your company is doing right and what you’re doing wrong. You can then use this information to ensure you continue to provide everything your customers love as well as try and fix the issues your customers don’t love. This will help your company remain successful.

It can help your company’s SEO strategies.

You know that having a successful SEO strategy is important for the success of your online efforts, and claiming your business on Google+ Local will greatly improve your SEO strategies. Having your business page claimed on Google+ Local will allow you to provide additional keywords about your company online. This way, when a search query is performed on your company or on the products or services your company provides, your actual website and your Google+ Local page will appear in the search engine results page (SERP). Now, your customers will be able to visit multiple sites about your business to learn more about what you have to offer, and having multiple sites with strong keywords helps ensure your online efforts are visible.

It can generate traffic to your website.

When you create your profile on Google+ Local, it’s very important that you add a link to your website on the page. You may also want to add a link to your Google+ Local page on your own website. These links provide your web visitors with an easy way to travel between sites, which greatly improves your web traffic on both pages. Plus, linking between each other provides valuable backlinks on both sites, and this is another SEO benefit.

It can generate more business.

Because Google is such a large search engine, most people use it to find the information they’re looking for. Google changed the algorithm it used to perform searches, focusing more on local results instead of general results. Because of this, companies that are using Google+ Local and have a complete profile will end up having their businesses appear in the maps section of the SERP. Since this map shows up at the top of a SERP, it gives your company a better chance of being found and earning business.

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.

Moving Your Small Business Forward: Exhibitions and Trade Fairs

If you own a small business and you think it’s time start boosting your sales as well as your profit margins, then look no further than business exhibitions. In today’s competitive market, it’s vital that you make the effort to get your brand name out there. This guide will tell you exactly how business exhibitions can transform your small business and its future, helping you move towards those profits and sales you always dreamed about.

Of course before you read on it’s important you know there are a few setbacks to exhibitions, all of which are expenses based.

Trade fair
Image by US Mission Canada / Flickr

The first of these is the cost of entering your stand into the exhibition, which is generally a fair amount (however it should come within your marketing budget). Secondly, you may be charged for overheads such as electricity, Internet and phone lines, as well as expenses like shipping products and display material to the convention centre. Don’t let these costs intimidate you though, exhibitions are great for small businesses, and here’s why:

Sample and promote a new product/service

If you’re entering a new product or service onto the market, sampling is of a high priority. Finding out what people think about it, what’s good? What’s bad? How can it be improved? Whilst you are asking people to sample your products, you are also marketing your product and your business which is why it is so important to make a good first impression.

Discover new leads

Business is all about communication, and communication can come through many different mediums. With exhibitions you have the opportunity to communicate with many new potential customers/clients, and creating these contacts for your company is vital. This is true especially when searching for new customers, as well as to aid growth and expansion. It is also important to replace those customers that over time have drifted away from your business, helping you to keep a strong customer base.

Chase after your new leads

It’s all well and good talking to people and taking business cards at these exhibitions, but what’s more important is the following up process. In this sense, exhibitions will provide you with an assist towards your main goal of making long-term contacts. With these new relations you can build further links “it’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know”. But you MUST follow up; don’t leave those business cards gathering dust. You need to know from these new leads which ones are likely to buy soon, and which ones may buy in the future. Qualify them, and follow up, tailoring your approach for each one accordingly.

Meet powerful people

Sometimes everyone needs a little dose of inspiration and incentive; try achieving this by talking to influential figures at exhibitions. This will help you to gain some perspective and insight towards your outlook – a few words of wisdom can go a long way. So push aside any feelings of nervousness, feel confident and put the success of your future first! Plus you never know when you might need some powerful contacts in your industry…

Receive media coverage

The media has become such a prolific part of today’s society that most media attention you can get is (normally) good marketing. With the current rise in just Social Media alone, you will find plenty of opportunities to receive media coverage for your small business at numerous commerce exhibitions. But remember, you need to contribute to this – use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and so on to publicise your presence at an exhibition. And have a press kit handy, in case you get a chance to speak to any journalists.

Practice makes perfect

As your company grows, you as a boss will need to do a fair bit of public speaking to important people such as investors or new clientele. Whilst you have the opportunity to do so, carry out some pitches at exhibitions to build your poise and self-belief in talking to powerful people. It’s a much smaller audience, but they’ve most likely come over to your stand because they’re interested in what you do, so it’s an excellent opportunity to practise. Another thing to remember is you may do some paid speaking in the near future, so get some free training in early whilst the chance is on the table!

About the Author: Astro Exhibitions are a firm of exhibition stand designers based just outside Manchester. They have built custom exhibition display stands for companies from all round the world for events across Europe.

 

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

5 Things Every Business Owner Needs to Include in a Strong Marketing Plan

So, you are about to start your own business. How exciting! Alternatively, perhaps you already have a part-time business and you would like to see it blossom into a full time venture. Well, every business – no matter how small or large – needs a strong marketing plan in order to succeed. Here are five tips that will help give you a leg up on the competition.

Specialty

What makes you unique among your competitors? Is it your personalized service? Your pricing? What does your business offer that people cannot get elsewhere? If you do not know what you makes your business unique, then you need to come up with a specific angle that sets you apart. Be creative and think outside the box. Your specific niche is what you need to know in order to successfully market your business.

Branding

Your business needs to have an identity. A good logo design and a catchy slogan go a long way in helping give your business a “face” that people will remember. Do not just slap together a piece of clip art and some text on your own. If you do not already have one, hire a professional designer to create a logo and use it consistently on all your company materials like business cards, letterhead, etc. Good branding will ensure that people take your business seriously.

Growth

It seems simple enough that businesses have to grow in order to be profitable. However, how much should you expand? How quickly should you do it? The best way to answer these questions is to set reasonable goals for your business. Don’t let your ambition over exceed your resources. Set attainable monthly or quarterly goals for your business and keep striving to meet them. Once you start meeting your goals on a regular basis, then it is time to raise the bar.

Promotion

Advertising and marketing go hand in hand. Where are you going to sell your product? Who are you selling it to? The days of just being able to buy ad space in the phone book, then sit back, and wait for the customers to roll in are long over. There are other options like online marketing, radio commercials and attending business networking events. Set a promotional budget you can afford and then figure out which ways are the best ways to reach your target audience.

Goals

Not only do you need to have goals for your business, but you have to set personal marketing goals as well. You have to commit to doing a certain amount of marketing each month. It may be that you attend two business-networking events each month and send out five sales letters, or you write three weekly blog posts and leave ten comments on other blogs. Whatever your preferred methods of promotion are, you consistently have to keep marketing your business.

Marketing does not have to be a chore; in fact, it can actually be a lot of fun to go out and spread the word about your business. Additionally, it is exciting to see your efforts pay off when you see new customers start coming. A strong marketing plan will help your business prosper and allow you to keep doing what you love.

About the Author: Jamey Vazguez is a marekting specialist who enjoys working with small businesses. She particularly enjoys working with entrepreneurs who are in the healthcare field.