Jan 24, 2015

Be the 20% and Survive the 18-Month Test

Congratulations, you have finally opened your own business. Now, it’s just a matter of which of the 80-20 ratio you’ll be in. According to Bloomberg, 80 percent of new businesses fail within the first 18 months. So how do you make sure you are in the 20 percent that are fortunate to survive the 18-month survival test?

Surely, many new businesses that fail in longevity point to the lack of cash to sustain the business. But in most, if not all, cases, it was a sequence of missed opportunities and the lack of creative fortitude that inevitably let the money tree run dry.

Invest in Your Customers

One of the bigger reasons is business owners failing to invest in their customers enough. Not providing good dialogue between you and Joe Customer can spell doom to your business. Be it a social media chat, a feedback feature on your website, a good email system or even a customer appreciation day; making that extra effort to help your customer feel more connected to your business is key to building a foundation of retention among your customer base.

Do Your Due Diligence About Learning to be a Business Owner

Another reason new businesses fail so quickly is that the owner hadn’t realized the dedication, time and money it took to be your own boss. Though the rewards can be great, so too can the responsibilities that fall on your shoulder. For those looking to open their own businesses, Melinda Emerson of SmallBizLady recommends to prepare for hard work, troubleshooting problems daily and building a high tolerance and perseverance. Setting up goals before you even open the doors is crucial, as well. Every good business has short-term and long-term goals. Establish what they are and build your business towards them. This keeps your business on track and focused.

Networking Is Key to Earning Trust

Customer service is the most important element to trusting a business. Thus, networking is one good way to earn your customer’s trust. Networking is tied to the first reason mentioned, however, this also includes marketing on a personal scale, because that’s what networking is intended for—as far as your business goes. Getting involved with your community can show your customers—and potential customers—you are dedicated and caring, not just for your business, but for the community as a whole. So return phone calls, answer emails, attend community functions and volunteer or sponsor a local club or fundraiser. Doing so gets your name out there and it gets the community familiar with you and your business. If they trust you, they are more likely to support your business.

Have a Trustworthy and Dedicated Team

If you haven’t set up a good core of employees and a daily systems structure, then your business failed before it even started. When you have a good team of employees, you want to nurture their drive and their willingness to help your business succeed. Thus, be aware of not only their work performance, but their work load, as well. One interesting statistic is that since 2010, people are more confident in their job abilities and as many as 2.5 million Americans a month are willing to quit their jobs to find better ones, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Overloading employees with work, micromanaging, being scarce around the office and not promoting teamwork are just some of the no-no’s a business must avoid to keep its team happy and productive.

A Solid Infrastructure Sets a Foundation of Success

Having a dependable, flexible and secure data filing system is just as important. Your business’ sensitive data needs to be backed up and protected from outside threats like viruses and hackers, but must also be able to be accessed from remote places to allow you and your employees to work outside the office. Cloud-based systems allow for all of this to happen. Too many times new businesses limit themselves as to what they can do buy shying away from cloud technology. Innovative cloud storage systems like Mozy can offer backup, file syncing and mobile access that can help your business grow, be more flexible and stay on top. Top notch cloud security isn’t as expensive as one may think. In fact, it may prove to be cheaper than relying on your own manners of security, which could prove very costly.

With 18 months as a test of survival, it’s decisions like these that will prove your business ownership longevity.

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Jan 23, 2015

A guide to proximity marketing

Proximity Marketing V1

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Jan 15, 2015

Check The Big List to Make Sense of Online Marketing Tools

tools-15539_640The Big List has arrived – the one that’ll help you make sense of which online marketing tools are right for your company.

John Lincoln at Marketing Land has done the hard work of reviewing 80 of the hottest tools for SEO, social media and digital analytics. We marketers are absolutely awash in a sea of options (both free and paid) for these aspects of digital marketing. But before you fork over hundreds if not thousands of dollars, you definitely want to check The Big List – and consider further independent research just to be absolutely sure the tool’s a good fit for your needs. The Big List is a great jumping off point, though.

One important aspect of The Big List is it doesn’t include tools that only have a single function. All the tools listed offer a function and analytics, so you can keep track of how effective your efforts are. So while you’ll find options for optimizing your online properties, keeping tabs on your competitors, managing social media and more, each of the options gives you a way to measure your ROI too.

Check out The Big List at Marketing Land and join the discussion by commenting below with some of your must-use tools.

 

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Jan 7, 2015

4 Strategies for Omnichannel Success

shutterstock_160911893A study by Deloitte found that omnichannel customers spend three to four times more on purchases than other shoppers. But what exactly does that mean? Omnichannel reflects the choice customers have and how they engage with brands from mobile to social to brick and mortar locations. But the real secret behind omnichannel success seems to lie in how to connect the various channels. Simply offering a mobile app isn’t enough. Here’s some ways retailers can pose their channels for optimum consumer success.

Mobile

Ignoring the mobile shopping revolution could cost retailers billions. More customers are skipping the lines at the stores and opting to make their purchases on their smartphones and tablets. In 2013, sales on mobile devices and tablets increased 70 percent. That percentage accounts for $42.13 billion in sales, according to eMarketer.

But embracing mobile in an omnichannel world isn’t just about making purchases and checking for sales. Retailers like Best Buy offer mobile apps where shoppers can scan products while shopping in store. Macy’s is also rolling out self-checkout options in their handbag departments with touchscreen shopping options. (more…)

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Jan 5, 2015

Adaptive Content: Personalizing Your Customer Outreach

By Nick Rojas

The name of the game in today’s marketing is personalization. Interactions with modern audiences are more successful and meaningful when they are personalized across multiple channels. This has become increasingly important in recent years, as 94% of companies say that personalization is a vital component of their success.

2All businesses and revenue models can be influenced by personalization. One important thing that changes with personalization is content. We live in a multi-screen world where 90% of the media interactions today are screen-based. Content needs to be multi-channel and adaptive to meet these modern needs.

Why does content need to be adaptive? Context and personalization are crucial to success in a multi-screen, multi-channel world. Content needs to changed based on where the user is, who they are, and what they are doing. Customer expectations for businesses evolve as new technologies become more commonplace and available to the average consumer. They rely heavily on mobile devices to aid in their decision-making process – in fact, 48% of shoppers want to be able to use their phones while shopping. Adaptive content allows brands to meet customer needs as they evolve, and many of these needs relate to the growing popularity and adoption of mobile devices and technology. (more…)

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Dec 30, 2014

2015 Marketing Plan task twenty

If you need to take today to finish yesterday’s task, by all means do.  Once that’s done, you may want to take another look at your 2015 Marketing Plan and check to see if you want to tweak it at all. Sometimes when you see it all together, you realize some things aren’t in alignment. That’s okay. You have to look at it at a high level sometimes. It’s just easier to write it at the micro level. (Can you tell my undergrad was economics? Can you also tell that my grades were really bad?)

Add any reporting or testing as calendar reminders so you don’t forget.  Also, add a monthly review of the plan on your calendar and commit to doing that.

And then let me know how it goes.  Well. Done. You.

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Dec 29, 2014

2015 Marketing Plan task nineteen

Okay, in this task you PULL IT ALL TOGETHER!

If you’re like me, you probably have a bunch of Word docs scattered – or one that looks like a mess. Or you printed it out and it’s covered in handwritten notes.

Or maybe you’re bloody perfect and it’s all written out neatly already. If that is the case, the rest of us hate you and you’re done for today.

If not, it’s time to get your document together. This might take you today and tomorrow, so don’t sweat it. Tomorrow’s task is REALLY easy.

Here is the outline with the information you should have by now:

1. End Goal – This is the sentence where you write in quantifiable terms what you’ll achieve in 2015. For most of you, this will be a sales figure.

2. MeasurementHow will you measure this, and how often? Again, a sentence or two will suffice.  (more…)

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Dec 26, 2014

2015 Marketing Plan task eighteen

First of all, let me say that there are a bajillion pictures of mad scientists out there on the net. This one was my favorite by far.

2015 marketing plan

 

And why, do you ask, do I need a photo of a mad scientist in the 2015 Marketing Plan? Here is where we begin to think about how we’ll test the efficacy of our marketing programs. For most entrepreneurs and small businesses – well, for most people really – we mainly just look at sales. Did we sell more or didn’t we?

If you wait that long until you review your results you could be dead in the water. Waiting until the end game means that you hold your breath, click your heels three times and hope your marketing works by looking at your numbers every three months or so. Yeah, that’s pretty stupid…and why most people hate marketing.

Instead you’ve got to test your results – and you have to test at the tactic level. And in order to do that, you have to decide if the tactic has contributed to the strategy. You’ve done enough work now to know that your strategies are pretty solid. So here is where you put the guarantee into your marketing plan.

Take the 2014 tactics you want to keep – and you know they’re good because a) they contribute to a chosen strategy and b) they were effective (3 or more). Add the new tactics you’ve chosen. And then write down how you’ll know if they worked and when you’ll check. Here are our tactic examples again, with the test criteria added. What you’re really measuring here are the conversions that lead you to your best customer and ultimately to more sales – (more…)

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Dec 23, 2014

2015 Marketing Plan task seventeen

Just a quick note…we will NOT be posting on 12/24 or 12/25, but we’ll pick it up on 12/26. If you happened to get sidetracked by the holidays, we’ll have a good roundup for you at the end! 

Today we’ll think about new tactics to try for the 2015 Marketing Plan. Take a look at your strategies from last week. What are the next logical steps to make those strategies actionable? Remember your tactics need to be in alignment with your overall strategies. If they’re not, they won’t lead you to your best customer and to your overall goal. If you like, you can start brainstorming them under your strategies.  If you need help, the great Jay Conrad Levinson has created a laundry list of marketing tactics and strategies.  Here are some examples of strategies and their associated tactics:

Strategy: Develop content marketing  to reach influencers in my field

Tactic: Write one blog post per week and distribute via Twitter and LinkedIn

Tactic: Find five influencers each week, follow them and RT their work.

Tactic: Curate influencer work on blog.

Strategy: Create cool online ad campaign to reach my best customer.

Tactic: Develop Facebook ads and run them once a month.

Tactic: Create banner ads for targeted zip codes within 5 miles of retail store.

Tactic: Review response from ads and adjust every two months.

Strategy: Develop consistent public relations campaign.

Tactic: Create one press release per quarter and distribute to local newspapers and blogs.

Tactic: Create five SlideShare presentations and distribute via social media.

 

 

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Dec 22, 2014

2015 Marketing Plan task sixteen

Ready to jump into the last week of our plan? I hope you can see how it’s coming together.

Now we finally get down to the nitty gritty – tactics. This is where most small business and entrepreneurs live when it comes to marketing, and no wonder. Our days are so jam packed it’s often hard to think of anything but the next step.

The problem with only focusing on tactics is that you’re really just playing hit or miss. Without a focus on your best customer you don’t have a target. Without strategy you don’t even have anything to shoot with. (We are talking target practice, not hunting analogies – just to be clear!)

So today I want you to think about the tactics you used in 2014. For example, a strategy would be to advertise in print magazines. The tactic would be “ran 10 ads in Woodbury Magazine.”

List your tactics and rate them 1 – 5, with being most effective.

And that’s it!

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