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Common social media marketing mistakes from businesses

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Social media has emerged as one of the most popular marketing strategies for small businesses.

The proliferation of the internet and its various emerging social media networks, coupled with the mass migration of consumers into the digital and online spheres, has necessitated the adoption of a solid social media marketing strategy. However, simply making a Facebook page or Twitter account does not qualify as a well thought out and effective marketing tactic. In fact, more important than what to do for social media marketing is what not to do. Here are some common mistakes that marketers often make when adopting a social media strategy.

Unrealistic expectations

One popular axiom about the internet is that, despite its wild success, monetization of content on the internet remains relatively nascent. Businesses and marketers have yet to find definitive ways to generate revenue from their various online offerings, and social media is no different. According to Target Marketing Magazine, many marketers have the wrong expectations about their involvement in a social media network. Marketing is generally faith-based, focusing on intangible outcomes such as brand loyalty and reinforcement. Expecting social marketing to lead to sales requires a change in expectations, as well as a process mentality that can generate tangible outcomes, such as increased revenue and sales.

Keeping a finger on the pulse

One of the basic tenets of comedy is the importance of knowing your audience, and marketers are no different. Without having a clearly defined consumer base, and the proper well-rounded understanding of said consumers, marketers are likely doomed from the start. Social Media Today reports that there is no point in building a social media presence if your company’s fans and customers are not using the various networks to engage with you. Before rolling out a multichannel social media marketing campaign, it is imperative that businesses perform their due diligence in the form of market research.

Once it is determined that your fans are involved on social media networks, the next step is to engage with them actively, rather than passively. Simply posting status updates and promotional information is not likely to result in positive conversion rates. Instead, challenge your fans and show them that a level of mutual respect exists by not pandering to them, but rather by engaging with them in an interactive manner.

4 ways to use a cash infusion to build your business

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You did it — you got the funding you’ve been after. For the first time in a long time, your business bank account has room to breathe, thanks to your new cash infusion.

But don’t relax yet. The deposit into your account isn’t the end of the transaction. Now you have to figure out the best ways to use the money.

Reading about all the hardware, software, products and services that you could buy to boost your business could keep you up all night. With the endless options, it’s tough to know which is the smart spend that will take your business to the next level and which is just a waste of cash.

You might sleep better after prioritizing the investments that will best transform your bigger bank account into more revenue. That’s the goal of any business loan, right? A good way to begin is to focus on four key areas:

1. Give customers what they want

Great products and services are what keep customers coming back and build loyalty, which is incredibly valuable. Now is a good time to step back and look at your offerings holistically. Be honest with yourself. What’s not performing like you thought it would? Let it go. What are customers coming back for or specifically requesting? Invest in these revenue drivers. Let the numbers be your guide, so you’re not biased.

2. Amp up your technology

The right technology can give you new insights about customers and prospects, help you find efficiencies, and protect your business from the nightmarish hacking and data-loss disasters that have crippled many companies.

Begin with customer relationship management (CRM) software like Nutshell CRM, Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics CRM that helps organize and automate your face-to-face and Facebook-to-Facebook engagements with customers. It also lets you track customer loyalty programs and run targeted marketing campaigns. These are available as online services, so you simply pay a monthly subscription fee to store and access all your data and CRM services easily and from anywhere.

Don’t fool yourself: Hackers aren’t just targeting huge enterprises. They are increasingly turning to small businesses. Give top consideration to technology that will secure your business and customer data, such as additional firewall software, EMV chip-card readers, and business identity theft protection. Yes, businesses are just as susceptible to consumers. Criminals can use your business identity and take out credit in its name.

3. Update your equipment

Your biggest mistake may be waiting until a key piece of production or computing equipment breaks to replace it. Think about all of the orders you’ll have to delay or jobs you’ll have to turn down if your equipment isn’t working. Investing in new equipment now will save you a headache — and the greater expense — associated with an emergency replacement later.

4. Pay down your debt

If you have a bank line of credit or use a business credit card, that debt is likely to carry a higher interest rate than your new business loan. Consider using part of your loan to pay down your high-interest credit balances, which will help improve your business credit scores. Building stronger business credit will let you qualify for more funding, with better interest rates, the next time you’re in need.

One of the greatest traits of a business owner is to know what they don’t know. If you’re not sure what to invest in, talk to other business owners in your industry. Ask your staff for their opinions. Turn to experts in the field or a financial planner who specializes in small business. You’ll breathe a lot easier.

Cost Effective Online and Offline Advertising

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For a small business, it can be hard at times to justify allocating funds to marketing. But just because big competitors spend millions on advertising doesn’t mean you need to follow suit. Take advantage of the many ways to advertise your business for very low costs, or better yet, FREE!

Online Marketing

  • Websites are a necessity for any size business. Imagine your store is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week! The internet is everywhere – laptops, cell phones, and tablets. Consumers are researching and shopping all hours of the day. Create a professional website with the help of a web designer or check into a hosting company that offers free support. Just having one adds legitimacy to your business.
  • Facebook and other networking sites offer free business pages to promote your company. Interact with viewers by posting comments and questions in the news feeds. Upload pictures to show the world what you have to offer. Giving your business a personality can drive customers to you, and help develop brand identity.
  • If done correctly, the targeted use of paid advertising can be successful. Different models exist, such as Pay Per Click, Cost Per Million, and Cost Per Action, that may suit your business well. Successfully reaching your demographics with these potentially inexpensive online advertising techniques could go a long way.
  • Free Business Directories can help your business get noticed by major search engines. Once your website is up and running you have to get people to visit it, especially if you’re revenue model is e-business. Start with local community and trade affiliations, memberships often include a free listing on their website. Google your business name and you may find public listings that you can claim and customize for free.
  • Emails are a great way to keep in contact with interested prospects and current customers. Create a monthly newsletter that provides the reader with helpful information that ties in with your business.

Offline Marketing

Business cards can give more details than just your name, address, and phone. Printing both sides of your business card will tell your potential customers more about you. Folding cards can open to show your complete product lines and services. They can be inexpensive, or even free. Hand them out to anyone you come into contact with that may be able to give your business

Yellow page listings are still used by a number of potential customers without internet access. Years ago, businesses were judged by the size of their yellow page ad. Today yellow page listings provide only the basic information about the company. Who (company name), what (the company provides), where (physical and internet address) and how (to contact, phone#, email).

  • Vehicle advertising gives your business a rolling billboard. Try dressing up your delivery vehicle with magnetic signs or professional vinyl decals. To really get your message across, consider wrapping the complete vehicle. It’s a unique way of advertising that’s hard to ignore, especially during rush hour traffic. Be sure to keep vehicles clean and rust free, though – your image depends on it.
  • Promotional printed products, such as pens and giveaway items, can be excellent reminders for your customers. Trade shows are a great way to get prospective customers to come to you. Presenting your visitors with a token gift is a wonderful way to say thank you.
  • Newspaper ads can be costly and many times unread. However, you can receive free publicity with press releases. Let your community know you are new in town. Perhaps you just attended a conference or received an award; let everyone know about your accomplishments.
  • Radio spots can be paid for with trade if your business provides something the station could benefit from. If your business is consumer driven, gift certificates that the radio station can use as prizes can offset the cost.
  • There are many coupon packet companies eager to add you to their envelope. Check how they obtain their mailing list, quantity sent out and quality of their printed ads. Some companies offer a mention in radio ads.

Advertising takes time and money. Find out what works best for you by tracking the results of each advertising method. Ask the customer how he found you, use a unique code for each ad and record it on the customer’s invoice.

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