5 Smart Marketing Tips for Small Business

5 Marketing Tips for the Savvy Small Business Owner

If you are a small business owner, there is a myriad of options for you to market your business.

How do you know where to start, how much to spend, which channels to use?

The key to boosting your chances of surviving and thriving is to have clarity, consistency and to make every marketing dollar count by only focusing on opportunities right for your business.

Get to Know Your Desired target markets

Eliminate the scattergun approach in your marketing by being clear about who your ideal client is and where you can find them.

Spend time to profile your ideal clients. Work out which social networking platforms they use, what they read, what they listen to and what they watch. Start to engage with them on a personal level.

Use Cost Effective strategies

Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are free, and advertising on them is very targeted and cost effective. Paid ads or sponsored stories on Facebook can provide you with many leads. If you provide something free or something of value that showcases your expertise, you will get people wanting to engage with you.

Free publicity is very valuable, gives you credibility and is easy to get if you develop the right relationships, have effective writing skills and remember to follow up.

Be Found Online

Get your website optimised using basic SEO practices so that you can be found online by potential clients when they search for words and phrases related to your business.

List your business with free online directories like Bloo, Hotfrog, Gumtree and Google Maps or use Google AdWords to advertise your business online. Start submitting articles to articles directory sites like EzineArticles.com. Try making a few simple videos explaining your business in simple terms and submit these videos to YouTube. You could also join up to some relevant web forums and help answer questions related to your area of expertise!

Develop Partnerships

Strategic partners will help your marketing dollars deliver a better result through joint promotions.

Your partners should offer services that are complimentary to your business. Ensure they are reputable, deliver on their promises and will add value to your brand image.

Test and Measure Your Campaigns

Set up criteria for every marketing campaign you plan and test the results you get.
You will see what worked well and what needs to be changed the next time. It can be as easy as just asking the question “How did you hear about us?”

Budgeting and Forecasting Tips for Small Business

Small businesses have to be careful when it comes to their finances because one small error, like ordering too much inventory, could spell financial disaster. That’s why budgeting and forecasting tips for the small business are incredibly important for the small business owner. Knowing how much money can be spent and on what is the most important thing for a small business to stay afloat. Two things that can help small businesses with this include forecasting software and budgeting software. Installing this information on your computer will allow you to keep track of the business’s past, present, and future and forecast different trends not to mention manage the budget. The following information will show you just how important budgeting and forecasting are for small businesses.

First of all, any time the business needs a loan a budget will be required before any financing is offered. The reason this is important is because lenders want to see where money is spent and overall where money is being made. Also, when you use a budget you will always know how much you can spend, what risks you can take, and how your business is doing at a particular time. When you create a budget for your business you will need to sit down with last months’ bills to include them in the expense portion of your report. You don’t want to just throw out random numbers. Instead, you want to know for sure the number you are using are ones that correspond to your business. In your budget you will also want to include expectations, or a forecast, of your business’ growth. If you don’t know how to do this on your own then the forecasting software will really help you. Make sure you include the individuals in your business who know the information you are looking for. Sales managers, accountants, and the like can offer you information on your business’ growth that you can include in your budget.

Once you have your budget created you will need to review it to make sure that what you have makes sense. Also, while creating your budget you need to decide if you will be creating a monthly budget or even a yearly budget. The more information you have the better off you will be. Plus, the budgeting software will make this really easy for you as long as you have all the necessary information to plug in. When your budget and forecasts are completed you can have a good look at the situation your company is in and if things go as planned how the company will be in the forecasted time period.

Top 10 Small Business Advertising Tips

No matter what type or size your business is, you certainly can’t afford to loose customer because of bad advertising efforts. Developing effective advertising campaigns takes a combination of strategy and creativity.

1. Determine your target.

Effective advertising begins with understanding the individuals who purchase your products and services, or those who have the potential to do so. Identify and shoot for a target audience with your customer advertising rather than creating a campaign that is more broad or generic.

2. Find out what others are doing in your industry.

Customer advertising is a competitive in most businesses. You need to figure out what the competition is offering and focus on what you have that they don’t. (Note: look for a company that you know is profitable) If you use the unique strengths of your business which might include special product lines that aren’t available in the industry, customizable products or service packages, or a customer loyalty program. This will guarantee attention to your business make sure you note all your strengths in your advertisements.

3. When and where.

Profitable advertisements are strategically located in the right place at the right time. The right places is usually determined by your target audience. If you realize that your target audience is diverse then don’t limit your customer advertising to one type for example, television or radio. Rotate each of your advertisements to reach a broader audience.

4. Check if your advertisements are working.

It is hard to know how your advertisement is doing unless you have a system to track customers. One way to do this is by making sure your advertisement has coupons on your printed ads, (newspapers, flyers, door hangers) this will allow you to track where customers saw your effective advertisements.

Another alternative is to include a statement like, “Mention this ad and get an extra 10% discount.” These tactics are extremely effective, and they will help when evaluating the results of your customer advertising campaign.

5. Good campaigns equal better the results

A good advertising campaign takes time and money to develop. Customer advertising is the one major area of your business that budget should not be cut, nor should it be overlooked or neglected in any way. Your customer advertising is mainly what drives sales, look for ways to boost your advertising budget often. Some of the many advertising outlets now and days also takes more time than money.

A great tip is to invest time in developing a Craigslist/kijii advertising campaign to take advantage of free advertising and be sure to make use of other free spaces, like community bulletin boards and as always word of mouth.

NOTE : Creating a website is another great method of gaining new clients especially if your website accepts credit card payments see “Top 3 Reasons to Accept Credit Cards”

5 more Advertising Tips

1. Advertising is expensive, so make a plan know why and obviously what you are advertising and what you want to accomplish. make sure your advertising carefully and be sure to measure its effectiveness.

2. Figure out what is the most appropriate sales promotion tools such as flyers, brochures and signs. Be careful to review each promotion for its effectiveness and evaluate what these advertisements say about your business.

3. Signage should always be a larger part of your marketing campaign. Signs are an important part of small businesses and can be the most effective and consistent way for generating revenue.

4. Every small business should be listed under the appropriate heading in the Yellow Pages, but not every business needs to buy expensive display ads. Be judicious.

5. You should always network yourself. Get involved in your community. Join the chamber of commerce, business organizations, service clubs, and charities. .

Money Saving Tips For Small Business Owners – Should You Be a Cheapskate?

With the economy still lukewarm entrepreneurs everywhere are trying to conserve cash. Investing money to grow your business is a must, but wasting money-well that’s something no one wants to do, but many business owners manage to do unknowingly. And although many businesses are still booming, being a cheapskate can keep more profit in your bank account.

In fact, being a cheapskate is being buzzed about everywhere. I’m not talking about the kind of person who rations shampoo, reuses tissues, or goes out to dinner with friends and hopes someone else will pick up the tab. Instead I’m referring to people who are conscious about how they spend their money, especially when it comes to their business.

Are you really in a cash crunch? There are some simple things you can do that will reduce your business budget and allow you to reallocate that money into marketing so you can grow your business. Here are a few money saving tips as well as ways to examine how you’re spending your money.

Website maintenance and hosting

I see so many people get ripped off when it comes to their websites because they just don’t know better. Make sure your website is designed in a Content Management System like WordPress or Joomla so you can make simple changes like wording or adding photos or videos yourself and you won’t have to pay someone to do it, since the going rate is around $60 an hour. These systems are very user friendly and will save you a bundle.

When it comes to web hosting you should be paying under $10 a month for a simple website hosting account. You’re better off not hosting through your web designer but with a well-known dedicated web hosting company. Web designers often charge more and don’t always give you access. If you switch web designers or they are unavailable you may have trouble getting access to your business website.

Telephone service

Consider switching your business phones to VOIP, the Internet based phone service. It could save you hundreds of dollars a year. I know solo home based business that even use Magic Jack at under $20 a year!

Technology

If the computer, cell phone and software you use still work just fine, you don’t need to replace them with the latest version. Only switch when you absolutely need to do so. Do you need web access on your cell phone if you work at home all day? Do you need a new operating system just because it’s available? Advertisers would have you believe you do and so would your kids, but don’t fall for it.

On the other hand, do invest in automation software if it will make your business more efficient, save you precious time or expense on outsourced help. Examples would be using an e-mail marketing program, affiliate management software, database program, scheduling program, or customer service software.

Office supplies

One of the most annoying expenses is replacing printer cartridges. You end up paying much more for the cartridges than you paid for the printer. Try using refillable cartridges. Plus did you know that certain fonts actually use more ink? Really, I’m not kidding! _________________

Don’t buy office supplies you might need. Only buy what you actually need. Before buying pens, post-its or paper, check different stores for the best prices so you can save money consistently. Save paper by printing on both sides when possible. Also send documents electronically when possible rather than printing and faxing or mailing. It’s incredible how much this can save you.

Marketing expense

Don’t be a cheapskate when it comes to the marketing materials your prospects see, like your website, business card, blog. Get a skilled professional graphic designer or web designer to create your branding and you’ll come across as an experienced professional.

But with the vast opportunities available to market at practically no cost on the Internet and using social media, you’d be crazy not to take advantage. For a very small investment you can hire a trained virtual assistant to help you drive lots of highly targeted traffic right to your online door. I’ve seen small business owners spend hundreds of dollars a year on local networking groups that yielded no business rather than taking that money and spending it on something that will give them a measurable return on investment.

Spend 30 minutes going through your expenses and see where making some minor changes can save you money. And from now on, go ahead and be a cheapskate! Just don’t skimp where it counts.