Four Proven Marketing Strategies for the Holidays

The holiday season is the perfect time for businesses to attract new clientele and connect with existing customers. With buyers scouring for Christmas presents, many stores experience a significant surge in sales. Service-oriented companies, such as gyms and beauty salons, report an influx of new customers around January, when people make New Year’s resolutions to get in shape or become better versions of themselves. All in all, the holidays are a great time to market your services to potential customers by utilizing the following four proven strategies:

Charitable Giving

Thanksgiving and Christmas are popular times for donations to local shelters, philanthropic organizations and community events. Companies can combine doing a good deed with a marketing advantage by making a donation to a charity or sponsoring a local soup kitchen event.

Allowing the community to associate your company’s name with giving creates a positive view of your brand, encouraging them to shop with you during the following year.

Holiday Cards

Everyone loves getting a holiday card from a friend or family member, but there is no rule that holiday cards can’t be sent from businesses. Realtors are already aware of this strategy, sending holiday cards to potential and past clients to increase loyalty and foster customer relationships.

Sending holiday cards to your existing roster of clients and surrounding residents creates an emotional connection between you and your customers, which has been proven to increase brand loyalty and increase sales.

Keep in mind that your customers may celebrate different religious holidays, so sending a generic holiday card rather than one specific for Christmas may be more advantageous to avoid offending anyone.

Utilize Holiday-Themed SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) should always be a priority in your marketing campaign. The holidays are a great time to re-evaluate your target keywords and add holiday-themed alternatives to help potential clients find you.

Keywords such as “holiday gifts,” “unique Christmas presents,” “ugly sweaters” and “corporate holiday gifts” trend around the end of the year. Utilize these keywords in your pay-per-click (PPC) Google campaigns and in the content of your website and blogs to capitalize on seasonal searches.

Holiday Events

People love to attend holiday events where they feel jolly and get in the spirit of the holiday season. This is the perfect time for businesses to open their doors, encouraging new clients to learn more about them and regular clients to feel appreciated.

Consider hosting an annual holiday party for your top customers to wine and dine them and help them feel valued by your company. You can also host a holiday open house at a salon, store or restaurant attracting families with a visit and photos with Santa and his elves, free cookie decorating events and carolling.

Whatever event you plan for your business, focus on using that time to help visitors connect with your company, learn more about your products and services and create an emotional connection with your brand.

The holiday season can be a strenuous time for business owners as it calls for a lot of expenses. IOU Financial is committed to helping you during this and any other time with an affordable business loan. Get instant pre-approval and funding in as little as 24-48 hours!

3 Ways to Advertise Your Business for Free

Whether you have an online or brick-and-mortar business, you must advertise to create brand awareness for your company. Even if your store or business is located in a high traffic area, not advertising to potential new clients can significantly hinder your sales.

A portion of small business owners don’t believe they have the funds to advertise, but the fact is that with some effort, you can advertise completely free! We list our favorite three free ways to advertise your business for maximum results.

Google My Business

Google is the most used search engine around the world, and while many companies spend thousands or even millions of dollars on pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, it is possible to do so without spending a cent!

Google is constantly working on improving its Google Maps and local search results, which is good for business owners! By inputting your business name, address, phone number, website, description and hours or operations, you can increase your inbound advertising for free!

When individuals search for services or products they are looking for, such as “hair salon in Dallas,” “best French food near me” or “tutoring services Miami,” Google will direct them to your website.

Simply add or claim your existing business listing on Google, verify your account and optimize your Google+ page with reviews and visual and written content to attract new clients! The best part is that even online businesses can benefit from this free advertising feature by listing their company as a service in a particular area.

Write Press Releases

Forming relationships with the press can be extremely beneficial in getting the word out about your business on local blogs, newspapers, news channels and magazines.

Anytime you have news — which can include a new service or product, a new hire, a sale or promotion — write a press release to announce it. Press releases do have specific formats, so it’s helpful to learn how to write a press release to appear more professional in the eyes of the local press.

Utilize Social Media

No article about advertising strategies can omit social media, as that is likely the #1 way to connect with customers online. Using popular platforms — such as Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Instagram — can create significant exposure for your business.

In order not to spread yourself thin and create various profiles on social media without sufficient time to interact with your followers and submit relevant content, choose one to three platforms to focus on.

Start by figuring out where your target audience is, and devote your efforts there. The younger generation is likely on Instagram, mothers are on Pinterest and working professionals spend time on LinkedIn.

Add photos and videos, share news and communicate with your followers in order to create brand loyalty and increase sales! Go a step further by creating contests or offer internet-only specials!

The following three free advertising resources can go a long way in attracting new clients to your company; however, no one can dispute the power of paid advertising. Whether you want to invest in PPC advertising on Google, create paid content on social media or purchase a subscription to a press release distribution site, these efforts require capital. IOU Financial wants to be your partner in growing your business. We are ready to finance your strategies with a loan of up to $300,000 in under 48 hours!

 

5 Free or Inexpensive Online Classes Small Business Owners Can Take

The business world is ever changing, and it’s important to be at the forefront of innovation in order to run a successful business. It is in the best interest of small business owners to continue to brush up on their business skills to keep their competitive advantage. While business owners have enough expenses without committing to pricey programs and degrees, there are plenty of free online resources on various helpful topics. We have included five of our favorites for you here:

MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW)

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology shares some of their undergraduate and graduate course content online, providing a great resource to small business owners without the hefty price of MIT admission. You can learn accounting with their Introduction to Financial and Managerial Accounting and Management Accounting and Control classes; learn how to file a patent with by following the advice in the Inventions and Patents class; brush up on Entrepreneurial Sales and learn about Pricing from the comfort of your home or office!

The Open University

The Open University is a UK non-profit group that offers over 1,000 free courses and videos on different topics, such as business! There are 104 free courses in the area of money and business, such as:

HubSpot

HubSpot helps its customers grow their sales by providing marketing, sales and customer service tools. The site offers an 11-hour course that helps small business owners with inbound marketing (marketing with the goal of attracting new business) and sales.

Learn about the full inbound marketing methodology, content marketing, sales, design and contextual marketing with their free tools and courses!

U.S. Small Business Administration

The SBA provides a multitude of free resources for small business owners, including online courses, the option to web chat and other helpful videos. Courses cover topics such as mentorship programs, getting a competitive advantage, winning a federal contract, taking a product to market, etc. You can view the list of classes or search in a catalogue, finding more information about each course when you click on it.

Fundamentals of Operations Management

Another free course that highlights the importance of operations management. Learn about how to plan, find a facility, schedule and conduct inventory and quality management for effective operations.

The course has four modules:

  1. Operations management
  2. Operations management strategies
  3. Applying operations management
  4. Assessment

If you come across other courses or classes for small business owners that require a financial contribution, IOU Financial can help. We provide small business loans of up to $300,000 to help you grow your business. Contact us today!

3 Ted Talks Small Business Owners Should Listen To

As a small business owner, would you appreciate the opportunity to get advice from accomplished and world-known leaders? Would you be especially interested if this advice was free and accessible from a computer, tablet or smartphone? If you answered yes to the two questions, you will love Ted Talks — videos from leadership experts that specialize in various industries.

Ted Talks originated in 1984 as a conference on Technology, Entertainment and Design, and has grown to a collection of  short videos (18 minutes or less) that are available in over 100 languages. The following three Ted Talks are particularly beneficial to small business owners as they can help them become better leaders:

How Great Leaders Inspire Action

This Ted Talk is hosted by Simon Sinek, a famous author, marketing consultant and motivational speaker. He is responsible for books such as Start With Why and Leaders Eat Last on the topics of inspirational leadership.

In this video, he tries to explore answers to how leaders can promote trust and cooperation and encourage and accept change in organizations. He utilizes real world examples that don’t only focus on the world of business, bringing to light successes from people such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and brands such as Apple. Sinek focuses on similarities between inspiring leaders in how they act and think, and shares them with his listeners.

The video has gotten over 34 million views, and is the third most successful Ted Talk of all time!

Why It’s Time to Forget the Pecking Order at Work

While many of the inspirational leadership Ted Talks are hosted by authors or motivational speakers, this video is hosted by someone who has actually walked the walk! Margaret Heffernan was the CEO in five businesses. Her experience is diverse – she worked as a television producer, headed IPPA, a trade organization that represents independent film and television producers in England, worked on public affair campaigns, ran Internet businesses and wrote a book.

Heffernan shares what she learned throughout this time, which is that company leaders should nix the “the superchicken model” that only values the highest-performing employees, and instead focus on cohesion and the empowerment of every single member of the team to truly create change and success within the organization.

Learning From Leadership’s Missing Manual

What do the leader of the Ashaninka Nation, a leader of an NGO from Bangalore and a Chinese businessman have in common? They all provide inspiration for motivational leadership skills to the presenter of this Ted Talk, Fields Wicker-Miurin.

This social entrepreneur looks for leaders in unique situations and places, and shares what knowledge she was able to get from their stories. She is a director of Savills, an international property advisory company and CDC group, a UK development finance institution, as well as the co-founder of Leader’s Quest, an organization that connects leaders and encourages them to not only analyze their positions and roles, but to seek inspiration from leaders around the world.

In this Ted Talks, Wicker-Miurin provides examples of non-traditional leaders in order to help business owners consider their own leadership roles and how they can help their teams in a better and more productive way.

IOU Financial is committed to helping small business owners become the best leaders they can be! If you want to attend leadership conferences or take business classes, we can help you finance that goal with a small business loan in under 48 hours! Contact us to learn more.

 

Instagram – Is It Right For My Business?

It should be no surprise to any business owner that social media is the latest and greatest tool for connecting with existing and potential customers. Although there are a multitude of platforms, one of the most effective and popular ones is Instagram. Read on to determine whether this social media platform is right for your business.

What is Instagram?

Instagram allows users to share photos and videos along with captions and a link with their followers. This platform has a total of 800 million users around the world, 500 million of which use it every single day.

If you do not utilize Instagram to market your business, you’re in the minority, as 91% of all of the world’s biggest brands utilize this platform for business purposes. These include Nike, Adidas, Michael Kors and Gucci.

Is Instagram Right For Your Business?

While Instagram may be the fastest growing social media platform, it is not the right solution for every single business. Marketing on a platform requires a time and financial commitment, and business owners should pick the platform or platforms that are most suited to their business needs rather than spread themselves thin advertising on a multitude of platforms. Answer these questions to see if Instagram is right for your business needs.

Can You Share Captivating Images or Videos?

Although Instagram is a great marketing tool, it may not be the right solution for all businesses. Instagram users crave creative, original and quality images and videos to capture their attention. It is best suited for businesses that offer food and products that can be captured via images.

Businesses that offer services, such as accounting or cleaning, may not be able to come up with enough images or videos for this visual platform, and, therefore, should focus their marketing efforts on other platforms which are not as image-based.

Is Your Customer Target Base on Instagram?

Depending on your offerings and the demographics of your clientele, Instagram may not be the right solution for you. It is important to truly know your customer base; based on that information, you can determine if marketing on Instagram would be advantageous for you.

Sixty-eight percent of Instagram users are female, with 59% of them being between the ages of 18 and 29 years old and 33% are 30-49 years old. Less than a third of American women and less than a fourth of American men are active Instagram users; 80% of users are located outside the United States.

These demographics allow business owners to determine whether Instagram is the right place to target their customers. This visual platform is a definite must for companies that target younger females, such as hair salons, restaurants, makeup brands and clothing stores. However, businesses that target older males, such as accounting firms or body shops, should consider other platforms for more efficient marketing strategies.

Are Your Competitors on Instagram?

A third question to ask yourself is whether your competitors have an Instagram presence. Search this platform for your competitors by name, as well as hashtags that are relevant to your brand to see what is currently being shared on Instagram.

If you notice a lot of competition,  it may be worth while to build up your own Instagram presence so that your competitors do not grab the entire market share in your industry.

Instagram requires a careful strategy, consistent posting and well-shot, unique images and videos to distinguish your company from the clutter. If you need financial help to hire a professional photographer or videographer, pay for Instagram ads or hire a social media marketing expert, IOU Financial can help you with a small business loan of up to $300,000 in 24-48 hours. Contact us today!

Should My Business Participate in Cyber Monday?

Cyber Monday (CM), the Monday after Thanksgiving that promotes online shopping, has become almost as important as Thanksgiving and Black Friday in terms of holiday sales. In 2016, CM sales increased by 12.1 percent year over year, reaching a volume of $3.45 billion. That’s a higher sales volume than experienced on 2016 Black Friday. There is nothing to prohibit online sellers from participating throughout the Thanksgiving holiday, but CM is the day set aside for the biggest online promotions. The question of whether your small business should aggressively compete for CM business turns on several considerations:

What is your online presence?

If you don’t have a website, or if the website has problems, it’s getting late to make it work right. You certainly don’t want to be out there on CM with an untested or buggy site – it’s much better to perfect the website before using it. You’ll be better off by opening a page on Etsy or Amazon this year and then promote your website next yet.

What do you sell?

The extended Thanksgiving selling season favors products over services, with perhaps the exception of travel. Certain merchandise has historically seen strong sales on CM, such as laptops, cellphones, data storage, clothing, and beauty products. But that’s not to say you shouldn’t participate on CM with different types of merchandise – it’s ultimately your call.

Can you afford CM?

The purpose of CM is to achieve a sales spike. That means you might need extra merchandise and extra labor. Depending on your size, this might not be a major consideration. However, if you are a bigger business, you might have to prepare for CM by purchasing extra inventory and hiring additional part-time workers. If you anticipate significant costs in this regard, consider taking a loan from IOU Financial – the terms are fair, the money is available quickly, and you repay a small amount in daily or weekly increments instead of facing a largely monthly payment.

Can you absorb promotion costs?

Sure, on CM you can sell your most popular items for 90 percent off and make a big splash. Can you afford such an aggressive promotion? Is it overkill, or is it a reasonable response to your competitors? Do you sell a product mix that encourages repeat shopping? If so, getting folks to place their first online order with you might be worth an upfront loss. On the other hand, if you give away the store, you might not survive until next year’s CM. It comes down to sales projections, budgets, and cash. You can prepare for just about any promotion if you start early enough, but spontaneous last-minute promotions might leave you in a cash crunch.

Engage social media.

Activate your pages on Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn and so forth to promote your CM sales. Ads on these pages are cheap and can be very effective. If you maintain a customer email list, prepare to ramp up a few days before Thanksgiving and again on CM. Services like MailChimp can help you set up and execute an email strategy – it’s not expensive but requires some preparation, so don’t wait until the last minute.

Try to establish closer relationships with new customers:

Hopefully, your CM promotions will draw in first-time customers. Besides adding them to your mailing list, do something extra to help cement your relationship with them. You might send them special offers or coupons as a thank you for shopping with you.

If you fit the CM profile, go for it! After all, you do want to increase sales, don’t you? Need to get a handle on your budget before the big day? Check out our Business Budget Smart Sheet. 

How to Gear-up for a Successful Small Business Saturday

American Express started Small Business Saturday in 2010 to encourage American consumers to buy from mom-and-pop stores rather than the huge box-stores and the ubiquitous online sites. It falls on the Saturday following Thanksgiving (Nov. 25, 2017), and you should be preparing for it right now. Here are some great tips to maximize your sales on Small Business Saturday (SBS):

Beef up your inventory:

SBS is a great opportunity to attract new customers, and the last thing you want is to experience stockouts in the face of high demand. If your cash flow is tight, consider taking a loan to finance extra inventory purchases. You need to have the merchandise ready to go by Thanksgiving, because savvy shoppers often beat the SBS rush by a day or two. Thankfully, IOU Financial moves swiftly, and we can get money into your company bank account in as little as 48 hours. But don’t procrastinate – others will be stocking up too!

Check out competing promotions:

Don’t let your competitors out-hustle you on SBS. Be alert to print and broadcast ads, as well as word-of-mouth, store signs and mailers. Even though promotions will cut your net margins, the new customers you recruit are a long-term asset and well worth the short-term cost. Don’t forget to use social media to get the word out about the great deals you’ve cooked up for SBS.

Review your website:

You do have a website, don’t you? The big-box boys sure do, but yours can be more creative and locally relevant. List all your phone numbers and prominently display your store hours. Highlight SBS and how shoppers will benefit from the great deals you’ll be offering.

Feed the charitable impulse:

A great promotion is to contribute a percentage of all SBS sales to a popular local charity. The percentage is up to you, but even 1 percent can buy you a lot of good publicity. And that’s what you want – plenty of publicity in your local newspapers and broadcast media. Follow up with a photo showing the charity chairman receiving an oversized check from you. An enterprising local TV reporter might be interested in the human-interest angle, so shop the story around.

Bread and circuses:

Make SBS an event that will generate a rush of traffic. Offer free snacks, drinks, a raffle, maybe a clown to entertain shoppers’ children – you get the idea. Combine special events with special discounts and packages, and you may see traffic like never before.

Strategic partnerships:

Do you run a bakery next door to a coffee roaster? Maybe the two of you could get together and cross-market each other with joint SBS discounts. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination.

Involve your workers:

Get them excited by involving them as you brainstorm your SBS plans. Their enthusiasm will help make SBS a success, and you’ll also score points by showing your employees that you care about their ideas.

Say thank you:

Personalize your gratitude to SBS shoppers by mailing, or emailing, thank-you notes. Collect address information via door prizes, discount cards and loyalty clubs. Elicit feedback about how to make next year’s SBS even better. Enclose a discount coupon to encourage a repeat visit.

By growing your customer base, you set the foundation for growing your business. SBS might just be the springboard to a larger store, more employees, and higher sales. The opportunity is there – it’s up to you to grab it!

Small Business Tips: Increasing Your Financial Literacy

Having a great idea and running with it is not enough to operate a successful business. A business owner must wear many hats when operating their company, but managing and understanding their finances doesn’t always come easily.

Relying on a business manager or an accountant is a beneficial way to verify that you are conducting your finances by the book, but many small business owners do not have the budgets to afford these specialists. In fact, “40 percent of small business owners say they are financially illiterate – yet 81 percent handle their business’ finances themselves,” according to an Intuit study as reported by one source.

Whether you will hire out or want to tackle your business finances yourself, it is necessary to have a basic understanding of your financial situation if you truly want to be in charge of your business. With a little effort, it is not difficult to increase your financial literacy with these tips:

Know What is Required to Run a Business

Bloomberg reported that 80 percent of businesses fail in the first 18 months, states a source. Much of that failure is due to the fact that business owners are not skilled in properly handling their finances. There is a lot of financial planning and management required to operate a company, such as “budget, accounting and taxes, calculating price points, and projecting revenues and success rates well into the future to ensure continued success.”

Some owners get into trouble because they don’t plan ahead, and don’t save for unexpected expenses, such as hiring additional staff,  surprise incidents that may arise, or the simple costs of doing business they may not have been aware of. Others don’t know payroll and tax rules, and receive heavy fines for paying late or not at all.

As a small business owner, it is imperative to understand all of the financial requirements to run a business!

If Borrowing Money, Do Your Research

It can be tempting to borrow money from a bank or an investor to start or grow your business, and this can help you get off the ground. Before you jump into the world of lenders,  take time to evaluate your own expenses and savings and calculate what you can afford, or if it would be possible to provide your own seed capital, a process called “bootstrapping.”

Although using your own funds can involve some risk, paying high interest rates can be harmful in the long run if your cashflow can’t afford it. If you do choose to borrow, make sure to compare the terms and interest rates that lenders and investors are offering, as well as research their credibility and history.

Learn Proper Financial Planning

Financial planning is essential to secure your company’s long-lasting success. Startups require substantial seed capital to cover expenses for the first few years. Few startups are profitable right away, as all the money is typically reinvested in business growth for hiring staff, marketing and inventory.

You must have a comprehensive understanding of your monthly expenses and profit. Small business owners who hire accountants typically cannot understand complicated accounting reports, so it would be advantageous to track expenses, profits and bank account balances themselves to stay on track, according to personal finance expert, Andrea Travillian. Truly understanding your monthly expenses will help you save for them rather than spend your profits as they come in, leaving you in a lurch when the time to pay bills comes around.

Save a portion of your monthly profits to pay for taxes; business owners who do not get in the habit of doing so can be pushed to declare bankruptcy when a significant amount is due from the IRS that they did not budget for.

If you need financial assistance to take a course to improve your financial literacy, hire a corporate accountant or pay business taxes, IOU Financial is ready to help! We provide small business loans of up to $300,000 in 24-48 hours!

What to Look for in a Financial Advisor

Considering that Americans have accumulated more debt now than ever before, working with a financial advisor can be a great decision in planning financial expenses. A financial advisor can help with putting together a budget to avoid overspending, choosing the right investment strategy or prepare for taxes that come with running a small family business.

There’s no reason to stay in the dark when it comes to money and getting the best results requires the right financial advisor. But how do you find the right financial advisor?

Do They Understand Your Needs?

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to finances. There are solid strategies that will benefit most people – for example, paying down debt is almost always a good choice. But every individual has their own financial goals and needs. A 45-year-old father of two will need very different financial advice than a 23-year-old single professional who just finished school.

Look for a financial advisor who demonstrates an understanding of your situation. That way, they can offer advice tailored to you.

Does Their Education, Expertise and Certifications Align with Your Own Goals?

Although financial advisors can cover a broad range of topics, if you’re looking for a specific type of financial advice, then you’ll want to look for an advisor whose qualifications match that area.

Maybe you’re trying to pay off student loan debt, getting your first mortgage or applying for a small business loan. These are all detail-heavy processes and you’ll get the best advice from a financial advisor who specializes in these processes. Evaluate the certifications a potential advisor has to see if they’re the right choice for your current and future goals.

Does Their Compensation Plan Incentivize Your Success?

You obviously pay for their service, but you might not be the only one paying a financial advisor.

There are many firms that offer their advisors product-based incentives; those advisors make a commission for selling the firm’s products to customers. Although this doesn’t necessarily make them bad financial advisors, it can create a conflict of interest and alter the advice they might suggest to you.

Don’t be afraid to ask a financial advisor about their compensation plan. Be careful with those that make money from sales; you’ll might end up wondering whether they’re recommending a product because it’s right for you or because it will make them money.

Can They Teach You?

Financial literacy is a gigantic problem for most Americans and very little is being done to solve the problem. What’s more troublesome is that the average person has more financial responsibilities than ever before. There are all kinds of ways borrow money including banks, credit unions and online lenders. It makes it easier than ever to accrue debt. Retirement no longer comes from pensions, Social Security may not be around in the future and people live longer than ever.

That makes it even more important to save money consistently and avoid debt. A financial advisor who can educate you on personal or business finances will help you save more and borrow less.

Do They Truly Seem to Care?

You don’t want your meetings with a financial advisor to feel like college lectures, but unfortunately, they often do. The advisor sees you as one of many clients, your money is just numbers added to a statement and they’ll simply go through the motions with you.

You might learn something from that type of advisor, but you’ll certainly have better results with an advisor who engages with you. Look for a financial advisor who inquiries about your current situation, your financial history, your goals and all the other important details about your life. When an advisor gets to know you as a human being, they can help you make the best financial decisions because they know your wants and needs in life.

There are plenty of excellent financial advisors out there and working with one could be the best decision you make to take control of your finances and improve your future. Be patient as you look for a financial advisor and keep those five questions in mind to ensure that the person you choose is the right fit and has your best interests at heart.

Guest post: Heather Lomax is a contributing writer from Financial Licensing Advisors. She regularly contributes articles to a variety of investment and finance blogs.

Is Your Restaurant’s Social Media the Best it Can Be?

Are you including social media as part of your marketing efforts to promote your restaurant?  Most business owners are aware at this point that social media is one of the best ways to create brand awareness and engage with their clientele. However, many don’t have the time or the skills to understand the best ways to utilize social media. Read the tips in this blog to fine tune your social media strategy to promote your business online.

Focus on a Limited Amount of Platforms

There are a multitude of social media platforms, which makes it difficult for restaurant owners to concentrate and devote enough time to each and every one. Instead of doing a poor job managing various social media profiles, focus on one to three of most important ones, which are Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Facebook

Facebook is definitely the most important platform to concentrate on because the site has 1.71 billion users around the world, each of whom has an average of 155 friends. Therefore, creating a Facebook Business page is essential.

Think carefully about what cover image you want to include; it can be an enticing and unique dish or a photo of your patrons having a great time in your restaurant. Consider what image you want your restaurant to reflect – family friendly, hip and trendy or business-appropriate, and then create a consistent look across all of your marketing strategies.

Facebook has tabs and sections that allow you to include text, photos and videos to promote your restaurant. This is the perfect place to share your menu items, photos of food, coupons and specials to attract your clients.

Twitter

Twitter has over 67 million users in the US alone; more than 20% of all Internet users have a Twitter account. This platform allows you to share tweets of 140 characters or less, as well as photos and videos. It’s advantageous to include photos because those tweets get read and shared more than those that only include text.


Twitter is great to announce new menu items, specials and coupons and ask followers to retweet that information. Twitter is popular for their hashtags, which are simply words or phrases that are relevant to your brand that your users can search for. These may include: #NYrestaurants; #Chinesefood; #LAcheapeats; #baconcheeseburger, etc.

Instagram

Since Facebook acquired Instagram, it is estimated that 95% of the time a Facebook user shares an image, it also gets posted on their Instagram account. Instagram allows users to post photos and videos only, although they can include a comment and tag their location (to your restaurant location).

It’s vital to use bright, creative and unique images that will stand out from the competition if you want to get noticed. Additionally, Instagram is big on hashtags too, so including them in the comments will help your posts get noticed and shared.

General Tips for Getting Better Results from Social Media

Whether you only decide to focus on one or all three of the platforms mentioned above, you need to utilize the following tips to get the best from your efforts:

  • Be consistent – The only way to build a loyal fan base is to be consistent in your marketing efforts. Posting a few times per week will keep your customers engaged with your business and aware of the latest happenings in your restaurant.
  • Time your posts – You may only have time to post after work, but by then most of your customers may be busy with other tasks. Evaluate when your posts get the most likes, comments and shares, and plan to post during those times so your content will get maximum views.
  • Create contests – Social media is a great way to get free referrals and advertising from your followers. To encourage them to share your posts with their network, create contests that will reward those who repost or retweet your posts with a free dinner!

While simply spending your own time to incorporate social media into your marketing strategy doesn’t have to cost a thing, investing into social media can provide great returns. Endeavours such as social media advertising, paying influencers to spread the word about your restaurant and hiring professionals photographers to create one-of-a-kind images can be costly. If you need financial help to invest in your business, contact IOU Financial. We can help you with a small business loan of up to $300,000 in 24-48 hours.