Email Marketing Tips: How to Engage with Your Customers Successfully

Email is one of the most affordable and simplest way for business owners to communicate with their customers. One of the biggest problems of using email as a marketing tool is the inability to cut through the clutter of the multitude of other emails in customers’ inboxes. How do you get your readers to actually open, read and take an action upon receiving your email? While there is no single solution, there are ways to improve email marketing techniques to more efficiently engage with your clients.

Start with the Subject Line 

Reduce Pet Shedding by 25% with Our New Brush That’s Under $10!

PetsGalore Introduces a 5-Star Rated Pet Brush

Between the two subject lines above, which email would you be more likely to open (if you had a shedding pet, that is)? Most people would open the former, simply because of the subject line.

Other than the sender’s information, the subject line is the single most important determinant of whether an email will get opened. Therefore, it is imperative to think about what you want to write in this space. An engaging email title should:

  • Be Relevant – If you want a prospective client to read your email, you need to tell them why it matters to them. How can your email change their life for the better? In what ways can it help them? In the example above, the first email quickly gets to the point by letting readers know that a product can solve a certain problem – excessive pet shedding. The second emails fails to do that, as it simply announces a new product, but doesn’t explain its exact purpose.
  • Be Authentic – With the mass amount of spam email most people receive on a daily basis, it is essential that your subject line sounds authentic. Don’t make unfounded claims such as 5-star, Effective, Proven, Fan Favorite, etc. Individuals are so bombarded with false claims that your email will read inauthentic and will likely be ignored.
  • Contain Numbers – How do you grab the reader’s attention? Try to incorporate numbers into the subject line, as they help to fixate attention versus subject lines that only contain text. A study found that because numbers represent facts, it helps to stop the readers from looking away from the content as fast as they would if it contained just text.

Keep it Personal

By perfecting your subject line, you have hopefully enticed the readers to open your email. Now what? People are bored by the standard, blue-print mass emails; to stand out from the mold, make your emails personal.

Pretend like you’re writing to a friend, and address the reader directly by using the word “you.” If you make the reader believe that you are communicating directly with them, you will spike their interest level and peak their curiosity.


If you want an even more effective strategy, incorporate the reader’s name into the email. Brain studies have proven that seeing our names in print activate sour brains unlike anything else. When you address a person by their name, you lead them to become more engaged and trust you more.

Include a Call-to-Action

Just as a great subject line is imperative to getting readers to open your email, a call-to-action (CTA) is a must to get the reader to take action. After all, there must be a reason you are emailing your customers – whether you want them to complete a purchase, visit your blog, or enter a contest – you need to guide them to complete that step. One source found that a CTA increased email clicks by 371% and sales by 1617%.

The bottom of your email should always contain a simple and concise call-to-action, which can include the following text with a link:

  • Click here to purchase the product
  • Visit our site to learn more
  • Enter this contest by August 31st!
  • Share your comments on our Facebook page

To make your email marketing strategy even more effective, consider purchasing email marketing software. This tool can help you personalize your emails, add imagery and provide detailed results about how many people opened your email and what actions they took after reading it.

If you need financial help affording this software, IOU Financial can help! Apply for a small business loan by visiting our site! (Did you like our call-to-action, by the way)?

 

How to Successfully Market Your Small Business on a Tight Budget

Television ads, billboards, direct mailers — these are all common ways world-known companies market their products and services. However, if you don’t have thousands of dollars to invest into your marketing budget, how do you engage with your potential clients?


Small business owners often find it difficult to stretch their tight budgets to effectively market their offerings. However, with a little creativity, there are ways to advertise your business on any budget!

Referral Program

Multi-million dollar companies hire marketing experts, PR gurus, and sales executives to advertise their products and secure sales. Although a small business owner with a handful of staff cannot compete with that, they can “hire” existing customers to help them market their brands.

One way to do that is with a referral program, where you reward your customers for bringing in new business. Offering discounts or freebies to those that help you generate sales has been a strategy many businesses have relied on for their success.

For example, Dropbox’s referral program, which offers 500MB of free cloud storage to individuals who refer their friends, increased their sign-up rate by 60 percent! PayPal’s financial incentive for referrals helped them achieve “7 to 10 percent daily growth” and “turned out to yield better marketing ROI than traditional marketing channels.”

It’s free to start a referral program, and the discounts or expenses of paying for the referrals will be offset by the new sales!

YouTube Videos

Another low-cost marketing tactic consists of creating self-made YouTube videos showcasing your products or services. All you need is a device with the ability to record and upload videos, and you’re ready to start marketing!

Skateboarding shoes company, DC Shoes, took this approach in 2009, when they started uploading short videos of Ken Block, the company’s co-founder, “driving a tricked-out race car around closed-off airports, theme parks, and even the port of San Francisco… the stunt driving is interspersed with glamour shots of footwear.”

These efforts paid off immensely, resulting in “180 million views—and in 2011 alone, sales jumped 15%.” Experts say this type of marketing would cost about 5 million dollars had it been done through traditional methods.

Cross-Promotion

Form a team with other, non-competing business owners to market each other’s services. Visit other small businesses in your area, and form agreements that will benefit each party involved. You can leave business cards or flyers in each other’s locations, cross-link on each other’s websites, and/ or create bundled promotions (get a haircut at Moe’s salon and a manicure at Lee’s Nails, and get 10 percent off both services!)

Cross-promotion is an beneficial tool that doesn’t just benefit your business, but your community by helping small businesses succeed.
There are times when you will need the funds to invest in marketing your business. When this situation occurs, contact IOU Financial to provide you with a business loan up to $150,000 in 24 hours!

Building a Brand: The Basics

If you are a small business owner, you should be aware that the key to growing your business is to create a solid brand. Instead of simply concentrating on day-to-day sales, it is imperative to create a story to help your target audience connect with your business.

While you may have a hit product one day, creating a strong brand identity will help you maintain customer loyalty after the product’s life cycle has ended. Today’s customers are different than ever before; they aren’t as interested in shopping at random retailers, but want to build connections with business they know and trust.


What is a Brand?

A brand is a mix between “psychology and science brought together as a promise … Brands convey a uniform quality, credibility and experience,” according to Forbes.com.

A brand identity consists of many different factors, such as a company name, logo, slogan, marketing materials, as well as all the actions you conduct on a daily basis.

What Are the Three Basic Steps to Creating a Brand? 

 

Concentrate on Your Audience

The first step to creating a brand identity is determining who your potential clients will be; this group is your target audience. Before trying to connect with these individuals, you need to figure out who they are – their age group, location, gender, marital status, shopping trends, income, hobbies, etc. The more you know about your main customer base, the easier it will be to create a strategy to market to them.

For example, if you are developing a software to help retirees manage their retirement income, your messaging should not be as “techy” as if you would be targeting millennials. Knowing your target audience provides you with a blueprint for crafting your identity in the most strategic way to engage with your customers.

Research the Competition

In order to stay relevant in your niche market, you need to stay ahead of the competition. The way to do that is to research your competitors when creating a brand image, and continue that research on a regular basis.

It is beneficial to know who the other players in your industry are, and how they are crafting their message. In order to create a strong brand identity, you need to be able to separate yourself from competing businesses, which is why you need to know everything you can about them.

Make note of how your competitors design their websites, what products or services they sell, how they write their offering descriptions, how they market themselves, etc. If you find a problem that none of your competitors have solved yet, that will be your ticket to establishing your identity in that space.

Stay Consistent

Once you determine your target audience and research the competition, it’s time to craft your brand identity. The secret to this process is to stay consistent in all the messaging you put out about your business.

Consider Target’s clever branding – all of their advertisements, online, on TV and in store – have white backgrounds, bright colors, simple designs and their red and white logo.

Having a consistent brand identity makes it “so synonymous with your product experience that when a consumer sees your signature brand logo they are already thinking about making their next purchase from you without you even having to ask,” according to a source.


When customers feel they can rely on your company to be consistent, they are able to form emotional relationships with your business, which leads to long-term clients and a successful business!
If you want to invest into creating a strong brand identity, but need financial assistance to develop your marketing materials or hire an expert in this field, turn to IOU Financial, which has been instrumental in helping small business owners secure loans in under 24 hours!

Nine Things That Separate Good Business Lenders from Bad Ones

If you’ve ever had a bad experience applying for a bank loan, you understand how demeaning it can feel to be turned down. Regulation and low interest rates have made it tougher for banks to lend to small business. The tight-fistedness of the banks after the 2008 mortgage debacle created a vacuum which was filled by online business lending companies of varying quality. The best are a pleasure to work with, the worst are disappointing. Here are nine things to look for to distinguish the good from the bad:

Direct lender:

A direct online lender is a company that actually supplies the money it lends to borrowers. Many business-lending websites are mere matching services that send out your application to a network of lenders. That might sound good, but it’s not, because you end up paying much more for you capital. You see, the matching broker collects a fee from network lenders, who pass that fee onto you in the form of higher loan cost.

Ease of application:

Some lenders want extensive paperwork and documentation. A few operate over the phone, which is tedious. Look for a lender with a streamlined, paperless online application process that can be completed in minutes. And, perhaps it should go without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: Never pay an upfront fee to apply or qualify for a small business loan!

Quick approval:

There are two aspects to this. The first is that you’d like to be approved, so you will want to borrow from a direct lender with a high rate of loan approvals, say 85 percent. Secondly, you want the decision, and the money, quickly. A good lender looks beyond your credit score, makes a decision in minutes and gets you your money the next business day. A good lender will not do a hard pull on your credit. A bad lender may require extensive underwriting, which can waste days and still end up in a denial.

Sufficient amounts:

A business lender with a maximum loan limit of $25K or $50K won’t satisfy many small business borrowers who need more. Look for a direct lender who is willing to lend up to $150K.

Affordable rates:

A lean, efficient online business lender isn’t saddled with large overhead expenses that can drive up the cost of loans. Look for an interest rate well below the cost of a merchant cash advance. Merchant cash advance are not loans and can be very expensive.

Convenient repayment terms:

Hate that big monthly repayment that always seems to leave a gaping hole in your working capital? The best lenders take fixed daily loan payments directly from your bank account. It’s amazing how much more comfortable it is to spread the repayment over 20 daily installments rather than to pay it once a month. Only use lenders who offer fixed pay-back loans, so that you aren’t surprised by suddenly higher repayments.

Renewals:

Cash management is dynamic, and sometimes you need to renew a loan before the old one is paid off. Bad lenders won’t do this, but good ones will approve renewals after a certain portion, say 40 percent, of the original loan is repaid. This gives you the flexibility to take advantage of opportunities as they occur.

No prepayment fees:

Avoid a lender who soaks you with a prepayment fee or who charges you compound interest on your loan. Compound interest means you pay interest on your interest. Ouch! Go with a direct online lender who charges simple interest on your unpaid principal balance, and who never penalizes you for paying off your loan early.

Ratings:

Check a potential lender’s score from the Better Business Bureau and TrustPilot. If the score isn’t great, keep looking.

Not sure which online business lender to call? Try IOU Financial, a leading, publicly-traded small business lender. Contact us today for a no-strings-attached consultation.

How To Tweak Your Small Business for Success

Small-business owners usually don’t have the time or money to routinely make big changes to their businesses. However, you can consider easy changes that have the potential to make a big difference to your company’s bottom line. Here are four tweaks you can make to help ensure you spend your money wisely and increase your success:

Use financial tools:

It’s hard to optimize your business if you don’t perform proper financial management for critical areas such as revenue, taxes and payroll. You can cut this seemingly daunting task down to size by using relatively inexpensive financial tools like these:

  1. QuickBooks: A mobile, cloud-based accounting system that provides real-time insights into your business and accomplish tasks, such as banking and invoicing, via your computer, tablet or smartphone.
  2. Cyfe: A dashboard program that consolidates information from multiple websites you use, such as PayPal, Shopify, QuickBooks and social networks, to save you time and help give you the big picture.
  3. Mint MyBusiness: A business version of the popular financial tracking software that keeps tabs on your spending habits and even suggests budgets.
  4. Couponbox: A coupon calculator that shows the cost-effectiveness of your coupon-based marketing programs, so that you don’t hurt the bottom line with overly generous discounts.
  5. Trigger: Track part-time employees, freelancers, and contractors as they work on projects and tasks, a great way to measure productivity.
  6. TurboTax: The business version helps you prepare your taxes, maximize your deductions, and handle all the forms you need to file.

Streamline operations:

Businesses require more time to manage as they grow. Here are some ways to streamline your business and save yourself precious time and money:

  1. Cut back on email: Set a time limit on the amount of time you spend each day responding to email. Only spend time on urgent messages, and consider programs like Slack to handle internal communications.
  2. Outsource: Use accounting and HR services instead of tying up your own time doing tax prep, payroll, benefits administration, etc. It’s less expensive than you think and frees you up for more important tasks.
  3. Throttle meetings: Some meetings just suck the soul out of your business by being non-productive and boring. Don’t schedule meetings unless they directly contribute to your monthly or quarterly goals.
  4. Hire expertise: It’s easy to begin a company by hiring friends and family rather than expert talent. Fight this urge and hire great people from the outset. It might cost a little more, but it will help you avoid mistakes, wasted time and bruised feelings down the line.

Build company morale:

Happy employees are productive employees. There are many inexpensive ways to build morale, including company picnics, birthday parties, relaxation breaks, good medical benefits, employee discount programs, and allowing pets in the workplace. You might even organize a nearby child care center if you have several employees with young children.

Revamp your image:

Does your marketing image provide the best return on investment. Perhaps you can tweak it to give your brand(s) more oomph. First, conduct an image audit to find out what customers (and demographics) think of your branding. Pick a new logo, font, colors and designs that are more relevant to your target audience. Update your website and employ the latest SEO techniques. Get involved in the community and listen to customer suggestions.

There are many other ways to tweak your business, but these are a good start. If you need extra help organizing your business budget, be sure to check out our smart sheet. 

 

Enhance Your Mobile Site with These Tips

With mobile phones becoming indispensable in our daily lives, it may be no surprise that more than 50 percent of online searches are conducted on mobile devices. Simply having a website is no longer enough for business owners as those sites need to be customized to be navigated from a phone or tablet.
Users are demanding a quick, engaging, and easy mobile experience, and companies may lose business if that is not delivered. How should you enhance your mobile site? Consider these tips:

The One Finger Rule

While desktop users can use a mouse or two hands to navigate a website, most mobile users will use one finger (the index finger or the thumb). Therefore, a mobile site must be designed with this in mind. The content, images, and text need to be large enough to be viewed without having to pinch to zoom, yet small enough to fit into the various sizes of mobile screens.
As most mobile users use a touchscreen device, the buttons need to be designed for fingers of different sizes. People with larger-sized fingers often have trouble navigating mobile sites because their fingers cause misplaced clicks. To avoid this issue, mobile interfaces must make targets easy to select. Mark Rattin, executive creative director at Lyons Consulting Group recommends giving “buttons or tap elements at least 45 pixels of space for selection areas,… [as] this allows the targets on screen to be easily selectable and removes many of the accidental taps from the user experience.”

Use Icons


A mobile site needs to be clean, simple, and uncluttered; to facilitate this, try using minimal text  and concentrate on icons whenever possible. There are many benefits to using icons; for example, the standard ones are easily recognizable and don’t need to be translated for international users, unlike text. Icons are also typically designed to be easily finger-operated on a mobile interface, as well as clickable with a cursor.

Speed it Up

While desktop users may spend the time researching products and reading details online, mobile users are usually on the go, wanting a quick online experience. To accommodate the unique needs of mobile users, mobile sites need to be fast. In fact, studies have shown that 57 percent of people will leave a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.
To make your mobile site faster, strip it off large media files, such as photos and videos, that will cause it to lag. When using images, use lower resolutions, resize and crop them, so that they require less time to load.

Customize Contact Forms

Remember that mobile users are typing with one finger and usually are on the go, which means that they don’t have the time and ability to fill in tons of information. To make the mobile experience better, design the contact form to require a minimal amount of information. For example, include a GPS component which can track the user’s location so that you don’t need to require them to enter their city, state or zip code.

If you don’t have someone on your team to help, you will likely need to involve the services of a professional web designer to design or enhance a mobile site. IOU Financial can help you improve your online presence with a small business loan in under 24 hours. Click the banner below to find out more.

Is Keeping a Debt Tracker Beneficial to Your Business?

If you run a small business, especially one in which you’ve empowered others to spend company money, you know how important it is to manage your cash flow. It comes down to a question of solvency: Does your business have enough short term cash to meet its obligations, including debt payments due throughout the next several months. One of the unfortunate things about most debts is the big monthly repayment that always seems to threaten your cash balance. We say most debts, because as we’ll explain below, some loans, like the ones offered by IOU Financial, avoid mammoth monthly payments altogether.

A debt tracking tool, which centralizes information about debts and debt payments, is therefore an excellent idea for the busy owner on the go. The tool can take the form of a downloaded computer program, online software, or a mobile app:

  1. Computer program: You can purchase or rent financial management software, such as QuickBooks, that provides debt tracking functionality, along with a host of other features. If you use a computer-based accounting system, you should be able to generate reports about cash and debt, but they might be less timely.
  2. Online software: A program like Mint provides information about your upcoming bills and warns you if your cash is running low.
  3. Mobile apps: Several apps exist for tracking debt, including Debt Tracker, LearnVest, Unbury.me and others. These have the advantage of always being available, even if you aren’t at your computer. Mobile wallets not only include debt information, but also provide mechanisms to make payments.

Functionality

So, what should a debt tracker do for you?

  • Accounts: The program should have full information about each debt account, including account number, method of payment, payment calendar, interest rate, outstanding balance and so forth. It should be able to sort the account display by various criteria, such as date, amount of next payment, interest rate and more.
  • Payments: Debt trackers should be prepared to give you full information about each payment you make, including penalty fees and interest. Comprehensive trackers also serve as a means to schedule and make payments, by generating online checks or performing real-time bill payment.
  • Cash management: Trackers should be able to report your available cash and near-cash reserves, and alert you whenever a payment will create a low-balance or overdraw situation. You would like a tracker to suggest the order in which to pay off debts, according to criteria that you set, such as remaining balance or interest rate. A nice feature is to have an earmarking function, in which you allocate a portion of cash inflows to specific objectives, such as building up a fund to act as equity for a property purchase. Naturally, part of cash management is to report who owes you money and when to expect it.
  • Usability: A debt tracker, whether standalone or a function of a larger system, should meet certain usability standards. It should be easy to operate, secure (using encryption, PINs, etc.), offer flexible reporting, and, if you choose, a method to make payments. Ideally, the tracker will be integrated with the rest of your company’s financial data, including all payables and receivables.

The Joy of Daily Repayments

We mentioned earlier how monthly debt payments require you to ensure you have sufficient cash when the payments come due. That’s a major benefit of debt trackers. IOU Financial takes a different, and better, tack. Instead of hitting you with a monthly lump-sum repayment, we evenly spread your payments over all the business days within the month, and we automatically debit your bank account so that you don’t have to take any special steps. Your debt tracker will show you how your balance goes down gently each day. IOU Financial can lend your business up to $150,000 in as little as 24 hours, so contact us today to experience the joy of daily repayments.

How to Get Your Finances Ready for Your Slow Season

Many small businesses experience one or more slow seasons each year. For a B2B business, the year-end holidays might be a slack time, while tourist-related businesses might have little to do during the coldest (or hottest) months. Although challenging, a slow season is at least predictable, which means you can make preparations to see your business through the lean months. Here are some suggestions:

Assess your cash needs:

Most businesses have a mixture of fixed and variable costs. You’ll need enough cash to cover your fixed costs and that portion of your variable costs that you can’t avoid. Your monthly and quarterly budgets should give you a good indication of an impending cash crunch and thus how much money you must have on hand.

Husband your cash:

In the months just prior to the slow season, accumulate excess cash, if any, in a bank account. If you have a lot of money tied up in unpaid invoices, consider factoring them for immediate cash. Cut your expenses and purchases during the slow season. If you hire contractors, it’s easy enough to reduce staffing. That’s a little harder to do with employees, but many places do furlough workers or give them unpaid extra vacation time. In the worst case, you can let go of some employees, but that may cause more problems in the long term. A better idea is to hire only the number of employees you need all year round, and then hire seasonal workers during the busy months.

Take a vacation:

If you run a mom and pop store, schedule your vacations for the slow season(s) and shut down the store during those times. For example, if you own a frozen yogurt store in Washington DC, the three coldest winter months might be an excellent time to take an extended holiday. This will cut your variable costs to the bone.

Make credit arrangements:

A short-term loan or line of credit can be just the ticket for smoothing out a choppy selling year. IOU Financial can lend you up to $150,000 on short notice and favorable terms, without all the hassles associated with a bank loan. Since the loan is short term – the length of the slow season – the total interest paid will be relatively modest.

Negotiate better terms with suppliers:

If your slow season is well defined, you should be able to work with your suppliers to loosen their terms during the slack period. It’s reasonable to ask for due dates to be extended from 10 to 90 days, especially if your payment record with the vendor is good. A good supplier will understand your business cycles and offer you flexible terms when you need them. It’s important to reach these agreements well in advance of the start of the slow season, so that you can adjust your budget accordingly.

Increase your social presence:

Use your extra time during the slow season to increase your social media footprint. It’s an excellent time to publish articles and send out newsletters or emails containing useful information. Update your entries in LinkedIn, Facebook and other outlets. You can even advertise over the web by buying ads from Google, LinkedIn and other social sites.

Plan sales events:

If you can’t close up shop during the slow season, why not schedule major markdown events for the period? Lower prices, suitably advertised, should draw in customers. You can also plan fun events, like raffles and free donut days, as well as instituting a buyer loyalty program.

IOU Financial is your source for affordable small business loans of up to $150,000, funded in as little as 24 hours. There are no upfront costs, and daily fixed repayments avoids large monthly payments. Let us see you get through your slow period and help you grow your business year-round.

5 Tips for Keeping Your Business Finances Secure in the Age of the Internet

The Internet has its tenterhooks into everything. Large businesses have IT Departments that use sophisticated techniques to keep their data safe, but if you run a small business, you probably have limited technical resources. Still, there is a lot you can do to secure your financial data, and it’s a really good idea to do just that. Hackers can steal your data or drop malware into your website. In some cases, you may have to pay ransom to get your website working again. Here are five tips to help keep your business data secure:

Secure your network:

You need to be able to discourage hackers while maintaining the functionality you need to do your business. Your WiFi must be encrypted and password protected. Hackers often do mischief by packaging malware within comments or email they send to your website.  You need a physical or site-level firewall to control access, and a continually executing malware identification and removal program to keep out Trojan horses, spam links and so forth. If you use a commercial webhost like GoDaddy, review your security status and upgrade it where necessary.

Control your online purchases:

If you purchase from an insecure site, there is a chance the data will be intercepted or otherwise misused. You might not have a fancy purchasing department, but you can set some rules regarding who you purchase from. Only purchase from trusted sites – ones you’ve dealt with in the past, or, if a new site, one that uses a reputable payment processor, like Google Checkout or PayPal. Always ensure you see the padlock icon on your browser to verify you are looking at a safe page.

Monitor your credit report:

Your business’ credit report will tip you off right away to fishy transactions. You should make arrangements to get fresh copies of your credit reports at least once a month. It’s worth the money. When you receive them, check them over for hinky items that may indicate identity theft. If you find these, contact your bank, the credit card issuer (if applicable) and the credit bureau right ways. You might also need to change account numbers and passwords.

Be careful with your email:

Phishing is big business and the crooks are getting better at it all the time. Your email provider is your first line of defense, alerting you to suspicious email and quarantining it in a spam inbox. Beware emails that ask you to click a link to fix some problem or claim a reward – it’s probably a ruse to load malware onto your computer or direct you to a malicious website. Never include private information, such as account numbers or tax ids, in your emails. If you get an email from a supposedly trusted source asking you to take some action, do not respond to the email. Instead, contact the company by phone or separate email to verify the situation.

Set banking alerts:

You should closely monitor your business checking account for suspicious activity. If you use a program like QuickBooks, download and review your transactions daily. Use a bank that offers account alerts, such as when a withdrawal or payment exceeds a certain amount, of if your balance falls below a given figure.

If you take suitable precautions, you can take advantage of all the efficiencies the Internet provides without undertaking undue risk. When you deal with IOU Financial, know that we follow the highest standards of data protection so that you can borrow money in confidence.

Performance Reviews: Are You Making These Mistakes?

Yearly reviews are commonplace in many organizations, but they are often dreaded by both the reviewers and the employees being reviewed. Managers feel uncomfortable giving out negative feedback, while those reporting to them stress while anticipating the feedback.

The main problem of annual reviews, aside from their negative connotation, is that they are largely ineffective. A study found that job appraisals negatively affected job performance more than one third of the time. As a result, many companies around the world, such as Microsoft and Gap, are phasing out traditional annual reviews altogether. However, performance reviews can be effective if the leaders correct mistakes they are making in this process! Read on to find out if you are making common mistakes during the evaluation meetings with your staff and how you can ensure yours is successful.

Not Timely

Another problem with the annual review is that it’s only given once a year. That is not nearly enough time for managers to be able to provide productive feedback and work together with their employees to make relevant changes.

When you sit down with a staff member in December and mention something that occurred in May, the individual may have no recollection of the incident. Therefore, leaders have to provide timely feedback instead of waiting a year to bring something up.

The most beneficial feedback is immediate, or at least timely, brought up within a few days of the occurrence; otherwise, it is just pointless. While a formal meeting to discuss the yearly performance may be helpful when discussing promotions or raises, feedback should be regularly provided during the course of the workweek.

Focusing on the Negative

Bosses often misunderstand the main point of the performance review, which is to help employees work more productively and efficiently. Instead, they consider this a time to air their grievances and dissatisfaction with the team member. Even if the individual is performing up to the standards most of the time, if the supervisor focuses solely on what needs to improve during the review, it may negatively impact the loyalty and job satisfaction of the person.

Even if you have an employee who is underperforming in many areas, it is helpful to first bring up something positive about their efforts before concentrating on the negative. Consider the small things that the person may be getting right, like the fact that they are always pleasant, to bring up before moving on to what they may need to improve.

Not Setting Benchmarks

The feedback given out during a performance review will likely not amount to anything unless measurable and realistic benchmarks are set and agreed upon by both the employer and the employee. It’s not enough to tell a subordinate that they need to work faster; to help them become more productive, set small goals that the individual can work towards.

For example, if you need a staff member to work faster, instead of telling them to do so, you should count how many tasks the person currently accomplishes in one week, and increase that by 5 percent per month to see if they can ultimately speed up by 15 percent. It’s important for managers to be involved in this process, observing current behaviors, setting goals and then measuring the employee performance to see if they are meeting those goals.

The reason performance reviews get a bad rap is because many managers are not doing them properly. Sitting down to provide feedback only once a year, focusing on the negative and not setting benchmarks makes the process ineffective; however, making small changes can positively impact both the person and your company.