How to Turn Your Negative Customer Reviews into Opportunities

No small business owner wants to receive a negative review. The truth is, if you’re in business, it’s impossible to please 100 percent of the buying public, no matter how hard you try. The most damage occurs when negative reviews are not balanced by positive responses. According to Trustpilot, shoppers are 67 percent more likely to buy after reading negative reviews as compared to the average shopper, but this only works if you have a strategy to deal with the problem. In other words, properly handled negative reviews represent an opportunity to increase sales.

Here are some tips to turn your negative reviews to your advantage:

Respond:

A complaint needs a response. Answering a negative review can actually build consumer confidence, because it indicates your willingness to make things right. However, not all responses are equally effective – they must be timely, personalized and solve the problem. Your quick, polite response tells shoppers you are keenly interested about your reputation and are therefore likely to take complaints seriously. Your reactions will be situational, but the generous use of refunds, exchanges and credits should be a core policy. In the case of service-oriented businesses, offering to do the job over again for free will likely make a positive impression on shoppers.

Use tools:

Complaints can pop up anywhere. To stay informed, utilize social media management tools that send you alerts whenever your product or service is mentioned online. Awareness is the first step toward remediation, and app such as SparksFly consolidate social media feeds using artificial intelligence, allowing you to scan for mentions of your brand(s). You can then post an online response, even as you follow up privately with the customer. Your goal is to leave no negative comment unanswered.

Project a consistent personality:

Readers are sensitive to the tenor of your response. It should be factual, cheerful, honest and sincere. Never put the blame entirely on customers, even if it’s their fault. There is a polite way to inform customers about any misinformation they spread without putting them on the defensive. For example, you might point to product instructions to correct inaccuracies, but also apologize for instructions that confused the consumer and promise to clarify them. Never get into a negative dialog, even when you know you’re right, because it will turn off shoppers.

Publish positive reviews:

We shouldn’t have to say this, but never make up positive reviews – it could be construed as deceptive advertising. If you are doing a good job, you’ll receive plenty of positive comments. Use social media outlets to publicize these, and don’t be afraid to post paid search engine ads highlighting them. Forums are a natural destination to post positive comments, as long as you are transparent about their source and context. Invite your customers to post reviews on your website and on social media channels.

Place your company page on major online review sites:

You can post pictures of your products, store, employees who provide services, and so forth. Add directions, hours of operation and current promotions to help foster consumer interest.

Keep your chin up:

Occasionally, you’ll encounter a sourpuss who is impossible to please. Have faith that shoppers will suss out irrational reviews, especially if your responses are reasonable. Many small-business owners are perfectionists, but quickly learn that some situations are beyond their control. When you get a negative review, take all the right steps and then move on. Have faith in your abilities and your brand’s value, while remaining open to making improvements whenever necessary.

Tips to Capture Customer Reviews After Each Sale

Today’s customers don’t like to spend their money without researching their purchases first. While some people prefer to ask their family members and friends, a majority trust reviews from other consumers when making their purchasing decisions. In fact, 9 out of 10 people will read reviews to help them decide to visit a business or not!

What does this mean for business owners? That if you don’t have positive online reviews for your overall company (think Yelp) or for individual products or services (think Amazon product reviews), you are losing out on potential sales! Read on to find out to how capture customer reviews after each sale.

Make it Easy for Them

Most people are always on the go – at work or balancing personal responsibilities, so leaving a review is likely last on their minds. However, a lot of them may be more inclined to take a minute to do so if the process is made extremely easy for them.

Visiting a website, searching for a product and then reviewing it is a lengthy process; however, having a link to be able to leave a review right at your fingertips can make all the difference.


Implementing a customer relationship management system (CRM) can allow you to store your customers’ shopping history and their contact information, emailing them a link to review the individual purchase they made.

Stress the Importance of Their Feedback

People feel good about doing things that matter and can potentially help others. Business owners can utilize this to their benefit by stressing the importance of their customers’ feedback to the business and other clients.

Email a client after they have completed a purchase stating that your company is always looking for ways to improve your products and services, and you can’t do it without input from your customers. Additionally, use the same strategy to encourage shoppers to leave reviews to let others know about their experiences.

Reward Them

What can get people to leave a review when they are busy or simply don’t want to? A reward! There are many different ways to incentivize your customers, such as:

  • Discounts
  • Coupons
  • Invitations to exclusive shopping events
  • Gift certificates

Use Caution

A word of caution is that while trying to capture client reviews can grow your business, you need to be cautious when doing so. Some companies penalize business owners for soliciting reviews. Yelp goes so far as to prevent business owners from paying for “good” reviews by alerting Yelp users with a banner on the company’s Yelp profile if this activity is suspected.

Google and TripAdvisor prohibit review incentivization; TripAdvisor will flag an account with a red badge if its owner is suspected of paying people for reviews.

The bottom line is that you are free to ask and reward people for reviews on your own website, but should take caution when doing so on other websites.

For monetary help in setting up a review system or to offer incentives to clients, turn to IOU Financial! We offer small business loans of up to $300,000 in under 48 hours.

How to Tell if You Need a Website Redesign

Your website is the very first thing your visitors see, and it largely determines if your customers will stay on the site and make a purchase, or decide to leave. Keeping your website relevant and implementing the latest technological advances to make sure it’s innovative is an important investment in your online presence. There are clear signs that can help you tell if you need a website redesign, such as:

High Bounce Rate

The goal of any site is to retain the visitors’ attention, have them browse around and ultimately make a purchase. A bounce rate determines how many people click on a certain page of your site and leave right away to another site. Installing website analytics can provide you with this information; if you find that your bounce rate is high, you should consider making changes to your site. In fact, one source found that 94% of online users base their shopping and trust patterns based on the site’s design.

Site Not Optimized for Various Browsers and Devices

Unless you are a website designer, you are likely not aware that there is no standard one-size-fits-all website design. Your website may look different when it’s accessed from a computer, a tablet or a phone. Additionally, the screen size and browsers, such as Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome or Apple’s Safari, can affect how your visitors see your site.

Verifying that your website has cross-browser compatibility can be time consuming if you go through them one by one, as there are currently over 300; however, there are tools that can provide this information for you. Browser testing tools, such as Ghostlab and BrowserStack, can bring to your attention the issues you need to address.

Not Ranking High on Search Engines

Although a small portion of your visitors may come to your website directly, a large majority would only find it based on search engine results. To verify how your customers find you, check the referral sources which bring traffic to your site.

You should be getting significant traffic from search engines such as Google, Yahoo! and Bing. If not, you need to incorporate more Search Engine Optimization (SEO) into your content. This includes high-ranking keywords into the content, optimized images,videos and links to pages within your site.

Website Not Easily Navigable

A website that is easy to navigate is imperative for low bounce rates and efficient usability. Some websites have so much content, graphics and links that it leaves visitors confused about where they should click or how to move between pages.

Your site should be simple, not crowded and include top and sidebar navigation menus that won’t require guesswork to get the person to where they need to be.

 

Redesigning your website can be a costly expense; plus, this is not a one time solution, but a process, as sites need to be maintained and improved on a regular basis. To help you afford this cost, IOU Financial can provide a business loan is at little as 48 hours. Contact us to learn more today!

Biggest Trends in Marketing for the Summer

When it comes to marketing, if you’re wondering how to make the most of the summer season, check out the following trends:

Chatbots:

Technology is neutral. Whether it’s used for good or evil is up to the user. Chatbots were notorious for planting fake news stories that sought to affect last year’s election. However, chatbots can be used for more benign purposes, such as spreading your marketing message via Facebook Pages and other venues. Bots allow for your brand to converse with prospects without the need for a human. The tech is still fairly new, but the potential is huge.

Live streaming video:

YouTube is no longer the only game in town. Instagram, Periscope and Facebook Live are all challenging YouTube as purveyors of live video content. Your brand can create and share live content at any time and from any location. It’s especially useful when you want to interact with a live audience. Check this link for best practices.

Evaporating content:

Snapchat and Instagram are the biggest names in expiring social content, but Facebook Stories is a new product that allows videos and photos to evaporate after 24 hours. This is an excellent mechanism for building excitement with fresh content.

Social traffic:

The holy grail of social traffic is getting it for free – organic traffic. This is becoming increasingly unrealistic, as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook algorithms become pickier about which content gets the most exposure. To play in this game, you certainly need terrific content, but you also might have to cough up some money (pay to play).

Augmented reality:

AR is hot. Snapchat has attracted competition from Facebook Live with new AR components, such as masks and lenses. AR changes your phone’s camera into a sensory input device as new apps proliferate. The marketing implications are limited only by your imagination.

Mergers:

It’s a good idea to stay on top of the latest social media mergers, because they may affect platforms you currently use for marketing. Recent mergers have seen Facebook gobbling up Oculus Rift, Instagram and WhatsApp, Twitter acquiring Periscope and Microsoft grabbing LinkedIn for $27 billion.

Personalization:

The trend is toward highly personalized and targeted content. For example, Facebook is developing sophisticated ad target options that address a marketer’s particular needs.

Big data:

Though big data has been with us for some time, its continually becoming more powerful and comprehensive. Demographic data helps marketers identify and understand the types of customers they attract. Psychographic data gives further insights into the motivations of actual and potential customers – an area of research pushed by Facebook. Attitudinal data describes how folks feel about your products, and behavioral data (or sociographics) is used to analyze online behavior across the web. This infographic neatly summarizes big data’s current state of play.

Social influencers:

Marketing campaigns tied to social content creators are achieving almost universal acceptance. One study found that 84 percent of marketers are planning one or more influencer campaigns in the next year. This is often a cost-effective way to extend your brand’s reach.

Clearly, the worlds of marketing and technology are intertwined in a growing number of ways. We encourage you to spend some time learning about these and other innovative developments – you can bet your competitors are. Need additional funding for marketing purposes? IOU Financial offers loans up to $300,000. Contact us today for more information.

Why Your Accountant (CPA) or Capital Adviser Should Work with an Online Lender to Help your Business Access Capital

As a small business owner, you may have witnessed how much harder it has become for you to access capital in the form of small non-collateral loans. After your bank says no, you may be looking for help to identify a competitive and disciplined online business lender that you can get funding from.

The banks have completely exited the “lending small” space as regulation has made it unprofitable and has forced them to seek higher loan amounts they can underwrite for a profit.  The government response to the credit crisis, essentially Dodd-Frank, has tightened reserve requirements on banks and added new layers of regulation over U.S. financial firms.

For all the good that Dodd-Frank did to protect consumers, it also facilitated the demise of thousands of small banks. In 1984, the U.S. had 14,400 banks, but that number shrank to 5,083 by 2016. Most of the lost banks were small, and many had to merge with bigger competitors. The result is that it is harder for your small business to get modest loans of up to $300,000, because many banks nowadays focus on larger and more profitable business loans above $500,000 – high overhead costs tied to regulatory costs, limited human resources, make small loans unprofitable for most banks.

Despite, or rather because of, the retrenchment in conventional business lending since 2008, online business lenders have been trying to fill the void. And many CPAs and tax advisers should be able to help, and even be excited to save you time in looking for a small non-collateral loan that works for your small business.

 Think of it from their point of view:

  • The loan application and documentation burden imposed by conventional banks requires a fair amount of work. Financial statements, projections, multiple year tax returns, and the myriad other forms that banks require to underwrite a business loan can consume a lot of a CPA’s time and energy.
  • By contrast, your CPA or capital adviser can help you apply for an online loan quickly and with minimum effort. All that is really needed is a minimum of 3 months’ worth of your business bank statements (easily downloaded from most banks), most recent tax returns, a copy of your driver’s license and a voided check. None of the audited financials, or fancy business plans so precious to banks are needed by IOU Financial. If you mention to your accountant a need for short term working capital, all s/he has to screen for is monthly bank deposits of at least $10,000, an average daily bank account balance of $3,000, 10 or more deposits per month, and 80% ownership in the business with at least one year in operation.
  • Banks have high loan-rejection rates, due to constraints placed on them by regulations, unprofitable nature of smaller loans, timid loan committees and over-reliance on credit scores. Online business loans, like those offered by IOU Financial, sidestep these problems because they welcome smaller loans and value cash flows as much as credit scores. In other words, online lenders don’t waste your CPA’s or their clients’ time… your time.
  • Speaking of time, online lenders can approve a loan request in a few hours and fund the borrower within 24 hours. A CPA or capital adviser who is helping a business owner respond to rapidly shifting cash flows knows that waiting weeks for a bank to decide a loan is completely unresponsive to the business’ needs.
  • Bank loans don’t tend to be flexible, but your CPA knows that a small business relies on flexible funding to survive and prosper. IOU Financial allows a borrower to re-borrow once 40 percent of the original loan is repaid.
  • CPAs are paid, among other reasons, to keep a sharp eye on expenses. They are therefore gratified to learn that IOU Financial loans costs much less than merchant cash advances.
  • CPAs help owners manage cash flow so that the business never gets caught short. The fixed, daily or weekly, automatic repayments of IOU Financial loans means that cash outflow is spread equally over the month instead of accumulating into a large monthly payback that can weaken the business’ cash reserves. Budgeting is easier and impact upon inventory purchasing is minimal.
  • Your CPA can work with IOU Financial to ensure the request loan does not put unnecessary strain on the business cash-flow. Sometimes, borrowing less is a good idea as it gives time to the business owner to work through debt repayment and get used to the loan; your CPA and IOU Financial can work together to find the right loan for your business.

Unless owners have special skills and plenty of time on their hands to deal with fastidious bank loan procedures, a business’ accounting and tax prep are best left to professionals like CPAs. Don’t make them bill you for the extra hours it takes to get a bank loan. Save money through a business loan of up to $300,000 from IOU Financial.

Ask your CPA or Capital Adviser to give us a call and will be happy to answer questions and make sure our capital can help your business grow. Call Christophe Choquart at  678 809 6685 to discuss how an IOU Financial loan may be right for your business.

The Pros and Cons of Adding a Blog to Your Website

When it comes business websites, content is king. One of the most cost-effective ways for a small business to add useful content is through a blog. The more often you can post a relevant, authoritative blog, the more you’ll get out of it. Here are some pros and cons of including blogs on your website:

Pros

Establish authority:

Marketing a product or service on the Internet is essential if you want to sell to the widest possible audience. A business blog educates consumers about your offering and the industry in which you operate. Your blog also showcases your talent and authority, giving readers the confidence to buy what you’re selling. Google bestows a higher Page Rank and better search results on websites that constantly offer authoritative, unique content, and there is no better way to create content than through a daily blog. A good blog generates new readers, who then become leads and (hopefully) customers.

Industry-Specific Marketing:

While blogging can help any company, it is especially useful in certain industries such as hospitality. For example, you can use your blogs to establish communication with potential travelers who are looking for, say, a nice place to stay in your community. If you blog about the local sites and events, travelers will come to rely on your information and will be more likely book their rooms with you when staying in your city.

Search Engine Optimization:

Fresh blogs can help get you on Page One of search engine results for your chosen keywords. Blogs should revolve around a cluster of search keywords. Your marketing effort should therefore expend some resources to ascertain the optimal keywords for your business. Online tools and SEO sites can help you with this task. For example, you can use tools like Google Keyword Tool to help you decide on the exact keywords and keyphrases to use on your website Frequent blogs that concentrate on your selected keywords can help enhance your marketing effort by:

  1. raising brand awareness
  2. solving customer problems
  3. exhibiting thought leadership
  4. establishing authority and trust

By peppering your blog posts with the appropriate keywords, you help improve your results when people search using those keywords.

Social Issues:

Sometimes, you blog not only to market an offering, but to express your opinions on social issues. Your blog and the responses it elicits can act as a forum for you and others to express their thoughts on the interesting and important issues of our times. By combining your blogging with social media such as Facebook and Twitter, you have a great opportunity to reach many people who share (or disagree with) your point of view.

Cons

Resources:

Like most worthwhile things, blogging requires you to commit resources such as time and money. Adding blogs to a website is easy and costs little, but creating good blogs is a talent that needs financial support. For example, you are diverting resources if your employees take time out of their busy days to wrote posts. The other route is to hire a professional freelance writer to create your blog posts. While not overly expensive, you should seek out the best writers with the finest reputations.

Risk:

A poorly prepared blog is worse than no blog at all. A blog is meant to establish your competence and authority, but you’ll achieve the opposite effect if your blog is poor. Some signs of a deficient blog concern:

  1. Poor grammar and syntax
  2. Improper, off-topic or otherwise unsuitable material
  3. Use of too much jargon
  4. Bad or poorly expressed ideas

Clearly, the benefits of blogging greatly overwhelm its drawbacks, especially if you have the resources to write good, effective blogs. Whether timely or evergreen, good blogs deliver benefits that far outweigh their costs.

Are you ready to budget for a blog? Start with the Business Budget Smart Sheet. This resource can help you make sense of tracking and spending, to help you forecast for the future.

The Benefits of Having a Chat Feature on Your Website

A website with a live chat feature has several distinct advantages over competitor sites that don’t chat. The live chat platform allows you to talk real-time with an expert and to exchange files, documents, screen images, and other important information that facilitates quicker issue resolution. While your website might offer phone support, email and other tools, live chat packs a special wallop, as we see in these benefits:

Convenience:

Many online customers appreciate the convenience of getting immediate help from a live person. Chats are often more convenient than phone conversations, because of shorter wait times, no exasperating phone menus, and the fact that important data, such as URLs, are written out for customers – no scrambling to find a pen and paper. A benchmark survey found that customer satisfaction reached 73 percent through live chat, compared to 44 percent for phone support and 61 percent for email support. A live chat agent can push documents and links out to consumers to help resolve problems faster. Many chat facilities allow consumers to receive a transcript via email at the end of the conversation, providing documentation of what was discussed.

Expenses:

Chat optimizes interactions, cutting costs relative to phone contact centers. Furthermore, a chat representative can often handle several tasks at once, thereby reducing the need for additional representatives. By spending less time on the phone, chats increase efficiency and save money.

Sales:

The efficiency of chatting produces high customer satisfaction, an important factor in motivating sales. One study shows that live chat boosts sales by 20 percent and provide a typical ROI of 300 percent. For better or worse, Americans demand instant satisfaction, and having to wait for an email reply or a long phone queue is enough to send a consumer to a competitor’s website. A chat representative can walk a prospect through a sale by answering questions and clearing up confusion that could jeopardize a sale. Chatting also provides businesses with an upselling opportunity that can increase sales margins.

Competitive edge:

The cost efficiency of a chat feature makes it an easy way to grab an edge over the competition. Put another way, lack of a chat facility gives your competitors a leg up. When you offer chat, you appeal to many Millennials who prefer typing to talking. Instant messaging has supplanted phone conversations among a great swath of the population. Omitting chat is like fighting the tide – not a good idea.

Data mining:

Phone conversations are hard to share, but you can mine chats for important information that help you recognize unmet needs or sources of frustration. This can lead to the introduction of new product/service features that respond to customer complaints. A savvy marketing person can sort through chat transcripts and recommend important improvements in what you offer and how you offer it.

Outreach:

Better live chat systems don’t wait for consumers to request a conversation. Rather, they invite visitors to ask questions or discuss issues. This proactive outreach can help shy consumers overcome their reluctance to chat, and offers more information that can help convert prospects.

Clearly, many small-business websites would benefit from incorporating a live chat feature. There are many chat packages available for to evaluate. Your webmaster can add a chat facility, or you can hire a third-party provider to do the work. However you get there, a chat facility is a great destination to strengthen your business.

Running your business takes a lot of work. Recognize areas that you may have overlooked while managing your day-to-day operations with our 7 Secrets to Small Business Success!

How to Make your Retail Store Stand Out From the Masses

If you believe that you have something truly unique and beneficial to offer your clients, but you simply can’t seem to get anyone to walk through your store’s doors, you are not alone. Many small business owners complain that their brick-and-mortar location stands empty, and they simply don’t have the skills required to attract customers. The problem is that competition from other retail locations and online e-commerce sites is high, and it’s often hard, although not impossible, to set your store apart from the competition. Read below to learn new ways of getting your store noticed and increasing sales!

Get to Know Your Community

The target audience for a retail store is typically the local neighborhood, so getting to know your community is the best way to increase brand recognition. Strategies to make this happen include sponsoring little league games, school fundraisers or local charities. If you are able to create a poster or put your name on sports jerseys, you will create great marketing materials for your store.

Another way to get to know your community is to encourage your staff to volunteer for local causes. Consider setting up a beautification event for a community park or garden or a clean up event at a nearby beach. You can advertise in the local paper, hand out flyers or geo-target your neighbors through online advertising.

When you help your community, the residents don’t just learn about your business, but they want to thank you for your contributions by shopping at your store.

Create a Loyalty Program

Once a customer has visited your store once, do you have a strategy in place to keep them coming back? One way to encourage customer loyalty is with a customized reward program. This can include punch cards or a points system where you offer your customers discounts, extras or freebies for making purchases within your store.

Ice cream and coffee shops are great examples of businesses that can implement a punch card as part of their customer loyalty strategy. When a customer makes a certain number of purchases, they get a free item. A clothing boutique can utilize a points system that rewards shoppers with discounts or exclusive promotions once they have spent a certain amount, such as “10% off your next purchase once you spend $250 or more.”

Research the Competition

Finally, if you want to set your store apart from the masses, you need to know what they are offering. Make it your mission to visit your competitors within a certain distance, such as 10 miles, observe their offerings and customer service and write down thoughts about your experience.

This will provide you with an opportunity to see what things other business owners are doing right, and what you can incorporate into your own operations, and also to see what can be improved, and offer that to your customers!

You may require financial help should you choose to sponsor a local event, cause or charity or offer new services or products to your clients to help you stand apart from the competition. IOU Financial is prepared to finance your goals with a small business loan up to $300,000 in under 48 hours. Call us today!

Free Resources Small Business Owners Should be Utilizing

Small business owners usually work with small budgets, which is why anytime there is a free resource to help you grow or manage your business, you should jump on it! In this article, we will provide three resources that will help you create a website and share articles with your customers, customize a business plan and market your services to clients.

WordPress

If you don’t yet have a website for your company, you are missing out on a lot of business. Not only does having an online presence allow you to sell your goods online, a website can help you advertise your business and help customers find and get to know your brand even if you don’t want to incorporate e-commerce as a selling strategy.

You may not have the budget to hire a web developer and designer; however, no business owner can make excuses for not creating a website when a free resources for this goal is available. WordPress is a tool to help both novice and experienced online users create a site for their business needs. It offers a multitude of options; beginners can choose from customizable templates to create their site, while experts can build a site using code.

WordPress allows owners to connect to clients by publishing articles and blogs, optimizing them with images and keywords, email them to subscribers and automatically post them to social media. Plus, this platform has thousands of different free and paid add-ons that allow them to accept online payments, prepare items to be shipped, analyze their website traffic and much more!

Enloop

Every successful achievement resulted from a solid plan, and any organization needs a business plan in order to grow and thrive. The problem is that not many small business owners have the knowhow to create a professional business plan, which can prevent them from getting a business or investment loan nor from following a roadmap to meet their goals.

Enloop helps business owners analyze their current business practices, set objectives and determine actionable steps to reach those goals. It will provide a blueprint for setting budgets, hire new employees and figuring out marketing budgets for each goal.

This is a free resource that allows users to create business plans with their AutoWriteTM feature that generates text for each section in 16 languages. You can invite your partners to view your text, edit it and suggest changes, while the program automatically saves all updates in the cloud. Once you and your team finish your plan, Enloop will grade your firm’s forecasted performance to let you know whether you’re on the right track.

MailChimp

If you’re not marketing your small business, you are not growing. Fortunately, there is a free resource that helps business owners market their small business completely free or with a limited budget.

MailChimp lets you send out up to 12,000 marketing emails to up to 2,000 subscribers every year. This system is easy to use, even for beginners, and integrates with WordPress so you can lead your audience straight to your website.

You can create email campaigns, customize them with content and design and choose to whom and when they will be sent out. To tailor campaigns to your customers, you can design A/B Split Campaigns, which let you test which subject lines, content and times work best for your audience.

These three free small business resources all have paid options that may be advantageous for your company. If you need help to afford these services, turn to IOU Financial! We are committed to providing small business loans in as little as 48 hours.

Looking for other free resources? Check out our Business Budget Smart Sheet.

Will Paid Ads Work for My Small Business? 5 Questions to Consider Before Choosing to Use Paid Ad Space

Gaining exposure, clients, long-term customers, and new business is always on a small business owner’s mind. In fact, those key issues are elements that can make or break some small businesses financially. Another financial consideration for many small business owners lies in the space of paid ads. Paid ads are becoming more and more evolved with new social media platforms, increasing search engine platforms, all with various budgets and customer reach promises. Many business owners find themselves asking if paid ads will even work for them, should they consider the investment. In this post we will review the top 5 questions each small business owner should consider asking when deciding to implement a paid adverting marketing campaign. Lets get started!

 

  1. What are you selling?

When first considering the idea of rolling out paid ads for your small business, you need to ask yourself “what are we selling?” Seems strange to ask yourself this question, but knowing what the product you are selling will help you identify if paying for ad space is worth it. For small businesses that sell products that rely on long term subscribers (i.e. educational programs or subscription based services) paid ads may be the way to go. For companies that sell large ticket items (like vehicles or high end electronics) or a specific niche product (products that are hard to find locally) are also great businesses to implement paid ads. If your business model is outside these areas, focusing on other forms of marketing may be best.

  1. Who are you selling to?

Paid advertising works for many small businesses across a variety of social media and electronic mediums. Not all ads however will do the same on each social media channel. Knowing who you are selling to (we are talking client demographics, interests, means for using social media platform) the better you can pick and choose what platform makes the most sense. Paid ad space is becoming increasingly popular across platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Pinterest to name a few. Here is a breakdown of the “target” audience for each platform:

 

  • Facebook: If your business can generate great call to action with informative elements go with this method.
  • Twitter: If you want to explode your customer reach and brand awareness, choose to promote a tweet.
  • Instagram: If a picture can truly express 1,000 words, use this platform
  • LinkedIn: If your business wants to reach professionals, this is the one place for the bulk of your ads.
  • YouTube: Powerful videos to share? Share away here.
  • Pinterest: If you’re trying to target woman’s interests, search no more. Start pinning.

 

As you can see, each platform has a small but very important difference. Knowing who you are trying to reach can help you determine if paid ads on these spaces are right for your business.

  1. What is your budget?

Small businesses are no stranger to the word “budget.” Don’t run away just yet. “Budgets”, when it comes to paid advertising, can be your friend. Knowing not only what your company budget is, but also what budget paid advertising spaces operate within is just as valuable. When you choose a potential platform, look at what a budget “reach” gets you as a company. If you want to reach 10,000 new customers than setting a budget with that number in mind can help you determine if its worth the investment and on what platform you should pay for such exposure. If your budget is $5 and you are expecting to reach 1,000 people and retain them as customers, you may want to re-consider the approach.

  1. What is your goal?

Let’s talk goals. Clearly outlining what your company’s goals are when deciding upon paid ad space is a smart way to outline and tailor your expectations, define budget, and choose a platform. What goals do you have in regards to marketing efforts? Is the goal to just gain SEO ranking? Is the goal to land 1-2 new big name clients/prospects? Is the goal to try and go viral and let the work of social media take over? Knowing the goal of any paid ad consideration will help identify if paid ads are the way to approach the goal or if looking for other advertising is a smarter investment.

  1. What are your current results?

Sometimes paid ads are needed while other times they are not. If your company is gaining exposure by means of natural and organic methods (such as popular blog post content, word of mouth, or other methods without paid ad space), then you should consider staying with what works and saving a marketing or paid ad budget for other investments. If your business has poor results, traffic, or exposure than looking at paid ad space to improve results may be also worth the investment. Not all businesses need to implement paid ads at the current movement.

By now you’ve decided to either pursue the use of paid ads or you have decided now is not the time. Either way, choosing the right time to go with paid ads is just as important as what platform to use, how much to spend, and what message you would want to convey to your audience. Choosing a paid ad marketing or selling campaign is no easy solution, so being informed and choosing the best match for your business is vital to its success. Try some methods out, see what doesn’t work, and stick with what does. Happy marketing!

 

Need to get your budget in line before marketing? Check out our Business Budget Smart Sheet!