Instagram Ads: The Basics

If you have explored advertising on any social media platform, you have likely focused your attention on Facebook. However, a rising star in this space is Instagram, which has grown from 90 to 800 million since 2013!

Although Instagram gives owners the potential to connect to a large group of users, cutting through the online clutter is difficult for small businesses that are trying to increase their brand recognition… Simply posting content and waiting to grow your following organically can take months, if not years.

A better strategy to reach a mass audience instantly may be to pay for Instagram Ads. The ads would be featured as “sponsored posts” that would come up on users’ feeds as they browse. The goals of utilizing Instagram ads would be to “grow brand exposure, website traffic, generate new leads, and move current leads down the funnel (and hopefully towards converting).”

Are Instagram Ads Effective?

Is investing in Instagram ads effective? The results speak for themselves. “In March 2017, over 120 million Instagrammers visited a website, got directions, called, emailed, or direct messaged to learn about a business based on an Instagram ad,” according to a source.

Why are Instagram Ads Effective?

Unlike advertising on a website or on television, where you can choose the channel, but not who sees your ads, Instagram allows you to target your audience base. This means that you have the ability for your ads to be shown to selected individuals, based on factors such as gender, age, location, interests, etc.

Plus, you can create groups for each ad, choosing between:

“Saved Audiences – interest-based targeting

Custom Audiences – retargeting audiences and customers

Lookalike Audiences – people similar to your other audiences”

How to Set up an Instagram Account to Create Ads

Using Instagram is very easy, and a business can set up an account within an hour to get started with the following steps.

  1. Because Facebook bought Instagram, you can use your Facebook account or create a personal Instagram account to get started.
  2. Sign up for a Business Manager account.
  3. Create a Business Page.
  4. Enter all the required information, such as your business name and details and your contact information.
  5. Create your ad.
  6. Choose an ad objective, which includes goals like brand recognition, engagement, reach, traffic, app installs, lead generation, etc.
  7. Choose who the ad will target, decide on your budget, create a schedule and narrow down on the creative aspect of your ad.
  8. Start advertising!

Examples of Inspiring Instagram Ads

If you are not extremely creative, there are a multitude of examples online of Instagram ads that can inspire you, such as:

55 Amazing Instagram Ads

84 Best Instagram Ad Examples in 2018

You do not require a large budget to get started with advertising on Instagram. AdEspresso’s research has found that the average price of a pay-per-click Instagram ad is around $0.80. Although, to reach a substantial amount of people, you may want to hit the ground running!

IOU Financial can help you to market and grow your business with a small business loan of up to $300,000. Call us at 1.866.217.8564 or visit us online at www.ioufinancial.com to learn more!

Should My Business be on Snapchat?

Facebook. Twitter. Pinterest. Snapchat. The list of social media platforms goes on and on. While business owners know the value that social media presence can bring to their company, many small and medium firms simply don’t have the resources to devote to all of the platforms. In this article, we will discuss one of the most popular social media sites, Snapchat, which has become a dominant player in today’s world.

Gary Vaynerchuk, an entrepreneur explains his view on the success of this platform: “Snapchat closely resembles how we communicate face-to-face than any other social network. When we talk to each other, passing in the halls or just living out our lives, those moments disappear. Snapchat emulates that behavior and psychology. Moments are temporary and that’s exactly the feeling and behavior that Snapchat matched to.”

Younger Target Audience

Snapchat is an ideal tool to reach a younger audience base. Out of a total 166 million users, the majority of Snapchat users are under 24 years old. More specifically, 71% of users are 18-34 years old.

As of September 2016, Snapchat had over 150 daily active users all over the world. What is the best way to reach these audiences? With a well thought out marketing strategy.

Here is a list of some of the most successful utilizations of Snapchat:

  • Sour Patch Kids: The candy company made headlines on Snapchat when they posted snaps of harmless pranks they would conduct in public. Candy and pranks are perfect attention grabbers for the younger generation, which is how the brand connected with them.
  • Taco Bell: While Taco Bell has a variety of customers, it utilized Snapchat’s storytelling feature to share new products, and even give dating tips!
  • Amazon: This world-known giant posts exclusive deals just for Snapchat members, and made a killing on black Friday with this strategy!

Not Right for All Industries

While Snapchat is a valuable platform that can help businesses increase brand recognition, it is not right for all industries. Fields such as government, construction, logistics and banking may find more advantageous to focus on other platforms, such as LinkedIn.

The customers of these websites are typically older, married and not as prone to using Snapchat. They also are less likely to be driven to explore a business from a social media ad or post. Instead, they would probably be more swayed from reading an article or an opinion piece online!

Can’t Drive Traffic

There are ways to include a link to your website when you post content on platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. However, there is no way to do that currently on Snapchat. While it can be a valuable marketing platform for brand recognition, there is no way to track and analyze Snapchat’s value in bringing in leads or raising profits.

Business owners that are tight on funds may find it more valuable to utilize social media trends that can present clear data on conversion rates.

Although Snapchat is not right for all businesses, if you have interesting and unique content (videos and photos) to share with a younger age group, it can be a helpful tool in driving new business. IOU Financial can help you with the funds needed to explore all of the offerings Snapchat has to grow your company. Call us today to inquire about our small business loans, which can be approved in as little as 24-48 hours.

 

Social Media Trends for 2018

Every business owner should know by now that social media is one of the most effective ways to market your brand, connect with your target audience and grow your business. As technology is constantly changing, it is important to fine tune your marketing tactics with it. Staying on top of trends helps you refine your efforts to receive the best return on your investment (ROI). We present the latest social media trends that will likely become even bigger in 2018 for you to review with plenty of time to implement them:

Instagram Stories

While Snapchat is the social media platform that developed the ability for users to share short videos that delete after 24 hours, Instagram took that to another level. The Instagram stories daily users quickly surpassed Snapchat’s, with 20 million daily views, and should be implemented in the way you present your brand’s story to your audience.

The stories are fun to use and to view, allowing you to add filters, tags and text. They are discoverable, meaning that Instagram users can see the stories even if they are not your followers.

Any account with at least 10,000 followers is allowed to add a link to their story, which is a direct way to lead viewers to your site. In addition, just like with any other Instagram photo or video, you can hashtag relevant keywords to help users find you faster and easier.

Social Media Influencers

In years past, the biggest public relations stunt was hiring a celebrity to promote your product or service. In today’s world, celebrities have been largely replaced with influencers, who are celebrities in their own rights. These are individuals who have been able to get a staggering number of social media followers, often in the millions. Companies pay these influencers to promote their offerings on their pages, sites or accounts.

It is advantageous to find the top influencers in your niche industry, and follow them. See what they are promoting and how so you can determine if utilizing an influencer is right for your business needs.

Augmented Reality

The new iPhone 8 already incorporates the aspects of augmented reality by allowing users to project images of certain pieces of furniture from websites such as Amazon. This is a great benefit for shoppers because they are able to see for themselves how an item will look in a specific room without committing to purchasing it.

Augmented reality will likely allow business owners to offer all kinds of benefits to customers, such as seeing how a piece of clothing looks on them, the ability to try on different makeup products and so on.

Messaging Platforms

Most people consider social media to be sites such as Facebook and Twitter, but millions of people worldwide connect on messaging apps. “Artificial intelligence, voice assistants and chatbots will enable brands to offer personalized shopping experiences on messaging platforms like Messenger, WhatsApp and Kik,” a source states.

The newest trends for social media can reap great rewards for business owners; however, many of them come with a price. If you need help investing in your marketing strategies, IOU Financial wants to help you finance this goal. Contact us today at www.ioufinancial.com to learn how you can get a small business loan in under 48 hours.

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!

Two Effective Ways to Ensure Your Business is Generating Word-of-Mouth Referrals

There are so many forms of advertising and marketing today that many business owners forget about the most efficient, tried-and-true form… word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM). Nine out of 10 people seek out their friends and family members’ opinions about shopping experiences, and trust those over any type of ads. Knowing this fact makes it imperative to focus on actively generating word-of-mouth referrals to grow your brand’s reputation and your sales! This can easily be accomplished with these two effective strategies:

Focus on the E’s

Suzanne Fanning, President of WOMMA (Word of Mouth Marketing Association), has the following advice about generating word-of-mouth referrals – “Engage, Equip, Empower.”

Engage

 If you want your customers to talk about your products or services, you must be part of that conversation! The first step is learning all there is to know about your shoppers, their patterns, trends, likes and dislikes. The second step is engaging with them on social media, in stores and online. Respond to reviews, ask for feedback and encourage your followers to keep on talking!

Equip

 If you want your customers to talk about you, give them something to talk about! An ordinary shopping experience doesn’t generate any buzz; however, something extraordinary does!

Consider what strengths your business offers – it can be unique products, exemplary customer service, knowledgeable staff, hassle-free return policies or even some humor tied into the shopping experience.

The best salespeople learn what their customers want, and figure out a way to deliver it to them. Once your customers are happy, their natural reaction is to share that excitement with others around them!

Empower

 Motivate your customers to spread the word about your company! People want to feel needed and valued, and it’s up to the business owners to create that energy for their shoppers!

Make it easy to for your customers to generate word-of-mouth referrals by creating business profiles on sites such as Yelp, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Share your profiles with your customers, asking them to leave reviews, post pictures and share information with their circles.

Reward

Your customers may have a lot of positive things to say about your brand, but not a lot of time to say them. How do you entice them to do so? With rewards!

Consider utilizing your best customers to be your “spokespeople” and spread the word online! If you have a loyal customer write a testimonial, you can share that on your site, email it to your subscribers and upload it to social media! Offer the spokespeople exclusive discounts or special previews of new products and services to make them feel special.

Another way to encourage WOMM is with contests; you can ask your customers to write reviews, testimonials or simply share your social media page with their circle of friends, ensuring them an entry into a contest for each action!

Starting a referral program can be extremely beneficial, as well. You can reward every individual who brings in new business with discounts, free items or other perks. Take Dropbox as an example; they offered both the old and new customer free storage space for every referral – thereby increasing their customer base and sales!

Although word-of-mouth referrals are free, motivating your customers to market your company for you will likely not be! IOU Financial wants to help you fund this goal with a small business loan. Contact us today to find out how to get a loan of up to $300,000 in under 48 hours.

Social Media Basics: 5 ways to Create Engaging Content for Your Customers

There is a question that should come across every small business owner who generates content for their customers: what good is putting out content that nobody sees or is interested in? Let us take this one! Putting out content no one sees or is interested in doesn’t do a company any good.  It is a simple as that. However, knowing some ways to create content that people do want to read and engage with can be tackled with the following 5 tips.

Talk about Trending Topics

It’s no question that people like jumping into discussions about popular or trending topics. Similarly, people like to read content that include or focus on what’s relevant right now. When writing a blog, sharing a social media post, or sending a company newsletter, be sure that your company hits what’s relevant in your industry. Get in the game by adding your company’s perspective to the online conversation!

Talk about Unsafe Issues 

Nobody likes a boring read. Rather, people want to read things that make them think, become inspired, or be encouraged to use or trust a company. To accomplish this, companies should present “unsafe” or “out of the box” commentary and comments. Dare to stand apart from other competition, especially if you’re in the small business niche, because your potential customers want to feel something. Creating content that doesn’t follow the usual framework is a unique way to capture your audience and keep them coming back for more.

Get Google Smart

What’s Google smart you ask? It’s simple: post a blog title or content that people look up on Google or other popular search engines. If you have a great blog idea, newsletter update, or website ready to launch, focus on naming it something people already search for and stay away from titles nobody would look for. For example, if your launching a fresh new pair of jeans, don’t use descriptions or titles that only you and your designers know. Write a post called: “New Best Fitting Jeans.” People will search for that phrase immediately when in the market for new denim. Factoring in SEO (search engine optimization) when creating a title is the best way to ensure your link is clicked. From there, your post can then delve into the ins and outs of your product.

Stick to the Point

People scroll through the internet quickly. Studies have found that customers rarely read word for word, and rather scroll until something jumps out at them. Use powerful titles and images that is void of filler.

Speak to Customers, Not Yourself

With a small business, you want to ensure you speak to the customer! Find out what topics or issues your audience wants to learn more about and be sure to mold your content around that. For example, if you own a roofing company you could educate your customers on why a leak in one spot of the house shows up 500 feet away. When your customers find you provide relevant content, they’ll keep coming back for more.

As you can see writing content that is engaging and informative is an art; one that takes time and trial and error to execute successfully.  Following these 5 suggestions for developing engaging content for customers is one step any small business owner can take today to generate great content that customers want to read. Happy content creating!

Why Social Media is Beneficial for Small Business Owners: 5 Sites and The Best Ways to Use Them

Keeping up with the growing number of social media sites and trying to put your small businesses mark on the map can seem overwhelming. What platform does what?, How do I use each one?, and Aren’t they all the same? are most likely questions your business has asked when the word “social media marketing” comes up. By understanding the basics on how to best use social media, small businesses can immediately see and benefit from the value these platforms can bring. Lets dive into the top 5 social media sites your business needs to be active on to maintain a presence in the market.

Facebook  

Main Focus: Staying consumer engaged

Facebook hit the scene in 2004 and regardless of what some may think, it still dominates the market for small businesses to stay connected to the “people” who use and support business brands. Facebook for businesses should focus on creating content that keeps the conversation going with the dedicated followers and supporters of your business. When starting with Facebook focus on the following:

  • Use photos with questions. Create a post (preferably an image) and ask questions such as “What would be a good caption for this?”
  • Incorporate people who use your brand. When posting mention a customer who follows the page or “shout out” a person who recently commented.
  • Engage with questions. Keep the content focused on feedback from customers and keep them offering their perspectives.

Twitter

Main focus:  Offering perspective

Twitter is also a long standing platform with 317 Million active users each month. Twitter has become increasingly popular for brands and companies to offer their perspectives on hot topics or using “hashtags” pointing to relevant issues people are talking about on their platform. Twitter offers a short character count method to express a thought, stance, or comment on current events and news. When starting with Twitter focus on the following:

  • Use for news about your niche. Share news or other “stories” relevant to your niche that users can gain insight or information from.
  • Use polls and ask questions. Polling the audience is a great way to keep users engaged and offer opinions. Users will also share those polls with others growing your presence.
  • Ask for a “Re-Tweet” or just say “RT”. A Re-tweet is someone else sharing your “tweet” or “post” giving you credit and exposure.

Instagram

Main Focus: Inside scoop

Instagram was the first platform that simply asked users to post photos and small (if any) captions. Instagram has now expanded to a major source of website traffic referral and business exposure. By sharing photos of your business, companies should use Instagram as a “behind the scenes” look at their brand offering users a view they can’t get on other platforms. When starting with Instagram focus on the following:

  • Share content that is “about your brand.” Post photos of design sketches, a team meeting, or something funny that happened outside your office walls. This brings a “behind the scene look.”
  • Use interesting photos. Post images that look artsy or different to catch your customer’s’ eyes. Have fun with the ideas you can create.
  • Use bio and links to relevant offerings. Update the “bio” section often giving users a direct link and upcoming offering that they don’t want to miss out on.

Pinterest

Main Focus: Educating

Pinterest is a play on the word “Interest” with the idea of “pinning” something that you like and want to save for reading, trying, or even learning more about in the moment or down the road. Users create “boards” that they “pin” items to so people can easily find whatever strikes their fancy. Businesses can use Pinterest to educate their audience on a variety of related “niche” ideas. When starting with Pinterest focus on the following: 

  • Be an educator. Share relevant information and facts that people can learn ideas, tips, tricks, and other facts from simply looking at your boards.
  • Build on networks like yours. Add other contributors to your “board” to further expose your brand and use that exposure as a traffic source to your site.
  • Share inspirational posts. Inspiring other people is one of the most common reason to “pin,” and therefore doing the same can be helpful to your brand.

Google+

Main Focus: Location Location Location

Google+ is a way for businesses and customers to find each other, learn more about each other, and tell other people about each other. Small businesses who tap into Google+ can find ways to increase foot traffic to their storefront, offer visitors a place to share their thoughts, and also allows businesses to share relevant information about their brand to help promote and increase website rankings. Google+ for businesses is created after a business account on Google has been created. When starting with Google+ focus on the following:

  • Bring people to YOU. Google+ offers location services and direct links to your business platform or portfolio.
  • SEO. SEO or Search Engine Optimization is highly crucial to any website for any business. By joining and linking content on Google+, SEO gets a jumbo boost.
  • Use for networking with customers and influencers. Google calls these “circles” which allows you to categorize who are your customers and who are your business influencers. This helps businesses tailor the content to both groups maximizing relevancy on the platform.

As you have read above, there are many social media platforms out there for small businesses and brands. While some may think it’s simply enough to “share the same message” across all platforms, or that “one site fits all” is the stance to take, such is not the case. By understanding the differences between platforms, and the best ways to utilize each, businesses can offer users varied information and a push to follow and engage with your company in multiple ways. Starting out can be daunting, but after the first post, tweet, pin, circle or hashtag, small businesses will find the effort was worth the outcome.

 

Increase Sales in 2017 with a Solid Marketing Plan

Every business owner hopes that the upcoming year will be more successful than the last; but instead of just  hoping, entrepreneurs can create plans to ensure those goals are met. New product launches, expansion and franchising are common way to increase sales, but they are risky and costly. However, implementing a new or improved marketing strategy can benefit a business at a lower cost, or can be budgeted for easily.

What are the Benefits of Marketing?

Blue Cow Creative lists several benefits of marketing, including promoting brand recognition, advertising your services or products to customers, selecting which clients to target, and allowing you to communicate with those individuals in a timely manner.

The bottom line is that a business can offer the most innovative product, or the most cost-effective service, but without marketing the offerings to their intended audience, no sales will follow.

What are the Most Effective Forms of Marketing?

There are a multitude of marketing strategies; there is the traditional, interruption marketing, which interrupts an individual’s day with a cold call, or a television program they are watching with a commercial. Another alternative is permission marketing, which only targets the individuals who give their consent to be contacted.

Research has proven time and time again that permission marketing is not only more cost-effective, as you are not spending funds to contact individuals who have no interest in your business, but is also more effective. It is much easier to close a sale with a person interested in what you have to say, than one who has to be persuaded. Below we list three different types of permission marketing:

Email Promotions 

Emails allow you to communicate with a targeted audience in order to announce new products, sales, special deals and events. There are several ways to ask customers and potential clients to sign up for your email promotions. If you have a physical store or office, you can ask visitors to add their contact information to your list. If you have a website, you can create pop-up advertisements asking people to opt-in to receiving email communication from you. To entice them to sign up, consider offering an exclusive discount or a an entry into a drawing.

Social Media

Social media is an effective marketing tool for any business. It is a form of permission marketing because people have to choose to follow or “like” your business page, and if they always have the option to stop receiving communication by deleting access to their profile.

There are a plethora of social media platforms to choose from; Facebook is the most popular one, allowing access to 1.79 billion monthly active users, but Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest are also beneficial to use to connect to your target audience.

Be strategic about what you post on social media; remember to be honest and ethical, yet make your posts and images eye-catching and creative in order to get noticed. The biggest advantage of social media is that other members can share your posts with their network, providing a form of free advertising.

Influencers

Influencers are individuals that can sway the purchasing decisions of others because of their expertise, authority, or knowledge in a certain area. There are fashion influencers, who curate outfits for their audience, beauty influencers who recommend makeup brands for specific skin needs, etc.

When considering ways to market your brand in 2017, research relevant influencers in your industry. You can contact these individuals through their personal blogs or social media platforms to ask them to recommend your product or service. The best part is that these people already have large fan bases, so your offering would be shared with a multitude of potential customers who want to hear what the influencer has to say. Keep in mind that as payment for their promotion, influencers may request payment in the form of free items or actual monetary compensation.

With the new year quickly approaching, set your marketing budget now so that you can pursue relevant strategies for permission marketing. Get your budget in order before the new year with our Business Budget Smart Sheet.

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Maximizing Sales Through Mother’s Day Marketing

Maximizing Sales Through Mother’s Day Marketing

Mother’s Day. When our favorite female caregivers are treated to overpriced buffets, new loofas, homemade cards, spa treatments, and if you’re lucky (nay strategic), a token of affection and appreciation from your store or ecommerce business.

In 2015, Mother’s Day sales were estimated at $21.2 billion – ranking right up there in the retail record books with December holiday shopping. With 2016 sales expected to increase, business owners can’t afford to gloss over the effects that Mother’s Day shopping has on your bottom line.

The National Retail Federation estimates that consumers will spend an average of $173 on their loved ones this year. Purchasing everything from flowers to cell phones, retailers are well positioned to take advantage of this mid-year spending spree. With the right marketing, communication, and outreach, you can entice the Mother’s Day market and boost your revenue.

 

3 Tips for Maximizing Your Mother’s Day Sales

Relate to Moms Everywhere

You can’t turn around without bouquets and doilies dotting Mother’s Day marketing.  But, Hallmark cards aside, you don’t need to be a florist or sell some uber warm and fuzzy product to appeal to this market. Take a look at your inventory and decide how it could interest, benefit, and/or entertain mom. That’s what you want to market around. That’s what you need to communicate. The gift-giver (your buyer) is going to want to purchase an item for mom that she’s going to love – all you need to do is to make sure they know why she’s going to love it.

Mom’s Gone Viral

You may have already received that awkward friend request, or have seen a post from back in the day when you’re wearing an unsightly trend from yesteryear indicating one thing…mom’s on social media.  But, before you lament the loss of your sounding board a safe distance from mom, know that social media can be a powerful marketing tool for Mother’s Day campaigns. From advertising to remarketing, your small business can target both the buyer and mom with appealing messages that stay at the forefront of the minds. Your markets are already online – a quick glance at an ad and one click later they’re at an ecommerce site filled with goodies for mom. You’re minutes away from a shopping cart full of Mother’s Day revenue.

Mother’s Day Sales (increase sales)

Half off. Two for one. Coupons, coupons, coupons. And those enticing little percent signs that translate into major scores for shoppers that balk at paying full price. Bargain hunters are everywhere. Your business can capitalize on a shopper’s love of a good deal with added incentives leading up to Mother’s Day. You won’t notice the slight hit to your profit margin per transaction if you’re doubling your sales from last year.  Make sure all discounts and promotions are front and center and so good they can’t possibly pass it up. Make them an offer they can’t refuse.

 

At IOU Financial we aim to support our clients by providing helpful tips and tricks that increase revenue. Visit our blog for more additional small business resources and tools, or learn how a small business loan from IOU Financial can boost your brand.

Tips for Getting the Most from Your Small Business Marketing Budget

Getting the Most from Your Small Business Marketing Budget

Small and medium-size businesses don’t have the luxury of million-dollar marketing budgets that large corporations do. We know you’ve seen plenty “marketing on a budget” articles around the internet, so we wanted to take a slightly more strategic approach, providing some perspectives on “intelligently investing in your marketing.” You can find various strategies to spend a minimal amount to market your products or services, but will that generate maximum exposure? In this article, we cover three major areas for you to consider spending some of your small business marketing budget and strategies to help ensure your investments pay off.

 

Scale Operations With Marketing Technology

While finding free marketing platforms might seem like a cost-effective tactic at first, using paid marketing technology can provide greater efficiency, create less frustration, generate better data for reporting, and overall, provide better results when it comes to getting the word out about your small business. Platforms to consider are:

  • Marketing Automation – This is usually a marketing platform that consolidates all of your marketing efforts. Instead of having dozens of accounts for blogging, SEO, social media, emails, landing pages, etc. You can access and control all of them from one place. This allows you to evaluate and compare the performance of marketing campaigns, check the effectiveness of call-to-actions across different platforms, and automate multiple channels with the click of one button. Where to start?  HubSpot or Marketo.
  • Keyword Management – If you are doing any online advertising, understanding your keyword strategy is crucial to making the most of your advertising budget. While you can use Google’s Keyword Planner to check your keyword rankings, a platform like Wordstream will analyze your current keywords and makes improvement recommendations. This platform helps both newbies and professional marketers start and manage their AdWords accounts, promising to convert 60% more leads, while lowering marketing costs by 10%.
  • Social Media Management –  With the ability to manage all accounts from one dashboard, schedule future posts, engage with clients, and analyze social media campaigns, these tools can save you valuable time to spend on other things. The extra analytics and reporting provided can also help you make informed decisions about your social media marketing. Hootsuite is a great platform to consider for this service. Over 10 million subscribers are using this solution to integrate all of their social media accounts into one.

 

Invest in Social Media

While posting content on social media is always free, investing in these platforms can offer a bigger pay-off through increased exposure to your target market. Consider spending marketing money in the following areas to maximize your brand’s exposure on social media:

  • Social Media Advertising – Facebook, the biggest player in social media, has over 1.4 billion users worldwide; you can pay to create customized ads to target your specific audience by defining specific demographics such as the user’s age, location, interests, etc. The best part is that you can indicate what your maximum budget is, and Facebook will stop the campaign once you hit that number. Additionally, users can find directions to your business, a link to download your app, and even shop right from the Facebook ad.
  • Paying for Content and Photos – One of the best ways to generate traffic to your business’ website is by creating unique and informative content. However, not all small business owners are professional writers, which is why it can pay big dividends to hire an expert to create articles, infographics, and website content. Additionally, platforms like Pinterest and Instagram rely almost exclusively on images, so great photos can have a big influence over how many people choose to click on your link or not.
  • Hiring a PR Consultant – Hiring a professional PR consultant can really help your brand get the exposure it needs. A PR firm can develop a clever marketing campaign, find writers for you, and offer helpful advice on what cost-effective channels to reach your particular audience, helping you save money by avoiding spending it in ineffective areas. In many cases, PR professionals can help connect your organization with influential people (writers, magazine editors, bloggers, etc.) that can provide access to their own audience.

 

Spend Smarter on Traditional Advertising

Although there are many innovative ad strategies, that’s no reason to completely ditch traditional advertising! Of course, you’ll want to use it in a smarter way. While new businesses may still be discovering who their client base will consist of, those that have been operating for a few years have a better idea. Small to medium-size business owners that are interested in maximizing their return on any tactic, use tracking methods to measure their performance. When it comes to TV and radio, planning ahead to correlate sales with ad campaigns is important.

While a television commercial can be expensive, investing in a TV ad in a specific market where you know it will reach your target audience can greatly increase your sales. As well, paying for radio commercials during specific times of the year (Christmas, back to school, etc.) when your sales typically spike on stations that target a specific audience (parents, younger women, etc.) can be lucrative.

 

The success of any business is greatly affected by its marketing strategy. Looking for ways to fund that big marketing idea? Contact IOU Financial and put a small business loan to work. Our quick application and pre-approval process can fund a business loan up to $150,000 within a matter of days.

 

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