7 Steps to Create a Content Marketing Strategy to Grow Your Small Business

Businesses thrive on smart and accurate marketing strategies. Without a good strategy, consumers will have no idea what to expect from your company. A marketing strategy will enable your company to reach your target audience and let them know that you are a viable option. This is the best way to get attention for your business and get people to buy your product or avail of your services.

Large companies have a marketing team ready to strategize and plan how they sell their business. However, smaller companies may not have access to this. Because they are operating on a smaller scale, they might not be able to afford a large team in order to boost revenue. With the dawn of social media and online resources, it has become incredibly easy for small businesses to gain a wider audience.

If you are a small business looking to get that extra boost, read on. In this article, we list down seven ways that you can grow your business. From using media platforms to creating smarter campaign strategies, we discuss all things marketing. Here are the best ways that you can elevate your content marketing game.

Understanding Your Market

Knowing who you want to sell to is the first step in order to establish your brand. This determines the look and feel of the marketing that you will be doing. If your market is composed of mostly young people, consider making your advertising material eye-catching and modern. If you’re catering to the older population, make sure that your material is clean and gets the point across quickly.

Using the Media

The media is the best way to get the word out about your budding company or startup. Because they reach out to almost all people in society, placing your business on the map is a good idea in order to get things started for you. You have the option of either using traditional or social media.

Traditional Media

Traditional media is commonly known as print ads, radio ads, and tv ads. This form of marketing is best for audiences belonging to an older age group. Because this is seen as more traditional, not many young people will be able to see your ads. However, if your market is for older individuals, this is a good way to reach out to them. Keep in mind, though, that traditional media often charges you for the ads you want to be aired. Make sure that you remain within a budget to minimize costs.

Social Media

If you’re looking to get into a younger market, social media is your best bet. Social media sites like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook are widely-used sites by the youth. This is a great way to reach out to a younger market and get your business on the map. The best part? Using social media for your business is totally free. While there are ways to pay for a wider reach, they aren’t necessary at all.

Planning your Strategy

Planning ahead is a great way to make sure you have a solid marketing strategy. Before you even start advertising, make sure you have a month’s content ready to publish to avoid dead air. This is the perfect time to plan out branding as well. Planning ahead can be what makes or breaks your future as a business, so make sure to take the time to plan it well.

Influencers

Some businesses reach out to influencers to boost their reach. This is a strategy typically done by businesses that target a younger audience. Because influencers have a wide reach, their influence can mean big things for your company.

When dealing with influencers, always make sure that the terms are clear. Some influencers ask for a payment, while others are happy with receiving a free sample of your product. Make sure that your budget is enough before reaching out to influencers.

Promos and Bonuses

If you want to give a good impression to your potential buyers, try starting a promo in your opening week. This can get people talking about your company and attract potential customers. Whether it’s a giveaway or a discounted price, people will surely be more likely to have an interest in your company. This is also a good way to establish good relations with your client base.

Have a Clear Schedule

Success doesn’t happen overnight. Sometimes, your most loyal clients will discover your company a week or even a month into launching. In order to make sure you are seen, stick to a strict schedule. It doesn’t need to be daily, but make sure you’re marketing your company a few times per week. This can boost your chances of being seen and allow customers to flow in.

Invest in a Marketing Team

When you’ve already grown as a company, consider investing in a team that will handle all your marketing needs. It doesn’t have to be a large team composed of 20 people. It can be a small group that’s dedicated to getting your company on the map. By having a dedicated team, marketing will go efficiently and will yield greater results.

Conclusion

In this day and age, the competition in the business sector is high. With these tips and tricks, you’ll be able to stay afloat and stand out in the sea of competitors. Slowly but surely, you’ll be seeing your business grow soon enough.

Guest Post: About the Author

Laura Garber is a professional writer and career coach. She has led so many people to success and has helped achieve her dreams by helping them craft their resumes. If you are looking for someone who can do your resume in a professional style, she’s the best there is.

5 Tips to Make Your Small Business Customer Service Stand Out

In a world where customers need and want to communicate with their favorite brands on a daily basis, having a strong customer service team is paramount. It doesn’t matter if you’re running a seasonal business or a year-round venture, or if you have aspirations to stay a small company in your local market or expand into the international scene, there is no denying that you need a crack team of customer service agents to keep your customers happy. In turn, this will allow you to boost customer retention, and by extension, to improve customer acquisition over the long term.

However, it’s not just enough to have someone pick up the phone every once in a while, no, you need to build a thriving customer service department and use the right tools for communication and CRM in order to increase sales and satisfaction across the board. Let’s break all of this down and show you the five tips you can use to make your customer service department stand out and achieve better results.

It all starts with a personalized service

Personalization is one of the foundational pillars of modern business, whether you’re talking about sales, marketing, internal or external communication, or any other process in your company. The modern customer doesn’t want to be another number in your sales funnel, instead, they want to feel appreciated for their purchase, their loyalty, and their commitment to your brand. If you want to succeed over the long term, you have to acknowledge the individual.

To do that, you need to emphasize personalization in marketing and sales, but most importantly, in customer service as well. After all, customer service is a powerful conversion tool, and it can help you market your brand in a powerful way. Let your customer service agents take a personalized approach to every customer and every problem, and really delve deep into their unique perspective in order to craft personalized solutions that the customer will love.

Look for employees with excellent people skills

In many ways, your employees are your biggest brand advocates, which means that their demeanor and the way they communicate with the outside world can have a profound impact on your brand’s reputation, perception, and authority in the eyes of your customers. This is why you need to hire the right people for your customer service team instead of just hiring anyone to pick up the workload quickly. 

Carefully screen all applicants to find talented individuals who possess the right soft skills, but also understand the importance of branding and brand etiquette, and are creative and flexible when facing particularly difficult customers. These people are not easy to find, but once you do, it’s important to inspire them to stay in your team by offering a competitive salary and plenty of growth opportunities – after all, they are the ones who will take your company forward.

Increase availability and call quality with VoIP

No matter how talented your customer service agents may be, you can’t expect them to achieve the results you’re looking for if they don’t have the right tools at their disposal. If your agents are using traditional and outdated phone systems, then there is only so much they can do to keep the customers happy or run an efficient customer service department. This is why VoIP technology is so popular nowadays, as companies need digital communication systems to ensure efficiency and save money.

VoIP represents the best in business phone technology because of its many digital features that allow you to run a productive customer service department from anywhere in the world and keep your teams in sync at all times. However, the biggest advantage of VoIP is that it has a lower cost per call for national and international communication, meaning that you can prevent extraneous financial loss while maintaining around-the-clock support service.

Leverage customer feedback and testimonials

To build a reputable brand image, you have to inspire your customers to leave positive reviews and feedback on your site and other key platforms around the web, including social media, Google, and other review sites. Reviews and testimonials are a true treasure trove of customer information, and they can help you shape your customer service department and improve your marketing strategy, sales, and more. Pay close attention to what your customers are saying, and extract key insights to optimize and adapt every process in your customer service department.

Build a thriving community

Lastly, customer service can have a powerful impact on your online community, so it’s important to use it to inspire people to become loyal customers and brand advocates. Your agents shouldn’t just solve problems, they should also motivate the customers to achieve certain goals, inspire them to spread the word of your brand, and most importantly, welcome them into your brand’s family. This will invariably build loyalty and expand your community, and it will bring quality leads to your doorstep through stellar word of mouth.

Wrapping up

In many ways, customer service can help a company achieve its long-term goals. Now that you know how to make your customer service department stand out, be sure to maximize its potential and use it to build a more successful company in 2020 and the years to come.

Guest Post: About the Author

Lauren Wiseman is a marketing specialist, business writer, and entrepreneur, currently based in Melbourne. She helps clients grow their personal and professional brands in a fast-changing and demanding market environment. Covering finance, technology, and digital marketing topics, Lauren strongly believes in a holistic approach to business. She is also one of the authors behind Bizzmark Blog and a regular contributor to several renowned business blogs.

How to Increase eCommerce Sales for Retail Stores

Starting and running an eCommerce business is never easy unless you put in place the right strategies. In the eCommerce world, opportunities are less and competition high, and you, therefore, need to do things differently to enrich your site’s shopping experience. Increasing sales is a crucial goal for all enterprises, but it requires both dedication and effort. Here are various tips to help you boost sales and run a successful online retail business.

Optimize your site

You only have a few seconds to grab customers’ attention once they land onto your site. Therefore, invest in quality product images, make your site responsive, and quick to load. 

Also, make the shopping process seamless and eliminate any unnecessary steps during the checkout. Use the necessary tools to improve your clients’ details security. Cloud computing is cheaper, and it will also help you access customer data to help understand their needs better.

You may also want to consider search engine optimization to reach a wide range of potential clients. To achieve this, do keyword research to determine how clients search for your products online. You can then include the appropriate title tags, keywords, body copy, and image alt tags.

Enable Mobile Shopping

Ensure that your site is well-optimized for the mobile phone application. Most clients, especially millennials, love shopping from their phones or tablets. You can also consider building a mobile app to improve customer experience, which will boost sales. Further, run mobile-specific adds on Facebook to help direct potential clients to your product page.

Automate your Email Marketing

Emailing is one of the most effective online marketing strategies that give you a chance to engage with your target clients easily. However, automation will help boost your marketing campaign and smoothen the process further.

You can use pre-set triggers to send timely messages to your clients. For example, if a client abandons their cart, he will receive an automatic email to encourage him to complete the transaction. As soon as a potential client trips an online trigger, he will receive an email inviting them to check out the products.

Offer more Discounts

Everyone loves getting good deals, and discounts are thus a great way to improve sales. Use regular offers to trigger inactive leads and keep previous buyers engaged. The more you give away, the more prospects will perceive your brand, resulting in more sales. Include some gifts in your business financial plan, use them to improve people’s perception of your products, and it may boost your profit margins shortly.

Discounts act as an excellent method to introduce your products to people and tempt them to purchase more. Also, reward your repeat clients by offering a loyalty program where you give them some points to enjoy more products, free shipping, or discount coupons. Further, you can include a free shopping promotion.

Active Engagement on Social Media

Social media advertising is a great way to drive visitors to your site and convert them into paying customers. Use multiple social media channels like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter to reach out to a million users interested in your products.

Target different people with varying ads to reach out to a specific customer base. Also, remain active across various platforms to grab your target customer’s attention. Engage your followers by answering all questions concerning your products and following up referrals.

Ensure Excellent Customer Support

To stand out in the competitive market, you need to deliver exceptional customer service. Set aside a reliable help desk to respond to your customer’s concerns swiftly. Your level of service significantly affects your business sustainability, and you may want to avail of various mediums in which clients can reach out to you.

Invest in a customer service technology like live chat or chat both to help in engagement automation in context chats. It will help push the client to ask questions, which may boost conversion rates by creating a great shopping experience.

Summary

If you experience slowing or stagnating sales, you need to adopt new strategies to market your products. Create a secure website, offer a lot of promotions, get active on social media, and optimize your site for mobile devices. The above guideline aims at shining light on how to increase eCommerce sales.

Guest Post: About the Author

Emily Lamp is a professional writer, working closely with many aspiring thinkers and entrepreneurs from various companies. She is also interested in technology, business growth and self-improvement. Say hello to Emily on Twitter @EmilyLamp2.

10 Free Tools to Effectively Manage Your Business

When you want to run a successful business there’s a whole host of things you need to know. One of the most important things is to build a series of management protocols that allow you to stay on top of things without drowning in paperwork. There are a whole host of different tools out there, some of them demand an investment, but there are also others that won’t cost you a penny. Let’s take a look at 10 of the best free tools to see what you can add to your business.

The Wix Website Builder

If you want to build a site without paying out for all the fancy add-ons you get from many hosting platforms, this is the way to do it. Wix allows you to create responsive, mobile-friendly sites without having to enter a single line of code. Just what you want when you’re trying to get your big idea out there without spending hours learning every skill under the sun. They claim that you’ll get 100% free website hosting and design possibilities. Use Wix for free as long as you want, but if you need professional features like your own domain name or e-commerce you’ll need to opt for their premium option.

Avast Free Antivirus

Cybersecurity is a hot topic right now, and it’s heating up all the time. If you want to run a successful business then it’s absolutely vital you invest in the best anti-virus protection. Avast is one of the top choices when it comes to free antivirus software. It offers an on-demand malware scan, on-access malware scan, website rating, malicious URL blocking, phishing protection, behavior-based detection, and vulnerability scan.

Grammarly

If writing just isn’t your thing, don’t worry. There’s finally a program out there that can add the polish your ads and emails have been waiting for, and it is completely free. It’s a great way to ensure that everything that’s sent on behalf of your business is professional and accurate. Take the time to get to know all of the functionality it has to offer. There is an upgrade that comes with a monthly subscription fee if you want to take your proofreading to the next level. However, the basic free version does a great job on its own so it is not a necessity.

The Hemingway App

This tool follows on nicely from the last, and it does much the same thing. The USP is that it specializes in breaking up wordy but otherwise correct sentences. This is especially useful if you don’t feel like approaching half a dozen writing companies to try and find someone who can connect with your brand. The app also checks the readability of your content so you’ll know if you need to make some changes to make it more comprehensible. The best part is that you can use it for free.

Skype

Despite the rise of Zoom and FaceTime, Skype is still very much alive and well. If you want to be able to talk to suppliers, vendors, and colleagues anywhere in the world for free, this is the tool you need in your kit. It’s easy to use and intuitive, and all you need is a phone and a WiFi connection. Ideal if you want to ensure your business never has to break stride.

Excel

It’s the classic program we all grew up using, but there’s still a place for Excel in today’s business world. The program comes with the basic Microsoft Office package that pretty much everyone has so you won’t need to spend money on additional organizational tools. Use Excel to keep track of every aspect of your business and make all the information presentable and easily accessible.

Hootsuite Free

Social media is the tool that connects your business with the rest of the world, so you need to know what it’s saying about you. Hootsuite’s aptly named free version allows you to ‘hear the echo’ by seeing how your customers and followers are reacting to your content. This is a great way to extend the reach of your customer service into the social domain. It’s also a great way to humanize your business by putting a personal face to your brand.

MailChimp Forever Free

Email marketing is one of the easiest ways to take your business to the masses, and it’s great there are tools like MailChimp that are so easy to use. If you want to be able to send campaigns for free, their Forever Free package is just what you’ve been looking for. Over time you might consider the subscription version so you can launch larger campaigns, but for now, it’s more than up to the job.

Zoho Docs Management

Document management is one of the things that few of us think about when we’re launching a business, but before you know it record keeping is a daily struggle. Zoho allows you to keep everything just where you need it, making it easy to look up key supplier and customer details with the click of a button. Just what you need when you want to provide the best-in-class service you want your business to be known for. Zoho Docs is always free for teams of up to 5 users so it is perfect for small businesses.

Evernote Scannable

Last but not least, we come to one of the most intuitive and easy to use document management tools on the market today. Evernote Scannable is a free tool that allows you to instantly upload your physical copies into an easy to search online portfolio. There you can add additional annotations, file everything away, and even reference it. Perfect when you want to ensure that everything you need is ready and waiting when it’s time to get to work.

Conclusion

Even though many business managers are putting an emphasis on paid management tools, there are plenty of free options that can do the same job. As you can see, all of these apps, tools, and software are completely free and highly efficient. You can always switch to an upgraded version but for starters, these options are more than enough.

Guest Post: About the Author

Daniela McVicker is a blogger and a freelance writer who works closely with B2B and B2C businesses providing blog writing, copywriting and ghostwriting services. Currently, she blogs for Essayguard. When Daniela isn’t writing, she loves to travel, read romance and science fiction, and try new wines.

4 Ways Seasonal Businesses Can Strive for Success

Summer is nearly in full swing, and although it’s a bit different than usual, consumers are still looking to get out, try something new and spend money on experiences at seasonal businesses. Abiding by local regulations and navigating the ever-shifting landscape COVID-19 has thrown the brick-and-mortar space a challenge. However, the time is here to shake off the dust and take advantage of the summer because whether you own an ice cream stand, a marina, or boardwalk t-shirt shop catering to tourists, your season is limited.

Though you could dwell on the current circumstances, as a business owner, you understand every day is a new mountain to climb and these current times are just a tougher hand of cards you’ve been dealt with. So, what’s it going to be? If you’re looking to cash-in on your hand, read along for a few helpful tips and ways your business can strive for success during this summer period.

Stay Organized

Staying organized is something that every business owner would like to do. Having everything neatly aligned, shipments coming in on time, a clean shop and inventory always in stock can be seen as a dream for many, but you know that all is likely just too good to be true. So what are a few ways you can keep your business organized during this peak season?

  • Go paperless
  • Track time spent on tasks
  • Use mobile banking

You may already incorporate these tips into your day-to-day, but with a little fine-tuning, your business could be running even better and more efficiently. The benefits of going paperless are numerous and can even be financially fruitful and serve as an added safety measure. Keeping track of your time and managing resources based on the importance of tasks will not only help you work more efficiently but also being sure things are completed in the correct order.  When it comes to finances, choosing a small business bank can be the key for easily organizing your business’ invoices, payments, and deposits among other business necessities. Staying organized can come in several forms, so finding your unique pain points and identifying ways around them are paramount to succeeding.

Have a Plan

The SBA reports that over 80% of small businesses survive their first year, while 30% survive their 10th. As a seasonal business owner, you know your window for success is much shorter than the usual calendar year, sometimes only a handful of months. One sure-fire way to keep your business on the right path is a solid business plan. For a refresher on how to draw up a business plan, read more here. But, keep in mind that though a business plan is great, having the flexibility to alter it due to extreme circumstances is a must. For example, just because you are a sit-down restaurant doesn’t mean you should solely focus on people dining in, especially during these times. What are a few ways you can pivot from your initial business plan and stay relevant?

  • Offer take-out service
  • Re-arrange your space
  • Use online reservations for minimal contact

Your business plan is meant to be a guide toward success, but it shouldn’t be the end all be all. Adapting to the times, and making positive changes in the wake of unseen situations or altering landscapes can be the difference between your business getting ahead or being left in the past.

Be a Team Player

As an owner of a seasonal business, you’ve likely worked some long hours in non-peak season times by yourself. Transitioning to the height of your busy season after a long time off can be a change in itself, but one that is necessary. As the owner, especially if you are in a resort town, the ability to work and cater to an ever-changing customer market is a key to earning repeat customers.

For domestic travelers in the U.S in 2019, according to the U.S Travel Association, over 50% of vacation spend went toward food services, retail, recreation/amusement, and lodging, all sectors that cater to seasonal businesses. With so many travelers spending on experiences, you will want to make sure you not only keep a positive reputation in your town but also deliver a great product while you have them. Going the extra mile to please visitors can lead to a positive Yelp or TripAdvisor review and a lasting impression that will keep them coming back again and again.

Stay Top of Mind

With a short window to succeed for the year, staying top of mind is vital to capitalizing on customers visiting your seasonal business. When it comes to staying top of mind, you will want to be sure you are connecting with past customers or potential customers in as many ways as possible. If you have data from past customers, taking advantage of email marketing with Mailchimp can be a great touchpoint to keep prior customers updated on everything from upcoming deals, hours, or just general announcements pertaining to your business. If this isn’t the case, there are plenty of other ways to get your business in front of the eyes of customers.

  • Instagram ads
  • Facebook ads
  • Local radio ads

Getting your product or service in front of customers on social media can be a great, low-cost option for advertising. Take some time to get familiar with advertising on Facebook and features such as targeting your ads around travelers to a certain area between specific dates. Or, you could utilize the local radio station that visitors will be using while driving or checking the village news. Striking the chord between eye-catching creative and ads that are set up well can help you boost your brand’s awareness and drive more traffic to your seasonal business.

Conclusion

Running a seasonal business is no easy task, deadlines are shorter, the stakes are higher, but the fruits of all your work can be astronomical. Striving for success can lead to many seasonal business owners to focus on working harder rather than smarter and eventually lead to burnout. With a few smart steps, you can get your seasonal business moving in the right direction and maximizing your potential in no time.