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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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Banks Aren’t Lending: Kevin O’Leary Interviews DaVinci’s Pizza Owner

Today’s small business owner can struggle for months with a bank to receive the smallest amount of financing. Kevin O’Leary understands small businesses and got involved with IOU Financial to ensure small business owners always have access to affordable capital!

O’Leary interviewed Jason, owner of DaVinci’s Pizza, who waited for months only to be denied by a bank for a loan. When Jason found IOU Financial – he was approved and funded in under a week!

If you are a small business and working capital is the only thing holding you back from expanding, give IOU Financial a call. We can help restaurants expand their seating area, retail stores grow their product line, doctors update their equipment, and so much more!

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Expand your Business through Greater Product Offerings

After two years of operation, Voodoo Vapor found itself with two successful locations. The company’s owner had recently moved into a larger brick and mortar store and expanded her business with a free-standing mall location.

In order to continue the successful growth and evolution of the company, Voodoo Vapor realized that adjusting the way inventory was managed would be crucial. Increasing foot traffic and building a larger base of loyal customers could be attained if inventory could respond quicker to the rapidly changing variety of inventory the market was demanding. This was going to require additional capital, but the books showed the potential for a great return.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR GROWTH WERE OUTSTANDING

The vaping market has come a long way since the introduction of electronic cigarettes. Since 2013, vaping has been experiencing explosive growth. In 2015, the market was estimated to be approximately $3.5 billion, and some experts are predicting growth to $25 billion in just the next 10 years.

Voodoo Vapor already had some experience with alternative financing, and was interested in exploring options and restructuring a loan from their current lender to better match their current cash flow needs. Voodoo Vapor wasn’t initially looking for a second position, but when IOU Financial offered their terms combined with the opportunity to put that funding to work, it was too good to turn down.

“The online application process couldn’t have been simpler. It only took a few minutes to complete.  And the terms, specifically the daily payback amount, made it easy to put these new funds to use immediately. Working with IOU was a pleasure because our loan officer not only understood our business and market, he even came up with some great suggestions for us.”

Voodoo Vapor Owner

FUNDING POWERS GROWTH IN A COMPETITIVE MARKET

As an early player in the central Ohio market, Voodoo was one of 12 vaping retailers in 2013. Today, there are nearly 120 outlets. Previously, quarterly inventory cycles used to be enough to keep up with the latest consumable vape products known as e-liquid. However, today the lightning pace at which the products are changing requires constant updates to inventory and services to stay relevant.

While there are many innovations and new products when it comes to hardware, the market for the e-liquid consumable component is constantly evolving. There are literally thousands of flavor options and hundreds of potential vendors for this consumable product, and trends rise and fall in a matter of weeks. Voodoo Vapor knew that shortening the inventory buying cycle could increase foot traffic to their retail locations, translating to a growing, loyal customer base.

READY FOR NEW OPPORTUNITIES

Attracting new customers with a wider variety of inventory isn’t the only way Voodoo Vapor has been putting IOU Financial’s funding to use. With the extra capital available, Voodoo was ready to act when the opportunity presented itself to expand the product line.

Voodoo has now entered the e-liquid game with its own product. The new e-liquid has become a huge success in her own store and has even landed on shelves of several other stores.

“I’m thrilled to say that we now actually have a waiting list of stores that are interested in carrying it. This exciting new venture wouldn’t have been possible without the funding we received from IOU.”

Are you looking to expand your inventory and reach your target market? A fast, fair and affordable small business loan could be right for you.Call 866-217-8564, or visit IOUFinancial.com/our-loans/ to learn more.

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Cash Flow Assistance for a Growing Small Business

Specializing in LED lighting and solar electric panels, Ohio Valley Electric has tripled its growth in the past years.  With five-plus years in business and an A+ BBB rating since the start, John, the owner, counts his success to always going the extra mile for his customers. “We started the business to help people, and when customers send you a payment in the mail and attach a thank you note; it makes all the hard work worth it,” said John.  solarpanels

Recently, the Indiana-based company sought additional working capital from IOU Financial. “Turn around for us on large jobs is often weeks or even months from ordering product to completion.  This causes our funds to become too tight to operate on,” explained John. The IOU capital allows the small business to finance the jobs that come its way in a proactive manner. “IOU gave us the funds to order material for existing jobs, as well as money to get our message out to more people,” said John.

“IOU seemed to be more flexible then the other people we talked with.  As a small business, you need to work with people that are flexible and helpful,” explained John.  “Some places require so much time to go through the process, and as a small business owner, time is too important for me to waste.”

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5 Things You Should Have Done by Your 2nd Year in Business

Congratulations. You’ve made it past the first year in business. That’s no small feat, as the Small Business Administration points out that 20 percent of small businesses fail in their first year. Sure, there are no guarantees when you open a business, and things can always change, often due to forces beyond your control. Nonetheless, you’re on your way. If you haven’t done the following 5 things by now, get moving!

  1. Stabilized Your Cash Flow: By now you’ve learned how much money you need to have come in every week to make sure you can pay your bills, buy your inventory, earn some money to live on, and so forth. If your cash flow seems wildly unpredictable, workout a revised sales and marketing plan so that you have decent estimates of your revenues if you haven’t already. You should also have a fair idea from your books and records of how much you have to spend each week, how much money you can keep in the bank, and what kind of profit margins you should expect. You need to tweak your strategy, tactics and/or operations to get your margins to where they can sustain themselves. Remember, without sufficient cash, your small business is fried.
  2. Made Plans to Expand/Optimize Your Business: You have probably learned quite a few lessons about your small business during the first year. For example, you may have realized that your original plans were overambitious or too timid relative to the market conditions and to the availability of capital. You might have uncovered underserved elements in your market that you can capture by expanding your product /service line, your geographic locations, and/or your operating hours.
  3. Secured Adequate Working Capital: Based on your performance so far and your plans for change, you need to establish an adequate amount of working capital to fund your operations, including inventory purchase. Your best bet after one year in business is to contact IOU Financial to borrow up to $150K effortlessly and at an affordable APR. If you own at least 80 percent of your business, have an average credit score, have a positive daily cash flow that lets you keep on average at least $3,000 in your business account, and you clear $100,000 a year in revenue, you have an 85 percent chance of getting the loan you want from IOU Financial. Forget about bank loans, they are really hard to get.
  4. Hired the Proper Staff: You might have started off as a one-person operation, or maybe you began with a small staff. After a year, you have a better idea of how many and what kind of people you need. If you haven’t done so already, dismiss any unproductive staff  and find the best people you can afford.
  5. Developed Your Social Media Strategy: Your website should be search-engine optimized, bug free, contain perfect content (if not, hire a good freelance writer), and include, if appropriate, a bullet-proof online checkout facility. You should have set up your accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and so forth, and made sure you continually add new material onto your social media sites.

Enjoy your second year – with sufficient know-how and capital, you’ve got a good shot at long-term success.

Get more important tips from IOU Financial as you grow your small business by subscribing to our blog.

 

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5 Things Your Bank Won’t Say About Small Business Lending

We are not out to discredit banks or bankers, but we do believe that many potential borrowers make unwarranted assumptions about banks that we’d like to clear up. The bottom line is that sometimes a bank is a good place to get a small business loan, and other times it’s not.

  1. Banks Are Not Impartial

The small business loans you will be offered by your bank will be “products” that have been prepackaged for the “average” consumer. Certain products are favored and the bank pushes these, often offering incentives to loan officers who sell these products. This is not to say the products aren’t good, they just may not be good for you. Don’t expect you banker to tell you that, however.

  1. Most Bankers Are Not Credit Advisers

Even though bank officers may have fancy wood-paneled offices and wear expensive clothing doesn’t mean they have any certifications as credit advisors. For example, the average banker doesn’t have FICO Pro Certification, a basic credential that attests to knowledge of how credit scores work. Don’t expect this kind of expertise from the average banker, and if you need help with your credit history or score, be sure to speak to a qualified expert.

  1. Bank Loan Officers Are Not Human

Well, that’s a little extreme. What we really mean is that most banks use computer algorithms to determine whether you qualify for a loan and how much interest to charge you. Typically, the loan officer you visit takes down information and forwards it to the loan underwriters at the bank’s headquarters, who will not know or care one bit about any special circumstances attached to your small business loan request. For example, if you want to open a boutique in an up and coming area of town, some far-away analyst will look up the address, see that it’s listed as depressed and likely count that against you. In reality, the area may be on the rebound and your business plans may make a lot of sense.

  1. Banks Are Not the Only Alternative

Often, when entrepreneurs are turned down for bank loans, they feel that the door to credit has been shut on them. IOU Financial has made small business loans to thousands of such individuals, because they take the time to understand the full picture. Non-bank commercial lenders are looking for ways to say yes to your loan application. They have the flexibility to take into account a broad range of information beyond your credit score. Furthermore, non-bank lenders may be able to work out payment terms that banks do not offer. Banks can be a great resource, but remember that they are just one kind of resource – when it comes to small business loans, you have other options.

  1. Where Did My Loan Officer Go?

One dirty little secret among bank employees is that the good ones don’t remain at one place for very long. If your banker can draw a bigger salary from a competitor, chances are you’ll be assigned a stranger the next time you visit. Small business lending companies are run by entrepreneurs who are in it for the long run. If continuity of service and a personal relationship are important to you, think outside the box, er…bank, to include lenders where the owner is on premises and eager to meet with you.

For more small business lending advice be sure to subscribe to the IOU Financial blog.