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Summer Refresh: Tips for Streamlining Your Business

While the summer months pick up business for some companies, it slows it down for others. Regardless if you fall into the first or second category, this season is the perfect time to refresh your business practices to streamline your company.

Halfway into the year, it is advantageous to set objectives in place that can be beneficial for the rest of the year, or strategize to plan for goals for the upcoming year. Review the ideas below to see what you can implement to streamline your company.

Review Goals vs. Accomplishments

As a business owner, it is important to set goals for yourself, your employees and your business every year. Most people do this before the year ends, making resolutions for the following year.

You may have intended to automate the customer service process, but simply have not gotten around to it. Or, you may have rolled out the program, but haven’t surveyed the customers or the employees to gather feedback about the progress.

Don’t wait until all 12 months go by to revisit those goals. The middle of the year is an important time to review what you set out to accomplish and mark your progress. This will allow you the opportunity to make changes to the status quo if you are not on track to meet your goals, rather than abandoning the tasks altogether.

Work With Your Team

Don’t forget to involve your colleagues in the process of streamlining your company. First, it’s important to review their progress as well and not wait until the year end to hold appraisals. Consider doing so at least twice a year to discuss the plans you had made in the previous year and evaluate your employees’ performance thus far.

When you meet with your staff members regularly instead of annually, it gives you an opportunity to discuss recent errors or mistakes and a bigger chance to fix them before performance truly starts to affect productivity.

On the other hand if your employees are exceeding their objectives, you will be able to recognize their efforts and show them that you value their hard work. This will empower them to work ever more efficiently and be loyal to your team.

In addition to appraisals, remember that your employees are the ones carrying out the daily tasks in your company. As such, they can give you the best ideas and advice about making efficient changes to your business. Hold regular meetings and reward those that offer innovative ideas that can help make your business more efficient.

Stay Organized

It’s difficult to run a business; one of the most common complaints from business owners is the fact that they never have enough time in the day. To be more productive and waste less time, it’s vital to stay organized.

Make sure you start summer off with a major spring clean of your office or job site. Although we are not talking about washing the floors, it’s helpful to look through the files, documents and other items in your office to decide what you can toss or recycle and what you need to keep.

Organize your files, both physical and electronic, as well as emails to make them easy to access and share with others.

Create a weekly schedule for yourself and your team, which you can re-evaluate daily to move the more pressing items to the top of the list. This will carve out the time you need to deal with top level tasks, leaving the less important matters for a later time.

There are countless ways you can streamline your business to take it to the next level. If you feel that financial help can help you achieve your goals, contact IOU Financial. We work with small and medium-sized businesses to offer secure, fast and easy small business loans. Call us today at 1-866-217-8564 or visit us online at www.ioufinancial.com to learn more.

 

Ways to Utilize Customer Stories for Growing Your Startup

Customer stories seem to be really powerful. Startups should be smart enough to take the fullest advantage of inspiring customer stories or customer experiences. We know that only a great product cannot spell success. For a startup to grow and succeed you would be requiring both great marketing and also, a great product.

Startups usually do not have amazing marketing budgets. They may not be in a position to splurge on a single advertising campaign. However, the best thing about startups is that they do not require thousands to spend on advertising. Startups are known to boast strengths that they could utilize for fueling their marketing and grabbing customers. Customer stories could be used effectively for achieving incredible growth. If your business gains a lot of recognition, you could earn a lot of profits and you could make all your business debt repayments promptly on time. Your startup would be prospering without any hiccups.

You have got to agree that there is a massive difference between simple promises and real results. Every startup promises to provide a solution to a particular issue that sounds pretty exciting. However, nothing could persuade potential customers better to purchase anything than when they are actually sure that it works perfectly. This is exactly where the customer stories fit in. Startups could use effective customer stories for demonstrating how their specific products or services would be solving problems and making things easier for you. Customer stories must be powerful enough to motivate potential customers to ultimately take the buying decision. Let us explore how customer stories actually help in boosting marketing.

How Customer Stories Help in Boosting Marketing

Customer stories or powerful case studies could be utilized all through the sales and marketing funnels. They are supposed to be truly important not simply because of their versatility and flexibility but because they play a pivotal role in the accomplishment of three core responsibilities.

They Help in Building Credibility

If you are a startup and have recently started your business, it is necessary for you to convince your customers of your credibility. You need to prove to potential customers that you are trustworthy. If you are able to successfully demonstrate that there are several other people who are relying on you and are pleased and happy with your company, it becomes easier for the prospects to appreciate your worth and take the final step confidently toward buying your product or service.

They Demonstrate & Prove How Your Product Actually Works

It is obviously tough for people to understand how a product would be functioning when it is actually presented to them, in the abstract. A case study that reveals the story about the way you have assisted your customer would help other customers to visualize precisely how they would be benefitted if they work with you.

They Would Be Assisting You in Up-Selling & Cross-Selling Customers

While creating a customer story, you would be asking your customers to actually share the slightest details of how they have been successful in generating higher profits by using your product or service. When your customers start reflecting on the various benefits they had experienced with the help of your product or service, it is quite likely that they would want some more services or products from you.

Ways to Create Convincing & Compelling Customer Stories

Effective customer stories could be taking different formats including videos, written stories, and audio recordings; however, the persuasive case studies would be having certain things in common.

They Would Be Talking About the Core of the Issue:

Prospects are interested in knowing if your products could solve the issues they are facing. You must communicate very clearly that you appreciate and understand the problems and the associated pain.

They Describe in Detail the Precise Solution You Provided:

When you describe in detail and talk about precisely how you had helped in solving the problem, your customers would be visualizing the solution clearly in their minds. They could easily visualize how your product would actually work.

They Demonstrate How Exactly the Customer Was Benefitted:

Precisely how much revenue was generated by your product? How much savings did the customer achieve? How much time did he save? How many new customers did your client gain after using your service or product? The more clearly you are able to highlight the benefits, the easier it would be for potential customers to understand your true worth.

They Use Actual Names & Pictures:

People would not be convinced if you present a wonderful case study without including the actual name of the company. Most customers are reluctant about sharing details and personal info with others. So, it is essential to ask upfront if your customer is actually willing to contribute personal details while participating in the exercise. Many customers, on the other hand, would be incredibly excited and enthusiastic about the entire affair and would cooperate with you.

Easy Tips to Promote Your Customer Stories

  • Publish your customer stories on your website.
  • Publish a fascinating blog post.
  • Share the customer story on your social media platforms.
  • Incorporate inspiring customer stories into your presentations.
  • Request your loyal customers to share your authentic customer stories with their contacts.
  • If your customer has done something newsworthy with the help of your product, turn your customer story into an important press release to grab a whole lot of attention.

Conclusion

Stories are supposed to be shared experiences. Humans are actually hard-wired toward receiving information basically through storytelling. So customer stories would work great wonders for the growth of your startup. Customer stories could truly improve your marketing, sales, and PR. However, the outcomes depend largely on how well you go about creating customer stories and utilizing them to your advantage. Startups are clever enough to take advantage of inspiring and persuasive customer experiences for achieving unprecedented growth.

Guest post: About the Author

Marina Thomas is a marketing and communication expert. She also serves as content developer with many years of experience. She helps clients in long term wealth plans. She has previously covered an extensive range of topics in her posts, including business debt consolidation and start-ups.

The Hidden Costs of Starting a Business to Look Out For

As exciting as launching your own business can be, it’s important to remember that success rarely comes for free. The saying “you need to spend money, to make money” is one that often comes up in the entrepreneurial world. However, while many would-be business owners know that they’re going to have to tap into their savings to get their company off the ground, they’re not fully aware of the expenses that can be involved in running a business.

According to one study from the Kauffmann Foundation, startup costs for a small business can average out at around $30,000. Of course, the amount it costs to get your organization running will depend on a number of things, including how much your product costs to make, and how much you have to pay for things like overhead and utilities.

While startup costs in any industry can pile up relatively quickly, knowing what to expect can mean that you’re better prepared when you’re planning for things like website development, real-estate, and initial inventory costs. Here, we’ll be looking at some of the hidden costs that business owners often overlook in the excitement of starting a new venture.

Insurance

When you’re first starting out as an entrepreneur, it’s tempting to think that all you need is an internet connection and a healthy supply of inventory to start making a profit. However, there are a lot of other expenses to think about if you want to launch your company successfully and protect it in the long-term. For instance, insurance provides you with a critical safety net in case anything goes wrong when you’re running your company.

Although you might not feel as though you need insurance at first, as time goes on, the need for various forms of protection is likely to increase. For instance, you may need not only small business insurance, but also liability insurance, omissions and errors insurance, workers compensation, and more.

How much you’ll need to spend on any policy will depend on various factors, including the size and type of business you’re running, your industry, location, and any previous issues you might have had. You can easily spend more than a thousand dollars each year on insurance alone.

Employee Perks and Benefits

While you may have already thought of “salary” as one of the many expenses you’ll need to deal with as a new company, a lot of entrepreneurs overlook the importance of those added extras that make employment so appealing to their staff. Benefits and perks are a crucial component of what you pay out each month, and according to some studies, the average cost can run to about 1.4 times the basic rate of pay.

This means that a $50,000 wage could quickly become about $70,000 by the time you’ve finished accounting for healthcare, vacation time, and other perks. Make sure that you know exactly how much you’re going to pay altogether before you start promising your employees the world.

Alternatively, you could work with freelancers that wouldn’t expect the above-mentioned benefits. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t offer some perks. Something as simple, and comparatively less-expensive, as a monthly fresh-roasted coffee subscriptioncould do the trick or a gift card to a restaurant they mentioned they like.

Permits and Fees

Depending on the industry you choose to operate in, and the types of things you want to sell, you may need to invest in a number of fees and permits just to make your company legal. Some business owners don’t realize just how much cash can go into things like liquor licenses and retail permits. The best way to make sure you’re prepared is to do your research into the necessary expenses for your industry before you launch your business. For instance, you might need:

  • A fire department permit if your business deals with flammable materials
  • An air and water pollution permit if your company burns any materials or use products that produce gas (including paint sprayers)
  • County permits that allow you to trade within your chosen neighborhood
  • Sales tax licenses or certificates of authenticity
  • Health department permits if you run a business that deals with food and drink

Taxes

Taxes are one of the most frustrating parts of running your own business. When you were an employee of another company, the chances are that you probably didn’t spend too much time thinking about your taxes. While you likely paid your fair share, most of the hard work will have been automated by your payroll department. This means that you barely noticed the money going out of your bank account.

Unfortunately, when you become a self-employed business owner, things get a lot more complicated. Self-employment tax can cost a lot more than you might think, and it can also lead to other expenses that are associated with managing your cash flow. For instance, if you want to make sure you don’t make any mistakes on your returns, you might want to invest in a professional accountant.

Administrative Costs

Administrative costs are sneaky. A lot of companies assume that they only have to pay out once for things like phones, computers, printers, and office supplies, and then they’re done until something breaks. Unfortunately, administrative costs can become an ongoing expense when you think about the costs of software licenses, paper, ink, and even paperclips.

Individually, the everyday items you buy like office cleaning supplies and healthy snacksmight not cost very much. However, as your business grows, you may find that your administrative costs quickly add up to a significant price tag. Buying in bulk early can help to keep your expenses down in some cases.

Shrinkage

Finally, shrinkage is a common expense often overlooked by retailers who sell physical products. If you run your own brick and mortar business, or even when you’re selling physical items online, there’s always a chance that shrinkage can occur. In fact, some numbers suggest that shrinkage can cost retailers up to $45 billion each year!

Shrinkage can happen for a number of reasons, from packages that get lost during shipping, to issues with shoplifting and employee theft. Even something as simple as a paperwork error can cause you some serious problems with your cashflow. The good news is that if you catch the signs of shrinkage early, you can sometimes reduce your risk. However, most companies will find that’s impossible to eliminate shrinkage entirely.

Ultimately, there are plenty of expenses involved with running a company that are easy to overlook – particularly when it’s your first time as an entrepreneur. Making a list like the one above and making sure that you’re prepared for every expense can prevent you from facing a nasty shock when you launch your company.

Starting your business takes funding! IOU Financial is ready to help. Contact us to learn how you can get qualified for a small business loan of up to $300,000 in just 24-48 hours!

Guest post: About the Author

Raj Jana launched his own business when he realized that there weren’t enough sustainable solutions out there for those in search of their daily caffeine fix. When he’s not busy running JavaPresse, he shares his stories and experiences with the world through blogs and articles.

 

Should Your Body Shop Offer an Independent Lifetime Warranty?

As an owner of an auto body shop, you may be wondering how you can give your business a competitive advantage. Every city across the USA has a multitude of body shops, so what can you do to set your business apart from others? A proven strategy for many owners has been offering clients an independent lifetime warranty on some products and services. Read on to figure out what you can cover with your warranty and how it can benefit your business.

What is an Independent Lifetime Warranty?

While some auto part manufacturers provide limited warranties, you can offer your customers an independent lifetime warranty on some parts and repairs. While you may not be able to offer warranties on items such as engines or tires, you can offer to cover repairs on fit, finish, functionality and overall quality. You can cover items such as body work or paint jobs, mechanical repair, parts and OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts.

Why Should You Offer Independent Lifetime Warranties?

As a small business owner, it may be difficult to manage costs as it is, and offering any kind of free work may seem like an unneeded expense. However, there are benefits to this incentive, such as:

Setting You Apart from the Competition

Many people shop around before committing to getting their car fixed or serviced at a body shop. They not only look for the most affordable price, but perks not offered anywhere else. You may not be able to beat the cheapest price in town, but you will be able to justify your cost by the fact that you stand behind your work!

Letting potential customers know that they don’t need to worry about bad service or faulty parts will set you apart from the competition and give new customers the faith to give you a try.

Repeat Customers

Another benefit of offering an independent lifetime warranty for your body shop customers is the promise they will keep coming back. A client may have chipped the paint on their car and came back to you for a free touch up, but chances are they may also require an oil change or a tune up at that time.

The promise of your guarantee will keep your clients coming back to your shop, where they likely will spend more money on additional work. This will lead to customer loyalty and more revenue for your business.

Word of Mouth Referrals

Individuals typically find body shops in two ways: through their insurance company or by referrals. Word of mouth referrals are incredibly important for small businesses, and offering an independent lifetime warranty is reason enough for your customers to share that information with their friends, family members and colleagues. This is not a common incentive for small body shops, and it is enough to impress your customers to recommend your business to others, growing your customer base!

If you are looking for effective ways to grow your auto body shop, you may benefit from a small business loan. Let IOU Financial help! Call us today to inquire about our fast and easy loans of up to $300,000.

 

 

How to Make The Most out of Your Direct Mail Marketing

Many people have dismissed direct mail since the introduction of online advertisement tools. While online tools are vital for small businesses, it is a mistake to assume direct mail is not as helpful; for one, it can be highly targeted. A small business owner has to purchase a mailing list with the addresses of people interested in what the company sells. It is much easier to entice people who are interested in your product or service, which is just one thing that direct mail marketing can do for a business.

Building Your Target Audience

The first step you need to take is purchasing a mailing list. The list will contain individuals who are interested in the products you sell or the services you offer. Now, some people just use that mailing list and send off their marketing material. The material is marked with a coupon or something similar that you can track if those coupons are used in your establishment later. You can slash the mailing list, and just focus on a particular area that responds well to your mailing list.

Another step you can take is to use the mailing list as a starting point. What you want to do is make a mailing list even more specific by using demographics. You probably already know which groups of people respond well to your product or services. Use that information to target your potential customers even better. What you are doing here is reducing waste because you do not want to spend so much on advertisements that may simply end up in a trash can.

Getting the Best ROI From Direct Mail

Making sure your direct mail marketing is effective takes work. There is no doubt about that truth. The following are a few tips to ensure the best ROI you can:

Clear Call to Action

Potential customers do not want to be confused regarding what steps they can take to benefit from your products or services. This means your direct mail should be very clear and use simplistic language to tell potential customers about your offers.

Be Sure to Include Perks 

Potential customers are being pampered by many other businesses like yours. You need to make sure that you pay attention to the perks competitors are offering potential customers and see if you can beat them. A good option is to offer a few coupons, but you can spice it up by partnering with other complimentary businesses to double your clientèle.

Use Names Effectively

People love to receive mail, especially mail that is addressed to them directly rather than just the resident. You want to make sure that you use the name of the person who lives in the location. Pepper the recipient’s name throughout the letter or marketing material.

Try to Avoid Being Aggressive

Yes, you want new customers, but you do not want to seem too desperate. Do your best to ensure you only include a few calls to action or just one. People do not like a pushy salesperson, so they will not appreciate pushy marketing material.

Taking these steps should help reduce the chances of your material being tossed away with the rest of the refuse in a household. Make sure you design your marketing material with intent. Usually, what works best is something clean, simple, and printed with big letters. It would be wise to speak to a direct mail marketing consultant. This specialist can help get your message across effectively.

Guest post: About the Author

Caylanne Crowne is a contributing writer and the media specialist for Allegra Network. She regularly writes for marketing blogs with an emphasis in career building and print marketing.

How to Help Your Audience Connect with your Brand Through Compelling Images

A famous saying states that a picture is worth a thousand words. This couldn’t be more true when it comes to increasing brand recognition and improving customer loyalty.

Did you know that 67% of consumers pay more attention to images, and often find them more important than written content, such as descriptions and even customer reviews? Including images in the way you tell the story about your company helps individuals create an emotional connection and become lifelong shoppers.

Read on to learn what type of images you should consider implementing for your business and how to choose the best ones within your budget.

What Images Can Help Your Branding?

Logo

Think of world-famous logos that require less than a second for a consumer to recognize them – such as Nike, McDonalds or Apple. This can help you understand how important a compelling logo is to the success of your business.

“We have less time and less space to tell our stories in than ever before,” says Alina Wheeler, branding expert. “To rise above the clutter, a symbol or a logo is the fastest communication known to man. It unlocks associations with your brand on sight, so it’s important to get it right the first time around.”

Product Images

Images run the show when it comes to designing your products or showcasing them on your website, catalog or in your marketing materials.

Website/ Marketing Images

As online users are bombarded by information, they skim over website content quickly and prefer images to help tell the story. Images are also highly shareable and boost search engine optimization (SEO).

Where Do I Find Compelling Images for My Branding Needs?

Stock Images Websites

As a small business owner, you likely don’t have the budget to hire world class photographers or marketing experts. However, that does not mean you should forego using attractive and high resolution images for your business.

You can find high quality, yet low cost images on a variety of websites, such as iStockphoto.com‎, Shutterstock and iStock. These websites include free and affordable stock images that you can purchase for commercial use. Some of the images can be purchased for as low as $1! Simply type in the keyword or topic you need (dentist, secretary, high-heeled shoes) and find all the related images available to be purchased.

Fiverr

While stock images may be useful for design elements, when it comes to creating unique visuals for your brand, such as your logo, you can’t rely on an existing image. Fiverr is a very useful site to connect with freelance designers (and other specialists).

For as low as $5 (and up), you can find a professional to create a one-of-a-kind image for your business needs. Fiverr also allows you to read freelance profiles and customer reviews as well as view samples of their previous work.

Create Your Custom Images

You don’t have to be a professional graphic designer to create images for your company. If you would rather do this task yourself than rely on others, you can do so with the helpful of online tools.

Sites such as Canva provide ready-made templates so you can create specific visuals for marketing, articles, infographics and more! Freelogodesign promises to help you create a free logo in just minutes. You can then add that logo to merchandize to market your products or services.

There are a multitude of ways to find free and affordable images, or make them yourself with the help of existing tools. If you would rather invest in your brand by hiring a professional or need financial help in utilizing the images you created to market your brand, IOU Financial can help. Visit our site at www.ioufinancial.com to learn about our quick and easy small business loans.

 

 

 

Tools Bootstrapped Business Owners Will Love

The most obvious weakness that a bootstrapped business has is its lack of capital. Without investment, a business simply can’t grow. The biggest strength of a bootstrapped business? Most often, it’s the creativity and enthusiasm of the founders. By hook or by crook, they find a path to success, using their minimal resources effectively.

Tools also help. In 2018, there’s a tool for everything, and if you run a bootstrapped business, there are tools that can help you cover many things, from logo creation to organization. Let’s take a look at the best affordable tools that bootstrapped business owners will love:

Google Search Console

100% free, Google Search Consoleis a great way to monitor the performance of your website.

You can use it to gauge where search traffic is coming from, and assess what’s working and what isn’t on your website. Once you have this invaluable information, you can start to fine-tune your SEO efforts so that you drive more, high-value traffic to your website. Over time, this will boost conversions and help you grow a stronger audience.

Shopify’s Logo Maker

All businesses need a logo – a logo essentially represents the face of the brand and it’s the first thing we picture when we think of a company. Try to think of Coca-Cola without picturing the logo! Of course, creating logos can be expensive, especially if you hire a professional graphic designer.

This is where Shopify’s Logo Maker comes in. It’s a neat tool that lets you put together a creative and stunning logo or banner in a matter of minutes. For bootstrapped business owners, it’s absolutely ideal.

MailChimp

MailChimp is an email autoresponder that you’ll need once you start building your email list.

It’s free until you’ve got around 2,000 subscribers, or alternatively you can sign right up to their ‘Growing Business’ plan for $10 a month that gives you access to unlimited sending and advanced testing tools.

Email lists are important for all businesses. They’re a very cheap way of bunching our customers together in one place, and when you use a tool like MailChimp – which can segment your list so that the right customers receive the right emails – it’s super easy to build awesome relationships with people.

BuzzSumo

All online companies – no matter how big or small – produce content. But what happens when we run out of content ideas? Worse still, what if we keep pumping out content that no one wants to read? Conversions drop, as do sales. Our business loses its presence online.

BuzzSumo is a tool that resolves these problems. It analyzes the best performing content on the Internet so that you can generate better content ideas. In other words, you can use BuzzSumo to create a content marketing plan that will score you more readers. This, in turn, can improve your conversions and sales.

HootSuite

You don’t need a massive pot of gold to succeed on social media if you’ve got a tool like BuzzSumo for content ideas – and a tool like HootSuite for managing your social media channels.

Social media can easily get on top of us, which is why HootSuite was created. It comes with a 30-day free trial, links up over 35 social networks, and measures things such as trends, which posts are performing best, and what’s working and what isn’t on your platforms.

Slack

In 2018, more and more teams are remote-based. Keeping track of everyone can be tricky, especially when cash is sparse and you don’t have office space.

A tool like Slack helps to keep your team together in one, digitized space. It’s great as a  communication resource, and it helps to keep your team on track and up-to-date. It works well as a project management tool and comes with real-time messaging.

Pitcherific

Pitching isn’t easy, but it’s essential. A solid, well-crafted and compelling pitch can be the difference between you securing investment for your business and going back to the proverbial drawing board.

Pitcherific is the tool that raises your presentation to the next level so that your pitch convinces investors to do business with you.

Conclusion

Overall, bootstrapping is exciting and there are affordable and even free tools that can help you grow your business.

However, businesses ultimately live and die by cash flow. If you feel like your business could do with some extra capital right now, we at IOU Financial provide affordable small business loans to help you scale. For instant pre-approval and funding, apply now.

Guest Post: About the Author

Michelle Deery is a content writer for Heroic Search in Tulsa. She helps businesses improve their sales by writing educational and engaging content.

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.

 

How Text Messaging Can Grow Your Business

You likely text your friends and family, but have you considered sending text messages to your customers? If you have, you are not alone as 1 in every 10 text messages is between a business and a client. With over 7 billion people around the world owning a mobile phone, there is no better time to consider the benefits of using SMS communication (text messages) to grow your business.

Benefits of Texting Your Customers

No Internet Connection Required

In a battle between email, social media and SMS marketing, only one can be used without an internet connection—SMS. Although it may seem access to internet is never a problem, consider that less than half of mobile phone owners have smartphones. This means that while they can receive text messages, they cannot check their email or browse the web without access to WiFi.

Plus, a phone connection is simply more reliable than the internet; think about how many times you couldn’t use the web but were able to text and make phone calls on your mobile device!

In Your Face

When a text is sent, it shows up right on the screen of the mobile phone, and unless the person is a heavy texter, is extremely noticeable. Compare this to the dozens, if not hundreds, of emails that we receive daily. Plus, phones do not filter text messages, and there is no Spam folder for texts as there is with emails. Given the fact that 82% of mobile phone owners read every single they text they receive, it comes as no surprise that texts are read 98% of the time rather than 15-22% with emails.

Gives Your Customers Power

Texting isn’t a one-directional tactic; it is a two-way strategy that can play a significant role in attracting new clients. Half of the time (50% to be exact) a sale is dependent on timing, as a study found that shoppers tend to choose the company that they can get in touch with first.

If you share your phone number online and encourage customers to text you, you can improve your communication and offer them an immediate response, thereby increasing your sales.

Examples of Uses of SMS Communication

There are a multitude of ways you can utilize SMS communication to grow your business, such as:

Making/ Confirming Appointments

Text messages are an advantageous strategy to make or confirm appointments for businesses, such as medical offices, spas, salons and body shops. As the messages comes straight to the recipient’s phone, you won’t hear the excuse that it went to spam or wasn’t seen at all. Texting is a quick and convenient way to keep your calendar updated to stay on top of late shows and cancellations.

Verifications

With the rising amount of credit card fraud, asking for customers’ phone numbers to send them a verification code to confirm a purchase is a smart solution for all businesses. Plus, this allows you to store phone numbers to later use them for marketing purposes.

Location-Based Texts

Business owners can use geofencing, a service that sends texts to customers based on their location. You have the ability to send notices and coupons to your subscribers when they are in close proximity to your retail location, thereby increasing the chance they will visit your business.

If you need help integrating SMS or any other type of marketing to grow your business, you can benefit from a small business loan. Find out more about what services IOU Financial offers, and how easy and quickly you can qualify for a small business loan of up to $300,000.