StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article

Business Owners: Are You Guilty Of Negligence?…

If you’ve recently started a business, I’m sure you’re quickly discovering just how much goes into making it a success. Your big idea is just the start of it. From there, you need to think about your HR, marketing, IT infrastructure and a whole host of other factors. With so much going on, it’s essential to make sure you don’t neglect anything important. Here are some things that you simply can’t afford to neglect…

Office Data Backup

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article
Photo courtesy of Torkild Retvedt via flickr

Office data backup is something that you’ll hopefully never have to use, but you’ll be glad you have it if and when the need arises. Backing up your office data is a great insurance policy against the unexpected. Files can be wiped from your servers, sabotaged by a disgruntled employee, or some kind of freak disaster could damage the servers beyond repair. By regularly backing up all your company’s important data, you’ll be able to get the company up and running again soon afterwards. Despite the massive importance of backing up, a lot of small businesses manage to overlook it completely. If you haven’t already, take a look at your options and set up a dependable system for backing up your files.

The Employee Handbook

Neglecting this part of your business is usually a side-effect of rapid growth. In the early days of your business, when there’s only you and a few employees, any kind of solid HR policies aren’t really that necessary. However, when your business starts to grow and develop as an organization, you’ll need to take on a lot more staff. This means you’re going to need some solid rules in place. A good employee handbook will introduce new recruits to the company’s core values, mission and culture, will tell them what’s expected of them, but most importantly, it will tell them what’s permissible and what’s not. By taking the time to draft an employee handbook, you’ll protect yourself from all kinds of costly litigation and disputes. Whether you do it all on your own steam or reach out to an employment law firm like Ellis Whittam, an employee handbook is an absolute must. Just a few printed words can make all the difference to your company’s future!

A Good CRM

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article
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CRMs, short for customer relationship management platforms, are great tools for managing your company’s interactions with both current and prospective customers. With one of these in place, your company will enjoy better workflow, will be able to automate various tasks, increase the number of sales leads you’re getting and generally increase productivity. Although these auxiliary programs were once considered a luxury, an increasing number of firms are using them, and they’re quickly becoming something of an essential resource for any modern business. Despite what you may have been led to believe, CRMs aren’t exclusive to big businesses anymore, and the packages on the market are getting more and more cost-effective all the time.

As you move forward with your business, make sure you’re not neglecting any of these and holding your firm back from what it can achieve!

StrategyDriven Marketing and Sales Article

The Marketing Strategy: What You REALLY Need To Know

Your business thrives on how effective its marketing strategy is. Marketing is a concept that can almost consume a business that hasn’t got its strategy in order. Most businesses place a vast proportion of their budget towards marketing and its various sub-categories. A lot of small businesses don’t have this luxury. So, if you are a small business, are there any tricks that the bigger companies use that can be implemented without having to squirrel away a third of the year’s budget?

Think Of The Image And The Brand

StrategyDriven Marketing and Sales Article
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

With any advertising campaign, the talk is generally geared towards two things, the image and the brand. The image is what you are presenting to the world via signs, symbols, and text. The brand is, in essence, the personality. There is a very subtle difference in the two words, but important enough for you to need to differentiate. Communication is how you get your business identity and image out there, which is why you need to be aware of semiotics.

Semiotics is the study of signs and symbols. Imagery is the image: text, signs, and symbols. This also includes language, gestures, clothing, and the list goes on. In terms of your marketing approach, you need to take into account how you are communicating your business brand via your imagery. This is something where a lot of small businesses fall into murky waters because they either don’t invest the time or finances into their imagery. You can smell a primitive company from a mile off because their images are not mature and, more importantly, do not sync well into their business brand. The two sides to semiotics are the signifier, which is the material presenting the image: an object, words, a picture, etc. The other side is the signified, and this the meaning interpreted by the target, which is your consumer or recipient of the image/ad/billboard/communication. Going for the right message in your ad campaign will communicate your business brand as it was intended. Now, all this may sound complex, but every marketing campaign thrives on the undercurrent of semiotics, it just isn’t communicated in these terms.

The next approach to your marketing strategy is to work on the brand. The image is part of the brand, and the brand is part of the company.  To work on what your company “is” you need to get to the crux of what your company stands for i.e. the ethos or mentality behind the brand. Much like the actor who needs to “get into character” to understand what the character wants, which drives the actions of the story; you need to understand your needs as a company. Ask yourself, why you are selling these products? What are these products communicating to people about your business? By aligning product with business image, this is how you start to get a clearer idea of your target market, which then links into your marketing plan. The image and the brand are two important facets of your marketing that you cannot afford to cut down on.

How Do You Control This Image?

StrategyDriven Marketing and Sales Article
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Understanding your identity is the first part of controlling the image you put out there. It’s the equivalent to the writer finding their voice. The creative similes are being used because it is the essence of being as creative as you possibly can that will get you ahead in the game. Controlling your image is something that you need to do. If you are a small business, taking the time to go over the image before you put it on your website, or place it on a billboard is not normally a luxury you can make time for. But it is integral to how you communicate yourself in the wider public sphere. You need to vet the image and understand it, using semiotics as a yardstick so you can make sure the image you need to communicate is the correct one, and is not open for misinterpretation.

There are ways to cultivate a holistic view of your business, and that is dependent on the products that you put out there. Not just the actual products you are peddling, but the supplementary products that every business uses now, which is done typically via the internet. These can include podcasts, smartphone apps, webisodes, YouTube clips, and promotional gifts, which is a cute little way to promote your company. The Dynamic Gift website home page has a range of promotional gifts and display items that can put your business logo on things like keyrings, marquees, and lanyards. These types of companies are especially useful in trade show environments when you need to stand out or give your company a bit more personality.

It is tempting to go for every avenue so you can hedge your bets, but it is the corporate equivalent of spreading yourself thin. Much like the ad campaigns where you are unsure of the target market to gear yourself towards, the key is to nominate two or three areas where you can maintain immense focus. By going for every area and giving 25% dedication to each one is obviously not as effective as giving 100% on two or three. Each advertising method has its own benefits. For example, a podcast is a format for slow burners and dedicated listeners, ideal for a business that has a very limited range of products. But it is a subtle game to play, and by controlling your image at every turn, not only is it more attainable by only doing it through a few channels, it makes your job as its leader much easier.

The brand, image, and method of communicating the business are all integral pieces to your marketing campaign. The moment you understand what your “voice” is as a business, the other aspects will start to fall into place, and the building blocks that you have been working towards as a small company will finally begin to materialize and make sense. This is a methodical and time-consuming process, but it is one that is completely essential to building up your customer base through marketing.

StrategyDriven Business Management Article

Will You Take These Services up on Their Offers?

In order to stay ahead of the competition your business must utilise the best options offered to it. In this day and age, there are a whole host of companies and services at your disposal to make use of in order to make sure you’re getting the best assistance and the best value for money. Maybe it’s time you took a look at some of the services below and how they can help your business succeed, better their area and field, and how they too can better your wallet.

Virtual receptionists are an example of just how much technology has killed, or begun to kill, the professions of old. VRs take it upon themselves to simply answer calls, but do so in a manner that could make the need for a receptionist a thing of the past. They mean a call is never missed; they retain the ‘unique-ness’ of your business by answering and responding in a way that you tell them to; they are open 24/7 which can mean you are perceived as being ‘open’ 24/4 by any ringing customers; and they are cheap — some offering their services for a mere quarter of what you’d pay a receptionist per month. Also, advances in cleaning and hygiene services have improved two-fold. Also, with janitorial services offering an effective clean and hygiene levels that blow a quick vac and polish out of the water, the need for an in-house janitor or cleaning team may be over. But are there cons to utilising such services?

StrategyDriven Business Management Article

A big one is that they could take a job off of someone who has done it for years and proved themself to be extremely loyal. It could be tough for you to get rid of a trusted employee in order to replace them with a service, but it’s your business, and you must do what’s best for it. if a service offers much more, for the same or even less of the price, then it’s a no brainer.

Something else that joins the whole host of things that have been killed by technology is the need for cold, hard cash. Merchant Services, a type of bank account that allows businesses to accept payments in a multiple of technology driven ways, means that trips to the bank for coins and notes may soon become a redundant exercise. With the pace of change in the U.S. payment market showing that over the past five years the credit card has proved itself to be the generally preferred method of payment, merchant services are ones that must be optimised if a business owner wishes to retain custom. This means you should have a card reader and atm machine on site at all times so that you are able to take a customer’s payment when they don’t have notes or spare shrapnel on their person.

So, there you have it. A few modern day services that are on offer to you, the business of owners of today. It’s now up to you whether you take them up on their offers.

StrategyDriven Marketing and Sales Article

Taking Over The Internet: Building Your Company’s Online Rep

We live in an age of unprecedented technological expansion. The digital era has revolutionised business, but you don’t need me to tell you that. No matter your industry or the specific nature of your business, technology will affect your operations in some form of another. In particular, the internet has become a tool which offers connectivity, speed and simplicity which has made things easier than ever for businesses who want to excel at an accelerated rate.

StrategyDriven Marketing and Sales Article
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Of course, when every business is using the same technology, the playing field levels out, and the steps required to push past the competition become harder to see. Your business is trying to utilize the online world to its advantage in terms of increasing the goods and services it can sell successfully, but so is every other business in the industry. You might be feeling as if you’ve lost a step, but that’s okay. Here are some pieces of advice for businesses looking to regain their footing and their position in the industry by staying ahead of the game on the internet.

Conduct research.

It’s easy for ego to take the wheel and drive, especially when you’re running a small business and your team is full of innovative, intellectual individuals who want to constantly push the business further and further with great new ideas. Obviously, this is exactly what you want from your team, but sometimes a level business head is needed. You need to be appealing to the market, and not expecting the market to mould itself around the needs of your company. You should be researching the market you’re targeting within your specific industry. These are the people who will keep your business afloat.

Researching might entail looking into reviews you’ve already received from customers of your business, either through social media mentions, review sites or perhaps your business’ own website. You need to listen to what people are saying and work to change the things which aren’t working for your target audience. In addition, if you’re a brand new business with few clients, you need to be monitoring what customers have said about your competitors. If there are flaws with the services of competing businesses, there are gaps in the market for your company to exploit.

Improve your online marketing skills and, in turn, your sales.

You need to be better understanding the internet, so as to ensure you’re selling any online goods or services to the extent at which a business in your industry should be. Of course, if your company is still struggling, you might consider a Magento developer to help you reinvent your eCommerce platform. There are always online solutions to tricky problems your business might be facing, and, when it comes to marketing your business, you need to be properly utilizing the internet’s capabilities.

Your reputation depends on you offering a professional service, because, much like the way you present your business in the physical world, the way you present your business in the virtual world reflects on your company’s standards, experience, expertise and the level of effort they put into what they do.

Show your best goods first.

As a business trying to top your competitors, you really need to be making your mark quickly, efficiently and simply. Consumers have so much choice in the modern era that they can become rather passive about making their decision when it comes to a particular good or service. You should be making that easier by offering them your best products on the front page of your website.

StrategyDriven Marketing and Sales Article

Driving Sales: What it Takes to Make it Happen

Running a business means having to hit sales targets. If you keep falling short and making fewer sales than you would ideally like to, you should try to rethink your strategy. Sales don’t need to slump and decline for your business. You just need to learn more about what drives sales and what you can do to get your approach to those things right. Below, you will find information on the four most important things for your business to possess as it strives to drive up sales.

Products You Believe In

Before anything else, you need to have products that you truly believe in. If you don’t really believe in the things that you are trying to sell, it won’t be long before your sales figures fall. So, this is always the thing that you should try to get right first of all. People will only believe in what you’re trying to sell if you do as well. So, try to make sure that your products are as strong as they possibly can be. Test and prototype them until you’re happy that they are ready to go to market and be sold to the public.

A Talented Team

Next, you will need to think about the team that you have in place. If you have a team of talented individuals who know how to sell products to the public, you will have an advantage over the competition. When your team is weak and inexperienced, more mistakes will be made, and that will make it much more difficult for you to make sales and achieve more for your business. You can improve the selling skills of your team by using sales enablement techniques. These should make life easier for the people in your team when it comes to selling.

StrategyDriven Marketing and Sales Article
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

The Right Message

The message you get across to customers is also very important. You need to be willing to deliver your message with confidence and conviction. When you do this, you will show the world that you really mean business. A big part of your messaging should focus on telling the public how your products or services can help them and improve their day to day lives. The messages have to be relatable and easy to digest if you want people to get hooked by them. Keep this in mind when you are formulating your approach to things like advertising and marketing.

Good Targeting

Targeting refers to the people you target with your adverts and marketing material. You need to carry out some market research so that you can be sure exactly who you need to target and why. You then need to think about what the best methods are for reaching the kind of people who make up your target audience. So, if you want to target young people, you would have to place a focus on social media engagement and things like Facebook ads. If your target audience is older, then your approach will have to be entirely different.

StrategyDriven Marketing and Sales Article
Photo courtesy of Pixabay