Staying Relevant as an Older, Small Business Today

Today’s world is an entrepreneurial one, and it seems more so than ever before. Indeed, how many times do you find yourself reading the business pages and discovering, yet again, that a small start-up has positively exploded onto the scene; you try at the same time of this discovery, not to spill your coffee and thereby ruin your suit before that crucial meeting with your investors in an hour? How is it that these newcomers seem to hold the secrets to success in this somewhat strange modern world?

Communication Technology

In a highly competitive digital world, the key is to keep up with the latest technology. It really does pay dividends. If you’re still operating on a fax machine when your competitors are speeding their way ahead with emails (an extreme example, but it serves the point), how can you hope to keep up, let alone win? At the very least, your company needs to be on high-speed internet, working on computers that weren’t just dug up from the early 90’s, and connecting with customers via a communication system enabled by VoiceOnyx telephone companies or other such providers. Further, bear in mind that if you’re well connected in this manner, you’re unfortunately a target these days and so the latest in cybersecurity is crucial, too. Everything is pretty much online in the modern day and age – including as this does eCommerce and Cloud usage – and so it is that theft has sadly become digital as well.

The Economic Climate – A Question of Strategy

What you might overlook, when you feel yourself turn green in discovery of yet another successful newcomer to the entrepreneurial pool of competition, is the state of the economy when those companies began and thrived. It is often those who made it in the toughest of economic climates whose praises are sung the loudest, as trust in their ability has been established. Look at your own firm’s history – can you compare? Further, what of your business strategy (including lead generation), when studied side by side? Are you still paying out for those big poster ads? Stop now and get online, and get marketing by using social media platforms and other internet-enabled means. For one thing, it’s quicker and the most expensive commodity of the present day is time.Again, prominence comes digitalized this day and age and so if your company lacks a website, even the most archaically developed, and doesn’t have an up-to-date blog, then your chances of keeping up with your younger, savvier competitors is sliding quickly away.

Greyer; Not Necessarily Greater

Loyalty from customers to businesses is a dying quality and so, though you may argue that you’ve been at this game for far longer than your competitors have been around, adapting to the mindset of someone just starting out is the largest and most beneficial step you can take to stay relevant in the modern marketplace. As the saying goes, if you can’t beat them, join them.

What Should Your Marketing Priorities Be As A New Business?

A lot of new business owners are learning as they go, and have to figure things out quickly and in-depth to even get out of the starting blocks. And one of these items on the long list of to-do’s is marketing. Not just advertising, but branding, communities, and social media. Marketing isn’t something that can be overlooked or left to the last minute, nor can it be done in a half-hearted manner.

The way you market your business, in the beginning, will stick with your company forever. Think about it like building a box for a product that will be stuck on a shelf in a store. You have to make the packaging look as appealing as possible, perfect for the intended audience, and enticing to all. It also has to accurately, and honestly represent the product within the packaging, with no half-truths or promises that it can’t uphold.

Luckily, you’re not an inanimate object stuck on a store shelf – you can actually reach out and talk to your potential ‘buyers,’ create a relationship with them and would a reputation for being a good, honest product.

When planning your marketing strategy, you might be trying to work out what aspects deserve your attention more. Which sub-headings should sit above the rest and should be prioritized. Unfortunately, they are all almost as important as each other, the priorities shifting per business, however, here is our list of the most important aspects of marketing.

1. Reputation

We all studied The Scarlet Letter in school – the story of a girl who ruined her reputation by having intercourse before marriage. We’re not suggesting that we should act as they did in the book, but the lesson is still valid – a reputation lost isn’t easy to recover. As you begin your business journey, you need to set out a mission statement or motto – something that shows who you are, where you want to go, and what your company stands for. And you need to live by that statement.

If you declare that you can deliver a product anywhere, anytime, but can actually deliver within a 50-mile radius Monday to Friday, then you’re selling a lie and your reputation will be ruined before it has a chance to begin. Having a brand reputation overview will help you in so many ways – the foremost being the fact that you will see where your company need improving in these areas.

A good reputation can make up for the size of your company, your newness in the industry, and even the fact that your product might be more expensive than a competitor. People will pay for quality – and not just in the product, but in customer service, delivery, and any other dealing they have with you.

2. Branding

Creating a brand is more than just a color scheme and a name – although that is an essential part of the branding process. Branding is about establishing yourself as a company, and being recognizable by the public. You can do this through traditional mens like merchandise and packaging, but you can also look into sponsorship, like for like trades, and getting involved in local events.

A small company should always look to become involved in the local community. Your reputation will tie in with your brand here – your name will be promoted through word of mouth, and your reputation determines whether those promotions are positive or not. Get involved with charities, local festivals or competitions. Put yourself out there without being asked and help your local community where you can.

3. Reach

As your brand and reputation grow, as will your reach. It’s a natural process for good, successful businesses. However, don’t just leave it up to time to grow. You can easily expand your reach through research. Look at the areas and demographics around you – what isn’t being tapped into that you can? A coffee shop might see the need for a late night opening for students. A trunk company might think about expanding into smaller courier services.

There is always a new area to explore, a new audience to invite in. You can always count on a truck company to deliver huge quantities of goods, but what if one of your clients needs a quick influx of a certain product? This is where a smaller, quicker courier service would come in handy, and be a unique service you can use. A coffee shop will always attract students, so what about moms? Is there a mom and baby class nearby? If so why not reach out and offer half-price drinks to each mom after their class? That way you’re sure to get a new, regular group each week, who will spend hours chatting and drinking coffee.

4. Advertising

At the bottom of our list is advertising. Surprise! Yes, advertising is important – it is something that every business needs to do, but if you do the three previous points correctly, you don’t have to lean on it as a crutch.

When delving into the world of advertising, don’t just stick to online advertising; there is an entire world of tried and tested, physical advertising. Don’t ignore one to favor the other. They should compliment each other, with the same images, colors, and slogans. Your branding comes into focus here as people will, hopefully, recognize who you are and what you do. Look at successful companies like Nike and Starbucks; you know exactly what that little tick, and who that siren is, and what each company offers.

This list is, obviously, just a guide. Your business will demand that you focus on certain aspects first. But never let yourself forget the importance of marketing, and what a good campaign can do for your company. And, above all, start as you mean to go on – especially when it comes to your mission, promises and qualities.

Four Ways to Control How Your Business is Perceived

StrategyDriven Marketing and Sales Article
In today’s global economy, competition is fiercer than ever, and businesses need to do everything that can to stand out from the crowd. Understanding and controlling how your business is perceived is crucial if you want to be sure you not only get the attention of your customers, but also leave the right impression.

Ask for feedback

Before you make any changes to the corporate image of your brand or business, you first need to understand what the current perception is. The best way to achieve this is to ask for as much feedback as possible. Don’t restrict your enquiries to your current customer base – they are likely happy with the status quo otherwise they would not be using you. Instead, find out how your brand is perceived by those currently making use of other services, especially those of your closest rivals.

In this digital age, the perception of your business matters more than ever as it is the fundamental reason why consumers choose one product over another. Potential customers don’t only want to be sure that they are getting good value for money for the products or services they buy, they also want to be able to feel good about what they are doing.

Use high-quality promotional materials

Bespoke printed folders with contents that perfectly match the nature of your business are a great way to ensure your company or services are perceived in the way you wish. They not only boost awareness of your brand but also its identity. The flexibility of the format means your folders can contain anything from price lists and press releases to sales brochures or vouchers for special officers. You can also adjust the size of your folder to enable it to carry a DVD or other multi-media material. Position these around your office and reception area; use them for meetings and give them to customers and clients.

Stay on top of your social media accounts

With the right combination of tweets, posts and stories, your social media accounts can help you connect with millions of people all over the world. However, one slip-up can have lasting repercussions. In 2014 a young employee of American Apparel tasked with finding a picture to fit in with a 4th of July celebration posted a picture of what turned out to be the Space Shuttle Challenger exploding to the corporate Tumblr account. The image was swiftly removed and an apology posted, but the damage had already been done with many perceiving the company to be insensitive and incompetent.

Keep on top of your social media and use your accounts as a means to connect with your customers. If a mistake is made, apologize.

Avoid complacency

The world continues to change at a rapid pace, but if your business insists on standing still and doing things the ways they have always been done, it will soon be seen as a dinosaur and get left behind. Always keep tabs on the competition and any key developments in the field in which you operate. By being aware of potential changes to the market well in advance, you’ll be in a position to ensure your products and services remain desirable for decades to come and cement a reputation for being a forward-thinking organization.

How to Make Your Shipping Parcels Look More Professional

StrategyDriven Marketing and Sales ArticleWhen sending out packages to clients and customers, you want each shipment to bear the name of your company in a neat and professional manner. In fact, your shipping parcels need to make it obvious that they are coming from the same place. You can make professional shipping practices into a habit by utilizing shipping labels. Make your shipping labels look uniform and crisp by using a bold font, high quality envelopes and closing your envelopes neatly.

Why Your Company Needs to Print Each Shipping Label

A hastily written shipping label is not very legible, which could lead to delivery delays. If the delivery person can’t read the zip code or make out the name of the intended recipient your shipments may end up getting returned and being marked as undeliverable. Time is crucial when shipping parcels to customers, business partners, and vendors. If you want them to have a professional impression of your place of business, you need to have each shipping label printed up neatly which you can do if you buy a printer and a shipping label set.

Ensure that your labels have your company name and address as well as the name and address of the recipient printed out and aligned prior to sending your packages.

Envelopes Count When Shipping Parcels

The envelopes your company uses to send parcels help to keep the contents of each package intact and undisturbed. Not all of your shipments are going to be made up of papers. If your company is sending a package that is fragile, use padded envelopes that won’t tear or easily be compromised. All shipping boxes and envelopes also need to be thick so that their contents aren’t visible from the outside. Include packing peanuts for added security if you think that the items inside of your shipments may shake or move around in transit.

Professional Methods for Securing Envelopes

There should be a strong security tab for securing envelopes when sending out parcels professionally. In other words, you may want to avoid using the type of envelopes that you moisten and apply pressure to close the tab. Use envelopes that peel and stick so your recipient will know if it has been tampered with prior to delivery. You can also use security tape to ensure that your parcels are never opened before they get to their destination. If your company is sending out confidential papers or packages that are private in nature, your shipping methods can help to deter tampering.

When parcels that come from your company arrive looking professional and completely intact, your clients will easily identify all of the efforts taken to safeguard their mailings. Professional mailing efforts will also enable you to track packages and learn when a shipment has been diverted. Start with neatly printed labels and your workers can confirm that they have included the correct shipping information prior to dropping off packages to be delivered.

Use the best quality envelopes and package all parcels appropriately and they will arrive on time to the designated party. Your customers will make more purchases knowing that their shipments always arrive securely and professionally packaged.

Creating a Buzz Around Your Brand: Targeting as Many Potential Customers as Possible

Generating sales and profit is a challenge for any newly established brand. People are unaware of your existence or wary of your products and services. You haven’t had the opportunity to gain their trust and loyalty yet and competitors are reluctant to let them test the waters with your newly posed competition. So, how do you go about encouraging consumers to take a risk and purchase your products? It’s time to make a name for your company. Here’s how to create a buzz around your brand, drawing the attention of as many potential customers as possible.

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Corporate PR

Corporate PR forges the potential for relationships to develop between your brand and your customers. It opens up a conversation, then leaves you to make sales and prove your worth. A good corporate PR agency will ensure that your company appears in all the right places. It will land you reviews in widely read and influential publications and interviews with widely watched television programs. These agencies place you in the spotlight and give you the chance to really showcase what you’re about. Perfect! The more visible your company is and the more consistently it appears in the public eye for positive reasons, the more familiar consumers will feel with your image and the more likely they are to trust you with their purchases.

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SEO, or search engine optimization, is a business technique that helps to direct as many people to your website as possible. Every single day, millions of internet users employ the help of search engines to find the pages that they’re looking for. If they want to find the answer to a question, they’ll use a search engine to find a site that will provide them with the relevant information. If they want to know what time a certain store opens, they will use search engines to direct them to the company’s site, preferably directly to the page detailing their store details. If they want a certain product, they will use a search engine to find the brands that supply it. It’s not surprising then, that to turn over the maximum profits possible, you want to be featured high in the search engine’s results. The closer you are to the top of the list, the more likely people are going to click on your link and the more traffic directed to your site. Once consumers are on your page, the products will sell themselves. So, how do you go about directing the maximum volume of traffic to your web page? The answer? By educating yourself. Take the SEO class online to gain a full comprehension of SEO. There are so many more factors that will help you to excel in the field than you could imagine: marketing personas, marketing funnel, search fundamentals, searcher intent, search framework, channel selection, branded searches, document relevancy, URL optimization, link neighborhoods. The list goes on and on. So, it’s time to start swotting up!

Customer Reviews

With increasing numbers of people gaining their information online comes another issue that your company needs to prioritize: online customer reviews. Nowadays, individual, non-professional reviews can have a more beneficial or negative effect on your sales than ever before. The internet has given everyday people a platform to express their love or disdain for a product, service or brand that can reach a worldwide audience. So focus on gaining positive feedback. If you offer high-quality produce and impeccable service, you can’t really go wrong. However, if you do receive a complaint or negative feedback, contact the individual who has made it. Discuss the problem with them. Question what they dislike about your service and how things could be improved. Chances are, you can easily rectify the situation by offering a refund, exchange or other means of compensation. This will ensure that you maintain a good relationship with this individual consumer (they will recognize your company as going above and beyond their call of duty) and encourage them to alter their review. Hundreds of thousands of people will have access to this and trust it, so it’s essential that you put wrongs to right. You can also use the situation to ensure that you don’t make the same mistake again. You will be able to constantly improve, ensuring that you don’t receive negative complaints in the future.

If you follow all of these steps, it won’t be long until your brand is part of the public consciousness. People will feel familiar with your company and place their trust in you to provide them with everything that they expect from their transaction. This means you will have more happy and loyal customers and the increasing profit that comes hand in hand with them.