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By Nick Fernandez

It’s time to start that small business or side hustle.

There are podcasts for everything, but if you’re a small business owner, you probably don’t have time to listen to podcasts like Serial or The Joe Rogan Experience. Thankfully, there are plenty of business podcasts to listen to to gain tips, insights, and advice to improve your productivity or leadership skills.

It’s not always easy to find the best business podcasts on Spotify or other platforms, but we’ve done the hard work for you. Here are the best podcasts for business owners and entrepreneurs of all shapes and sizes!

The best business podcasts

 

10 Minute MBA

10 minute MBA

Frequency: Daily

Length: 10 minutes

10 Minute MBA — Daily Actionable Business Lessons with Scott D. Clary might have the longest name of any business podcast on our list, but thankfully the episodes themselves are as short as the title implies. This daily podcast is filled with actionable insights, tools, and strategies for business growth. Scott D. Clary is an investor and CEO himself, with a fairly substantial YouTube presence if you want to learn more. But at just 10 minutes, this one is easy to slot into your daily commute or morning routine.

Listen on Spotify or Apple Podcasts

The BizChix Podcast

Powered by Playwire

Bizchix podcast

Frequency: Weekly

Length: 30 minutes

Most business podcasts are, quite frankly, almost exclusively filled with men. For all the women entrepreneurs out there, Natalie Eckdahl puts out this weekly podcast filled with business training and coaching calls to help you learn everything from team-building techniques to managing work/life balance.

Listen on Spotify or Apple Podcasts

The Goal Digger podcast

Gold Digger business podcast

Frequency: Twice weekly

Length: 30-60 minutes

The Goal Digger podcast is a great business and marketing resource for entrepreneurs and influencers. Host Jenna Kutcher, a self-made millionaire, shares her own experiences and lessons learned from building a thriving online business. It also features guest experts that offer insights and tips on key topics such as social media, branding, email marketing, and blogging, all essential for online success.

Listen on Spotify or Apple Podcasts

Business Accelerator

Business accelerator podcast

Frequency: Weekly

Length: 60 minutes

When it comes to the best podcasts for small business owners, Business Accelerator is right up there at the top. It’s hosted by father-and-daughter team Michael Hyatt and Megan Hyatt Miller, and it’s filled with actionable advice on how to become a better and more effective leader. Episodes are released weekly and typically run just under an hour long.

Listen on Spotify or Apple Podcasts

Mind Your Business

Mind your business podcast

Frequency: Twice weekly

Length: 60 minutes

If you listen to podcasts as much as I do, one hour a week just won’t cut it. The Mind Your Business podcast fills that gap with three episodes per week, each running anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half. It’s hosted by entrepreneur James Wedmore and his girlfriend, showcasing everything from interviews and case studies to lists of tips, tools, and advice for business owners. It’s mostly focused on digital businesses, but even if you have a shop or restaurant it’s still one of the best business podcasts you can listen to.

Listen on Spotify or Apple Podcasts

Side Hustle School

Side hustle school podcast

Frequency: Daily

Length: 5 minutes

This next one is the best business podcast for anyone who isn’t quite so far along in their entrepreneurial journey. It’s a short, daily podcast that highlights a different person’s side hustle. Usually, these are modest businesses (there’s a series about making your first $1,000), but the podcast is filled with ideas to inspire you to start your own business without having to leave your day job.

Listen on Spotify or Apple Podcasts

How I Built This with Guy Raz

How I Built This podcast

Frequency: Varies

Length: 45-90 minutes

If you’d rather find out about how the world’s best-known entrepreneurs got started before they made their millions, How I Built This with Guy Raz is worth a listen. It features roughly hour-long interviews that go over the decisions founders made to grow their businesses, often into multinational conglomerates. Will you ever reach this level of success? Probably not. But it’s good to dream.

Listen on Spotify or Apple Podcasts

The Tim Ferriss Show

The Tim Ferriss show

Frequency: Weekly

Length: 2-3 hours

I’ll be the first to admit that Tim Ferriss often rubs me the wrong way, but there’s no arguing that he gets some of the greatest guests on his podcast. Topics are more focused on lifestyle coaching and productivity hacks for entrepreneurs rather than how to actually run a business, but there are some gems in there. I just wish that Tim would let guests speak more without butting in, and the conversational nature of the podcast means episodes are extremely long.

Listen on Spotify or Apple Podcasts

BBC Business Daily

BBC Business Daily podcast

Frequency: Daily

Length: 20 minutes

Most of the options on our list so far have had advice for small business owners and entrepreneurs, but the Business Daily podcast from the BBC has a much wider scope. It has stories and insights from business leaders, entrepreneurs, workers, consumers, and experts on various topics such as economics, technology, innovation, and social issues, so you’re getting a different perspective in every episode. As the name implies, episodes are released daily, and run about 20 minutes each.

Listen on Spotify or Apple Podcasts

Planet Money

The Planet Money Podcast logo.

Frequency: Daily

Length: 10 minutes

Any list of podcasts wouldn’t be complete without an NPR podcast, but thankfully Planet Money is one of the most popular and best business podcasts around. Like the BBC podcast above, it’s more focused on the wider economy, but if you want your business to thrive you’ll need to have some idea of what’s going on in the world. It’s also hugely entertaining, with three episodes a week running 20 to 30 minutes each.

Listen on Spotify or Apple Podcasts

Feature Image Credit: Lily Katz/Android Authority

By Nick Fernandez

Sourced from ANDROID AUTHORITY

Sourced from BOSS Magazine

Starting a business from scratch and ensuring its success while keeping your business at par with the ever-evolving business market is easier said than done. Making a suitable business plan, putting appropriate customer care services in place, and marketing your business is indispensable to a prosperous business. In this article, we have compiled a list of factors to help ensure your business is sustainable and growing.

Start with an Annual Business Plan

Building a well elaborate business plan helps you track your past performance and allows you to govern your future. A sound business plan includes the vision of your company, mission statement, core values, and a well-defined strategic plan. Splitting it into monthly, quarterly, and annual goals will further help you monitor your company’s success. Keep a record of your mistakes, bottlenecks, potential weaknesses, lessons, accomplishments, and opportunities to make the most out of them.

Building the Perfect Website

Your company’s homepage is where most customers will land and decide whether they want to buy your product. A good website will be well designed, fast-loading, display content in a hierarchy, and be optimized for mobiles. Focus on keeping it informative, user-friendly, and a genuinely captivating reflection of what your company is about. You can consider going online to build the perfect website or hiring a professional to do the job.

Marketing

Optimizing your marketing capabilities to showcase your product should be your top priority. The most accessible way to achieve this is by using social media. You can grow your brand via Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, or Facebook profiles. Utilize SEO and PPC ads to target your audiences through multiple channels. Some of the most reliable marketing strategies include starting a blog, building a lead magnet, using LinkedIn, and utilizing automation for email marketing sequences.

Expand

Ensuring that your business doesn’t stagnate is vital for its survival. If your organization is short on funds needed to grow, seeking a loan from a bank or finding potential investors may be your best shot. Establishing business credit to enhance your business’s ability to borrow is vital. Banks and investors are more likely to give loans to companies with well-established business credit. Enrolling in a business credit course can solve your problems.

Building Staff Relations

Hiring the right staff gives a business a strong foundation. Interview your employees thoroughly to know if their interests align with the core values of your business. Setting up monthly meetings to assess the quality of the workspace is equally essential. You should focus on keeping a healthy relationship with your staff and promoting a friendly, non-toxic environment in the workspace which preserves their mental health. A straightforward approach would be to set up individual and group meetings with your employees every once in a while and observe their behavior.

Customer Care

Connecting with your customer base is essential to elevating your business. The best way to enhance your customer experience is by developing a feedback loop. Consider creating a separate section on your website for feedback purposes. Conducting surveys and introducing in-app popups are some ways to get customer reviews. You might even get revolutionary ideas from your customer base on growing your business or what new products they want you to start making.

Endnote

Growing your business and ensuring its stability can be challenging. Calculating your risks and assessing when it’s the right time to take them will help you give your business the boost it needs. Make sure you have a well-designed website and a detailed business plan, and you’re focused on improving internal and internal relations. This will foster growth and enable you to expand your operations in a sustainable manner.

Sourced from BOSS Magazine

By

Attracting customers is critical to success, especially in the early stages of starting a business. Sadly, even for owners with a solid business plan, truly understanding whom they serve often takes a back seat to developing their product or service.

Ironically, the two go hand in hand: having something truly exceptional to sell and knowing exactly to whom it should be sold.

Clearly identifying your target audience—sometimes called customer persona modeling or customer journey mapping—enables you to assess demand and modify to better meet customer needs. You can then design a marketing campaign that “speaks to” the right people, using the tone and language most likely to appeal to them. In this article, we’ll discuss why it’s so important to identify your target audience and how to do it in five simple steps.

What Is a Target Audience?

A target audience is a specific group of consumers that is most likely to be receptive to your marketing campaigns. A business might have different target audiences for different products or services. Each target audience has specific needs, and business owners usually devise a specific marketing plan to attract them.

Why You Need to Identify a Target Audience

If you are a business owner looking to build an effective marketing plan, identifying and understanding your target audience is the first step. But why is it important to know your target audience?

In general, targeting the right audience ensures your marketing efforts perform better and lead to higher sales or conversions. Let’s take a look at a few additional benefits.

Target Market Versus Target Audience

You’re probably familiar with the term “target market.” A target market and target audience are similar but not interchangeable. A target market refers to a group of people with common characteristics and behaviours that business owners target in their marketing strategy.

A target audience, on the other hand, is a subset of the larger target market and consists of a specific group of consumers within the larger group. The first step in finding the right audience to market your business is to identify your target market. This lays the groundwork for where to focus your efforts.

Finding the right target market can be challenging for a new business. Here are some quick tips to help you find your target market:

  • Review your competitors to see who they’re targeting
  • Look for common behaviours among your customers
  • Use audience data to see demographic information about your customers

More information about your target market will be revealed as you pinpoint your target audiences.

Segmenting Your Target Market

After pinpointing your target market, it’s time to refine your strategy. This is where target market segmentation comes into play. The purpose of market segmentation is to deliver more specific marketing content to specific groups within your target market. The four common types of segmentation are:

  • Demographic: This means segmenting your audience based on demographic information, including age, gender, income level, relationship status, and more. Take a look at your customer data and see if you notice any patterns. For example, your customers might be mostly women with disposable income.
  • Psychographic: This segments your audience based on psychological factors like lifestyle, social status, activities, opinions, and interests. For example, if you know your customers tend to be big sports fans, you can target your advertising around game day.
  • Geographic: This segment focuses on targeting people based on where they live. Common geographic segments are local, state, region, and country. For example, if the majority of your customers live in California, marketing winter gear to this audience might not be the right call.
  • Behavioural: This type of segmentation creates audiences based on a user’s interactions with your brand. For example, if you run an e-commerce business, you can create a segment of users who haven’t made a purchase in 60 days and target them with an email campaign to try to win them back.

Segmenting your target market allows for effective marketing with efficient spending and improved customer retention. With segmentation, you are exclusively sending relevant information to audiences that are specifically interested in it. If you send all of your content to the entirety of your contact list, your subscribers will tire of receiving material that isn’t useful to them.

Efficient Budget Use

Not defining your target audience can cost you money, literally.

This is because digital marketing in the form of ads requires some amount of capital. And this money is wasted if the marketing content reaches an audience that isn’t interested in what you’re selling. Targeted marketing helps you make better returns on your investment by being smarter about your advertising. It’s important to identify your target audience to refine your marketing strategy in a way that saves you money and helps generate new leads.

Build Stronger Customer Relationships

With targeted marketing, you can reach the right target audience that’s responsive to your marketing strategies. Researching your target audience allows you to offer solutions to their problems. This increases the chances of them engaging with your business.

Reaching out to your customers with personalized content makes you stand out from your competitors. For example, if a customer buys a certain product from your online store, you can create an email campaign to target that customer when similar products are added or go on sale. This type of personalization helps your target audience relate to your business on a personal level, helping your brand establish stronger customer relationships.

How to Identify Target Audiences

Now that you understand the benefits of defining your target audience and how to segment your target market, it’s time to get to work. Here are five steps to help you identify your target customers.

1. Create an Ideal Customer Profile

The people who are most likely to buy your products or services share certain characteristics. The first step toward identifying these prospects is putting together an ideal customer profile, sometimes called a buyer persona. This is essentially a detailed description of your target demographic that includes the following characteristics.

Age

Do your potential customers mostly fit in a millennial age bracket, or are they more often middle-aged? This is important to understand because customers in different age groups will respond differently to how your product is designed and marketed.

Gender

Depending on the types of products you sell, gender can play a role in how your audience reacts to your messaging. Generally speaking, the needs and goals of specific genders are often strikingly different. If you promote your business in a way that fails to address these differences, you could end up reducing the effectiveness of your campaigns.

Income level

Knowing how much disposable income your customers possess should directly influence your marketing strategies. Low-income families may be drawn to products or services that help save them money. Customers in higher-income brackets, on the other hand, may respond more favourably to marketing that emphasizes luxury and exclusivity.

Location

Broadly speaking, the buying habits of urban residents often differ from those of people living in rural areas. Where people reside and the types of communities they live in influence their purchasing preferences.

Other key characteristics include marital status, occupation or industry, families with (or without) children, ethnic groups, hobbies, and interests. Use your own financial and business data to determine who your ideal customers might be. Then use market research to see how your actual customers measure up.

2. Conduct Market Research

You can learn about your target audience through primary and secondary market research. Primary research involves learning about customers’ buying habits through direct contacts, such as:

Surveys

Distribute surveys to potential customers via paper, email, or web-based services. Surveys help you gather useful data directly from your customers. You can ask them questions outright about what previous services and strategies they liked, then take that feedback into account for your next marketing campaign.

Interviews

Talk to people you trust and whose purchasing habits dovetail with your small business. This approach is a bit more traditional and direct than a survey and provides you with candid responses for your marketing campaigns.

Focus groups

Get feedback from small groups who fit your customer profile through Q&A sessions and discussions.

Of course, you should never overlook current customers as a source of insight. When applied to clients, the same three methods not only help you better understand your target audience but can also guide you into better service skills.

Do you ever ask customers to fill out forms or leave reviews when they purchase your product or service? If so, they may be open to answering questions about their age, where they live, and their purchasing preferences. Invite them to share information voluntarily.

3. Reassess Your Offerings

With a comprehensive customer profile in place, the next step is to look at your products or services in a fresh light. Given what you know about the target audience, ask yourself:

  • Which features and benefits are most likely to attract new business?
  • Which may be of less interest or even discourage new customers?
  • Which should I place front and centre in my marketing and paid advertising?
  • Which current customers, images, and copywriting should shape my messaging?

This analysis can lead to valuable modifications to your offering and yield new leads.

You’ll also want to reassess your target audience periodically. Every six months or once a year, do some additional primary research and refine your customer profile accordingly. As the marketplace shifts and evolves, your ideal clientele may change with it. Get ahead of the curve, and you’ll also be one step ahead of your competition.

4. Research Your Competitors

As a marketer, one effective way to learn about what areas to focus on and which strategies to employ is by observing your competitors. This way, you can find out what strategies are already effective in your niche and how you can incorporate those into your marketing plan. Here are a few things to consider:

Which Social Networks Are They Using?

Social media marketing has been a game-changer for e-commerce brands and business-to-business companies. Researching your competitor’s social media will allow you to look for the content that receives the most engagement. The common channels to review include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok, and Snapchat.

Research how often they post, what they post, the influencers they tend to work with, and so on. Such research will also identify the most suitable social media platforms with an already existing target audience base. You can target the same audience with your content, knowing they are already interested in that niche.

For example, if your target audience regularly interacts with your competitors’ posts on TikTok, it might be time to jump on the bandwagon.

What Are Their Customers’ Pain Points?

Pain points are the problems your target customers are already facing and looking to solve. Identifying your audience’s pain points lets you present your products as viable solutions in a targeted way. You and your competitors probably try to solve the same pain points for your customers. While researching your competitors, identify where their approach is lacking and try to better address solutions in those areas with your marketing plan.

5. Leverage Existing Customer Data

While devising your marketing plan, make use of the insights you have already gathered from existing customer records. Identifying patterns in this data and properly using them in your plan will help you build a more effective marketing strategy.

Use Google Analytics Data

Google Analytics is a great resource to identify patterns among your target audience. Google’s demographic information gives you insight into the age and gender of your audience. This data is broken down into affinity markets and in-market segments and gives valuable audience insights. These analytics allow you to know your audience better and create more relevant content for them, which will be more effective in generating sales for your business.

Review Customer Relationship Management Data

A customer relationship management (CRM) system is software that allows companies to manage their interactions with potential customers. Customer data like name, age, contact information, certain behaviour (like items viewed and previously purchased), and other engagement data are stored neatly in this software. CRM analytics show you more about your customers and your target audience at a glance.

This software can also give valuable insights you can use to identify patterns for different purchases, helping you segment your audience. Common patterns to look for include:

  • How did they find your site for the first time?
  • How many interactions did it take to complete a purchase?
  • Did they use coupons?
  • Are they typically on mobile or desktop devices?

Which Social Media Platforms Do They Use?

Social media has proven its mettle when it comes to audience analytics and related tools. Knowing which social media platforms your audience uses can help you decide what analytic tools to invest in.

Facebook allows you access to the demographics of your audience and their interests through Facebook analytics. Similarly, Twitter provides ad accounts with a follower dashboard that tells you more about the interests of your followers. These analytics can help you identify your target audience and also help you create proper strategies for maximum content engagement.

Start Building Your Target Audience

Finding the right audience is crucial for the effectiveness of your marketing campaign. Not everyone is interested in what you’re selling or what you have to say, so you need to identify whom to focus your efforts on.

Target audience analysis allows you to make personalized content for your customers that complies with their user persona. This allows you to solve and address their pain points and build long-term relationships with your customer base. Finding your target audience helps you build a more cost-efficient marketing strategy and saves valuable time and resources. It also encourages a great return on investment and helps your business grow sustainably.

Take the time to identify your target audience and the problems they face. Then, build your marketing strategy in a way that addresses their pain points and provides your audience with useful solutions.

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Sourced from The Street

 

By 

The last few years have seen a huge increase in internet penetration and web technologies worldwide. Consequently, the marketing landscape has evolved to give us bigger and better marketing channels to reach the right audience at the right time.

However, not all marketing channels are well-suited for a small business. For example, if you’re a local eatery, you wouldn’t want to spend thousands of dollars on a nationwide TV commercial.

As such, you must be aware of the small business marketing channels most likely to make a positive impact on your specific product or service.

Best marketing channels for small business

Here’s my list of the best channels to consider when promoting your small business. I’ll walk you through a brief explanation of each channel, why it matters, and how to get started.

#1. Email Marketing

Despite being an old channel in terms of internet years, email still has the potential to reach 3.9 billion people as of 2020, and this number is expected to touch 4.3 billion users in 2023.

This makes email marketing an ideal way to drive leads and conversions for your small business.

Email marketing can not just reach a wide audience, but also delivers the best returns. As per an industry census, 73% of people ranked email as an excellent marketing channel.

SaleCycle

Image Source: SaleCycle.com

Plus, DMA states that every $1 spent on email marketing leads to a $42 average return on investment.

Writing a series of emails and sending it to potential customers based on a carefully planned timeline can help you establish a relationship, build trust and make them interested in your product or service.

To get started with email marketing, you’ll need a way to build an email list and send emails to your contacts at regular intervals. That’s where an email marketing software like Mailchimp can help.

It will allow you to capture email addresses through your website, social media accounts, marketing events, and other avenues. In addition, you’ll be able to create a series of emails, along with an automation workflow, to send these emails to your contact list.

#2. Organic Search

According to Bright Edge, 68% of online experiences begin with a search engine.

Whether it’s for research, entertainment, or shopping, a search engine is the first place most people start with. And then they’ll click one of the top results that show up on the first page of organic search engine results.

This is what makes organic search another effective marketing channel for a small business.

Bright-Edge

Image Source: BrightEdge

When a customer searches for a query related to your product or service, the goal is to get the pages from your website to rank higher than those of competitors. Doing this will ensure a consistent stream of traffic and leads into your sales funnel.

The process of getting listed and strengthening your website’s presence in organic search engine result pages (SERPs) is known as SEO. It will involve researching the best keywords you want to rank for, and then optimizing the pages on your website for your selected keywords.

#3. Mobile Devices

Mobile usage has been on the rise for many years now, and it’s not showing any signs of slowing down. 50.88% of online traffic in 2020 came from mobile devices.

Desktop-VS-Mobile-Internet-Usage-Statistics-In-2020

Image Source: High-Speed Internet

Customers prefer businesses that can provide the information and communication they need through SMS, WhatsApp, and other mobile apps.

So it only makes sense to promote your small business to users of mobile and tablet devices.

There are a number of ways to capitalize on the mobile trend, the most prominent of which is having a mobile-responsive website. It’s no longer acceptable to have an outdated website that doesn’t adapt to different screen sizes.

#4. Word-of-Mouth Marketing

It’s no surprise that people trust other customers over you and your marketing team.

Marketers usually have an agenda, but a customer will spread the word about a brand, whether online or offline, only if the brand has truly delighted them. That’s why 9 out of 10 customers read reviews when considering a purchase.

There’s no shortcut to using this marketing channel for your benefit. You will really need to put in the work to ensure a great customer experience throughout the buyer’s journey.

Then set up email automation to reach out to customers to ask for feedback on their experience, and if they’re happy with your product or service, request a testimonial.

#5. Video Marketing

If you haven’t yet jumped on the video bandwagon, there’s no better time to do so.

When asked how they prefer to learn more about a product or service, 69% of people in a survey mentioned watching a video.

If you run a small business, you don’t need a big production team to start video marketing. It’s possible to create videos affordably. For instance, you use a camcorder to record videos that answer customer questions, introduce your team, or showcase customer testimonials.

These videos may not be as polished, but they can still win over your audience with their authentic look and feel.

#6. Business Blog

A blog is a must-have marketing channel for your small business. With a business blog, you get a dedicated platform to educate current and potential customers on the topics related to your niche.

Six out of ten buyers say that blog posts are valuable at the start of their purchase journey.

Oberlo

Image Source: Oberlo

A business blog is like a central content hub that attracts prospects, helps you turn visitors into leads, and strengthens your online presence on other marketing channels.

With several intuitive blogging platforms available online, starting a business blog these days is relatively easy. All you need is a domain name, hosting, and content management system, the most popular being WordPress.

#7. Social Media

Next up on our list is Social Media. 72% of US adults say that they use at least one social media website.

Pew-Research

Image Source: Pew Research

Social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and more allow your small business to build rapport with your audience.

When you interact with your customers at the same place where their friends are, your business becomes a part of their personal network.

Plus, social media posts are easy to share, leading to word-of-mouth opportunities.

To get started with social media marketing, pick the social media platforms where your target customers are the most active and work on building an active presence.

#8. Paid Search (Pay-Per-Click Ads)

Paid Search refers to advertising your website near the top of search engine result pages, instead of getting found organically.

Order-Online

You are required to pay only when a user clicks on your ad, which is why another name for paid search is PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising.

This is a drastically different model from traditional outdoor advertising, in which you pay for your ads to be displayed, regardless of whether they trigger any action from the viewer.

Paid search ads may cost more than some of the other marketing channels on our list. However, they offer a unique benefit that no other channel can – the potential to generate results fast. In fact, 66% of CMOs expect to increase spend on paid search in 2021.

The most common way to get started with paid search is to create a Google Ads account and launch a search engine advertising campaign.

#9. Display Advertising

Display ads allow you to use image banners and videos to show an offer to your target audience on the websites they are likely to visit. Here’s an example:

Dropbox-For-Business

Google’s Display Network, for instance, allows you to create display ads with the potential to reach 90% of internet users worldwide.

These ads can also be shown on email platforms, social media, and other digital channels that provide ad placements.

You can use them in isolation, but the real game-changer with these types of ads is targeting people who have already visited your website or opted into your email newsletter. This is referred to as remarketing.

Final thoughts

Each marketing channel is unique, with its own quirks, strengths, and weaknesses. And so is each business.

However, the most common mistake small business owners make is trying to focus on every channel available.

While you go through this list, pick only two or three channels at a time that seem the best fit for our business and customers.

Define goals and key metrics to measure the performance for each channel. This way, you can increase investment in high-performing channels and boost ROI.

Keep adjusting your strategy to make room for new channels and drop the non-profitable channels to cut costs as required. The more adaptable your small business is to the changes in the marketing space, the more stable your growth and prosperity will be.

By 

Guest author: Hitesh Sahni is a content strategy consultant, editor, and founder of Smemark, an upscale content marketing studio helping brands and agencies in multiple niches accelerate growth with superior, scalable content writing for 10+ years.

Sourced from Jeff Bullas

By Rhonda Abrams

If you own a small business, sooner or later you have to make sales. Some entrepreneurs view the prospect of a sales call with the same fear and loathing as having to face an IRS audit. Even if you have salespeople on your team, some customers – especially big customers and clients – need to see the owner before they’ll sign on the dotted line. So you’re going to have to get out there – or on the Zoom call – and make the pitch.

Take heart: Sales is a craft, not an art. It can be learned. Here are a few keys to successful sales:

Listen

No sales skill is more important than the ability to listen. A great salesperson hears what the customer wants – their concerns and priorities.

When calling on a customer, it’s tempting to immediately launch into your sales pitch, but by listening, you better understand how your product or service meets the customer’s needs and desires. Don’t just tell the customer what you think they’ll be interested in or stick to your standard sales patter.

Ask questions

You can’t listen to a customer unless you get them talking. Ask relevant questions to draw them out: “What do you like in your current solution?” “What don’t you like?” “What features are the most important?”

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Don’t just ask questions to qualify them as a hot prospect, such as, “Are you ready to buy a car today?”

Tell them what they get, not what you do

When I was first in business, I went to many networking events, and I was struck by how many business owners told others HOW their product or service (or business) worked, not about the benefits. Customers don’t want to know the ins and outs of your business; they want to know how you meet their needs.

Appreciate the benefits of your product or service

Genuine enthusiasm is contagious. If you truly believe you’re offering the customer something worthwhile, you’ll be a more effective salesperson. On the other hand, if you don’t believe in your product, you shouldn’t be selling it.

Don’t oversell

It’s tempting to land a sale by telling the customer anything and everything they want to hear, but that’s almost certain to lead to customers’ being dissatisfied or disappointed. An acquaintance who owned a successful chain of moderately priced hotels told me his strategy was to “promise customers a Chevy, then deliver a Cadillac.” By under promising and overdelivering, he built an exceptionally loyal customer base.

Be honest

Lying is not only unethical and possibly illegal; it’s a sure-fire way to lose customers and potential customers. You may even find yourself facing a lawsuit.

Compare, don’t criticize your competition

Yes, I know, your product or service is so much better than your competitor’s, and they’re really not very nice people either. But disparaging your competition makes you appear malicious. Instead, factually – and positively – compare your benefits and value to those of your competitor.

Build relationships

One of Rhonda’s Rules is “people do business with other people.” We all prefer to do business with people we like and trust. Consider the “lifetime value” of a customer, not just a onetime sale. Often, you might want to make a little less profit to begin an ongoing customer relationship. Get to know your customers; find out about their businesses or families. One way small businesses can compete with the big guys is by building strong customer relationships.

How to structure your sales pitch in a conversation

By listening to customers, you find the issues important to them. At some point, you need to make the pitch – actually ask a “prospect,” to buy. Of course, you don’t push right in. A sales pitch goes something like the following:

► First, you’ve got the pitch itself: the description of your product or service and its benefits and competitive advantage. You can probably do that.

► Next, you wait. You listen for the customer’s concerns and objections. If they don’t say anything, you ask something like, “Does that make sense to you?”

► Third, you reply to their concerns directly. And you ask them something like, “Did I answer your questions?”

► Finally, you muster some courage and say, “I’d really like your business. I think we’re a very good fit for your needs. Can we make that happen?”

Of course, then you’ve got negotiation on price and terms and the like, but you’ve agreed to do business together.

Take heart. Making sales gets easier – not easy, but easier – the more you do it. And you have to do it if you want to grow your business.

By Rhonda Abrams

Rhonda Abrams was named a “Top 30 Global Guru” for Startups. Connect with Rhonda on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Register for Rhonda’s free business tips newsletter at www.PlanningShop.com.

Sourced from US Today Money

A survey of small businesses by Uberall has found that 81% of local searches for small businesses are unbranded. This is compared with 19% of queries that feature a branded term.

According to the survey titled ‘Branded vs Unbranded Search’   it is important for local small businesses to fill out their online profiles with services like Google My Business, which typically drive local businesses to the top of “near me” searches.

Uberall Local Search Survey

Uberall examined 22 global brands, with 48,000 locations and more than 450,000 SMBs, between August 2018 and August 2019. The goal was to determine the relationship and frequency of branded and unbranded search.

The report says consumers discover global brands more often through unbranded queries (58%). This puts businesses in a highly competitive footing as they are lumped together with others not based on their unique offering but on their particular product or service offering. The search queries range from the extremely general to the very specific businesses that try to balance these two extremes so they can have more chances of being picked.

However, during the survey, the study’s one-year period found that branded search had increased by 136%, while unbranded searches grew 75%. This is in part Google prioritizing growing local search on its platform for the growth in visibility.

“Companies need to optimize for both types of search and especially unbranded queries. If you’re Bank of America, for example, you need to rank for your own terms but also for searches like ‘best 0% APR credit cards’ or ‘lowest mortgage rates,” said Greg Sterling, Uberall’s VP of Insights.

Navigating the Changing Consumer Journey

Consumers today find their information online using mobile phones to source what they need at the moment they need it. And in the report, 90% of these consumers are not sure which brand they want when they begin their search. A huge portion of these (88%) will go online to search for a location that sells the items they need. And when they’re ready to buy, almost three-quarters of the purchases (76%) take place within 24 hours of the query.

As such the survey points out the need to ensure businesses provide accurate information for their store locations.

Responsiveness to customer reviews is also important. In terms of average review reply rate, small businesses do reply more than their larger counterparts. Small businesses reply by an average of 25% compared to enterprises (12%) and global businesses (9%).

The study also found branded search rates vary considerably by industry. For example, 88% of searches in the business-to-business (B2B) segment were unbranded. This indicates buyers are higher in the funnel and potentially more open to discovery and persuasion.

Conversely, for the hospitality and travel industry more than half of the queries (62%) feature a brand term. The case for the industry stems from the high degree of brand familiarity and loyalty among those searching for travel.

Irrespective of the industry, businesses will need to gather insights on customers’ query processes. For example, they have to determine what queries consumers are fielding and tweak their descriptions to meet those queries. Furthermore, working with third-party providers can help businesses boost their ratings on both unbranded and branded queries.

Getting Your Brand Recognized, Even as a Small Business

Branding is an important component of your company’s image and competitiveness. Businesses of all sizes use branding to help them recommend their products over others by laying out the reasons why theirs’s is better. Branding is what makes a product or service stand out in a crowd of similar products and services. The right branding can easily get you noticed, remembered and purchased from.

Your brand whether it is a logo, name or acronym by the attributes you attach to it is making a promise to your customers both new and old. Because of the emotional, psychological or functionality of your brand’s promise, in essence, it makes pre-sales of your products and services.

Besides selling products and services through your brand you are creating trust, improving your recognition and adding value to your marketing mix. With your brand you allow people to refer you to others and help you generate more revenue.

Behind any great brand lies a great branding strategy. An effective branding strategy should always have the customer in mind. It should align itself with the customers’ needs and wants and importantly deliver on them.

Through its messaging, it should clearly underline why your businesses should matter to your customers. It should in essence answer why they should try your offerings. This will help you and your employees design ways where you can build a consistent and valuable experience for all your customers.

A successful branding effort can even lead one to transform your customers to be your very own brand ambassadors. This means you have succeeded in getting enough levels of buy-in from your clients that they have voluntarily opted to be your spokespersons.

Sourced from Small Business Trends

B

Even though many businesses are operating differently than usual these days, productivity still matters. Whether you’re working remotely or trying to make up for lost revenue, your business will be in a better position if you’re able to stay on task each day. To help you and your team get as much done as possible, check out these tips from members of the online small business community.

Keep Your Remote Marketing Teams Productive

Your team’s productivity can ultimately make a huge impact on the success of your marketing efforts. If your employees are currently working from home, read this Search Engine Watch post by Ann Smarty for tips on how to keep them productive.

Create a Crisis Marketing Plan

Marketing during a crisis is different than marketing during normal times. If you want your business to succeed through the current pandemic and economic downturn, check out this DIY Marketers post by Tiffani Wroe for tips on marketing during a crisis.

Consider Hiring a Virtual Receptionist

With so many businesses currently operating remotely, handling basic logistics can be a challenge. However, a virtual receptionist may help you restore some normalcy and functionality to your operations. Learn more in this Biz Penguin post by Neil Duncan.

Learn How to Work from Home with Family

Working from home is challenging enough when you’re doing it on your own. But many people are currently navigating this new situation with other family members at home as well. In this Strella Social Media post, Jennifer Hanford discusses the challenges and lessons she’s taken away from this time. The BizSugar community also hosted a discussion on the topic here.

Adapt Your Business During Quarantine

Quarantined employees and customers make it harder to operate small businesses in many industries. So the ability to adapt is key during this time. This UpCity post by Jaques-Corne Botha offers tips for making the necessary adjustments.

Build These Essential Sales Funnels

Sales funnels can help you filter in customers no matter the current situation. If you want to run a successful consulting business, the funnels outlined in this Duct Tape Marketing post by John Jantsch can help you keep those clients constantly rolling in.

Create Your First TikTok Video

With so many small business owners now staying at home, it may be the perfect time to try new things. Especially if you market to young people or want to create viral content, TikTok may be a platform worth exploring. Check out this Social Media Examiner post by Rachel Pedersen for a guide.

Make Money Using Sponsored Blog Content

Whether you already run a blogging business or are looking for ways to increase your income during these uncertain times, monetizing your blog may be worth exploring. In this Blogging Brute post, Dario Supan offers tips for using sponsored blog content to bring in money.

Create a Happy Workplace That Fosters Productivity

If you want your team to get more done each day, you need to create an environment that supports them. In this Process Street post, Jane Courtnell dives into the idea of work anxiety and how companies can create a positive atmosphere. Then members of the BizSugar community discussed the post further here.

Avoid These Stumbling Blocks of Innovative Business Thinking

Innovation is a key to navigating the ins and outs of running a business, especially when circumstances you can’t control start to impact your operations. In this Startup Professionals Musings post, Martin Zwilling discusses some of the most common stumbling blocks that prevent entrepreneurs from innovative thinking.

Feature Image Credit: Depositphotos.com

By

Sourced from Small Business Trends

By Maria Rapetskaya,

I’ve been a creative entrepreneur since 2005. My first design company was a partnership with my significant other. It was largely a freestyle experiment in running a business, conducted in public over the course of five years. As a business, it was marginally successful. As a learning experience, for me it was the equivalent of a masters of business administration.

So, by the time I had started my second and current company, I had a pretty good blueprint of don’t’s for running a small business. I had been fortunate enough to make the mistakes that have yielded five valuable lessons learned — lessons that have truly paid off the second time around.

Don’t rush into a partnership.

It was only after my original partner and I parted ways that I recognized that we should never have had a professional partnership in the first place. Just because someone is your best friend, long-time coworker and / or significant other hardly qualifies that person as the perfect candidate for maintaining a business. I say “maintaining” because it’s far easier to get excited about the prospect of starting a company than being able to handle the day-to-day reality of running it efficiently.

The best partner is typically someone whose skills and approach are the polar opposite of yours. The first ensures that you are able to cover a lot more ground without additional employees. The second may create conflict, but it will force you both to defend your business instincts and weed out lesser ideas before you waste resources.

Click HERE to read the remainder of the article.

Feature Image Credit: 10’000 Hours | Getty Images

By Maria Rapetskaya

Founder and Creative Director of Undefined Creative

Sourced from Entrepreneur Europe

Sourced from MARKETBL

Email marketing provides the most direct line of communication to your target market. Your email database is full of potential and current customers as well as possible future customers; or at least it should be, especially in light of GDPR. This database should then essentially be warm leads, providing an ever-growing pool of warm leads which should be easier to convert in in the future and provide a cost-effective source of sales as your small business grows. So the question is, what do you need to know for your business to benefit from all of the best outcomes of an effective email marketing campaign?

Image result for email marketing
Build Your Email Lists

The first port of call is to build and develop your email list, after all the basis of a successful email marketing campaign or strategy, are the recipients. However, it’s not enough to blindly build up the number of email addresses on your list; you need to ensure the quality also.

You can do this by segmenting your lists or splitting out into separate lists the email addresses you collect. Segmenting your lists will allow you to keep track of the sources of emails, whether they’ve come through an ebook campaign or are past customers. By segmenting these lists out, you’re able to ensure members only get emails that are targeted and relevant to them.

Above all ensure you receive Opt-in consent from all members of any lists if you’d like to avoid a potential 20 million euro fine when the EU GDPR kicks in. Seeking Opt-in, which is essentially informed consent of joining an emailing list also helps to improve the quality of your list, as your campaigns will be viewed by only those who are actively interested in your business and what you offer.

Software

Pick the software you use for your email marketing wisely as switching can be a hassle and can damage your brand consistency, as well as leading to errors such as duplication.

The best option for small businesses would be MailChimp as it offers an easy interface and has a very shallow learning curve. Of course, the main reason many small businesses use MailChimp for their email marketing is the cost. MailChimp is free for up to 2,000 subscribers and up to 12,000 emails a month.

The downside is however once you start to grow your email lists the costs can begin to jump quite rapidly; though this may not be so much of an issue for you at that point. The other aspect to consider is appearance. Many MailChimp templates can look repetitive and can be recognised as a MailChimp template, even by the casual reader. The monotonous look is something of a casualty of MailChimp’s success; so many businesses use the service that it’s now highly recognisable. Consider opting for custom HTML templates that you can have designed for your business.

Auto-Responses

When users opt-in for your email lists, they should receive an email notification. Auto-responses can help to reduce your unsubscribe rate as users have a reference point. Within the auto-response, you should detail the reason they subscribed and what they can expect. These automated emails help them to remember and reference why they signed up, and the fact that they did sign up.

Sticking to the activities you outline in this opt-in is also very important as you do not shock your audience with your emails or their regularity. This avoids situations in which recipients of your emails feel they have been misleading.

Image result for email design
Email Design

Good visuals keep readers engaged with the content and message of your emails. People naturally respond more positively to well-designed pieces of content. So nailing down a quality design for your email campaign that sells your brand as reliable and well-put-together as well as making clear what’s on offer.

Think about the flow of information and the logic of the order in which data you deliver. Consider the story you’re attempting to telling with each email and the best way of doing so. The visual design has a large part to play in setting the tone of the message that is received.

Also, Make sure Calls to action are clearly discernible. Within most emails, you’ll have multiple ‘calls to action’, some of which will be softer conversions. Making this evident in the design is essential. Conversions that will offer your business the most value need highlighting the most provided this makes sense in the context of the campaign.

Email content

Providing value should be the foundation of every email campaign. Recipients need an incentive to review the email and ideally convert into a sale. You can offer value by sharing your content, providing discounts and free or exclusive services. The key here is making membership to your businesses email list seem worthwhile and desirable. This keeps recipients opening future emails and paying attention to the contents of them as a pose to unsubscribing.

The primary goal of most email marketing campaigns will be to sell your product or service, so by all means, do so, sell!  Selling is to some degree expected by most users, but don’t be too forceful with this. Make it clear as to why readers need what you’re selling but don’t be repetitive. If you convey your message well enough, readers will recognise if they need what you are offering.

Timing (Frequency)

Scheduling is also crucial to email marketing. Setting out what day of the week or month you launch your email campaigns will help with regulating the frequency of them. You will be walking a fine line between staying in regular contact with your mailing list to nurture them as leads, and not saturating their inboxes, which often leads to poor feedback and unsubscriptions.

A default frequency of weekly tends to be touted to small businesses but keep in consideration how much content you currently have and your capacity. It is vital to avoid being repetitive, and at times to keep up with a weekly newsletter message and material can get reused to the point where they become monotonous and mediocre.

Image result for a/b testing
A/B Testing

The best way to improve your email marketing campaigns is to test them. And where conversions are at stake, testing every element of your emails to find out what works and what doesn’t can help to transform a poorly performing campaign into a successful one.

Test everything from the Subject line of your emails to the mobile responsiveness. Remember 61% of emails get viewed on mobile devices.

Try A/B testing some of these components of your emails:

  • The Subject Line
  • The Offer/promotion or Call-to-action
  • The Layout of the email
  • The Design of the mailer including the images or colours used
  • The Level of personalisation. E.g. Using generics Vs First name’s.
  • The Content formats; e.g. written or visual content
  • The Headline of the mailer

Consistently testing all of these aspects of your email campaigns will allow you to pull together a better campaign in future; resulting in what will be your ultimate format and campaign. This feeds directly into the final essential aspect of email marketing.

Analytics and Measuring

There’s no use tinkering and testing your email marketing campaigns if you’re not gathering and measuring the analytics. These key indicators, like the number of opens or click-throughs, will help to benchmark and assess the success of each campaign. Making changes and testing needs to be based on the analytics collected and measured purely.

Do not underestimate how important it is to measure every action and change in your email marketing campaigns, these activities are numbers based at their core after all, so keeping this in mind will be the deciding factor in making your email marketing campaigns a success.

Final Thoughts

You’re now equipped with everything you need to know to run effective email marketing campaigns for your small business. Like anything in business remember to keep up to date with the latest new tools and methods to keep at the forefront. We highly recommend you review the General Data Protection Regulations to ensure you avoid any potential fines and keep your email marketing activities completely compliant.

As always, Happy Small Business Marketing!

 

Sourced from MARKETBL

Millennial small business owners are more likely to build a mobile app than Gen Xers or baby boomers, but overall small business app growth is stagnant.

By MediaStreet Staff Writers

The younger small business owners are, the more likely they are to build a mobile app to support their business, according to a new survey by Clutch, a B2B ratings and reviews firm.

Fifty-five percent (55%) of millennial-owned businesses have a mobile app, compared to 13% of small businesses owned by baby boomers.

However, even as more small business owners of all generations recognise the value of mobile apps, small business app growth has stagnated, the survey finds.

In 2017, Clutch found that 42% of small businesses had a mobile app, and another 25% planned to build one by the end of the year. The 2018 survey reveals no change in the 42% of small businesses that currently have an app.

This finding does not surprise experts, given that building a well-crafted mobile app requires significant resources. “With less capital and smaller teams, I would expect these barriers to be even harder for smaller business to overcome,” said Woody Zantzinger, vice president of business development at WillowTree, Inc., a mobile app development company.

Businesses Need to Consider Goals of Mobile App

Small businesses should ensure they are building a mobile app for the right reasons, say experts.

Nearly 30% of small businesses surveyed say they primarily built a mobile app to attract new customers. Experts say this objective is misguided, since most customers don’t browse for apps. Rather, they seek out apps for a particular purpose.

If and when a small business decides to build a mobile app, experts advise that the goals and target audience be clearly defined. “The more rigorously you assess whether to invest or not to invest in a mobile app, the better,” said Peter Mezyk, chief operating officer of Nomtek, a mobile application development agency in Poland.

Mobile Apps Build on Existing Client Relationships

Mobile apps are best for enhancing communication with existing customers, say experts.

“When I think of a mobile app, companies with a lot of repeat customers benefit the most,” said Zantzinger. “If you’re going to have an app that lives ever-present on someone’s phone, that app provides businesses with new marketing opportunities to reach out to customers again and again.”

Mobile apps work well for businesses with loyalty programs. Mobile apps can keep track of rewards points, send push notifications on discounts and new products, and offer other functionalities that make existing customers even more invested in your small business.

Clutch’s 2018 Small Business Survey includes 351 small business owners and managers. The small businesses surveyed have between 1 and 500 employees, with 55% indicating that they have 10 or fewer employees. More than half (57%) reported annual revenue of less than $1 million.

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