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trade-show-intro

Trade shows still present an important avenue for networking, sales lead generation and joint ventures. Even in this digitized world, the old-school tactic of attending a conference relevant to your niche (or your customer’s niche) is still part of a great marketing strategy.

If you’re the one who’s organizing a trade show, there is no reason you can’t combine the advantages of the modern technological era with tried and true trade show marketing efforts. Here are some ways you can do that:

  1. Create Segmented Email Lists

Hopefully, you’ll attract quite a crowd to your trade show. Is there any reason why you shouldn’t ask attendees for an email address and build your various distribution lists? This is a great way to enhance your outreach.

For starters, you should create (or add to) email lists based on the interests expressed by the attendees. Your application form should query attendees as to why they’re visiting the trade show, their own background and their responsibilities within the organization they represent.

Then, use that information to add the attendee’s email address to a properly segmented email list that you can use for marketing purposes. A segmented email list is superior to a generic “everybody who attended the conference” list because it lessens the appearance of spam, reaches the right people with the right message and is generally more effective.

Recent research suggests that 39% of marketers who used segmented lists saw higher open rates. Twenty-eight percent of them saw lower unsubscribe rates and almost a quarter (24%) saw increased revenue.

  1. Use LinkedIn to Reach Out to Attendees

Why does the networking have to stop once the conference is over? Thanks to LinkedIn, you can network virtually with anyone, no matter where you or the other party is located.

In addition to providing a space in the application form for an attendee’s email address, also provide a space for the person’s LinkedIn URL. It’s quite likely that a number of applicants won’t know their own URL right away, so feel free to help them out by telling them how to locate it (it’s right below the “View profile as” button when LinkedIn users view their own profile).

Now that you have a LinkedIn contact, you can take advantage of the numerous benefits of LinkedIn marketing. This is in addition to the email marketing mentioned above, so it’s a great way to maximize your outreach efforts.

  1. Provide a Twitter Hashtag for the Conference

Sometimes, when you check your timeline on Twitter, you might notice certain trending hashtags that are referencing a conference or trade show. There’s no reason why you can’t create a hashtag for your conference to build online publicity.

First of all, make sure your hashtag is as short as possible, while still being descriptive. Remember, Twitter is a microblogging platform that only allows people to post updates that are no more than 140 characters in length. If you opt for a hashtag like #SalesAndMarketingTacticsFor2016, then you’re limiting how much people can say about your trade show in one tweet. Opt for something shorter, like #SalesExpo16.

Next, make sure your hashtag is well known to all attendees. Include it, in bold type, right alongside the actual title of the show in all your marketing literature so there’s no uncertainty about the hashtag that people are supposed to use.

You should also register your hashtag on a site like Twubs for further exposure.

  1. Create an App for Your Trade Show

Most people think of a trade show app as a tool for capturing leads. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s so much more you can do with an app.

Why not craft an app that’s a digital brochure that advertises the various exhibits at your trade show? You could also allow people to use the app to search for exhibitors of interest, making it easier for attendees to find exactly the kinds of vendors they’re looking for.

The advantage of a digital app is that it fits nicely right into a device that your attendees are almost certainly already carrying: a smartphone. This means your tech-savvy attendees won’t have to carry around a large brochure or booklet that explains where everything is located.

You can also use the app to highlight important information during the day and to remind attendees about events like breakout sessions. In addition, an app may be able to provide conference-related announcements and even give a shout-out to your display vendor (maybe for a discount on the multimedia displays they hooked you up with).

Speaking of shout-outs, feel free to use your app for advertising purposes. Sell people the right to advertise on your app with digital banners (that would be an additional source of revenue as well).

  1. Provide Wi-Fi Access at Your Trade Show

This should be a no-brainer, but it’s worth mentioning. You must provide Wi-Fi access at your trade show.

The simple fact of the matter is that we live in a digital world. Beyond that, we live in a digitally connected world. People need to be online, and it’s not always practical for your attendees to rely on 4G connections.

Remember, a good trade show is also an exercise in good customer service. Think of your attendees as customers (really, they are customers). If you want a successful trade show year after year, then be certain you make it easy for people to access the Internet.

Finally, remember that the Wi-Fi connection can also work to your benefit. This is especially true if your trade show app relies on an Internet connection to check for updates about the schedule.

Planning a trade show can be a lot of work as there are many things to consider. However, by keeping an eye on the digital components of trade show operations, you can help ensure your attendees are satisfied, and your trade show is a success.

Sarah Landrum

About Our GE Network Expert - Sarah Landrum

Sarah Landrum is a freelance writer and the founder of Punched Clocks, sharing advice for young professionals and entrepreneurs looking for success in their ventures. Follow her on Twitter @SarahLandrum and subscribe to her blog for more tips on all things entrepreneurial.



 
  


Launching Your Virtual Business

As the use of the internet for consumers and businesses increases in popularity, the doors of opportunity have opened for entrepreneurs to launch their businesses right from the comfort of the own homes. Whether you’re a one man show, or intend to hire employees that will telecommute, having an efficient work space is imperative to the overall success of your business. More than just having a computer and a desk, there are other measures that need to be taken to ensure that your business venture goes off without a hitch.

Below are some tips on how to effectively create a virtual office that meets all of your entrepreneurial needs.

  1. Find a Secluded Area to Work – At the very core of a virtual office is having a secluded area in which you can work from. You need to select a place in your home that is free from distractions. This can be a spare room, the basement, or even the attic. The great thing about working virtually is that your office can be just about anywhere you are, but having a stationary place where you can conduct business is ideal.
  2. Select a Phone and Internet Service Provider – As an entrepreneur, it is recommended that you keep your personal expenses separate from your business expenses. With that being said, you will need to select a phone and internet service provider to set up a business contact number and to also ensure you’re able to access the internet. The site http://fiberinternetproviders.com/goes over the various advantages to investing in an advanced digital network. Since this is an investment in your business, you don’t want to skimp on things that are necessities, such as a contact number and internet services. So, when selecting a provider, review the specifics to determine which company will provide you with the best services for the investment.
  3. Invest in Office Furniture and Supplies – Though you can work from virtually anywhere, you want to make sure that you have the resources and tools you need to be productive on the daily basis. Investing in a quality computer desk and chair as well as office equipment like copiers, printers, scanners, or fax machines are ideal. While virtual businesses might not require filing cabinets, having USB flash drives for storage of files or investing in cloud storage is also ideal to keep your company records in order. Also, if you don’t already have a reliable computer and mobile device, obtaining these would be beneficial.
  4. Create Your Company Website – Before you can advertise that you’re open for business you need to set up a company website (and social media pages). Since you’ll be working virtually, you want to give your potential customers a platform to learn more about your products and services. Your company website should be well thought out and should cater to the needs of the users to ensure positive feedback and increased traffic flow. If you’re not necessarily skilled in developing your own website, hiring a web designer/developer would be ideal.
  5. Set Up Your Marketing Strategies – Marketing is a huge part of running a successful virtual business. Since your customers will be reaching out to you virtually, internet marketing will be extremely imperative to reaching your target audience. Before launching your business, you want to consider the various internet marketing strategies you will use. Some suggestions might include local SEO, content marketing, email marketing, and social media marketing. Again, if you’re not well versed in these areas, you’re going to want to hire a professional internet marketing contractor to assist you in getting the ball rolling.

It really doesn’t take much time to get your virtual business up and running once you’ve handled the legalities and the basics such as those listed above. These few suggestions will ensure that you have a solid foundation from which to start reaching out to your target audience. Hopefully, in just a short amount of time you’ll start to see peaked interests in your business. And the rest…well that’s history.

 


Article Contributed by Greg Dastrup

It is the aim and objective of businesses, whether as small businesses or as start-ups, to increase revenue each quarter. While this is the case, the process is not as simple as it sounds and actually requires carefully crafted strategies to fully integrate into a successful system. There are a number of generic tips that can be harnessed in order to achieve the set financial goals by the third quarter of the year. There tips have been carefully analyzed and further proven to work once the practical question is brought. In addition, the steps are easy to apply and can be structured based on the specific preferences of every business structure. The tips include:

1 – Setting fewer goals

In Q3, it is advisable to aggressively make a priority for the financial goals that are to be achieved. After this has been done, then the process of diverting resources to the actual process of actualization commences. It is to be appreciated that it is way easier to achieve few bur precise goals as compared to many and broadly defined objectives. The revenue structure that has been adopted should ensure that the goals have been listed with the most pressing needs being at the top and the least in priority falling below the list.

2 – Set a bar for the results to be achieved using quantifiers

The financial goals to be achieved should have adequate and clear metric systems as the set guidelines. This can include using the market share, the number of total clients that the business has or potential investors and the sources of revenue stream for the business. This bar should be practical and one that the business can realistically achieve within the set time. In case some of the features that are to be analyzed do not fall within a category that can be quantified, then that means that it falls below on the list until a clearly defines system has been established.

3 – Have a checklist against every agreed goal to the achieved goals

Ideally, every financial goal should have a timeline for achieving it set. This is essential and guides every business in ascertaining the areas that have already been met and the ones that are yet to be met. Of further importance in relation to this concept is to have a team of clear experts in the specific department with an evaluation and monitoring structure to ensure that this is achieved for all the set goals. The monitoring system should also be structured in such a manner as to report on any deviations from the set financial goals and provide recommendations as corrective measures.

4 – Categorize the financial objectives

It is important for every of the business structures to have a clear category for all the financial needs that have been set. This is important as it ensures that there is a clear hierarchy in addition to making the process easier in terms of the management process. The terms that have been set have to be ones that are realistic in nature based on the features and circumstances of each business entity.

5 – Make use of qualified experts and personnel

It is worth noting that the process will not be effective if there are individuals qualified to carry it out. The theoretical perfection has to be backed up by individuals who can make it practical, and this practicability has to be one that can be maintained. Moreover, the members that are stakeholders to the firm have to be acquainted to the financial goals that have been set by the business and be willing to help keep the staff focused on the goals set. Often leaders have experience with such tasks and likely have gone through professional influence training courses to help them develop these skills.

However, while the above five pointers should be used as guidelines, the unique needs and features of every business should be considered in order to make the task effective in the long run. This way, you will not be run over by the next quarter’s financial needs!

Author Bio: Greg Dastrup is a small business analyst and lead generation expert. He consults for brands in both the US and Australia and is currently a speaker at international business conferences.


leadership-traits

Article Contributed by Colleen Slaughter

When some people hear the term “leader”, prominent politicians or C-level execs come to mind. Yet, leaders are everywhere among us – in the boardroom and in politics, on the home front and in schools – and in small businesses around the globe.

There’s no doubt that being a leader is high-stress work, whether you’re the head of a sole proprietorship or managing an entire team. Below I’ve named five leadership qualities that strongly benefit entrepreneurs, no matter what field you’re in or how far along you are in your entrepreneurial journey.

  1. Vision. As a leader, it isn’t enough simply to have a vision – you must achieve clarity with your vision to be able to articulate it well to others. Be willing and able to reevaluate your vision as needed to ensure that it’s still in alignment with your values and goals.

As an entrepreneur, you’ll likely be asked to communicate your vision to others just like any other leader, so think of the process as painting a picture with words, as Entrepreneur.com suggests. Get personal with it – bring some passion into your vision – voice it, write it, draw it, feel it.

  1. Authenticity. Whether you’re just embarking on your entrepreneurial voyage or a seasoned professional, authenticity has everything to do with becoming a leader who stands out from the crowd. More than 1000 studies over a 50-year time-frame have not produced a single profile of the ideal leader. Why? Because such a profile does not exist.

Leadership emerges from people’s life stories and from their ability to develop self-awareness about their experiences. If you want to become more authentic, you must commit to discovering who you are. The benefits are profound: heightened efficiency, effectiveness and motivation, a greater balance in life, more empowered team members, and noticeably superior results over a sustained period of time.

  1. Balance. Integrating our lives is one of the greatest challenges that all leaders face. To lead a balanced life, we need to bring together all of its essential elements—work, family, community, and friends—so that we can be the same person in each environment.

Remain ever-aware of the significance of staying grounded. Make time for family and friends, exercise regularly, engage in community service, and of course, set aside time just for you. All are essential to being an effective leader.

Achieving balance isn’t just an excellent way to enhance our leadership abilities – flexible workplaces are good for businesses and the economy.

  1. Communication. This vital quality seems like a no-brainer, but it’s so important it deserves a mention on any list of strong leadership traits. Whether you communicate with someone in person or via another method like phone, email, or Skype, give that person the gift of your presence.

Be proactive. Listen to the other person. Give – and be willing to openly receive – feedback. Send a greeting card to acknowledge a holiday or birthday, organize an after-hours meet-up, or simply ask someone how they’re doing to show that you care. After all, as any smart business professional knows, good relationships drive careers.

  1. Perseverance. When the going gets tough, the tough keep going. One of the hallmarks of any great leader is the ability to persevere in the face of adversity. Entrepreneurs in particular are all too familiar with hard times, and that’s why perseverance makes the list.

When met with an obstacle, an experienced leader remains committed to her mission. No matter what comes your way – criticism, unanticipated barriers, or other challenges – rise above – even if a solution isn’t immediately available.

About The Author
Colleen Slaughter, founder of Authentic Leadership International, is a proven coach with a remarkable ability to motivate women to cultivate greater authenticity and fulfillment at home and in the workplace. Colleen’s dynamic experience allows her to skillfully guide her clients to navigate roadblocks and develop practical solutions to accomplish both personal and professional goals


go-intl-1

Article Contributed by Cameron Johnson

According to the U.S. Small Business Association 9SBA), small businesses provide over half of all American jobs. However, according to the U.S. International Trade Administration (ITA), less than one percent of America’s 30 million companies export products abroad. The good news is that there are great opportunities for exporting, importing and expanding your business abroad. Below explains five tips for making your international transition smooth and trouble free.

Get Free Help

International business may sound daunting, but there are many excellent resources available to help you through the process. For example, the U.S. Small business Association (SBA) offers a variety of assistance programs to businesses. For example, there are online tutorials, counseling sessions and even the SBA Loan Program. Free, local assistance is available through the SCORE program, which involves experienced or retired business experts mentoring small business owners.

Supply Chain Secrets

All imported items into the U.S. must be cleared through U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) by a licensed Customers Broker. Therefore, you can outsource your import needs to a professional. For exports, any business person can book an export container through one of the major shipping lines online and clear customs through CPB’s free, online Automated Export System (AES). As a result, you can save thousands of dollars every year by taking care of your export logistics yourself. Keep in mind that there may be transportation or supply chain restrictions in your target country.

Licensing and Certification

U.S. import and export laws and controls are not only complex, but also confusing. Small importers and exporters face the daunting task of dealing with not just international shipments, but a host of state and federal regulations. For example, the Dept. of Commerce may require an export license, depending on your product’s Export Control Classification Number (ECCN). In addition to these, certain industries also have required certification. For example, the USDA must inspect and certify many different agricultural and wood products for export. Always check with your Customs Broker for the necessary licensing and certification requirements at home and in your target country. Keep in mind that almost all U.S. business related bureaus and departments provide limited customer service support for businesses.

An American Abroad

Many Americans avoid traveling abroad based on what they see in films or the news. Contrary to common perception, traveling abroad is quite safe and easy to do. Keep in mind that your international business success depends on your ability to develop and maintain professional relationships. Therefore, setting up a business abroad will eventually require you to travel abroad to meet with your overseas business partners or customers face to face. This will be both an enjoyable and challenging experience. Consider learning a little about the culture and language. Be patient, friendly and outgoing. A successful trip abroad will solidify your business relationships and increase your chances of long term, international commercial success.

Universal Content Marketing

When it comes to marketing, experts often focus on being culturally specific with in-depth local market research. For example, Microsoft’s famous search engine Bing actually means ‘sickness’ in Mandarin Chinese. This is exactly the kind of marketing blunder that you want to avoid with one of the largest potential markets in the world. However, most marketing content isn’t about slogans or catchphrases. In fact, you can save money and time through designing universal content which can be easily adapted for different countries and languages. Multi-purpose content will increase your efficiency and marketing effectiveness. If needed, consider using professional subtitling services. Keep in mind that one study found that over 60 percent of companies outsource their content marketing.

In conclusion, small businesses can successfully expand internationally through getting free help from the SBA, making smart supply chain choices and always verifying the necessary licensing and certifications. Connecting with partners and customers abroad and creating universal content marketing are also excellent ways to be internationally successful.

About the author:

Cameron Johnson is a business consultant and entrepreneur. Over the course of his career he has conducted case studies on both social media optimization and non-profit marketing. Cameron has also had the opportunity to speak at international business conferences and was recently recognized as one of the world’s top 100 advertising experts to follow on social media.



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