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employees

Article Contributed by Dan Radak 

You cannot expect your business to move forward and to develop unless you invest in it, and especially the workers employees who make everything work. Moreover, you should look into what you can do in order to help them gain new skills to be able to contribute more for the business. Be sure to assess available employee abilities, and where you can help out to make them more valuable. Remember that you cannot force improvement, and that it should be a mutual agreement, which will make sure that your business is heading the right way, and that you are not wasting your money.

Come up With a Marketing Strategy

Marketing is a complex field which will make it possible to advertise your products among the right target audience. However, you will have to sit down and come up with a good marketing strategy plan, otherwise you will have no idea if your campaigns were successful or not. Keep in mind that your business must have feedback on how the demographic is reacting, to ensure that everything is going according to plan. It is possible to have a team of your employees promoted to become marketing strategist or you can hire someone from outside to help you with your ordeal.

Finances Can Be Very Expensive

A company could have trouble if it has no suitable finance managers and team to handle the problems with funds. Outsourcing a team of finance workers can be a viable solution, though, it will be more costly to keep them around in the long run. Nevertheless, you can always select a few who quality and help them finish a financial planning course, which will help your business become self-sufficient and able to handle its own finances. It is often best to avoid having a large number of finance officers, to avoid conflict amongst them, and to be able to yield good results for your overall business.

Create a Creative Environment for Employees to Work In

In essence, nobody likes to work in a dull and grey workspace, which is why it is vital that you spice things up now and then. Furthermore, creativity will be an important aspect of how it can help develop better design, and adopt a way of thinking to help create a steady line of innovation. Instead of avoiding to solve complex problems, it would be best to find various different angles which will help in processing and finding a solution. Be sure to hold training courses and workshops so that your employees can grasp the ideology as well, and that they can use it in everyday situations.

The more money you put into your business, the more you will be able to expect in return, which is why it is important to understand what goes and what will inevitably destroy your business. You must plan ahead and address financial situations as soon as possible, to make sure that your company is thriving. Moreover, investing in a few employees can be beneficial for both your business and them, as it will make them a valuable asset, and an immense help to help evolve your company to the next level. Bear in mind that long-term planning will bear fruit only if you are persistent and careful with it.

About the Author

Dan Radak is a web hosting security professional with ten years of experience. He is a coauthor on several websites and regular contributor to BizzMark Blog. Currently, he is working with a number of companies in the field of online security, closely collaborating with a couple of e-commerce companies.



 
  


jm-listening

Do you feel that your audience isn’t connecting with your brand? If you believe this is the case then it’s because of one reason, and one reason only: you’re not listening to your audience.

The marketplace today has greatly changed in the last 20 years, and that’s for the better. Thanks to developing technologies, high-speed Internet connections and constant communication, consumers expect a personalized experience. They want to feel as if they’re the only customer. And if they aren’t getting this vibe from your brand then they’ll feel disengaged and indifferent.

If you’re purposely despondent with your clientele then those same customers will head on over to your competitors. You’ll lose out on sales and revenues and your bottom line will diminish. This is how the marketplace works nowadays. Prices matter, but so does customer service.

At the same time, however, perhaps you are connecting with your audience. Or, at least you’re trying too. This can feel rather embarrassing for your brand. What are you doing wrong? Maybe you rub your customers the wrong way or maybe you’re trying too hard. Here are a few reasons, according to Entrepreneur magazine, why you’re not connecting with your customer base:

  • Your business lacks a target audience.
  • Your brand seems too self-centered.
  • Your company doesn’t have a unique selling proposition.
  • Your content marketing isn’t compelling or emotional.
  • Your employees aren’t the right fit for your firm.
  • Your firm doesn’t engage with your audience.

Listening to your customers can turn things around rather quickly. To start engaging is to begin reaching out to your customers. Consumers feel valued when businesses reach out to them for feedback. Ben McConnell, co-author of Creating Customer Evangelists, writes the following:

“Research firm TARP has found that for every person who complains, there are 26 who do not. That means if 10 customers complain, another 260 may have quietly dumped you, never to call again. To know what customers are thinking, ask them.”

That’s pretty important and powerful information. It’s something that could revolutionize your overall business model.

Now, let’s look at the six reasons why you should start listening to your audience:

Improving Your Product

Indeed, you may think that you have the greatest product since sliced bread. Of course you’ll say that. You’re biased since you’re the one selling the product, or you’re the inventor of said product. If the sales sheet contradicts your viewpoint then perhaps it’s time to start finding out why customers aren’t buying the product. Is it too expensive? Does it serve no purpose? Is your rival invoking better promotional values? Your customers can give you the answers you’re looking for.

Loyal Customers Are Crucial

Once you have one or two loyal customers then the rest will follow suit. Loyal customers not only provide you with a steady income, they’ll serve as your advocate. Word of mouth is the bread and butter for startups and small businesses. If your most loyal of customers are recommending your product to another person then that person will suggest your product to somebody else. It’s a ripple effect and you’ll enjoy the fruits of such a tidal wave.

What About Your Rivals?

First, if you don’t listen to your customers then they’ll head over to your rival(s).

Second, your customers can tell you what you need to know about your competitors. Take the time to start asking your customers about the business that just opened up across the street. They’ll likely give you the truth, even if it’s bad news for your business. Think of them as your own personal Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot or Philip Marlowe.

The Feeling of Feeling Valued

One of the reasons why some customers are so loyal to a company is that they feel valued. When a customer feels valued then that feeling invokes reciprocation. Just by listening and understanding their needs and wants will make them feel valued and return to your store.

A Focus on the Customer

The primary objective of any business is to satisfy the consumer. If you’re not looking to keep the customer happy then you should close up shop and move to Northern Canada in an igloo.

From Dissatisfied to Advocates

Are your customers dissatisfied? Well, you have a lot of work ahead of you. Your aim now should be to transform your unhappy customers in to advocate customers. Whether they’re displeased with the customer service, the product or the aesthetic value of your store or website, you have to listen to them. Once you address their dislikes, and you work to improve them, then you can succeed in having a brand advocate, loyal customer and another steady income source.

How to Act on Listening

Now that you understand the reasons for listening to your audience to grow your business, the next step is to act. Are you going to act? You likely will, but how? Let’s look at how you can:

Surveys

The easiest and most effective way to listen to your shoppers and to garner valuable feedback is to create and hand out surveys. The reasons why surveys are superb techniques to generate opinions is because they tell you what you’re doing right and, more importantly, what you’re doing wrong.

Surveys, particularly anonymous ones, allow customers to be open and honest about their experiences with your business. So, what should you be asking your customers who are taking your survey? Here are just a few questions that you can put forward:

  • On a scale of one to 10, how would you rate your experience today?
  • What was the intention of your visit?
  • Did you complete your visit as you intended?
  • Would you recommend our business to your friends and family?
  • Is there anything you would change about our company?

A survey shouldn’t take longer than 60 seconds, unless you’re offering an incentive, like $3 off your next order or a chance to win $1,000. They can be done online or in person. It’s best to avoid doing it over the phone because consumers generally dislike telephone interviewers.

Customer Service

Any veteran business owner will tell you that customer service is a valuable point of interaction with shoppers. It’s a superb opportunity to elicit feedback so don’t waste it. You don’t know if they’ll ever come back to your store or website. Remember, the best companies listen at the front of the line, and employees embark upon one-on-one conversations with customers.

Listening to your customers during the customer service experience understands what they value, what they want you to deliver and what you can improve upon. Active listening, not pretending to listen, can showcase to your customers that you’re valuing their time and ideas.

Indeed, many shoppers dislike being approached by sales staff so be diplomatic in your approach.

Social Media

Ah, social media! The greatest invention known to those participants in social media. If you’re an avid social media user then you realize just how much you can listen to your audience on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social networks.

To succeed in this realm, you have to really know what you’re listening for. According to PR News Online, there are seven things you have to be on the lookout for on social media:

  • Early warnings based on product quality or service matters.
  • Learning keywords customers type to improve SEO campaigns.
  • Monitor conversations during a campaign.
  • Hone in on websites to increase your level of engagement.
  • Offer a level of support to customers and answer questions or concerns.
  • Grab ideas from users to improve or innovate products, services and marketing.
  • Connect and build relationships with your fellow industry competitors.

The main objective of social media is to converse. In no other time in history has business been able to garner instant feedback, instant customer service and instant adulation (or criticism). Social media also allows you to target your audience like never before.

Simply put: social media is very beneficial to business owners.

Email Marketing

Did you know email still plays an important part to a business? Yep, email hasn’t died.

In an email marketing campaign, you can show to the world that you are actually listening to them. All of your emails in this campaign can actively highlight the fact that you welcome feedback, you listen to it and you are actually working on improving or introducing your products and services to ensure the customer is always 100 percent satisfied.

To gain immediate and direct access to your shoppers’ attention, you can always request that they submit their email addresses for future newsletters, promotions, corporate updates, discounts and free products, like ebooks, whitepapers and case studies.

In these emails, you can also spotlight certain customers and their reviews, whether it’s good or bad (see below). This is where you can take advantage of negative reviews. Let’s say Katherine Baxter wrote a negative review about shoddy customer service. You then tell your audience that you revamped customer service training and refunded the customer’s money.

Also, you can occasionally send a note to your audience asking how you’re doing. You don’t have to do everything manually, try to incorporate into your marketing plan an email marketing platform so you will have a better control over your campaign.

Online Reviews

Online reviews are windows into your customers’ souls. Well, let’s not get too dramatic.

But customer testimonials are very valuable in various ways. They can improve your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts, they can enhance your online reputation and influence the decision of other shoppers. Although you want positive reviews as much as possible, negative reviews can prove to be very valuable to your business.

A negative review tells you what you’ve done wrong. This may anger you, but don’t let it. Consider this poor review as an opportunity to do better next time. Here are a few things you can do with this negative review (besides throwing it in the trash or recycling bin):

  • Respond to the negative review and apologize to the customer.
  • Ensure to the customer that you will do better next time.
  • Take their complaints and find out what you can do improve your business.
  • Produce content that shows you’ve taken the complaint and did something about it (see above).

User reviews are meant to be seen and heard (or read). The next step is to act upon them.

Final Thoughts

If your objective is to open up a business and then shut your doors within a year then by all means you shouldn’t listen to your audience. Avoid them like the plague. However, if your objective is to start a business and make it succeed then you should definitely listen to your audience at all times. Be very attentive to them.

You can either fail or succeed based on their dollars (or yuan or euros or pounds).

The customer is the key to growing your business. Go ahead, start listening!


Business-Pitch

Article Contributed by Veronika Tondon

The term ‘business pitch’ has become as popular as the term ‘startup’, in recent times. A pitch is basically a business plan that one presents verbally to the potential investors of the business. A shorter summary of the complete pitch is called the elevator pitch. The startup owner has to clearly explain the business opportunity to the investors, so they can take the most appropriate decision. Here are some steps to create a winning pitch for your business.

  1. Time Span

The pitch should be clearly explained to the investors in a short span of time. You should know that you only have a few minutes to sell your business idea. This is a do-or die situation which has to be dealt with utmost composure.

  1. Make Your Presentation Realistic

Presenting a realistic picture of the future prospects of the business, must be preferred. You have been running the business with your own funds up until now. So, you have had your share of successes and failures. Your projections must be based on these experiences and must sound absolutely realistic.

  1. Savings Attitude

One of the most important qualities of a startup founder is financial control. Having an understanding of where each and every penny is being spent in the business, will add to your brownie points. You have to make the investors know that you have a grip on the business and its operations. They should feel that you are a dependable leader and are passionate about your vision.

  1. The Business Opportunity

The most important aspect of pitching for your business is to highlight the business opportunity and how are you going to tap it. Your business is definitely out there to fill the need gaps. But, it is the size of the market and its affinity to the product, that will fetch you the investor’s trust. Highlighting the opportunities and challenges would help you put forth your arguments more assertively.

  1. Understanding of The Competition

Having an understanding of the competition is important for every business owner. This understanding has to be showcased well while presenting the business pitch. An in-depth competition analysis must be presented and you must highlight how your product stands out and has better future prospects, as compared to others.

  1. Marketing Strategy

Knowing your marketing plan is another very important aspect of pitching well for your business. You are out there to build a market for your products and services. The strategy for the same has to be clearly explained to the investors, so they know how are you going to position the product in the market.

  1. Target Audience

Being focused about your business and knowing who exactly you wish to sell to, is important for the business. This lets you earn the investors’ confidence and they know that you are going to reach out to a tangible audience and achieve the desired profitability.

  1. Focus

The more focused is your approach the higher will be your chances of getting the desired amount of funding. In your pitch, you need to communicate the precise plan of action, using which you will achieve the desired results. You also need to be specific about the amount of funding you require.

  1. Create a multi-level pitch

A multi-level pitch helps you divide the pitch into shorter and longer versions. The shorter versions help in explaining the basics. The longer version helps in explaining the details and how the plan is going to be executed.

  1. Get Your Team To Participate

A business leader must always take his team along with him. This adds to the confidence of the audiences. You should encourage team members to participate in the pitch process by planning out the speaking slots for them. A strong team, showcases the ability of the business to grow and provide the desired return to the investors.

Making a successful business pitch to your investors may seem challenging, but using the right approach will surely bring you supporters.

About the Author

Veronika Tondon is business enthusiast. She writes about emerging technologies and opportunities for business. She is working as a Marketing Manager with Invoicera, a leading cloud invoicing solution.


5 Systems For Success Tips

Entrepreneurs LOVE to create; they don’t enjoy setting up systems!

invest-system

As solo business owners, that’s all we want to do – create products and programs, and come up with new ways of delivering our services.

So when the talk turns to systems and processes, this is where most business owners’ eyes will glaze over … after all it doesn’t sound like a very exciting way to spend your day, does it? But having the right systems in place really is the key to your success…

… creating the snazzy new program is not going to generate a ton of money for you if you don’t have anyone to sell your program to (list building system).

… creating a high-end coaching/consulting program is not going to generate a ton of money for you if you don’t have any clients to begin with (get more clients system).

… building a huge list of thousands of subscribers who you can sell your products and services to, is not going to generate a ton of money for you if you don’t have any business automation in place (automated marketing system).

Today, I’d like to share with you my top five tips for creating your systems for success so that you can create the business and lifestyle that you want.

1. Invest in a system for where you want to go, not where you are now. If you’re serious about your business, and want to make it a success for the long-term, then you have to be prepared to invest in the right ecommerce system for your business. I’ve had many conversations with clients over the years who have invested in expensive, high-end coaching programs … yet are not prepared to make the relatively inexpensive investment of having the right ecommerce system in place to grow their business.

2. Manage before you market. This simply means getting your foundational systems in place before you start to market. Once you start to market your business and you’re generating enquiries from potential clients, you want to be sure that you have the right system in place so that you can respond instantly and easily. It also means ensuring your financial management system is organized, your inbox is not in a state of chaos, and you can easily locate critical data. Once you start to get busy, you simply don’t have time to dig around for information, even if you do “have it here somewhere!”.

3. Get the right system for your business; not what everyone else is getting. Analyze your business and determine your long-term goals, and have a system in place that supports that vision. Too often I’ve had conversations with clients invest in a fancy bells-and-whistles ecommerce system because a “marketing expert” told them this is what they needed; or everyone else in their mastermind group was using it so they thought they’d better use it too! Just because others are using a particular system doesn’t necessarily means it’s right for you and your business.

4. Automate as much as possible. Any time you do “something” more than once, you need to create a system for it, so that doing it a second, third, or even a fourth time (and beyond) is quick and easy. It’s especially important to automate your online marketing system as once you start getting new subscribers on a daily basis, you want to make sure the information they requested is delivered to them automatically.

5. Don’t try and fudge different elements together because it’s cheaper. Now this is the opposite of number 1 above. Being prepared to make the investment in your business, but you make the “cheaper” investment by fudging together a series of cheaper alternatives and hope they’ll all work. In most cases they don’t and you end up with lost revenues, upset clients and customers, and a whole load of headaches!

I know having the right systems in place for my business has revolutionized it over the 13+ years I’ve been in business. Just some of the daily successes I experience in my business through having the right systems in place are:

  • New subscribers – EVERY DAY!
  • A pipeline of ideal clients.
  • Marketing is systemized (and in some cases automated).
  • Ability to take time away from my business, and cut back during the summer.
  • 67% of each month my business generates revenue (approx 18 out of 31 days) i.e. those new order notification emails you get in your inbox!

Wouldn’t you like the same for your business too? Follow the success tips above, and you soon will have!

Are you struggling to set up the right systems in your business?

Tracey Lawton

About Our GE Network Expert - Tracey Lawton

Tracey Lawton is an expert in online business management, office administration, and developing administrative systems. Online Business Manager and Virtual Assistant, Tracey Lawton, supports professional speakers, coaches, and authors to operate an efficient, organized, and profitable business. Learn how to create an efficient and organized office in 7 EASY steps, and receive free tips at http://OfficeOrganizationSuccess.com.


fastest-growing-industries-

Fast growth does not always equate to success in business. You need the right tools to complement the growth rate otherwise it can easily die out on you and you’ll be left with a brand that used to be successful. Here are five tools every business and owner and entrepreneur needs to acknowledge and implement effectively to ensures success for their fast growing brand.

Customer Relationship Management 

As your business expands, so do the interactions and transactions it has with clients on a regular basis. Keeping track of this data enables you to spot customer patterns, identify trends, and overall keep your customers satisfied and coming back for more. Effective implementation of a Customer Relationship Management software gives businesses a platform to manage, store, and update this collected data. It streamlines the process of tracking interactions and maximizes financial opportunities by establishing long-term relationship with your customer base.

Business Process Management Suite 

A BPMS software is a set of standardized, integrated technologies that allow public and private organizations to build applications that combine systems of existing or new purposes. The system generates an end-to-end application in different business operations, such as product manufacturing and internet marketing, allowing entrepreneurs to manage their back-end and front-end systems with relative ease. Technologies integrated into the software encompass workflow engines, folder and content management, and an execution engine, which is at the core of the program.

Business Intelligence 

Fast growth can disable business owners from identifying what actually matters in the long run. They get blinded by short-term rewards like market hype and impressive sales. To be able to anticipate the next challenges and moves, however, you need as much insight as you can get from customer data. And while the old, trusty spreadsheet is enough to enter small chunks of data and analyze for broader view and longer term solutions and strategies, it simply cannot accommodate the accruing size of business data. Business intelligence tools help improve the management flow of a business by enabling live interactive access and use of data.

Email Marketing Campaign 

Albeit not a new business concept, email marketing remains a powerful and relevant tool, especially for fast growing companies. It gives you the ability to disseminate useful and important information, such as promotions, how-to guides, and daily deals, to a large group of people without needing to expend too much of your resources. Email marketing campaigns promote brand awareness and increase brand recognition. Almost everyone today has an email account, so it makes strategic sense to devote time and effort into making sure customers see your brand in their inboxes. Based on a report released by Small Business, 46 percent of businesses surveyed were already implementing email marketing to their portfolio, which is estimated to bring in around $40 for every $1 invested.

Professional Website 

As the Internet slowly takes over the planet, fast growing businesses must adapt accordingly. Having a website is no longer a choice at it was years ago. Today, to be relevant, you need a professional website that’s regularly updated with useful content and hype-building news. According to Statistic Brain, businesses with websites in 2014 rose to 53 percent, which was only at 45 percent 5 years prior. A website has many benefits when implemented in a business setting. It saves time and provides an easily accessible medium on which to showcase your brand to customers worldwide.

Businesses on the fast-growth track stand to make consistent profits and build large brands. Use these five tools to navigate through the unique complexities that come with running a fast growing brand. While different in function, these tools all focus on the most important asset of any business – the customer.



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