October 21, 2019

Simple Online Strategies That Help Your Business Reach More Potential Customers

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The power of the internet is proven. It offers several solutions for those who are trying to develop a personal brand, grow a business, or receive attention for another endeavor. Additionally, there is a good mix of free solutions as well as paid solutions. Here are four simple online strategies that can help your business reach more potential customers that are worth trying out.

Google Maps

If your business has a location, whether it is a storefront or office, it should be listed on Google Maps. Approximately 154 million people use Google Maps each month, making Google Maps a phenomenal tool for business owners to reach a huge potential audience. This is a free service that only takes a few minutes to set up. When a user is searching for a mall, restaurant, or movie theater, they may accidentally discover your company when scrolling around the map. If they are searching for a specific address, Google Maps shows what else is next to it if those companies are listed.

Advertise on Social Media

When your company’s budget allows, consider advertising on social media. You can always test the waters and decide whether to continue or not based on the results that you receive. You can also pick the best social media platform to advertise on based on the market you are trying to reach. Ads on Twitter are great for those who can write witty banter with a limited amount of characters. Instagram is great for the beautiful photos and visual ads, while Facebook has served as a good catchall. You can pick from display advertising, pay per click, and remarketing campaigns as well as affiliate advertising and video ads. If you speak with professionals in the digital marketing sector, they can go over your options. Based on your goals, budget, and preferences, they can offer you a number of suggestions.

SEO

Search engine optimization, or SEO, used to be an afterthought and an add-on service for digital marketing firms. Today, everything that has to do with online marketing and advertising begins with SEO. When professionals build a new website or revamp an existing site, they will deliver the final product optimized for the search engines. It is very important to ensure all your digital assets are optimized for the search engines because it allows them to be indexed. Indexing leads to exposure, and if your SEO strategy is well-executed, it will rank your website in the top three results. Optimized websites are architecturally sound, contain no broken links, and are full of relevant content. The search engines feel it is their duty to protect their users from those trying to game the ranks, so their algorithms weed out the bad websites as well as potential scammers.

Subscriptions

To reach more people online, consider starting an email list. Subscriptions to a blog feed, email list, or social media account updates help your followers remember that your company exists. Ideally, you are going to email relevant content that they will share with their friends and family. When that email list begins to grow and you have solid open rates, you can become confident that your online reach is growing too. 

Given that 3.7 billion people have set up at least one social media account and that at least 80% of consumers conduct online research before purchasing a product or service, capturing clients online is to your advantage. There are several simple strategies that can be used to help you gain traction among potential customers including Google Maps, online advertising, and SEO.

Interested in learning more marketing strategies? Check out this article next!

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Should I Allow Cell Phone Use at Work?

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Cell phone use in the workplace is a hot topic. Some experts claim that cell phones in the workplace can improve productivity. Others, however, say that it reduces focus among employees. Here are some things to consider.

Wasting Company Time

Companies and individual employers want to create and maintain a workplace that values efficiency and output. Allowing employees to use their cell phones while working can have unintended consequences. Depending on the type of work your employees are engaging in, it might be acceptable to allow the use of cell phones during designated times and in designated areas. However, permitting workers to have their cell phones out while on the floor can result in wasted company time, which is a risk you definitely want to weigh before permitting employees to use their mobile devices at work.

Improving Internal Communications

With regard to internal communication, however, the intentional use of cellular mobile devices in a work environment can have a positive impact. Allowing cell phones at work can increase access to information that is relevant to the task at hand, which, in turn, can increase productivity. Apps can be designed to facilitate internal communication with employees, which can lead to greater employee engagement. This potential for increased engagement and an enhanced work ethic should be considered when you’re making a decision about whether to welcome cell phones in your workplace.

Striking a Balance

Just as no two businesses are exactly the same, cell phone policies are often unique and depend on the type of work being carried out. For businesses that rely on internal communication advances, a cell phone policy that allows for certain apps to run while others are blocked is a strong compromise. On the other hand, if the work carried out requires complete concentration and could be potentially hazardous otherwise, a stricter cell phone policy will probably make more sense for that specific business. There is no one-size-fits-all cell phone policy, just as there is no right or wrong answer as to what a cell phone policy should look like. Knowing what your workers need to be safe and productive is key.

When all is said and done, ensuring workers remain on task and in good spirits is what matters the most. Having a strong knowledge of your employees’ work ethic and individual needs will help you best determine what cell phone policy is appropriate for your workplace.

Develop a more focused, productive team with coaching by Shannon! Sign up today.

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4 Foundations of a Scalable Business Model

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If you have decided that you want to build a scalable business, you’ll need to quickly learn how to lay down the proper foundations to support it. Not all profitable businesses are able to climb up the business ladder quickly. To build up a business, you need a business model that can quickly multiply revenue at a minimal incremental cost. For example, a piece of software takes a lot of labor to develop, but once developed, it can be copied repeatedly with the same minimum cost. However, a family restaurant is vastly different. Labor and fresh ingredients are costly, and while a family business can grow well and be profitable, it would be a poor business model. Here are some ideas on how to lay the proper foundation for a rising enterprise.

Set Your Business Plan

One of the most crucial mistakes when building a scalable business model is not starting with a business plan. Eventually, businesses will need to begin searching for investors and having meetings with bankers. Your business plan should be ready to go. However, a business plan is more than just a description of your product. Your business plan should contain information about the problem you’re solving for your target market, your solution, how your solution will benefit your target market, and the financials and forecasts to back it up.

Automate Wherever Possible

One of the key requirements of a scalable business model is that there is a set system for accomplishing tasks, and everybody follows the same system. Automating as much of your mundane tasks, such as data entry, is one of the first things you should set up so that you can save on hiring additional employees. You can also automate email responses and appointment reminders. At instances where automating is not possible, consider hiring a virtual assistant instead of a full-time employee to manage routine tasks. This will save you time and resources so that you and your key team members can focus your attention on the clients, product development, and potential investors.

Intelligent Sales Software

Many software solutions such as CRM and POS can help generate more sales, improve customer experience, and scale your business. When searching for software solutions, try to search for those that have integration functions so that you can integrate as many applications as you need into an application suite. Not only are application bundles usually less expensive, but software from the same family are also usually more powerful when synced together. In addition, adequate training and education on existing software can help your retail stores save time and money at the point of sale.

The Corporate Shield

Setting up your business as the right business entity can save you a lot of hassle and headache. While there are many business entities types available to register as LLCs and LLPs are the main business types that can help protect your business assets in the event of legal proceedings.

Building a scalable business model is a hefty enterprise that requires a lot of preparation beforehand. If you are thinking of building a business or is interested in making your current business profitable, make sure you follow these tips to build with a solid starting foundation.

If you need help setting up your business, I can help! Contact me to learn more about my coaching services!

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3 Marketing Strategies That Are Easily Trackable

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Establishing a good marketing strategy is essential to running a successful business. A good marketing strategy will provide you with the right data to help you better understand your overall revenue as well as the type of clientele that is actually responding to your marketing strategy. To obtain this information, you will need trackable marketing strategies. But how do you achieve this? Take a look at our top three recommendations to find out.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is one of the few proven strategies used by both small and large businesses. A well-crafted email marketing strategy can provide you with valuable data that can result in repeat customers. However, common mistakes such as buying an email list or simply making it very generic and forgetful can cost your company valuable time and money. One of the best ways to utilize email marketing is to test various sales pitches and visuals with your customers. You’ll also want to make sure you personalize your emails. You can do this by adding the person’s name as well as delivering your email within their time zone to increase the chance of it being opened.

Direct Mail Marketing

Who says physical mail marketing is dead? Direct mail marketing can be a very effective way to obtain new customers; you just need the right tools to take advantage of it. This means sending out a few hundred flyers to test out the effectiveness of your approach. Another thing to keep in mind is the length of your message, people are not looking through their junk mail, and when they do they read them, you want your message to be quick and effective. Outline any deals or discounts in a simple to understand format. Don’t forget to proofread before sending out hundreds or thousands of letters. Not only will this look unprofessional, but they will most likely never take a second look at your advertising again. In addition, don’t mail to everyone and anyone. You know who your potential customers are, so begin with them first. Roughly 5% of mail is undeliverable, so it might be helpful to utilize address verification to ensure that your mail is arriving where you want it to.

Direct Response Marketing

When people hear about direct response marketing, they often think of an email. Although that has been the traditional way to do it, technology has allowed us to do it in more modern ways For example, one method of direct response marketing you might see today is an e-commerce ad on Facebook or Instagram. With direct response marketing you can not only target your preferred audience, but once people start interacting with your ad, you can accumulate data. This data can then be utilized to track which of your customers are most likely to interact with your company.

Tracking the effectiveness of your marketing strategy is one of the most crucial things you can do to ensure the survival of your company. Therefore, it is vital that you understand not only the various mediums available to you but also how they can be utilized to provide you with the most effective results.

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How Managers Can Build a Team By Taking a Walk

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In recent decades, technology has provided us with the necessary tools to do practically all of our work from our desk. Gone are the days of having to track down your co-workers or boss to get their input. We have become much more sedentary as a society. This has caused a decrease in the average worker’s health, which can also affect productivity. As a leader, your role in the workplace is not only to supervise but encourage the most healthy, hard-working and effective team possible.

Clear Your Head

If you look at an average American workplace, it may seem relaxed. However, looks can be deceiving, as those who have worked in an office can attest. The constant back and forth emails, deadlines and the ever-glowing light of our computers can be stressful. For a different kind of break, managers can gather their teams once or twice a day and take a walk with them. This will allow them to build face-to-face relationships with managers and co-workers. In addition, walking will provide them the opportunity to clear their minds from the everyday stresses of the workplace. 

See Things from an Employee’s Perspective

Many times, solutions can only be discovered when different perspectives come together. A manager who constantly sits behind a desk attempting to solve all the company’s issues will probably not get too far. Gemba can help managers to solve any issues on hand and also boost morale around the office. Gemba walks are designed to take a manager around the workplace for the purpose of observing employees and their work, learning more about how things work at their level, and developing respect for them and what they do.

Create Healthy Competition

Friendly competition between employees can be a good thing. Competition boosts productivity and gives people something to work towards in an otherwise mundane workplace. Creating a challenge that encourages employees to see who can get the most steps per day is a great place to start. This will not only create a morale boost, but employees will also begin to become healthier throughout the weeks.

There is no doubt that focusing on team building can increase the morale of your employees. However, if you choose to implement this into your workplace, always make sure to think about how everyone can be included in the program. This will allow for greater discussions and a more inclusive, friendly workplace.

Get consulting from Shannon that will help you increase revenues, develop a high performance team, and avoid costly mistakes. Book a strategy session today!

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3 Updates to Keep You Competitive in eCommerce

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It’s exciting to have your ecommerce site beautifully designed and ready for business. But that’s not the end of it, however. It’s very important to stay on the cutting-edge of technology if you want to stay competitive in this sphere. Could your site use any of the following updates?

Make Sure Your Website is Mobile Friendly

In this electronic age, the use of the standard desktop computer is declining. Patrons can now access their tablets and smartphones at an easier pace than sitting down and turning on their desktop computers. Professional tablets are now replacing desktop computers. Tablets are lighter, and the computer chip processors are in some cases faster than the desktop computers.

Every time you design your webpage for e-commerce, you want to make sure that you have a mobile-ready website for your business. People will normally recommend your business more to their associates with a mobile website. The mobile website should be easy to read, easy to navigate, and lovely to view.

Point of Sale System

It is prudent to understand all the tax implications of the dynamic and ever-changing economic nexus laws. States are collecting revenue from online sources because of the declining brick and mortar sales in their respective counties. The South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc. case provided incentives for States to continue their aggressive collection efforts. The judge decided in favor of South Dakota in June 2018.

There are currently 16 states that have adopted economic nexus laws. A further eight states are considering revising their legislation to collect online sales tax. Businesses that sell to clientele in states that have adopted economic nexus laws need to update POS systems so they can collect sales tax from anywhere.

Once you understand which states have adopted economic nexus laws, you will want to determine if you will need to charge your customer sales tax from each specific state. This process should be easy and automated as possible. Some online ecommerce POS systems automatically collect sales taxes for you and send them to their desired destination. If this platform is unavailable for your business, you can purchase automation sales tax software to be embedded into your website for convenience.

Sales Tax Forms

Most POS software companies will give you a detailed analysis that demonstrates the amount of sales tax that were collected for each state. You can then use this information to file your monthly sales tax return. As always, you want to check for any sales tax discounts. The sales tax return can be submitted automatically online.

It is important to stay current with advanced technology for ecommerce websites. Utilized technology leads to a better experience for your clientele.

Get consulting from Shannon that will help you increase revenues, develop a high performance team, and avoid costly mistakes! Book a complimentary 30 minute Business Strategy Session here.

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3 Tips for Getting Your Product Listed on Amazon

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You can easily start a business on Amazon with little to no investment. Whether you sell your own products or act as a reseller, the e-commerce site offers a simple way to help you get started. Its Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) system functions as a drop shipper, so they can take care of packing and shipping for you.

Amazon lets you expand your reach easily. It already has more than 310 million active customer accounts, and since 2016, it has accounted for 43% of online retail sales, says market research firm Slice Intelligence. The e-commerce giant provides you with a ready customer base of online shoppers. Here are three tips to help you get started more quickly on Amazon.

Prepping Your Product

Pick your product. Make sure you choose something Amazon allows. You can speed along the process by choosing something that does not require Amazon’s permission to sell. Items that don’t need permission include beauty products, cameras and their accessories, home and garden equipment, home improvement items and sporting goods. Other categories, like clothes, fine art, automotive and grocery require approval to sell on Amazon. Banned items include weapons, illegal drugs, pornography, tobacco products and e-cigarettes. Once you find the right product for Amazon, the next step is to set up a shipping plan.

Go Pro

You can sign up for a pro account for $39.99 per month. This lets you sell an unlimited number of items on the site. Without a professional Amazon account, you’ll only be able to sell 40 items per month. You will also need to pay a $.99 cent fee each time you sell something as well as a referral fee, which is about 15% of the selling price of most products.

Brand Yourself

Establish your brand and keep it cohesive across all of your listings. Use your logo and store name on each product listing. Complete each product listing with a clear, relevant title and detailed, well-written product description. Include high-quality images that accurately show the product. Amazon provides space for nine photos per listing.

Sharing as many quality photos of your product as you can will boost your chances of success on Amazon. Your main product image should show the product against a white background. The other images can show other angles or sides of the image.

Following these simple tips can help you get started more quickly on Amazon. While nothing can vault you to top-seller status immediately, with a little hard work and perseverance, you can turn your Amazon business into a dependable stream of income.

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3 Fun and Unusual Ways to Strengthen Your Team

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A dynamic team culture has the potential to buoy your business to a stronger bottom line. In order to strengthen the bond of your team, it is important to engage them in activities that will build friendships and encourage trust. Although there is value in the typical company picnic or holiday party, sometimes it pays off bigger dividends when you think outside of the box when planning activities for your employees. Here are three unique activities that will strengthen your team:

Escape Rooms

Escape rooms are the latest rage in entertainment. During these adventure games, employees are split up into teams and have to compete against each other and the clock by solving a series of puzzles and riddles. This form of reality entertainment is engaging and requires people to work together toward a common goal. According to The Escape Artist, every team member is required to contribute to problem-solving, giving everybody a chance to connect. Escape rooms are ideal for new employees or those who have already spent a significant amount of time together.

Equine-Assisted Team Building

Horses are dynamic creatures that survive through teamwork, so it’s only natural to include them in team building exercises. Wonder Valley says that team building sessions with horses can teach trust, communication, nonverbal cues, decision making, creativity, and leadership. This new and different activity will give your employees a common purpose and teach them the value of trusting one another. The uniqueness of the team building event will keep everyone talking about it long after the day has passed.

Obstacle Course

As corporate outings gain in popularity, there are more and more dedicated activities designed to encourage teamwork and to promote bonding. An obstacle course is a great way to get people moving. Many of these obstacle courses are specifically designed for team building. This means that they incorporate a variety of trust exercises and other activities engineered to bring people in your department together. One of the most popular forms of obstacle courses is a ropes course. JustWorks explains that a ropes course is beneficial for teams because during this adventure, people must overcome their fears and learn to trust their team members in order to reach the finish line. This makes this activity the perfect metaphor for corporate life.

Team outings can facilitate friendships inside and outside of the office while also reducing employee stress. Your employees will thank you for the opportunity to connect with others!

Do you need more help with getting your team to work more cohesively? Try a group coaching session!

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3 Tips to Save You Time During the Hiring Process

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The hiring process can be very time-consuming, which is a big problem because time is money. Forming the best team you can is worth all of that time and money though, so long as you’re creating it correctly. If you want to complete various phases as quickly as possible in order to save money, these three tips can help.

Use Phone Interviews

In small office buildings, phone interviews can be quite helpful because they help small businesses save money in a strategic way. According to this article, “phone interviews have several pros and cons. The benefits of phone interviews are: it can happen whenever, wherever, lowers pressure and stress, you can use notes without interviewer noticing, flexible, and no time or expenses for travel. The disadvantages are: more difficult to connect or build rapport, can’t read body language, less time for nuanced communication.” In order to understand how this tactic works, you’ll have to understand what happens during a traditional interview situation.

During a normal hiring routine, many potential hires meet at a business’s location, and everyone waits in a room until it’s time for an interview. Candidates will want to feel welcomed when they wait in the holding area, so a gracious manager usually needs to make the space inviting. The process of accomplishing this requires funds because a great holding area needs snacks, décor, and a television. By conducting interviews over the phone, you won’t have to spend money in order to make a holding area appealing for your guests. Instead, you can focus on asking important questions about skills and qualifications.

Use Pre-Employment Assessments

According to this article, “testing to measure a candidate’s hard skills during your hiring process allows you to save time down the road by validating and ensuring your new hire has the skills that you want and need in your position.” You can test a candidate by discussing possible situations that could happen after the individual is hired. For example, if you run a retail business, discuss how the individual would handle consumer conflicts. The feedback that you get will help you determine whether or not the person is a great business asset. If you’re looking for a leader, you’ll need a candidate who understands how to interact with teammates when a consumer conflict affects everyone. Since time is money, you must always take notes during every assessment so that you’ll make smart choices long after the assessments are over and save time and money in the long run.

Increase Your Reach Using Social Media

In some cases, a few people that you hire will earn a promotion, and you’ll need to find replacements after this happens. A position shouldn’t stay vacant for a long time because this could harm your company financially. The fastest way to find replacements and save money is by taking advantage of the tools available on social media. According to this article, “in 2015 alone, 84% of job recruiters were using social media to seek out job candidates, almost a 30% increase from 2011 where 56% of recruiters were using social media. As the internet becomes more and more prevalent in our everyday lives, it now has an effect on if we land that job we want or not.” If you run a campaign, you can narrow down the results based on skill, location, hobbies, and more. These options will help you find the right candidates for an interview fairly quickly.

Hiring is something that every manager will tackle on many occasions, which is why money-saving strategies are helpful. If you conduct phone interviews, assess candidates, and use social media, frequent hiring situations won’t dramatically impact your bottom line.

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4 Things Every Business Owner Should Do to Help Their Marketing Strategy

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As many business owners know, marketing is the difference between a good company and a great company. It doesn’t do a whole lot of good to offer a viable product at a reasonable price if no one is aware of your company or its products. Certainly, there are few business subjects that are quite as important as marketing. With that in mind, let’s look at four quick tips to improve your marketing strategy.

Communicate

Advertising is all about communication. Not only do you need to maintain a solid line of communication with your customers, but you also need to maintain good communications with any ad agency whose services you might employ.

Make sure that there is more than one way to get ahold of your company. A phone line, an email address, maybe even a few social media accounts. This is necessary because if there is only one line of communication between you and the customers, that line will be tied up all the time, making it more difficult for everyone.

Source: Provide Support

Solicit Reviews

Give your customers some incentive to fill out surveys and give you good ratings. Offer them some special discounts, for instance, if they agree to a customer survey. If you make a real and honest effort to keep your customers happy, you should have no problem with the results.

Honest reviews are vitally important when it comes to diagnosing the health and progress of your company. Without honest and direct criticism, you may not be made aware of a serious problem that is driving the customer away. Online reviews help local SEO as well, so make sure to focus on these. The more positive reviews your business has, the higher up in the results your business will be.

Source: Podium

Keep Up with Trends

Advertising is supposed to be “hip.” That is to say, it should be in line with society’s most current trends. You don’t want people to see your product as being outdated or stale. Using outdated lingo, for example, can be a serious detriment to an otherwise good ad campaign. The use of outdated slang causes younger people to cringe, and thus, it is undesirable.

This is where you need to find a good team of public relations analysts with a good track record for success. There is a science to the process of keeping your finger on society’s pulse, so don’t hesitate to employ those who specialize in this aspect of marketing.

Source: MarTechSeries

Cast a Wide Net

Advertising should focus on multiple demographics. Unless your goods and services are meant to appeal only to a certain kind of person, you will do well to embrace as many demographics as possible. This can be very important in terms of advertising because you don’t want to offend anyone with the content of your ads.

Perhaps the best advice that can be given on this subject is to avoid all references to politics or religion. These issues tend to be so sensitive and so divisive that you cannot really talk about them without taking the risk of offending someone. Look at it like this: You aren’t trying to tell your customers what to believe. You just want their business, and that’s all they want from you.

Source: BrandingMag

Make sure that you don’t confine yourself to one or a few forms of media, either. Everything from billboard ads to social media marketing should be utilized. Much like the process of fishing, your success will often depend upon casting the widest net that you possibly can.

Marketing is, in essence, nothing more than the way that your company interacts with its current and potential customers. By putting your best foot forward and tailoring your message to the widest audience possible, you can create a positive association with your company in the minds of potential customers. This always translates into a higher level of brand recognition, which usually translates into higher levels of profitability.

For additional guidance on your marketing and business strategy, schedule a free consultation with Shannon!

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