Thursday, April 30, 2015

Spring Cleaning For Your Small Business

With winter safely behind us (knock on wood) many Americans are participating in Spring Cleaning. Though typically thought of as something reserved for the home, it's a great philosophy to apply to your small business as well. 

So what areas of your business should you consider when starting fresh this spring? 

Your Finances. For many businesses summer tends to be slow so you may be reserving bigger purchases until the fall. Despite slow business and postponing major spending, bills still have to be paid. Review your cash balances now to determine how you will be covering your expenses during this period. Additionally review any auto renewal payments. You may find you're paying for something you only needed temporarily or something you no longer use. 

Filing and Documents. How do you keep track of important paperwork, files, and documents? Are you still storing these things in an old school filing cabinet? Consider going digital. By utilizing a CRM service not only are you diminishing the physical clutter around your office, but you are also increasing productivity by having this information at the ready in a digital dashboard. You will be able to find specific files in a matter of minutes just by typing in a simple search, and you can access this information anywhere at anytime. 

Staff Responsibilities. Take inventory of your staff and their responsibilities. We're not recommending you fire anyone (unless of course you have an employee who simply does not do their job) but take time to consider who your staff is and what they do. Has an employee outgrown their position? Is there more you could be delegating to them? Have certain positions become irrelevant? Could you redistribute the employee filling this position to another area of your business? Consider the ways in which your staff can be the most productive and successful. 

Business Plan. Review your business plan. What do you hope to achieve over the next 6 months? Year? Five years? Think about this in terms of your expectations for your own professional growth as well as your business's growth because as a business owner, these two things overlap. Have your expectations and goals shifted? If they have (which is not a bad thing) then how can you adjust your business plan to reflect these changes? What should you be doing differently in order to achieve success?

Be sure you are checking in weekly for more tips and tricks to benefit your small business! 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

3 Steps to Bridging the Sales & Marketing Gap

The divide between sales and marketing has almost become expected. It always seems to come down to the same problems. Marketing is dissatisfied with sales because lead conversion rates are low. Sales is dissatisfied with marketing because the leads are not qualified. 

So how does this issue get resolved? How do you go about re-evaluating your marketing and sales strategies? How do you close the loop?

You must develop a clear plan and process, then follow through.
  1. Set the expectation that sales and marketing work together. Apple has mastered an uninterrupted connection between marketing and sales. It's almost unclear where the marketing ends and the selling begins. The sales team should understand that a marketer's job is more than making things look pretty. They should understand that a marketer's job is to increase the salability of the product or service. The marketing team should understand that a salesperson's job is critically important as they drive business. 
  2. Define the term "lead." Who is your customer? Who are you trying to sell to? When both marketing and sales can agree on what a good lead is, marketing will be able to develop a strategy to attract the appropriate potential customers, and sales will be more likely to convert the lead because the product or service being sold speaks to the consumer's needs. 
  3. Establish a method for accountability. Utilizing a digital dashboard with lead management software can help do this. Not only can you see where leads are being sent, see who is following up on those leads, and view their status, you can also keep track of key details. Lead management software makes key brand messaging more accessible. It also allows sales reps to keep track of strategies that worked and any other notable information that might have transpired during a sale. From a marketing standpoint this is incredibly helpful as this information can be used as feedback when moving forward with new strategies. 
Be sure you are checking in weekly for more tips and tricks to benefit your small business! 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Old School vs. New School: How to step up your small business's marketing game.

Marketing tactics are ever evolving and in order to stay relevant it is critical to develop your small business marketing strategy as these changes occur. 

Here are three ways you can take your old school marketing tactics new school. 

1. Interruption Marketing
 old school

You're interrupting someone's day to push your product. This conversation is entirely one way and your focus is to make a sale ASAP. This can incite anxiety in the potential customer as the tactic feels pushy. 

what to do instead...

Permission Marketing new school

You're earning the potential customer's interest with a educational dialogue about your product. Your focus is on quality rather than quantity which is essential in building long-lasting relationships with your customers. This will likely result in higher customer retention. 

2. Advertising in Print Directories old school
Placing an ad in the Yellow Pages was once considered one of the best ways to get your small business's name out there but now it's more likely the directory will be tossed in the recycling bin before it's even opened.

what to do instead...

Online Directory Listing new school
Try an online directory. Updating your business information on an online directory (like your BBB) is a sure fire way for relevant consumers to see your business. Not only does it increase your visibility online but it helps generate traffic to your website, establish credibility, and improve sales. 

3. Radio Spots old school   
While radio spots are popular because they deliver short and sweet information, they also cost money.

what to do instead...

Tweets new school
Try modifying your radio copy for Twitter. Not only are you sharing your message with a vast audience (like radio) but you are able to generate traffic to your website. 

Be sure you are checking in weekly for more tips and tricks to benefit your small business!