Category Archives for "Business Development"

Why can’t small businesses innovate?

It would only stand to reason that a smaller, more agile company should be best positioned to create the most innovative ideas. Well…this isn’t necessarily so. Absent several key ingredients, such as money for R & D, available staff, and a lack of vision that big companies can make happen, small businesses have discovered that their challenge lies in learning to innovate in spite of, and sometimes because of these facts. Research conducted recently by Erik Hurst and Benjamin Wild Pugsley of the University of Chicago called “What do Small Businesses Do?” found that fewer than 50 percent of new business startups were born from a “new idea”. Furthermore, they found that most of these new businesses are essentially more of the same, offering an additional coffee shop, bakery or tax service to a marketplace full of these services. Not much innovation, greater competition, and little chance at exponential growth.

Why-cant-small-businesses-innovate

So how does a small business get from the morass of just another business to one that is offering new and exciting services and products people are clamoring to try?

4 Strategies for developing a culture of innovation in your business!

  • Reward and encourage innovation – Give your staff perks and tangible rewards for coming up with and helping to implement new and innovative initiatives. Creating some enthusiasm around finding new and better ways to run your business ought to benefit them as well.
  • Know what your market wants and needs – Keep your finger on the pulse of current trends and ideas in your market. Attempt to not only keep up, but be on the leading edge, which is only possible if you are watching and listening!
  • Be sure to connect with your existing customers – Listening and taking into serious thought what your customers say about not only your business and products, but about what their wish list contains is vital in helping to recognise a direction you may want to explore. Keep the conversation focused on what are the customer’s problems, and use those to help fashion solutions!
  • Be open to new ideas – Don’t be reluctant to try something totally new. A great demonstration of this in action is Behance.net, a Web-based platform for creative works, where artists can display their work regardless of their resumes, seeking to turn more ideas into reality.

10 Ways to Get More Customers to Open Your Emails

Are your email open rates a source of embarrassment? Taking action to increase them is a lot easier to do than you may think. According to Epsilon.com, email open rates sport an industry average of around 27.4 percent, with wide variances for markets. Understanding your email open rates and the way to improve them ought to be high on your to-do list!

customers-in-email

So without further fanfare, here’s our down and dirty 10 best tips for bettering your email open rates.

  1. Create something worth reading – No doubt, the most effective way to have your email opened is to write something your email list can’t wait to get more of.
  2. Length & timing – We’re all very busy, and lengthy emails that ramble and fail to get to the point are seldom looked forward to. Likewise, not making use of optimum sending times doesn’t help.
  3. Build great subject lines – This is the biggest aspect in whether or not your email gets opened. Take the time to write great subject lines.
  4. Use your first line effectively – Closely connected is the first line, part of which is visible in their inbox. This too is valuable real estate, and don’t permit yours to be occupied with stuff like “If you don’t see any images in this message…”
  5. Address their needs and concerns – Solve problems and offer solutions.
  6. Offer deals and savings – Everyone wants a great deal, and email is an excellent way to communicate any deals or specials your company is offering.
  7. Be the authority – We always have something to learn, and if you are able to position yourself as someone who offers something valuable for your readers, your open rates will flourish.
  8. Try and be entertaining – Don’t be boring! Use humor, wit, and a little bit of controversy every now and then, but be careful not to offend at the same time.
  9. Make your “From” line recognizable – Having your company name or the person who is branded as the sender imparts trust.
  10. Be sure and resend your unopened email – Quite simple to do, resending your unopened email is a simple way to raise your open rates.

Spring Cleaning Applies to Websites, Too!

Just like your home, your small business website also needs a yearly spring-cleaning. It’s easy to let things slide, and the consequence of that would be a steady decline in traffic, reputation and consequently sales. This can be a rather insidious way for you to lose traction with your site, as you don’t necessarily see it occurring. But it’s very real, and will have very real results.

Here are 5 simple actions you can take which will make a big difference in the way your sites appear, operate and prosper:
spring-clean-site

5 Simple Actions to Make a BIG Difference>

  1. How fast do your pages load? – You have under 10 seconds to load your page or most people will exit and go somewhere else. Some reasons for slow loading pages are too many images, pages built mostly with Flash, and errors in your site code. This really is something you want to check into, as Google will punish your site in the search rankings if your pages take too much time to load.
  2. Defunct products, programs, and links – Make sure and remove old products, programs and especially links that are no longer pertinent. Nothing irritates a user more than going somewhere and finding they can’t get there or the item is unavailable. Dead links and 404 pages will even affect your search rankings, as well.
  3. Old content and images – Likewise cull out stale, no longer topical content and images. Your old pictures from your company picnic in 2007 might not be considered fresh content, and that is what folks and search engines both want!
  4. Social media – Make sure that your social media buttons not only link to your current social media sites, but that you are up to date with them. Pinterest and Instagram are later entries that might not be displayed with your social buttons.
  5. More fresh content that rocks – There isn’t anything you can do to help in this respect more than to provide a fresh dose of new, relevant to 2013 content! If you have content on the first page of your blog that is more than a month old, you definitely should be more proactive with your content strategy.

It’s spring, and time to get about cleaning. You’ll be glad you did!

Where Does Marketing Automation Fit in Your business?

Are there just not enough of you? Are you feeling not just overwhelmed at the mountain of tasks that lie before you daily, but in addition more than a bit afraid that something is slipping through the cracks? You’re not alone. Because of the complexity and the sheer number of moving parts that go into online marketing in multiple channels nowadays, you absolutely have to employ some measure of marketing automation, or else you will find it tough to compete. Let’s look at some real time savers.

Cool Tools For Marketing Automation

While there are a slew of tools available, from complete solutions that cover your company from A to Z (fairly expensive) we’re going to focus here on some you can piecemeal together that will assist in a measurable way.

Email autoresponders – Probably the most important thing to automate, as without employing this type of tool you’ve got basically no hope of building a customer email list. Loading up your autoresponder with marketing messages can help you give both customers and prospects alike the feeling that they are being well taken care of. There are a number of great email companies available that can handle this seamlessly for you, such as AWeber, GetResponse, iContact, MailChimp and others.

Managing social media – Keeping your finger on the pulse of numerous social media accounts daily is not just a full time gig, but a hard one as well. You need to use a good tool, and there are several good ones out there that enable you to keep track of mentions, shares, Tweets and even allow you to post to your social platforms. Take a look at HootSuite, TweetDeck and Buffer.

Automate tasks – As everyone knows there are lots of small tasks that require attention daily, or the whole house of cards may collapse! Some of the better tools to come down the pike the last few years are the development of task masters like IFTTT and Zapier. These tools, (similar in intent and application) can be lifesavers when it comes to automating tasks between two different services. Very handy, indeed!

Marketing Automation Works

Make sure to not let customer and prospects slip through the cracks with all your automation. Being there for effective customer service is an important piece of business too!