Improve Online Marketing Skills for Cost Effective Marketing

Marketing Your Small Business

 
The business environment has changed drastically over the last decade especially in terms of marketing. Social media, search engines, and other outlets such as Youtube have made information easier to publish and access. Nearly all companies across the board have integrated these new resources into their marketing strategies. But these resources are even more advantageous for start-ups and small business and really even the marketing playing field. Learn to utilize search engines, social media, and other online outlets to market your brand in a cost effective manner.
 

Enhance Your Website Searchability

 
It is important to increase traffic to your website and this is done by boosting the ability to search for your site through search engines. Search engines use complex algorithms to index content online and feed the most relevant information to the searcher. Understanding how this search engines work is a complicated task and basically all search engines keep their algorithms secret in order to keep companies from manipulating their pages solely to increase searchability.
 
But each website owner/maintainer can increase online traffic through Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategies and techniques. In fact, many firms have people dedicated to SEO tasks and website development as their daily job but you can do it for your business rather simply with a few basic strategies. Such as,
 

  • • Use short, descriptive titles for content that includes keywords.
  • • Use basic HTML tags for sections and subsections, bolded or italicized font, bulleted lists.
  • • Use some sort of WordPress site for other optimization features.
  • • Share your information through social media outlets.

 

Quality over Quantity

 
Another important thing to remember is that online marketing is indeed strategical for your company and you are trying to create a following. This is done best by providing first a great website and content. A better website and content will keep users coming back time and time again while also making it more likely they will share your website with friends, family, and colleagues. There is still something old fashioned about the internet and word of mouth marketing still goes a long way (even if it is done through shares, likes, +1’s, etc.).
 

Engage Consumers

 
The online world is an excellent place to engage consumers, get to know them better, and establish yourself as a real market player. Social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Youtube allow businesses to directly engage consumers in real time; answering their questions, getting to know them, and them getting to know you. Social media is a great place to build brand awareness, trust, and loyalty. Keep up on trending topics and place yourself among key market players in these online conversations.
 
Online marketing is a low-cost option for all start-ups and small businesses. It provides the perfect landscape for small players to compete for market share with big industry players and really levels the marketing playing field. As you master online tools and resources you enhance your ability to build market share through, all while keeping marketing costs down.

Financial Plan Strategies – Culture of Scarcity

Creating a Culture of Scarcity as Your Financial Plan

 
Jim Koch is the founder of Samuel Adams beer which has turned into a very lucrative business and notable brand. In 1984 he left his career as a consultant to launch his Samuel Adams beer which he started using a family recipe, personal savings, and some money his family had loaned him. The company started with two employees, no office, no telephone, and no brewing plant of its own. Since then it has grown into a company that has over $200 million in sales each year.
 

Doing More with Less

 
In a New York Times article written in 2003 Koch told about a job he had working as an instructor for a company called Outward Bound which helped troubled youth gain skills in decision making, etc. During this time he said he would often give out more nylon string than needed to the youth just in case. When doing so they would often neglect and lose track of their string, leaving them with too little by the end of the outing. As a result of this Koch began handing out less string than necessary for the trip. When he did this he found that the youth would conserve the string and would end up with string left over by the end of the trip. This showed Koch that it was possible to do more with less, and is a lesson Koch would apply in his consulting career and when starting Samuel Adams beer.
 

Spend Money to Make Money

 
As explained earlier Koch started out with little capital but didn’t tie himself down early by building his own brewery. He has been quoted saying this allowed him not blow capital and have extra money when he needed it. He had seen many other breweries fail early on due to overhead and starting too big. His focus was on spending money where money was going to be made and that was on making a better product: in this case beer. Early on he did not bother with lots of employees, office space, or building his own plant and it allowed him to bootstrap finance his way to success. Eventually Samuel Adams took off and now has hundreds of employees, growing steadily over the last 25 years.

For your business spending money to make money may be investing in marketing, website-development, product development, or other business areas.
 

Culture of Scarcity

 
Starting and growing your business requires skills in many facets of business and often company culture is very important. Jim Koch sought to create a culture of scarcity which allowed employees to do more with fewer resources. Koch said, “Culture and values can be a substitute for money and resources, and that right there is strength of the weak.”
 
As you are starting your business financial planning is necessary and vital to success. Small companies must always learn to do more with less while seeking market share. When financial planning for your business, remember to spend money to make money or invest in what matters. Such an attitude can be passed on from you to employees thereby creating a strong company culture allowing everyone to do more with less. This may very well be the attitude that allows your company to survive and flourish towards market share and financial success.

Writing Business Plans – The Executive Summary

Writing a business plan can be a complicated task leaving you asking questions like, “Where do I start and what is an executive summary?”
 
Normally, a business plan starts with an executive summary that is synopsis of what your business does and how you intend to run your business. In short, an executive summary is a summary of your business plan. Let’s take a look at a few strategies to writing a great business summary.
 

Is an Executive Summary Necessary?

 
A very simplistic view of the executive summary is that it is the resume of your business plan. Often, investors, CEO’s, and other executives will only read the executive summary and based off that decide to read the rest of your business plan. In fact it is rare that the entire business plan will be read. A great executive summary will get you the “interview” needed to land the backing for your business. You are writing the executive summary to get future attention from executives, be that they read your business plan or meet with you face-to-face.
 

Audience and Voice

 
Normally, business plans are written as a proposal of your business idea in order to gain backing, funding, and other support for your business. Banks, venture capitalists, and other investors want to see that you have fleshed out all the important components to making a successful business. They want to see financial projections that prove you will be profitable in the future. Basically you are showing them that the potential gain outweighs the risk. Keeping your audience in mind is important. Write in a tone that relates to them such as writing in financial terms. These guys will love that you can speak their language and are more likely to offer needed capital to you when they see you are familiar with these terms. Take the time to learn terms like ROI, Liquidity, etc. This can only help you impress them not only with your ideas but with business savvy as well.
 

An Executive Summary is a Summary

 
An executive summary is usually between one and four pages pending the size of the business plan. Most importantly your writing needs to be clear and concise. Avoid clichés and expressions. Keep a professional tone that resonates with the background of your targeted audience. The executive summary should be a brief look at what your company does. Include relevant information that will draw the reader’s attention without boring them because of length. Your writing should strategically focus on what you want them to focus on then leave them wanting to know more.
 
Take time to proof-read your summary. Have others proof-read your summary. In fact, get people who are not well-versed in business to read your summary, they will be a good measure of how well you have explained your business. If they can read your summary and explain back to you what your business does then you have written in a clear and concise way. Remember the end goal of the executive summary is to clearly present your idea in a way that executives will want to know more.

Marketing Plan for Your Start-up

Strategically Marketing Your Start-up

 
You are just starting your new business, have a great product/service, and the only thing stopping you is finding buyers. Starting out you are a small company competing against large firms, how can you compete and sell? Creating a marketing strategy plan will help you effectively do this going forward just as a financial plan helps you spend wisely. The key to your marketing strategy will be your ability to 1) Understand your target market, 2) Create new customers, and 3) Retain new customers.
 

Finding Your Target Market

 
The importance of choosing and understanding your target market can be exemplified by the Segway Scooters that were first released in 2001 as revolutionary form of transportation. Originally the Segway was going to be newest and greatest way to get around for walking pedestrians and commuters. In this target market the Segway never took off for several reasons and as a result Segway suffered for years after its release. While Segway Scooters are still not seen being used by the public masses, Segway has managed to find greater success by simply changing its own target market. Now, Segways can be seen more often being used by airport, mall, and park police and in several tourism outlets. The product itself has not changed much over the course of the last decade; all that has changed is who Segway exclusively markets to. This change has quite possibly saved the company.
The key to a successful company and product does not simply lie in creating a great product but also requires presenting and marketing to the right people. Every marketing strategy plan should include some discussion, analysis, and conclusion as to who this target market should include.
 

Build a Customer Base

 
Large corporations enjoy a luxury that most start-ups and new businesses do not: a larger pocketbook. Large corporations and established companies can allocate a lot more money into R&D and marketing strategies that are designed to create market share than an entrepreneur can. Because of this entrepreneurs must learn to do more with less in order to gain their market share. Entrepreneurs must win on a tactical level. The key to winning this battle is to be creative by making small innovations which create differentiators. These differentiators can be product features, services, prices, etc. Basically, you must create a unique selling point and exploit that to your target market. Today social media allows many more companies to do this successfully. Learn to use social media outlets, Youtube, and other internet tools that are significantly cheaper than mainstream advertising tools while still providing excellent exposure.
 

Retain Your Customer Base

 
Simply put, entrepreneurs must decide how they plan to keep customers coming back time after time. This also includes differentiators as mentioned above when talking about building your customer base. A popular retention differentiator is servitization. That is, offering a service component to products such as extended warranties and post-purchase tech support. By creating an enjoyable experience and excellent service more than a product is being bought. Instead of customers viewing their purchase as just another purchase they view it as an experience which invites them to return. Customer retention is increased by creating such an environment and experience for customers.
 

Your Marketing Plan

 
As you begin to market your product remember that understanding who you are selling to is just as important as what you are selling. Strategically plan with your target market in mind as you create differentiators in your product, as you decide outlets you will use to market, and as you create an experience that will keep customers coming back time and time again.

The Benefits of Using Business Plan Software


Get Started on the Right Foot with Business Plan Software

 
An essential step to starting your business on the right foot is to build a solid and comprehensive business plan. For many this can prove to be a difficult task. More and more people are beginning to use business plan creation software found online. Business plan software are worth using and can prove to be very helpful to getting your business up and running quicker by cutting down the time spent planning. Let’s take a look at a few benefits of utilizing business plan software.
 

Don’t Get Stuck in the Planning Phase

 
Sometimes the hardest part to starting a business is planning how to start a business. Many entrepreneurs do not know where to start or what even needs to be included in the business plan that banks, lenders, and equity providers want to see. Business plan creation software will walk you through this process step by step showing you the structure of a well-organized business plan. By following these steps the software actually helps you spend the necessary time doing market research, preparing data, and organizing your business structure. Simply, by using business plan software you can save yourself hours, days, or even weeks of frustration trying to figure out what to do next.
 

Take Advantage of Tools and Features

 
Creating a business plan requires data and analysis. This part of a business plan often proves to be the most complicated and time consuming. Business plan software provides many financial features that will help create complicated financial statements, forecast future sales and demand, and manage your costs. This process can be as easy as plugging your own raw data into a database and letting the software do all the calculations and financial ratios for you, saving you hours of calculations and formatting excel spreadsheets. Now you can spend more time deciding what to do with the numbers instead of calculating them.
 

Share and Collaborate with Others

 
Few entrepreneurs are creating a business plan all on their but instead this work is done with others in a team. This involves sending drafts back and forth to one another, looking revisions over and sending new ones back, and allocating lots of time to face to face meetings. Business plan software, especially web-based software, allows all of this to be done simultaneously through sharing and collaborative functions within the software. By utilizing the sharing features you will never have to worry about losing information or waiting for your partner to send data back to you. As well software provides an opportunity for instant, simultaneous feedback from several sources therefore enhancing the content of your business plan.
 
Utilizing business plan software will help you get your business up and running faster while maximizing the content of your business plan. A simple search online will lead you to business plan software tools such as eBusinessPlan that will walk you through the process of creating your own business plan.