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What Is Preventing Growth for Small Businesses?

As a small business owner or manager you will be faced with a great number of things to do to grow your business! It is likely that you will neglect some while focusing on others that perhaps you may be more comfortable with performing.

Did you know that more often it is the things that you may not be doing that will have a much greater impact on your business growth than those that you do? What are these? – read on!

  • Understanding your Customer Market
  • Adequate Planning
  • Managing Cash Flow
  • Operating a Marketing and Sales Development Process
  • Targeted Marketing Campaigns and Programs

Understanding your Customer Market

Every business must make a priority effort to truly understand their customers and what drives them to purchase your products or services. Without an ‘intimate’ understanding of your target customers you will be undermining ALL your efforts to grow your business.

Dispose of any shot-gun approaches you may have to marketing and advertising and use your smarts to achieve Better Marketing Results. Get started by developing your own ideal customer profile.

Make sure your ideal customer profile includes a description of the attributes of your target customers and the buying criteria that your ideal customer will use in selecting your product or service. This is a very crucial point, it is not your criteria that you consider important – it is what your potential customers considers important.

Find out what is involved in their buying cycle, what risks if any are perceived in their buying cycle and where your potential customers go to research and engage within their buying cycle.

Adequate Planning

“Businesses that fails to plan, plans to fail” It is a simple truth – you need to know where you are going to get there!

Marketing planning is crucial for small business owners and managers to maximise their company’s ability to succeed in the marketplace. The marketing plan does not have to be a large voluminous document that gathers dusk after it was developed. Be practical and prepare a condensed version of between two to three pages that you can frequently refer to in a highly visible location within your work area. This way your marketing document becomes a useful plan and guide to growing your business.

Marketing planning has several key benefits for your business:

  • Gives real focus that drives ownership and motivation to achieve success
  • It provides a firm foundation to evaluate priorities
  • It defines your market and matches the communications needed for your prospective customers
  • It is a definition of your business success

Managing Cash Flow

Many a small business owner will neglect this critical aspect of managing their cash flow. Small businesses that do not have positive cash flows will encounter significant challenges with insufficient funds to pay creditors severely limiting their business growth potential. Lack of cash flow management in small business is evident in “feast and famine” situations.

You must make cash flow planning a central element of your management priorities. As a business owner you must be able to identify your cash flow status on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis in order to make sound decisions for your business. Keeping your finances in order and your cash flow healthy is essential to growing your business.

Cash flow is the lifeblood of your business. Successful business owners always maintain a firm grasp on their cash flow and are able to describe and predict their cash flow situation for the week, month and year.

Operating a Marketing and Sales Development Process

Better marketing results are qualified potential customers or sales leads for your business. Sales development takes those qualified leads and works to convert them into paying customers.

Unfortunately, many small businesses do not have a structured process or procedure to manage these sales leads into customers. There is nothing more painful for an interested customer to be ignored because of a lack of prompt and professional follow through. All ‘hot’ prospects need your immediate attention before they grow ‘cold’ or purchase from your competitors. It is absolutely essential to formulate a process for follow-up and conversion of your sales leads into customers. For example, you could set-up a defined day of the week for all your sales development activities. For those prospects that are not yet ready to buy you must make them become part of your on-going nurturing engagement marketing until they are ready to buy.

Unlike traditional approaches to marketing where you specifically target prospects with direct response offers, engagement marketing allows your audience and potential customers to interact with you and shape how they would like to communicate with you.

Targeted Marketing Campaigns and Programs

In today’s business environment the customer will control when and how they would like to receive your marketing messages. Your marketing message must be highly relevant and compelling for your target audience. Your message must resonate with the ‘conversation’ that is happening in the minds of your potential customers.

Marketing is business development and must take place for your business to grow! Integrated marketing that makes use of the Internet with your web presence and social media is the approach that small business must implement for your marketing campaigns and programs.

Essentially, an integrated multimedia campaign allows a one to one personalised engagement with the recipient. It has the ability for the recipient to immediately accept the offer or secure additional information with readily available technology such as their mobile phone or access to the Internet.

If any of these issues are holding back on your business growth you must immediately take the appropriate action to remedy your situation. There are many sources of external expert assistance in the form of business consultancy firms like as PMZ Marketing that will be able to assist you overcome these issues.

Related Articles:

  • Conquer the Top 6 Small Business Marketing Challenges
  • What is the Profile of a Successful Small Business Owner?

Solving the Small Business Growth Paradox With HR Consultants

The small business growth paradox.

Every organization has personnel issues that require an immediate and accurate response. Employment regulations can be confusing and change constantly, making it nearly impossible for employers to stay informed.

There are often peaks in recruiting activities that require immediate attention, but the cost of hiring additional personnel to meet only today’s needs places small businesses in a serious dilemma. Such commitments to these short-term needs require expertise, but hiring experienced personnel is expensive. Hiring inexperienced personnel results in lost time due to the level of research required before the inexperienced personnel are properly prepared to meet the immediate demands.

What is a company to do?

Consider using a seasoned HR Consultant to help you. With an experienced HR Consultant, there is little to no time required for researching what to do or what best practices to incorporate into the current circumstance. HR Consulting professionals often cost less than hiring administrative support staff full time and are often able to commit to your company for longer periods of time.

Let’s look at these advantages closer.

Commitment: A good HR Professional is often sought after within any growing job market. Therefore, your experienced HR Professional is subjected to several job offers because of the high demand of this stressful career path. When faced with significant pay increases and possible circumstances better than currently experiencing, they often owe it to their families to consider other offers, even if they are content where they are.

Most HR Consultants have already been through this struggle and are seeking to be more devoted to one or two loyal clients that need their help getting the company established or to fill in for key personnel during absences. This kind of mutual commitment is beneficial to the business and also to the consultant.

Cost Considerations: This one is easy! Hiring any full time employee is expensive regardless of their experience level. You must consider the total fringe cost, which can often range from 30% to more than 50% of additional expenses for medical insurance and other insurance plans, worker’s compensation, social security, taxes, medicare, unemployment insurance, etc.

Aside from these expenses, you also have to factor what level of experience you are paying for when hiring a full time employee. Less experienced employees often spend such exorbitant amounts of time trying to learn the job that productivity of their time suffers. Their lack of experience ultimately costs the company more money. When employees have the extra time to improve their career skills, some employees choose to surf the internet or use their time for personal interests rather than preparing to be more successful the next time they are required to stretch outside their knowledge comfort zone.

An HR Consultant is often a seasoned professional that can perform a variety of functions with minimal research and often without needing guidance. HR Consultants can be utilized for short projects, start up phases, during absences of other full time staff or even by the hour if you simply need professional council. HR Consultants are in business to help save you money!

Local Internet Marketing Tools For Small Businesses With Google

Online advertising can be a very cost-effective form of advertising for small and local businesses if planned out correctly. In this article we will be covering specifically Google and their digital advertising opportunities for small businesses and internet marketing local strategies.

The Google advertising platform consists of

  • The Google Search Network,
  • The Google Display Network,
  • YouTube,
  • Google Places
  • Google Mobile

Where Google fits into the online advertising landscape and internet marketing local strategy

We have never seen a downturn in a digital economy and the economic slowdown or lag in the economy is actually fueling online growth. Consumers are more empowered than ever before having access through a variety of devices and are enabled through the wide penetration of the internet and the tools it brings to research, investigate, share opinions, compare and purchase. The economic downturn is going to increase the importance of digital in our lives because it helps us save money time and travel expenses. Any local business owner should learn how to use the tools and advertising capabilities for local internet marketing with Google.

Google is a top 3 internet property in terms of visit, between the display and search partner Google reaches ninety percent of the internet population making Google’s advertising platform number one in terms of audience reach. With over 2.5 billion page views per day and over 450 unique users per month Google provides a platform to reach any consumer in all industries making it very a very important variable for internet marketing local strategies.

Over the past five years the advertising landscape has changed dramatically with online marketing spend experiencing explosive growth and local internet marketing adding to that growth dramatically. While most other media have maintained relative levels of spend with global online advertising spend growing over all it is important to note that newspaper advertising revenue has been cannibalized by online media budgets, local internet marketing is becoming more and more cost-effective because of these changes.

Why is it that online has become so popular?

There are some key factors to take into consideration when determining what media is used in any marketing campaign. Consider the marketing objective of your campaign; is the campaign goal brand awareness, direct sales and accusation, or developing new markets? Also consider the production costs involved the ability to effectively target and measure audiences and the popularity with consumers. Online advertising has experienced immense growth because it allows advertisers the ability to reach a large number of consumers at home or abroad in an efficient and measurable manner. Given the range of advertising options available by combining search, display and video advertising, supported with sophisticated reporting and tracking tools and large audience reach, online marketing campaigns become a compelling concept for any small and local business developing a smart local internet marketing strategy.

When comparing traditional media advertising use to online advertising it is important to take into consideration the consumer buying cycle. Traditional media such as television, radio, print and outdoor advertising are broadcast and are non interactive media. Their primary purpose is to push a message out to an audience and is best suited to develop brand awareness within an audience, as well as attempting to influence consumers during the consideration phase of a buying cycle. These broadcast media are usually referred to as above the line media. Public relations activity, in store promotions and direct mail are used to engage consumers on a more personal and direct level and can be used in any campaign that wants to encourage product trial and establish or to establish loyalty and repurchase.

The introduction of the online advertising media changed the traditional models by giving small and local businesses the ability to cost effectively target potential customers at any time in the buying cycle depending on how the online campaign us constructed. Google search advertising can be used for brand awareness and has also been proven to be a very effective driver of direct sales and very effective for local internet marketing.

So why does Google play such an important part in the local internet marketing landscape?

To answer that we need to understand how the population consumes media. Google understands from researching user behavior that it acts as a core research point for consumers. So what are the other drivers that affect a user’s path? Once a user clicks on a search result they may move to a publisher or site within the display network to collect information. There is an opportunity here for advertisers that are implementing local internet marketing strategies to reinforce their message to the potential customer by using some pretty cool display features on YouTube, or within the vast display network. As the user gathers information they may come back to Google to gather more information. This process may repeat several times. For local and small businesses that want to implement branding and awareness campaigns, huge opportunities exist during this loop to capture attention and reinforce a message or a brand name with a potential customer who is actively collecting information.

Research has shown that television is the biggest driver of online search, in fact 67 percent of internet users have gone online to search for a product advertised offline, as users are exposed to offline messaging they will use Google to learn more about a product or service they may have encountered through another medium. This is how Google adds value to offline advertising and is such an important part for local internet marketing. Applying consistent integrated cross media campaigns will generate a higher return. The value of search does not just end in online clicks and conversions. Consumers use Google to research their purchase decisions in fact, 89 percent of consumer’s research products online, and 63 percent make their purchase offline. It is important to utilize online advertising with local businesses online conversions are not the end of the cycle in the brand awareness campaign and should be added to any effective local internet marketing strategy.

Better Local Internet Marketing Results With Google Services

One in five searches are related to a location-based service, searching on Google or Google maps will produce a map of a geographic location with specific businesses listed on the map. The business information has been aggregated from multiple sources such as phone book information. When the business takes control of their location and uses it in their local internet marketing campaign they can control the information that is presented. Features that enhance a business listing include allowing restaurants to provide a menu as well as the ability for a business to provide a coupon, and provide driving and walking directions.

Better Local Internet Marketing Results with Mobile Integration

Mobile use is growing at an astonishing rate, for each PC sold worldwide in 2009 3.3 phones were sold into the consumer market. Technology is advancing at a break neck rate in mobile computing, with smart phones, Wi-Fi and 3G coming standard in the mobile phone market. With an increasing population having access to a computer in their pocket many opportunities for location-based marketing campaigns are opening up for local businesses to harness local internet marketing and advertising strategies. According to recent figures at the time of this writing there are over five billion active mobile users worldwide and it is reported that smart phone sales have overtaken sales of the classic mobile models. Location targeting features are very effective for local and small businesses and local internet marketing effectiveness because 1 in 3 mobile search queries have local intent. Users could be looking for a nearby store, restaurant or travel destinations. Mobile applications also show a very high tendency to include local information this shows how tightly local and mobile are tied together. When you as a business owner have an ad in the mobile arena, features like click to call can be extremely effective in generating new customers.

As a local business owner teaming up with Google can be a very cost-effective way of advertising your business and staying in contact with your current customers and essential for any marketing campaign that applies local internet marketing.