Small Business

24 Reasons To Shop Small Business

Transition Marketing ServicesWe Shop Small Business & You Should As Well.

We do it whenever possible. Whether it is our coffee, the meat and produce for our summer barbecues, our gasoline or our clothes. If it is possible to support a local merchant, we do it.

Why? Because it builds community. Because these small business owners are people and these people are our neighbours, our friends and our family. They are a part of our community and a part of the local lifeblood of our cities. Supporting them is what any community minded citizen should be doing.

When you make a purchase from a big box store what is that money going towards? Corporate greed? According to a report by Bloomberg Business Week:

“…The AFL-CIO’s average CEO-to-worker multiple at big U.S. companies is 357 [x the average employee’s wage]. Bloomberg’s average ratio for Standard & Poor’s 500 companies is 204; the average of the top 100 companies on our table is 495. That is, CEOs of the companies on that table averaged 495 times the income of non-supervisory workers in their industries.”

How much do you make at your job? Imagine making 200 to 400 x that amount. In the words of Homer Simpson “that’s a spicy-meat-a-ball”.

Of course to cannot pigeon-hole all corporate sales. Obviously their profits go towards more than just Transition Marketing Servicestheir CEO and Upper Management paychecks. Profits from sales go towards their marketing, their sales, their manufacturing and the level of inventory they need to maintain to keep prices low. However consider what these companies actually invest locally – it is next to nothing. Not to mention what do they pay their employees? or worse yet, what do they pay the people manufacturing their goods? It is a pittance.

When we attempt to justify shopping at big stores in order to support their employees (and we have), we are really just supporting the concept of part-time employment on minimum wage with few or no benefits. In contrast recent studies indicate that local small businesses are the largest employer of financially solid jobs nationally in the United States.

Let's not forget that Walmart actually attempted to take donations from others to support it's underpaid staff.

Let’s not forget that Walmart actually attempted to take donations from others to support its underpaid staff.

Oh and all those big signs that corporations put up stating what they donate to charity? If their CEO is making even 200 x the average Canadian, that puts his pay scale at over 10 million dollars annually. Those lump sums that they state have been donated to charity? pretty meager in the grand scheme of things and how much of that is contributed directly from consumers at the til? We’ve all been asked to donate to the Children’s Charity or Foodbank in the midst of paying for our groceries.

All studies point to non-profit organizations receiving on average, 250% more support from smaller business owners than they do from large businesses.

Yes I know that I am standing on a metaphorical soap box right now and no it isn’t comfortable. Do I think that everyone can shop small business every time, all of the time? No. There are certain items that one simply cannot find at local shops and I understand that. However one cannot underestimate the need for our small business community. If the purchase can be made reasonably at a local small business, it is to all of our benefit to do so.

A healthy community begins with a healthy economy and small businesses are an essential part of this.

24 Reasons To Shop Local:

Consider what shopping local does:

  1. It is Better For Everyone’s Bottom Line: Brock University research recently suggested that $3 billion would be added to the local economy if 5 million Ontarians spent $10 of their grocery budget on local foods each week.
  2. It Puts Your Taxes to Good UseLocal businesses require comparatively little infrastructure investment. They make more efficient use of public services than big corporations do when they enter the community.
  3. It Supports Local Decision-making: Local ownership ensures that important decisions are made locally by people who live in the community and who will feel the impacts of those decisions.
  4. It Invests Into Local CommunityLocal businesses are owned by local people. They live in the local community, they are more invested in the local community and they are less likely to leave the local community.
  5. It Encourages Local Prosperity: A growing body of economic research points to entrepreneurs and skilled workers, in an increasingly homogenized world, being more likely to invest and settle in communities that preserve their one-of-a-kind businesses and distinctive character.
  6. It Puts Money Directly Back Into the Local Community: The more money that says local, the healthier the community remains.
  7. Long-term Benefits and Diversity: A marketplace of multiple small businesses ensures local innovation and a wide variety of products and services that targets local interests and needs as opposed to a national sales strategy.
  8. Long-term Better Prices: When a marketplace consists of thousands of small businesses rather than just a handful of large corporations it helps ensure lower prices over the long-term.
  9. It Promotes Entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurship fuels North America’s economic innovation and prosperity. This is a key means for families to move out of low-wage jobs and into the middle class.
  10. It Supports a Local Business Owner and Their Family: It provides food and clothes. It means dance lessons for their little girls and a soccer jersey for their son.
  11. It Supports The People Directly Around Us: People we pass on the street everyday. People who could easily be you or I.
  12. It Supports a Livelihood Not a Lifestyle: This isn’t another yacht, summer home or additional stock options for some CEO you’ll never meet. This is the needs of the people who live next to us.
  13. It Boosts Environmental Well-being: When sustainable local foods are grown utilizing humane animal practices and environmentally responsible methods we have assurance that our food is healthier and is making minimal impact on the environment. Likewise purchasing locally made products and services reduce the carbon footprint related to freight and transport needs.
  14. It Generates Environmental Sustainability: Local stores create a vibrant, compact, walkable town center. This reduces economic migration due to businesses expanding outside of the city centre. This in turn reduces automobile use, habitat loss, and air and water pollution.
  15. It Creates an Increased Number of GOOD Jobs: Small local businesses are the largest employer nationally and within our community. These small businesses create a healthy economic work force by generating REAL jobs.
  16. You Get Better ServiceLocal businesses hire people with a better understanding of the products they are selling. They know or get to know the local customers. Small businesses employees are generally more invested and happier which translates to better consumer experiences.
  17. It Promotes Cultural Diversity: Varieties of products, foods & services are based on the local shopping habits, creating an “culturally diverse” marketplace.
  18. It Supports the Future of Farming: Strong local farming ensures local goods can be grown and raised in the future.
  19. Local Food is More Nutritious: Once harvested, produce quickly loses nutrients. Since local produce is sold right after it’s picked, it retains more nutrients.
  20. It Promotes Bio-diversity: Increased demand for local food creates greater variety.
  21. Local Food Growth Keeps Taxes Down: Governments spend approximately $1.17 on services for every $1 in revenue raised by residential development, which increases taxes. Conversely for every $1 in revenue raised by a farm, a forest or open space, a government spends approximately $0.34 cents on services.
  22. It Supports Local Community Charity Groups: Studies point to non-profit organizations receiving an average 250% more support from smaller businesses than they do from corporations.
  23. It Reduces Chance of “Dead” Zones in Cities: Local stores make use of existing business spaces. This creates a lively, compact, walk able town center. This reduces economic migration related to big businesses expanding outside of the city centre.
  24. It Keeps Our Community Unique: Our local small business are a distinct part of what makes our community home. These one-of-a-kind businesses our OUR one-of-a-kind businesses. The create the distinctive character of our communities.
Supporting local businesses and start-ups creates a healthy local economy.

Supporting local businesses and start-ups creates a healthy local economy.

When we make a purchase at a local small business we are setting into motion a series of events that can generate support and sales to several small businesses within the community. Several studies indicate that purchases made from independent, small businesses significantly increase the amount of money used to make purchases from other local businesses, service providers etc.

This creates a domino effect of sorts which further strengthens the economic base of the community.  Summaries of a variety of economic impact studies can be found here these include case studies showing that locally owned businesses generate a premium in enhanced economic impact to the local community and our tax base.

  • It supports the property manager of the building.
  • It supports the LOCAL trades people who maintain the building.
  • It supports the LOCAL students who work there (as opposed to outsourced workers through questionable recruitment agencies like Actyl)
  • It supports local product and service providers related to the manufacture and sales from that business.
  • It supports the LOCAL print companies that handle the flyers and posters and print ad’s (as opposed to the large corporate marketing companies).
  • It supports LOCAL tourism. Diverse small businesses are more attractive to tourists and vacationers.

This post came across my Facebook feed a week ago and honestly we couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

We couldn't have said it better ourselves.

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

Transition Marketing Services

Transition Marketing Services. Our passion is educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how were doing or if you have any questions. TRANSITION MARKETING SERVICES – Small Business Marketing Specialists.

 

 

 

 

15 Tips For Effective Email Marketing & Distributing

Transition-Marketing-ServicesEmail Marketing.

Email marketing comes with a bad reputation. We have all been on the receiving end of spam. Unsolicited emails can range from a minor nuisance to an outright danger to your hardware’s integrity. Proper email marketing however, is a useful tool in the world of marketing and communications. Note that we do not endorse the use of spam lists or sending unsolicited emails. Rather these tips should be used for recipients with whom you have cultivated a relationship with or who have chosen to sign on to your distribution list.

Increasing Your Open Rate.

The first thing one needs to understand are the steps to an effective email campaign. Whether you are sending out sales notices, newsletters or thank you notes, none of it will matter if it does not a. reach the recipient and b. get opened by the recipient. Those are the first two challenges one needs to consider and learn to overcome. In this post we will discuss the means to ensuring you first make it through those spam filters and second, get read.

15 Email Marketing Tips.

1. The Subject Line Matters.

This is important for two reasons:

  1. The content of your subject line will determine how the spam filter reacts.
  2. The subject line will determine whether people are intrigued enough to open the email.

Consider your subject line carefully. It needs to avoid specific trigger words in order to get through the spam filters, but it also needs to be relevant and interesting enough to warrant the recipient opening the email.

  1. Unless it is dealing specifically with a topic you have already discussed with the recipient, it should be short. No more than 3-5 words.
  2. Don’t be afraid to be creative, but be clear and be concise.
  3. Don’t use the subject line as a sales pitch.
  4. Be relevant. The subject line needs to have relevancy to the recipient.
  5. Avoid spam trigger words.

The subject line is your battering ram. It is the first breach into the fortified walls of your recipient. It will determine if you land in the inbox and it will determine what happens from there. This is the first thing anyone sees when the email hits their mail slot. It has to be good. Think of it this way: it won’t matter how great the offer is in your email contents if no one opens it to read them.

2. Timing Your Email.

Believe it or not, there is actually a science to sending out email blasts. Timing can be everything. Remember that your open rate is crucial, it determines your overall success. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Promptness of email opens:
    1. 23.63% of all emails are opened within the first hour of receipt.
    2. 9.52% within the 2nd hour.
    3. 6.33% in the third hour
    4. 4.8% in the fourth.

It is most important then that you time your email to be opened immediately. (Source: socialmediaguerilla.com)

  • Number of messages sent by time of day:
    1. 5.9% of emails arrive between 12am – 6am.
    2. 38.7% arrive between 6am – 12pm.
    3. 25.8% arrive between 12pm – 6pm.
    4. 29.6% arrive between 6pm and 12am.

Most emails land in the inbox in the morning. Therefore it is less likely yours will be opened at that time. People are getting started, they are digging through the email pile and will disregard the less important ones. (Source: socialmediaguerilla.com)

  • Best click & open times:
    1. Top hours for “clicks”: 8:00 am, 9:00 am, 3:00 pm, 8:00 pm.
    2. Top hours for “opens”: 8:00 am, 9:00 am, 3:00 pm, 4:00 pm.
  • Best days for sending:
    1. More emails are sent during the week than on weekends.
    2. Tuesday and Thursday being the highest volume days.

Changing which day you send your emails may improve your open and click rates. (Source: mailchimp.com)

Timing is indeed everything. Try sending out your blasts at different times. See for yourself which works best. Remember that every opened email could result in a sale.

3. Use Your Name & an Authentic Email Address. 

Would you open a random email from an unrecognized email address?  People are suspicious for good reason, so use your name and business and suggest your recipient add your company to their email to help you avoid an awkward visit to the junk folder.

4. Build a Reputation. Transition-Marketing-Services

Earn your recipients trust. If you are embarking on a sustained emailing campaign, such as a monthly newsletter, this trust will be crucial. As you begin to email recipients more frequently you will find yourself developing a reputation for either good content or bad. Keep the content of your emails on target relevant and interesting. Don’t send out emails for the sake of emailing. Don’t waste people’s time. Once your recipients have opened a few of your emails and benefited from them, your reputation will grow and the opens will happen more easily.

5. Keep It Short.

Your email does not need to be your entire sales catalog. Short emails can be the most effective. Interestingly enough it can be the most difficult to whittle down your emails content. It may require time and possibly a lot of it. Pick a single point and focus on it. Whether it is a sale, a new product etc. If you find yourself off topic, erase and start over.

6. A.P. Style Writing. 

Familiarize yourself with the principles of A.P. style writing (Associated Press). A.P. Style is defined in purpose as:

The content of newspapers and other mass media is typically the result of many different writers and editors working together. AP style provides consistent guidelines for such publications in terms of grammar, spelling, punctuation and language usage. Some guiding principles behind AP style are:

  • Consistency
  • Clarity
  • Accuracy
  • Brevity

AP style also aims to avoid stereotypes and unintentionally offensive language. (Source)

Transition-Marketing-Services7. Do Not Send Out Spam.

First off what is spam? Spam mail is not just for male enhancement companies and Nigerian princes. Spam is any form of unsolicited email sent to unknown recipients who did not ask for it. You would think this would obvious, but even reputable companies can be tempted to spam. Do not send out spam emails.

8. Be Consistent.

Depending on the purpose of your email campaign, consistency can be key. If you are developing a newsletter campaign the stick to it. Weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually, whatever frequency you choose, stick to it. When developing the campaign, be realistic about how much you have to say and how often you want to say it. Set yourself a schedule and then stick to it. If the schedule dictates once a month, schedule your time properly to allow for it.

9. Non-Formal.

It is ok to be semi-formal and it is ok to have fun with your emails. Keep the tone professional and keep it clean but don’t shy away from having a little fun. Recipients are receiving countless formal emails a day, having a little fun on occasion can be ok. Don’t be afraid to show your human side. Be creative, by humorous, just don’t be boring. The more relational you come across, the more likely they are to follow-up with you. Be courteous and be clean though.

10. Be Fresh. Transition-Marketing-Services

Avoid old news or worn out ideas. Avoid repeating previous content – it is ok to reference it – but do not replicate it. This could (and should) put pressure on you from time to time to send your email out sooner. If yours is the first email in the inbox with new, important or timely information, you will reap the reward of being read. If you are reiterating similar info to previous emails, re-write it. Cast a new light on it, present it in a different away.

11. Engaging Content.

Daily I received about 60 – 70 emails. Most of those are formal and stuffed full of information. By the 3:30 in the afternoon I am beginning to open emails, size them up and then either mark them as unread to be dealt with the next day or dumping them after the first sentence. Try to incorporate content that will draw the viewer in. Keep that in mind when developing your emails Subject and content, and when scheduling it for send off.

12. Begin At The Beginning. 

Create your distribution list from scratch. People do not take kindly to unsolicited emails. Build trust. Ask them for permission.

  1. Provide opt-in opportunities.
  2. Offer different delivery options.
  3. Promise privacy.
  4. Provide a means for them to discontinue from the email.
  5. Provide links to connect on your website and social media profiles.
  6. Mention it when visiting them or on the phone and ask if they are interested.

13. Avoid Spam Trigger Words.

There are specific words that trigger spam filters. Familiarize yourself with them and avoid them.

1. !!!2. $$$

3. 100% free

4. Act now!

5. ALL CAPITALS

6. All natural

7. As seen on

8. Attention

9. Bad credit

10. Bargain

11. Best price

12. Billion

13. Certified

14. Cost

15. Dear friend

16. Decision

17. Discount

18. Double your income

19. E.x.t.r.a. Punctuation

20. Eliminate debt

21. Extra income

22. Fast cash

23. Fees

24. Financial freedom

25. FREE

51. Guarantee

52. Hot

53. Increase

54. Join millions

55. Lose weight

56. Lowest price

57. Make money fast

58. Marketing

59. Million dollars

60. Money

61. Money making

62. No medical exams

63. No purchase necessary

64. Online pharmacy

65. Opportunity

66. Partners

67. Performance

68. Rates

69. Satisfaction guaranteed

70. Search engine listings

71. Selling

72. Success

73. T e x t w i t h g a p s

74. Trial

75. Visit our website

26. #1

27. 4U

28. 50% off

29. Accept credit cards

30. Additional income

31. Affordable

32. All new

33. Apply now

34. Apply online

35. Be your own boss

36. Buy direct

37. Call free

38. Cancel at anytime

39. Cash bonus

40. Cheap

41. Click here

42. Congratulations

43. Direct email

44. Direct marketing

45. Don’t hesitate!

46. Drastically reduced

47. Earn $

48. Full refund

49. Get it now

50. Gift certificate

76. Great offer

77. Home based

78. Incredible deal

79. Information you requested

80. Insurance

81. Investment

82. Limited time offer

83. Message contains

84. No age restrictions

85. No experience

86. No gimmicks

87. No hidden costs

88. No questions asked

89. Offer

90. Online degree

91. Online marketing

92. Order Now

93. Passwords

94. Please read

95. Risk free

96. Save $

97. Serious cash

98. Special promotion

99. Urgent

100. Web traffic

14. First Impression

Do not make the mistake of assuming you are interesting. You have three seconds to make enough of an impression to last an entire emails length. Remember the rule of the “firm handshake” you may only have one chance to make this impression, so do it right the first time (you may not get a second handshake).

15. Format Your Email to be Readable.

Don’t make people “click-to-download”. Keep it short, focus on your one point, remove clutter and make it readable. If this sounds a little labour intensive, it is because it can be. There are many template sites and examples to be found online with a simple Google search. Coming up with even just one good subject line can be tough and is not always guaranteed to spark the rest of the emails contents. Doing it right requires massive creativity, passion and inspiration. It also requires focus.

Summary.

If you find yourself forcing it or are running out of time and rushing it, then you are likely better off to not do it at all. Your emails content will showcase you and your business image, for good or for evil. Make sure you are doing it right. For many companies that lack employees with either the time or the skill set it can make more sense to hire a copy-writer or a marketing firm. Get past the viewing pane. Get opened and be read. No one said this was going to be easy, but it can pay off big. Transition-Marketing-Services Transition Marketing Services. Our passion is educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how were doing or if you have any questions. TRANSITION MARKETING SERVICES – Small Business Marketing Specialists.

Facebook’s Auto-Playing Videos: How To Turn Them Off

It’s simple. Auto-playing videos are obnoxious. I don’t want them happening. In fact this is considered a cardinal sin for most web developers. If you design a site that allows a video to start playing automatically you can expect users to veer away immediately.

Unless of course your Facebook – then apparently you can do whatever you please.

There have been numerous people complaining about the new auto-play feature. So many so that we decided to make a simple, easy to read graphic to demonstrate just how you got about shutting this setting off.

  1. Click the drop down menu in the top right hand corner.
  2. From the drop down menu click “settings“.
  3. This brings you to your settings page. In the left hand column menu click “videos.
  4. This brings you to your video settings page. On the right hands side of the Auto-Play Videos option click the drop down and select “off“.

Now this is Facebook we’re talking about so it is entirely likely this will change this layout again as early as next week. For now however, this is the means to shutting the auto-play off.

Facebook-Video-Settings

Innovative Small Business Uses Drone Technology

Innovative Business Uses Drone Technology To Service Customers.

Technology and Small Business.

This legitimately blew our minds! We had heard about Amazon delivering via drone, but to witness such a concept in action – and for a small business no less!

The clip above shows the basics behind it. This ice fishing resort takes the call from the customers out on the frozen lake. The fisherman give him their coordinates, he punches them in and then loads up the case of beer on the drone. The drone then delivers the beer to the door of their shack.

Out of the box and incredible really. It begs the question of all of us: “Are we harnessing today’s tech to our advantage? and if not, how can we?”.

We aren’t saying that a drone is the right fit for everyone (and we would be interested to know the upfront and long-term maintenance costs) but this clip does demonstrate the potential behind tech, innovation and imagination.

Tech is moving more quickly than ever how can we use it to our benefit?

The Top Six Small Business Owner Concerns

Recently Yodle released a report on the top list of worries for small business owners. The report was titled the First Annual Small Business Sentiment Survey and run last quarter of 2013, meaning the data was taken from owners as they prepared for the new year. Yodle drew samples for 306 Small Business Owners from throughout the U.S.

Here is a breakdown of the sampling (for more in-depth detail, please visit Yodle’s official report).

Small-Business-Marketing

Based on 306 Respondents

Based on 306 Respondents

Based on 306 Respondents

Based on 306 Respondents

Based on 306 Respondents

Based on 306 Respondents

Based on 306 Respondents

As you can see the samples were taken from a reasonably wide variety of owners. Most were the sole proprietors of the business and the largest number of respondents had only 1-5 employees. What was surprising was the age demographic for those polled, with over 70% over the age of 50.

Despite some common concerns, most small business owners polled seemed to be genuinely happy with their careers:

“More than nine in 10 of respondents (91%) are happy that they became SMB owners including over half (55%) who are “extremely happy.”  A majority of SMB owners (59%) also shared that they would likely not consider selling their business over the next few years, indicating optimism and satisfaction.” – Yodle.com

Based on 306 Respondents

Based on 306 Respondents

Based on 306 Respondents

Based on 306 Respondents

On top of that, over 50% reported being satisfied with their work to personal life balance:

“52% of SMB owners work 40 hours or less and almost three in four (72%) take at least two weeks of vacation per year.  More than one in four (27%) SMB owners actually take four or more weeks of vacation per year.  However, almost four in 10 (39%) SMB owners work 41-60 hours per week and almost one in 10 (9%) work over 60 hours a week.  Additionally, just 11% of small business owners don’t take any vacation.”

However it wasn’t all positive and many owners reported growing concerns related to both personal and professional strain.

The Top Six Small Business Owner Concerns.

Based on 306 Respondents

Based on 306 Respondents

Each of the concerns listed above is very real and entirely valid to the small business community. Let’s look at each one independently for a moment.

1. Finding New Customers.

It makes sense that this would top the list. For any business to succeed and to grow, they need to increase their clientele. For many small businesses the question is just “how to do that?”. The obvious “boxed” answer is through marketing and advertising, but with so many options out there, how do they know which is best and how do they maximize the bang for their buck?

There are as many different options as there are businesses. Specific business types can profit from specific marketing tools. However there are a few tools in the marketing tool box that apply for every business, regardless of industry and market.

  • Websites: First are foremost. Every business needs a website. This is in-arguable. Everything is online and that is where the bulk of consumers find thins now.
  • Social Media: It creates dialogue. It generates exposure. It breeds loyalty. It builds brands. Oh and it’s free.
  • Signage / Outdoor Advertising: This can range from sandwich boards to vehicle decals, billboards to bumper stickers.
  • Radio: An often overlooked avenue, local radio is still very much a player in the advertising world.
  • Trade Shows: Great place to network, to pass on literature and to establish yourself as a professional voice within your industry.
  • Email: E-marketing can get a bad wrap (often for good reason). However establishing lines of communication with current customs or leads via email newsletters or other materials, can generate sales and customer loyalty.
  • Printed Advertising: (including brochures, sales catalogs, posters, business cards etc.). Print advertising is, and will remain a leading tool for small business marketing. It is everywhere you look. Consumers still use and rely on it for much of their info. It is a necessary component for a well-rounded marketing strategy.

2. Affording Employee Healthcare & Benefits.

More of an issue in the United States where this poll took place (and in light of the Affordable Care Act). This is still a very real concern for Canadian business owners. I have spoken with many owners who struggle to understand and properly facilitate these items. It can range from not understanding the proper deductions and methods to simply not knowing whether or not they have to offer them.

Understanding your obligations to your workers and how best to facilitate them is a necessary step to building a strong team of employees – and a strong team of employees is a necessary step towards business success.

Small Business owners can profit greatly by hiring a knowledgeable accountant with experience in these areas. Of course there are online resources as well to assist in understanding the processes. The Canadian Government provides several pages on their site relating to small business including:

That said, we do also recommend speaking with an accountant to ensure you fully understand business obligations.

3. Keeping Current Customers.

Customer loyalty is a tough one and directly relates to competition. Why should customers be loyal to your business? Why should they choose you over the guy across the road or the big box stores? What will breed loyalty?

There are a slew of different answers and some will vary based on the type of business:

  • Price point: Are you being beat on it? Can they get the same or a similar item for less somewhere near by?
  • Service: Are your providing it? Are you the best? Can you be better?
  • Engagement: Do you know your customers? Are you on a friendly basis? Do you engage them and make them feel special? Do they want to come back?
  • Loyalty Rewards: Do you offer a benefit for them staying loyal? A punch card or a discount? Extra service?

There are many ways to win your customers hearts, but you have to make the effort. Woo them. Treat them like a hot first date that you want to see again. Treat em right (more on “wooing” customers here).

4. Paying Business Bills.

Of course this is directly related to income, which is reliant on sales, which is reliant on customers, which goes back to 1. and 3.

Paying bills is on everyone’s mind but no one more so then the small business owner. Lease (or rent) payments, utility bills, telephone, internet, wages, stock, delivery…. it seems like a nearly non-stop flow of money leaving the coffers.

Knowing how to manage your expenses verses your income is crucial. It is about far more than keeping up to utilities. Small business owners need to plan and prepare at all times. Learning how to maintain and balance a budget on a ever-changing income is not easy (and does require a certain level of “sticking ones neck out”).

The small business owner must be continually considering:

  • Next Months Inventory: Do you have enough? what will be a big item next month? how many should you stock? how much can you afford?
  • Existing Inventory: What of the old items? Do you discount them? hold onto them? liquidate them? how much have you invested into them? will you sell them at a loss?
  • Necessary Expenditures VS Non-necessary: Gas bill and rent are important but do you need someone cleaning in the evening? Do you need that land line or is a cell phone good enough?
  • How Many Employees: Goes back to #2 understanding all of the expenditures related to having employees. Do you hire one? two? one and a half?
  • Planning In Advance: Last month you bought a new til but sales dropped this month and oops rent and utilities took it all. Now how will you pay for this months inventory?
  • The Unexpected: It happens. Water main breaks, laptop goes down, delivery van needs a new transmission, swarm of amazon moths eat your inventory. What then?

5. Hiring Good Employees.

Your employees can make or break your business. Consider the Pizza Hut manager who was recently caught on security tape urinating into the main sink in the kitchen. He obviously lost his job, but not before the video went viral online and did damage to the brand.

Your employees can work for you or against you. They can drive customer loyalty up… or into the ground. It is fair to say this is a real concern for small business owners. Hiring good employees is a challenge and when doing so one needs to consider:

  • Wages: Are they in line with what others are offering? are they fair? why or why not?
  • Benefits: Are you in a position to offer benefits or other bonuses to employees (discounts on products, flexible work schedule etc).
  • Getting The Word Out: How are you letting them know that you are hiring? Where are you putting the word out to? Who is seeing the job offer?
  • What Are You Looking For: And what type of people do you expect to apply?
  • What Is Your Business Rep: How is your business perceived in the community? Do people want to work for you?
  • Do You Know How To Hire: You may not immediately know what the tell tale signs are for a good or bad employee, learn how to filter them out.
  • Don’t Rush: Are you in a hurry to hire? How badly do you need someone? Is it worth hiring that guy with that insisted on wearing rubber gloves throughout the interview? Know when to say no.

We cover more on Employer / Employee relations in a post here.

6. Competition.

Surprisingly number six in the list, competition directly impacts almost every other concern listed her. The competition can steal your customers, your sales even your employees! 

But remember you are someone else’s competition and it goes both ways.

Competition will always exist… at least until such a time as you have enough money to pull a Time-Warner / Comcast deal to basically eliminate the concept of competition altogether. For now however competition is real.

Your ability to out-maneuver the competition is crucial and it hinges on a great number of things. You’ll notice that this list is very similar (ok it is identical) to the list we have for #3 “Keeping Current Customers”. At the end of the day, keeping customers and facing down the competition are mostly the same thing.

  • Price point: Are you being beat on it? Can they get the same or a similar item for less somewhere near by?
  • Service: Are your providing it? Are you the best? Can you be better?
  • Engagement: Do you know your customers? Are you on a friendly basis? Do you engage them and make them feel special? Do they want to come back?
  • Loyalty Rewards: Do you offer a benefit for them staying loyal? A punch card or a discount? Extra service?

The edge you can get, is by knowing your competition. As Sun Tzu said “know your enemy and you will win 100 battles”. Understand what they offer, how they offer it and why. Reach out to those customers with better deals – with more value for their dollar – and with better service and they will give you their business.

It’s simple really. Give customers a reason to choose you. You will find it easier to do so if you know what others are offering them.

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Transition Marketing Services. Our passion is educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how were doing or if you have any questions. TRANSITION MARKETING SERVICES – Small Business Marketing Specialists.

Entrepreneurship: Little Things To Make You Stand Out

Jerky

Came across this on Reddit (Original Link Here). This guy started a jerky company (PDA Jerky)and in a simple move of pure genius, decided to make his company stand out with one simple little inclusion – A flossing stick.

I know I’ve been camping many times with a nice big bag of jerky. You spend the rest of the day sub-consciously picking at your teeth. This little addition is brilliant.

Amazing how a small thought can make such a big difference. This entrepreneur took a pretty basic business idea and made himself stand out. This is an example to follow no matter what your business model is. Take actions to make yourself stand out from the pack.

What do you think?