promotional

Small Business: Nine Tips To Get Twice As Much Out Of Your Printed Ads

Every small business is restricted by a budget. Every dollar matters. 

One of many stunning Kohler print ads. They have actually been approached by people seeking to purchase copies of the ad for framing.

One of many stunning Kohler print ads. Kohler has actually been approached by people seeking to purchase copies of their ads for framing.

Print ads can be expensive, both to produce and to run. Yet they possess substantial value for businesses of all shapes and sizes. Printed advertising is an excellent investment, here are nine tips to ensure if you have paid for a print ad, you get every dime out of it.

Look at it this way, you have paid for the ad, therefore the ad is now yours, so look for any and every means available to place that advertising message in the hands of prospective customers. By doing so you can double the return on the money spent. Here are nine examples:

Nine Ways To Re-use Your Printed Ad’s:

1. Order an extra supply of reprints – then go hard distributing them to both, existing and potential customers. Use every avenue available to place the ads into their hands.
2. Anytime you are sending out literature, or passing out brochures, include a print of the ad. This will reinforce your message and remind the customer of the reason they found you in the first place.
3. Distribute the ads internally as well. Ensure everyone involved with your company, is given copies of the ad. It will keep them up to date and engaged with your most recent message. It aligns them with your business and brand vision.
4. Supply extra prints to all of your retail and sales staff (essentially anyone in direct contact with your customers) and encourage them to distribute the prints freely to customers.
5. Utilize the ad in a unique way but turning it into a product and service data sheet. Simply add additional information and specifications to the back of the ad reprint. This provides with a nice eye-catching cover for your data sheets, without having to design, source and purchase new ones built from scratch. What is more, now the reader will get a double dose of your message.
6. Use ad reprints as inexpensive direct mail. Look at mailing the reprints alongside a sales letter and/or reply card. The ad will grab attention, and the sales letters, all done internally, can quickly be modified for each specific market group on your mail-out lists.
7. Do you have more than one ad created for the same product or service line? If so, consider publishing a bound collection of the reprints as a product brochure. This will increase your brand and product exposure to consumers and save you the costs of designing and printing a brand new brochure.
8. Does the ad provide valuable information that would be found useful in your industry? Consider Offering reprints as free educational material to other companies in your industry.
9. If the ad is particularly striking, visually engaging, or otherwise nice to look at,  offer reprints suitable for framing.

Print ads offer incredible visual impact. That is where their power lay. Pay for a good ad, but make sure to get every dime out of it.

Print ads offer incredible visual impact and that is where their power lay. Our society is incredibly image driven and print advertising works off of that. It is worth it for small businesses to pay for a good ad, so long as we make sure that we use the ad to its fullest.

It is all about out of the box and creative thinking. The key is to find the means to place that printed ad, into the customers hands and in front of the consumers eyes. Remember that advertising and marketing is all about displaying the value in your products and services. Convince the customers that what you sell is worth more to them than their money and use print advertising to do it!

Transition-Marketing-Services

Transition Marketing Services in the Okanagan. Our passion Small Business Marketing. 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.

Small Business Sales: Equipping Customers to Find Your Business

Finding-Customers-Small-Business

Finding Small Business Customers.

You finally did it, struck out on your own. You went from “wantrepreneur” to small business owner. You have the products and services, the passion and maybe even some sort of budget!

Now what?  Time to succeed!

Time to impress consumers, make sales and create a sustainable income. Ok! sooooo…how does one do that? How does one equip their small business for long-term success?

Let’s face it, the key to succeeding in small business is the same as big business.

Sales.

Without sales, there is no revenue and without revenue it can be difficult to pay the bills, much less grow.

There are many differences that separate big business from small. For example how those sales are made, who they are made to and the approach behind them. However the same truth applies: “to make a sale, you must have customers.” So how do you get customers?

Let’s break this down to elementary school basics.

Making a Sale for Dummies:

  1. To make SALES you require CUSTOMERS.
  2. CUSTOMERS are simply CONSUMERS (people shopping) until the sale is made, ergo to start you must find CONSUMERS (people shopping).
  3. To find CONSUMERS, you must make your business accessible, easy to find and easy to connect with.
  4. Once you have connected with a consumer base, you can work on making the sale.

For many small businesses, making the sale is only half the problem, first they need to find and connect with the consumers (potential customers), because “Without someone to sell to, sales can be a little tough.”

The first thing any small business must consider, is HOW to make it easier for consumers to find them. If your business is not easy to find, then that must change immediately.

There are many resources available with which to connect your business to consumers, however the most commonly overlooked (and feared) are the online tools.

Creating A Visible, Accessible Small Business, Online:Small-Business-Website

When determining how to connect and market to a specific body of consumers, we always attempt to place ourselves in the shoes of the people we are attempting to reach. Doing so can give you great insight into who they are, what they are looking for, where they are looking and how they are doing it.

Recently Todd Ebert, CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) for the online marketing firm ReachLocal, was quoted as stating the same thing: Put yourselves in the mindset of the average consumer. Think about how you buy things – and how people might find your products or services. (Source)

There is value in utilizing offline resources like the YellowPages, business directories and print medium, however small businesses must also dedicate resources to building their online presence. It is the era of online research. By default almost every consumer begins their search for products and services with Google.

Online searches provide consumers with all of the results, reviews, recommendations and refusals they could possibly need.

You typically start with a Google search. You look for reviews, informative videos, comments on social media sites and recommendations from friends and family. You visit relevant message boards and online communities to learn about the experiences of other consumers. You try free samples and trials when you can.

How your business places in these results – or whether it even places at all – is directly determined by the amount of effort you put in to your online presence. Yes this effort represents a cost and a sacrifice to you, however it is a necessary one. Newly established small businesses cannot afford to shun the online world.

Knowing where your consumers are looking, and what search results are most prominent, can provide you with the insight as to where to concentrate your efforts.

Okanagan Marketing1. Website:

First and foremost get a GOOD website. If you cannot build one yourself (most cannot) then pay for one. It will be the best investment you ever make.

This is your online home base, the centre of your online presence. All of your other online resources should link back to this. If you have ever heard the term “landing page”, that is what this is referring to. You websites homepage is where the consumer will land with the click of a mouse.

  1. Use this landing page to control the consumers first impression of you.
  2. An effective landing page is built to be clear and easy to navigate.
  3. Ensure it is professional looking.
  4. Avoid clutter and avoid too much immediate information.
  5. Instead create a website with the intention of immediately equipping the consumer base with what they need then and there.
  6. Use your homepage to engage and draw the consumer in (they can get more info on your websites additional pages).
  7. Populate the homepage with clean, easy to understand and aesthetically pleasing content.
  8. Provide easy navigation. When laying out the website, consider WHERE consumers will want to go to from each page.
  9. Ensure tabs to other pages on the website as clearly labelled. When a consumer lands on your homepage, they will quickly need to know where to go next.

2. Social Media:Small-Business-Social-Media

Yes, social media is necessary. Some still struggle with the concept, yet it has become an essential part of any online presence.

  1. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and the vast array of other social sites, play a huge role in SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Web Traffic, Page Ranking and Page Results.
  2. Think of it this way. Your website is a dot, a Facebook profile is another dot, a Twitter profile is a third dot. The dot’s alone are tiny, however if you connect each dot with a line, you have a larger triangle. This is how social media effects online presence.
  3. Beyond simple page ranking, these sites offer an unprecedented opportunity to directly engage consumers, giving small business owners one more avenue to find and convert to customers.
  4. Social Media is just that, social. It is an endless conversation between people spanning ages, cultures, societies, demographics and target markets. With 180 million users on Facebook alone, a small business owner would be rather silly not to put the effort in.

For more on the ins and outs of Social Media, consider visiting our following posts, or Google it and see what others are saying.

 

Online Advertising.

Online advertising can be surprisingly cost-effective, however one must take care to ensure they are doing it correctly. Remember that the world wide web is a very VERY big place, and any advertising efforts on the part of small business need to be highly targeted.

The good news is that most avenues for online advertising provide for this. Google Adwords is a great example of intuitive and price competitive online advertising. Other options such as Facebook Ad’s, AdRoll and YellowPages360 also warrant investigation.

It only takes one or two sales and these ad’s are quickly paid for. What is more, they are very easy to set up. Google Adwords will take you by the hand and walk you through the entire process.

Conclusion.

Remember to monitor the results of your online presence. Search online regularly and see what showing up, is it what you want? if not, then take the time to adjust.

Check up and see what people are saying about your business. Read reviews, watch the social media channels. Take all of this information and use it. Use it to adjust, to react and to plan your future strategies.

Will you make some mistakes along the way? YES! It is a process, with a learning curve. Stick with it, take your lumps and learn the process, it will take your business to the next level, instigate business growth and save your business on overhead.

Create an online presence, provide your consumers with a place and the tools to connect with you and you will be on your way to converting consumers to customers, thereby driving sales.

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.

 

I’ve Got 99 Problems But A (Sales) Pitch Ain’t One

The Relationship Between Sales & Marketing

To clearly define the relationship between sales and marketing we must first define marketing

What Is Marketing?

Marketing is all about enabling.

  1. Enabling a business to find the right customers.
  2. Enabling consumers to find the right business.
  3. Enabling sales by demonstrating and displaying the value of specific products and services.

To break it all down to bare bones,  marketing, is about enabling businesses to survive and to thrive via the one thing every business requires – SALES

Marketing enables sales.

Businesses need sales to survive. No matter what a business does, it is always about driving sales. Cold calls, Customer Service, Branding campaigns, Advertising, Promotions, you name it – all of it in one way or another, is about making the sale.

Because for any business, survival depends on sales.

Marketing enables sales.

Ergo marketing enables survival.

Sales depend on the customer’s ability to perceive value. When enough value is perceived, a customer is willing to pay a specific amount based on that value. Marketing is about demonstrating that value. If a business can demonstrate enough value – enough reason – for customers, then they will make the sale. They will survive and they will grow.” – TMS

That is what Marketing is.

Now let’s dig further.

Marketing: Displaying Value.

“Value” is perceived in a number of ways and by a number of things. For simplicity we will break it down into two primary areas first (we will then break those down further).  The two primary areas are as follows:

  1. Value in a product or service.
  2. Value attached to a brand reputation.

1. Value In A Product Or Service.

Value in a given product or service is determined by a number of variables. Certain products are a necessity to everyday life: Toothpaste, Toilet paper, Food, Gasoline, Electricity etc. While other products are considered luxury items: Movies, Video Games, Vacations, so on.

Necessities: These sell themselves to a certain degree. When dealing with these types of products it is more about keeping abreast of the competition. Let’s use toilet paper to demonstrate a few of the controlling factors for sales on necessities:

  1. Price point. Are your rolls more or less expensive than the next guy?
  2. Quality. Two ply will fetch more than single ply toilet paper.
  3. Innovation. Is there something NEW or DIFFERENT that separates your product from the other available options? (Does it wipe for you?).
  4. Availability. Is the product in all of the key places people go (no pun intended)? Is it convenient to find? Is it in stock?
  5. Relationship. In small business especially, relationships are important. Develop camaraderie with the customer base, and you will be number 1 (pun definitely intended). They will CHOOSE to support you.
  6. Reputation. This is about branding and ties in to the value attached to you brand. Developing a brand reputation drives new and repeat sales. Branding is key to success.

With necessities, customers are going to purchase these products regardless. Will they purchase from you or do they have reason to go elsewhere? Success here is about giving them a reason to go to you.

Luxuries: These items are more about what customers are CHOOSING to purchase. It could be something new, perhaps a new snowboard, or a Kitchen Aid mixer. Or it could be an upgrade, moving from the iPhone 4S to the iPhone 5. Regardless, these items require more effort in demonstrating the value.

All of the same principles for “necessities” apply to luxury purchases as well. However the value is not as readily evident. People know they need to brush their teeth, the do not necessarily agree that they need a new 52” plasma screen.

With these types of items marketing can take a nasty turn, becoming more about coercion and less about value.

Coercing or deceiving customers about value, is one massive marketing FAIL. If the product is so bad that it requires deceit to sell it, then it should not be on the market.

As Seth Godin put it “Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers”.

  • You can market junk, and do it well. You can make the quick sale, but you will NEVER develop a brand or any longevity.
  • This is a fact and it is increasing in truth as Social Media continues to enable brand transparency, CRM and more thorough customer feedback at a public level.

It is the marketing of junk that has given the industry a bad name. TRUE Marketing is not about deceiving the consumer base. It is about showing them great products.

Let’s assume then, that the product is a non-essential – a luxury – but a good one, one with value. Now it comes down to showcasing this value. That is where marketing comes in. developing the research, strategies, tools and resources to display the products greatness to the world.

The research is crucial. Knowing HOW to best market a specific business will save thousands of the client’s dollars. Market Research requires a careful analysis of variables that include (but are not limited to):

  • Business Location.
    • Location of competition.
    • Location of viable customers.
  • Product & Service Value
    • Define the value.
    • Who is it valuable to?
    • What similar products & services exist?
  • Target Market
    • Where is the market located?
    • Market demographics (age, gender etc.)
    • What are they spending money on?
    • What do they value?
  • Measure Existing Brand Strengths
    • What is there to work with? (don’t reinvent the wheel).
    • What are they doing right?
    • What can be leveraged?
  • Measure Existing Brand Weaknesses
    • Where is there room for improvement?
    • How are these being exploited by competitors?
    • How do we address?
  • Measure Competition
    • Analyze what they provide.
    • Who they provide it to.
    • How they do it.
    • How we can do it better

Small business budgets are, well… small. By determining the marketing areas of highest value, we can ensure the most return on the dollar. Taking all of these variables into account we determine what strategy and tools make the most sense for that specific business. For example:

  • Not every business needs accounts on multiple social media profiles.
  • Not every business requires billboard advertising.
  • Not every business can profit from advertising in women’s magazines…

Know Your Target: There is such a vast number of marketing and advertising options in existence, that many assume putting a business or brand on display would be simple. In fact, a common statement from small business is that “they are marketing, but not seeing the results they hoped for”.

Many are mystified.

The thing is that a product or service can be displayed, but if the right people are not seeing it, it does no good. Put another way, “if your business is selling marmalade to the elderly, don’t sink your budget into social media”.

If you boil the term “marketing” down to “displaying value”, then one can agree that it makes sense to ensure that this “value” is being displayed to the people who care.

2. Value Attached To A Brand Reputation.

Brand reputation is the result “BRANDING”. Many mistake “Branding” as no more than the consistent displaying of the same logo and uniform colour scheme across all advertising mediums. While this is an ASPECT of branding, it is only about 30% of it.

Branding is all about creating an image and an association – in the mind of the consumer – between a specific business and a specific expectation. For example, when one purchases a coffee from Starbucks, they expect a certain level of quality and service. Why? Because this is what they have come to expect. That is the BRAND REPUTATION.

To develop a brand image and reputation a business must first determine what their commitment is to consumers. This is their “BRAND PROMISE”. This brand promise, or commitment to customers is what the brand reputation is built around.

A brand reputation is controlled and affected my many things. It takes years of consistent effort to develop a brand and all of that work can be unraveled in a matter of hours.

Image source: liviubestphoto.blogspot.ca

The value in developing a brand can be seen in all of the major companies in existence today. Apple, Google, Samsung, Coke, Visa, Nike, BMW, Toyota, etc. They have all put in decades of effort to get to where they are today.

When developing a brand, one once again looks to research and measurements. We discuss this further in our post here:

Suffice to say that once a positive brand reputation has been developed, sales grow more easy. Consider Apple, they are widely regarded as suppliers of innovative, engaging and quality products. Since they possess a reputation for high value product, they will make sales with less effort.

A good brand reputation essentially paves the way for sales. Make no mistake though, this reputation takes time and effort to cultivate and under the right circumstances, can be quickly destroyed.

Branding should be a goal for any business of any size. It is not something left strictly to corporations, or established businesses. A small corner store can develop a reputation for quality service with a smile, and that in itself can drive sales.

Every business needs brand awareness, a brand image and a brand reputation.

SUMMARY:

BUSINESS SURVIVAL requires SALES.

SALES require MARKETING.

MARKETING is:  “the enabling of sales through display and exposure of product/service value.” – TMS

Demonstrate the value behind your product/service and demonstrate the value of your business/brand to the correct target market. That is marketing encapsulated into a very tiny nutshell.

If you want to make sales, provide the most valuable products possible to your customer base and market in a way that clearly displays this value to the people it matters to.

As Henry Ford put it “There is one rule for the industrialist and that is: Make the best quality of goods possible at the lowest cost possible, paying the highest wages possible.” 

Okanagan-Small-Business-MarketingTransition 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.

12 Small Business Marketing Tips That AREN’T Social Media

12 Small Business Marketing Tips That AREN’T Social Media

1. Printed Postcards.

Print out a fun, funny, or otherwise engaging postcard that doubles as an advertisement and use it as a mail out to prospective clients. Something of this nature is far more likely to reach customers then a standard advertising mail out. It is also more likely to be passed around and hung on to.

EXAMPLE: I spoke with one client who used this to great success in her market area. The postcards were so successful in engagement, that during one cold call, she noticed one of them hanging from the company fridge.

The Why: The success of a post card can be traced to its content. It consists primarily of an image and only the necessary text. Our society is increasingly image driven, with brief attention spans. The image compounds on our natural tendency to be drawn to imagery and the brief text is enough to present a quick brand statement, without losing them.

The postcard mail-out is not meant to make the sale, it is meant to generate the lead by drawing traffic to you and your website.

BONUS: Postcard’s are extremely budget friendly and dollar for dollar have one of the highest advertising impacts.

Marketing success is directly related to content. Keep it fresh (image source marketingassasin.wordpress.com)

2. Variety Works! So Don’t Be A One Trick Pony.

While relying on the same tried and tested techniques is not a bad thing, variety substantially increases advertising & marketing impact. Try varying your approach and rotate your tactics. Consider these points:

  • Customers, have a short attention span. Changing your approach will ensure that they don’t become numb to your efforts.
  • Customers want to matter. When they see that they are worth an effort, and not just a “programmed mass mail-out” they feel important, and that in turn means they are engaged.
  • Repeating the same thing over and over, breaks several key marketing rules (and besides, it is lame). You get bored and so do your customers.
  • Marketing & Advertising are all about showcasing your business and ingenuity. Clever advertising creates business / brand visibility and positions you as a stand-out to your customers.

The Why: Utilizing different tactics is one way to ensure that you are memorable and that is what leads to sales. Give your customers a reason to remember you, keep the content and the approach fresh.

There are literally thousands of different ways to reach your clients, however not every technique will be suitable for your customer base. Explore, try new things and have fun, but remember to do your homework and use the methods that make the most sense.

Partnering with other businesses on promotions increases impact, audience and exposure.

3. Partner Up.

Let’s face it, when it comes to small businesses, we are all in this together. We ourselves have had great success in establishing promotional partnerships with other small businesses spanning all manner of industries.

EXAMPLE: A great example occurred recently. We ran a summer promotion offering to build a “custom website” for the winner.

The winner of the promotion approached us to ask if we would like to team up to offer the website prize to a local auction. This customer had access to this auction, where we did not and all they asked in return was that they get secondary billing as a contributor.

What began as a individual promotion on the part of our business, became a partnered promotion to over 500 bit ticket clients! Our business and theirs got some great visibility as a result and everyone came out a winner.

Opportunities to partner on promotions abound and are only limited by your creativity.

The Why: Partnerships can greatly reduce costs, increase impacted audiences and breed goodwill. It increases your exposure and the likelihood of word of mouth referrals by your partners. Each time you can build better relationships between your business and others you are providing the best kind of marketing there is.

4. Improve Their Day Over The Phone.

It sounds too simple, but first impressions are indeed everything. When you pick up the phone, remember that your tone and your words are going to be what your are immediately measured by. If it is a new or potential client, this is especially important.

Don’t be syrupy, but be happy. If you answer the phone sounding stressed or grumpy, people will take it personally. They do not want to feel like they are inconveniencing you with their call, and they should never have to. Remember this: Every phone conversation is a direct representation of your brand.

No one wants to deal with grouchy people, we all have enough of that in a day. Give them a reason to perk up, even if it simply your tone of voice.

EXAMPLE: Our rule of thumb at Transition Marketing Services is “Make ’em feel like a million bucks”. It doesn’t matter how your day is going, enter each telephone conversation with the single intent of improving the day of the individual on the other end.

The Why: People need to feel valued. It is wired into us all. This is all too true with customers. We all want to feel that our business is important to a brand – and no matter how small that business may be, it should ALWAYS be treated as such. If you give them a good moment, experience and memory, that will stick with them – especially if they have already had a bad day. Making your business accessible and friendly will always generate leads.

5. Change-up Your Go-To Greeting.

When answering the phone, do not be afraid to change up your standard greeting. The opening statement on the phone can easily be used to quickly promo a special offer, or to announce a quick piece of news.

EXAMPLES:

  • “Good morning this is Ben, ask me about 2 for 1 print designs”
  • “Good Afternoon, TMS, your recent Okanagan Life Magazine winner!”

Try it out. Many businesses have an auto-attendant that plays pre-programmed promotional propaganda to customers on hold, very few have a live one!

The Why: A quick statement like this is a good way to generate further dialogue and to engage your customers. It can provide a segway into discussing your services, products or achievements – without forcing it into the conversation.

Stickers can be a great (budget friendly) way to generate brand exposure on just about anything.

6. Stickers Are Our Friends.

I LOVE STICKERS! 30 years old and my laptop still looks like a skateboard deck. Stickers are a great, inexpensive means of semi-permanently branding things. Of course stickers take many different forms.

EXAMPLES:

  • Brand Stickers: There are always uses for groovy stickers. Create a fun or slick looking sticker that your customers may actually WANT to put on something.
  • Stamps / Envelope Stickers: Mailing something out? Turn the envelope into a promo as well. Every piece of direct or business mail, provides an opportunity to promote your brand and business. If you cannot afford custom printed envelopes, stickers and stamps can be a great alternative.

As with most other advertising efforts, keep the stickers clean, sharp and to the point. They are stickers, not encyclopedias. Rule of thumb: If the sticker takes more than 5 seconds to read – too much!

The Why: Quite simply stickers are inexpensive and convert just about anything to a billboard for your business. The more your logo, brand name and/or image is displayed, the more brand awareness is generated.

7. Custom Stationary – Inexpensive Branding

In the same family of thought as stickers. Printing your logo and brand philosophy on all of your stationary ensures repeat brand exposure to anyone receiving written communications from you.

8. Newsletters.

Repeat sales are over 75% cheaper to drive home then sales to new customers. Newsletters (printed or emailed) are a great way to focus specific marketing on your existing customer base. Build a list of customers and their contact info, by offering a service, deal or insider info to those willing to subscribe.

Newsletters do not need to be a weekly thing. You can keep costs down by making it monthly or even quarterly – depending on your industry and market targets etc. E-newsletters (emailed newsletters) are often be less expensive, although they are less likely to be opened.

EXAMPLE: One of our staff operated a weekly newsletter for five years for an industrial manufacturer. The newsletter garnered quite the following, and was used as a direct line to the existing customer base. It was used to highlight new products, company achievements and other information used to drive engagement and generate leads. By the time is came to a close, customers were contributing information to the newsletter – a sure sign of engagement.

The Why: Newsletters are a direct line to your customers. This provides a door for direct communications on offers, promotions and other information relevant to driving sales. Keep in mind that a newsletters success is only as good as its content. If you want it to be opened and followed up on, you need to provide a reason and establish a reputation with the recipients.

9. Seminars, Events & Open Houses.

Anytime you can draw customers to you and gain that one on one face time, you are generating brand awareness for your company. Time spent in face to face communications is worth 100 x the time spent in emailing, telephone or online. There are a number of ways to generate this exposure, that do not involve the cold call.

Host an event, a seminar or an open house. Give your customer base a good reason to come to you. Done properly events can garner strong turnouts and generate great media coverage. Remember that the event must appeal to your targets. Do not make the event about preaching your brand, but rather about giving to your customers. Create the event around your brand, but make it a goal to add value to the attendees.

If you are offering a seminar never make it free. People see “free” attached to a seminar and they are immediately suspicious. “Free”, whether true or not, indicates that there is no value to be had or that there will be a string attached. Add a price tag for admission, make it reasonable, but make sure your seminar carries value.

EXAMPLE: We will offer a seminar on “Generating Sales Leads for Small Business Through Online Content”. This is a highly specific topic, but extremely valuable to many of our clients and targets. By offering this seminar, we are giving our targets something of value to them (equipping them for success), while also positioning our brand as a leader in the industry and generating face time with potential leads.

The Why: Events draw customers out to you. They provide an opportunity to directly engage them on grounds of your choosing, as opposed to the dreaded “cold call” which places you on THEIR territory. When hosting an event you are seen as in charge and it creates a less intimidating field to engage on. When you provide something of value to your customers, they will come to you and that is a good place to be.

10. Exchanging Services.

First off. NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE WORTH OF YOUR GOODS & SERVICES. Having said that, working out deals to exchange product for advertising space, or for necessary items is not a terrible idea.

The caution here is not to underestimate the value of your products or your potential partners. You do not want to low-ball a potential partner and risk insulting them, however you also do not want to come out of the deal with less than you put in.

The Why: Exchanges of this nature can be useful for cutting costs and staying on budget, however approach with care.

11. Quick, Follow Up Offers To Recent Customers.

One of my personal favorites. Taking the time to send a quick note, email etc. to a recent customer, with a special offer available only to them, is a great way to increase your B2C relationships and drive repeat sales.

EXAMPLE: A customer has recently purchased one of your products. Follow up with them, thank them for their recent business and offer them an additional discount off of their next purchase. You can provide them with a code, or coupon which they can redeem – Remember that to drive the sales urgency, you should always include an expiry date.

The Why: People love deals. They also love being appreciated. By offering a follow up coupon JUST TO THEM as a reward for their business, you are giving them both – A deal and direct appreciation. The key here is that it is DIRECT in contrast to say a “Customer Appreciation Sale” which does not shine the spotlight on the individual customer. By adding an expiry date, you are creating that sense of urgency and driving the sale home. It lessens the chance that they will forget or lose the coupon and it protects your business from having to honor it at an inconvenient time.

12. Tag-Along Marketing For Direct Mail.

Sending out mail? You are already paying the postage, so put that money to work. Include a flyer, advertisement, business card or promotion with your mail-outs. As with stickers and stationary, repeat brand exposure is always a good thing.

There are a number of ways to promote a business or brand. Many are surprisingly cost effective and can be customized to suit any size and budget.

For a any business or brand to succeed, marketing is required. Which marketing makes the most sense for you?

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 & Branding Specialists.

Small Business: Canadian Business Structures Explained

Four Common Canadian Business Structures Explained

When starting a business it is important to adequately explore the options available. Will it be owned and operated by one or by many? Will it be incorporated or not?

The process can be a little unnerving, for that reason we have provided a detailed summary of the various Canadian Business Structures available:

 

Canadian Business Structures Dissected:

1. Sole Proprietorship (Single Owner)

In this structure, you as an individual own 100% of the profits created. However responsibity for all business related obligations including debts, are also yours.  A creditor can issue a claim against not only your business assets, but also your personal assets, in order to fulfill a debt.

Pros:

  • This is the easiest form of business to begin, you simply need to register your business name provincially (note that this does not apply for Newfoundland and Labrador)
  • It is quite inexpensive in comparison to other options.
  • You have sole control over the direction and decisions of the business.
  • The number of regulatory commitments is minimal.
  • The amount of capital required is greatly reduced.
  • All of the profits belong to you.
  • There are tax advantages, including deduction of losses from your personal income and a lower tax bracket.

Cons:

  • No limit to liability, in other words ALL of your assets (including personal) can be taken to pay off your business debts.
  • If your business is profitable you may find yourself in a higher tax bracket (income is taxable at your personal rate).
  • The burden of start-up capital is carried solely by you.
  • As sole owner, vacation time and absenteeism may affect your business.

Partnerships are a second option for business start-ups

2. Partnerships (Two Owners)

Partnerships allow the benefit of multiple owners, without having to incorporate your business. Partnerships allow for combined financial support. Partnerships mean you will be splitting profits. Keep in mind that you may not always see eye to eye and a business agreement is highly recommended.

This business agreement should be drawn up with the aid of a lawyer in order to ensure:

  • First and foremost to ensure you meet the requirements for a partnership.
  • That your interests are protected.
  • The terms surrounding profits, growth, job details and absolving of partnership etc. are clearly defined.

The option exists to form a limited liability partnership, wherein you or your partner can choose to not take part in the control or management, but remain liable for debts.

Pros:

  • Partnerships, again, are relatively easy to start-up.
  • Work load and requirements are split up.
  • Tax advantages in that the income of the business is split between you and your partner when submitting your individual tax return.
  • Financial requirements, including start-up capital are shared.

Cons:

  • As with Sole Proprietorship, your personal assets can still be seized to pay of business debts.
  • There is no legal separation between you and your business.
  • Finding a suitable partner is difficult.
  • Business can result in many conflicts between partners and can result is damaged relationships.
  • You are responsible for your partners business actions. Their broken contracts, unfulfilled orders etc. are your issue as well.

3. Cooperatives (Multiple Owners)

The least common of business types, a cooperative is owned by an association of members.  This type of business is appropriate in situations where three or more people or businesses are determined to pool resources. They may choose to do this in provide access to common needs. Things like product deliveries, services, sales, employment, marketing etc.

Pros:

  • Liability is shared
  • Multiple resources.
  • Work load and requirements are split up.
  • Democratic decision making.

Cons:

  • Member conflicts based on business.
  • Member conflicts based on personalities.
  • Decisions can take time to make.
  • All members my play an equal part to succeed.
  • Thorough records and reports must be kept.
  • Additional capital is less likely to be offered.

More information

Want more information on this? Check out these links:

4. Corporations (Legal Separation Of Personal & Business)

Incorporating your business at either a provincial or federal level  is a third option. By incorporating a business, you are creating a legal separation between it and its owners (or shareholders). This means you are not responsible, personally, for business debts, business obligations, or corporate actions.

This is not a decision to take lightly and should be made only with proper legal counsel.

Pros:

  • Financial liability is limited.
  • The business becomes a separate legal entity.
  • Transferable ownership.
  • Continuous existence.
  • Capital is far easier to raise.
  • Incorporated businesses can be subject to lower taxes.

Cons:

  • High regulations on corporations.
  • Incorporating can be expensive.
  • Paperwork. Corporate records must be kept. This includes shareholder and director. meetings, and annually filed documentation with the government.
  • Issues with residency of director.
  • Shareholders and director conflicts.

More information:

Thinking of incorporating or simply want to know more? Visit Guide to Federal Incorporation

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.

6 Small Business SEO Tips

Small Businesses can still market big.

Small Business / Big Online Marketing.

97 % of consumers polled recently stated that they begin sourcing products and services through online means, a number that is increasing with the on surge of mobile tech.

Regardless of what business one may be in, a website is a necessity.

Creating a website is a careful balance of style and function. It needs to be visually stimulating and it needs to be easy to find.

The term SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is the science and engineering that goes into ensuring a website appears at the top of specific search results. SEO is all about making a website the first one a consumer sees and it can take small business online efforts from zero to hero.

Here are some simple SEO techniques any small business can do today to boost its Ssearch Engine rankings:

Basic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Tips:

1. Develop The Website To Be Search Engine Friendly.

Almost every website platform is going to do this anyways. However if when a site is customized, several key areas should be examined. Consider your site map, the HTML or code readability and your Folder structure.

These technical aspects reside more or less in the background of every website. Many website designers  are highly focused on creating an aesthetically pleasing site. The aesthetics and image are very important, however a website that is not engineered properly will seldom be seen.

The engineered background of a website is what matters to Search Engines, it is what dictates the websites ranking in search results. Better search results mean a larger audience and more traffic.

Put another way. A good website succeeds in two areas:

  1. Human Audience: It’s layout and content is visually appealing, and it navigates easily – customers can find their way around without any trouble.
  2. Search Bot Audience: It’s internal coding and structure is virtually appealing, Search Engines can find it easily and quickly ascertain what it pertains to, thus affecting its ranking.

Technical engineering does not mean sacrificing appealing design, it simply needs to be considered an equal partner. When it comes to a websites technical engineering one is best to forget about “style” and concentrate on text based descriptions, content. The more clues a website provides to the search bots, the better.

Enter key words that pertain to your business & industry.

2. Determine What Key Words You Want Associated With You Website For Search Results.

This is most easily determined but quickly writing down the first half dozen ways you personally would search for your site. It is best to ask the same thing from those around you, then cross reference and determine which are the most common ways from all of the results.

A few of the results will likely be the same, those are the ones to be key in on. Once that is done, run each of the search terms and isolate where your site stands in the results. The idea is to be in the top 10 results. This may be harder to achieve, depending on the number of related sites in your industry, and how common your business name is.

Generally speaking if you site does not appear within the first two or three pages, then your site should be examined. Not many consumers have the patience to click through that many pages.

While running the test searches, examine which sites are appearing higher in the results. Are the in the same industry? Are they local or global? Small or large? Do they offer direct competition to your business?

When choosing your search terms, remember that other sites will be fighting for top ranking as well. Keep this competition in mind. You may find it useful to break the trest results of search terms into three categories and then target as such:

  1. Strong Search Term | Low Ranking | Minimum Competition: Your results show your site low ranked, but the search term is highly relevant to your site, and there is not much in the way of relevant competition. Start here. Prioritize them and you will begin to see results quickly.
  2. Strong Search Term | Low Ranking | High Competition: Your appearance in the results is low, the search terms is highly relevant, yet the competition is as well. The high competition should be an indicator that this as a strong opportunity. However your competition is likely entrenched here and it could get expensive trying to punt them.
  3. Strong Search Term | High Ranking: Hurrah! Your site appears high in the results, the search term is relevant and you have clearly risen above any competition. Monitor these terms and ensure you stay on top.

Choosing relevant search terms, and prioritizing your targets should have resulted in at least three strong key words to concentrate on.

Make sure your website is Search Bot friendly. Image source: ezearn.info

3. Your Homepage Is To Contain A Textual Description That Includes 2 – 3 Of Your Top Key Words.

And so we begin melding the artistic and the technical. The content should stimulate the viewer, yet make easy climbing for the Search-Bot-Web-Crawlers.

Simply put: “If you want people searching for your key words to find you, then place the key words all over your site”

Think of your key words as little rock holds for the spidery Search Bots to grab hold of in their search. The more holds your site has, the more grip those little Search Bots will get on your site (that is a good thing).

Keep in mind that you do not want to cover your site in redundant textual info for the sake of the Search Bots as you then lose your Human Audience. It needs to be a careful blend of both worlds.

As you change and adjust your sites engineering and content, monitor the changes in your ranking.

4. Include A Page Or Blog Spot Dedicated To The Top Key Words.

This is a good idea for two reasons:

  1. If provides a natural text space to use your key words (again keep in mind not to overdo it, it needs to be readable).
  2. It provides an opportunity to show expertise and relevance in relation to your key words, and therefore your industry.

Rule of thumb write as if you had five minutes to explain to a friend or family member what it is you do.

5. Ask Colleagues, Industry Partners, Friends & Family To Post Content About You.

Search Engines view external links to a website as an endorsement of sorts. Like references on a Resume.

Asking external sources to post about your business AND include one of your key words within a direct link to your site, is known as a “Link Exchange”. While a useful SEO tool, many look at this as questionable when done in large quantities, or when exchanged with irrelevant sites or content (Ex. A Dental practice Link Exchanging with a Bulldozer rental site).

Mass Quantity Link Exchange Examined:

  • Some businesses and web developers will trade Link Exchange rights with other sites regardless of their content. For instance Herp.com may ask Derp.com to allow them to place a link on their site in exchange for the same privilege – even if the sites have nothing in common.
  • Others developers may go as far as to purchase the rights to share the links on other sites, or even set up a website directly aimed at nothing more than mass Link Exchanging.

There are a few schools of thought on this as an SEO strategy. Many Search Engines, like Google, do not like this type of thing – considering these types of Mass Link Exchange as misleading in relation to relevant content. These Search Engines are beginning to adapt their algorithms to give this sort of link sharing a pass.

Side Note: Google – the Search Engine with highest consumer use – has made it clear that they are geared towards search results based on relevant content, not SEO “cheats” like link exchanging to irrelevant outside sources. As such creating wide spread relevant content attached to your name is becoming important while mass link exchanging may be on the brink of extinction.

Make sure any link exchange you take part in, is relevant and provides relevant content to the reader. No misleading! That is a massive SEO party foul!

Mass Link Exchanging is frowned upon, however done legitimately, Link Exchanging is a great above-board practice for genuine websites with original content.

6. Back Link Your Website To Your  Social Media.

Relevant Content is the key to true SEO. Image source: Inboundwriter.com

I for one avoid Link Exchanging anyways. I prefer to develop my own content and utilize Social Media platforms for independent link sharing.

It is similar in nature and concept, to Link Exchange, in that it is positioning your link, attached to keywords, elsewhere on the web – yet different in that it is not on external source, but still on your own.

The Bonus here is that it is also CONTENT related, so it scores on two SEO levels and works within many Search Engine preferences for relevant content (it keeps the Google bots happy).

By developing a Social Media platform and link sharing your site, you are creating a larger “web presence” and more reason for Search Bots to find you and rank you.

The Search Engines will essentially crawl the content and trace it back to you. The more relevant content you have for them to crawl, the larger your presence and the higher your rank.

 

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