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Category : Marketing

All posts & articles that relate to marketing, digital advertising, ROI, and best practices!

By Rhett Doolittle

Get more reviews with these 5 effective (and free) tips

Get more reviews with these 5 effective (and free) tips

There’s one simple truth: consumers rely on online reviews to determine where they spend their money. In fact, 90% of buyers reported to have checked a business’ reviews before reaching a decision and ultimately making a purchase. Businesses can learn how to get more reviews here.

Though we understand that reviews may not always be accurate and are often subjective – reviews are a focal point of success as it can be the only reference for potential customers. A Harvard Business Review report states that each increase in a business’ star ratings correlates to a 5-9% increase in revenue, showing that your reputation matters to the people that do business with you. 

It’s no debate that reviews are essential for your business to thrive; the key is ensuring that you have the volume and high ratings to draw in new customers. While it’s easier said than done, we’ve created a quick and simple guide to help you get on your feet and get more reviews.

5 things you can do to get more reviews:

  • Complete your profiles

Taking the time to complete your profile information is a key component of success. Think of it as your website, it’s one of the very first interactions that a potential customer has with your business. Adding photos, creating a check-in deal, answering community questions, or adding story to your ‘about me’ is a great way to show that you’re active online. Both Google My Business and Yelp also offer a mobile platform for those looking to manage their pages on-the-go.

  • Mention reviews to your loyal customers

If you have a business with foot traffic or customers you regularly interact with, have your front staff mention that reviews are greatly appreciated. Phrases like, “Thanks for coming in, and check us out on Google!” and “Have you seen our page on Yelp?” can be worked into normal interactions and can help drive traffic and attention to your page. Though this may seem like a given, you’d be surprised how many people forget about this low-barrier opportunity to increase the amount of reviews they receive. 

Since these people like your business enough to keep coming back, they’re more likely to leave a review. If and when you receive a negative review, it’s important to respond in a respectful manner since there’s a chance they’ll update their review with positive sentiment. Remember, never explicitly ask anyone to leave a 5-star review since this is against Yelp’s policy.

  • Include a link to your pages everywhere

This is an incredibly simple way to draw attention to your Google and Yelp pages while encouraging reviews without explicitly asking for them. Add a Yelp icon link to your website, share it on your social media channels, and include it in your company email signature with a phrase like, “Check us out on Yelp!”. You can even utilize the really solid testimonials on your Facebook and Instagram pages as content.

  • Request a “Find Us on Yelp” sticker— or make a sign of your own

Yelp issues stickers to select businesses to help draw customers back to the site. These are often given out to established businesses with a number of positive reviews, but it’s worth asking— you never know! You can request a Yelp sticker to display on your front door here.

Another option is to make your own, original sign. Don’t copy Yelp’s sticker; but instead, create a physical sign to stick in the door or stand by the cash register. This can be another great way to send people to your Yelp page and draw reviews.

  • Do NOT buy reviews

Buying positive reviews may seem like a quick way to get more reviews, but it can reap more consequences than benefits. First, customers will notice that the reviews are fake. It’s not hard to see a correlation in reviews and the fact that they aren’t genuine. This can turn off potential customers from the very beginning and portray the idea that your business is shady.

Second, it’s a violation of Yelp guidelines. Yelp believes that reviews should be genuine (obviously) and features an algorithm to detect suspicious activity. If they suspect the recommendation was coerced or is anything but organic, they’ll remove it. If that happens enough, Yelp can put a warning on your page which can be detrimental to your business.

 

200+ million people engage with businesses across review platforms on a daily basis; as we progress within a digital age, more and more people will have access to what your past customers have to say about you. Want to know more about how your business is doing across various review platforms, and other unique ways you can get more reviews?

Sign up for a free 14-day trial of Business Warrior today.

By Rhett Doolittle

Responding to Negative Reviews (With Examples)

Responding to Negative Reviews (With Examples)

Your online reputation matters – in fact, it matters so much that calling it your “online reputation” is fairly redundant. With over 90% of consumers checking online reviews before deciding where to go, your online reputation is your reputation, period.

When your business receives a negative customer review, it not only bruises your ego but directly affects your bottom line. While you probably already know this, you might not know that responding to negative reviews can be a powerful opportunity to showcase your company’s ethos, integrity, and offer transparency— all of which make your business look better.

Remember, when you respond to negative reviews, you’re responding to the customer as well as everyone reading your reviews. How well you do this can not only redeem the situation for that specific customer but also create a stronger, more positive brand identity to others watching.

Let’s take a look at three key things to keep in mind when responding to negative reviews:

1. Respond quickly

The case for replying within 24-48 hours is twofold: First, the situation is still fresh, and catching them in that window increases the likelihood that you’ll be able to offer an actionable solution (that they’ll take you up on). Second, it decreases the amount of time the review is sitting unattended on the web. The faster you respond, the fewer people will see the review on its own and potentially be negatively influenced by it.

2. Apologize and offer to make it right

Whether the complaint is due to a real mistake or based on circumstances beyond your control, the customer is frustrated or disappointed and you won’t get anywhere without acknowledging that first. Starting your response with a sincere apology that directly addresses their complaint will go a long way in neutralizing their pain and showing that your team cares about your customers.

Remember: This isn’t a court of law. Whether or not you think their complaint is valid, this person had a bad experience with your business and took the time to tell you and others about it. Address their experience directly and you’re already ahead. And after apologizing, offer your best solution to their problem.

3. Keep your tone friendly and sincere

No matter how unfair the criticism may feel, responding with sass or firing off a response that matches their vitriol will make the situation even worse— and looks really, really bad to anyone else reading it. Do your best to take your emotions out of it. Remember: It’s not a matter of winning a battle against the person who wrote the review, but rather showcasing that you care about your customers and want to make the situation right. For prospective customers who are deciding whether or not to work with you, it’s much more likely they’ll be attracted to a business owner that is kind, thoughtful and has a “the customer is always right” attitude rather than an angry or spiteful one.

Responding to online reviews should be a priority for every business owner. In a time when customer reviews can directly influence the amount of new business you’re getting, no one can afford to let negative feedback sit unattended. Every business makes mistakes, and sometimes customers are responding to situations beyond your control, but each review is a powerful opportunity to put your ethos and integrity on display. In short: responding to reviews is an easy way to look really good.

If you don’t have time to monitor every social media outlet and review site (who does?) a tool like Business Warrior is the easiest way to get on top of it. Business Warrior aggregates information from the most popular review sites so you can see every review from one powerful dashboard.

Want to try Business Warrior? Get started with your free trial here.

Here’s to a stronger, growing business.

By Rhett Doolittle

How Online Listings Affect Your Business

How Online Listings Affect Your Business

There is no question that search engines have transformed the way businesses approach their marketing strategy.

“According to a Local Consumer Review Survey, 97% of consumers used the web to find a local business last year”

It’s no surprise that having accurate online business listings is more important now than ever. Inaccurate business listings create more problems than you may be aware of. A slight error in your address means that customers may not be able to physically find your business. Even worse, they may show up ready to buy from your business only to find an empty parking lot, locked doors, and dark windows.

Not only is having incorrect online listings inconvenient for your customers, but it also takes a significant toll on your search results ranking and SEO. For example, if your online business listing information is inaccurate and a customer decides to report it, Google will take measures to protect their own brand and severely penalize your listing. This can push your business down to the bottom of page rankings and make your business nearly invisible to new customers looking for you. Everybody loses in these situations – except for your competition. If customers can’t find you, they may just look at the next business in their search results and take their business elsewhere.

“But my information is already up-to-date”

This may be true, but online listings stored in business directory sites are changing constantly. Your business information can change as often as every week!

While all of these changes can seem inherently dangerous, there is one way this works in your favor. Many of these listing sites are constantly searching the internet for information on *other* sites about local businesses. So, if you target a primary site or listing database, chances are high that the correct and updated information will make its way to another listing on a smaller site.

Even if you focus on just a few primary sites, it can be a part-time job monitoring your listings each week for accuracy.

The Importance of Visuals

One thing many business owners often overlook is the importance of adding visuals to their online listings. Adding photos of your business and examples of your products/services significantly increases your monthly impressions and interactions (calls, in-store visits, etc). Google reports that “businesses with photos receive 42% more requests for driving directions to their location from users on Google, and 35% more clicks through to their websites than businesses that don’t have photos.”

Having accurate, in-depth information on listing sites may seem like a relatively small thing, but it can have a very real effect on the flow of customers to your business.

Small Changes, Huge Impact

Very few business owners have the time to maintain a consistent online listing management schedule. Even then, finding a quick and easy solution can be confusing and complex.

Business Warrior is a solution for business owners who want to control their listings but don’t have the time to devote to constant monitoring. With Business Warrior, owners and managers can visualize where their listings are incorrect and act fast, without the tedious time it takes to research each individual search engine listing. Once you’ve made optimizations and updates to your information, you’ll get a weekly alert when something changes – so you can adjust as time goes on without added stress. Most customers are going to search for your business before they visit your physical location. If 97% of consumers are going to use the information they found on the web, make sure it’s accurate.

 

Try Business Warrior for 14 Days

Start using Business Warrior to drive higher foot traffic today! Try your free 14-day trial by clicking here.

By Rhett Doolittle

Tips to Improve Your Website Speed and Performance

Tips to Improve Your Website Speed

There’s one simple fact: 40% of visitors will leave a webpage if it takes more than three seconds to load. If your website speed takes longer, your business is at risk of losing a significant amount of online traffic, potential customers, and future visits.

Your mobile site should not be ignored either. The average time it takes to load a mobile landing page is 15.3 seconds— even on a 4G network. That’s a long time for customers to wait, and most will drop off before your page finally appears. Speaking of dropping off, pages that load within two seconds have an average bounce rate of 9%, while pages that take more than double that have a bounce rate of 38%!

You should aim for a load time of under three seconds across mobile and desktop sites.

Long load times also drive your business down in search results. In July of 2018, Google announced that page speed will affect search rankings. So, if you’re trying to drive your business up in the rankings, increasing your website speed is going to help significantly.

Wondering how to get your times down? Here are a few things you can do to increase your website speed and decrease your load times.

 

1) Test Using Google PageSpeed Insights

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Google has an easy-to-use tool that will tell you exactly how fast or slow your page is loading, and give you a list of items that can be adjusted to improve speed. This is a great place to start and will give you powerful, actionable insights straight from the source. You can utilize Google PageSpeed insights to improve your mobile and desktop speeds here.

 

2) Utilize AMP Landing Pages

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Google AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) is a framework that supports the creation of lighting fast webpages by using around a tenth of the data, which has resulted in the development of over 150 million AMP pages at around 4 times the “normal” speed. At the cost of page data and complexity, this is a fantastic tactic for business owners to utilize in static articles, blogs, and landing pages, and diminishes the loading time to an average of .83 seconds. For more information on using AMP for your landing pages, click here.

 

3) Share your results with your web developer

You may not know what to do with everything on Google’s list, but your developer will. They can take this information and make all the necessary changes to speed up your website.

 

After all of your optimizations have been implemented, don’t forget to run another test and see how your performance has changed. 

Want to see a more simplified, effective way to optimize your website? Try a free 14-day trial of Business Warrior today.

By Rhett Doolittle

5 expert tips and ideas to prepare your small business for the holidays

5 expert tips and ideas to prepare your small business for the holidays 

The holiday season is back and in full swing. Before you know it, you’re scrambling last second at Bath and Body Works trying to put together a somewhat decent gift for your in-laws. But for small business owners and managers, decking the halls requires a completely different type of mental and physical preparation.

Winter brings along the busiest shopping season of the year, and having everything fully prepared can lead to a holly-jolly Q4. To make life easier, we’ve created an overview of the essentials you need to tackle the daunting holiday period.

 

1) Remember Remember the 27th of November

November 27th, infamously known as Black Friday, kicks off one of the most chaotic shopping weekends in the world. An estimated $17.2b was spent among Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday alone in 2018; how would you feel knowing you missed out on some of that cold hard cash? 

Cater your marketing strategies around these dates using in-store and online promotional deals, social media and website content, and direct mail. You’ll also want to make sure that you have everything in order logistically, such as inventory and additional employee scheduling, to properly support your in-store foot traffic.

Key Takeaways: Though all three dates may not be necessary for your business, it is essential to participate in the ones that do matter. Map out your promotional and operational plan ahead of schedule to get the word out in time for your customers to act.

 

2) Strategize Your Marketing Communication

With so many other businesses doing the same preparation for the holiday season, it’s your job to outshine their efforts – especially in terms of your content strategy. To do this, you must utilize the most effective channels and messages to reach customers with the highest intent to purchase.

Email: Email is the most engaging tactic for letting your existing customers know about promotional deals, store events, and anything needed to know about your business. Remember, these contacts have more than likely purchased from you before, so their intent to buy is already significantly higher. Use holiday templates and themes to get your contact base in the festive mood.

 Social: If you’re a savvy digital socialite, you know that social media is a key method to reach your target audience. Our advice to you? Plan out your content ahead of schedule so you can focus on engaging with your customers in real-time. You don’t want to be spending time each week crafting new posts, which takes away from other essential work duties.

Web: Your website is the first thing you should update with new holiday information. We can’t express the importance of having your site perform at a high level, especially your mobile pages. Conversions fall by up to 20% for every second that a mobile page is delayed; how are you supposed to get your message across if users bounce before they even get to your website?

Key Takeaways: You’ve taken the time to create a strong message, now it’s time to put it out there for your customers to see. Take a minute to understand which channels are best to deliver your message and schedule it in advance so you can make tweaks with minimal effort.

 

3) Hone In On Your Website

If there’s any time to ensure that your website performance and keywords are optimized to the best of your ability, it’s now. 8 out of 10 consumers reported having been influenced by internet search prior to purchase, illustrating the leverage that intent-based search can have on the average holiday shopper. 

In a digital age, it’s not shocking that these numbers are so high. Put yourself in a customer’s perspective: how many times have you searched online to figure out where or what you wanted to buy? 

While performance and relevant keywords are crucial to generating website traffic, it’s also important to support your website with attractive promotional deals for the holidays. This could be free shipping, a coupon or discount, or holiday guide; all of which can be an effective tactic to close a final sale. 

Key takeaways: Ensure your website is performing up to speed, utilize free keyword research tools to increase search-based page traffic, and add holiday promotions to your product mix to close a final sale.

 

4) Clean the Bells and Whistles

Part of preparation is making sure that all of your t’s are crossed and i’s are dotted. Making sure your holiday hours are correctly listed, your addresses are accurate, and all online information about your business is up-to-par are just some of the many tasks that should be on your radar. You don’t want to be facing a plethora of issues when you’re neck-deep in the trenches, especially issues that have the potential to do some damage to your business.

Key Takeaways: Don’t allow things to fall through the cracks that can creep up later on. (Pro tip) Search your business online and see what you find. You will be able to immediately identify any errors in your business listings and eliminate the possibility of incorrect information.

 

5) Show some love to your team

Your business wouldn’t be able to conquer the holiday season if it weren’t for your employees. The time between mid-November and the end of the year is brutal; from family commitments, traveling, to immense financial pressure, the added stress from the work environment can be even more discouraging to your team. It’s your job to keep employee morale high even after retail Armageddon arrives at your front door.

Though company Christmas parties can be hit-or-miss, sometimes it’s best to keep it simple. Asking your employees how they would like to celebrate is an easy way to cater to a more interesting event for everyone. Remember, they know what they like better than you do! 

Establishing a yearly tradition, such as working on a charitable project for families in need during the holidays, is also a great way to bring the team together and focus on something other than work.

Key Takeaways: With the added stress of the holiday season, your employees are the ones that have been right beside you in battle at every moment. Show your appreciation for them by celebrating as a team, whether it’s a fun gathering or charity event.

 

Although it is important to put your brand out there during the holidays, it shouldn’t be limited to ¼ of the year. Managing and optimizing your digital presence can be a full-time job on its own, making it tough for business owners and managers to handle when things get busy. For those looking for a little extra help, Business Warrior gathers public information about your business and prioritizes any errors that may be hurting your bottom line – so you can tackle the holidays with ease.

For more information about Business Warrior, you can follow the link here for your free 14-day trial.

 

By Rhett Doolittle

Small Business Software Business Warrior Arms Owners With Actionable Marketing Data

Small Business Software Business Warrior Arms Owners With Actionable Marketing Data

New Small Business Software Enables Operators to Drive More Business and Simplify Life

TEMPE, AZ – Sept. 25, 2019 – Business Warrior, the small business’s trusted solution for making marketing decisions easier, today introduced a new small business software solution called Business Warrior. Unlike other single-function tools that can be complicated and narrowly focused, Business Warrior has built-in metrics that simplify marketing for storefront business operators’ specific locations, provides them with peace of mind that their marketing resources are being used in the best possible way, and drives maximum traffic to their doors.

Business Warrior does that by monitoring listings, reputation, social and website search in an objective and unbiased manner. Based on algorithms from billions of behaviors and relationships online, Business Warrior provides personalized recommendations about what will have the most impact on revenues by location – and it measures the impact of those changes once they are made. That provides businesses with assurance that their online marketing is tailored to satisfy customers and that their business is on track for future success.

“Small business owners have a lot on their plate, and that can be overwhelming at times. I know this, because I’ve spent 14 years as a small business owner myself,” said Business Warrior CEO Rhett Doolittle. “Business Warrior helps owners manage the load by simplifying marketing with built-in metrics. Now small business owners can go from worriers to warriors – attracting new and more profitable customers and spending more time on the aspects of their businesses that got them excited to be entrepreneurs in the first place.”

Business Warrior helps storefront owners and operators to:

  •  Simplify and prioritize their daily decisions to become more profitable
  • Determine what is working and what is not related to their website/SEO, social media, local listing and reputation efforts
  • Trust the decisions they make and the money they spend

 

The Business Warrior software assigns businesses a growth score based on their digital marketing presence and prescribes the daily actions they should take to attract new customers, grow revenue and profits, and otherwise improve business. In the process, this groundbreaking software-as-a-service helps businesses close the gap between data and the best possible action. And it prioritizes specific actions to deliver the greatest impact – enabling business owners to know how best to allocate their time and money.

“I am happy to invest in advertising or SEO if I know it’s going to work,” said Ethan Banning, the owner of Triple Threat Performance based in Scottsdale, Ariz. “But before I implemented Business Warrior, I had no idea if those investments were paying off. Now I know exactly how we are doing and where to focus my time.”

An ever-growing number of data points are now available to businesses. But rather than driving real, positive change, dashboards and data are only creating information overload. “Business Warrior changes that, enabling businesses to put data to work for them,” Doolittle added.

About Business Warrior

Business Warrior offers the Business Warrior software, which helps small business owners simplify and prioritize daily decisions to improve profitability. Business Warrior takes a holistic view of a business’s online reputation, listings, website search and social efforts and recommends the most important actions to drive new customers and have the biggest impact. Built-in metrics validate performance, ensuring that the business is on track to be as profitable as possible. For more information, please visit https://businesswarrior.com. Find us on Facebook and LinkedIn.

 

Contact

Ali Nagy

alessandra@bospar.com

714-310-4439

By Rhett Doolittle

5 Tips for Small Business Saturday

5 Tips Small Business Saturday

Nestled between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is Small Business Saturday, a day that gives the owners of our favorite mom and pop shops their chance to shine. According to PwC, brick and mortar shoppers are planning to spend an overage of $467 in-store, and shoppers now care as much about the shopping experience as the gifts they get. This puts small business owners at an extreme advantage.

With all the preparation your merchants will be doing for the largest shopping event of the year, it’s vital to make sure they have everything they need to operate as smooth and efficient as possible. We’ve crafted the perfect list of things you can share with your merchants to help them prepare for the crazy holiday shopping rush that is Small Business Saturday.

1. Inspire Customer Loyalty

  • Offer loyal buyers something exclusive
  • Be more active in the community – give back to a local charity

2. Showcase merchandise that would make a great gift

  • Customers will be shopping for presents for themselves as well as their friends and family
  • Putting a small sign on a table saying “Excellent gift for dad”, or “A great gift for grandparents”
  • Restaurants can also promote Small Business Saturday deals and offer gift cards

3. Make sure your merchant(s) have all of their printing materials ready for marketing purposes

  • FedEx offers a 20% discount on printing for Small Business Saturday-related promotional materials through Nov. 26

4. Utilize Bluume’s BrandIQ for social media content and online engagement

  • Craft social media content for Small Business Saturday
  • Schedule it ahead of time at once so you can spend more time focusing on in-person marketing necessities
  • Manage online listings and reviews before the massive holiday rush

5. Introduce Bluume POS

  • Bluume POS has the latest software and hardware, small businesses need to thrive, including increasing sales and saving time and money
  • Inventory flexibility, staff management, and real-time tracking
  • Latest in payment technology for safe and secure transactions

Small Business Saturday is your merchants time to shine! Make sure you prepare them with the above tips and tricks so they can quickly navigate through all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, and even perform better than they ever thought possible.

By Rhett Doolittle

5 Marketing Tactics for Growing ISOs

1. Find your “so what?”

ISOs are everywhere, they all look the same, tout the same old terminals (which were sold in with a 3-year lease), and count on the promises of better pricing than anyone else with merchants. As long as an ISO has better pricing, the merchant will follow. The machine keeps on turning, merchants keep churning, and meanwhile ISOs scratch their heads wondering why the size of their portfolio keeps shrinking quarter over quarter.

Without your unique differentiator or value-add, your ISO gets lost in a sea of other companies that are all selling the same services, competing for merchants who want lower pricing. With a valuable differentiator, your ISO could be closing new merchant accounts on the basis of offering strong technology that not only processes their transactions, but also solves their problems. These problems could be anything from staying on top of product inventory to minimize waste, tracking sales at the touch of a button, and even providing strong marketing tools that automate every side of their digital presence.

The needs of individual merchants are growing beyond having a way to process payments at a low cost. The market is saturated, and merchants are starting to look for ISOs that can offer unique products, exceptional service, and overall going above and beyond the expectations of a payment processor.

The point: find what makes your ISO unique and leverage that advantage to close accounts instead of lowering fees.

2. Make A Great First Impression with Your Website

Having a sexy website is more than just a way to keep your marketing team busy. A professional, elegant, thoughtful website is the digital age way of “dressing to impress.”

Chances are, the first thing your potential merchants are doing after you walk away is searching you on Google to see what they find. If all they’re seeing is a 5-year old website stuffed with your spread of 20 models of terminals, they are going to be less-than-impressed.

For most ISOs, websites tend to be wasted real-estate that got left behind. In fact, your company website is an ultimate tool your business can use to harvest new leads, market to them, and keep them coming back for more.  

Having a strong website to attract and close new merchants isn’t just a theory, it’s a fact.

By the Numbers

  • 34% of customers are unlikely to shop with a business if it does not have a website
  • Even worse, 45% of customers are unlikely to buy from a business with a poorly designed website

Source: 2016 Digital Impact Report, VistaPrint.com

3. In Marketing, More is More

It’s easy to focus on the one marketing channel that is most likely to bring in the most merchant accounts with as little effort as possible. According to Salesforce.com, it takes an average of 6 to 7 touches to generate a viable sales lead. That means that while a prospect may have seen your services through a print advertisement, it will take another 5 to 6 touches before they actually become a qualified sales lead that’s ready to make a purchasing decision.

To maximize the number of qualified sales leads, it’s important to ensure that you have the necessary tools to get in front of your prospects and engage with them at the right time. Here’s an example of what a marketing strategy should look like to fully close a merchant:

  1. Merchant sees a paid advertisement on a print advertisement
  2. Merchant visits a unique landing page designed for leads from the paid advertisement
  3. Merchant doesn’t take an action on that landing page, and leaves
  4. A re-marketing ad is seen by the merchant on YouTube
  5. The merchant clicks on the landing page again, fills out a lead form
  6. Merchant receives “Thank-You” email, is contacted by sales team within 24-48 business hours

 

4. Automate Touch Points to Close More

How many hours per week does your business development team on following up with prospects and getting in touch with cold leads? Automating this process could drastically reduce the time your team spends on this and even increase closing ratios. By using industry-class tools like Pardot, your sales team will be freed up from following up every day. Tools can be automated to send scheduled personalized follow-ups to prospects after demo and pitch calls, follow-up with prospects that have gone cold, or just send them a check-in email every few months. Automation can take care of feeding the sales funnel while your team can focus on closing the sales!

5. Create a Winning Sales Presentation

How much thought has gone into the sales presentation that is used to close new merchant accounts? When was the last time your team took some time to go through it, clean it up, and make it as strong as it can possibly be to ensure every merchant fully grasps the value your business brings to the table? It’s important to note that a long presentation does not equal an effective presentation.

An effective sales presentation that wins new merchant accounts is designed

 

By Rhett Doolittle

5 Useful Tips for Small Business Owners

5 Useful Tips for Small Business Owners

It’s 11pm and you’ve sent 200 emails, made 50 phone calls, became an expert at payroll and counted your revenue for the day, twice. To put it simply, you’re overwhelmed with the feeling that you’re stuck running in place – but remember, it’s all part of the path to profitability. As you begin to run a small business it’s not just important to build new areas of expertise, it’s crucial. The expertise, faith and passion you put into your startup is enough to give it a fighting chance. It’s everything else that it takes to run a business that requires your focus. In order to help, we put together 5 useful tips for small business owners, which includes how small business owners save money.

Running a business means you are constantly learning. Your struggles will turn into triumphs and you will learn new things about yourself and your business in the process. This can also be accomplished by discovering a blueprint for growth for your company. With this, you will find the processes and practices that fits your business best. Once this is done, you’ll need to focus on yourself. Sometimes this is the hardest part. Becoming a skilled business owner takes time, dedication, and sometimes advice from others.

Coming from someone who has walked the startup journey, it’s our duty as entrepreneurs to share our learnings and help everyone we can reach success. Continuing on from part 1 of the Blueprint of Successful Business Owners, here are the 5 useful tips for small business owners that will aid your business’s growth process and ease the shift from being a skilled expert to a business owner:

  1. How small business owners save money = Become process minded: You may have quit your job because you didn’t receive the freedom you deserve; a business owner would take this opportunity to get ready for structure. You must constantly be looking at how to build processes for your team and customers that will make their jobs easier.

 

“It’s about finding your values, and committing to them. It’s about finding your North Star. It’s about making choices. Some are easy. Some are hard. And some will make you question everything.”- Tim Cook

 

Becoming process minded means breaking the habit of being goal oriented. In startup companies and in life, goals are necessary. However, achieved goals are not the only trademark of success. Olympic athletes acquire their gold medals by perfecting their processes and implementing them into every training, competition, and trial. The same should go for your startup. A proven plan of action will be the MVP of your business.

You will need to begin focusing on the ‘how’ and make sure your team is synched into the flow. This means implementing ethical practices that take twice as long as an easy fix. It’s looking at what worked and what didn’t work, what could be improved upon next time, and ultimately swapping out ingredients until you find your company’s secret sauce to efficiency, your process.

Keep in mind, your business’s process is only as good as its level of efficiency and effectiveness. In an essay titled “Advice to a Young Tradesman, Written by an Old One” (how fitting) Ben Franklin scripted possibly the three most iconic words in business, “time is money”. This concept was true in 1748 and now, 268 years later it still applies it you, me, and every other business owner out there. To put it simply, you and your team’s time needs to be focused on producing desired results in a timely manner. You can’t afford to waste time, becoming process minded will save you money.

  1.  Create a Marketing Strategy for your Small Business  : In today’s digital world, we suffer from content overload. Consumers have many channels fighting for their attention – Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, TV, Text Messaging with GIF’s, YouTube – all of which take time and energy to ingest. This means that the time devoted to seeing your advertisement is shredded by everything else. You must spend more time preparing creative strategies (audience, advertising channels, time of day) and run them through a sales machine that can turn them from prospects into customers.

“I measure my success by asking myself some very simple questions: Did I go to bed richer than when I woke up? Did I help my investors do the same? What can I do better, or differently, tomorrow?” – Kevin O’Leary

If you’re embarking on your startup venture without a marketing background, figuring out how to make your brand known can be daunting. I left the comforts of a corporate office to address this trend for small businesses everywhere. There are too many small businesses and tireless entrepreneurs out there not reaching their full potential. Not because of their product or service, but because creating a world class marketing strategy that produces results is rarely an organic internal function. We believe in your beautiful product, your business, your vision, and you. Bluume was created to help business owners just like you because we see the struggles you face.

We understand that your business is unique and we know that you can take it to the next level. Our company specializes in transforming businesses into sales machines. We help business owners attract new customers, build them into raving fans, and generate growth. Our mission is help companies “Bluume”.

  1.   Growing a Small Business Means Trusting Others with Your Vision: That’s right – It is important to understand that since you are running a business and you will end up spending more time doing things such as; technology selection, raising capital, financial deals with partners, employee relations and everything else in between.

You will need to be flexible. Some aspects of your business will require much more attention than others. You will find yourself obtaining new skills and using old ones. In the early stages of your business, you will always be spending a significant amount of time on everything, but your product. It might be a scary thought, but in the end not only will you evolve and grow, but your business will as well.

Nothing in life is more wonderful than faith-the one great moving force which we can neither weigh in the balance nor test in the crucible.”- Willaim Olser

Up until this point in your career you probably had a steady job, most likely a consistent job that you excelled at. A job that through the years depended less on webinars and google searches and more on your expertise. These are the comforting delights of being an expert in your field and soon they become found, distant memories when you shift to a small business owner. There will be days, weeks, and maybe even a month where you don’t touch your product because you’re too busy wearing every other hat of the business. Get comfortable wearing the project manager hat, banker hat, tech support hat, and human resources hat. Wear them as long as it takes – don’t worry they will look great on you.

  1.  Successful Business Owners Know How to Balance Theory and Action: When you run a business you need to find a good balance between theory and action. If you spend too much time on one or the other your company won’t function the way it should. This will eventually leave your clients and customers waiting, while your internal processes stay broken and you won’t make any money.

“Life is about execution rather than purpose.”- Nassim Nicholas Taleb

You’re only human and abstract thoughts are inevitable. While in the midst of developing your small business you will be bombarded with meetings, conversations, podcasts, and articles that will have you speculating and second guessing. Frankly, your thought receptors will be firing off likes its the 4th of July while trying to grow your small business. The balance part is contingent on your personality. Are you the sit, stir, and stress type who shies away from action? Or are you the notorious impulse decision maker? Whichever you are, it’s important to recognize these personality traits and work to balance them.

Somewhere between your theory and action are your instincts, something that shouldn’t be ignored. Steve jobs referred to intuition as, “more powerful than intellect”, in which I agree. You have been preparing your whole life for this, It’s not always easy, but go with your gut. The success of your start up depends on it.

  1.   Time Management Tips for Business OwnersFree time will disappear (if you aren’t protective): Creative people cherish their free time, in fact, they generally use it for inspiration. Once you shift from being a skilled expert to the one in charge, you will always be on the clock; most business owners know this feeling. The challenge with this is your creative time will begin to dissipate. You must protect how you refuel and how you stay motivated – don’t excuse it away.

“We hold ourselves back in ways both big and small, by lacking self-confidence, by not raising our hands, and by pulling back when we should be leaning in.” – Sheryl Sandberg

Pulling the keyword from my previous thought, balance is something to strive for. A healthy work-life balance will maintain your inner equilibrium and keep creativity in reach. According to Forbes, “creativity is perhaps the key attribute most needed and desired to address our 21st century business challenges”. Think of this in terms of a canoe floating downstream; paddle too long on side you’ll never reach your destination. You didn’t work tirelessly all these years to ultimately burn out.  The stats, facts, and expertise you have acquired are your foundation, it’s your ingenuity that will make your business unique.

Getting locked in your work grind/ tunnel vision for days on end will leave you wiped of creativity and color. Whether it’s a gym class or trying a new restaurant with friends, these bursts of inspiration and energy are crucial in the “shift”. Any and all free time can double as research and development for your business if you look at it the right way.

Transforming your passion into a profession and profession into ownership is one of the most rewarding accomplishments in the world. At the end of the day, you know that you are fighting for your team, for your clients and for your beliefs. With those priorities as your foundation, you know you can’t fail.

 

By Rhett Doolittle

How to use Facebook to Increase Sales

How to Use Facebook to Increase Sales

Discovering a new business will always be thrilling. Whether it’s a friend telling you about a unique restaurant they found or a recently developed building in your neighborhood, it all comes with the opportunity of experiencing something new. However, having your business discovered in today’s digital world will take more than just a nice location. You will also need to learn how to use Facebook to increase sales in order to evolve from word of mouth advertising, to the fingertips of digital advertising.

What used to be only accessible through traditional forms of advertising such as; TV commercials, billboards and radio ads, can now be achieved through cell phones and social media pages. Essentially, instead of seeking out a business, it will find you first.

Let’s say there’s a potential customer looking to try a trendy new restaurant; rather than having to rely on word of mouth the restaurant can focus on this potential customer by choosing a target audience to test. This customer, who is part of their target audience, will then see their advertisements on various social media pages, such as Facebook. This creates a scenario which seems as if the customer simply stumbled upon an ad, when it was actually a planned out, intentional ad from the business itself.  

Over the years, Facebook has evolved from a way to keep in touch with friends, into the world’s most dominant and scientific marketing tool. It continues to play a pivotal role in business growth as it transforms the method of communication between businesses owners and their customers. Not to mention, it has helped potential customer reach grow exponentially while teaching companies all over the world how to use Facebook to increase sales.

“In 2015 Facebook influenced 52 percent of consumers’ online and offline purchases, up from 36 percent in 2014.” (Source: The Drum)

As Facebook continues to transform the social media world, there is a growth opportunity for both small and big businesses at hand. A company with a professional Facebook page, no matter their size, will benefit from being easily accessible to any internet user. Facebook has reported that, “There are now more than 50 million small businesses using Facebook Pages to connect with their customers.” This gives every business a chance to reach their full potential. With the ability to create information that is easily accessible to its users, companies benefit from being verified and quickly responding to customer reviews and posts. While Facebook is a great marketing tool, it also gives business owners the opportunity to professionally change their company’s impact by originating organic pictures and responses from their customers as well as creating the company’s personal material.

 

“Think about what people are doing on Facebook today. They’re keeping up with their friends and family, but they’re also building an image and identity for themselves, which in a sense is their brand. They’re connecting with the audience that they want to connect to. It’s almost a disadvantage if you’re not on it now.”- Mark Zuckerberg

 

Five steps to launching a Facebook Ad

Using Facebook can transform your business, if done right. Learning how to use Facebook to increase sales can either make or break the way your company is viewed by customers.

We know the importance of a strong social media presence and have created an approach which helps teach any business learn how to use Facebook to increase sales through a simple five step process.

  1. We start by creating a hypothesis of growth – if we do “X” action then we will get the “Y” result.
    • These actions are:
      • what promotional offer
      • messaging
      • advertising copy
      • value to give user
  2. We then test the potential audiences and their attributes.
  3. We reevaluate every 7-10 days, as it takes Facebook up until then to “learn” who is most engaged based off the target audience.
  4. If it’s working we will spend additional advertising spend.
  5. If it’s not working we will work backwards on the given action elements.

Thought must go into every detail (E.g., what time to post, posting videos vs. pictures, etc.) After a lot of research, Hubspot discovered, “The best time to post on Facebook is 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday. Other optimal times include 12:00–1:00 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays and 1:00–4:00 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays.” Something as simple as posting is seen as an easy task, when in reality you must post with your target audience in mind. You must ask yourself who your customers are, what time will they be online, and what content they will they like best? These questions all play an important role in content creation for your business. Without the proper understanding of your audience, how will you grow?

Social media will continue to change and evolve, as it does we need to anticipate those changes and meet them with marketing strategies that will succeed. Currently 93% of Marketers Use Facebook Advertising Regularly.” (SproutSocial) This number will continue to increase as will the business owners knowledge on the importance of social media. Facebook give us the opportunity to interact with others in a unique way.

Facebook is continuously growing, it is available to its users 24/7 meaning that there is always time to post, share, like or comment on something you see. “Every 60 seconds, Facebook users generate 4 million likes. PLUS, 500 new users join Facebook, 100,000 new friend requests are sent, and 243,000 photos are uploaded.” (SocialMediaToday and Marketing Services ) This creates unlimited potential to reach and impact new customers across the globe. Facebook in itself is the most useful tool for business owners to use because once you discover how to use Facebook to increase sales it will take your best marketing efforts, and help you grow them exponentially.

With millions of people online, and millions of businesses marketing to these people, how will your business stand out? It will take more than just posting at the right time. In order to succeed, you will need to be committed to creating engaging and original content which pulls your audience in. With this comes the task of testing what works best for your audience (e.g., pictures or videos, funny or informational posts, etc.)

Your social media presence is what makes you stand out from the crowd. Treat it like you would a first impression… when you meet someone important you want them to like you, to be interested in you, and to be impress with the way you present yourself. Every one of your customers is just as important as a first impression. Your social media pages are the way that you present your company to the public, make your impression last and spend time working on your company’s Facebook.  One post can change the environment of your business, treat it with importance.

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