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    Optimize your Local Marketing

    Marketing is a big, vague word that that can either make your head spin or give you heart emoji eyes. Every business has a different relationship with marketing –and that’s totally ok! Whether or not you enjoy working on and delegating marketing tasks, you should consider leveraging your local marketing channels. Local marketing creates a strong foundation so that your local prospects can easily find you. Also, local marketing is fun! It’s a way to connect with your neighboring communities and meet other local businesses and potential new customers.

    Local Marketing – Online

    Even though the internet is a vast, big place, local marketing still has its own little corner! A great place to start is creating a Google My Business profile (GMB) for your business. This profile is a free, (whoot!) and it allows you to provide all your business info — think name, address, phone number, hours, website, business description — as well as images. Your customers can also leave reviews, which is a great way to show prospects that you are well liked!

    Reimagine your digital presence. – business.com

    Geo-targeting, also known as local targeting, is an online tool that lets you target specific people based on their online location. If you want to find potential customers in a specific location, (ie – your local area) you can add this tool to your social media plan!

    When using Facebook or Twitter, organic posts and paid ads can be targeted to your audience by:

    • IP Address
    • Recorded Address

    You can also get more granular by adding in more details, such as:

    • Country
    • State/Province
    • City
    • ZIP Code

    The best part about geo targeting is that it’s super easy to implement and you don’t have to be an expert to use this tool.

    Another online marketing tool great for local businesses are directory listings. Sites like Yelp, YP, Yahoo Local, and Bing allow businesses to provide local-specific messages. Offering information that’s specific to a local search allows businesses to target the right audience.

    At the bottom of the funnel, listings with rich local content like pictures, offers or biographies drive more than three times the traffic as those that just contain the bare geodata. – adage.com

    Local Marketing – Community Events / Outlets

    One of the best ways to find your local audience is at community events that allow businesses to have a table. There are tons of options throughout the year in many communities, including:

    • Street Fairs
    • Health/Wellness/Fitness events
    • Shop Local days
    • Charity Events

    You can also donate some items or services to contribute to an event as a way to give the attendees a free look into your business!

    A really nice way to combine your online and offline efforts is through local influencers and magazines. These outlets are geared specifically to certain local communities. Many magazines have online and offline content available, and influencers regularly partner with businesses to promote goods and services they trust and enjoy.

    Local Marketing – Bring a Friend

    It’s always better, together! Give your customers a reason to bring a friend next time they come in to visit. You can offer discounts such as buy-1-get-1 offers. Many businesses incentivize their customers to bring more people by offering them discounts on products or services they are already spending money on. Plus, bringing a friend is fun! People love sharing their favorite spots and being able to get offers and discounts from doing so.

    Image: Depositphotos.com

    This article, "How to Turn Your Local Marketing from Blah into Fantastic" was first published on Small Business Trends


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    12 Local Marketing Ideas

    One of the best ways to build rapport with local communities and potential customers is to develop a strategy to get noticed in your area’s markets. Getting your name out in nearby business circles can go a long way toward building rapport and opening up new opportunities. Yet, not all strategies are created equal, especially when talking about smaller markets. That’s why we asked entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) the following:

    “What is the best way to make your business noticeable in a small, local market?”

    Local Marketing Ideas

    Here’s what they had to say:

    1. Be Everywhere Online

    “Create, claim and update all the local business listings and profiles. In addition to your website, be sure you maintain an updated and active Google local business listing, a Facebook page and any other site that offers local profiles for your industry. When a user searches for “my town” + “your service,” ensure that they see you everywhere. This builds trust and authenticity.” ~ Shawn Schulze, HomeArea.com

    2. Put a Face to the Company

    “In a small local market, your company can stand out by putting a face to the company or product. People have an easier time trusting a company when they know who’s behind the curtain. The more they trust you, the more likely they’ll be to buy. So, make sure to get out in the community, introduce yourself and interact with others. If you put up local ads, consider adding a photo of yourself as well.” ~ John Turner, SeedProd LLC

    3. Give Away Samples

    “In a small local market, I find that giving away free samples of your product (if that’s possible) can do wonders. There’s a local chocolate maker that we worked with that used this strategy effectively. They hired two students at minimum wage to give away chocolate samples along with a brochure in some of the busiest intersections of the city at rush hour. Rinse and repeat.” ~ Amine Rahal, Little Dragon Media

    4. Volunteer for the Long Haul

    “The best way to be noticed in a small community is to be a great community member. Be present, support causes that matter and make an impact over the long haul. It’s one thing to sponsor jerseys for a softball team, it’s another to spend time every week helping a local organization. When you make an impact, people will notice you, and in the process learn about your business.” ~ Aaron Schwartz, Passport

    5. Encourage Reviews From Existing Customers

    “What steps are you taking to gather feedback from your existing audience? If you aren’t leveraging them as part of your solution, then you’re missing out on an opportunity to be seen and heard in your local community. People love to search for reviews before trying out new products, services, businesses, you name it. If you don’t have many reviews to your name, it’s time to start encouraging them more.” ~ Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights

    6. Focus on Voice Search SEO

    “Voice search SEO is important when it comes to getting your small, local business noticed. Start thinking about the types of requests your customers might make when searching for your product or service with their smart home device or smartphone and shift your SEO strategy to focus on those new keywords. It’s also important that you add your business to places like Google My Business and Yelp.” ~ Blair Williams, MemberPress

    7. Send Out Newsletters

    “The best way I have found here in my local market is to be placed in a newsletter that is available to consumers in restaurants, vendors, coffee shops, etc. This professional ad will allow you some good credibility and visibility in the market.” ~ Julian Montoya, JM11 Investments

    8. Use Direct Mail

    “Millennials love direct mail and it works on a local level to target those specific customers and prospects. It does so in a way that covers a significant territory for relatively little money and high return.” ~ Peter Daisyme, Hostt

    9. Attend Local Events

    “Local events like conferences, trade fairs and markets provide a good way for a small business to get noticed in their community. They can personally interact with locals and start building trust.” ~ John Hall, Calendar.com

    10. Distribute Flyers and Buy Local Ad Space

    “It’s a good idea to make yourself known to the community. Using traditional marketing materials will allow you to accelerate the growth of your business and bring in the local traffic. Often these ad spaces are easy to work with and will give you a good boost. Google ads also help you cover the search intent traffic that is already looking for you.” ~ Nicole Munoz, Nicole Munoz Consulting, Inc.

    11. Create Helpful Videos

    “Through Facebook Ads, you can easily target people in a local community. Instead of creating a traditional ad that tries to make a sale, try creating helpful videos for your community that position you as someone of value. At the end of the video tell them what you do and where they can find you. Put these videos out weekly and spend $1 to $5 per day advertising them, and you will be a local celebrity.” ~ Greg Rollett, Ambitious Media Group

    12. Embrace Branding

    “In many cases, small local businesses are more likely to be relaxed and not focus as heavily on brand identity. If you want to stand out from everyone else, then you need to identify your brand identity and stick with it as your company evolves. Once you become known locally, it’s only a matter of time until you have a recognizable brand on your hands.” ~ Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

    Image: Depositphotos.com 

    This article, "12 Methods for Getting Your Business Noticed in Local Markets" was first published on Small Business Trends


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    Google My Business Cheat Sheet

    According to a study from Go-Globe, 18 percent of local searches lead to a sale within one day. And what do people normally use to search? That’s right — Google. So if you want people to find your local business in their searches, you need to make your business really easy to find on Google.

    Google My Business is the search engine’s local business listing platform. You can create a profile that pops up right in the search page so people don’t even have to visit your website to get the information they need to visit you, including your address, phone number and hours of operation.

    Google My Business Cheat Sheet

    If you want to take advantage of this very important tool for your own local business, check out the Google My Business cheat sheet below.

    Claim Your Google My Business Listing

    Start by visiting the Google My Business website and signing in with a Google account. There, you can create a profile from scratch or choose a business that’s already on their list that you want to claim. Google will walk you through the process of updating your page and all of the relevant information from there. You’ll also need to verify your business — Google will send a code to your business address that you can add to your account.

    Include All the Essential Info

    Google will ask you to choose a category, name, address and all of the essential information throughout the signup process. Don’t gloss over this process. There are more than 2,000 different categories to choose from. And the one you choose will impact how you can edit the rest of your listing. For example, if you have a restaurant, it will let you link or upload a PDF menu. You can optimize the listing by adding a description with some relevant keywords and attributes designed to attract people to your business.

    Upload Quality Images

    People want to know what your business is like before they visit. Adding images of your storefront, menu items or team can help you build a rapport and entice people to actually visit. Just make sure these images are high quality and show your business in a positive light.

    John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing adds, “Particularly on a mobile device, it’s a good trust building and content element. So, upload 8 or 10 photos of your products, of your business, of your people. It doesn’t really matter what it is, but make sure that you have some pretty good representative images that you upload.”

    Attract Visitors to Your Page

    Garner Positive Reviews

    A study from Local SEO Guide found that Google My Business reviews that contained a relevant keyword were the second most influential factor in rankings for local searches. So reviews aren’t just about showing potential customers that you provide a great experience — they also affect your SEO.

    To gain more positive reviews, the obvious answer is just to make sure and provide great customer service. However, you can also include signage in your store, add a link to review your company in your email signature or even share positive reviews on your social media pages. These can serve as simple reminders to people who have had great experiences with you, making it more likely that they’ll actually share their thoughts.

    Respond to All Reviews

    On an ongoing basis, it’s also a good idea to respond to all reviews on your Google My Business Listing. This shows people who find your page that you’re responsive and allows you to address any concerns publicly. In fact, if you provide a satisfactory response, some customers may even consider leaving a more favorable review than they did initially.

    Post Content Continuously

    In 2017, Google rolled out Google Posts, a way for businesses to share content on their pages on an ongoing basis. Use this feature to keep your listing fresh. You can add blog posts, special offers, events, and even photos and videos.

    To do this, simply sign into your Google My Business account and find the “Create Post” button. Then you’ll see options for adding different types of posts, including photos, videos, events, offers and text. For example, a local restaurant could post about a live music event they’re hosting. Then when people search for local restaurants and see that, it could entice them to visit on that particular evening.

    Image: Depositphotos.com

    This article, "Cheat Sheet for Mastering Google My Business" was first published on Small Business Trends


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    2019 Retail Statistics

    Independent retailers are a huge economic engine in local communities. But in order to find out their role on the U.S. economy, SCORE researched the subject and compiled the latest 2019 retail statistics into an easy-to-understand infographic.

    2019 Retail Statistics

    Titled “Small Retailers Can Compete and Win,” it is a timely report because July is Independent Retailer Month. This is an annual “shop local” event which encourages consumers to support their local independent retailers.

    Just how much are local retailers responsible for growing their local economy? The 2019 retail statistics and quotes throughout this article, which come from the Independent Retailer Month site, provide some insight.

    “Each $100 spent at local independents generated $45 of secondary local spending, compared to $14 for a big-box chain.” — The Institute for Local Self-Reliance

    Local Retailers

    When it comes to numbers, small retailers with 50 or fewer employees make up 98.6% of all retail firms. And they hire 39.8% of all retail employees.

    These retailers have an average monthly revenue of $22,341, with an average gross margin of 51%. And when they make money, they reinvest more than large chains locally.

    “Local retailers reinvest 130 percent more of their revenues than chain retailers and 676 percent more of their revenues than Amazon.” — 2018 Home Sweet Home: Locals vs. Amazon study

    Speaking of Amazon and online retailers, ecommerce only comprises 9.46% of retail sales. And according to SCORE, 55% of online shoppers prefer buying from retailers with a physical store presence vs. online only.

    So, while online retailers are getting all the headlines, consumers still want the experience of shopping in physical stores.

    Getting Consumers to Shop at Local Retailers

    The experience of going out shopping can’t be duplicated on a computer. But small retailers have to make the experience more attractive because, at the end of the day, low prices are a huge incentive.

    SCORE says “Retailtainment” events attract, engage and retain customers. In 2018 more than 4 in 5 (82%) of shoppers attended a retail event and 58% said they will go to one in the future.

    Some of these events are: exclusive access to items or sale (87%); party (81%); product demonstration or tutorial (80%); game or competition (71%); and pop-up shops (69%).

    By attending these events, not only will you enjoy the social experience, but your support will generate local economic activity.

    “A study in New Orleans found that if residents and visitors were to shift 10 percent of their spending from chains to local businesses, it would generate an additional $235 million a year in local economic activity, creating many new opportunities and jobs.” — Civic Economics

    How Can You Compete with Online Retailers?

    When you talk about online retailers, Amazon is the first name which pops up. But it is important to remember, the company only accounts for about 5% of U.S. retail sales. So, there is a great opportunity out there.

    “For every $10 million spent on Amazon it creates 14 jobs vs 57 jobs when $10 million is spent at independents!” — The Institute for Local Self Reliance

    While price plays a big role, convenience is one of the biggest reasons online retailers are doing so well. If you start providing the same frictionless shopping experience and give it a more personalized touch, you will see more customers walking through your doors.

    On a blog titled, “How Brick-And-Mortar Stores Can Compete with Amazon,” SCORE provides some great tips. In it, Natalie Berg, coauthor of “Amazon: How The World’s Most Relentless Retailer Will Continue to Revolutionize Commerce,” says brick-and-mortar retailers can exploit Amazon’s weaknesses.

    Berg adds, “Put more personality into [your] store. Stores are transitioning from the transactional to the experiential. The store of the future will be a place [where] consumers can eat, play, work, learn, discover and borrow things.”

    This means you should focus on areas where Amazon falls short. You can curate a selection of products, have unique items, and make the shopping experience enjoyable.

    As Berg says, “Amazon is great for purchasing, but not for shopping. They’ve taken the touch and soul out of shopping and made it simply transactional and functional.”

    At the same time, you should also provide some of the options online retailers offer such as click and collect and accepting more payment options. The key is to make the online experience of your retail store an added value for your customers.

    More 2019 Retail Statistics

    For more numbers, take a look at the SCORE infographic below.

    Image: SCORE

    This article, "Wow! Small Retail Businesses Hire Nearly 40% of All Retail Employees" was first published on Small Business Trends


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    FreshLime Helps Local Businesses Get Discovered

    FreshLime corrals data from a wide swath of sources into one simple platform. It brings the power of big budget data analytics to local small business so they can engage customers automatically.

    A FreshLime Overview

    Small Business Trends spoke with Jay Bean, the CEO of FreshLime. He told us about what they do and why small business needs to pay attention.

    Helping Meet Small Business Needs

    He started by talking about the small business data needs FreshLime addresses.

    “Consumers are in charge today,” he said. “They use the messaging platforms they want. They interact with businesses the way they want. It can be a hard transition for an SMB.”

    Small businesses can be overwhelmed with all of this information. That’s where this customer data platform comes in. The platform was built with local businesses in mind.

    “We collect all of their data together,” Bean says.  “FreshLime brings it all together to build a single customer profile.”

    Analyzing Information

    He supplies an example:

    “Think about a plumber that’s been in business for five years. He may have done 20,000 jobs. He can’t personally interact with all of those customers.”

    FreshLime takes all that information and analyzes it. The platform uses important benchmarks like average purchase, last purchase, lifetime value and others. The idea is to send tailored automated messages out based on these groupings. To find new customers and keep old ones.

    Segmenting

    “By segmenting like this we have smaller buckets and can send the right type of message to the right customer.”

    It’s the small business version of a big business strategy. Think Amazon. They know who you are and what you buy and send you messages tailored to your purchases and demographics. FreshLime does the same for small local businesses.

    Using Playbooks

    At the core is what Bean calls playbooks. This is how the platform categorizes customers. These are based on engagements, demographics and purchases. Some of these include single purchase customers, others that repeat occasionally and those that are the most loyal repeat clients.

    People get categorized into different playbooks so small businesses can act accordingly. For example, one might be a “win back” type campaign. Another might be geared toward getting them to increase their purchases as a repeat customer.

    “We assign these playbooks to people based on who they are and their past behavior,” Bean says. “We don’t know very much about people who haven’t converted.”

    Categorizing Customers

    Past purchases aren’t the only way FreshLime categorizes customers.

    Bean supplies another example.

    “One of our customers is a garage in Detroit,” he says.  “They might have someone who comes in a brand-new Corvette and another in a 1985 Honda Accord with 212,000 miles. The Honda needs a high mileage oil change versus the Corvette that needs a synthetic oil.”

    The messages sent here take other factors like that into account. As another big advantage, FreshLime allows you to send out messages over different channels like Facebook and Twitter. Email and text messages are other options.

    He stresses that FreshLime isn’t traditional marketing. It focuses on data driven customer retention.

    Offering an AI Solution

    “We call the playbooks the AI in the middle.”

    Best of all, these automated messages get sent out around the clock. That means a small business owner is working on retaining customers 24/7.

    Another aspect makes this platform special. FreshLime not only gathers transactional data for companies. It also gathers industry trends that get overlaid for a complete picture.

    The result is a network effect for an affordable price catering to small business.

    FreshLime targets SMB’s using software like QuickBooks but without the tools to do any analytics. Other target markets include small businesses using software as a big part of their business.

    “Either way these aren’t big businesses with big marketing teams,” he says.

    FreshLime interacts with your customer wherever they happen to be. In other words, if they find your company on Facebook the template message gets sent there.  The same holds true with Google or your website and other places.

    Finally, Bean sums everything up.

    “FreshLime was designed to help with that other side of marketing. Not necessarily finding the lead, but what to do to maximize transactions over and over again,” he says.

    Image: Freshlime

    This article, "FreshLime Offers an AI Solution Allowing Local Businesses to Maximize Customer Interaction" was first published on Small Business Trends


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    90% of Online Shoppers Don’t Buy If You Have a Bad Business Reputation

    Good online reputation is a critical success factor for your business because your online reputation influences your customers’ minds.

    A whopping 90% of online shoppers have chosen not to buy from a company because of its bad reputation, according to research conducted by Trustpilot.

    Small business owners often struggle to build a large customer base as they don’t have a big marketing budget to sway customers. Being perceived as unreliable or unfair can make it more difficult for small business owners to grow their customer base.

    Need for Good Online Reputation

    It takes time to build a brand. At the initial stage, your small business might not be a popular name in your industry.

    When prospects or customers don’t know about your business, they try to find information about you.

    In fact, 60% of online shoppers perform a search for the company when they are unfamiliar with it. What’s more, over 93% of customers read reviews before buying online, confirms Trustpilot’s research.

    It’s not like that only online shoppers perform a search. 42% of in-store customers conduct research online while in a store, says Google research.

    Won’t a customer will hesitate to place an order if he/she finds negative reviews on the first page of search results?

    90% of customers who don’t buy because of a bad online reputation of a company, as found in the research, don’t stop there. These customers also tell other customers not to buy from the same company.

    Image for bad reputation spreads

    So having just a few negative reviews can cost your business a good number of customers eventually.

    Big companies have a large base of loyal customers. They can afford to lose a few customers. For a small business owner like you, each and every customer counts.

    So keeping a clean online reputation to build trust with customers is no more a passive tactic.

    What You Can Do to Avoid a Bad Business Reputation

    Customers lose interest in brands when they find brands are silent, secretive and project outdated online presence, as stated in the research. Also, deleting negative reviews has been found to be the biggest trust breaker.

    Here are factors that decrease the trust of buyers, according to the research:

    Image for factors that decrease trust

    What can you do to manage your business’ online reputation to build trust with your customers?

    Here are some effective ways:

    • Claim and optimize your profiles on reputed third-party business listing sites to build credibility
    • Proactively monitor your business’s reputation
    • Keep tabs on your business’s social media accounts
    • Respond constructively to criticism and never delete negative reviews/ comments
    • Keep your website secure and publish high-quality content that offers value

    You should not wait for any negative review surfacing online to start online reputation management of your business.

    As a small business owner, building a good online reputation should be your goal from day one because it is an important way to build trust with your customers.

    About the Report

    Zachary Pardes, Trustpilot’s advertising and communications director, says, “Small business owners continue to face the reality that larger companies are persistent in trying to take their customers. This report proves one of the most important ways to remain competitive and keep customer confidence high is by maintaining a good reputation. And a good reputation generates loyalty, which is priceless in an environment where consumers have many options.”

    A good online reputation not only brings in more customers but also helps you compete with big companies. Customers choose to buy from an unfamiliar company over a reputed company known for a recent scandal. What’s more, customers find a strong brand reputation more important than price, the research confirms.

    Online reputation management is a must-follow practice for small business owners in in today’s web-connected world.

    What is your plan to manage your business’s online reputation?

    Image: Depositphotos.com

    This article, "Bad Business Reputation Proves Deal Breaker for 90% of Online Shoppers" was first published on Small Business Trends


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    15 Scarcity Marketing Tactics That Will Boost Your Sales

    What is scarcity marketing? Basically, it’s the tactic of increasing demand for a particular product or service based on the idea that the item is rare or difficult to obtain.

    Why does this work? Customers tend to place a higher value on items that feel more exclusive or unique. A customer will probably pay more for an item that is one-of-a-kind than they will for something that everyone else already owns.

    Scarcity Marketing Ideas

    So how do you make the most of this concept? Here are some of the most powerful scarcity marketing techniques you can use to increase demand and make more sales for your small business.

    Display Product Availability

    Once your stock levels start getting a bit low, let your customers know by telling them exactly how many items are still available. If they see that there are only three left in stock, it will likely create a sense of urgency that they wouldn’t have otherwise.

    Offer a Time Limit

    You can also put an actual timer on sales online. Tell customers that they’ll get free shipping, an exclusive discount or another special offer if they complete their purchase within the next ten minutes.

    Make a Sale Countdown

    Alternatively, you can create a more general countdown for a sale. This tactic can work for both online and in-person sales. Simply display a countdown until the end of your sale on your website or in your store. This creates a visual representation that reminds customers they need to purchase their desired products right away if they want to take advantage of discounts.

    Create Limited Edition Products

    The actual products you offer can also create that sense of urgency and exclusivity. Is there something your business could produce outside of your normal product line that you could offer just for a limited time? For instance, if you run a small t-shirt shop, maybe you could make a line of hats with your exclusive designs printed on them.

    This tactic can even be useful for businesses that are thinking about expanding their product lines and want to see how well different types of products might sell. With any of these products, just make sure customers know that there’s a limited number being produced. It will create a sense of urgency and exclusivity.

    Offer Seasonal Items

    Similarly, you can offer different types of products during each season. For example, a diner might offer pumpkin pancakes in the fall and gingerbread pancakes in the winter. In these cases, customers will instinctively know that products are only available for a limited time. So they’ll be sure to take advantage of the offer during each season.

    Set Limited Introductory Prices

    If you decide to introduce a new product that will be a permanent part of your line, create some exclusivity and a sense of urgency by setting a lower introductory price. You’ll get more people to buy right away if they know they’re getting a better deal than everyone else.

    Offer Products for Pre-Sale

    Pre-sales can help businesses gauge demand for new products and make sales even before production is complete. But it also makes products seem especially exclusive and in-demand among customers.

    Let Customers Lock in a Price

    For companies that sell memberships or products and services that customers buy on a recurring basis, you might allow people to lock in an introductory price so they’ll always pay that rate. This encourages people to sign up right away, because they never know when you’ll raise prices.

    Number Products

    For collectible items, manufacturers can number each product in a particular line. This is just a tactic for underlining the fact that only a select number of products are available. And it can increase value or demand for items that are already very popular.

    Show Off High Demand

    If you have a particularly popular product in your shop, show customers how popular it is by displaying reviews, customer photos and social posts about that item. This doesn’t necessarily make the product seem rare. But it can create some extra demand.

    Send Low Stock Notices

    If a customer has viewed a particular product on your site or even put it in their cart, let them know when the item is running out of stock. They may be more inclined to actually complete the sale when they know they might not get the chance again.

    Let Customers Set Alerts for Out-of-Stock Items

    You might also have some items that have run out of stock, but that you might get back again. Let customers favorite those items and set up alerts so they’ll know if and when you restock.

    Include Real-Time Data

    Letting customers see what’s going on behind the scenes can help them understand what type of demand there is for your products. For example, you might show them how many people are viewing a particular product or how many have the item in their carts.

    Host a Flash Sale

    Flash sales are usually only held for a very short time and with very limited notice. So it’s automatically a pretty exclusive event. You can host an online flash sale and just invite people who follow your company on social media or subscribe to your email list. Or if you run a physical store location, send out invites and let your best customers take advantage of the sale.

    Offer Exclusive Discounts

    You might also offer exclusive discounts that aren’t tied to a specifically timed sale. Send out coupon codes to your email list, social media followers or people who download your app. This rewards them for being a loyal customer and can lead to a higher value perception of your products.

    Image: Depositphotos.com

    This article, "15 Scarcity Marketing Tactics That Will Boost Your Sales" was first published on Small Business Trends


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    How to Manage Reviews for Better Small Business Profit

    You know that online reviews of your retail business matter. But did you know the businesses that do best at managing their online reviews actually earn more money? That’s part of the findings of an in-depth study by Womply that analyzed more than 38,000 retail businesses nationwide.

    How to Manage Reviews for Your Retail Business

    Keep reading to find out how to use online reviews to increase sales for your retail business’s revenues.

    Tip 1: Get More Listings

    It’s easy and free to claim your listings on online review sites, so why not do it? Local businesses that claim their listings on three or more review sites earn 21% more revenue than the average business, Womply found. Conversely, retailers that don’t claim their listing on any review sites earn 22% less revenue than the average business. That’s a lot of money to lose for just skipping such a simple step.

    Start by claiming your listings on Google, Yelp, and Facebook — the most important review sites. (If you do only one, start with Google, since these ratings show up in your Google search results.) Retailers who claim their listings on just those three sites average $56,000 more in sales per year than those who claim none of their listings.

    Tip 2: Respond to Your Reviews

    A whopping 75% of retailers never respond to their reviews. While this doesn’t negatively affect their profits too much (they earn 6% less than the average business), responding to reviews can have a more substantial positive effect. Retailers that respond to reviews –even just semi-regularly — earn 19% more in annual revenues.

    Set up alerts when you get a new review so you can respond quickly. It’s especially important to respond to negative reviews fast, as it shows you’re paying attention to what your customers are saying. Be sure not to get defensive: Apologize for the issue and ask if you can contact the customer (offline) to discuss it. Once you’re rectified the problem, see if the reviewer is willing to update their review. This helps show other prospective customers that you’re providing good customer service.

    Avoid posting a generic, template response to each positive review. Varying your wording a bit makes it sound like there’s a real person reading the reviews.

    Tip 3: Get More Reviews

    More reviews correlates to more revenue, Womply found. The average number of reviews for a local retailer is 43. Local retail businesses with more than 43 reviews bring in 26% more in annual revenue than the average retailer.

    If you don’t have 43 reviews yet, focus on achieving that figure — and then keep going! Retailers with more than 200 reviews earn 46% more than the average, so there’s a lot of benefit in growing your review base. To get more reviews:

    • Put signage in your store reminding customers to review you. You can download free window clings and other marketing tools on Yelp.
    • Put links to your review listings on the home page of your website, along with language encouraging customers to write a review.
    • Include requests to review your business in your marketing emails or other emails to customers.

    Check out Google’s tips on how to get more Google reviews.

    Tip 4: Keep Those Reviews Coming

    Having 200 reviews won’t help you that much if they’re all from two years ago. “Fresh” reviews are essential to keep customers coming in to your store. Womply defines “fresh” reviews as those posted in the last 90 days; the average retail store has five fresh reviews at any given time.

    Once again, being above average will get you above-average sales. Retailers with more than five fresh reviews earn 28% more in annual revenue than the average retailer, the study found, while retailers with 20 or more fresh reviews earn 40% more. In contrast, businesses that have no fresh reviews earn 13% less than average.

    To keep those fresh reviews coming, keep doing what you’re doing in Tip 3 to get more reviews.

    Tip 5: Aim for Realistic Reviews

    You might be surprised, as I was, to learn that retailers with 5-star ratings actually have below-average sales. They even earn less than shops with a 1 to 1.5-star rating. Perhaps customers don’t believe the 5-star reviews can be honest? Whatever the reason, the sweet spot for reviews is 3.5 to 4.5 stars. Retail businesses whose ratings are in this range earn revenues 13% more than the average retailer.

    You can’t control the star ratings you get, but if too many reviewers are raving about your business, working to get more reviews should help even things out.

    Now that you know online reviews can actually make your store more money, are you more motivated to manage them?

    Not a retailer? Check out Womply’s findings on how online reviews impact small businesses in all industries.

    Image: Depositphotos.com

    This article, "How to Manage Reviews for Better Small Business Profit" was first published on Small Business Trends


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    Surefire Local Debuts New Hyperlocal Marketing Platform for Small Businesses

    The debut of Surefire’s All-In-One Local Marketing Platform looks to make local businesses grow by letting them take control of their multi-channel marketing efforts.

    A multi-channel approach is key in today’s digital ecosystem because small businesses now also operate online. Therefore, bringing the physical and digital worlds together is key to fully optimize ad spend. However, small businesses don’t always take advantage of the tools which are available to them when it comes to marketing.

    Local marketing is especially important for small businesses because this is where they generate most of their revenue. But with eCommerce, this is changing rapidly. Finding the right balance, strengths and limitations in both online and physical stores is a good starting point when it comes to budgeting for marketing.

    Surefire Local Marketing Platform

    The Surefire All-In-One Local Marketing Platform gives small businesses advanced, affordable marketing capabilities, streamlined access and hundreds of available integrations. This is what Chris Marentis, founder and CEO of Surefire Local, says in the press release.

    Marentis adds, “We are thrilled to deliver a platform that provides real-time, actionable insights, analytics and features to time-crunched small business owners enabling their voice to finally be heard in the market.”

    Comprehensive View

    The features Marentis mentions are a must in today’s business ecosystem. Surefire makes these features available on a platform where owners can see their marketing efforts on a single dashboard.

    Surefire Local Debuts New Hyperlocal Marketing Platform for Small Businesses

    image: Surefire Local
    Even if you are not an expert in marketing, you can see which of your marketing campaigns are working. Armed with this information you can spend more on what works, and reevaluate campaigns which are not delivering.

    Whether you are doing the marketing or you hire an agency, you can target your audience with quality and consistent local marketing initiatives.

    Surefire says this is going to allow your business to ensure continuous refinement, improvement and expansion of your local reach. It will also do the same for your digital reputation as more of your customers reach you online.

    The Surefire Strategy

    Surefire has a three-step strategy to take your small business to the next level with a comprehensive and easy to use digital marketing platform. The steps are to mend, modernize and magnify the presence of your company.

    It starts by identifying and targeting the digital roadblocks which stop you from growing. It then makes sure your data is accurate and consistent across all of the online directories important to your business.

    The next step is to manage your online reputation to increase ratings and reviews, and simplify responses. Last but not least, a secure system which provides control and access for all of your marketing materials and information.

    If you have outdated technology and systems in place, Surefire Local is going to bring you up to speed. You are going to have real-time actionable insights, chat, lead managers, analytics, software integration and 24/7 access to expert support.

    With these strategies in place, it’s time to magnify your business by refining, improving and expanding your reach and reputation. This is going to be accomplished with content marketing. You do this by creating and sharing photos, blogs and other content across all online and social media channels.

    Search and display advertising is the last step in this strategy to drive new customers from sites where your audience looks for information.

    Surefire All-In-One Local Marketing Platform is now available.

    Image: Depositphotos.com

    This article, "Surefire Local Debuts New Hyperlocal Marketing Platform for Small Businesses" was first published on Small Business Trends


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    Small business saturday

    Small Business Saturday is a pretty big deal in the United States.  And savvy small business people know that and leverage it. But how much do you know about this event?  Do you know its history, how it got started and why it struck a chord with the public? Get prepared for Small Business Saturday by testing your knowledge!

    Small Business Saturday Quiz

    Results

    -

    Congratulations!  You know a lot about Small Business Saturday – you passed.

    #1 What year did Small Business Saturday start?

    The first Small Business Saturday was in November of 2010.

    It started at a time when the United States was still recovering from the 2008 Wall Street financial crisis and economic recession that followed. The goal was to give local small businesses such as restaurants and retailers a boost by helping them sell more. Read more.

    #2 When does Small Business Saturday take place?

    Small Business Saturday occurs once a year.  It’s always on the Saturday following Thanksgiving in the United States.  Dates for Small Business Saturday over the next 4 years will be:

    • November 30, 2019
    • November 28, 2020
    • November 27, 2021
    • November 26, 2022

    Combined with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the day is part of the reason that the entire week following Thanksgiving has become a non-stop, shopping extravaganza for consumers.

    In fact, the rallying cry of “shop small” has turned it into a year-round movement. You can see consumers expressing their support for small businesses all year, not just during the Christmas holiday season.

    #3 What percent of consumers say Small Business Saturday makes them want to shop at small businesses all year long?

    A stunning 96% of people who shop on Small Business Saturday say it makes them want to shop at small businesses year round!  That’s according to a survey by American Express.

    That lasting impact is what makes the #shopsmall movement special.  Unlike national taco day or Valentine’s Day, people feel like they are supporting a worthy cause bigger than shopping when they support Small Business Saturday.  Long after the day has passed they feel inspired to support small businesses.

    #4 How much do consumers spend on Small Business Saturday at small establishments?

    In 2018, consumers spent $17.8 billion at small retailers and restaurants on Small Business Saturday. For many small businesses, much of their revenue and profit comes during the last two months of each year.  And Small Business Saturday has helped.

    According to the American Express website, this number is an estimate. It reflects “the average spend as reported by consumers in surveys commissioned by American Express reporting spend habits on Small Business Saturday of consumers who were aware of the day. It does not reflect actual receipts or sales.”  Read more.

    #5 Small Business Saturday was founded by:

    Small Business Saturday was conceived by American Express as a rallying cry around small businesses. A decade later, American Express continues to lend its support.

    Small Business Saturday is not a government program. For instance, it is not part of the SBA and does not rely on Federal taxpayer funding.

    Still, Small Business Saturday is one of the few things that gets almost universal support:

    • The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution supporting it in 2011.
    • The President typically gives it out a shout out.
    • The Small Business Administration encourages participation.
    • State and local governments participate, galvanizing community support.
    • Community organizations and chambers of commerce participate.
    • Business organizations like SCORE and Small Business Development Centers encourage it.
    • Virtually all large corporations support it in some way.
    • Small business owners and consumers alike enthusiastically embrace the day.

    #6 Which person drove implementation of the first Small Business Saturday?

    If any one person could be identified as the main driver behind Small Business Saturday, it’s Susan Sobbott. At the time she was the President of American Express OPEN.  It was her vision, leadership and energy that got it off the ground and made it a rousing success from the first year.

    The daughter of a small business owner herself, she recognized what small business owners needed. “More than anything else, they need more customers,” she said in an interview at the time.

    She went on to add, “Small Business Saturday can be the first of many days when businesses and consumers consciously make the decision to consider shopping small. Even better is if they tell their friends, family, and colleagues about the initiative so that they, too, can think about shopping at small businesses.”   Read: Small Business Saturday, An Inside Look

    #7 What is the tagline of Small Business Saturday?

    “Shop small” or its equivalent hashtag of #shopsmall has been used almost since the beginning.

    Since 2011 it has become a slogan and insignia for the movement. In fact, the slogan has become so popular that some people use it as a rallying cry to support small businesses year round.  In fact, it’s called the Shop Small Movement.

    “Shop small” is a registered service mark of American Express.

    #8 Which social media giant was the first to partner with Small Business Saturday?

    Facebook was the first social media company to support Small Business Saturday in a highly visible way.

    In fact, Facebook’s early support helped drive popularity among consumers. To this day Small Business Saturday has a vibrant and thriving Facebook page.

    Other social platforms show support for Small Business Saturday, but Facebook is the epicenter.

    #9 What technique below is NOT a good way to promote your business for Small Business Saturday?

    Threatening to go out of business is never a good marketing technique.

    A better approach is to be positive. Take a few moments to highlight a special offer. Or make shopping a fun and special experience that day. Or simply thank customers for their support.

    In other words, focus on the customer and the benefits he or she will get. Make the customer feel good about supporting your business.

     

    #10 Is there a badge to show support for Small Business Saturday?

    Yes. Small business owners, consumers and community organizations alike display materials with the Shop Small badge on them.

    The Shop Small Studio on the official website has a lot of marketing materials, including marketing tips, badges, flyers, videos, email headers and other collateral. You can customize everything with your business name on it — and it’s all free.

    The image at the top of this quiz was generated using the Shop Small Studio.  And took us less than 5 minutes.  It’s that’s easy.

    finish

    This article, "Small Business Saturday Quiz: Test Your Knowledge" was first published on Small Business Trends


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