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What are the Biggest Hurdles for Agencies & Small Businesses?
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Valentine’s Day: Why Choosing Your Outsourcing Partner Is Just Like a Date?
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Why Do Small Businesses and Agencies Fail at Social Media Marketing?
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7 Common Ways That Small Businesses Waste Money Marketing

If you own a small business, you may feel that the problems that your business is facing are unique. But this is not exactly true. The biggest hurdles that your business is facing are similar in essence to those your competition. There are several challenges that are acting as major roadblocks to the ascent of agencies and small businesses. Some of them are discussed below:

  1. Marketing

One of the biggest obstacles to the success of relatively small concerns is marketing. To get the word out about your business is important for its success. With the help of technology, you can now test and bring a product to market easily, but it is quite difficult to cut through the noise on social media as well as other marketing channels and differentiate your brand and business.

  1. Hiring new employees

A hurdle that several small concerns must overcome is while recruiting a workforce. They find it particularly difficult to handle problems related to the hefty costs associated with getting a workforce on board. Sometimes the total cost of the process of bringing them on board  – bonuses, training, equipment, benefits, taxes etc. – can range anywhere between 1.5 and three times the salary assigned to that particular designation. That is a really notable amount of investment for companies that are usually already hard pressed for money, to begin with.

  1. Relationship with customers

According to experts, the key to keeping your small business blooming with success is proper communication and the relationship that you have with your customers. Not all businesses see the face of success. Small businesses that achieve success and continue to survive are the ones where the owners, as well as the employees, have a great relationship with their customers. Know what your customers want and ask them how you can do better or what can be added. For agencies and small businesses, relationships are of paramount importance. In this digital age, it has become important to develop a bond with customers.

  1. Relationship with the government

To make local government work for you, take the idea of relationships to the next level and use those skills. According to experienced businessmen, small businesses which reach out and become a staple in the community are the ones that get the most support from the local government. You can be present at community events or join the chamber of commerce so that the local governments support you. If you make an investment in your local community, it will affect your business positively. Also, to build valuable customer relationships, you can volunteer to work on events or serve on local boards.

  1. Cash flow management

A variety of problems related to cash flow is the cause of a headache for many companies. And for agencies and small businesses, the main problems are to do with unexpected outgoings of cash, clients deferring payments and expenses that seemingly need to have been paid for yesterday. However, these problems do not come without solutions. While product demand is far more difficult to control in-house, cash flow related problems can be resolved. In order to improve on your invoicing and budgeting, there are a number of newly designed solutions that are available. All you have to do is to find a suitable one.

  1. Increasing profits

Agencies and small businesses that have five to ten employees face problem such as increasing profits. There can be many reasons behind this, but the main reason that it highlights is the inability to remain a low-cost leader against the competition. To stay ahead of your competitors, what you can do is to innovate and optimize constantly.

  1. Not becoming dependent on major clients

Client dependence is a huge issue for several organizations, mostly those with under ten employees. In case the organization has to depend on say just one or two clients for the major chunk of the money they make, then that is a sign of hitting the danger zone. The balance of power is disturbed unfavorably for the firm if this were the case. It would be hard for them to survive – to just remain operational with minimal profits. Reaching this stage is not at all recommended. If you want to your firm to grow, you must necessarily diversify your clientele.

You might, in all probability, as the owner of a small concern, have to face hurdles that CEOs of large companies may not face. However, to look at the brighter side, being small business owner does have a number of benefits. Being small in size, you are much better equipped to respond to volatile circumstances, as well as more flexibility. Pay more attention to the strong points of owning a small business and make more effort to emphasize and use them in advantageous ways for you to overcome challenges. The first step would be to overcome them.

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and it is easy to feel the love in the air. Business operations are nothing less than love as both are complex and need your attention. Needless to say, both business and love are rewarding. You can express your love for your business by choosing the right outsourcing partner. Outsourcing allows you to get the benefits of skilled professionals without even the hassles of hiring them. As love fills you with content, outsourcing also does the same by providing high-quality work at reduced cost resulting in increased profits. Choosing your outsourcing partner can be just as confusing as planning a date for your Valentine. Here are some similarities between the two and some tips to select your outsourcing partner.

A Match Made in Heaven

Just like choosing a life partner, choosing a partner for business operations should also be a match made in heaven. When you are choosing an outsourcing company, you must make sure that the company is a fit for the needs of your company. They should offer the exact set of services that your business needs, neither more nor less. This is to ensure that you are getting the best value for your money. For example, if you only want SEO service, you should not be forced to pay for other services that you don’t need but must take as there is no other option. This also means that the SEO service that you choose should be complete and beneficial for you.

You Complete My World

The outsourcing partner you select should be the answer to all your requirements. An outsourcing company must provide you quality work that helps your business to grow. The company you choose should be reliable and genuine. A company that has been around for a longer period of time and has experience in handling projects is a better choice than one that has just been established. An experienced team is also an important deciding factor.  You should research the company to verify whether they have been consistent with their quality and meeting deadlines.

I Can Always Count on You

If you can count on your outsourcing partner and you know that your partner is always there to watch your back, life is a little easier. An essential reason to have an outsourcing company that understands your business and risks involved and helps in the growth of your business.  Apart from maintaining quality and delivering output on time, your outsource partner should also be ready to handle any sort of emergency situations. If you choose the right outsourcing company, you will know what they are capable of.  Make certain you choose a company that has highly qualified and experienced professionals who know their job.

Many outsourcing companies do not have a transparent payment structure. A good outsourcing company lets you know their work procedures and rate structure. This ensures you are not paying extra money in the form of hidden costs or useless jobs.

No One Understand Me Like You Do

A good outsourcing company maintains a great level of communication.  The team members that handle your project must interact with you throughout the procedure. This helps you to keep track of how your work is being done, who is doing the work and how much work is left. It also facilitates better delegation of responsibilities and sets up a level of accountability for those working on the project.  

A reliable outsourcing company gives you advice on the amount of work your business might need and answer all your queries. A well-established outsourcing company has staff that can communicate well in English.

You Treat Me Like I Am the Only One in the World

Last, but not least, your outsourcing partner should value the needs of your business as client satisfaction should be their prime objective.  A good outsourcing service provider customizes their services to meet the needs of the client. They support the client from the order to the finish and even beyond that.

These are all points that you consider while choosing an outsourcing partner. A good partner is beneficial for your business and this relationship is the perfection that will last forever.

Social media marketing is an integral part of making a site more popular to the target consumer base. There are numerous benefits to placing an advertisement on social media. If you open a fan page of your company on Facebook, for instance, then you can use your personal contacts list to spread the link and gather more followers by means of ‘likes’. The more friends that ‘like’ your page, the more likely your page will be visible around the virtual world. Suppose one person from your Facebook ‘likes’ your page. The people on their friend list would be able to see that the person liked a page and would be curious to check that page out. If the curious person also ‘likes’ your page, the cycle of spreading ‘likes’ goes on and on. If you follow the principles of online PPC techniques,  you can place advertisements on Facebook (and other social networking sites) where a person would be able to view your advertisement if he/she displays a leaning towards the kind of product or service you sell.

Twitter is not far off. The Twitter Analytics feature platform is of huge benefit to business owners. Through it, a business can track the changes in the size of their customer base. In addition to this, they can also see the demographics the followers belong to, and their tastes and preferences.

The question remains: why do small businesses shy away from using social media to their full benefit? The answer is multifaceted:

  • The majority of small companies, especially start-ups, are intimidated by the idea of social media campaigning. To them, a social media campaign is something that requires a lot of time, resources, efforts and energy that cannot be afforded. A lot of these companies are not aware of campaign tracking tools such as Google Analytics, Twitter Analytics, Omniture, etc. Because these companies want to play it safe, under the notion that social media campaigns only work when a company is well established, they end up depriving themselves of the benefits that online business campaign tracking tools can give them.
  • Many times, a company doesn’t even have a plan for conducting a campaign on social media. They simply enter the space and work randomly, even taking flawed routes (such as bombarding members with spam messages). As a result, their campaigns fail and they end up dismissing the effectiveness of social media campaigning as a whole. Social media marketing requires a plan in order to succeed. Each business needs to target a certain demographic and then develop their campaigns accordingly, instead of simply making a universal appeal. They need to make use of tools, such as market survey tools and holding consumer contests, with special offers to be won as prizes. Yet, all these, for some reason, intimidate smaller companies.
  • There may be companies that feel that the competition is very packed and that the ‘early birds’ have caught all the worms. That is, the bigger or early-arrival companies have already reaped all the benefits from a particular social media strategy and occupied all the niches. While this fear is not totally unjustified, it is also true that sustained and diligent marketing can indeed popularize a company among social media users without even needing to spend much on advertising. For example, if a company sells health products, they can hire people to research health-themed Facebook groups (or other social media communities)  and promote the products of the company. They can participate in discussions on social media groups and share the positive aspects of the products that are being sold by the company. In doing so, you gain popularity within a particular niche.

Thus, it’s mainly a combination of unrecognized potential and a presence of uncertainty regarding social media that prevents small companies from achieving success in social media marketing campaigns. The scenario is slowly changing, but as small and niche businesses become more informed about social media marketing, there’s a promising future ahead.  

Growing a small business is not that easy. We start a business because we may be a good accountant, lawyer, website designer, business consultant, lawyer or other professional service providers, but that does not mean that we are experts at growing and marketing our own small business. As we are not business marketing experts, we tend to follow what others do. And most of the time, it does not work at all. Here are the most common mistakes that small business owners make when it comes to spending money and how they can turn those losses into gains.

Building a social media following

It may sound good, but building a following on sites such as Facebook can actually cause more harm than good for your small business, in that it can be a waste of time and therefore money. As the algorithm of Facebook is always changing, it has made it harder for marketers to reach their clients organically. Based on 500,000 likes per year, only around 2% of your followers actually, see your posts. The good news is that now you can buy Facebook ads so that you can boost the number of users who see your posts.

Solution: Try to get your client’s email addresses and send them weekly newsletters with updates about your services. Also, you can offer incentives to those who recommend your products or services to their friends or family.

Not Understanding What Your Customers Want

Marketing is all about knowing the needs and wants of your audience, but small businesses tend to lack this information. You will be wasting your time as well as money if you do not understand the demographics of your target market.  

Solution: The first thing that you need to do is to identify who your customer is and determine what their needs are, where they reside and what they can afford to purchase. In defining who your primary customer is, you learn how to meet their needs and have a happy clientele.

Being Impatient and Giving up Too Soon

Marketing needs a lot of time as well as effort when growing a business. If you expect to get hundreds and thousands of followers in just one week, then this will seriously upset you. And as a result, small businesses give up, in spite of starting strong.

Solution: The solution to this is quite simple. First of all, do not raise your expectations too high. Give your small business a year or two to ramp up. Once you start getting followers, you can engage them with as much interesting content as possible.

Trying to do Too Much

Creating an account on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and a lot of other social networking sites is highly ineffective for a small business. As a small business owner, you have fewer employees. So don’t try to be online everywhere at the same time, all at once.

Solution: You can’t do it all – accept it. Choose one or two social media sites that your customers use the most and devote a few hours per week in promoting your products and services.

You Are Not Tracking Your Marketing Results

You may have Google Analytics set up, but do you really use it at all?  Many small businesses aren’t aware how this tool works. They have a lot of questions and confusion regarding Google’s PPC and AdWords. As it is an effective marketing tool, business owners simply buy ad space without fully understanding how those ads work. This is one way that you could unwittingly be wasting a lot of money.

Solution: You can set up conversion tracking for your ad campaigns. This way you will get to know how effective your ads are at attracting your customers.

You Have Not Changed Your Marketing Strategy in Years

Times change, and so should your marketing strategy. If you have a marketing strategy that you have not changed in years and are still investing in it, this is simply a phenomenal waste of money.

Solution: It is suggested that you try new things every year. As marketing is always evolving, you need to evolve too.

Huge One-Time Ad Campaign

There are a number of cool marketing tactics that you can try. While some of them work great, others do not. This is especially true if you only have one shot to make them work. Diving into marketing campaigns that require a lot of money is a waste of money for small businesses.

Solution: You need to first test the ad campaign with a modest budget. If you see that this new tactic is not working even with a smaller budget, it is likely that it will not work with a large budget.

Are these the areas in which your business is wasting money? If so, then it’s time that you make some changes in your marketing plan and grow your business.

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