The Plight Of Small Businesses Online

Traditionally, when small business owners and entrepreneurs wanted to start selling their goods or services, they bought some retail space and setup shop. Over the years many businesses have started entirely online, but many traditional business owners haven’t really considered getting online in a meaningful way. Take a pizza shop, for instance. A pizza shop that does carryout and delivery-only relies on people knowing of their existence and being able to order a pizza by phone. Or, one may suppose a person could come in, order a pizza and come back later to get it. If this business has been around for a few decades, the shop owner never thought they’d have to compete online for business. They picked a good location, took out an ad in the newspaper and Yellow Pages and waited for calls. If the food was great, word would spread by word-of-mouth. Now, this business owner has to take serious consideration about his website, but probably doesn’t. If the shop has a site, it’s probably done for informational purposes only. You can go there and find a few photos, maybe a menu that never changes and the phone number in some oft-begotten place on the page. It’s also not unlikely that the site looks bad, functions poorly and isn’t very interesting. This goes for a lot of businesses and a lot more don’t make good use of their sites by investing a few hundred dollars more at a time when they really need to. In the case of our pizza shop owner, it wouldn’t be difficult for a form to be included on a single...

The Importance of Key Business Performance Indicators to Small Business Management

How do you know how well your small business is doing? Do you look at profit? Do you look at your sales numbers? Do you measure growth? Most businesses use monthly financial statements, which include sales revenues. Some compare those monthly results to the plan and/or to the previous year’s results. All business should continue to use that information to manage their business. However, all small businesses should also include more significant key performance indicators as part of their measurement process. As a small business owner, managing-by-measuring performance is a significant key to your success. Develop a set of key performance indicators (KPIs) to track your business growth and success. These measures will keep you focused on your business goals. When you write your business plan make sure that you include measurable goals and objectives. Then set in place a system that will provide you with regular indications of performance. KPIs can be easily developed and monitored however each business needs to customize the measurement process to their own business needs. Here are just a few KPIs you can consider for your business: Number of orders in a day/week/month/year Number of estimates in a day/week/month/year What kind of ‘win’ ratio does your business enjoy (e.g. do you ‘win’ 15% of all estimates – track this data)? How long does it take for you to respond to customer queries: estimate turn-around times; order processing; time from order placement to order delivery; responsiveness in handling customer complaints; and so on? How often do you hit your ‘promise’ date (i.e. the date you promised to deliver the order to your customer)? Analyze...

Small Business Guide to Outsourcing Telemarketing

Telemarketing is a form of direct marketing in which other businesses or consumers are prospected by phone in order to set appointments, generate and qualify leads, sell a service or product, or conduct research. Telemarketing services may be useful for your business, and, when choosing to implement telemarketing into your current marketing plan, there are several things you should know and consider. The first thing you will want to think about is whether or not you want to outsource your telemarketing. By choosing to outsource, you can hire an experienced company to do work that you would either have to hire new employees for, or train your current employees to do. In addition, telemarketers can provide you with market research and analysis so you will know if you are targeting the correct demographic, as well as whether or not your telemarketing efforts are having an impact on your sales and revenue. Such reporting will typically be included in the fees your telemarketing firm will charge. In addition, all telemarketing agencies will be in compliance with all laws regarding telemarketing, including the National Do Not Call Compliance, Telemarketing Sales Rule, and Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, which mean you do not have to worry about your company losing credibility or breaking any laws. Telemarketing services will typically purchase business leads from a broker, or they will use pervious customer and prospect lists in order to compile a database of names to call. When choosing a telemarketing firm, you will want to make sure they have experience working with your type of business. You may want to ask for a...

The Small Business Website Checklist

There are two types of mall business websites. Those that attract, persuade, and connect with customers…and those that don’t. If your website includes these 10 elements, you’re on your way to having a website that is a true modern marketing tool. The design and layout of our website is clean, simple, and professional. Our navigation makes it easy to find what visitors are looking for. Test it…Have the most Internet-challenged person you know go to your site and locate certain pages/information. Every page of our website is Google-SEO friendly. This means that each page title and page description is unique and contain the correct number of characters (up to 70 for page titles and 160 for page descriptions). We’re using a professional email marketing service to generate new web leads and build rapport with visitors (we use Aweber.com). Your email signup form (or a link to your form) should be visible with a call-to-action on every page of your website. We have a blog as part of our website that we utilize to share company news and helpful tips. We create new posts twice per month. These posts can be emailed automatically with Aweber. We have signed up for a free Google account and utilize the following free Google tools: Analytics (web stats), Feedburner (to distribute blog posts via RSS and email), Webmaster Tools (several benefits), and the Local Business Center (puts your business on Google maps). We are utilizing at least one type of social media to promote our business and website (such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or YouTube). More social media = more exposure. Our contact information...

Online Video Marketing Chicago For Small Businesses

How To Achieve Top Search Engine Rankings with Online Video Marketing Are you interested in your local business reaching the first pages of Google, Yahoo, Bing, and all of the other heavy hitters in the search engine game? Can you imagine the influx of customers that this would produce; the increase in leads and sales? Well, you no longer have to imagine–this can be your reality. The secret to search engine domination, for local searches, is web video marketing. Internet users adore web video, and, as a result, so do all of the major search engines. If you have any doubt about this statement consider that the #2 most popular search engine across the planet, just behind Google itself, is YouTube: that should get the gears turning. But wait, it gets even better: according to statistics gathered by Forrester Research, video has a 53 times higher chance of landing on the first page of Google than a standard webpage. Yes, you read that correctly. What does this mean for your local business? It means an opportunity to finally rank at the top of the search engines; getting you massive exposure, and a leg up on your competition. How many of your competitors are actually employing video as part of their marketing arsenal? The likely answer is very few if any, as local business have been a bit slow to board the online video bandwagon. Again, the upshot of this is a golden opportunity to stand apart from, and ahead of, those competitors. If your competitors have had videos produced, have those videos been optimized to show up on the...
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