In small business, we like to think that we can do it alone.
Sometimes that’s possible, but teaming up with others can sometimes form the ultimate perfect match.
1. A great match can equal great reach
Teaming up with another business with skills, products or services that complement your own can mean you reach a larger audience than you could on your own.
In tendering for projects, often a group of businesses will join forces so that all the requirements of the tender can be met.
This way there is a greater chance of winning the tender as all aspects of the project can be completed. Sometimes large jobs require a commitment beyond one business so it’s only possible if shared with others.
Making mistakes gives you an opportunity to fix problems and take a new path.
Did you grow up thinking that mistakes were a bad thing or a good thing? Believe it or not, they can be your best friend in business. Even the big mistakes can sometimes be the best thing for your business.
If you are like me, it might take you a while to get your head around. I was brought up trying to avoid mistakes. In business it doesn’t work to avoid mistakes. Some would say that “if you are not making mistakes in business, you are not trying hard enough.”
One of the joys of being in business is that there is always something new to learn. The way that we learn in business is by doing. You can learn some things in theory but it’s usually when you put that theory into action that business learning really kicks in. Not everything you do or try will work out and that is ok. Being successful in business is not whether you make mistakes but whether you learn from them. You learn not to do it again and try something different. It’s often the big mistakes or the ones that cost us the most, where we learn the fastest. Through mistakes you learn what will work for your business. In marketing, this is exactly what can happen. You need to try different things and discover what works best with your customers.
Businesses that inappropriately use social media don’t get the results – putting some energy into learning how to make it work for business is vital for success.
The conversation around small business for almost a decade now has been “you have to be on social media.” For many businesses in the past and right now, social media plays a substantial role in raising awareness of the business, engaging with customers and promoting specific products and services. It’s not a marketing silver bullet in all cases.
But your marketing machine is vital to the success of your business, so keeping the momentum going is vital.
Luckily, much like keeping fit it’s best done in short bursts rather than big bursts. When time is short, you can keep things rolling along by doing the following five things:
1. Maintain your database A database is one of the most valuable marketing tools for small business. Keeping your customer and prospect details up to date is vital so you can stay in touch.
Each week, add any new names or make changes to customer details as they come through. There is nothing more annoying for a customer than to have information sent to an old email address when they have gone out of their way to advise you of the new one.
Is selling an art or a science? Do you need special skills to sell to your customers, or can anyone do it? I believe selling is an art and a science, and it’s all about understanding what your customer’s needs are and how they think about things. It’s not rocket science — just common sense — but reviewing the principles is always a good thing.
Do research client needs. The number one do of sales is to research your client’s needs. This is best done before a sales call, personal visit or before they give a response. If that’s not possible, then when your potential client is in front of you, ask lots of questions and listen closely to the answers to find out their needs.
A lot has changed in marketing in this digital age. Never before has there been a way to make personal and direct contact with prospects and customers alike for so little cost. Digital marketing has increased promotional opportunities, and customers have a greater role in choosing how they like to be communicated with.
If you started a business more than ten years ago, your promotion options were based in more traditional methods. Websites were around, but print media played a much greater role. One of the most important decisions was advertising either in the local paper, on the radio or in the yellow pages. There was a reasonable financial investment, and it was important to make the right decision for return on investment.
Accountants and insurance brokers often advise business owners to “look after your assets”. They are usually referring to machinery and equipment, which they suggest you maintain and have regularly serviced. But in small business, often the most important asset is the business owner. Do we look after ourselves as though we are a valuable piece of equipment?
Usually not! Most business owners look after everything else and leave ourselves last. After all, we are optimists so we assume we won’t get sick or have any sort of injuries that will prevent us from working. Is this a wise plan? No. To plan for a long business life — long enough to reap the rewards — that means planning a long life for yourself. It’s easier said than done, I know. As a business owner myself, I often have to balance the needs of the business and clients against my own needs. However, looking after yourself makes good business sense.
So you’ve spent money on a visual identity check! You love your logo and you are happy with your business name. It’s time to get that brand out there, and it doesn’t have to cost you’re a fortune. One of the most important things is to ensure that your visual identity is consistent across the board. That means having the same font, colour and logo proportions at all times. Ensure you have the highest possible image resolution so that your logo comes across in quality. A graphic designer can be your best friend in getting all of this right. The more often people see your visual identity in a consistent way, the more power it gives to your brand.
Here are some suggestions that you can use as a checklist for where to show your brand.
Electronic office stationery
Ensure your business name, website address and logo appear on all things electronic, such as receipts, invoices, fax headers (does anyone still use these?), letterhead and email signatures. Most software offers the option to customise invoices and payment portals (such as PayPal) so that you can brand all your digital communications with your logo.