A Start-up Guide for Entrepreneurs

Posted by frank harris on 03/03/19 16:14

entrepreneursEveryone, especially entrepreneurs, wants more visitors, more qualified leads, and more revenue. But starting a business isn't one of those "if you build it, they will come" situations.

 

To build a successful company, you'll need to create and fine-tune a business plan, assess your finances, complete all the legal paperwork, pick your partners, choose the best tools and systems to help you get your marketing and sales off the ground … and a whole lot more.

 

Take control of your success with the help of this free business plan eBook.

 

To help, I've put together a library of the best free tools and resources to help you start selling and marketing your business, and a complete guide on how to start a business. The guide covers everything from the paperwork and finances to creating your business plan and growing your business online.

 

Starting a business involves a whole lot of moving pieces, some more exciting than others. Brainstorming business names? Fun! Filing taxes? ... Not so fun. The trick to successfully getting your business off the ground is to meticulously plan and organise your materials, prioritise properly, and stay on top of the status and performance of every one of these moving parts.

 

From registering with the government to getting the word out about your business to making key financial decisions, here's an overview of what you'll need to do to start a successful business.

 

The eBook covers:

  • What is a Business Plan?
  • How to Make a Business Plan
  • How to Write a Business Plan
  • Business Plan Template
  • Marketing, Sales, and Services Tips
  • Small Business Funding

As a taster here is the first section:

How to Make a Business Plan

  1. Narrow down what makes you different.
  2. Keep it short.
  3. You can (and should) change it as you go.

1. Narrow down what makes you different

"Before you start developing a business plan, think carefully about what makes your business unique first. If you're planning to start a new accountancy business, for example, then you'll need to differentiate yourself from the numerous other accountancy brands out there.

 

What makes yours stand out from the others? Are you planning to Offer other or additional services to auditing?

 

Remember: You're not just selling your product or service - you're selling a combination of product, value, and brand experience. Think through these big questions and outline them before you dive in to the nitty-gritty of your business plan research.

2. Keep it short.

Business plans are shorter and more concise nowadays than they used to be. While it might be tempting to include all the results of your market research, flesh out every single product you plan to sell, and outline exactly what your website will look like, that's not helpful in the format of a business plan.

 

Know these details and keep them elsewhere but exclude everything but the core areas from the business plan itself. Your business plan shouldn't just be a quick(ish) read - it should be easy to skim, too.

 

3. You can (and should) change it as you go.

Keep in mind that your business plan is a living, breathing document. That means you can update your business plan as things change. For example, you might want to update it a year or two down the road if you're about to apply for a new round of funding."

 

So, to get the rest of the eBook that will tell you all the rest covered, just click the link below:

 

A Guide to B2B Website Marketing  for Small Businesses

Tags: small business marketing ideas, small business goals, small business marketing strategy, small business online marketing, entrepreneurs, new business venture

Internet marketing tips for small businesses: 5 Questions on Content Marketing

Posted by frank harris on 21/08/18 15:19

small business content marketing 0718The small business content marketing gold rush doesn’t seem to be slowing, and articles advising brands they need to jump on the bandwagon continue to plague the internet like timeshare salesmen in 1970s Spain. 

 

But does your brand really need content marketing? 

 

Maybe. Personally, I’m pro-content, but I also don’t believe enough thought goes into why and how brands are doing it. 

 

If you’re currently planning or re-evaluating your small business content marketing efforts, you could save yourself a lot of wasted time and effort by using these internet marketing tips for small businesses to answer these five questions on content marketing first.

1. Why are you doing it?

In marketing or any other fast-moving industry there is a tendency for fear to trump logic. The idea being that if your competitors are doing something then you ought to be too. 

 

Nobody wants to be like those poor brands who saw the value in social media five years too late. 

 

But content marketing requires an enormous amount of investment – time, effort, money, resource – to do well.

 

So rather than saying brands shouldn’t do it at all I’m simply suggesting it needs to be for the right reasons, i.e. not a vanity project but something your customers want or need. 

 

But this question is about more than that. What are you hoping to achieve as a business by investing in content marketing? 

 

We all know the standard answers: brand awareness, building credibility, generating leads, and so on. 

 

Those reasons are fine, but you need to work out what you want your specific business to achieve through content marketing because that will ultimately help you determine whether it’s right for your company and, if it is, what your content strategy should look like.

 

The vast majority (88%) of B2B businesses currently use content marketing, yet only 32% have a documented strategy.  

 

These statistics suggest to me that most brands have no idea what they’re doing when it comes to content marketing, yet they’re ploughing on regardless. 

2. Who are your customers?

I’m not talking about their age, location, occupation, etc. If you don’t know that then content is the least of your worries. 

 

Who are your personas? What makes them tick? Which publications do they subscribe to? What specific articles are they reading? What problems do they face on a day-to-day basis ad which brands are already helping them solve those problems?

 

There are a number of tools you can use to find this kind of information. Here are a few to get you started:  

  • Buzzsumo – analyse a competitor’s best-performing content and see trends around specific keywords for all websites in your industry.
  • Google Keyword Planner – find out what people in your industry are searching for.
  • Google Trends – see how different keywords have performed over time.

Or you could collect first-party data and build your personas to give you a starting point from which to work. 

 

Personas made up of first-party data are perhaps the most accurate and effective way to find out about your customers, but also the most time/budget-consuming. 

3. What do they want?

Small business content marketing, contrary to what some misinformed people will tell you, is not the same as advertising. 

 

With advertising you are directly prompting somebody to take a specific action, and you pay to put that message in front of a pre-existing audience. 

 

That’s not to say you shouldn’t include calls to action within you content, but the theory behind content marketing is that you’re giving your target audience something of value in return for brand awareness, consumer trust, and so on, ultimately culminating in increased sales. 

 

Take this blog as an example. My customers – as in the ones who actually sign up for subscriptions, download reports, buy training – are small local, mainly B2B businesses.

 

Because I am also a small business I can answer their problems through posts like this. 

 

The best part is that if you truly understand the challenges people face in your industry and produce posts that help them overcome those challenges, there’s a good chance those posts will become evergreen and show up in the SERPs for years to come.

 

The cost of not really understanding what your customers want from content? Well, they’ll simply ignore you. 

4. Which medium?

Almost half (45%) of small businesses say blogging is the most important part of their content strategy and 69% said they were planning to increase their use of blogging in 2018. 

 

I’ll wager a good percentage of those are doing it because it feels like the right thing to do rather than because they’ve done their homework and discovered that’s how their specific customers want to consume content. 

 

Every brand wants to be a publisher these days, and most seem to assume that automatically means editorial content. 

 

There are an incredible number of mediums out there now, from imagery to video as well as live-streaming.

Video for example, accounts for over 50% of all online mobile traffic now, 78% of people watch videos online every week and 55% every day. 

 

How-to guides, for example, are often best-served via video. Or at least with plenty of imagery to show visual examples. 

 

But what if your personas prefer reading long-form written guides and don't care for visuals? What if they like text but in short, snappy soundbites they can read on the move? 

 

The mix of mediums you use should depend entirely on their suitability to your messages and your personas’ preferences. 

5. How are you going to measure success?

As small business content marketing success is difficult to measure is both a blessing and a curse, i.e. it’s hard to either prove or disprove that it’s contributing to the company’s revenue. 

 

In Optimax’s case we can see how many people come into the blog from Google, social, wherever, click on a link to a report or something similar.

 

But beyond traffic there are other things you can measure, and this links back to the first question: why you’re doing it. 

 

If you want to grow your social media community, for example, then you might measure social follower growth and engagement over time.

 

If it grows significantly after beginning your content campaign, it’s fair to assume you’ve succeeded. 

But you cannot answer the question of how to measure success until you have answered the first question in this post.

To recap…

  • Why are you doing it?
  • Who are your customers?
  • What do they want?
  • Which medium?
  • How are you going to measure success?

When you’ve answered those five questions, in that order, you’ll know whether small business content marketing is right for your brand and, if it is, you’ll have a much better idea of how to go about creating a content strategy that will actually produce results. 

 

For more help on this, follow the link below:

 

content marketing

Tags: content marketing, b2b small business marketing, b2b content marketing, small business content marketing, small business goals, small business marketing strategy

16 Marketing Goals for Your Business

Posted by frank harris on 05/07/18 15:58

what-are-your-goalsEvery business needs to have marketing goals, so let’s take a look at 16 marketing goals for your business:

 

1.  Focus on quality, not the quantity of your content.

 

You’ll need to produce a lot of content to make waves, but put some effort into sharing things that will be meaningful to your community.

2. Have a content marketing plan.

This probably should be first, but this list is in no order. Content is a crucial piece of marketing. Roughly 80% of businesses now use content marketing. This is what you publish on your website, share on Facebook, or on LinkedIn. Have a plan

3. Find new ways to distribute content.

If you’re blogging – great! If not, start! Consider using Triberr or guest posting on other blogs. BuzzSumo and Fractl analyzed the 1 million most-shared articles within a 6 month time frame in 2015 and found that the top million articles showed that the most engaged platforms, in order, were - Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

4. Make something other than Facebook a priority in your social media efforts.

Facebook is a huge player, but there’s more out there for businesses than them. If you haven’t tried LinkedIn, try it. Maybe venture into Twitter. Branch out.

5. Go offline and do something in-person.

You could spend your entire marketing budget and time on just social media and digital marketing, but that won’t reach everyone. Not all your personas are always online, so go to some networking events or attend a conference and talk about your business!

6. Find strategic partners.

This could be online or offline. Find others with similar mindsets and businesses that complement yours. E.g. If you’re only handling social media for clients, align yourself with someone who does web design or SEO.

if you are a brick and mortar store, selling flowers, partner with a local furniture store to display some of your arrangements. This is free marketing so, take advantage!

7. Set realistic goals.

Wouldn’t we all love to make six figures because of our marketing efforts alone? For some businesses, you may be able to. For some, that’s not realistic. Whatever you do, set a realistic goal. Setting up unrealistic goals will only leave you feeling depressed later in the year.

8. Give away something for free (if you can).

Nothing brings in potential customers like free stuff. This could be a 30-day trial or something with purchase, offering something as a bonus or benefit will extend your business. Keep in mind your bottom line though, you don’t want to give everything away.

9. Outsource what you can’t handle or are not good at.

Business owners hate to admit we can’t do it all. We feel we should be able to do it all. Well, we could if there were more than 24 hours in a day and a had a maid, personal chef, live-in nanny, chauffeur, etc.

So, outsource what you are not good at. This could be social media marketing, graphic design, etc. You’ll appreciate the time you’ll get back and the knowing someone who is capable is handling it for you.

10. Be proactive and ready.

Know what’s coming up for your business and be prepared. Likewise, if you see something brewing (an upset client or something that could be bad or really good for your business) know what you are doing to do when it happens – have a press release or a campaign ready to celebrate or combat it.

11. Be prepared for the unexpected.

You can always be proactive but there are times things will come out of the blue and throw you off-course, in both good ways and bad. Unfortunately, you can’t plan for everything, so know the unexpected sometimes happens no matter how much you do.

12. Try something new.

If you’ve never spent time making videos, start! Wanted to advertise in something local – go for it! Go outside your comfort zone and try something new. Maybe it’s time to update your or your website.

13. Find a business mentor.

Having a mentor is something that is very underrated. All business owners need to have someone they can look to. This could be for advice or guidance or for help in an area they are struggling with.

14. Be a mentor.

If you have the knowledge and know-how, mentor a new business owner.

15. Track everything.

To see the full-scale results of your marketing efforts, you need to track the analytics (Facebook Insights, Google Analytics, etc.). Make sure you know what’s working and what’s not. Analytics is the first place to start.

16. Have fun.

Marketing is fun. From campaign creation to seeing the fruits of your labour, no matter how small, marketing is the fun arm of your business. Enjoy it!

 

16 is a lot, but all of them are attainable by any business, regardless of the size.

 

So, you put into place all the above, what’s next? Well the eBook below looks into the future. Take a look for yourself:

 

B2B & SMEs Mobile Marketing

Tags: b2b marketing, marketing goals, goals, small business goals

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