bookmark_borderAnalytics Marketing

Google Analytics is one of the best tools you can utilise and keeps track of many things for you and even supplies live reports and traffic intake whenever you need. You simply cannot be successful without measuring your market data, as you risk only guessing the habits of your audience, and not knowing exactly what they’re looking for. In this article, we will be going through a number of ways you can boost your analytical expertise, improving your content marketing by margins.

  1. Keep track habitually – Make it your top priority to check your analytics every single day. This includes checking your reports daily. Doing this ensures you are easily keeping track of what your audience is interested in, as these reports show all your top pages and numbers them into a top ten. Listing these pages allows you to see what number of traffic is leading where, and if you do this multiple times throughout the day, you can market accordingly to where your traffic is entering.
  2. Understand your audience – One of the main, and best reasons, to invest in a data driven marketing strategy is to keep track of exactly who is interested in what. A well-thought marketing campaign can solidify your company or product and bring your audience closer to your brand. Using an analytical program can help you understand a number of things, such as how your audience reacts to your existing content, their favourite types of content, and their preferred method of receiving said content.
  3. Aim towards non-targeted audience – This entry may seem odd, but you will understand exactly what I’m getting at if you’ve been reading thus far. We’ve stated that it’s important to understand the customer, but it is also important to understand those who aren’t interested in your product. By understanding those who aren’t interested in your product, you can tweak your campaigns to include them in your demographic, further increasing your traffic and customers.
  4. Test outside of analytics – Despite this tip going against the article itself, it is still a useful and helpful method that even major companies use today. Statistics and facts can give an abundance of information on any subject, which is exactly where analytics programs come into play. But utilising other methods can be just as helpful. It can pay off to conduct surveys, or group testing towards an audience due to the fact that there can be more information put in by them. In turn, this can result in an emotional response, giving you more information than a simple analytical report could.
  5. Link social engagements – Using social media can be an extremely helpful tool to use to your advantage. Facebook and Twitter are the two biggest social platforms in the industry, and if you use these to your best advantage, then your traffic will boost by massive margins. Linking the social engagements to your analytics program will allow you to keep track of all your social media posts, giving you traffic information for them as well. Using this tool to your leisure will allow you to see what is popular with your social media audience, giving you an even bigger opportunity to market to an entire different audience.

bookmark_borderEntrepreneurial Difference

Think about your own childhood and youth. Did you sell lemonade in the front yard? Rake leaves or shovel snow for a few extra bucks from neighbors? A lot of us did.

Unfortunately, the drive and ambition associated with those youthful undertakings are often not developed or encouraged by our school systems, parents, and society as a whole.

For generations, people were raised to think that success required doing well in school, going to college, and pursuing a career with intentions of making a long-term commitment to a company. We see this in the older ranks of the baby boomer generation and our parents. Did your parents work for an employer for 20-plus years, whether they were happy and fulfilled or not?

Work often overshadowed any urge to go the independent route, since society often frowned at mavericks who followed their own path. Compound that negative stigma from a by-gone era with the fact that the 40-hour per week commitment to one’s employer left little time to even turn a hobby into a part-time business or to express the entrepreneurial creativity in other ways. People just went to work.

Now don’t get me wrong, many people pursued the entrepreneur’s route in earlier generations, but not to the extent they are today. This trend is, in part, due to the fact that times have changed and companies no longer employ people from college to retirement nor do employees feel the loyalty to stay. It is not frowned upon to leave an employer after a year or two, as it was in the past. The trend can also be attributed to a growing desire to feel self fulfilled and enjoy life (including work), even though as a society we work many more hours per year than our European counterparts who recognize the importance of “holiday” or vacations (and even siestas).

For these two reasons, there is an epidemic of people starting businesses in their 40s, 50s and 60s. Women start 424 new enterprises every day. Nearly half (46%) of new female business owners fled corporate America for the freedom to set their own hours according to the Center for Women’s Business Research. In addition, 65% of women who have started businesses in the past decade honed their skills from being managers in big corporations.

Now you may ask, what are these attributes that distinguish entrepreneurs from other people? While this is not scientific, it is based on years of interaction and observation with business people.

Entrepreneurs are courageous. As Julia Cameron expresses it in her book, The Artist’s Way, “Leap and the net will appear.” That’s what entrepreneurs do. They trust and take calculated risks to start the business and then every day after that. This was my mantra when I was leaving my former employer after 17 years.

Entrepreneurs are passionate. They believe in what they are doing and pursue their vision with gusto. They immerse themselves fully into the project or idea.

Entrepreneurs are tenacious. A study of 1,165 self-made female millionaires over a three-year span shows “their defining characteristic to be perseverance,” according to Thomas J. Stanley, author of the book Millionaire Woman Next Door: The Many Journeys of Successful American Businesswomen. He concedes that women are more goal-oriented and have had to work harder than men. Anyone who makes cold calls and adheres to a good follow-up program knows it takes tenacity and perseverance.

Entrepreneurs are visionary. The true entrepreneur sees a big picture…a goal at the end of the rainbow and then devises a plan to get there. They are proactive about conveying their vision and enrolling others in it.

Entrepreneurs are creative. The very nature of taking an idea and turning it into something of value requires creativity. Whether your idea is the development of a product, launch of a service business, or even the creation of an event or program for a non-profit, creativity is the root of all entrepreneurial efforts starting with the vision itself… all the way through the implementation.

So, are you an entrepreneur? If you’ve ever had a dream or an idea that you wanted to pursue with passion and are willing to take the action to make it real, I’d say you’re off to the right start. Maybe you’re an entrepreneur at heart and just never pursued your dream because you’re scared? I encourage you to move toward your passion rather than let your fear rule you. I did when I quit my commercial real estate job after 17 years and I haven’t looked back. In addition to the universe, there are people to support you such as your family, friends and coaches. If you have all of the other qualities, and only fear is holding you back, go for it. Remember, what’s the worst that can happen? Believe in yourself and others will too.

bookmark_borderDouble Down on Marketing

Make marketing an investment

The first step to growing your marketing budget is thinking about it differently. People used to think of their marketing budget as a line item expense that they wrote checks for throughout the year. It was almost like rent – a normal cost of doing business. The mistake these startups made was that they treated marketing like an expense. It’s time to start thinking of your marketing as an investment that you expect to yield a return.

Like any investment you would make in the stock market, your marketing investment should generate a specific monetary return in an expected period of time. For our purposes, we’re looking for short term investments that will produce enough working capital to re-invest quickly to grow our marketing.

Grow marketing, grow customers

We all know that marketing attracts the customers we need to generate more sales. For this reason, if we want to grow our position in the market we’re going to need to grow our marketing budget as fast as possible to grow our customer base. The key to growing the budget lies in generating cash flow from the returns on our marketing investment.

Short Term Returns

People used to take the long view of their marketing budgets – planning them a year out. This “set it and forget it” approach may work well for Ron Popeil, but smart marketers throw that line of thinking out the window. Instead, we budget our marketing based on months, or quarters at the longest. By looking for marketing opportunities that provide short term returns we create opportunities to increase our marketing budget rapidly with the additional capital we’ve generated.

The faster we can provide a return on our marketing the faster we can put that money to work in the next cycle. The faster we put that money to work, the more money we generate from additional customers. The math is straightforward, but getting there can be a little tricky.

Finding the winning hand

It would be easy if we already knew what marketing strategies returned quickly and could just double up our bets on those efforts. Unfortunately we don’t know what works until we try it, which costs money and time. Finding this winning hand to double down on can become a job unto itself.

A popular way to test different messages and reach your target population quickly is Internet advertising. Unlike TV, radio or print, Internet-based campaigns are relatively cheap and highly trackable. Use the Internet to test out different messages, advertise on different Web sites, and gather feedback quickly from customers about what works. You can then apply your findings toward riskier (and more expensive) media.

Your goal here is to find the campaigns that will give you the opportunity to invest significantly more dollars with a nice short term return. If it’s the right campaign, you will be able to spend incrementally more every month, constantly rolling last month’s proceeds into next month’s increased marketing budget.

Don’t shotgun

The last thing you want to do is try a “shotgun” approach toward marketing where you try everything at once and wait to see what happens. This can get very confusing because you often don’t know what’s working and what isn’t. Instead, focus on a few strategies at once, measure them completely, and then try a few more.

Double down

Once you’ve found some strategies that work now it’s time to put your money down. Invest heavily in those campaigns and keep plowing the returns back into the same winning hand. This is how you scale your marketing to create the types of campaigns that move markets and win customers.

Fast growth companies are always looking for ways to exponentially increase their marketing spend, but only on campaigns that have a demonstrated track record for success. Next time when you come to the table with the big boys, look for that winning hand, double down on your bet and clear out the competition!

bookmark_borderHow an Outside Event Planner Can Save Business Money

First, let’s assume your marketing team is like every other marketing team on the planet. They’re busy managing multiple complex projects with competing timelines. If you task them with coordinating an event, they’ll be handling the details in between fielding sales team emails, writing a script for the radio ad, and setting up a content calendar for the next three months.

Meanwhile, an outside event manager is focused on your event. She takes the detail work off the shoulders of the marketing team but still collaborates with them on the big picture marketing goals.

While your in-house marketers are generalists, your event manager is a specialist. All of her energy and talent goes into a meticulously planned event that surpasses your goals.

Everyone has heard the axiom, practice makes perfect. While your in-house team might organize one or two events a year, an event planning professional has dozens or even hundreds of successful events under her belt. She knows what works and what doesn’t and brings you the benefit of her expertise.

Experienced event planners know where costs can be cut without skimping on quality. They use their expertise to make sure every dollar you spend gives you the highest possible return on investment.

In addition to her expert knowledge, she comes prepared with a roster of vendors, venues, caterers and other service providers who can make sure your event goes off without a hitch. She knows the best in the business and will bring them in where they can be most effective for your event. Sometimes she can even turn those preexisting relationships into discounts or special deals for you.

Sure, your marketing team might know all about the latest trends in inbound marketing or how to use big data, but do they have their finger on the pulse of the event industry? Do they know what the next hot trend is and how to best capitalize on it for your business? Probably not.

A professional event planner makes it her job to know where the industry is going and what is likely to work in the future. She’ll make sure that your event exceeds attendee expectations by delivering the latest and greatest the industry has to offer.

That translates to a better overall attendee experience. Attendees walk away more engaged, better informed, and more likely to buy.

bookmark_borderMarketing Communications

The CEO may have had brilliant counsel to share, but I was so distracted by the scatological remarks and gratuitous profanities that peppered his remarks that I can’t even remember the subject of the article, or the name of his company.

Now, I’m not a prude or someone who lives in a sheltered world. I can swear with more vigor and variety than most people I know. I’d also wager that I have mastery of profanities you’ve never heard, including delightful epithets from other languages. Writers tend to gorge themselves on obscure vocabulary.

But I don’t understand why a presumably respected leader of a business found it necessary to publicly spew the kind of language most of us would never utter in polite company while promoting his business. Were the terms he used a critical component of the message he was trying to convey? Sure didn’t seem like it. Instead, he reminded me of a middle-schooler who couldn’t wait to share the dirty words he learned that day. His company may be phenomenal, but I’ll always see it as a club of potty-mouthed youngsters.

Perhaps it’s just another symptom of an era in which crass has become the new normal. We have entertainers who spit out profanity with the enthusiasm of a tent preacher. We have professional athletes who can’t be interviewed without a ready hand on the bleep button. And we even have a president who brushes aside his use of what he dismisses as locker-room talk.

There’s nothing new about crass or profane language. It’s long been an argot used within specific groups. Take comments such as “he swears like a drunken sailor” or the casual profanity long associated with factory workers. What does appear to be new is a willingness to take that language out of the private settings and spew it publicly. I once worked in an ad agency where f-bombs were the lingua franca among the staff, but even the filthiest mouths among us knew to use restraint when clients were visiting.

The simple fact is that profanity and vulgarity are lazy substitutes for real emotion. Writers who use them the way I sprinkle parmesan cheese on pasta are taking the easy way out. Being crass offers no real benefit to the speaker or her audience. It doesn’t improve communication, sharpen meaning, or enhance anyone’s image.

I’m sure some readers are dismissing my concerns as a generational thing, writing me off as some kind of ancient fogey. Yet I firmly believe that there are far more people who find such language offensive than those who accept it. Granted, the offended may have averaged more birthdays, but they probably make up the vast majority of your target audience. Why run the risk of turning them away just so you can flaunt your fluidity with f-bombs?

In my college years, a favorite philosophy professor realized he could catch the attention of sleepy undergrads by swearing the proverbial blue streak. A reply to a question about Plutarch quickly devolved into an f-bomb-laden rant, Lewis Black-style. He kept everyone awake and chuckling, but they remembered him for the coarseness of his words instead of the brilliance of his scholarship. Our post-class conversations revealed a thoughtful scholar that my classmates never got to see, because they couldn’t get past his language. Instead of creating connections, his approach put distance between him and those who might have benefited from his knowledge.

Face it: the world is already full of tastelessness and vulgarity. Why would anyone feel the need to drag us down any deeper? If you want to bandy obscenities and vulgarities around the locker room, the golf course, or the bar, have at it. But please don’t weave them into your conversations or writings about your business. It may be a little more challenging to stay on the high road, but it’s well worth the effort.

bookmark_borderGrow Business With Intelligent Automation

Reducing Human Error

One of the most important benefits that intelligent automation brings to any business is the reduction of human error in the work place. People are naturally affected by their daily lives and outside influences. If a worker, for example, came into work tired or unwell, his or her job performance will likely suffer, the risk of human error becoming greater. Automation software cannot be affected by time of day, mood, lack of sleep, etc., allowing it to be completely consistent in performing the task it was programmed to do.

Additionally, humans need to be taught new tasks and require practice in order to master them, robotic process automation can be updated and perform the tasks instantly.

In terms of business benefits, utilizing intelligent automation tools ensures performance consistency that will ultimately improve the overall quality of work, also allowing human workers to focus on higher priority and more important issues that require critical thinking.

Keeping Jobs Local

Employers have often ventured overseas to hire workers in other countries who can then perform basic tasks at a reduced wage, when compared to local employees. The bottom line can be better for these employers in the short-term, though working with outsourced employees means sending money overseas and trying to manage workers on another continent. Typically, over the long-term businesses that outsource overseas can experience unforeseen issues and costs due to the complications with depending on a foreign workforce.

With outsourced jobs being performed by intelligent automation tools businesses can focus on hiring skilled workers from the local market for the upper levels of the workforce.

Return on Investment

Perhaps the most intimidating factor in implementing intelligent automation within your business is the upfront cost. Putting money into something new is not a leap everyone wants to make. Intelligent automation, however, is not a gamble. Research shows that companies who use are able to automate around half of their tasks, increasing process time by fifty percent. Completing tasks more quickly means companies can take on more tasks without spending additional time on them. Depending on the industry, having jobs done quickly can mean increased revenue.

If performing redundant tasks quickly and accurately will not improve your company’s revenue, just simply utilizing automation tools certainly will. Such tools do not need pay, employee benefits, and can work overtime, the return of investment becomes apparent when considering all the expenses intelligent automation does not require.

bookmark_borderBefore Getting A Franchise

Get The Support of Your Family:

The success of your franchise is also the acceptance of your immediate family in supporting your effort. It is this simple. Take for instance, if you buy a franchise which is part of a book-store chain and your family does not even visit it once. Will you have the determination to see it through? If you need to take a short vacation, will your family member help to run the franchise in your place?

Know Your Strengths & Expertise:

A franchise should not just be a means for you to start your first business. It is preferable that you have a recognized skill or interest in the franchise before parting with the franchise initial capital. Maybe take a personality test to determine if you have the tenacity to follow through with the franchise.

Unique Proposition Of The Franchise:

The franchise should be protected by a patent or intellectual property law. This will create a significant barriers to entry.

Market Research:

A franchise can be a huge success in a particular geographical region but has less acceptance in another country. Thus it is crucial that you inspect the relevance of the market research that has been conducted by the franchise company especially in the area of when the market research was conducted and the demographics of the sample set.

Franchise Competition:

Do not get a franchise that does not seem to have a recognized competitor or an industry that can be classified – unless you are interested in being a master franchiser or have a first-mover advantage. The market may be slow to accept your franchise and you may find it hard to re-coup your initial investment within the agreed contractual period.

Legal Assistance:

It definitely pays to get a legal expert to read the franchise contract fine-print. You do not want to be accused of violating some of the franchise terms of agreement and pay an unnecessary penalty.

Get New Contacts:

Do not just depend on the contact database that may be provided by the franchise owner. You should also try to generate new contacts as the franchise contact database may also be used by new franchisees.

bookmark_borderBuying First Franchise

Budget Everything

First and foremost, you need to have a budget. Having a set budget will enable you to think of how much money you can actually spend on your franchise. It is best to be in touch with reality here since buying a franchise, as compared to just starting a small business from scratch, is not only risky but comparatively costly as well. So you need to be fully aware of what you are putting your money into and if it is truly worth all that trouble.

Choose Wisely

This brings us to the next highly important thing that you need to consider when buying a franchise: the countless franchise opportunities out there. Keep in mind that the success rate of buying a franchise is lot higher than just a starting small business. Look for franchise opportunities that are considered hot.

Still you have to think twice (or maybe a million times) before buying a franchise. Not only the ones that are deemed as hot but for any franchise. One day their products might be selling like hotcakes and are considered as a hot commodity but what about after the season or at the end of the year? Are they still hot? Are they still selling? Some franchise opportunities unfortunately fall flat on their faces after they have over saturated the market with their products.

Understand The Business

When it comes to finally committing to buying a franchise, the franchisee must fully know and understand the policies of the franchise opportunity that he or she is actually buying. The contract for example, should always be understood well by the franchisee before signing it. Mere coaxing from the company and just mere verbal word play are something that companies use on new entrepreneurs just to make them see it their way which is why when it comes to buying a franchise, entrepreneurs must always proceed with caution.

A good franchise opportunity should be able to provide the franchisee with various benefits and services that the franchisee is entitled to from the moment that he or she signs on to buying a franchise. Such benefits include the franchisor providing the training, marketing, and support needs of the franchisee. Franchisors that do not comply with such benefits should be seen as dubious since they are just merely trying to make some extra profits from the franchisee and are not exactly interested in helping him or herself out in this small business venture.

Before signing the bottom line, consider the following:

  • Proper Training. Most franchisors will actually offer to help your small business to get some added leverage by helping you first establish, run and as well as expand you small business. Buying a franchise clearly has its perks since newly started entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to learn the ropes from established businesses.
  • Financing. Contrary to popular belief that you must have a lot of money for you to be able o acquire the franchise of your dreams, a lot of franchisors actually provide their franchisees with some highly flexible financing options.
  • Proven Products and Methods. When it comes to buying a franchise, it is highly important that you take not of the ones that are really in-demand and are not seasonal. When it comes to having a franchise as compared to starting your own business out of nothing, you will actually have the confidence at heart that your products and services will sell because it already has a proven market.

bookmark_borderSuperior Business Skills

The first four skill sets should represent 80-90% of where an entrepreneur needs to invest his time in building his business, especially in the startup phase. Many new entrepreneurs make the nasty habit of focusing on things such as getting office space, office equipment, stationary and even develop the ultimate business plan. Instead, the entrepreneur needs to focus on one thing: creating and keeping a customer. Customers represent sales. Nothing happens until a sale is made. Before that, nothing happens until marketing starts. My business mentor always stressed to me that the entrepreneur must create a customer before creating a product or service.

Product development comes after a market demand is created or met. As a former partner in a publishing company, I worked with authors who wrote the book before starting a marketing campaign. I began to search for what made authors successful with moving units. All successful authors create a campaign as they write the book. In other words, they create a demand by developing a platform. It can be through blogging, social media, interviews or other marketing tools to create a buzz.

Networking is essential to an entrepreneur’s success. The successful ones create alliances to build and maintain power. No successful entrepreneur can operate with an emperor’s mentality. Even the most powerful needs friends. Negotiation is important to resolve conflicts and discuss possible deals, acquisitions, mergers and takeovers. Part of negotiations is building credibility and trust with the other parties involved at the Round Table.

The final skill set, cashflow management, is the life force of every successful business. If cash is king, then cash flow is God! Effective cash flow management means you are generating enough revenue to meet your fiduciary obligations and responsibilities while having surplus for working capital to invest in the company for growth. Many times, entrepreneurs focus on profit, not realizing that there could be “leakage” in the revenue model. If you’re bringing in $1.50 in revenue and $2.00 is leaving in expenses, cash flow is compromised. Cash flow management needs to create a “positive imbalance” in your financial statements.

bookmark_borderSome Mistakes In Choosing Strategy Consulting Firms

Unable to help teams to be focused

One of the main goals of hiring consulting firms is to help employees to be focused. Unfortunately, some consulting firms forget this since they tend to other aspects that are visible on the team. As a result, hiring consulting firms can only be a pain in the pocket.

Cannot provide good and relevant options

It is also essential not to hire consultants who cannot provide good and relevant options. In any type of industry, there are numerous options business owners can choose from. Therefore, it is the job of consultants to present all good options for the team to help them make better decisions.

Providing solutions that are not suitable for your team

As mentioned above, consultants need to provide different options. So, it is also a must that consultants can provide the right solutions. In this way, employees have better insights about the best solutions that can cater to their needs.

Working with consultants who offer low cost services

Lastly, business owners must not hire a consulting firm solely for their low cost services. Of course, there are reliable companies that can provide competitive rates for their services, but there are also companies that provide services that match their rates. As a result, low cost services cannot support your needs.