Attracting Customers In The Local Area To Your Business

While many companies are now focussing on gaining global attention, it’s important for businesses not to neglect the potential clients on their doorstep. Local customers can be much more loyal, and enjoy using businesses close to home as they know you’ll offer a better level of service. That’s why attracting local customers is so important, but it can sometimes feel a bit more difficult than advertising in general. Here’s how to focus on the local area, and use your existing marketing tools to your advantage.

Use Social Media

Many towns and cities now have loads of Facebook groups for the local area, and here people can talk about the businesses they’ve used, recommend local companies to others, and talk about what’s going on locally. This is an excellent resource for small businesses to promote themselves. Just make sure you read the admin rules and make sure you don’t post too much. Promoting your business on social media is cheap and easy, and for smaller, local businesses it can be a source of lots of their income.

If you don’t have a page on Facebook, then set one up. This will allow you to get reviews, and will make you more visible to people in the local area. Other things you can use your Facebook page for include:

  • Giving people a way to contact you
  • Linking to your website or directory listing
  • Posting photos and videos
  • Allowing you to regularly update your clients

Network with the Local Business Community

Every business owner will know the value of networking when starting out, but even established businesses can benefit from attending networking events. You can meet new potential clients, and even find out whether some local businesses could work for you. From accountants to tradespeople, everyone can benefit from getting to know the local business community, and this can lead to long-term business relationships.

It’s easy to find events for local business owners, and they’re usually free or cheap to attend. This could be business breakfasts or coffee mornings, which give you plenty of time to mingle, and often have interesting, useful talks.

Get Added to a Directory

Many people will use a directory rather than a search engine if they want local results, and therefore it’s important to add your business for free to the Thomson Local directory. This means people will be able to search by business type and location, and easily find your company. Being in the directory can also help get you higher in search engine results, so make sure your details are always kept up to date.

Use Traditional Marketing too

Most companies now focus on advertising online, which can be very effective, but if you’re looking for local customers then it’s good to also use more traditional techniques. Both on and offline marketing can compliment each other, and help bring locals to your business. Certain demographics of customers might prefer the older methods so it’s important to also cater for them.

Some more traditional marketing that you could try locally could include:

  • Dropping leaflets through doors
  • Giving out business cards
  • Putting up signs or billboards
  • Face to face

It’s usually a combination of these things that will be most effective so it’s worth looking into the different types of marketing mediums that you can use.

Become part of the Local Community

People like to use businesses that are involved in the local community, and it’ll help you build a more positive profile for your brand. Local business owners will often sponsor local events, or offer prizes at school fêtes or charity drives. This is a cheap and easy way to get the word out about your business and to build an excellent reputation.

Some businesses will also have stalls at local fairs or markets, and this can be a good way to reach a new audience who might not otherwise pass your premises. If you’re selling goods in a shop, or have opened a restaurant, then setting up a stall will give you a chance to give them a sample of the products or foods that you offer.

Consider opening a Physical Location

If you are an online retailer, you might not think you need a physical shop space, but if you want to attract locals this will really help. You might want to consider opening a physical shop where they can browse, as this will attract passing trade. It can also bring in people from further afield who want to see products before they buy, and is great for tradespeople as it can act as a showroom for some of their more expensive items.

Get Prominent Signage

If you’re in a location with lots of people passing, then having a prominent sign will help attract more people to your business. It’ll also mean that people who may not have heard of you before will have the chance to look you up. You might also want to consider using billboards or signs to direct people to your premises, so find out about advertising rates in the local area.

Consider Local Advertising

Whether it’s the local radio station or the local paper, there are lots of ways to get the word out about your business, and this can be much cheaper than advertising nationally. It can set you up as a well known local brand, and could really increase your profile in the community, so it’s worth considering allocating some of your marketing budget for purely local adverts.

Many companies are keen to attract the attention of locals, but it can be difficult, especially if you’re new to an area. It’s best to focus on a mixture of traditional and modern marketing techniques, as this will cover lots of different demographics and help raise your profile. You should also look at things such as networking and supporting the local community as this can benefit your own business. By doing these things you may find more work coming in from the local area, and can enjoy being part of the business community.…

Continue Reading →

5 Free Tools to Help Small Business Owners With Organization and Communications

If you’ve started your own business, you probably find yourself working more hours than ever before and covering a broader range of responsibilities. Maybe you can’t afford to hire additional staff, but you can work smarter by taking advantage of free tools that will help you communicate better and stay organized. These are 5 services you may want to start using if you don’t already have them.

  1. Google Voice (google.com/voice): You can teach an old phone new tricks. Add some nifty free phone features to any computer or mobile device using Google Voice. It works with any phone or carrier. One of the most popular features is “One Number” that provides you with a single number that will ring you anywhere on any device. There’s also online voicemail that delivers transcribed messages straight to your inbox. Meanwhile, “Cheap Calls” offer free calls and text messages in the U.S. and Canada and very competitive rates for other parts of the world. Last month, Google Voice announced they’ve taken their first step in response to heavy demand for Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) support. Google Voice users can now receive pictures and other multimedia attachments from Sprint subscribers and arrangements are underway with other mobile operators.
  2. Skype (skype.com): Skype has over 600 million registered users so it’s one easy way to cut your phone bills fast. You can call other Skype users for free and get low rates for calling other landline and cell phones. Many additional features are also offered including instant messaging, file transfers and videoconferencing. Pick the service best for you by comparison shopping between Skype and its competitors like Empathy and Google Talk. You may also want to talk with your network administrator if you have any concerns about security and bandwidth usage.
  3. Phonevite (phonevite.com): If you like broadcast email you’ll love broadcast voicemail. It works about the same way. Set up an account and you can leave a voicemail message for multiple people all at once. It’s great for reminders and alerts.
  4. Dropbox (dropbox.com): Dropbox is one of the most popular online backup and storage programs. Like they say, bring your documents and files anywhere and share them easily. You can access your files from multiple computers and create separate folders for information you want to share and information you need to keep private.
  5. Google Tasks (http://mail.google.com/mail/help/tasks/): Organize your to do lists and tasks. Gmail lets you convert emails into tasks. Create tasks with due dates and they’ll automatically display on your Google calendar. Use iGoogle to add a tasks gadget to your personalized homepage.

Continue Reading →

How to achieve a great work life balance

Have you not been feeling inspired at work lately? If you have been floating around in the doldrums for a while, chances are good that you have been spending too much time with your nose pressed against the grindstone.

A simple vacation might recharge your batteries temporarily, but if you repeatedly end up watching the clock until it strikes 5, it’s obvious that you are in need of a better work-life balance.

You’re far from the first person to experience this problem, as Marc J Leder, owner of Sun Capital, which is a leading private equity firm in Boca Raton, Florida, grappled with the same issues just a couple of years ago.

However, he has found a better balance between life and work in 2016, and so can you. Below, we have put together several steps that will help you re-structure your job and life so that they can work better together.

1) Be honest about your needs

The first step to attaining a superior work-life balance is to be completely honest with your employer about your current situation. You’re no good to your boss if you are in a constant state of burnout, so be sure to advise them of this before your reduced productivity is chalked up to something else.

Your managers aren’t mind readers, so tell them what’s going on and you’ll be on the right path towards a healthier work-life relationship.

2) Schedule downtime like an appointment

If you are self-employed, the temptation to work all the time can be hard to resist. There is always something you can busy yourself with, and there’s always another dollar to chase. After a while, work takes over your life, and even though you know you should be relaxing, you feel pangs of guilt when you aren’t doing something productive.

If you find yourself in this situation, you need to start treating ‘me’ time like a client. Block it off in your calendar, making this appointment one you shouldn’t ever miss. While this can be hard for some people to stick to, your physical/mental health and your loved ones will thank you for it years down the road.

3) Figure out what matters to you

If you haven’t taken significant time off in a while, it is possible that you will have no idea what to do with yourself with no work to distract you. In order to head this problem off at the pass, figure out what you would do everyday if you had a hundred million dollars in the bank.

If you are still stuck, ask yourself, ‘What did I do before my profession began to take up so much time in my life?’. Start doing that thing again, and then go from there.

4) Don’t let work creep back into your downtime

One of the hardest things about maintaining a good work-life balance is maintaining it. Tipping too far to the relaxation side of the scale is a common fear of chronic workaholics. After exploring the alien world of ‘free time’ for a while, they falsely perceive that they’ve slacked off too much, leading them to dive head-first back into their work.

As a result, it’s often best to start by scheduling just a little bit of free time back into your schedule at first before eventually getting to where you should be.…

Continue Reading →

How to Properly Look After Yourself if You Have a Busy Job

Life is full of stresses. This is true for people at all levels of an organization, from the janitor to the CEO. Many people even say that they are married to their job, although Charles Phillips says his work is his mistress instead. That gives a clearer division between his personal and professional life. It is a well known fact that people work too many hours and are getting increasingly stressed. This actually goes to the detriment of their productivity, which is why it is so important for people to actually take a break and get a balance that is healthy for their mind, body, and soul. For Charles Phillips, Infor CEO, this starts with looking after yourself as well, a message he makes very clear to his staff.

A Healthy Lifestyle

A number of things are promoted strongly at Infor, thereby ensuring that people are healthy, happy, and productive. These things include:

  • Eating a healthy diet. The best diet in the world is the Mediterranean diet. This includes lean protein, fresh fruits, and vegetables. The diet has been proven to increase wellbeing and stamina. Furthermore, it means eating small bites more often, and this means regularly taking a break.
  • Sleeping enough. When people are tired because they don’t get enough sleep, they also become more stressed. One thing that seems to be disrupting sleep is using electronic devices before bedtime, due to the blue light. This is why even Charles Phillips, a man who seems permanently attached to his two (!!!) cellphones, puts them down at least one hour before bedtime.
  • Relaxing and having fun. Life was made for living, not working. It is all too easy for a job to become all consuming, and for personal life to suffer as a result. Everybody should have a personal hobby, one that they may share with friends of family members, and they should allow themselves the time to partake in this hobby.
  • Charles Phillips and his wife Karen have set up the Phillips Charitable Organizations to engage in philanthropic activities. While most people don’t have the financial capabilities for this, volunteering is something anyone could and should do to increase their personal wellbeing while helping others at the same time.
  • Building a support system at work. Sometimes, things happen and there are reasons as to why you can’t come into work. If you have a support system in place, you can cover for each other so you don’t come back to a huge workload when you return. Simply return the favor when it is your colleague’s turn to have an emergency.

Do You Need Professional Help?

Most of us get stressed, or even overly stressed. Sometimes, however, things really get too much and you do need a bit of extra help. The risk of burnout is very real, and this can leave you unable to work for very lengthy periods of time. Most employers now have direct links to counseling services or other mental health providers, so that you can speak to someone in confidence before things get too bad.…

Continue Reading →

Ways to Make Your Business Standout – Create Business Growth

Being a business owner is hard work. There is so much competition out there these days, and in the age of online sales, having a brick and mortar business is especially challenging. It is more important than ever to get your business to stand out from the crowd. It can be difficult to know what steps to take, but consider trying these ideas to help bring in new business. 

Exceptional Customer Service

These days, companies rely heavily on online reviews. Most people are going to look you up before they do business with you, and if you have mostly bad reviews, they will probably move on to someone else. The fact of the matter is, some customers are just difficult to deal with. As a business owner, you have to know how to handle even the most challenging of clients. Have procedures in place, and regularly train your employees on what excellent customer service looks like. If you have a particularly angry customer, it is always a good idea to deal with it yourself. Customers are more likely to feel like you value their feedback if you handle troublesome situations yourself. 

Have the Right Products

Always make sure you are selling quality products. If what you sell consistently breaks or has issues, your customers will not be happy. If you sell food products, always make sure you take the highest safety precautions possible so that your food does not become a hazard. Follow food laws, and keep your food at the right temperature with refrigeration or by using the proper hot food display equipment. Selling quality products is important, but you also want to make sure that you are selling the right products to the right people. Understanding your target market and what they want is essential in business. 

Give Back

As a business owner, it is important to give back to your community. Sponsor school sports teams or other community events. Launching a charity drive at your store can bring in new customers, and you will be helping out those in need at the same time. You can also look into partnering with other small businesses to help each other out. 

Running a business is never an easy job, but it can be very rewarding in the long run. Always make sure you are being socially conscious and doing right by your customers. Valuing your customers and taking pride in what you sell can help your business last for years to come. …

Continue Reading →

Tips to Expand Your Business

Honestly, the statistics about the rate at which small businesses fail differ from each source to source.  It’s possibly attributable to the various definitions of what constitutes a small business.  Nevertheless, no matter the source, the stats are not in the favor of small businesses succeeding.  A substantial amount fail within the first two years.  The numbers get better as the years progress, but only marginally.  Yet there are some small business owners who are lucky enough to wonder not how they will keep their business afloat, but as to how they are going to expand.  Here are some tips for those owners.

Open Another Location

It may be expensive, but it’s also the most obvious.  Still, be careful before implementing this action.  Make sure your bottom line can survive it, and only do it if you’ve shown steady progress over a course of a few years.

Go Online

Honestly, with the exception of shallow pockets, there’s no reason a business shouldn’t have a website.  The amount of online commerce done accelerates year after year.  As Bill Gates once said, “There will be only two kinds of businesses: Those with an internet presence and those with no business at all.”  And that was back in 2002.

Franchise

If you’re not adverse to giving up some control in how your business works, this is a feasible option.  Make sure you fall in with the right people; Join the International Franchise Association, and they will lead you in the right way.

Expand Your Market

Don’t just multiply what you already have; look into other things your business can do.  Be mindful of your target consumer, and do extensive research as to what that consumer may want.

Win a Government Contract

It requires a lot of work, but it is absolutely worth it.  The federal government has been the best customer for small business America over the last ten years.  The Small Business Association and your Chamber of Commerce will help you target the best contracts.

It’s understandably nerve-racking to expand your business, but the rewards you can reap can be worth it for sure.…

Continue Reading →

Simple Advice To Help You Grow Your Small Business Site

Building a small business site is not at all as simple as you may believe. While it is not at all difficult to locate a service that will bring you the design that you need, make sure that you also think about how to promote it before you actually start it. Launching a site without actually thinking how to promote it is always a bad idea since it is possible to end up faced with various misunderstandings. Always have patience when you create your promotional strategy.

Because of the fact that we are talking about a small business website, there is a pretty good possibility that your budget is limited. With this in mind, the use of link building services is something that you will want to consider at a later point in time. You can easily start with the following moves.

Make Sure You Blog

This is the first advice that should be remembered by every single small business site owner. Most company owners think that the site is basically useful only for presenting information about the firm. That is not actually the case. You have to create as much content as possible in order to grow the site as fast as possible. Always think about opening a blog and try to write at least 2 articles per week. Share them through all available channels.

Take Advantage Of Social Media

Social media is really important for any small business site. It is vital that you always do all that you can in order to build a very good social media presence because most of your visitors will be present there. They have accounts and you can actually reach them with a really small investment, which is always a huge advantage that a small business owner can easily take advantage of. It is surprising to notice how many small businesses do not actually use social media.

Promote Your Site On Marketing Materials

If you have a small business site, it needs to be present on absolutely all the marketing materials that a company uses. This ranges from online materials like digital ads to printed materials like flyers or brochures. It is so easy to simply add a line with the address of the site. That is all that you have to do. It is not at all difficult to end up with more free traffic simply because of that one extra line.…

Continue Reading →

Expand Your Business through Co Working

Expanding a business is one of the most viable ways to ensure success in today’s ever changing world. This is not always an easy task, especially when there are so many factors that must be in place to do so. If you are trying or have tried to expand your business or career, you know just how much time and money is necessary to see any growth at all. Creating this wealth can be difficult and stressful if you aren’t quite sure where to start.

A great place to begin your journey is having a sound workplace to build your brand from. Coworking is the latest and greatest in the way professionals around the globe are choosing to work. When coworking, you share an office space with individuals that come from different backgrounds who all bring something different to the table.

The fact that you are working in a shared space with dozens of other like-minded individuals not only makes you more productive, but will build your personal and professional networks. DeskHub, a leader in the coworking industry, says, “Coworking allows you to be continuously surrounded by accomplished professionals who will in some way contribute to your business. The individuals who work in shared spaces become a tight knit community who are always supporting and helping out one another.” The person sitting next to you will undoubtedly contribute to your business in some way and may become a potential client, employee, or partner. Collaborations are always eminent in a shared space, and because everyone in the space comes from a unique background, these may not be otherwise possible.

Another huge plus to coworking while trying to expand is how reasonably priced shared spaces are. Because you are splitting the cost of a workplace with other individuals, the price to rent daily or monthly are greatly reduced. This is a great way to cut costs in one area in order to better use funds somewhere else, without compromising on quality. Shared spaces are in high traffic, convenient areas, whose real estate may be out of the budget when renting or buying a space of your own. They also decked out in all the necessary amenities, like coffee and food bars, wireless access, and print, fax, and mail machines, to name a few. Owning a work space can also be extremely stressful when having to worry about the maintenance and upkeep of the area. Coworking eliminates this hassle, allowing you to spend time where it is needed most.

If you are at the beginning of your business venture, you may have tried working out of the house or at a local coffee shop or library. These places are filled with distractions and decrease productivity immensely. DeskHub explains, “When working in a shared space the people and area itself is inspiring. There are no outside distractions and the space has been designed with how every individual works best, in mind. No matter if you prefer a locked office or open seating with lounge chairs, coworking will allow you to be at your best all the time.”

Coworking is a fantastic solution to professionals in every sector looking to build their business. Whether you work alone or in a team, shared spaces are beneficial to everyone involved. To learn more about coworking and its advantages, visit http://deskhub.com.…

Continue Reading →

Ongoing Employee Education 5 Can’t Miss Opportunities

In today’s fast-paced world, even a fresh college education is quickly outdated. It’s crucial for businesses to find smart ways to stay ahead. Incorporate ongoing education in your business practices to ensure your employees stay on top of the latest innovations in their areas. Make sure everyone in your company is aware of these valuable learning opportunities.

Massive Open Online Courses

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are free online classes that are available to the public. These are available through numerous sources including iTunes and college websites. MOOCs allow you to get an education from top schools like Yale, Harvard, or MIT without the competitive enrollment process and expensive tuition. Make sure your employees are aware of MOOCs and encourage participation in these cost-free learning opportunities, especially where they’re relevant to your business.

Virtual Training for New Technology

Technology’s fast pace necessitates ongoing training to keep up with the latest programs and updates. It’s crucial for your employees to understand all the functionality and features of your core systems. Any time you implement new technology, make sure you’re seeking out training opportunities that will teach everyone how to leverage the new tool or system. Virtual training is available for many software programs through resources like Microsoft Virtual Academy. Keeping employees educated is the best way to make sure your technology is properly utilized and protected.

Major Conferences

Image via Flickr by juokaz

Conferences are a valuable source of training and education. These gatherings present the latest innovations and offer fresh ideas for how you can stay ahead. Industry conferences focused on your niche will cover information that’s relevant to nearly anyone in the company.

You’ll also find conferences targeted to specific types of professionals, such as sales associates, marketing professionals, and graphic designers. If you see untapped potential in some of your employees, consider finding the appropriate conferences and sending them as a valuable way to build their skill sets and bring innovative ideas back to the company.

Non-Credit College Courses

Non-credit courses differ from traditional college courses in that they’re typically designed to stand on their own and apply to a broad range of learners. They’re often cheaper and more flexible than credit courses because they’re not part of a degree program. Non-credit courses, or continuing education courses, are simply classes your employees can elect to take for the sole purpose of expanding their knowledge base. These are an outstanding way to build your employees’ skill bases and increase their value and contributions in the workplace.

Employee Initiatives

If you’re looking for a fresh new way to spread knowledge within your organization, consider tasking your employees with sharing their skills. Offer incentives for those who are willing to develop and lead their own training sessions. You may be surprised at the hidden skills that emerge, from SEO expertise to research capabilities. Sharing knowledge between departments is a powerful way to expand everyone’s skill sets.

Ongoing education is valuable to both the employee and employer. Encourage everyone in your company to pursue new learning opportunities as often as they can, and consider carving out time during the work week to encourage ongoing education.…

Continue Reading →

Does Your Business Need a Podcast?

Podcasting could be a tool to spark growth in your business. Here is an overview of what podcasting is, why it is great for business, and tips for starting out.

What is podcasting?

Simply put, a podcast is audio content. Some podcast shows may seem similar to a radio show – you can find podcasts where one or more people discuss ideas or events, for example. Unlike a radio show, all you need is some basic computer equipment and an internet connection to make one.

You don’t have to live in a certain area or tune in at a specific time to listen to a podcast, either. Instead, you download episodes from the Internet to a media device, like an iPod, and listen to them on demand.

How can it help your business?

Podcasting can help your business expand its reach online. Good podcasts offer useful, interesting content, which can pay off for the business generating them. Done well, a podcast can heighten awareness of your brand, help you develop connections with customers, reinforce your role as an expert in your field, and drive listeners to your website.

3 Tips for getting started

  1. Consider your audience. Who do you think will download your podcasts? What are their needs and interests? Then, think about which topics you are most passionate about sharing. Hopefully, you will find at least a handful of subjects that you would be excited to share and that your audience will love. Those topics should serve as the foundation of your show.
  2. Buy a quality microphone. You don’t have to splurge on the best one in the industry, just something that captures audio clearly. Podcasts filled with volume fluctuations and static not only sound unprofessional, but these distractions also make listening to your show difficult. Few listeners will download multiple episodes of barely audible content.
  3. Ensure you have enough time to produce shows regularly – daily, every few days, or weekly is ideal. Plan a schedule and stick to it. Listeners are more likely to return if content is fresh and available at regular intervals.

Podcasting is yet another weapon in a business’s digital marketing arsenal. Creating informative podcasts regularly can improve the visibility and reputation of your business, while helping develop connections with customers.…

Continue Reading →