Are You Getting A Good ROI From Your Marketing Agency?

 

If you are clever, you will outsource certain jobs to third parties and marketing is one of those jobs. The reason it is a smart move is that outsourcing is cheaper and also increases standards. So, it is pretty vital to any modern business that is looking to boost their market share. However, going into partnership with an agency does not guarantee success because there are pitfalls. As such, it is possible to waste money in the long run. If that doesn’t appeal, the good news is you can ensure a healthy ROI with the following advice.

 

Choose Wisely

The first step is to pick an agency that will deliver. Now, it is a lot easy to say this than to do it, yet it isn’t impossible. The key is to carry out extensive research to cover all of the bases. For example, you want a partner that understands the business and the importance of continuity. Because you can’t trust a website to be biased, you have to reach out to neutral sources such as previous customers. Their feedback is a great tool as they have no reason to lie. As such, you can treat whatever they say as true. If it corroborates, then you are one step closing to pulling the trigger. If it doesn’t, it’s back to the drawing board.

 

 

Draw Up A Clear Brief

Probably the greatest mistake companies make when outsourcing is delegating. That sounds stupid because outsourcing is a form of delegation. Still, there are levels, and getting the right balance is an art. Quite simply, you shouldn’t say they know more about online marketing so they are in charge. Yes, they have more expertise when it comes to execution, but they don’t have a greater understanding of the business. That is why it is vital that you set out your vision and provide them with a clear brief. Then, they can follow your instructions and hit the goals you set out.

 

Communicate

Another error is to leave the outsourcer to their devices and wait for results. This isn’t a great tactic because it doesn’t encourage communication. And, there is no way to know whether both parties are on the same page without speaking. Therefore, it is essential that you call or email them once or twice a week to check in. Also, organize a meeting so they can show you where they are in the process. By doing this, there is no room for them not to be productive.

 

 

Be Flexible

On the flip side of the argument, there is no need to be a client from hell. After all, there has to be a level of trust once you sign on the dotted line. Otherwise, there is no point in hiring them in the first place. To get the balance, you must be flexible. For example, don’t set strict targets that are impossible to hit. Or, give them space to work freely and come up with ideas.

 

Face it  – it’s never easy to be creative with the boss breathing down your neck.

The Slashdot Effect And Why It Could Bring Down Your Business

What do you think the biggest threat to your business is? Is it your competitors? Is it technology? Gentrification? Lack of customers? There are plenty of huge threats that could face up to a business of any size. Threats that can limit a business’s business. Threats that could knock a business out of business and threats that could make business life pretty tough indeed. Success is actually one of these threats, believe it or not. If your business isn’t ready for a boom in business, it could seriously suffer. If supply cannot meet demand, people will forget about your business and move on.

You might not want to believe it, but if your business isn’t ready for success, it will suffer. Not acting in the correct manner when your business is experiencing success could be something that sinks your business. If you’re doing all the right things except preparing for increased business, you might be preparing for a disaster.

Being strangled by success? It is best exemplified by the ‘slashdot effect‘ or ‘slashdotting’.  The name of this issue actually comes from the fact that the site Slashdot.com would link to websites and shut down back in the mid 00’s. This happens when a big website links to a smaller website, which will obviously lead to a potential overload for the smaller site if traffic spikes. When the traffic spikes because of the link between a large site and a smaller site (your business will almost always be the smaller site – compared to Reddit and big news sites of course), this can overload a site causing it to slow down. The worst case scenario? The site will shut down and become unavailable because of the overload.  The name of this issue can change – depending on the site that links. It can be known as the Reddit effect, being ‘Drudged’ or being ‘farked’. The problem here is that plenty of sites simply cannot keep up with the huge spikes in traffics that come from being linked – this is because it can happen out of the blue. A failure here can be caused by a lack of bandwidth, poor servers, a lack of server space, a poor host, higher than expected traffic and high requests.

 

How can this happen to you? Well, if a big site or blog (especially one like Reddit that consists of submissions from users) submits a story that focuses around you, your products or your business and includes a link to your websites, that can mean a huge rush of readers might click onto your site at exactly the same time. This flood can really push your servers to a limit and might just bring your site down. This is bad news, especially when you consider the fact that most of these readers will simply click onto your site out of interest, rather than a desire to do business. When this happens, and a site cannot cope, the site is unreachable. When this happens, your website cannot do business. While you should cherish the attention, the viral nature of the internet, linking and sharing means it could come at an unexpected time. If you’re unprepared, you’ll miss out.

 

How do you combat the ‘hug of death’ then? Well, you need to prepare for it. If you’re aiming high, you must be considering success at some point. Even if you don’t hit those heights, it is always worth laying the groundwork in advance. If you fail to prepare, you’ll be preparing to fail! Always prepare for the best and worst case scenarios and you won’t be caught short, will you? If you’ve got no plans in place, you’ll have to improvise – if there is something we want to avoid in the world of business, it is constant improvisation. It’s a valued skill, but not in this area.

 

If you believe your site might go viral, or be linked to by a bigger site – you need to lay the groundwork right now. That groundwork? It is all in your web hosting.

Websites are not unlimited in the space that they have available. Server space and online hosting bandwidth dictate the amount of room available to an online website. This isn’t physical space, but it very much is physical in theory. It works the same as a store in a mall – you can only hold a certain amount of customers before things get packed, then a line needs to form outside of the store, allowing one person in when one person leaves. This is very much how online sites work – you have your server space and bandwidth allowance, and that’s the digital space you have available. If you exceed this, the site suffers.

 

If you experience an issue, you need a web host that acts fast. One where you can call up and ask for space to meet the demand and get your site fixed up fast. If you’ve already got a great host, good for you! If not, check this out of the best web hosts UK list on MangoMatter so you can upgrade your host and get the best storage on offer. Your website will suffer if you don’t have a flexible and active host, and unfortunately plenty of businesses have learned that lesson the hard way.

 

As a business in the online world, you always need to be on your toes. If you’re appealing to people and attracting attention, you need to be prepared for any eventual boost in traffic. You do not want spikes in online traffic to knock you offline. It’s not just worth thinking about! Being knocked offline at a critical time can leave you left behind, and not in a position to capitalise on intense interest in your business and online efforts.

 

Your success in business is often dependant on your ability to adapt. When your business is the focus of an online frenzy, will you sink or will you swim? Always try to adapt to an ever changing landscape and always try to put yourself in the best position possible.

 

Maximizing Profits: Is Your Business Making The Most Of Modern Technology?

The ultimate aim for any business owner is to create a company that makes as much profit as possible. To maximize profits, you have to run your business efficiently, as well as doing everything possible to bring in sales. In this day and age, technology plays an influential role in cost cutting, improving productivity and driving sales, so is your business making the most of modern technology?

Going mobile

Have you noticed how many people you see glued to their phones on the train on the morning commute? Are you guilty of being one of those people who can’t go a minute without checking the home screen? The reality is that most of us devote a huge amount of time to our phones and tablets, and if you haven’t embraced the concept of going mobile yet, you could be missing a trick. People like to do things on the move now, and if your business can’t provide this option, you may lose out to others. Gone are the days when you had to actually go into a shop to buy an outfit or make a call to book a table or a hair appointment. You can do virtually anything online now. If you haven’t got to grips with going mobile yet, now is the time to think about ensuring your website is mobile-friendly and developing an app. Apps are really useful because they enable your clients to do everything they need to do without using a browser and they also act as a marketing feature. Whenever that consumer looks at their phone, your logo will be there, occupying valuable space.

 

Cloud services

If you’re not using the cloud yet, it may be time to think about following in the footsteps of thousands of businesses and switching on-site solutions for cloud-based services. If you’re not familiar with the concept of cloud computing, or you’re not sure whether it would make sense for your company, it’s worth arranging an appointment with an IT consultant. You can find out more about how it works, why it’s so popular, and how it could promote growth and save you money going forward. Sometimes, it isn’t the best option, but there are many reasons why more and more businesses are switching to the cloud every year.

 

Modern marketing

Technology plays a valuable role in enabling businesses to spread the word and put themselves on the map these days. If you’re not already tapping into the wonderful worlds of email marketing, content marketing, and social media campaigns, you may find that changing tack boosts growth considerably. Take advantage of a global audience, provide clients with information through media channels they use on a regular basis, and get people talking. You don’t even have to pay to set up a page, invite people to take a look, and encourage them to visit your website.

 

If you’re keen to maximize profits, investing in and utilizing modern technology can make all the difference. If you’re not taking advantage of everything technology has to offer a contemporary business, embracing new ways of working could propel you to the next level.

 

What Sort of Event Should Your Business Host?

Hosting an event isn’t something that your business does all the time. It’s usually something you will do for a specific purpose, often to help boost your business’s reputation. A corporate event could be one of many things, from a conference with industry professionals to an informal get-together with employees and their families. Hosting an event can help to shake things up a bit and give you some great experience for a variety of different events in the future. If you think it’s time to put something on, have a look at some of these possible event types and what it takes to make them happen.

Conference or Seminar

Putting on a conference or seminar can be a lot of effort, but they’re a popular choice in many industries. The work it requires is worth it if you want to position your company as a leading voice in the industry. It could be something that happens over one day or even just a few hours, or it could be an event that lasts several days. Conferences are excellent for networking and for exchanging information and ideas. But they require strong contacts with companies like Source Me that will help you get everything you need. Arranging it all from the venue to the AV equipment and lighting can take months of work, or even longer.

 

Family Event/Holiday Party

Events that help you connect with your employees are often an excellent choice. They boost morale and act as an incentive for your workers. If you want to improve your employees’ opinions of you, an event for a holiday or just a seasonal party could go down well. Some ideas include having a Christmas party, a Halloween event, a summer BBQ or other fun get-togethers where everyone can get to know each other in a more informal setting. It can help to improve relations and communication in the workplace.

 

 

Product Launch

This is a very specific type of event that you would only host when you have a reason for one, i.e. you’re about to launch a new product. If you’re releasing a new product, putting on a special event to tell everyone what it’s all about helps it to get on the market with a bang. A product launch event is often a good idea if you’re releasing a product your company has designed and it’s significantly impressive to show off. A clothes company might not have one for a single product, although they might for a new line of products, but a phone company might.

 

Charity Event

Getting involved with charities makes businesses look ethical and is a good way to back up the values you say your company has. A charity event could take any number of forms, from a dinner and silent auction to a sports event. It requires just as much work as any other event, but the goal is to raise funds or at least awareness for your chosen charity. It’s important that the charity is a suitable one for your brand, perhaps one you already have connections to.

A business event can be a marketing tool, as well as a way to connect with an industry or community or provide an incentive to employees.

How Does a Business Bounce Back From Adversity?

If you’ve ever tried to run a business in the past, then you’ll know the struggle that’s involved with trying to keep yourself afloat. So many things can go wrong. For instance, you could discover that your business is failing because a new competitor has appeared that promises more than you can offer, or maybe you have a disgruntled employee toying with your business’s reputation in secret. Maybe there’s a storm brewing on social media that is dragging out your company for criticism, or maybe there’s a literal storm coming your way that could shut the power out of your office.

Whatever the situation may be, it’s important to learn how to bounce back from tough situations. To help you out, here are a couple of useful tips to follow.

 

Have a plan ready

 

When misfortune strikes, you want to be ready and waiting so that you can get your business up and running again as soon as possible. For instance, if your company makes regular use of its own transportation vehicles, it might be worth having a fuelbox on your premises to act as a fueling station for the vehicles. This is usually cheaper than filling up the tank at a commercial petrol station, and it’s far more efficient because your drivers won’t need to make a stop at another location in order to get fuel. If you want to take this a step further, then you can also apply it to other parts of your business. For example, if you have a lot of computer hardware in your business, then you might want to consider befriending a local computer repair store that is willing to visit your location to perform on-site diagnosis and repairs. Whatever it is, make sure you have a plan ready for these situations.

 

Have a way to stay in touch

If something horrible happens such as a fire tearing through your building or blackout that knocks out the power, make sure you have a way to continue working. Going mobile is one of the cleanest and efficient ways of continuing a business even if the power’s out. You’ll still have access to mobile internet, you can still browse the internet and speak with customers and clients, and your employees can continue working. This is also important for when your employees or other key members of your company can’t come into work, or if they’re away due to an accident. Make sure you stay in touch with your entire companY and ensure you never lose contact with your customers.

 

 

Accepting and learning from mistakes

People always make mistakes, but what we learn from those mistakes and how we deal with adversity is what defines our companies. There are businesses that have gone through hell and back, only to rise from the ashes and become a business worth talking about. Yet there are also some businesses that fall from grace and find it hard to ever recover their former fame. Whatever happens, make sure you learn from any mistakes you made and try not to throw the blame around on others like your employees or competitors. You are in control of your own fate as a business owner, so you need to learn how to bounce back from adversity.

Eco-Friendly Business Is About More Than Just The Environment

Climate change is a contentious issue at the moment and the majority of researchers agree that we need to be making drastic changes to the way that we do things. There are things that you can do on a personal level like reducing energy uses and trying not to use your car as often, but even if everybody on the planet did that, it wouldn’t solve the problem. Businesses contribute to climate change much more than we do as individuals so it’s more important that businesses become eco-friendly. Business owners are often apprehensive about the idea of going eco-friendly because there’s a perception that it will make your overheads higher and eat into your profits. However, that’s not always the case and there are a lot of changes that you can make which will actually increase profits while they reduce your carbon footprint. If you haven’t started moving towards green business yet, here are a few reasons that you definitely should.

 

 

Paper

Every year thousands of acres of forest are cut down to make paper, most of which is used in offices around the world. It’s a big problem but it doesn’t have to be because there are plenty of ways that you could reduce paper usage easily. Companies like Ricoh Printers can reduce the costs of your printing and you can massively cut down on the amount that you need to print by going digital. You can replace all of the paper correspondence in the office with emails and save yourself thousands every year.

 

Eco-Friendly Goods

Manufacturing processes that aren’t eco-friendly are the biggest hurdle to overcome when it comes to climate change and although it is usually more expensive to produce your goods in an environmentally responsible way, you could lose out if you don’t. Consumers are increasingly demanding eco-friendly goods from companies so if you can’t offer that, they will go elsewhere. The extra manufacturing costs will be outweighed by the increase in sales that you will see if you start going green. Goods and packaging that are made from recycled materials are far more likely to sell than those that aren’t so there’s no use producing goods for a reduced price if you aren’t going to sell any. Customers also like the idea of dealing with a socially responsible business rather than one that doesn’t care about environmental issues.  

 

Energy Usage

There’s no downside to reducing the amount of energy that you use in your offices. It’s great for the environment and your overheads will drop by a huge amount. Making simple changes like installing LED light bulbs instead of standard ones makes a big difference. They’re quite a bit more expensive to install but after a few months you will have made that money back and you’ll start saving. Installing timers on the lights is also a good idea because it means that nobody will leave lights on and cost you money unnecessarily.

 

Tax Relief

In an effort to encourage businesses to operate more responsibly, the government offers certain tax relief if you make steps to improve the carbon footprint of your business. You can get tax breaks for various things including reducing your energy usage and buying eco-friendly manufacturing equipment to use instead of your current process.

When you combine all of these benefits, it’s clear that going green is the right option for your business.

 

Sole Trader? You Need These Marketing Tips, Then!

If there is one thing that sole traders know all about, it’s micro managing their budgets. Starting out alone is not easy and as a sole trader, you are probably going to be hit with deadline after deadline as business begins to snowball. It’s for this reason you have to get smart about your marketing plan.

Being on a budget doesn’t necessarily mean you have to skimp on your marketing budget – you just have to be clever about where you put your money. A lot will depend on the nature of your business as to what you need, whether you require SEO for lawyers as part of setting up your own practice, or you need a website built for your company. You can bolster your marketing plan with a lot of thought and we’ve got five great ways you can do that for your plan next year!

  1. Content Marketing: Sole traders can do more for their business profile by simply investing a little money into content marketing. You can create exciting content that is also compelling if you are a sole accountant, especially around the time to renew taxes. If you are working as a lawyer with your own practice, then you could write content that fits what you offer. Customer engagement is so important and if you can do that while linking it back to your services, you’ll soar in your sole trader business.
  2. Company Website: It takes about five seconds for a company to make a good impression and as everything is moving online, your website should pop. By adding a few more bells and whistles to your website, you can impress future clients and customers at once. Some of the whistles you can offer include live chat services, review platforms and a video explaining who you are and what you do.
  3. Blog: Personality is important for a sole trader – you need to be able to stand out. Starting a company blog about the cases you have dealt with and changes in market trends for your industry can help clients to learn more about you as well as offer you serious credibility.
  4. PR Campaigns: You need to be able to handle your own PR if you are working by yourself, and by having a strong media release and time to put toward your media campaign, you can really make your company shine.
  5. Collaborate: It’s common knowledge that it is cheaper to keep your current customers and clients happy. Collaborating with other businesses similar to your own that offer unrelated services, is a great way to network and learn to nurture your clients in the way your competition does.

Marketing doesn’t have to be difficult for a sole trader, you just have to be willing to learn where you should be putting your money. There’s no reason for you to blow your whole business budget on huge campaigns, it’s about learning where you can be smart about your cash. Sole traders the world over are promoting their businesses effectively with these ideas!

 

Small Business Outsourcing Mistakes You Need To Avoid

 

If you outsource the right way, it can be an excellent method of cutting costs, growing your capacity, and taking advantage of expertise that you usually wouldn’t have access to. However, if you don’t take care, and you’ll usually wind up piling on costs, damaging your rapport with customers, and sometimes driving your business into the ground. Here, we’ll look at some of the most common outsourcing mistakes, and how to steer clear of them.

Outsourcing Functions That Have Contact with the Customer

 

Fulfilment of orders makes contact with the customer, but indirectly, compared to functions like resolving a complaint. Generally speaking, you should try to avoid outsourcing any function that makes direct contact with the customer. There have been countless businesses that outsource customer service functions, and have it blow up in their faces immediately afterwards. As a small, developing business, you can’t afford anything less than outstanding when it comes to customer service! If there’s anything that makes direct contact with your customer base, do everything you can to keep the function in-house. Results may vary, but when you’re in the early stages, this is one risk you don’t want to take.

Not Providing Enough Guidance

Outsourcing is only really successful when it’s guided by a set of rules, instructions and standards. This only becomes a problem when businesses don’t take the time to put this guidance into place. As a general rule of thumb, if you already have set guidance for a certain in-house process, assume that you’ll need double the amount when outsourcing it. You don’t want to have to reach out to professional negligence solicitors just because you leave out one or two crucial details! When you’re running a small business, a lot of rules can go by unwritten for a long time. When outsourcing, everything needs to be written!

Failing to Measure

 

By its nature, outsourcing hides work away from the business owner and their management. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does present a very potent need for measurement. Without a system for measuring performance, you’ll have no real way of telling how much the outsourcing company is doing for you. Determine how you’re going to measure their performance, and periodically check on these metrics. Depending on what you’re outsourcing, you may be able to deploy secret shoppers, and have people experience their work first-hand.

Depending on Them Too Much

You wouldn’t stick to a single supplier for a business-critical material or product, and you certainly shouldn’t do the same when it comes to outsourcing work to companies. What would happen if the company you’re outsourcing to suddenly went bankrupt, or if your activity went through a sudden spike they wouldn’t be able to keep up with? Though you may get comfortable with a business you’ve been outsourcing to for a while, it’s important not to lean on them too much, and to have redundant capacity in place. If you don’t have plans in place for a range of “what if” scenarios, then you’re way too exposed.

 

It’s Never Too Late to Make Changes to Your Business

Whether your business is one year old or one hundred years old, it’s never too late to make changes to it. It’s never too late to take it a new direction. It’s never too late to rebrand it. To do so, you just have to be brave enough to admit that a change is needed. You must then be brave enough to begin the changing process. And once this bravery is garnered, that’s half battle won — but it’s not all the battle won. For advice on how to win the whole battle of making a change, make sure to read on.

 

Change direction

 

Sometimes, when things just aren’t going in the right direction, it’s a good idea to change direction completely. And this is something your business can do, no matter how deep it has gotten into its current direction. To change direction, you must be willing to always be on the lookout for opportunities that are brimming with potential. You must then be willing to adjust and alter your current business strategy in order to facilitate these opportunities. This could mean doing something you’ve never done before, like outsourcing. Or it could mean tweaking the way you generally do business — from the way you train your employees to the prices you set. The point is, you must always look for new opportunities that sprout up organically, and then you must do all you can to incorporate them into your business.

 

Rebrand

 

However, sometimes a whole new direction isn’t needed or necessary. Sometimes, a simple rebranding will do. And rebranding is something that all businesses can do, no matter where they find themselves in their history timeline. And there are many reasons why rebranding takes place: the main one being because the current branding has gone stale or become outdated and a new brand presence needs to be secured. Rebranding is a way of altering perceptions. It is a way of attacking a new market and gardening attention. A corporate branding agency would help you to garner such attention through the rebranding options and ideas they offer. But they wouldn’t just garner attention. No, they would help you to maintain it as well as influence the perceptions of those who give you attention and build loyalty to you within them. Rebranding is something that is pivotal if future growth is in your business plans. And if you want your business to find continued success, then future growth must most certainly be in these plans.

 

Making a change when it comes to your business, no matter how hard it may seem in the present, may turn out to be the linch-pin of its future success. It may turn out to provide you with the goldmine you most desperately need. It may help you brand your business in a way it has never been branded before. Making changes is never a bad thing, in both business and generally in life. So, never be afraid to make them.

 

4 Things That Your Business Website Needs To Succeed

If you have a new business, then marketing will need to be part of your business plan. You could have the best business plan in the world, but if no one knows about you or your product or where to find you, then it will slow the progress of your business quite a lot. Which is why a website for your business is really paramount. Gone are the days of simply just having a website, though. There are many different things that you can do to help give your business a boost, through the use of your website. So here are some things that your business website should be doing, as well as a few tips and tricks.

 

Slick Design

If your website is quite basic and outdated, then it will reflect on what your customers think about the business. The first impression for many people will be the website, so you want it to reflect your brand and give off a good first impression. You need to also think about how responsive your site is and make sure that it is mobile friendly. You also need to think about things like pop-ups or slow loading pages. It might be worth changing host if this is a problem, simply because it will put people off. We live in a fast-paced modern world, and no one has the patience to wait a while for a page to load.

 

A Blog

As well as your main front page of your website that will talk about your brand or product, and perhaps you have a shop or other pages on your site. But a blog needs to be one of those other pages. Having a blog is a great way to share relevant content and potentially attract new customers. Any SEO consulting services will tell you that you’re likely to rank higher on a search engine when you have more backlinks to your website too. So that can be linking to other pages on your blog, as well as previous blog articles you have written. It gives your business a different dimension and increases your visibility. So it is a win-win situation really.

 

Simple Web Address

Don’t over complicate things when it comes to your web address. You need to think about having your web address be the same as your brand or business name. If it is too far off, it will be harder to find. So keep things simple, and it will be easier for your customers to find you.

 

Social Media Details

While having your business contact details on the site is important (a phone number and address), these days you do really need to have details of all of your social media handles. Even better if you can just get an icon that will click through to the platform itself. Many of your customers will be on those platforms and would rather use those for customer service and keeping up to date with things. So they are pretty key these days.