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.

 

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.

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.

 

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.

 

The Art Of Delegation

 

When you have created your own company from scratch, built off nothing but your ideas and your determination to succeed, the idea of delegation can seem like a scary word. When you begin in business, almost everything is about you and how well you can do it. It’s your vision, your plans, and your way of figuring out what your next steps are.

If you are very lucky, then the growth of your business will be rather straightforward. You’ll make more money, satisfy more orders, increase your reputation and everything will rather bloom from there. Business, when it’s done right, doesn’t have to be complicated.

When you get over the initial problems of establishing a business, it can feel like you have got smooth sailing from this point on. You’ve cruised past the choppy waters of investment hurdles and now you’re into your second or third year. You know what you’re doing, your business is ripe for expansion, you’ve even been able to take on staff… ah, that’s where the problem hits isn’t it?

You have been there since your business was nothing but an idea you had and wondered if you could do something with it. Now, you have staff, people who have their own visions for the future. You have to share everything you have built up and – well, it can be tough to let go.

 

What’s The Alternative?

Say that you point-blank refuse to listen to the points below and think that you can manage just fine without having to delegate to staff. You might think that you can be the spider at the centre of the web and everyone can do a little bit, but you’re always going to be there with overall control. You don’t have to relinquish anything; you can do it all.

 

That, of course, is what it will come down to: you’ll try to do it all. You’ll try to be everything to your business as even if you have the staff, without learning to delegate, you won’t properly feel that you can trust them. So you’ll find yourself overly involved in customer complaints, trying to run your own SEO campaign, worrying about how nutritious the office snacks are…

No one can be everything to their business. There isn’t an alternative; you have to learn to delegate, or your business will die. It’s that simple.

 

So How Do You Learn To Delegate?

1) Take It Slowly

Don’t expect that you will suddenly wake up one morning and feel comfortable handing over control to a member of staff on huge issues. You still retain your business acumen and you’ve still got plenty to contribute here, so there’s no need to deliberately sideline yourself.

Just start gently, with small tasks and decisions. Ask for someone’s input and (providing they are not absolutely and obviously incorrect), follow their advice rather than looking for your own solutions. You will soon see that the business doesn’t crumble because you have let others use their initiative, rather than solely relying on your own. The more successes that happen as a result of your delegation, the more you will be emboldened to continue to delegate.

 

2) Have Red Lines

If you have struggled to delegate in the past, even by taking it slowly, it’s unlikely you’re going to be able to totally overrule your gut instinct to protect. So you need to channel it, by giving yourself a set of “red lines” that you will never delegate tasks from unless you feel completely comfortable to do it.

 

You could grant yourself the full final control of hiring decisions or the focus of your SEO strategy; you can be as involved as you want, providing there are some areas where you cede control and decision-making powers to another person. With any luck, you’ll feel more reassured when you know there are some areas that will continue to fall inside your control.

 

3) Tell Your Staff

 

You don’t have to be infallible with your staff; you can tell the most senior that you are having issues delegating and that they should be aware of that. Not only does this ease the burden of worry from being yours alone, but they might have intelligent suggestions related directly to your business that could really help you. You never know – it might be delegation itself that gives you the answer when wondering how to delegate.

 

The Fundamental Skills To Look For In A New Payroll Professional

 

What matters most in your firm? Is it exceeding your profit margins? Is it keeping your shareholders happy? Is it having positive customer relations? All of these are surely very high on your list, as they should be. But what makes a firm operate day-to-day? Of all the ingredients that go into making an enterprise pie, which, when taken out of the recipe, would cause the pie to collapse in on itself?

The employees.

Good employee management is one of the most underrated aspects of keeping a workforce operational. Over time, little problems can develop into significant problems. A missed payment here, a too much overtime, or even too little positive reinforcement can lead your employees to think that they are undervalued, underappreciated and overworked. It’s not hard to imagine that over time, this can results in them leaving or even litigated against your for the money they’re owed.

To best tackle this, it’s important to have solid payroll systems in place. There are many ‘payroll software’ packages available these days to help you automate this to some degree, but for the most part, software isn’t going to have a single hope of navigating the nuances of employee personality or particular situation that needs to be rectified. For that reason, it’s important to hire great payroll consultants. But what should you look for in a new payroll employee?

We’d argue these 3 skills.

Communication

 

Your payroll employee should not only be on top of his or her game when it comes to the nuances of payroll, how it can be effected and the remedies that should be taken to counteract. Not only that, but the consultant in question needs to be able to articulate simply what they are doing to rectify those issues with you as owner and the employee who is affected.

 

They need to be amiable and approachable about these issues, and leave the employee feel like they are better educated about what happened and that they received a stable fix. In circumstances that can’t be resolved for a time, they need to help keep your staff patient and positive knowing that a fix is on the way.

Promptness

Paying your employees needs to be resolved quickly. If an employee is unhappy about the speed to which their query was settled, they will let you know about it, and in no uncertain terms. It’s for this reason that your payroll consultant needs to understand the importance of the work they do, and how fast their turnaround should be in new calculations if needs be. For managing larger teams, they need to be deadly organized, to the point where their work might look like a military operation. Be sure to ask for examples of when they’ve resolved issues promptly before now for best success.

 

Mathematical & Digital Fluency

Of course, it goes without saying that your payroll employee needs to be good with numbers, and able to calculate in aggregate salaries, taxes, insurances, etc. However, they also need to be suitable to work with the aforementioned software packages that are popular within their discipline. Ask them for their computer program experience. A qualified professional should be able to grapple with the most important systems you need.

 

Follow these tips, and you’ll find a brilliant payroll hire in no time.

 

Making Checks & Taking Care: The Detailed Approach To Business

A business needs to constantly tow the line when it comes to trying to promote a positive image of itself. Yet this can often be surprisingly hard to do, especially in today’s fast-paced business culture. If your business is just getting off the ground and you are starting to worry about this side of things, it might be helpful to think about before you really get your teeth stuck in. In this article, we are going to take a look at some particular examples of when it really helps to take extra care in business. These might be times when failing could mean disaster or your business immediately, or just when it would be particularly pertinent to be careful. Let’s have a look.

 

Dealing With A Customer Complaint

All businesses receive complaints from time to time. This in itself in normal, and completely unavoidable to a certain degree. The way in which you deal with your complaints, however, is likely to show what kind of a business it is, and it will set the tone for whether or not customers tend to respect the way you do things. So how can you show extra care in this particular situation? Mostly, it is about showing that you genuinely care about the customer’s concern. You need to have strongly trained customer services staff who are adept at dealing with whatever customers might throw their way. You should also have a system in place for deciding how you apologise to customers, so that nobody feels unfairly treated. If you can deal with a complaint well, it bodes very well for your business indeed.

 

Hiring Staff

The people you have on board are among the most important things in the whole business. You need to be confident that you can trust them with every aspect of their job – even if it takes a little training first to get them there. The most important thing here then is to take care during the recruitment process. Above all, it is a matter of trust. It’s worth taking out DBS Checks from uCheck so that you can be entirely certain about the individual’s integrity, and whether or not you feel you can trust them in your workplace. But it’s not just about their background. It’s also a matter of taking care in terms of the whole recruitment process itself, working to ensure that you do not rush into it and that you really do end up with the best people for the job.

 

Finding Advertising Spots

At some point, you need to think about where you are going to advertise your business. If you have never had to think about this before, you might be surprised at just how difficult it can be to find decent spots. There is a main reason that you need to take special care here – you want your business to only associate with other businesses which you feel reflect well on the brand. So if your advertising partner is in the middle of some ethical dilemma, you might want to part ways.

The Importance Of Securing Your Brand Presence

When you’re starting a new business, you need to stand out. There are so many people who are taking matters into their own hands nowadays and venturing out on their own. While you may have an innovative idea, it can easily be pinched if you don’t patent it quick enough; or if it’s unpatentable, there is probably somebody out there doing exactly the same thing. It is important to establish your brand as soon as you can and in the most effective way possible. But for those who are beginners in business, how do you go about it?

 

Why Do You Need Branding?

All of the most successful corporations and businesses around the world have a branding that they stick to. Whether it’s the red colour of Coca Cola, the golden arches of McDonalds or the sleek, monochrome label of Chanel, these are all things that matter – and that’s just the logos. Branding is so much more than that. It incorporates your whole image, how you look and interact with your customers. You make a statement with your personal brand and create an image which is synonymous with what your business is about.

 

Setting Your Brand

If you aren’t creative or artistically gifted, and don’t have ideas jumping out at you about how to best engage customers, looks for an innovative company such as Iconic Brand to give you some ideas about how to get started. What you are looking for is the ability for these companies to give you something that customers from your target demographic are going to want to invest in and remain loyal to. With so many different options to choose from nowadays, they need to invent an exciting and exhilarating concept for your customers to really cling onto. Everything from the copy used to the graphics displayed need to be bang on in terms of driving potential buyers over to your business.  

 

Budgeting

 

The bigger the budget, the bigger the brand. It’s a cold, hard truth that money talks, especially within marketing and when trying to stake your claim on an already expansive market. See how much money you have to play with when it comes to branding, and make sure that you are putting it towards the right place. A lot of companies are now gearing towards the innovative experience that certain brands offer; you may be familiar with brands like Walls and Marmite who have done everything from pop-up shops to shutting down the whole of Regent Street in London UK to offer potential customers an immersive concept. While smaller businesses may not be able to achieve that level of interaction, especially when starting out and not having established a brand to that extent, it is definitely something to aim for and shows a relatively new way of looking at how branding can be so specific and relative, really hitting on the niche of nostalgia. When people invest their feelings into your brand, they are parting with a whole lot more than you think – it’s time to hold on to that.