Chief Challenges Business of Today Must Face

Getting operations off the ground is a daunting challenge. Yet, it is just the beginning of a series of trials and tribulations: the process of navigating the market and outmaneuvering the competition. The pace of economic and technological change has never been greater. Great uncertainty and volatility loom over entrepreneurs. It is never easy to discover what customers want and do a better job at delivering that to them than the next company.  This can only come through long-term strategic planning and the ability to solve dynamic challenges on the fly.

Cash flow management

Cash is the king of the business realm and maintaining a steady flow of itis the lifeline of any business. Running dry is always a risk in a less-than-ideal lending climate we operate in, which is to say that businesses need to come up with a rock-solid financial plan. What is more, money management and bookkeeping may require them to hire professionals versed in dealing with financial tasks and obligations, including accounting, taxes and invoices. This can help businesses acquire enough capital, pile up reserves,and anticipate downturns and emergencies ahead of time.

Finding your audience 

Barriers to entering the market are as low as ever. That may be a good thing, but staying in the business long-term is a different ball game entirely.Companies are facing immense competition and consumers are enjoying a wide selection of products and services across different industries. Hence, it is extremely difficult for a new business to find and carve out a profitable niche. What gives you a real fighting chance is extensive market research. It paves the way to a highly-focused approach to catering to people’s wants and needs (your target market).

Marketing on a budget

Marketing wilderness out there is getting rather complex and incredibly crowded. A new channel or tool comes to life almost every day. The bulk of modern brands have an online presence and they are trying to make waves in social media and other booming hubs. Well, the key challenge is to pull it off without breaking the bank or spreading oneself too thin. In other words, you need to figure out which channels hold the biggest potential to arrest and retain the attention of consumers. Then, you craft optimal brand messages to build trust and cultivate loyalty.

Building the right team

People are the glue that holds companies together. To harness the full workforce potential and assemble the best possible team, you have to create a sound recruitment policy, your road map. Look into, but also beyond just skills and experience. Make sure candidates fit your business culture and relate to your vision. Find out what drives them and foster a positive and healthy work environment. Offer enough perks and benefits to attract and retain talent. Keep the engagement, productivity and motivation going.

Reducing the overheads

Expenditures tend to quickly add up and they can melt the budget in no time. The best way to prevent this disaster from shattering your entrepreneurial dreams is to keep the spending in check. So, calculate exactly how much money is coming in and out of your business. Next, identify major problem areas, where you can make savings. There is no shortage of tactics here: working from home, outsourcing instead of hiring full-time, improving power quality to trim electricity bills, buying supplies in bulk, increasing water conservation, etc.

Sow the seeds of success

If you really mean business, you have to compete on more than just price or product quality. Never succumb to the temptation to cut corners or fight on all fronts at once. Take your time planning and fleshing out strategies. Assess risks and tackle problems before they spiral out of control. Get to know your audience and adapt to rapidly-changing preferences. Keep up the pace technological advancements and market trends. You should be able to tap into a steady stream of cash and propel your whole organization forward. 

Diana Smith is a full time mom of two beautiful girls interested in topics related to marketing and latest business trends. In her free time she enjoys exercising and preparing healthy meals for her family.

Losing Focus? How to Identify Your Marketing Audience

Effective marketing is essential to getting your business the exposure it needs to bring in new customers, and to retain old ones. Without careful planning and execution, not only will you fail to increase your business’s exposure, you will also be wasting money on ineffective solutions. One of the greatest pitfalls of marketing is catering to the wrong audience. A skateboarding equipment brand may find sales dropping if their marketing solutions are geared toward the elderly, whereas an in-home care service may find a disinterested audience in younger generations. Your target audience will determine if you should be marketing through newspapers, television ads, YouTube and social media, billboards, and so forth. The following are some tips to help you better identify your audience so that you can focus your solutions into only the most effective campaigns.

Surveys

Putting out a survey can help you gather important demographic information about the types of consumers visiting your website and the kind of products they are interested in buying. Knowing who is already following your product and service will help you better cater to them as well as reach out to more within their demographics. Surveys like these can also help you measure how satisfied your current customers are with your products, and if you need to make changes to better suite their needs and interests. Many television producers, for example, are often surprised to find that the demographic they are marketing toward is very different from the one that is actually watching their content, often resulting in changing the content to better satisfy their majority fan demographics.

Read Visitor Reviews and Comments

Your website should contain areas for product reviews and user comments. While surveys give valuable feedback to you, potential customers are also interested in knowing what works for what demographics. Reviews and comments work both to give your customers an open-ended medium to convey their experience with your company, and to give you insight into what your customers think that interested parties should know before purchasing your products and services. Once you understand the typical customer experience with your company, you can better convey that in your marketing campaigns to paint a satisfyingly accurate preview to future customers.

Customer Profiling

One way to gain significant insight into the audience you are reaching is to do background research on the customers you have. What else are they interested in? What other companies are they looking at within your industry? How is your product or service being used? What other companies are taking an interest in your products and services? This can be difficult to determine when companies and consumers are answering surveys and leaving comments with ambiguous internet personas. Name matching services are available online to help you identify the individuals behind acronyms, usernames, and even foreign characters. It is much easier to build a clear picture of your current demographics when you know who is interacting with your company, and a little research can help you find everything you need to crack the mystery caused by online pseudonyms.

Run a Market Analysis

While marketing to your current customer demographics is very important, it’s also important to seek to expand your audience if you want to bring in greater sales opportunities. Finding new audiences to reach can be difficult, however, because some audiences will be receptive to the sort of thing you provide, while others will be entirely disinterested. Once again, a skateboarding equipment brand won’t find much luck trying to market towards an elderly demographic, but they might be able to reach a greater audience by targeting teens, children, and based on current YouTube trends, even pets. While common sense plays a large part in deciding on a new target demographic, you can also gain great insight by doing a market analysis. Look around and see what audiences are being targeted by other companies in your industry, and see how effective or ineffective their methods of reaching them are. Following current market trends will help you keep your marketing campaigns relevant and on top of the industry, and allows for greater opportunities to expand your customer base.

You cannot have an effective marketing campaign if you don’t know your intended audience. Knowing what demographics you are already reaching, as well as what audiences you could be reaching based on current market trends, will allow you to make educated decisions for your marketing solutions. Don’t let your promotional content fall on deaf ears. Find your audience, find out how to reach them, and maintain awareness to continue to meet the needs of your customers.

Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. She loves being in the outdoors and exploring new opportunities whenever they arise. Meghan finds happiness in researching new topics that help to expand her horizons. You can often find her buried in a good book or out looking for an adventure. You can connect with her on Facebook right here and Twitter right here.

How #BigData Can Transform Your #Sales

Big data, cloud computing, AI and machine learning are all popular buzzwords these days. Nearly everyone is talking about these technologies and how they can be leveraged to provide benefits to a variety of companies.

In a general sense, big data can absolutely transform your business operations for the better. It feeds into a concept you should know well, called business intelligence. Through the technology, an endless supply of information is generated about your business, employees, customers, products and impact on the world at large.

This data, when used appropriately, is the end-all be-all for achieving ultimate success and improving sales. Before that can happen, however, raw data coming in must be analyzed, processed and converted into a more usable format.

How Big Data Becomes Actionable

There are two types of data that a business has at its disposal, one of which is less useful. The first type is raw data, which comes unstructured and in its original form. The second type is processed or organized data that is actionable and ready for use.

A major difference between raw data and usable data is that the latter provides a great deal of insight into whatever process, party or component you are studying. A huge swath of customer performance data, before being processed, might show something more generalized and simple — people like a certain product best, for example. However, diving in closer and analyzing the trends or patterns within datasets can reveal so much more.

Suddenly, you understand who it is that likes said product, why and what they’re using it for. Also, you can break your audience down into niche segments to better understand what they’re after. It’s even possible to see how they react after receiving your products or services, and how that affects their future relations with your company.

Closer to the real world. Companies or teams that use quotas and sales targets to measure performance can benefit greatly from data analytics. Target-setting is not the same as forecasting, so it’s vital you get the numbers right. By looking at existing data, you can more accurately choose these goals, honing the process over time to find the best marketers or salespeople.

Of course, these are just a few examples. There’s a lot more you can learn from the right data. The point is just that customer data and insights can help you understand your audience better, allowing for more accurate and informed decision-making. It also leads to a greater opportunity for success.

Some of the enhancements data analytics offers include:

  • Segmented and accurate audience targeting
  • Location-based analytics that relate to a particular place or region
  • Dynamic pricing opportunities that take local events into account
  • A reduction in customer churn, boosting retention and loyalty
  • Enhanced customer relations through better understanding
  • New business and upsell opportunities
  • Guaranteed or successful marketing trends

Using Data to Unlock Opportunities

Spending on big data technologies had surpassed $57 billion by the end of 2017. By 2020, it is estimated that every person on Earth will generate 1.7 megabytes of data per second. That’s an insane amount of digital information being generated on a consistent basis.

It’s becoming more and more common for companies — across all industries — to leverage the kind of big data, cloud computing and AI platforms that offer huge returns in business intelligence. Digital information is constantly flowing, with or without your express attention. As people tap into local networks, apps, online experiences and digital platforms, these systems continue to collect a multitude of user data. It’s a byproduct of the digital age, and you can put all of it to use, provided you know how to understand it.

Since that information is already flowing, it’s equal parts easy and convenient to access and extract more insights from it — this is the ultimate goal of business intelligence.

How You Leverage the Data Is Crucial

It’s not about how much customer information and data you’re collecting, because today it will essentially be coming from everywhere. It’s especially helpful that people carry a smartphone on their person at all times, resulting in even more intel-gathering opportunities.

Instead, it’s all about how you process and leverage the data you have. You could be collecting huge swarms, but it’s not lucrative in the least if you don’t know how to put it to use. You’re just going to be wasting a lot of time and resources.

It’s not a question of whether or not data can transform industries, specifically modern business. It’s more the question of how. Learn to process and understand it efficiently and you’ll be well on your way to improved revenue and better customer experiences. Big data can — and will — transform sales in many ways, providing better opportunities for your employees and improved experiences for your customers.

Bio: Nathan Sykes is the editor of Finding an Outlet, a source for the latest in IT and business news and trends.

5 Audiences Your Business Should Cater to in 2018

The digital world is helping to wall off audiences from each other, creating niche markets that would not have existed in past business generations. This is actually a prime advantage for companies that are correctly placed to handle it. Here are five audiences that your business should cater to in 2018.

Millennials

The rising generation of young adults is quickly becoming the number one consumer in the marketplace. They are definitely in charge, and their total spend is only increasing. If you are not marketing to millennials, then you are missing a significant part of your sales, regardless of the industry that you may be in. Provide free Wi-Fi for customers, and offer online purchases and communication options. Millennials tend to prefer indirect communication and speed over anything else.

Women

Women have always been the number one spenders and households. It was a joke in past generations that they held the purse strings even though they did not necessarily have the highest income in the home. Will today, they have the highest income in the home in many cases. They also still hold the purse strings. If you are not catering to women, then you are definitely missing out. The feminist movement is putting power in the hands of new audiences, and commerce must move with it.

Geeks

Geek culture is quickly becoming much more mainstream than it was a decade ago. It’s becoming much more acceptable to embrace things like video games, anime, and fantasy genres. Focusing on this demographic can improve your sales quite a bit. If you’re a T-shirt company, consider following the example of sites like Capsule Corp Clothing by offering designs based on popular franchises, such as Dragon Ball tank tops. Your marketing outreach may benefit as well from using geeky franchises as inspiration.

Seniors

An often forgotten and overlooked audience, but one that is just as ready to spend money, is the senior citizen community. Baby Boomers will soon be the largest segment of the population in the United States. This is also true in many Western countries. Look to them for certain industries, and make sure that you do not keep them out while you are trying to market to one or more of the other groups mentioned here.

The International Community

There is no reason to limit your sales function to any geographic location. The Internet has given you more than enough power to move beyond any border and sell to anyone who is in need of your products or services. Make it happen internationally!

Guest author, Dixie Somers, is a freelance writer and blogger for business, home, and family niches. Dixie lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and is the proud mother of three beautiful girls and wife to a wonderful husband.

Using SEO And Social Media To Grow Your Business This Year

Using SEO and social media isn’t just an option these days; it’s a necessity. If you want to make sure that your business grows at the rate you want it to, then focusing on your strategies for these things is a must. This year, social media and SEO are more important than ever. SEO is now all about making the experience a customer has with you as pleasant as possible, from the moment they land on your site right down to the purchasing process. It isn’t about manipulating the search engines. Social media is so popular that you’d be missing a huge trick if you didn’t incorporate it into your plans. Let’s take a look at a few tips and ideas that are going to help you grow your business.

SEO Can Improve Your Social Media Campaigns

SEO and social media are not two different things. SEO can actually improve your social media campaigns when you are smart. You may already know the importance of analysing the right keywords for your industry and niche. Just about any internet marketing SEO company will tell you the same thing. If you don’t use the right keywords, you’re not going to attract the right audience, or as big an audience as possible!

You can make sure you are utilizing both by using the keywords you discover on your social media profiles; on LinkedIn, on Facebook, even in the tweets that you write. Obviously you don’t want to get spammy about it, but you should definitely make sure you include them where possible to help give you a boost.

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Make Sure You’re Dedicated To Social Media

Social media is no joke. It takes real planning and dedication for it to work! You need to make sure you listen to your audience, as they are going to give you many clues on how you can make this work. You also need to make sure that you’re sharing relevant messages. Once you’re doing that, you must make sure others can share that message too. When you’re sharing interesting, relevant stuff, others will naturally want to share it.

Social media marketing can be one of the most cost effective marketing tools to help you build authority. You just need to make sure you get it right. A few blog posts and status updates are not enough to make it work. Making sure you use the appropriate platforms and post at the right times is crucial, along with content that’s going to draw people in. Here are some bullet points so you can make sure you get it right:

  • Only start with as many platforms as you can handle. If you can’t keep up, don’t start another platform. This is why so many business owners choose to invest in a social media manager.
  • Make sure you’re posting at the times your audience are most likely to see it.
  • Make sure you include pictures with your posts. They make people want to read more!
  • Make sure you actually speak to your audience. Use their language!
  • Always be consistent. Consistency is key to making this work.

Read on for even more tips!

Be Helpful

Make sure you’re not just looking to receive with your content. You should aim to give. Help out your audience. This will make them far more likely to come back to you and choose to buy from you. The hard sell really isn’t attractive! Share your knowledge. This might seem scary, but it really will go a long way to helping you establish yourself as an authority. Don’t be a knowledge hoarder, as it won’t help you at all!

Always Include A Call To Action

Although you’re not going for the hard-sell, actually including a call to action really will go a long way to helping you get what you want. If you post a piece of great content, why would you not ask your audience to give it another share? Including a call to action actually works, so the last thing you want to do is forget it. This could be a simple ‘liked this? Share it!’ at the end of your post.

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Engage With Your Audience

Social media is all about being social. What does that mean? Make sure you’re actually engaging with them! Ask them questions, answer their questions, start discussions and conversations. Make sure you reply. Engaging with them is the key to nailing social media. It makes them feel like you care, and helps you to build a stronger relationship with them overall. When you build a relationship with your audience, you get brand loyalty. You should reply to comments that are both positive and negative. You need to make sure you have the same ‘brand voice’ throughout. Ensure you don’t take negative comments personally, either. Always reply professionally and aim to fix whatever the issue is in the best way possible. Making sure you give the best customer service this way will help you to get far more recommendations and word of mouth reviews.

Start A Blog Right Now

If you haven’t got a blog, you need to start one. Right now. A blog takes time to establish, but it’s so worth it. If you can build your online presence, this can help you to get a huge number of followers. Your blog can be used to share interesting stuff and tips regarding your industry, products, services, etc. You can answer questions your customers always want to know the answer to. If you make your posts good enough, there’s a chance they’ll go viral. Although you shouldn’t count on this, getting lots of shares is still possible. Starting a blog is mostly about social media, but the more quality content you create, the more it helps your SEO campaigns too.

Get Involved With Video Marketing

Thousands of people search for videos on the things they want to know. Videos also allow you to present your information in a more attractive, shorter amount of time, and allow you to show your personality more. To do this, you can use Youtube, Vimeo and other video sites.

It’s important you take the time to build your channel and ensure informative videos. Your videos should be attractive, so you need to make sure your equipment is pretty good. You don’t need to invest in the best of the best right away, but you should have a clear picture and sound. Knowing how to edit your videos is also key to getting it right.

Offer Discounts And Deals On Social Media

Offering exclusive deals will help you to get more follows and shares. They don’t have to be huge, and of course you don’t want to do this all the time or you can easily lose custom the rest of the time. You don’t want to cheapen yourself! You could even offer discounts for people who recommend you to a friend, and run social media competitions. Competitions like this are extremely popular!

Use The Right Tools

You can use tools to make your social media campaign a little easier. You can use things like Hootsuite and Post Planner to give you nudges and post for you. Automating your posts is a must if you want to save time and be able to focus on your business. You can get tools to alert you when somebody interacts with you, so you can reply virtually right away. You’ll never miss a mention! You can also schedule your posts to go out at the right time, so you don’t have to login and logout multiple times throughout the day. Always analyze what is working for you too, so you can do more of what is and scrap what isn’t. It’s easy to get a picture of which posts are being responded to the most.

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Consider Paid Advertising

Paid advertising will cost you a bit of money, but there are many benefits that make it worth it. It’s an investment, as the money will likely come back to you in the form of sales. It’s one of the various forms of social media marketing that can encourage growth. Be creative and make sure you come up with your own strategies though, rather than copying others. When you decide to use paid advertising, you can make sure you’re targeting people who have an active interest in what you do, or those who fit your target market. For instance, if you sell products for newborns, you can get your ads to target new parents.

Make sure you’re using SEO and social media together to grow your business this year. Whether you’re a small local business or an ever growing corporation, you need to utilize these things to make a big impact. Making sure you create a budget for it is crucial; you don’t want to be doing all of these things yourself, as it can get stressful, confusing, and take time away from what you’re good at. Remember; anything you invest will always pay off when you get more conversions.

 

 

 

Appy Days: The Undeniable Benefits Of Launching An App

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Smartphone and tablet devices have revolutionized the way we interact with technology. Subsequently, Apps have become one of the modern phenomenons to influence the world of business. Quite frankly, if you’ve yet to launch one for your company, you’re missing out.

Successful business Apps offer many rewards to modern businesses. Here’s why yours could become the greatest weapon in your arsenal in the battle for supremacy.

Reach New Audiences

The best thing about digital marketing is that it offers you a shot at reaching global audiences instantly. You’ve already designed a killer website to provide a great starting platform. However, adding an App to your list of products could be another great way to show the versatility of your brand.

Any tool that can increase exposure, especially to those that wouldn’t know about your business through other means can only be a good thing. In truth, it should be the only motivation you need, although there are plenty of other incentives too.

Encourage Increased Interaction

Statistics show that there has been a huge shift towards mobile internet usage in recent years. In fact, clients now spend just as much time on those screens as they do on their computers. This creates a huge opportunity to gain increased interaction from the customers. An App is easily the best way to embrace those sentiments.

Once a customer has downloaded your App, it can be accessed with the click of a button. This in itself should encourage frequent use. For a comprehensive experience, you could create additional incentives to use Apps, social media, and web browsers in unity. Essentially, it’s just another way to create that stronger overall product.

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Build A Bigger Reputation

Customer perceptions can be influenced very easily. A strong SEO presence or big social media following can make the business appear bigger and more experienced. Guess what? An App offers further indication to the quality of your company too.

This will only be possible when the App works faultlessly, though. Use the list of Java profilers to monitor performance at all times. By keeping on top of the potential issues, you’ll ensure that the App continues to enhance the image of the product and the brand.

Direct Marketing Opportunities

The increased familiarity gained from encouraging customers to download your App is fantastic. However, if that isn’t enough of an incentive, the chance to promote specific products will be.

Coding your App so that it promotes those specific products is easy. Whether it’s through adverts or push notifications, it can go a long way to influencing the client. Use a blog post to further promote that product, and conversion rates should soar.

Stay On Trend

There’s no doubt that an App can help grow your audience. Then again, it’s equally to think about the growing demands of your existing clients. They will expect to see more from your company as it grows, and this is a great way to show that you are still on trend.

Link the App to social media to encourage greater participation too, and the customer experience will feel greater than ever. Even if the App isn’t directly connected to the products or services you produce, it will boost your long-term revenue.

 

Are Your Mobile Subscribers on the Run?

mobileIf your business runs a mobile campaign, then you already know how important opt-ins prove to be.

However, no matter how hard you try to keep your opt-in numbers up, sometimes your current subscribers decide to opt-out.

In order to help you better retain subscribers, here are just a few opt-out mistakes to avoid:

Wrong Target Audience

A major advantage of text marketing is the fact your company can easily send a massive number of messages in one fell swoop.

However, if you don’t target your niche audiences properly, then your subscribers could end up opting out. This is where subscriber segmentation comes into play.

By segmenting your text recipients, your marketing campaigns will become more relevant, which greatly reduces the chance of opt-outs.

More importantly, when you send relevant text campaigns to your niche audiences, your current subscribers will be more likely to convert to paying customers.

No Incentive

Although keeping your subscribers up to date on information surrounding your business is beneficial, what your text recipients really want to receive are incentives.

The article, “5 Common Reasons Why Mobile Subscribers Opt-Out” mentions irrelevant incentives as being one of the main reasons for opt-outs.

Whether your incentives are irrelevant or non-existent, not offering your subscribers something special will result in recipients opting out of your text campaigns.

From last-minute deals to mobile coupons to special promos, make sure you offer an incentive with each text message.

Confusing Messages

One way to make your subscribers opt-out is by sending messages that are confusing, unclear, or unnecessarily wordy. In other words, when it comes to your text message campaigns, keep them short, sweet, and to the point.

If you’re offering a great deal, just say so. If there’s an upcoming sale, give your subscribers the pertinent details like the date.

Likewise, make sure you include links or other ways your subscribers can participate in offers. Being straightforward with your text marketing will help you avoid opt-outs.

Dead-End Links

Another way to make subscribers click the dreaded unsubscribe button is by linking to dead-end destinations. Whether it’s a link to a mobile coupon, your blog, or your actual business website, make sure all of your links work properly.

You can test for dead-end links on your own device before unleashing your mobile campaign. By doing so, you can ensure the URL is working properly and you can also double check that you are sending subscribers to the correct destination.

Lack of Text Etiquette

Nobody likes receiving texts early in the morning, late at night, on the weekends, or while they’re in an important business meeting. In addition, nobody likes receiving multiple texts about the same subject in a single day.

If you don’t practice proper text etiquette, you’ll lose subscribers faster than you can say opt-out. Send your text campaigns with your subscribers’ daily activities in mind.

Also, take into consideration time zones and holiday schedules. Etiquette goes a long way with text marketing. When it comes to keeping your subscribers happy, keep in mind the pointers above and avoid opt-outs.

About the Author: Adam Groff is a freelance writer and creator of content. He writes on a variety of topics including mobile marketing and customer satisfaction.