Kitting Out Your First Brick-and-Mortar Store

Making the move into a brick-and-mortar store is a fantastic achievement but it requires a lot of thought. You can’t just move into a space, put your name on the door and hope that’s enough to tempt people in. You need to think about how your brand can come across in a physical location.

Just as you should take care to organize and brand your website to suit your customers, you must do the same with your bricks-and-mortar store. The experience of shopping online and in store should mesh together neatly so that customers take as much joy from coming to visit you in-store as they would shopping from their sofa.

Floors and Walls

Though floors and walls might not seem like the most important part of your store, they form a critical foundation to build from. Once you have put up your shelves and filled up with your wares, you aren’t going to get another chance at doing these areas so you must do them first.

Think about all the shops you have been in recently and what the floor was like. Perhaps it was a simple vinyl or maybe varnished wooden boards. Epoxy floor coatings are a popular choice as they are easy to maintain and can be finished nicely. As you imagine the floors you have seen, which ones stand out and attach themselves to the brand? Was the floor a distraction or did it blend in with the rest of the interior design?

Your walls should be approached in a similar way. Bare bricks are having a moment right now but there is nothing wrong with painted plasterboard if you want a cleaner look. Consider adding your brand colors to feature walls and areas you want to highlight so your customers know immediately where they are.

Shelves and Displays

How you display your wares is a crucial factor in ensuring that your customers get the right impression of your store. Though gondola shelving is a really popular method in supermarkets, if you are feeling more creative and your shop is a little more niche, you must think outside the box.

Any business can learn a lot from the styling techniques used in boutique clothes shops. These shops are reliant on their customers picking things up, feeling the materials and immediately spotting a complimentary item nearby. Whether you are selling soaps or books, or comic book paraphernalia, this sense of flow is vital to keep people moving around your shop and exploring every nook.

Whether you are kitting out your home or your store, the lighting you use has a massive impact on the rest of your design. While you must ensure that your customers can see what they are doing and the products around them, you can make use of light and shade to draw their attention to different things. Be smart with your lighting and you will see better results.

Kitting out your first shop is about recognizing the ways that your online experience can translate into the real world. Giving your customers a seamless way to transition between shopping modes is a great way to draw them in and persuade them to come back again and again.

Letting the People Know: 4 Advertising Tips for Small Businesses

Your business may be small, but you can do many things to get the word out about your company and brand. Never let the size of your company get in the way of letting the people know about your company itself. The key to advertising is to not spend too much on ad campaigns. Rather, some of the most effective advertising methods your small company can rely on are free while others may cost a bit more for a well-balanced marketing strategy. Here are some tips that will help you advertise your small business more effectively. 

Appropriate Advertising for Your Industry 

Before you even start thinking about spending one cent on advertising, you need to develop a picture and plan for what kind of advertising is going to work best within the type of industry your business operates. If you get this wrong, then you will be wasting countless dollars on the wrong type of advertising campaigns and the wrong target audience.

For example, it does not make any sense to take out a local newspaper ad if your goal is to promote an online business model where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) methods of improving your website’s rankings would do a far better job at reaching potential customers. Making a list of which advertising avenues will give you the best bang for your buck and which avenues are totally free is a good starting point for your small company to use for developing an intelligent approach to advertising that is cost effective. 

Traffic Generation 

If you are operating an online digital business, you must take the time to understand the various avenues of social media at your disposal for reaching out to potential customers. From your website, blog and email campaigns to advertising on high end social media platforms, you have the potential to attract literally millions of visitors to your website in a short period of time. Even putting together a useful, regular Vlog or podcast to help your customer base with common problems or issues in your area of expertise can help with your website traffic. These methods will help your audience better understand why you are a trustworthy and knowledgeable authority in your industry which will make purchasing from your company again and again an easy choice.

However, take note: some of these approaches may be a little time consuming, but often they do not require that you spend a huge amount of money to reach your customer base. What you put in will determine what you will get out.

Real World Sales 

While so many companies are moving online these days, your small company may find that there is a lot of potential for reaping high profits through digital means. However, especially for brick and mortar businesses, in-person sales and advertising are still an important part of revenue. People still like to go shopping and see products in person, so it helps to have appropriate signage outside your establishment—especially for sales and special occasions. Signs must be eye catching and recognizable from down the road. This is what truly attracts customers to want to visit your location to do business.

Be sure to make your signs professional and appropriate for your industry. For example, if you would like to advertise for a high-end real estate open house event, you wouldn’t want to simply write on the back of a leftover Christmas sale sign. You would want to find a real estate sign company to print up professional, event-specific signs. This will show potential customers that you put in the time and effort to create a high-quality experience, down to the last detail.

Word of Mouth 

Word of mouth buzz for your products and services can have a huge impact on your overall sales. Your goal as a business should be to under promise and over deliver on products and services. Do what is required to make sure that people are happy with their experience when doing business with your company—and then do a little extra. If someone is pleasantly surprised by how good you really are, they will tell their friends. This could involve giving away product for free or providing excellent customer service, for example, to help generate positive buzz about your company.

If you boast the best products, make sure they are the best products but also make sure your staff provides the best service. This is what will cause customers to spread the word about their great experiences. The people they tell about their great experience will want to have those kinds of experiences for themselves and turn to you in the future. Be careful though—if you fail to deliver what you promise and cause disappointment, negative feelings and stories about such experiences will quickly spread and, deserved or not, your reputation will take a hit. This can sabotage your earning potential in huge ways. In business, the customer is king and making them happy is a formula that yields major profits.  

Investing the time and effort into your advertising strategies will start to generate the interest in your company that you’re looking for. But, do not stop there. Keep looking hard at how well your advertising methods are working. If something seems to work badly for your company, replace that advertising approach with an approach that does work for you. Savvy business owners are always looking for new and inexpensive ways to market their business and get the word out there.

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.

Business Behind the Times? 4 Pivotal Steps to Rebranding

If a business is losing market share or if it is falling behind in customer satisfaction or favorability surveys, then it is time for that company to rebrand. Done correctly, a rebrand can completely turn a company around. One compelling rebranding case study is the amazing turnaround story of Domino’s Pizza. The company had become known for low-quality pizza and service; however, after hiring a new ad agency and completely rebranding, Dominos began to gain market share. In fact, Domino’s stock has gained an astounding 5,000% since its rebranding in 2008. Companies that are looking to become the next great turnaround story should follow the four rebranding steps below. 

Determining the Purpose of the Rebrand 

Before a company begins to rebrand, the company must agree on why it needs to rebrand itself. Since all departments will be affected by the rebranding efforts, the heads of marketing, budgeting, product, research, and sales must all be on the same page. From here, the company can move on to the second crucial stage of the rebrand. 

Researching 

Once the company heads have agreed on rebranding, the company must do extensive research on all fronts. This includes getting feedback from the current employees and stockholders of the current brand, surveying customers about the current brand and observing competitor brands. From there, the company and the outside consultants can have a better idea of where the company is, in terms of its brand, so it can create a clearer path forward with the rebranding effort. 

Being Sure to Rebrand on All Fronts 

Once management has agreed on the rebranding message, this message must be communicated to every aspect of the company. That means that every employee, manager, customer, potential customer, stockholder, and third-party vendor must be aware about the new brand. From there, the rebranding should be deployed through advertising, marketing, social media, public relations, and internal communications. Consistency in key. You will, for instance, need to create new signage, and relying on a plastic vacuum mould manufacturer may be useful.

Staying Steady and Strong Once You’ve Rebranded 

Once the company is rebranded, the branding message must stay consistent for at least several years. According to the widely accepted Rule of 7, a consumer will usually need to see an ad or a branding communication at least seven times before they remember it. Therefore, it is important to understand that rebranding is a multi-year project. 

Rebranding can give the company the momentum it needs to recapture lost market share and entice new investors. This multi-year project should be embraced by every member of management, involve deep research, and be deployed through every piece of external company communication. With the right rebranding strategy, today’s struggling company can be tomorrow’s great turnaround story.

Guest author, Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she studied communications. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her 3-year-old husky Snowball.  @LizzieWeakley

Why Does Content Work For Some And Not For Others?

The online space is witnessing increasing deployment of focused content by companies to drive better user engagement and build awareness of one’s brand. The reason is obvious. Content marketing is proving to be a profitable proposition for creating brand appeal among niche users and reaping rich dividends.  The creation and distribution of meaningful, relevant, informative, easy to understand and implement, consistent and purposeful content can turbocharge your brand’s scalability index.

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Content marketing done in right perspective not only attracts and retains customers but also triggers word of mouth promotion by satisfied evangelists. With content, you are actually making the potential buyers more empowered and intelligent which motivates them to make informed and conscious purchasing decision in your brand’s favour. The underlying theme is that, if you keep providing your prospects with valuable and actionable information, it would get reflected in the form of steady traffic to your site and higher conversions.

Have Companies Benefited from Investment in Content Marketing?

Yes.

Stats from various studies show that the lead generation for content is 3x more compared to outbound marketing whereas the money pumped in for content generation and deployment is 62% lesser.

Additionally, content works because it is in demand. This demand for content can be seen in the online audience – a vast majority of people in the demographic class of 18-50 years prefer online news and content to secure the latest information. As a result, the growth in leads for SMEs which have their own blogs has been reported to be 126% more than those counterparts which don’t believe in blogging. In the USA alone, about 61% of online customers have made their purchasing decisions after going through fact-driven recommendations in blogs.

What Makes Content A Successful Strategy For Brands?

If you go by market-based insights, the reasons would be quite straightforward but many:

  • Good content has the right balance of short and long tail keywords which prompts the search engine crawler to index the related sites for all relevant search queries.
  • Quality content must be posted at frequent intervals; delayed or staggered posts are perfect catalysts for driving away your prospective buyers.
  • Content shouldn’t just be limited to your own blog. To make it work, target high authority sites and build your authority through guest posting.
  • Believable content has to be relatable and authoritative so that readers can rely on the information shared and become experts in navigating problems.
  • Exciting content never lets the focus of readers stray and grasps the short attention span through shorter paragraphs and extensive use of visual creatives.
  • Strong content is never overwhelmed with unnecessary words just for fulfilling the expected length.
  • Readable content uses easy to comprehend words and simple sentence constructs. Good content also eliminates the use of jargon.
  • Marketable content does not repeat ideas and never sports cookie-cutter characteristics.
  • Unique content is plagiarism free; even if ideas have to be borrowed, they are presented with a fresh perspective.
  • Engaging content allows sufficient scope to gauge the sentiments of readers and measures the resonance of ideas shared through user polls, reviews, social media shares etc.
  • Compelling content needs to be interactive and addressed to the readers in a manner that they find it more personal than advertising-centric.
  • Content works more effectively when you give your audience the choice to pick from different formats. This means videos, podcasts, blogs, infographics etc.
  • Updated content always gives reflection to activities of importance that have happened for your brand. And is attuned to the current industry trends.

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Why does Content fail to Deliver for Some?

If your brand fails to leverage the potential of content optimally for rich returns, it must be suffering from one or more of the problems outlined below:

  • The content might be pushy and/or advertising-centric.
  • It might not be working because it offers no real value to readers.
  • If the content is outdated, irrelevant and inconsistent with your brand’s vision- it won’t get you any engagement.
  • Your content could not be working because it might have plagiarism issues. Such content invites penalties from search engines.
  • When content lacks strong and catchy headlines, it fails to catch the reader’s interest. So even if your content is giving really valuable information, it might get skipped because it lacks an engaging structure.
  • Content containing spelling and grammatical errors doesn’t work for the audience.
  • When statements are not backed by facts, they harm your credibility. To make this work, you should link your content to high-authority and reliable sources.
  • When content does not have relevant keywords that would help the search engines categorize it properly, it fails to gain visibility.
  • Content that lacks any thought-provoking characteristics is also bound to fail.

Now that you have realized the apparent bottlenecks that are withholding your content from producing that killer’ effect, it is time to give your content strategy the much-deserved facelift. Skip the don’ts and work on the dos to get the most out of your content strategy.

Matthew Booth is the Global Marketing & Operations Director at SMEGoWeb, a global brand which has helped more than a thousand businesses achieve their online goals. With a decade of agency experience, he is now set out to share his marketing knowledge to help companies refine their digital strategies.

 

Customer Loyalty: Does Your Small Business Have What It Takes To Keep It?

Customer retention is a difficult topic for a small business. It’s not that they can’t keep the customers, it’s getting them in the first place that’s often the problem. Small businesses often flounder before they have a chance to grow and a lot of that is to do with their placement as a small fish in an ocean of sharks. Whether you are running a small business store on Etsy, or you’re marketing yourself as a solopreneur who is offering a solution to a problem, you need to know how to retain your customers so that they trust your mini brand – even before it becomes a mega one.

Returning customers are crucial to the success of a small business and the way to get them coming back for more is in your retention strategy. You need to be so good, that customers see what you’re doing and fall in love with it. It’s ensuring that you work closely with IT experts to roll out your carefully crafted software to other companies, working with agile testing teams and pushing yourself to do more for your customers. Online customers spend three times more money than customers do in store, and if the service that you offer – or the solution you provide – is one that is effective and reeks of perfection, you’re going to see loyalty from your customers. You are the only one who can decide whether you have what it takes to retain your customers, though, and if you can’t, you’re going to sink. Here are four short ways to create that customer loyalty that’s going to secure your bottom line.

Experience Peaks. Customers will buy whatever they’re interested in, but you need to keep them hooked for more. If they’ve enjoyed the product that you sold in the first place, they’ll buy again. However, you need to keep the deal sweet. Maybe once customers have bought from you once, you then send a discount code to them to be able to buy again. The promise of the same product that they love being cheaper is a bonus and keeps the experience peaked for them.

VI-Party. Most people don’t like getting unsolicited emails, but customers who sign up with your product will expect to be notified of changes, upgrades and extras. Give them loyalty points and an early access pass to new releases. They’ll love the exclusivity and it keeps them coming back to you for more of the things that you offer.

Get Online. Whichever way that you do it, you need to be where your customers can connect with you. Get onto social media and be a part of the community. Having access directly to the people in charge of the product that has been sold is a bonus for customers and they can feel like they are heard.

Stay Passionate. You’ve made something successful enough for people to want to keep coming back for more. All you need to do now is ensure that you keep up the momentum that you’ve set for yourself.

Customers will always go with the popular brands; make yourself one of them and keep your loyal base coming back for more.

Start Spreading The News: How To Get People Talking About Your New Business

Are you preparing to launch a new business, or you are trying to find your footing in the market? Whether your business plans are still in the pipeline, or you’re already up and running, it’s crucial to have plans in place to get your name out there. If you’re keen to get people talking and start enjoying the sound of the cash register ringing, here are some tips to bear in mind.

Drawing up your marketing strategy

If you plan to take control of marketing your business, the first thing to do is formulate a strategy. Marketing isn’t as simple as designing a website or printing out some branded business cards. To succeed, you have to be able to communicate with, and appeal to, your target audience and find a gap in the market. There are myriad marketing methods out there, and often, it’s best to focus on a few platforms that are likely to attract attention from the right people. You want to ensure that you’re reaching out to customers who are going to have a genuine interest in your products and services and your brand. Covering every method may seem like a good idea, but you’ll probably find that you’re wasting money on avenues that won’t deliver rewards. Think about your ideal customer, the demographic you’re aiming at, and the kinds of products or services you’re selling. If you’re selling clothing online and you’re hoping to attract females aged between 18 and 35, you’ll find that social media, email marketing, and SEO are a lot more effective than flyers or press adverts, for example. Use market research to determine which methods would be most beneficial for your brand. Once you have a strategy, the next step is to implement it.

Picture sourced from https://pixabay.com/en/arrows-marketing-strategy-startup-2029169/

Considering outsourcing

If you run a business, no matter how large or small, you may find that there are certain tasks that match your skill set, and others that cause you concern. If you don’t have experience in marketing and you don’t have in-house marketing executives, it makes sense to think about outsourcing this element of the business. Marketing can have such a significant impact on the success of a new venture, and it’s crucial to get it right. If you’re not keen on recruiting members of staff with marketing expertise, working with an external company may provide the ideal solution. Look for digital agency value add services or think about hiring freelancers if you need help in designing and implementing an introductory campaign. Outsourcing enables you to access to skills you need, but it can also save you money, as you won’t be adding to the payroll over a prolonged period of time. When looking for agencies or individuals, take your time to look at portfolios, previous clients, and reviews.

Image via https://pixabay.com/en/businessmen-communication-community-786071/

Getting your name out there

Once your plans are laid out, the next stage is to get your name out there. Use the findings of your research to attract the attention of those who are most likely to be interested in your brand. Send out emails, set up social media accounts, and make sure you have a great business website, which has mobile capabilities. Consumers spend more and more time online, and if you can direct traffic to your website, you’ll have a better chance of converting leads. Share posts about your new business, encourage followers to share your links, and optimize the content on your website to drive traffic from search engines. If you’re launching a new product, or you’re opening a business like a salon, a store, or a restaurant, it’s a fabulous idea to plan an event, and you can share the details and send out invitations through your website and social media platforms. When your website is up and running, and you’ve got active social media accounts and an SEO campaign in force, make use of analytics to track your progress. If you’re covering all bases in terms of social media, for example, analytic tools can help you determine which channels are most effective, and which are falling flat. Be prepared to tweak your strategy to keep it relevant, to iron out teething problems, and to make sure you’re giving customers what they want.

Image credit https://www.flickr.com/photos/findyoursearch/5202301465

Are you about to launch a new business, or are you in the process of trying to build your client base and inform people about the services or products you offer? Marketing plays a key role in establishing a brand and attracting attention from consumers. Hopefully, this guide will help you make the right calls and get people talking about your brilliant new business.