AMGEN
BMS-center-logo
 

Veteran Business Owners’ New Year’s List

Share this Article:
Share Article on Facebook Share Article on Linked In Share Article on Twitter

 

By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

 

Happy New Year to our Veteran and Military Business Owners.   There are always many tasks for entrepreneurs to do and not always enough time to do them.   This is an excellent time to start with a fresh prospective, plan and focus.   You may want to reflect on the prior year and refocus your energy.   Below is a list to begin 2020:

 

  1. Recap & Forecast: Now is a good time to look at where you are and where you want to go with your business.   Review your return on investment, ROI on major projects, your finances and your goals.   Make sure you and your team understands your goals for the coming year.   This will make any changes easier.  It is a also an excellent time to  gain valuable input on what works, what can be improved and what has not worked.

 

If you have a team, you need to talk with them and develop an understanding of their roles and how they feel about them.   The New Year is an excellent tine for an annual review.    This is the time to perform your due diligence and be proactive to place you ahead of your competition.    Consider this to be your plan for success in 2020.

 

  1. ROI Marketing Focus: Your focus in determining your 2020 marketing initiatives must be what is the ROI (Return on Investment) on each initiative.  These include social media, advertising, blogs,brand building and more.  Not every marketing initiative is measurable but you should evaluate those you can.   You want to direct your money and resources to those initiatives that pay off for you.
  1. Look At Industry Trends: You need to take the temperature of what is going on within your own industry as well a industries that impact yours such as your suppliers.  This will enable you to react to changes and be proactive.   If the Trade Wars with China or oil prices affect your business, you need to take all of this into consideration and be prepared for a worst case scenario.
  1. Realistic Financial Goals: It makes a great deal of sense to put your financial goals in writing at the beginning of a New Year to achieve them.  You may want to check out SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound) and OKRs (objectives and key results) formats.   This can include creating a list of objectives and key results for each area of your business (such as sales, finance, marketing, manufacturing and product development, etc.).   Each member of your team needs to have a keen understanding of their goals for the new year and how they are going to achieve them.

 

You might want look into affordable financing options for your business too.   This can make sense even for thriving businesses because the best time to look for financing is when your business is doing well.   Don’t take out loans unless you need one to grow your business and take it to the next level.

 

  1. Look at Automating Your Business: You might want to look into automated software solutions that will enable you to automate accounting, customer management and time tracking  to allow you to focus on accomplishing the real work.  Automating your finances will also provide you valuable input into better managing your cash flow and ROI and to forecast properly.
  1. Working Remotely: This is a good time to determine if some or all of your business can be done remotely.  Remote work is a trend and many believe that almost three-quarters of all  departments will have remote workers by 2028.   You may want to look at whether hiring remote workers and freelancers can benefit your business.   This is not viable for every business such as a retail store.   However, for some businesses, it can reduce the cost of office space and enable you to draw from a larger pool of talent.   We recommend that if you are considering a remote staff that you look into collaborative and communication tools.
  1. Mentors: Mentors are one of the most valuable resources for any business at any level.  Mentors provide objective advise, experience and access to a larger network of resources and people.   Almost all small business owners believe that mentors have had a direct impact on the growth and success of their business.   Those who don’t have a mentor, wish that they did.   If you don’t have mentors, the new year is a a good time to find them and start the year right.

 

By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter
Advertise your business:

In order to build customers, they need to be cognizant that you exist, and they need a reason to engage with you. Advertising allows new customers to discover your brand and reminds current customers of your offerings. Your competitors are advertising and if you are not, you may lose business to them. Depending on your business and your offerings, you may want to go with traditional print ads in newspapers or magazines or online ads with search engines and social media platforms.

 

Create a professional brochure for your business:

Even though this seems like an outdated marketing strategy, it is still a good idea to have a strong, professional brochure created for your business. Brochures are cost effective and provide a lot of information while simultaneously personalizing your small business. They help your customers build trust in you and build awareness with your brand.

 

Send press releases to relevant media outlets:

Press releases are a great way to highlight important company events, new products, or awards you’ve received. Press releases allow you build brand awareness and communicate directly with your audience.

 

Host an event or open house:

Hosting an event or open house helps publicize your business, bring awareness to it, and allows you to show it off. You can sponsor your own even or join with other local businesses to showcase specific products, introduce your staff, or even provide free samples.

 

Offer a deal or discount:

Everyone loves a good deal, especially if they get something for free. Offering a coupon, discount, or some other special deal helps your business in multiple ways. It can help increase the number of new customers you receive, increase sales in general and for specific products, increase brand awareness, provide rewards to loyal customers, promote your social media accounts, show customer appreciation, increase your market influence by motivating customers to travel for your deals, and even help move inventory that has been sitting on your shelves.

 

Offer a Referral Fee to Existing Customers:

Referrals are golden and there is nothing better than a customer referring you to someone else because they hold a high opinion of your products and/or services.  Perhaps offer clients a special discount or referral fee to tell their colleagues and friends and spread the word about your business.

 

 

Regardless of the type of business you are running, whether you offer products that are tangible or intangible or series, you can make it successful right from your home. Just make sure that you spend the time researching your ideas and target market thoroughly, put together the right environment, build a strong team, and market your brand effectively.   Using a combination of online and other marketing is a recipe for success.

 

We encourage Veteran and Military Business Owners to join VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association.   There are not any dues or fees charged to our members.  Here is a link to join:  https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

 

 

By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

 

Part 3

 

There are many challenges with any business, including a home-based business.  To help ensure your success, establish your brand, get the word out, and build your reputation Below are some tips for Branding and Marketing your Home-Based Business:

 

Identify your target market:

You are more likely to gain business if you have a clear idea of who your target customers are or will be. You need to research potential customers and determine who may be interested in your product or service, identify the specific demographic you want to reach, review your existing industry competitors, and identify the characteristics that you want to highlight about your products and services.

 

Make sure that the products or services you offer match the needs of your target clients. Find what makes your business stand out from your competition and highlight it. Determine how you will fulfill the promises you make to your customers and how you will you make them connect personally with your business. When you are able to help people relate personally to your business, they are more likely to gravitate toward your products and services.

 

Create an awesome website:

In our technologically advanced world, your business will need a unique URL (web site address) and user-friendly website that is mobile friendly. If you are web savvy you can certainly create your site yourself but hiring a professional to get it up and going is usually your best bet. A professional will know exactly what your site needs, help you write the site’s content, and make sure it is optimized for search engines.

 

Whether you hire a pro or you decide to go it alone you will need:

A domain name or URL name:

This is your site’s address on the Internet (i.e. google.com or amazon.com). Write out a list of 5 or 6 URLs you would like for your business, as your first choice may be already taken. It is best to select a domain name that is short, easy to remember and ties in with your branding. Avoid hyphens, special characters, or numbers.

 

A website host:

Your website will need to be located on a server or “host” in order to be viewed on the web. There are plenty of reputable web hosting companies out there. Do your research and choose the one you feel is right for you and your business.  If you plan to grow your business with online sales, make sure you select a company that has the capacity you will need as you grow. Try to avoid the cheapest options, they are cheap for a reason.

 

Put together your design:

The look and feel of your website should match your business and align with its goals. Choose colors that represent your company. Keep it consistent with any other marketing materials you have already created. Make sure to incorporate a compelling home page or landing page that captures your customers’ attention right away; use concise messages and make sure all photographs and visuals are of the highest quality; make sure that you are easy to find and use a navigational menu that helps your visitors move through your site with ease; avoid visual clutter and keep your content up to date; also make sure that you place strategic calls to action throughout your website (“sign up” or “subscribe” buttons placed in notable locations).

 

Set up your store and any online payment options (if necessary).

If you are selling products or services directly on your website, you will need to setup online payment options and connect them to your new website.

 

Last checks before launch:

Before you finalize and publish your website you will want to make sure that it loads as quickly as possible. You will also need to check and be sure that it’s mobile friendly as smartphones are increasingly used for online shopping. You want your website to be easy to use, accessible, and convenient for all your customers.

 

Create a matching blog and post regularly:

The blog ideally should be housed underneath your main website. Blogs are a great marketing tool for businesses as they help you enhance your social media presence, they help you establish yourself as an expert in your industry, they help increase your customer base, they increase your company’s visibility on the web, they help develop your brand, they help your brand build trust with your customers, they help you grow your email list, and they can be valuable for gaining better and more frequent customer feedback. Blogging can also help improve your business’s search engine optimization (SEO) by increasing your back linking, adding more frequent new content to your site, and increasing overall traffic to your website.

 

Create and regularly post to social media platforms:

Social media is a great way to market your business, website, and offerings to customers. Setting up an account is totally free and allows you to directly connect with you customers’ interests, opinions, preferences, and changing needs. Social media helps you increase your brand’s awareness, helps build your reputation, creates loyal followers, improves your SEO, and increases click-through traffic to your small business’s website (just make sure that all of your social media platforms link back to your website).

 

Collect email addresses and send out regular newsletters.

Newsletters are an awesome marketing tool to help you build trust and rapport with your customer base. They establish a regular communication channel that can lead to stronger business relationships. Use newsletters to showcase your expertise in your industry; share new products, services, or promotions; highlight your company, your employees, and your clients; you can also toss in a bit of humor or appropriate holiday posts to keep it interesting and not so focused on selling.

 

We encourage Veteran and Military Business Owners to join VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association.   There are not any dues or fees charged to our members.  Here is a link to join:  https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

 

Creating Marketing Content that Grabs & Holds Attention

Share this Article:
Share Article on Facebook Share Article on Linked In Share Article on Twitter

 

By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

 

Humanizing your business will make you a lot more memorable to prospective clients and help keep their attention on you.

 

With all of the advertising we are bombarded with day in and day out, it can be challenging to reach or hold the attention of your target audience. People are becoming more and more selective with their attention span and it is shorter than ever. With so much to choose from, it’s more challenging for your business’s marketing message to resonate.

 

What can you do?

Content that consistently grabs and holds people’s attention has three things in common:

  1. It tells a story.
  2. It is personal.
  3. It is visually stimulating.

 

How Do You Incorporate Into Your Marketing Campaigns?

This part may sound difficult, but it is surprisingly easy with a bit of thought, planning, and research. Start with a setup or situation that is interesting to your target customers, add a challenge that arouses their curiosity, and then bring it home with a conclusion that is satisfying to their needs. When we talk about ‘satisfying’ in marketing we mean getting your prospect to click on your website, call your business, and/or buy your offering.

 

For example, find a common situation that your target customer finds themselves in and start your story with a setup that can relate to. Is your business in landscaping? Maybe your clients have trouble with invasive weeds or not knowing how to properly trim a hedge? The challenge is what is standing in their way. Using the same example of a landscaper, this could be the proper knowledge and tools, or time to do the work. The conclusion is how you can solve this dilemma for them.

 

Just keep in mind that you need to tell your story in a way that your target customers want to hear it.

 

Including:

  • Live video streams
  • Recorded videos
  • An animated video with cartoon characters
  • Podcasts
  • Social media posts with photos
  • A brochure or flyer
  • An ad in a newspaper, magazine, or other publication

 

…but how they want to receive it all depends on your target customers. You will need to do your research and find out what type of content they like best.

 

What makes people disengage?

  • The story is not challenging them mentally.
  • The content lacks any personal resonance.
  • There is just too much text.
  • Not enough visually appealing photos.

 

Also, make sure that your message is consistent across all of your marketing materials and make sure that you back it all up using your website’s “about us” page and your social media feeds. Customers are a lot pickier now-a-days due to the vast amount of options they are presented with. Make sure that your business resonates with them personally.

By Debbie Gregory.

Have you ever put an item in an online shopping chart, then changed your mind about buying it, only to find a follow-up email in your inbox offering an incentive to complete the transaction? That is an example of great email marketing.

Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly ways to reach your clients/customers. At least 91% of consumers check their email on a daily basis, which can’t be said of any other communication channel.

Targeting inboxes with email automation allows your business to send personalized, timely, and engaging emails to customers. The most important thing to keep in mind is that you need permission to email your prospects and customers, so make sure that you have an opt-in form in place.

The best way to grow your email list is by attracting people with a compelling offer, often called a lead magnet. This can consist of digital materials like PDFs, MP3 audio files, infographic or videos that you can create yourself at minimal or no cost. It can be absolutely anything you want, so long as it provides value to your visitors for free.

Once you have a healthy email list, using an email platform such as Constant Contact, MailChimp, etc. to send your emails gives you access to templates that you can customize with your company’s logo, and corporate look and feel, strengthening your brand recognition. Your email subscribers want relevant, timely information and updates about your business, since they subscribed to your mailing list; you know that you’re targeting a receptive audience. Make sure they know about up-and-coming products, timed promotions, and seasonal updates.

Email list segmentation is the process of breaking your subscribers into smaller groups based on specific criteria so that you can send them more personalized and relevant emails. This results in higher conversion rates.

Be sure to monitor the performance of your emails to identify areas that need improvement. Then A/B test some of your changes in order to make improvements.

Don’t get upset about unsubscribes, they happen. But ask yourself why people subscribed to your list in the first place, and are you delivering on that promise? Is your content of value to the segment it is being sent to? Are you sending too many sales emails with too little value?

Keeping your loyal customers is much more cost-effective than acquiring new ones. Therefore, rewarding your email subscribers with exclusive offers is a powerful tactic for increasing the chances of them sticking with your business longer than they would have otherwise done.

Veteran and Military Business Owners Association, VAMBOA,

 

ibmpos_blurgb