6 Business Growth Tactics For Entrepreneurs [Infographic]

If you’re an entrepreneur wondering how to ensure your business grows, you must get your marketing down. Start with these tactics discussed in the full article on how to Amplify Business Growth with These 6 Entrepreneur Hacks.

Quick Business Growth Guide

Use this infographic as a handy reference and business growth guide.

If you’re one of the many businesses that has left marketing as an afterthought or simply thought how hard could this be, we just go on Facebook and we’ll figure it out, take a step back. Garner sales from social media is an art and a scient and takes a well thought out strategy and often will take months or years to perfect.

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Amplify Business Growth with These 6 Entrepreneur Hacks

As entrepreneurs, business owners and marketers, we are obsessed with growth. You probably spend a considerable amount of time wondering how you can grow your business more quickly and effectively, and to your credit, since lack of growth focus inevitably leads to business decline. Unfortunately, when you’re in charge of running a small business, you can’t simply hurl money at problems to make them disappear. Instead you must be agile and capable of coming up with intelligent, reasonable solutions that will put you ahead of your competitors – without leaving you out of pocket. To that effect, here are six entrepreneur hacks that you can use to grow your small business.

Use Social Media To Amplify Your Marketing Efforts

A successful marketing plan must be varied and well thought-out, and of course, you will have a lot to work on outside of your social media campaigns. But social media is a great tool to amplify the impact of your efforts and increase the chances of success. For the most part it’s also very affordable, and yet still under-utilized as a means of marketing. If you’re not using it already, now is the time to start.

Most of us have certain social networks that we prefer to use over others, however, when you’re approaching social media as a business, it’s important to at least be present on all major networks. Give your prospective customers a chance to hear from you. You can then refine your efforts as it becomes clear which channels are proving most effective. Here is a useful guide on choosing the right social networks for your business – it has much to do with your audience and the kind of products or services that you offer.

On that note, you should also consider:

How To Format Content For Different Social Platforms

Often times new business owners make the mistake of routinely posting the same thing on each of their social accounts, without making allowances for the differences between them. But observing and making the most of these differences is crucial, as every social network is used slightly differently, and for varying purposes. To really get the best out of your social marketing efforts, content should be specifically repurposed for each platform.

Twitter users, for example, favor short and snappy statements accompanied by an image or GIF. Facebook users love memes: the humorous and engaging images (accompanied by text and often rooted in popular culture) that often appear on our newsfeeds. Instagram is all about beautiful and appealing photography, and using hashtags strategically. And LinkedIn users are looking for something longer and meatier that offers some good insight. Even if you plan on sharing the same message or piece of content across all four, the content and format will require mixing up for best results.

Naturally you will then find that some networks work better for you than others, and when you do, you can really start to push your efforts in that direction. Most social platforms offer some sort of advertising scheme that will make your posts more visible – Facebook advertising is a good place to start. As you get to know your customer niche, you can also start perusing specialist groups and forums to find out what people are saying and what matters to them.

Tap Into The Power Of Influencers

Influencers are a little like the celebrities of the online world. They could be a huge star, who with just one endorsement will send thousands of people flocking to your website, or they could be a small fry, but with enough credibility built up over time to provide you with a valuable recommendation.

First off, you will want to do some research. There are many different types of influencer, and a number of ways to go about finding them, whether that’s through an agency or using one of several online tools, such as Buzzstream or LinkedIn Groups. You then need to get to know them a little and follow them on social media to see what matters to them, before making your pitch. Find out how to do influencer marketing right in 2017.

Leverage Your Existing Client Relationships

In addition to the online celebs, never underestimate the power of online reviews from average customers. These matter a great deal too. Customers can be encouraged to leave reviews by making sure that it’s easy to do so, putting existing reviews in a visible place, soliciting reviews via email, and through incentives such as a monthly prize draw or gamification.

amplify business growth with influencers

Be Open To Feedback

If you’re a business owner, then knowing how to handle others’ assessment is crucial. Especially in the early days, seek feedback from as many people as possible, and make sure they’re being honest. Don’t be content with praise: ask for constructive comments about your product, your branding, your customer service. And don’t become defensive if what you hear isn’t what you expected.

Remember, you don’t have to follow all suggestions, but it is important that you hear them. If you are only surrounded with ‘yes people’ then you could miss out on potential ways to make your product offering much better. Here are some top tips for gathering feedback.

Nail Your 90-Second Elevator Pitch

The seasoned investor and entrepreneur Robert Herjavec says “You have 90 seconds to make an impact in your pitch”. That’s if you’re lucky. “If you can’t make your point persuasively in that time, you’ve lost the chance for impact. Facts and figures are important, but it’s not the only criteria – you must present in a manner that generates expertise and confidence. If you’re not prepared to make your pitch, you may just miss your next big opportunity.”

As a fresh-faced entrepreneur, being able to concisely and creatively describe what is unique about what you do is one of the most important skills to master. And it doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Likewise, many also make the mistake of thinking their pitch is a one-way conversation – it isn’t. The best elevator pitches use questions to create a two-way conversation and ensure that your points remain relevant. The best advice is to aim for simplicity and get straight to the heart of what you do: no rambling off-point. If you can develop a 90-second elevator pitch that gets people inspired, you’re onto a very good thing.

Here is one of the top guides to assembling a winning elevator pitch.

Spread Your Overhead Costs

When you’re in charge of a startup or running a new business, it’s wise to keep your initial costs to a minimum, otherwise you will be under a lot of pressure to generate income faster. The more debt you become saddled with in the beginning, the higher your chances of failing, so you should ensure there is a legitimate reason to invest in everything that you buy, whether that’s office space, kit, or a new employee. At least in the beginning, you must be willing to get stuck into creative problem-solving and make some compromises.

An office premises is obviously one of the biggest expenses for any new business, and one of the reasons that many new companies now choose to set themselves up online. Another expense is kitting the place out with desks, chairs, computers, and so forth. In this instance, you might want to consider leasing or buying second-hand. Software can also add up if you need a lot of it, so you may wish to seek out options that allow you to break the cost down and pay monthly, rather than forking out for an annual subscription in one go.

For example, if you’re starting an eCommerce business, then you might choose to go with a reliable hosted online store platform like Shopify, which starts with a free two-week trial, then allows you to pay monthly for a basic, standard or advanced plan, which can be as little as $29 per month. BigCommerce also offers similar pricing.

A new business needs time to start generating a profit, and can often take longer than 12 months to do so. This is worth bearing in mind as you make financial estimates for the first year of trading.

The lifestyle of an entrepreneur has potential to be incredibly rewarding, but it has its ups and downs and its own fair share of stressors. Always remember as you work towards your goals that every one of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs once stood exactly where you are. Absorb their lessons, practice patience, and be willing to take risks every now and again.

 Tell us what you think! Are there are more startup business hacks you would add? Let us know by sharing them in the comments.

entrepreneur hacks Victoria GreenAuthor:  Victoria Greene: Brand Marketing Consultant & Freelance Writer.  Victoria works with new ecommerce businesses and entrepreneurs to create valuable content and targeted marketing strategies that yield strong results. She is always happy to share some of her knowledge with others to help them get their startups off the ground.

Social Media Best Practices

visual content marketing

Laura sat with Robert Imbriale during the Profit Conference in Carlsbad, CA to recap and share some of the best practices and the trends in this ever-changing, forever evolving world of social media, in a lively, fun and informative webinar broadcast that you may have seen in the last blog post. This is a summary and further explanation of the interview.

When asked what the main thing in social media was in 2014, Laura said it’s definitely CONTENT. We know the importance of content last year and it will be even more important in 2015. She said Content is “The Marketing” by itself. By creating interesting and meaningful content that people will want to consume and be compelled to share, you let yourself stand out and be known to your audience and target consumers.

Laura emphasized that visual content was big in 2014 but it will be huge in 2015. Case in point, the proliferation of Canva.com, an online tool you can use to create beautiful posters or images that you can use on social media. Plus it’s free. Anyone, can now be a graphic designer so there’s no excuse not to have a good graphic to accompany your post. Furthermore, make it a larger image (sized for the social networks to feature – minimum 800 pixels wide).

There’s nothing better to illustrate the power of visual content than how Pinterest exploded in 2012-2013. If you think about it, every business has a visual component to it. There’s a ton of inspiring graphics you can develop whether it’s a beautiful product shot that stands out and grabs attention, a quote with a background image that makes an impact, or an infographic.

On your business network pages showcase your work visually. It can be an image of your book, course titles, tagline, quote, professional shot of you, you speaking to a crowd or working with a client. Even LinkedIn has the option to put an image in their header to make your page as unique as you. You will connect more to your audience if you have appealing professional images.

Here lies the challenge, how can you be noticed by your target audience among the sea of visually competitive organic posts and sponsored contents? Since the game has changed and a number of alterations are introduced to Facebook’s algorithm every now and then, it remains a challenge to be featured in your audiences’ newsfeed. Unless your post happens to go viral and gets lots of likes and shares, then the algorithm will kick in and put you on top. So what happens to the rest of your posts, you ask? How can you compete with professionally designed looking advertisement being prioritized by Facebook? Well, you can create visually compelling content. Include either a call to action, statement of benefits or simply add your compelling headline on the image. Grab your audience’s attention first with bright, colorful visual that stands out, and create the desire for them to click by offering a special discount or a free e-book.

The reality is Facebook is Pay-to-Play. Advertising will be big in 2015. According to Laura. Facebook is even calling up small businesses to lure them to advertise. If you want your important content to be seen, you have to pay. It’s the (small) investment you have to make to see results. You might ask, what is the ideal budget for an effective advertising campaign? The answer is it depends. The good news is that the better you get in managing your content, the less you’ll spend. However, if you spend more, you get more positive results and more return on your investment. Your advertising spend will depend on your goals and your budget. The key is that to have a strategy in place and combine both organic and paid ads that will deliver your expected results.

What if you don’t have the budget to play on Facebook? Laura advised some of her clients to not invest, but still have the presence for credibility so when your client searches you they will see your business page (other than your website), hence, making you a credible legit business.
Laura instead recommends Google+ because it is an 800-pound gorilla as opposed to Robert’s perception of an empty warehouse . Google+ has amazing content being shared by a community of passionate individuals who love to interact with like-minded individuals. You can follow various interest areas and topics that you like and Google+ will deliver that content on your newsfeed. They also have recommendations based on your existing likes and interest.

The beauty of being in Google+ is the Google juice! All your posts there are indexed by Google, so your content is searchable and gives you more SEO benefits. Another great advantage of Google+ is Hangouts on Air (HOA) where you can stream live interviews, Q&As, webinars, presentations, and it gets recorded and uploaded to your linked YouTube account. Best of all it’s free. Laura does HOA every week on Social Buzz Club and ditched her other webinar platform. In fact, she is producing HOA on behalf of her clients this 2015. HOA may be terrifying to some even the most experience speaker, but Laura said the more you do it, the better you get, the and more fun it becomes. The key to live video streaming is have a decent background, good lighting and good audio quality.

For those who are panicking about the idea of being on camera and the learning curve, it’s OK, Breathe… Laura advises business owners to do what you love to do, stay centered and focus on what you want to contribute and you’ll be fine. Business owners can leave the high-end tech to the techies like Robert and professionals like Laura to produce their HOAs on their behalf.

So, what IS the big thing in 2015 other than Big Data? Where do entrepreneurs who want to conquer social media focus their effort on? Two things: Paid Amplification (paid advertising) and Participation Marketing. We already know why we have to pay-to-play but what about the latter?

Participation Marketing is using your existing customers as your brand ambassador by collaborating with them to create compelling and rich content. It could be in a form of interviewing clients, paying them to write blogs, mystery shopper or running a campaign that will produce quality contents like creating recipes using Nabisco cookies.

Another big thing this year is mobile where integration of offline and online meets. One good example is Apple Pay, an app that lets you pay thru your smart phone, eliminating cash or even credit cards. Mobile is also becoming a ubiquitous device that most of us cannot live without, we even have a term for losing our phone, Nomophobia. Meanwhile 75% of Americans logged in on FB via smartphone. That’s why it’s more important than ever to have a mobile responsive website. In other words, a responsive and interactive website is critical to any business’ success.

Your website is your hub online. Make sure it shines with consistent blog articles that showcase your expertise and you include a free offer to capture leads you can feel confident linking to it from social media as well as directing your networking connections there. Be sure to connect all your website, email and blog to all your social networks and vice versa. Think of it as a web with double head arrows . Link everything.

Lastly, if there’s one word Laura can give, her best advice is ALIGNMENT. Be clear with your mission. Express it. Worry not on technology but your message, how you want to help people, serve your customers. Hone in aon what impact you want to make. And that to me, is the core of any strong business strategy.

About the Author: Kellie Sabas

Kellie is an Independent Marketing Consultant and a Meeting and Events Planner with HelmsBriscoe based in San Diego, CA. She also was the Marketing Manager for a luxury brand in charge with brand’s marketing strategy execution in the market and it’s profitability. She is passionate about Social Media Marketing and works with non-profit organizations to plan and execute their digital marketing campaigns.

The Best Business Development Strategy For Entrepreneurs – Public Speaking

Speaking for business developmentThe single most effective business development strategy for entrepreneurs is public speaking. As a marketing strategist for over 22 years, the small businesses I’ve seen grow the fastest are the ones where the leadership is speaking to groups of ideal prospective clients, colleagues, and other professionals who serve the same market. This is how I started and I have Toastmasters International to thank for the development of my skills in public speaking. More on that later. Even with the popularity of social media marketing, public speaking still is my number one marketing strategy. Social media can amplify the results you get with public speaking. A robust marketing plan includes strategies that build relationships.

When you are the featured speaker at a meeting, conference or corporate event, you give the audience members the opportunity to connect with you and start a relationship.

[Tweet “The best marketing strategies for entrepreneurs ALWAYS involve building relationships.”]

There are three main reasons public speaking is such a powerful marketing tool.

Speakers Have Instant Authority

First, when you present to a group of individuals you are automatically seen as an authority. You are given instant credibility because you’re on stage and have obviously been endorsed by the person/organization who invited you there. You know the old adage, “People buy from people they know, like and trust.” Thus, being a featured speaker builds that instant credibility because they can get to know you and determine if they like and trust you as you speak.  If they like what you say,  how you present and get value from your content, landing sales is very easy.

Exposure To Many Saves Time

Ultimately, getting sales comes down to numbers of targeted prospects. When yo speak to a group of people who are in need of your products/services, you are concentrating your efforts. Remember, you could be in front of a large audience, but if they are not targeted (people who are interested in what you have to offer), then your efforts may not be as productive. Therefore, it is important when choosing events to speak at that the audience is a match – meaning they are hungry for the information and solutions you have.

Leads To Other Opportunities

Invariably when I speak, I get new clients, offers to speak at other events, and/or colleagues who want to collaborate or send their clients. As Woody Allen says “80% of success is showing up.” One tip to ensuring this happens, is to play the role of host (when you’re not on stage). Go around the room, and introduce yourself to people. More importantly, find out about them. Ask them what brought them to the event today, what they are most excited to receive from the event, and what they do. I call this preparing the soil. Where you’re letting them know they are important and you are interested because you’ve taken the time to learn about them. Eventually, they will ask you questions, but until they do, keep asking them questions. Do this with as many people in the room that you can. If you can do this prior to getting on stage, you will feel like you are speaking to a group of friends. If not, just know they will be more predisposed to connecting after you speak.

Where To Learn How To Speak To Groups

You may be excited by the possibilities of speaking to groups and terrified about it at the same time. That is completely understandable as they say, public speaking is one of the most common fears. If you are in that camp, I can relate. In my early 20’s I was encouraged to join Toastmasters International. It was through encouragement and coaching by members that I grew past my fears to absolutely love and enjoy speaking from stage. Toastmasters has local chapters that usually meet weekly and follow a comprehensive and engaging format that develops members into adept public speakers. Many go on to win awards and have exceptional professional speaking careers.

I am so very honored to be speaking at the District 5 Leadership And Communication Experience (LACE) Fall Conference.

 

Social Media Marketing Not A Fad According To Research

SocialMediaMarketingIndustryReportCoverEvery year since 2009, Michael Stelzner, founder of Social Media Examiner has conducted social media study with marketers to find out the impact of social media on their business growth.

As far as I can tell with all indicators, social media for business is on the rise. Since the first study 6 years ago, the numbers have had an upward trend. Here is a summary of the social media research findings as compared over the last 5 years.

The most significant finding revealed was that “92% of marketers said that social media was important to their businesses.” In 2009 was 88% of businesses surveyed were using social media to market their business.

The Age Old Question – How Do You Measure Social Media ROI

This year 37% of businesses surveyed reported they are able to measure their effectiveness on social media which is up from 26% in 2013. This still remains a big question, but even though marketers haven’t mastered measuring the return on investment, they cannot stay away. However, as you will see later, there are clear benefits that marketers are receiving including increasing their bottom line.

Is Facebook Marketing Working?

Marketers are still wondering about this. In fact, the survey indicated that 58% of marketers are uncertain or show that their Facebook Marketing efforts are NOT working.

Benefits of Social Media Marketing

Despite these two important questions of ROI and effectiveness of Facebook marketing, businesses are showing an increase in benefits over 2013 and in general a general increase over the last six years in the following areas.

92% say that social media is generating exposure for their business (up from 89% in 2013, 85% in 2012 and 2010, and 81% in 2009)

80% report that social media is increasing website traffic and subscribers (up from 75% in 2013, 69% in 2012, 72% in 2011, 63% in 2010, 61% 2009)

66% report that social media has generated leads (up from 61% in 2013, 58% in 2012, 51% in 2011, 52% in 2010  48% in 2009)

And the bottom line…

50% report that social media has improved sales (up from 43% in 2013, 40% in 2012, 43% in 2011, 48% in 2010, 35% in 2009)

SocialMediaImprovesSales     SocialMediaIncreasedLeads

What I love about this survey is that 53% of the 2,887 survey respondents work for small business or are self employed.

To get the detailed analysis with demographics of business types, the white paper is an excellent resource. Through May 30, 2014 you can download the report here.