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What Small Businesses Need to Know About Developing a Brand

What Small Businesses Need to Know About Developing a Brand
What Small Businesses Need to Know About Developing a Brand? If I asked you the name of your business, you could probably respond without a second thought. But what if I were to ask you about your brand? What is the story you would tell, the mission you want to achieve, and the unique characteristics that set your business apart from your competitors? You’d probably need a bit more time, but it would be time well spent. Branding is a powerful tool. It can turn first-time customers into loyal followers and long-time customers into word-of-mouth marketers. Branding, when done masterfully, is the reason we apply “Chapstick” to soothe dry lips, eat “Popsicles” to cool down on a hot day, and “Google” the answer to life’s most pressing questions. Needless to say, brand identity is an important component to your business.     Picture Courtesy : 4 Compelling Brand Stories You Should Be Telling   How Can You Grow Your Brand? Its clear brand development is important, but how do you build it into your marketing efforts? There are numerous answers to that question, but the following often represent the most common and impactful way to increase brand awareness: Content Marketing: In many circles, content is considered the leading way to do everything from improving organic search results to, as you guessed it, increase brand awareness. Through this method, well-curated articles, blog posts, videos, white papers, etc. are used to increase brand credibility. Content is then distributed through various channels, including email, social media, and on the brand’s website or blog.     Picture Courtesy: 18 Types of Content Marketing You Can Use To Grow Your Business Ultimately content works to show your brand as a source of knowledge, whether it pertains to industry trends or customer needs.   Social Media Advertising: Social media allows business owners to leverage posts, shares, stories, and comments to engage directly with existing and potential customers. While much of that interaction is free, there are additional paid advertising options that can help small business owners take advantage of social media advertising to increase reach.   Picture Courtesy: Best Social Media Management Tools – No More Social Media Babysitting Many social media platforms, including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat offer paid advertising opportunities that base ad placement on user data. This can place your brand in front of a specific audience base or target user.   Charitable Initiatives: Companies like PetSmart, TOMs, and REI have long attracted customers through their dedication to philanthropic initiatives. By doing so, they’ve associated their brands with a specific mission – helping pets, clothing children, or saving the environment. When “giving” initiatives are leveraged correctly, they highlight your brand’s mission and show your commitment to goodwill. As such, your brand gains notoriety among audiences that share similar interests or philanthropic goals.     Picture Courtesy: Top 10 Best Free SEO Tools To instantly Improve Your Google Ranking in 2019   Search Engine Marketing (SEM): Today, SEM refers to any type of paid search efforts and has become an umbrella term used to refer to pay-per-click (PPC) and cost-per-click (CPC) marketing strategies. Through this method, you purchase ad space on search engine result pages (SERPS) on Google, Bing, etc. Instead of ranking organically for specific keywords, SEM allows your brand to show up at the top of a SERP, presenting your brand to highly targeted audiences. You Know How to Grow It, But How Do You Pay for It? While each of these methods can help you increase brand awareness, they often come at a price. Social media and SEM ads are often paid promotions that are based on the number of clicks. Content...
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Which Digital Channels Deliver the Best ROI

Which Digital Channels Deliver the Best ROI
Which Digital Channels Deliver the Best ROI ? Are you in the process of finalizing your digital marketing strategy for 2019? Are you contemplating on the budget to be invested across digital marketing channels? Then read on… Before you decide which digital marketing channels you should focus on, it is but imperative that you completely understand how each one has performed for the past recent years. Just as you wanted to utilize the channels that will get you the most out of your time, you also want to make sure that you will only be investing in channels that will deliver the maximum  ROI for your money as possible.   Selecting the right combination of channels is crucial for ensuring the success of your overall digital marketing campaign. Disruptive Shift In Digital Strategy – A Study by Ignite Visibility San Diego-based Ignite Visibility recently released a new study which highlights a growing shift in digital marketing. The study surveyed businesses in six revenue brackets – under 1 million, 1 to 5 million, 5 to 10 million, 10 to 20 million, 20 to 50 million and over 50 million – in order to gain insight into how they would be investing in digital marketing over the next two years. Additionally, the study analyzed which digital marketing channels would be most popular. “It’s incredibly important to be forecasting ahead and making sure you have the right digital strategy,” says Ignite Visibility CEO John Lincoln. “ We’re dedicated to bringing best-in-class insights to the industry so marketers can have the most effective strategy in place.”     The findings reveal an overall shift toward online marketing channels across all business categories. They also reveal that many smaller businesses still struggle to effectively measure ROI and conversion rates. Furthermore, social media is by far the hardest channel for businesses to manage. “We’re seeing a large shift from offline to online because digital channels are more trackable and generally produce a higher ROI,” continued Lincoln. In the study, we also say clear divisions in the business size and type of digital marketing channel they liked the most. But overall, social media marketing seemed to be a big pain point for all marketers.” To view the full study visit Ignite Visibility (New Study) 300 Marketers Reveal Disruptive Shift In Digital Strategy – Ignite Visibility Study reveals key findings in how marketers will shift marketing dollars through 2021. Key analysts: Karen Schwartzman, Content Manager Ignite Visibility John Lincoln, CEO of Ignite Visibility In this study, Ignite Visibility interviewed 300 marketers categorized by business sizes of under 1 million, 1 to 5 million, 5 to 10 million, 10 to 20 million,…   Blogging remains as the top content marketing strategy 53% of marketers say blogging is their top content marketing priority. The most successful marketers spend 40% of their total marketing budget on content marketing. The average for all respondents is 26%. Content marketing revenue will exceed $300 billion by 2019. Here are some of the biggest challenges when it comes to content and email marketing. Limited internal resources 28%, lack of strategy 28% and lack of content 23%.     Paid Search and Mobile Marketing As of July 2018, 90.46% of people use Google as a search engine. Bing is 3.13% and Yahoo is 2.21%. SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound leads (such as direct mail or print advertising) have a 1.7% close rate. 18% of local searches done on mobile devices lead to a sale within a day. In 2017, 48% of 1,200 global digital marketers say on-page SEO is still considered to be the most effective SEO tactic.     Facebook Advertising There are now more than 50 million small businesses using Facebook...
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How to Avoid Cash Flow Problems as a Small Business

How to Avoid Cash Flow Problems as a Small Business
If you own a small business, then you’re probably no stranger to cash flow issues. In fact, 21% of businesses claim that cash flow problems were significant issues, potentially leading to closing down. One of the best ways business owners can ensure success is by carefully managing cash flow. Because no matter how great your business plan is, your business won’t survive if you run out of money. What Causes Cash Flow Problems? Before you can get a handle of your cash flow issues, you have to understand why they occur. Here are three common reasons why cash flow problems may arise: Unnecessary Spending Many business owners have head the old adage that you have to spend money to make money. Unfortunately, this belief has caused many ambitious business owners to overspend. Not all business expenses equally as important to your operations. Consider the cost-benefit of each expense. Overestimating Future Earnings Optimism is a great trait but it needs to be paired with a healthy dose of objectivity. It’s important to forecast your sales based on previous earnings and data. By not counting on future earnings that may never show up, you can prevent overspending. Inconsistent Sales Some businesses have occasional spikes in sales followed by months where they sell next to nothing. Trends like these cause problems with budgeting and makes it difficult for business owners to make operational decisions, often choosing to survive off of their “good” months.   Tips for Avoiding Cash Flow Problems Cash flow problems are a reality for nearly all business owners but there are ways to manage them. Here are five ways to mitigate your cash flow issues: 1) Take Out a Short-Term or P2P Business Loan A short-term business loan can provide the capital you need to run your business and pay for any expense, from inventory to office furniture. Short-term business loans have a high rate of approval even for businesses with limited credit history. You’ll receive the money faster than you would if you took out a traditional bank loan, which can be extremely helpful if you have immediate needs. Sometimes the application process can take as little as 24 hours. One of the first places to check for business loans as a business owner would be Small Business Administration. Or, if you prefer to bypass the government, you can try a peer-to-peer business loan. These loans are funded by individual investors through a lending platform. However, these loans usually require more frequent payments, and you will likely end up with a higher interest rate. 2) Use a Working Capital Loan Working capital loans can give you the cash flow to cover crucial operational costs like rent and payroll. This gives you the flexibility to invest in your company’s growth and still cover day-to-day expenses. Unlike other business loans, working capital loans don’t require that you state your reasons for taking out the loan. However, you will have to repay this loan quickly and your loan may have a high interest rate. 3) Rely on a Traditional Small Business Loan There are benefits to an alternative lender, but a traditional small business loan has advantages as well. A small business loan can give you access to the funds you need to keep the lights on while you invest in your business growth. Traditional banks can offer one-on-one customer support, and they often have a greater variety of options to choose from. Your interest rate will be lower and your repayment terms will likely be more flexible. However, it can be difficult to qualify for a traditional business loan, and the application process can be tedious. And you’ll have to...
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How to avoid These 16 Cognitive Bias Traps

How to avoid These 16 Cognitive Bias Traps
“If there’s something you really want to believe, that’s what you should question the most.”  ― Penn Jillette To efficiently run a business, it’s necessary to think on your feet. You are required to make thousands of decisions and judgment calls daily. And while there is a wealth of information at our fingertips and communicating with colleagues or employees across the country takes only seconds, all this can lead to an information overload. In order to manage a business productively, we rely on mental shortcuts that allow us to get around this overflow of information. These mental tricks can also help us get around limits in memory, time, or a lack of information. These cognitive biases are necessary to help us make the sheer number of decisions necessary every day. However, cognitive biases can also lead you to make poor decisions and judgments regarding your business. Because they allow you to make decisions that don’t rely on logic, they can hold you back from doing your best work as a leader. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the common mental traps that you fall into as a manager of a small business. As your decisions can have a major impact on your bottom line, being more aware of your unconscious biases can help you find more success as a manager. For example, many people struggle with planning and scheduling projects. It is common for tasks to go out of scope or miss their deadlines. This is in part due to a cognitive bias called the “Planning Fallacy.” This bias causes you to underestimate the amount of time it will take to complete a task. However, once you are aware of this tendency, you can plan more time for your assignments than you think you will need and meet your deadlines. To help you in all your small business decisions, check out this infographic Fundera created on some of the more common biases and how to avoid...
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8 Ideas For Profitable Ecommerce Niches Right Now

8 Ideas For Profitable Ecommerce Niches Right Now
8 Ideas For Profitable Ecommerce Niches Right Now Image credit: Pexels Choosing an ecommerce niche can be very difficult, but if you can find the right one, it can prove extremely profitable. There are hundreds of potential niches out there and millions of products that you could sell, so you need to commit time and attention to finding one or two to focus on. Prioritization is essential for entrepreneurs. Niche products are easier to market than general products because you can target a very particular group of people with less competition to contend with. You see fewer leads overall, but the vastly-improved conversion rates more than make up for that. Source: ecomdash   Not sure where to start? Here are 8 strong ideas for profitable ecommerce niches that you can use for inspiration. Athleisure wear The word ‘athleisure’ first entered common parlance a few years ago, and it looks set to stick around. Athleisure wear, as the name suggests, encompasses items of clothing that are suitable for both athletic and leisure activities: if you’ve ever been out to brunch in your gym gear, you’ve rocked the athleisure look. Within this category you can sell everything from yoga pants and sports bras to running shoes, all in a wide variety of colors and prints. Athleisure wear interest levels. Source: Google Trends    Millennials are the usual targets for athleisure wear, with a fairly even customer split of 60% women and 40% men. Because the products are centered on fashion, visual channels such as Facebook, Pinterest and especially Instagram are excellent platforms to grow your brand. Buy it for life (BIFL) People are growing tired of buying cheap, low-quality products, and are getting interested in conscious buying — something targeted through buy it for life products. The emphasis here is on high-quality, durable items that aren’t cheap but will last for a long time. As we become aware of the negative impacts of consumerism in our throwaway culture, we are finding ourselves more willing to spend money on things that won’t break within a few months. Source: The Good Human   While the buy it for life niche automatically means fewer return customers and fewer products sold overall, selling premium products offers a better margin. In addition, buy it for life offers the valuable opportunity to build your brand with a great story, which will help you connect with customers and keep them loyal. Night masks Night masks are a good niche to target because they offer a solution to a persistent problem: needing to block out excess light so you can get a better night’s sleep. Night masks can be broken down into three main customer segments: sensitive sleepers, travellers, and beauty fans. This means you can sell related products alongside them, such as relaxing lavender oil, travel pillows, or skin care products, depending on which group you are targeting. Night masks Source: Google Trends    Good sleep is very important for a variety of reasons, and always will be, so this is a niche that isn’t just a passing fad. Shapewear It has been reported that the shapewear market is expected to leap to $5.6 million in sales by 2022, so now is a great time to start establishing your brand within this niche. Shapewear is worn underneath your clothes and creates a sleeker and slimmer silhouette. For many years it has been associated purely with lingerie, but there are now many different cuts and styles that can be worn under everything from cocktail dresses to pairs of jeans and t-shirts. Source: SmartThingz   Shapewear offers you plenty of versatility as a retailer, and can be sold alongside everything from...
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