Branding isn’t about having a good logo, matching design and talking of your brand all the time. Branding involves much more than this… it involves building trust and credibility. You customers must know you and have trust in you. There’s a lot in branding that must know to be successful.
Whether you’ve been blogging for sometime or you just recently created a blog for your travel agency, search engine optimization is something you need to stay on top of if you aim to reach search engine visitors.
As a travel website owner there are tricks of the trade you can learn and apply which will help you to gain momentum within Google, Bing or Yahoo – that you can then capitalize on at your site. The trick is to learn SEO and how it works so you can drive traffic to your site and gain sales, leads, clients and more.
I don’t believe in the ranking system, especially for the bloggers as I believe that if your blog has a good readership, you are surely a great blogger irrespective of your earnings, traffic stats or authority in the niche.
So, today I am focusing on a list that includes influential bloggers but of different styles and themes. Most of these people write about blogging yet each blog offers a different perspective on blogging.
Blogs are an excellent way to enhance knowledge in a particular sector; they provide all the useful insights and also give a peek into the latest happenings in that area. As a budding entrepreneur, you will do yourself a great favour if you can keep a close tab on some of the best startup advice blogs on the Internet.
They will add immense value to your business by helping you understand how the world of startups is shaping up, sharing tips on running your startup efficiently and leading you to a great future. So here I give you a quick listing of the ten best startup advice blogs you must follow in 2016.
Is your business using Facebook for promotion? Is your business getting the most out of marketing on Facebook?
With more than 1.44 billion monthly active users (In quarter 1, 2015), Facebook has become the favorite platform for advertisers. Almost all the brands are placing their bets on Facebook. A large part of their online marketing budget is spent on this social media platform and the fact that this platform is still growing makes it even more lucrative.
Instagram is one of the most popular social media networking sites at present but it seems like businesses are quite doubtful when it comes to using instagram marketing to make more sales or increase their customer base. When you run a business that benefits from visual communication, like designer brands or luxury accommodation then Instagram can work very well.
Suzanne Harward and Sand Dunes Resort are 2 clients that come to mind that have benefited from Instagram marketing.
Maybe things like, the inability to generate leads directly through the platform or the fact that it might end up like Facebook which now focuses only on emptying the pockets of advertisers, are pushing you away from instagram marketing but here are some points that would convince you to refocus your marketing strategy and take instagram as a serious marketing tool.
- Greater organic reach: Let’s talk of the most important thing first. Why brands were able to make it BIG on facebook without spending any money in the beginning? Because of the organic reach. But changes in algorithms on Facebook made it impossible for brands to reach the audience with paying money. Such a thing doesn’t happen with instagram for now. There are no algorithms that might filter your content. It works in real time and gives you full opportunity to reach your fans.
- Higher rate to interaction: The rate of interaction on instagram is much higher than other social networking sites. According to my own research with the two brands I work with, the people from age group 13-21 engage the most on social media sites. And luckily, maximum active users of instagram belong to the same age group. So, if your target audience is from 13-21 age group, you are going to be the next instagram star.
- Free to use: all you need to do to make the most out of your instagram marketing plan is to post photos, cool photos. There is no need to boost your posts to make them reach to biger audience. Correct use of hashtags and good images is the only cost you need to pay for using instagram. Yeah! It is FREE.
- Option to analyze: there are several apps available these days like iconosquare that help you analyze the results of your marketing efforts on the site. You can check out what kinds of posts are working, what kind of audience likes your content and much more in a very easy and understandable manner.
- Sponsored advertising coming up: If you’re a newbie in marketing, you would prefer not to use this option. Maybe. But if you’re running a big marketing campaign, you would want to spend some money to get greater results. If that’s the case, it is even more important to start with instagram marketing right now because instagram has already announced that it would be coming up with the sponsored advertising option on its platform. Better master how to use the platform before the update rolls out.
All in all instagram can be your next big bet and bring you a lot of results and leads, if done right. But to make that happen, you need to start it right now. Start using instagram and boost your marketing results.
When you are marketing your company, have you thought about who you’re marketing to?
I think most people would just say yes to this question without giving too much thought to is but the one thing I have found that when you dig into this question just a little deeper, people are often very surprised just how little they understand who their target market is.
An an example of this I worked on recently was a company that offers Ski Myoko ski packages in Japan. This company offers an incredible product – they are fully tailored ski packages at ski resorts that are removed from the tourist trap resorts most people end up booking when they organise their own ski trips. They give people a shortcut to the sort of resorts and local ski runs that usually aren’t available to non-native speakers.
What’s marketing a business all about?
I was talking to a friend of mine recently, Len Watterson – who is an amazing piano tuner in Melbourne, but is completely lost when it comes to marketing himself. He asked me, what’s marketing all about? There’s no doubt about it, marketing is a popular buzzword for people in business. As a business owner you know you should be doing it, but do you really understand what marketing is? And importantly, how can you go about it without it costing you a fortune?
Here’s some advice to get you thinking. Once you’ve worked out your customer needs and wants you can be very, very specific and very targeted about what your marketing is.
This is where I tell people to think there are three phases to marketing – review, analysis and planning.
*Can you tell me more about the review phase? *
This is the most important phase. This is where you have to look at yourself, if you are the owner or the person running the business. In most cases the onus for running and marketing that business comes back to you. What skills do you have?
What are you really good at? What are you not so good at?
Then you have to look at the business itself. You’ve got to do a SWOT analysis on you and your business.
What’s a SWOT?
You can do a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) where you look at your business system, your client base and your competitors. Think about all the aspects of your business.
OK, so that’s the review phase, what’s the next phase?
The Analysis Phase is the most complicated part. Here, you gather all the information found during the review, put it up on flip charts or post it notes, stick it around the room and start to ask:
o Where is the business going?
o Who are the target markets?
o Which are the most profitable, easiest to get and most desirable markets? Once you’ve done that, you can say,
o These are my targets.
o What sort of product development do I need to do?
o What sort of marketing should I be doing?
So you start to analyse where the business growth is going to come from.
So what’s involved in the planning phase?
That’s the ‘do-it’ phase. Here you need to look at putting financial goals on each of your marketing strategies. You may have three or four target market segments you’re going after. You may say: “Ok I want five new clients from this market segment who’ll average about $10,000 each. That may mean we have $50,000 to bring in from that area.”
Next you work out the strategies of what we’re actually going to do.
So the planning process is the fun part, actually going out there and doing it. It’s things such as deciding to take an ad. A lot of people decide to take an ad at the start of the process but they’re not really sure who they’re targeting. You can save money when you start to be very focused on your target market and what business you want.
I don’t have much money to spend so do you have any tips?
Most businesses don’t have unlimited resources (time, money and energy) to spend on marketing. Brand new businesses have heaps of time and energy but very little money. More established businesses probably have more money but time and energy is more limited.
Experts say you should put a market boundary or artificial boundary around your business to show where you’re going to spend the majority of your time, energy and money.
Those boundaries can be:
o a geographical area
o an industrial boundary
o an age boundary
o a sex boundary
o an attitudinal boundary.
For example, if you’re selling a product to an environmentally aware group, you might have an environmentally aware boundary. It’s a way of making sure you get the most out of your marketing time, money and energy.
A lot of businesses tend to think they must be all things to all people. Focus on specific market segments or specific groups of clients and then target marketing specifically to them. Most businesses have one message, put it out to everybody and then leave it to the client to work out what’s in it for them. If you have target market segments with three or four types of clients you’re after you’d then tailor each of your marketing messages and each of your marketing strategies to suit those particular clients. That works better for small business operators than this “oh yes I must have all the business.”
Most of us have some clients we like better than others. Wouldn’t it be nice to have more of those and less of the ones you don’t like.
Is marketing a business expensive?
Not if you work out your customers needs and wants. Look at tight market segments and think of what you can do differently to attract a large number of the people in this group. Focus your advertising and marketing to your target market and you can save money.
Effective marketing should put financial goals on each marketing strategy.
Marketing overkill will happen if you don’t tailor your strategies to suit your specific target market. You’re wasting time and money on marketing to someone who isn’t specifically suited to your product.
Use marketing boundaries to decide how to divide your resources. This is an effective way to monitor and make sure you get the best out of your marketing money, time and energy.
If you’re needing help and want to hire a marketing agency, I’ve worked with Chatterbox Marketing Agency in Melbourne and they are great people that get results through a targeted and strategic approach.
When a person opens up their shop or becomes a consultant for the first time, they can be surprised that they’re actually in sales. Those who work as professionals (doctors, lawyers, etc) often don’t realise the sales side of their business and the whole system of customer service behind that.
Why do some sales people have it and others don’t? What makes a person good at sales?
Brian Tracy is one of America’s leading authorities on the development of human potential and personal effectiveness. Prior to founding Brian Tracy International, Brian was the chief operating officer of a development company with $265m in assets and $75m in annual sales.
He has had successful careers in sales and marketing, investments, real estate development and syndication, importation, distribution and management consulting.
Tracy is a man who knows more about sales than most other people in the entire world and while this might be a big call, he’s certainly up there. All around the world, his writings and lectures are well attended by people who know a lot about sales.
So where did the knowledge come from?
I started off as a poor boy. I didn’t graduate from high school. I worked at labouring jobs and finally stumbled into sales when I couldn’t find a labouring job, and then I spun my wheels for months and months and months until I began asking why is that some sales people are more successful than others?
I began to ask people, and it became almost like a blazing question for me. I began to ask top sales people what they were doing differently from me and the most amazing thing is they told me. They said show me what you’re doing and I’ll critique it for you’.
So I realised that selling was not a matter of talking. Selling was a matter of, first of all, separating prospects from suspects.
In brief, a prospect is someone who needs your product, wants your product and can use and afford it – but Tracy goes into depth with the definition.
You’re not looking to selling things to people that they can’t benefit from, you’re looking for people who can most benefit from what your product does for them. That’s a critical difference in selling – junior sales people sell what the product is; professionals sell what the product does, because all people ever buy is improvement, Tracey says.
They buy to improve their life or work in some way. So you need to be clear what is it that your product or service does to improve their life or work, and then you find people for whom this improvement is a real value and for whom the benefit is greater than the amount that you charge. So that is a prospect, he says.
So if you’re wanting these prospects to buy your goods and services, what do you have to know about them?
One of the things that we teach – and we spend all day on this – is this: who is your perfect prospect? If you could identify your perfect prospect – age, education, background, income, experience, knowledge, need and capability of buying – who is your perfect prospect for the benefits that your product or service offers?.
So once you’ve developed a profile for your prospect, what next?
Where can you find those people? And then, how can you appeal to those people – what value do they seek from you, why would they buy, why wouldn’t they buy. So everything in business, from the beginning to the end, is this incredible intense focus on the customer and how you can help that customer improve his or her life or work in some way.
Some people are great at customer service, but they still don’t generate enough customers. What are those sorts of people doing wrong?
What they don’t realise is that customers have two major fears – it’s the same in Australia, it’s the same worldwide. First, they have a fear of being taken advantage of. And why did they have this fear? Because they have been. That’s the normal nature of commercial society, people will be taken advantage of.
Second, they have a fear of being hustled or manipulated, being talked into something that’s not in their best interests because it has happened in the passed.
Therefore, the second part of professional selling is to establish a reputation of belief and credibility with the prospects. The person knows you and likes you and trusts you and believes that what you’re saying is true. I don’t mean this to be manipulative – it has to be straight forward and honest because in the final analysis you can never fake it, he says.
Good business people are cognisant of how important it is to build and maintain a high quality customer relationship with a prospect.
The best sales people, the best businesses, are those who their customers like and trust and feel confident doing business with, so it’s really an essential part, he says.
How important is it to understand the needs of a customer when it comes to selling?
It’s absolutely essential. In fact, there have been millions and millions of dollars of research done and what you find is that the customer is not really on the field of play until the customer realises they have an unsatisfied need that you can satisfy.
So therefore the focus in building trust is to ask questions about the customer situation in his or her needs, he says.
Tracey refers to articles in The Wall Street Journal and the Harvard Business Review that mention a recent study on this. It was found that people had three types of needs.
There are clear needs, there are unclear needs, and there are non-existent needs. And when you meet with a person for the first time, the biggest mistake that people make is to assume that they have an existing need of which they’re aware.
Many people have needs they didn’t even know that they were aware of, and the only way you can uncover that is by asking really good questions and listening closely to the answer until it becomes clear to you and to the prospect, and the prospect says ah yes’ and realises they need that. Only then can you start talking about your products or service, he says.
How important is research? Have those who are poor at sales not researched their potential customer bases or markets?
The 80/20 rule applies to selling as to every other field. Approximately 80% of sales people are mediocre because they’re lazy. I’ve trained a million sales people and I’ve worked for a thousand corporations. They’re lazy. They do the very least to get by, they don’t make any effort to learn as much as they can about their product, their competitors’ products, and especially about their customers.
The top 20% however, are different. These people are ambitious and eager to make a good life as sales professionals, they see this as a professional field, and they’re veracious about learning. They read everything they can, they listen to audio programs, they attend courses, they study their product and their competitors’ product, he says.
I asked Tracy to give some examples of people in this 20% category.
Probably one of the best examples is Sam Walton of WalMart. On the list of the 10 richest people in American, the richest multibillionaires, five are descendents of Sam Walton.
He started off with a little store in a little town called Bentonville, Arkansas, and he had this idea of satisfying people by finding out what they really wanted and then looking everywhere to get them the lowest prices and when he could manage it to buy in bulk.
So we have lower prices – he always passed on 50% of his savings to his customers in lower prices. There’s a lot of controversy about WalMart today, but WalMart is a great company because it’s focused single-mindedly on selling the very best quality at the lowest price to people who can afford the very least, the littlest guy in society.
So what Sam Walton will do is, from the time he started his business, he would travel to other towns to visit other stores and walk around the stores and take notes looking at what they were doing right to satisfy their customers and then come back and incorporate it into the WalMart approach, Tracy says.
When talking to Gerry Harvey recently, I mentioned that when I was listening to what he does it reminded me of a top-notch athlete who is focused 24/7 on success. Is this the hallmark of great sales people and great business people?
I say that there are many qualities that are helpful to success and there are two that are essential – one is focus, which is being absolutely clear about who you are and what you want, and the second is concentration, the ability to concentrate without diversion or distraction on your most important goal.
And both of these are learnable skills, by the way, and very few children have them and you can learn them by practice, he says.
But what do you say about people who are in sales who have done nothing to actually teach themselves the skills of selling?
Recently, I heard from an expert in retail selling that it’s not smart to start off with the question can I help you? and most people in retail with no training will ask that question and annoy the customers.
That’s all they know. Many companies are started by people who are not sales people. We’ve done hundred of thousands of dollars of research – there’s two types of companies. There are companies with an entrepreneurial CEO. This is a person who worked his way up, sold his way up, and built a company. Then there are companies that are run by non-entrepreneurial CEOs. These are people who moved in from a different field and never went through the selling experience. These people have no sense for how important the sales are.
IBM got into serious trouble in the late ’80s and early ’90s and they were even talking about breaking it up. The reason was because the last of the great sales guys, Thomas J Watson Jr retired in about 1986/87 and they said we are a big company now, we can run this company with accountants’. So the person they put in charge was an accountant and the accountant felt that selling was a completely unnecessary part of IBM and began slashing sales budgets, marketing budgets, slashing rewards – basically completely, as they say, disrespecting the sales function – and the company in three years was almost like a ship turned over in the water.
And when they brought in a new president, the first thing he did was bring in McKinsey and Company, spending $3m finding out what was wrong. They reported back that low sales was the problem, and high sales the solution. What’s the key?, he asked. Get your sales people out there face to face with customers, helping them solve their business problems, and get them off the phones and out of the offices’.
And within 24 months they turned the entire company around. Every single business that gets into trouble, somebody has to say let’s get back to selling, let’s get back to getting face to face with customers and helping them with what they really want and need.
Peter Switzer’s tips
- Appreciate this reality – when you’re in business, you’re in sales
- Work out your prospects
- Research these prospects intensely
- Identify your prospects needs
- Write scripts for your sales staff so they know how to talk to prospects and customers
- See selling as a profession
- Seek sales training
- Be honest and ethical in your dealings
Can you learn by reading about other’s success?
The whole point of reading about successful small business operators is simple – you want to be told something you don’t know. You want an edge you can take to market that will end up with you having a first-rate business. It’s what’s called the copycat strategy.
The great artists are copied by the up and comers and Ian Thorpe was inspired by Kieran Perkins and Perkins got his lift from Stephen Holland.
Virgin’s Sir Richard Branson is often held up as a great pioneer of new business and rightfully is lauded for his inspiration to other aspiring business operators.
Though he can teach anyone a whole pile of valuable lessons, the one that is at the core of his smart decisions has been to pick a hole in the market where he could drive his Virgin juggernaut into.
A recent stunt to move into superannuation is a classic example of what I’m talking about.
Branson-like observations are at the core of many successful small business operators. Let me give you a case in point.
Where do ideas come from?
A couple of Kiwis celebrating an All Blacks victory over the Wallabies 18 years ago was the setting for a sleeper of a business with the provocative name of Holy Sheet!
The bed linen store opened its doors in 1990 in the bohemian Sydney suburb of Newtown and was the brainchild of New Zealand mates, Edmund George and Daniel Hochberg. The two first met as students at the University of Wellington but went their separate ways and eventually bumped into each other in Sydney.
‘We started with eight grand each and were a couple of marketing guys who knew nothing about retail,’ George recalls. ‘We did a lot wrong but we did one thing right – we picked the market and the location.’
So they saw a gap in the market?
At the time, George said two big firms dominated the bed linen market and protective trade policies had put limitations on what consumers were being offered.
‘I had run a business importing woollen products from New Zealand and knew some of the suppliers in the industry who regularly had difficulty getting rid of ends-of-lines and seconds, so we thought we would give them an outlet,’ George says. ‘Daniel’s wife came up with the name and I suppose it shows the kind of fun attitude we brought to the business.’
Despite some early setbacks, including a fire that gutted its head office a decade ago, Holy Sheet! is now a franchise system with 28 outlets in NSW, Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania,ACT and Western Australia.
‘Within three years, we have hopes to have 40 stores in Australia and also intend to explore opportunities overseas,’ George says.
So you have to know who to target?
Holy Sheet! is a modern business with the marketing push not only targeted at women, who invariably assume the role of interior decorator in most households.
‘The average Holy Sheet! customer is one who enjoys relaxation time, a contemporary lifestyle and a sense of humour,’ Hochberg says. ‘When a customer visits any of our 28 stores, there is that element of surprise about the type and range of products we have and this is what makes our concept so captivating. The urban male of today plays as important a role in our marketing as much as the usual fashionable female does.’
The plan to create a retail chain was not the only part of the picture, as they also wanted to build a brand. Nowadays more than 50 per cent of the products sold are under the Holy Sheet! brand.
‘Our product ranges are regarded by many as the benchmark in fashion and our views are regularly sought by suppliers in their stock selection process,’ Hochberg explains. ‘We work to be three to four steps ahead of the rest.’
On the experience of being a franchisor, George says getting the first few franchisees wasn’t easy, but after six were in place the numbers increased quickly.
‘We actually came at it from a different angle because we had been franchisees ourselves earlier in our history, opening up the first House store in Sydney,’ George says. ‘It gave us a perspective on what franchisees need from their franchisor.’
What gives winners the edge?
The pair say you have to be always open to learn new things to give you an edge.
‘We recently took on a new partner, Nick Hillyard, who has had vast experience in UK retail outlets,’ George says. ‘He has come in and has shown us better ways of doing business and what he knows has been eye opening.’
This is not just a story about someone taking a good business into a franchise system, which is something many small businesses aspire to do, but it’s essentially about how they saw that the domination of the market by two big players created an opportunity for Holy Sheet!
Don’t just think about your business and your competition today, but also think about what you could do to your industry and your competitors tomorrow.
o The big players don’t have to rule.
o Look for gaps in the market and you will find them.
o Brainstorm ideas. You never know what can come out of people’s minds, even over rugby and a beer!
o Copy the best in business. They set great examples.