Signpost Local Marketing Blog

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6 Essential Resources for Veteran Entrepreneurs

You’ve served your country proudly, and you’re about to turn the next page in your life—entrepreneurship.

But before you go about starting and opening a business, there are some easy tips, resources, and tricks that will make your transition from former veteran to independent entrepreneur as painless as possible.

The benefits of being certified as a veteran-owned business

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Can Local Businesses Win Big on Super Bowl Monday?

While the week leading up to the Super Bowl can be business as usual for most consumers, after a weekend spent cheering on their team they’re ready to return toSuper Bowl Monday Provides Opportunity for Local Business their favorite brands. This time is mostly spent prepping for the big game, which can lead to an influx of customers gathering ingredients and supplies for a successful party (i.e. retail and restaurants), but it also provides a distraction from normal shopping behaviors.

However, after tuning into some of the most talked about (and well-funded) advertisements, audiences undoubtedly have consumerism on the mind. We dug into our data during the weeks leading up to Super Bowl last year, to see if it had any impact on buying patterns. Unsurprisingly, there is a small spike in engagement on marketing emails or communications sent today, the Monday after Super Bowl.

Heinz seems to agree with this sentiment. The ketchup brand launched their “Smunday” campaign this year, and is giving employees the day off while proposing that Monday become a national holiday. While this sounds like an idea we all could get behind, could it lead to an opportunity for businesses similar to Black Friday during Thanksgiving weekend? We might have to wait until Super Bowl 52 to find out.

In the meantime, happy sending and happy Smunday, everyone!

Getting Your Local Business Involved in Giving Tuesday

Happy Giving Tuesday! The Tuesday following Thanksgiving was first designated as such back in 2012 as a way to officially kick off the charitable season, and serve as a reminder of one of the prevailing values of the season. Despite getting its start in New York, it’s turned into an international movement that aims to bring together individuals, communities and organizations with shared values of service and giving back to foster this spirit all year round.

Last year, 71 different countries participated and raised $116.7M online alone! DespiteHow Local Businesses Can Participate in Giving Tuesday having a global presence, much of the focus remains on direct impact at the community level. Many local businesses lead the charge to help get the word out and give back to their communities. There’s no wrong way to celebrate, as long as you remain focused on this goal.

Some businesses choose to donate a portion of their revenue from today to local charities or organizations. Other SMB owners close their business for the day and encourage employees to join them in volunteering their time and expertise. Or, you can partner with an organization for the day to come up with some creative events or promotions.

If you’re looking for more great ideas, be sure to check out the official website of the holiday. You’ll find plenty of suggestions and opportunities for local businesses to get involved. Officially it only lasts a day, but you can maintain the spirit of giving throughout the entire year!

Word about Giving Tuesday spread through heavy social media coverage, with the #GivingTuesday hashtag. Be sure to embrace this aspect as you document how your business is spending the day!

Download our 2016 Complete Holiday Planning Kit!

How to Reach Your Local Business’s Goals With the Right Financial Reports

Pop quiz! Do you know if your business is on track to hit its financial goals for the year?

Sorry to put you on the spot like that and don’t let it make you sweat. Truth be told, an estimated 90 percent of small businesses are unable to produce dependable financial statements when prompted. And it’s probably safe to assume that even if they could access accurate finances, most small teams wouldn’t know how to turn those numbers into business insights to put into action.

We usually think of entrepreneurs and business owners as the most confident folks in the room. So, it’s worth noting when something makes them squirm the way accounting financial reporting for local businessesand taxes do. Even though we all know that hiding from scary financial issues does nothing to actually make them go away, so many fearless business leaders are quick to bury their heads in the sand before addressing topics like month ends and EBITDA margins.

However, this can be a major differentiator when it comes to running a successful company. Taking a deeper look at some of the most of the notable businessmen and women we see in the spotlight, you’ll see that they got where they are today by facing the intimidating financial world and becoming one with their numbers. With that in mind, you’re probably wondering what exactly they did to get under the proverbial accounting hood? What were their first steps? Let’s start by looking at the reports you’ll need to make the right managerial decisions for your business’s goals. Once you have that as a foundation, we’ll dive into which financial reports matter to each audience of interest (such as investors, creditors and lenders, and tax authorities) and how to make the right impression from the beginning.

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Testimonials: Ask and Ye Shall Receive

To quote social media expert Brian Solis, “Welcome to a new era of marketing and service, in which your brand is defined by those who experience it.”

The digital age has made it easier for consumers to research information on their own. As a result, consumers rely on their own research abilities rather than waiting for a company to relay information to them. Most of these consumers, regardless or age or background, look for user-generated content to help them make up their mind about a business. This is why encouraging consumers to leave testimounnamed-5nials and spread the good word is essential to your small business’s growth. According to the 2013 B2B Content Marketing Report, testimonials are more effective than any other content marketing tactic, including case studies, in-person events, or even video. 89% of survey respondents indicated that testimonials top the list when it comes to changing a customer’s mind about doing business.

Below are three key factors to getting customers to provide testimonials:

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4 Tricks for Building Relationships with Your Customers

unnamed-4Customer relationships are the foundation for any company in need of growth and profit. After all, 78 percent of consumers  do not complete a transaction if they’ve received poor service. But cultivating these relationships, and giving customers want they want, can be tricky.

In order to set your business apart from competitors, you need to develop a partnership with your customers. Among many factors, you need to know precisely what they’re looking for, what makes them happy, what’s likely to turn them off and why your service or product is right for them.

For many local business owners, the challenge is how to uncover this type of in-depth knowledge about your customers quickly and efficiently. Here are a few tips and tricks for how to learn more about your customers.

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1. Communicating is key

First, talk to your customers. This one simple, but often overlooked. People respond better to open dialogue, because it helps form the relationship. Whether it’s in person, on the phone or electronically, never forget the importance of a personal connection. Having direct conversations with clients or potential clients shows that you have a strong interest in providing better service. The great thing about using a marketing automation solution, like Signpost, is that you’re able to track all interactions with customers, including phone calls, so you’re always up to date on what happened during your last interaction or when you need to follow up again.

2. Harness the power of feedback

Getting direct feedback from your customers is a surefire way to see what customers want, allowing you to build an even better business. After receiving feedback, don’t forget to respond in a friendly, upbeat manner and your conversations will give you the sense of who your customers are. It’s especially important that you pay attention to negative feedback and do your best to respond appropriately and fix concerns. The more customers tell you, the more you can accurately target them in your marketing. For that extra push, employ a marketing automation system like Signpost, which can prompt your customers to give you feedback and conveniently collect and forward it to the business owner.

3. Understand the current landscape

Staying abreast of your competitive landscape might help you tune into what customers want. This can be an opportunity to create a custom solution that could make for more satisfied clients and help you rise above the noise. Think about what these companies offer that you don’t and where you show up on search results by comparison. Services that can help you stand out from the crowd, like Signpost, improve your business’s listings on important sites like Google+, Facebook, and Yelp. Use these social profiles to promote your competitive advantages.

4. Use customer data software

Using customer relationship management (CRM) software to consolidate customer data helps you build new business and strengthen old relationships through your local marketing efforts. CRMs, like Signpost, capture and analyze customer data and use that information for personalized offers in emails and text messages, as well as other future remarketing.

In order to maintain a successful local business, it’s important to demonstrate to customers that you not only have what they need, but that you are invested in a partnership. This high level of personalization continues to remain an important factor in local marketing techniques. Customers will reward you by remaining loyal and by generating positive word of mouth about your company to their network of friends, families and business contacts.

Strategies for Boutique Marketing Agencies

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 3.44.42 PMWhen it comes to the digital age, boutique marketing agencies actually have the leg-up against larger, more traditional firms. That’s because boutique agencies usually have much more agility in adapting to technological advances and new consumer expectations. As Michael Litman, a senior social strategist told Mashable, it’s like comparing “an oil tanker to a small dinghy”– though perhaps less safe or established, a small dinghy is much easier to move.

Below are some digital-savvy strategies boutique marketing agencies can encourage their clients to use to help them flourish in the digital space:

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How to Respond to Negative Feedback

responding to negative feedback

Signpost automatically collects feedback from your customers–everything from glowing praise to the occasional complaint. And while it’s never fun to hear that a customer had a bad experience with your business, even the best companies in the world have a critic or two. Fortunately, there are tried and true strategies for re-engaging or at least pacifying an unhappy customer.

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How to Build Your SMS Marketing List

SMS Marketing ListTo many, giving away your phone number may seem more personal than handing over an email address. But businesses that are able to convince customers to sign up for SMS marketing messages can enjoy engagement rates up to eight times higher than traditional email marketing. And text message marketing has a 20% average redemption rate, according to Moto Message.

Fortunately, there are many creative ways to encourage your customers to opt into an SMS marketing list—and you don’t have to add them manually. Signpost automatically captures phone numbers from your customers and remarkets to people who subscribe to your lists. Additionally, having a phone number list also comes in handy when tracking interactions and building relationships with customers. After all, you want to keep track of phone calls and notes from those calls so that you can build out efficient customer profiles.

Below are some tips on how to build up your SMS marketing list, so it can start generating new business for you.

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Do You Know Your Audience?

The old adage “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” applies to the business world too. One strategy for always staying ahead of the competition is diversifying your business. The better you can diversify your product lineup, the more you open up your business to new markets and revenue streams.

By offering a different type of product or service to a new audience, you create fresh growth opportunities. Your different offerings can potentially complement and enhance one another. They also lessen the risk of changing tastes or industry-specific contractions ruining your business.

But before you can explore new markets, you must first identify your potential audience, analyze them, and connect with them. To identify these key segments, you need to implement a strong marketing plan.

Below are a few steps to cater to different audience segments:

Continue Reading: Define your new audience

1. Define your new audience

This sounds simple, but it can actually be the most difficult part of the process. To accurately define the audience for your new product or service, you have to figure out how it’s distinct from your original offering, how that change affects the type of consumers who will buy it, and what characteristics this new set of consumers will have.

Local Audience InsightsAs an example, let’s say you sell premium athletic equipment. You decide to diversify your business by offering equipment on the cheaper end as well. So now, the question is, who’s buying the cheaper equipment rather than the high-end offerings? Is it people that can’t afford the more expensive equipment, or simply hobbyists that are less serious about athletics?

Let’s say it’s hobbyists. Now, what separates hobbyists from more serious athletes? Are they younger or older? Typically male or female? What’s their average income? The more you know about your potential customers, the easier it is to define segmentation and send them targeted offers through automated e-mail tools, such as the kind Signpost offers.

The great part about asking these questions is you can refine your understanding of your original customers’ needs. After all, it’s important to make sure there’s not significant overlap, or else your new product or service could end up just cannibalizing sales from the original.

2. Find out what they value

Perhaps the biggest mistake companies make is thinking they can tweak small aspects of an existing service and be able to engage an entirely new audience. This doesn’t usually happen. Building a new customer base takes fresh approaches that address different audience needs, values, and priorities. You may need to rethink every aspect of your offering.

This could include design, functionality, integration with other products or services, marketing strategies, even the means by which your product is sold. Diversifying companies often tend to struggle against smaller startups because the latter are creating an ecosystem from the ground up to meet the needs of the market, while the former are attached to previous mindsets geared towards a totally different audience.

3. Test and refine

Odds are you’re not going to get it exactly right the first time. Understanding a new audience takes time, so you’ll need to gather feedback on your products, marketing, and customer experience to see where you’re hitting the right notes and where you’re coming up short. Be sure to gather as much data as possible in the early days. Marketing solutions, like Signpost, can help you do that research by automating the feedback and reviews you need to understand your customers better.

The more you can understand and tailor services to your new audience, the better you’ll be able to do so for the old one as well. One of the underrated benefits of diversification is that it can often generate insights that lead to innovation in the original line of business.

Trying to meet the needs of a new audience might push you to develop new functionality or overhaul the customer experience in a way that would also work with the original target market. For companies that have gone stagnant, diversification can be a useful way to not just boost profits, but also to get the creative juices flowing and start innovating again.

 

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