Instagram - a platform which, at first, was used to show others a glimpse of our daily lives online via our photos, has now turned into a channel that engages a billion users. Since its explosion in popularity, many brands have turned to the platform to build their social presence and engage with their consumers in a bid to drive their outreach and profits. With 80 percent of users following at least one business on the channel, it is easy to see why so many companies are keen to grow their accounts. If you are a small business who wants to learn how to make an online community, expand your account, and grow your following, follow these three tips and build your presence up the right way.
Post consistently You may have heard this one a million times already, but there is a reason why this gold nugget of advice keeps popping up over and over again - it really works! The more often and regularly you post, the more likes, and consequently more followers you will get, and accounts that post at least seven times or more throughout an entire week gain followers and likes faster than those who don’t. Furthermore, having a regular and steady flow of content also works in your favour when it comes to Instagram’s famous algorithm, with consistency being a key element to getting your posts up to the top of the timeline due to more shares and engagement with your followers. Therefore for your brand to see the best results, plan your posts ahead of time, and already have content to last you at least a week. This way, you won’t be rushing to get a last-minute photo, and you won’t risk the chance of not having enough material to post, causing you to be irregular, which could have a big impact on your following and engagement.
Engage and converse
It’s no use creating beautiful visuals and captivating captions if you aren’t going to engage with your audience. The platform is a great way to make users aware of your business through conversation, especially as more and more people are using social media as a point of contact for many brands. Be open and communicative, and supportive and allow a discussion to get going, whether it’s about serious queries, customer care, random questions, or just to chat and to thank those who are praising your brand and products. Engaging with as many comments and questions as possible will make the difference when it comes to gaining more followers, converting your audience into customers, and improving your relationship with pre-existing customers. By engaging with them, your customers will see that you care about them and feel a more personal connection with you, creating more trust.
Know when to post
You can have the best post in the world, but if you share it when it’s the middle of the night for most of your audience or when most of them are at work, chances are they aren’t going to see it. Use the free analytics tool that can be found under the Followers section in business accounts to figure out the best times for you to post. By using a targeted approach, if you post at optimal times for your audience, you are likely to get more engagement. Look at what has and hasn’t worked for you in the past regarding how much engagement you got at various times to allow you to plan how you share your content more effectively. Alternatively, use a scheduling tool to automatically publish your content during the times when your followers are most engaged.
The subject of 'Free Followers' is one that comes up often, but spending your money on getting those 'fake followers' might well leave you both out of pocket as well as those followers, and this guide will tell you why.
Outsourcing crucial business processes is a popular business strategy that can improve business efficiency. It refers to the process of using third-party service providers to perform certain functions. In the past, outsourcing services were a reserve for large, multinational corporations. In the modern landscape, businesses of all sizes can enjoy the benefits of outsourcing.
In many cases, outsourcing is not only a business optimization strategy but a necessity. It’s often the only feasible way to scale a business, manage operations, or launch a product. When functions are outsourced to the right team, a company can enhance its efficiency and realize several compelling benefits.
Helps a Company Focus on Core Processes
The most significant reason why a business should outsource is to free up its time and resources for crucial processes. A business owner can spend time doing what they’re good at while everything else is taken care of by experts.
If a company is selling digital products, the focus should be on closing sales, not enhancing the site’s security features. The issues of site security can be outsourced to Managed IT Support providers.
One thing that slows business down is entrepreneurs thinking that they can do everything by themselves. Drop this mentality and see your business grow. If you’re not good at managing finances or performing human resource tasks, outsource them.
Gives a Business Access to a Larger Talent Pool
Hiring an employee for specific functions, like payments and finance, limits the talent a business can get. In most cases, this approach requires a company to compromise. With outsourcing, a company gets access to an unlimited pool of talent from all over the world. It, therefore, makes more sense to expand your search when looking for outsourcing services.
Outsourcers have access to a big pool of skills and tools that you may need now or later. They can quickly solve any arising problem for which you don’t have the right skill set. In-house employees don’t provide this kind of flexibility.
Reduced Overhead Expenses and Labour Costs
It's expensive to hire and train staff, especially where short projects are concerned. Temporary staff also rarely produce quality work as per the expectations of a company. Teaching processes and workflow to employees may sometimes entail investing in their education to enhance their business skills.
Outsourcing allows your business to convert fixed labor costs into variable costs. This means that the only expenses it incurs are for the consumed services. There's, therefore, more staffing flexibility that doesn't exist with in-house employees.
Outsourcers are also responsible for all licenses and accreditations their work requires. They stay up-to-date with industry changes and trends while constantly developing their skills to enable them to work smarter.
Employee turnover is risky and costly. When a staff member quits, all the money used in training and hiring goes with them. Turnover can disrupt operations and cause costly problems.
Outsourcing provides consistency and efficiency for your business. You don't have to worry about the interruption of operations or financial risks.
Outsourcing business functions is not always an easy task but is worth it in the long-run. It improves business efficiency by allowing you to focus on the most crucial aspects of business, like nurturing leads and closing deals.
Some outsourcing tasks may be occasional, but they provide a greater financial advantage than hiring temporary staff. If your business has been affected by high staff turnover, consider outsourcing some of the functions.
We’re all constantly being told that Business-2-Business (B2B) marketing is changing and that we need new marketing strategies to cope with this. We’re being told that the modern buyer doesn’t respond well to the B2B sales funnels of old and their buying habits are so mysterious you’re going to need a crystal ball or psychic octopus to continue to operate in the field. The good people over at American Image Displays have the only strategy you'll need.
The focus of doing business, regardless of the stature of your company is all about getting more. They say you need more clients, more money, and more everything! And this means that there comes a point where we just can feel overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of it all. When it comes to working smarter in the business world, we've got to find ways to get ourselves out there but when we are a small company or it's just us, we can struggle to keep every plate spinning. With this in mind, what are the best approaches to guarantee that your small business can reach these outer limits?
Outsourcing (It Isn’t As Expensive as You Think)
Whether it’s an SEO expert or someone to help you revise your website copy, outsourcing is something that every business, big or small, is taking advantage of. When you start to outsource, you can begin to see the wood for the trees. When we do too much, we can let certain components fall by the wayside. By outsourcing things that we find difficult, especially in the marketing world, it will force us to focus on things that we can do better. When it comes to search engine optimisation because it is such an evolving component of marketing, it can be a struggle to keep on top of the latest rules when it comes to Google's algorithm. But this is where having someone who dedicates their livelihood to this will make it far easier for you.
Work With Other Companies
Extending the olive branch is a fantastic way to go about doing business. When you start to work with other companies, by either having guest bloggers or even vendors, when you start to work with businesses in industries that complement yours but also share a target audience, you aren't treading on each other's toes. You can set up a referral program or offer package deals, and it's these things that don't just help you expand your reach but it makes you reputable by association.
When you start to work with other companies networking becomes a well-oiled machine as part of your business strategy. Every meeting is the potential to network, and when you start to reach out and let them know that your business is open and what you can do for them this can be as effective as a social media post. But when you are networking, it's important to remember that there is an etiquette to it. Don't be obnoxious. When you start to build a business, it's very easy to get blindsided by the money and you start to do everybody as potential profit. It's far better to be a business leader who is marketing to help others rather than yourself.
Simple, but incredibly effective. These three components can expand your business reach in insurmountable ways. Marketing can be perceived as a very selfish endeavour to promote their own efforts. But by reaching out to others and asking for help, you are naturally beginning to network in a very organic way. This means that you will have a good reputation. And as we all know, your reputation can precede you.
When people think of Artificial Intelligence (AI), they tend to think of movies where AI goes wrong and threatens the universe. Thankfully, the reality is far more boring.
AI is a range of systems that can perform tasks that generally rely on human intelligence to complete. This can include things like analysis and problem-solving.
Marketers are beginning to use AI for a range of marketing tasks. From automating PPC campaigns to curating content and running chatbots and online chatroom software to engage customers.
Amazon is one of the leaders in utilizing AI and use it for a number of things, including product recommendations.
Some companies are using AI to continuously analyse their IT network and identify traffic that deviates from normal activity. When abnormal or suspicious activity if identified, it can then work to protect the network.
Cybersecurity is a priority for organizations of all sizes and a successful attack can be devastating both in terms of reputation and financially.
HR and recruitment can be a very labour intensive process. With unemployment rising in the wake of COVID-19, there are hundreds, even thousands of applicants for every job.
AI automation can be used to find and analyse candidate applications.
Predicting changing market conditions is extremely difficult. The sheer amount of information that needs to be processed is impossible for a human to do. Instead, large investment firms and hedge funds use AI to analyze and predict the market.
Machine learning is being adopted in the healthcare sector. With it, doctors can detect if a patient with an existing condition is deteriorating and intervene before they need hospital care.
The pace of machine learning in healthcare is also leading to the earlier detection of diseases such as cancer and diabetes. The sooner a condition is diagnosed, the more successful the treatment methods can be. This saves lives and saves money.
Software Vulnerability Testing
Software needs to be airtight when it comes to security. Any vulnerability can make it susceptible to attack. Companies are using AI models to detect vulnerabilities and predict attacks.
Using AI to identify negative behaviours is a controversial use of the technology, but nevertheless, some companies are finding it invaluable. It is used to identify bad behaviour within the workforce, it can even predict if someone is unhappy in their job and is thinking of leaving.
Today’s financial transactions take place online. The Fintech sector is incorporating AI into its products in order to automate things such as expense reporting, bookkeeping and data entry.
Businesses have barely scratched the surface when it comes to implementing AI. The sheer number of potential uses for it is difficult to imagine. As technology improves and the cost reduces, more and more industries are going to start using AI in many areas of their business.
As a business owner, it’s crucial to retain existing clients, but it’s also beneficial to look for ways to attract new customers. If you’re looking to secure new commercial contracts or reach out to new sectors, here are some effective strategies to try.
Conducting business with other companies is very different to offering products and services to consumers, and your marketing strategy should reflect this. Outline your key objectives and tailor your campaigns to reach the target market. Think about the kinds of clients you want to attract, the way you want to sell your brand and the types of products and services you’re offering. Conduct market research and utilise feedback. Up-sell your USP and highlight the value your business offers to others. Use examples and case studies to support claims about specific products and make your marketing more impactful. For ponds and water features, for example, don’t just speak about the benefits of butyl tape. Provide prospective clients with images of finished articles, testimonials from previous clients and facts and figures that back up quality, durability and performance-related claims. For technological gadgets, send out prototypes and share video clips of the invention in action.
Creating the right first impression
First impressions count in business, and it’s estimated that you have around 7 seconds to set the right tone. When meeting clients or discussing potential deals, partnerships or orders, use your own experiences to ensure you get off on the right foot. Be punctual and professional, make the most of the time you have to sell your brand without being overly aggressive or persistent and encourage follow-up conversations.
Build on reviews and feedback
Reviews can be extremely valuable for businesses looking to improve customer service, attract new clients and build an excellent reputation. Use reviews you receive from commercial clients to make improvements and don’t be afraid to shout it from the rooftops if you have got brilliant feedback, which could help to persuade other businesses to choose you. Take both negative and positive feedback on board, address any concerns promptly and use reviews as a means of promoting the products and services you offer and separating your business from rivals that may be on the shortlist of clients you’re hoping to work with in the future.
Most of us feel more confident when buying from a company that has been recommended by others. This applies to customers visiting shops or using a website to buy products, as well as B2B clients. Referrals can be incredibly influential. If you have happy clients, encourage them to share their experiences and recommend you to other businesses they may already work with or contacts that might be interested in the products or services you offer.
Competition for new clients is fierce. As a business owner looking to secure new deals and impress new clients, it’s crucial to implement targeted ways to market and promote your brand, to utilise reviews and feedback to encourage referrals and to ensure you create the right first impression.
The value of effective marketing has always played an integral role in modern business. However, the combo of social distancing limits and the fact that consumers have less money put you under even more pressure. Still, it is possible to keep achieving great things.
Understanding the challenges and building a strategy that keeps them in mind is vital. Here are five key steps to success.
1) Gain Online Visibility In An Offline World
Making people aware of your company is the first step to success. The trend towards researching companies with local online searches starting long before Covid-19. Nonetheless, the pandemic has seen even more people use the digital channels like Google maps. Therefore, it's vital that local SEO and your Google My Business resources are used. When your company ranks at the top of the local listings, consumers will assume that your business is trustworthy and capable.
2) Remember That Content Is King
Awareness is one thing, but engagement is another. If consumers are going to check out your business ahead of visiting the store or making an online purchase, you must set the right tone. Improving your digital content will strengthen the bond, boost your brand image, and edge clients towards a sale. The fact that this is more cost-effective than many other tactics is a bonus. You can leverage more success by using affiliate marketers and social influencers to reach new audiences.
3) Make Store Exteriors Stand Out
The days of people casually walking in and out 50 stores on the high street or shopping mall are gone. If you want to attract passing traffic, you'll need the shop front to do the hard work for you. Using 3d production services for window displays is a particularly wise move. When coupled with better shop signage, your store will stand out from the crowd. Quite frankly, getting people through the door is the toughest challenge of all right now. Make the entrance more appealing, and traffic will soar.
4) Know Your Audience
Some of your marketing endeavors will always fall on deaf ears. Sadly, if you persist with the current methods of appealing to the masses, big problems can follow. Identifying your niche can direct everything from target marketing PPCs to the choice of wording on ad materials. Essentially, you need to know that your brand will be shown to the right people, in the right places, and in the right way. When all of the boxes are ticked, the effectiveness will be far greater while it'll be easier to see what works.
5) Focus On Upselling
Whatever you do in business right now, the chances are that your active customer base will fall. Therefore, it's essential that you maximize the potential earnings from each client. Investing in staff training modules that encourage sales teams to upsell bundles or extra products can work wonders. If trying to secure bigger transaction values, it may be worth adding the option of repayment plans. This does require credit checks, but the possibilities to grow your client base are incredible.
Attending exhibitions as a business can Help to keep your brand above water. Exhibitions help you to keep your brand in the market as well as remaining relevant and sharing it with the rest of the world. Exhibitions also help your brand to stay upbeat by showcasing your services and products, you can market your brand in a fun and fresh way, which allows you the perfect opportunity to network and speak to potential customers. It is vital to always increase brand recall value and credibility in the market to remain popular and relevant.
How Does It Help?
Exhibitions and conferences are perfect opportunities for meeting key people face to face, in your industry. This gives you the perfect chance to market your business in a professional yet personal capacity and gives you the chance to talk to as many people as possible. You want to also market your business but take the time to learn about theirs too. Switch business cards and keep in touch. The more contacts you build, the better, for future reference or if something comes up that you feel you can connect with them on. You’ll need it to follow up after the event on email, this really establishes a relationship.
Don’t forget that the event can also be used for carrying out market research too, just by asking others about your niche and what they may look for. Ask people what their needs are and look at the competition also. That is quite a vital element. You will certainly be surprised by how much you can learn - but in addition to this, you will be able to gain access to important information. If you want to market your business to other business professionals then it is good to have a clear message. Make sure you can clearly communicate, getting across all the information in around 30 seconds and being able to offer answers to questions they may have.
There are plenty of great exhibition stand companies that are there to help you get on your feet. Once your stand is in place, decorate it with your branding as well as maximising your presence at business events. Use direct mail, e-newsletters, social media and PR to raise your profile ahead of the event. Flyers and magazines if you have them are great for people to take away, as well as possibly looking at goody bags that are a nice treat. Add any press releases and information that could help you at the exhibition. You’ll also need to prepare a press pack which can be slotted into your goody bag. Most exhibitions have a press office for journalists attending as well as photographers, so wear your best outfit and smile and learn to impress. If you are struggling with a press pack, then just add a few pieces of select information, images, news, and contact details so that you can be easily reached.
It’s time to make your business stand out. There are many opportunities to get yourself to an exhibition, so start thinking of your next move!
Running a business is hard work. Many entrepreneurs or small business owners find themselves wearing many hats. They spend so much time working in their business they never get the opportunity to work on their business.
Using automation intelligently can not only improve your business processes, but it also frees people up to work on core business priorities. A study in the UK showed that business owners spend up to a third of their time on business admin.
Automation can be used in most areas of a business, but here are a few of the main ones that will make the biggest impact in the shortest amount of time.
HR & Payroll Systems
Even businesses with only a few employees have a number of legal and financial obligations to their employees. There are a number of great cloud hr systems coming onto the market which can run your day to day recruitment, HR and payroll services. These are cloud-based so won’t need to invest in any IT or data storage systems.
They’ll save you time, money and make sure that you stay legally compliant. Employees can update their personal details, access policies, request holiday or communicate feedback all directly through an online platform.
Running payroll through one of these systems can save your money on accountants and still let your remain compliant with the government tax systems and online banking facilities.
An efficient, well-organised team can do wonders. Rather than relying on emails and handwritten scribbles, why not run all of your tasks and projects through specialist software like Asana or Trello.
These programmes both have free versions that you can use to set up recurring tasks to keep your team and your business on track. The amount of time saved on unnecessary meetings or emails will transform your business.
A great deal of your marketing funnel can be automated through software such as Hubspot or Zoho. Once you’ve set up your campaign materials, you can rely on your software to push prospective clients through your marketing funnel without the need to manually trigger actions every step of the way.
Content, email and even social media content curation can all be automated in line with your campaign goals.
A well-designed chatbot on your website can drive enquiries through without you needing to speak to people.
The good news for small businesses is that you don’t need huge huge budgets to begin automating your business. Most of the larger software companies offer a freemium model, allowing you to access a range of features for free in the hopes that once you expand, you’ll move directly to the paid version.
Automating processes in our business can save you time, money and allow you to spend your precious time on actually running your business.
Increased productivity leads to better margins and an improved bottom line. Not adopting an agile approach to your business can lose you that competitive edge if your competitors do embrace automation.
Author - Chris
Author, Editor, Creator of this website.