Oct 30

Brand Management How-To

Tips for How to Build Your Brand

Strong, consistent, well-managed brands will produce higher market values and competitive advantages for the businesses that develop them. Each time a customer interacts with your brand, the experience they have plays a part in defining who you are as a business.

Brand management is what turns a small business idea into a household name. Start thinking about the basics- are you delivering a message that will be appealing to the general public? Or to a local set of customers in a particular city such as here in Calgary? From logo choice to website colour schemes – every small detail may play a part in how your business is being viewed by the public.

Differentiate Yourself

Strive for customer identification – catchy slogans and taglines are used because they are more likely to be remembered. When your tagline is created with your unique core differentiators in mind, it can also keep the entire team focused on your vision. Check out this article on the 3 types of unique core differentiators!

Be Prepared to Inform

Develop your “elevator speech.” In any given situation you may find yourself being asked what it is you do for a living. Have a precise, informative and brand-dropping answer for this question that you can call upon in any networking setting.

Become a Trusted Advisor

Share your expertise – in fact, BE an expert in your business. Organise talks, workshops and informative seminars to further your brand recognition. Conduct industry research, ranking your competitors based on size, business model and reputation. Map out where you want your business to fall in relation to your competitors and focus on targeting that segment of the market.

Take a Close Look

Conduct internal studies – examining your business’ strengths, weaknesses and capabilities. Do you have what it Brand Managementtakes to corner that segment of the market that is missing?

Utilize a PR Firm

Consider a Public Relations firm to manage your reputation. PR is also a powerful tool when handling small-scale brand disasters, putting out fires before they can spread. You can even engage a stand-alone PR person who focuses on the small business sector and can perhaps add real value on a small-business budget.

Engage with Social Media

Tackling the management of an online presence or brand can be overwhelming. Start with the ‘hub’ (your website, company blog, social media sites, etc.) and focus on a stringent monitoring system of all comments and mentions, both positive and negative. Once you secure the ‘hub’ you can begin the ‘hunt’, reaching out further into the web, seeking opportunities to introduce your brand.

Remember: Your Customers are Already Talking About You

Reputation plays a large part in determining your business’ profit statement. An article in the New York Times once noted, “Your customers are talking about you, and the whole world is listening..” Sure, for most of us our world may be very small, however it is still listening! And brand management ensures that the world likes what it hears.

 

What methods have helped you build and manage your company’s brand?

We’d love you hear from you! Leave a comment below!

 

Copyright 2012, Bullseye Business Systems Pty Ltd. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from http://www.ranone.com

Oct 13

Getting Noticed on Social Media

How to Get Found Online

The virtual world of social media is so large, it’s a wonder anyone can be found at all. Often times, when first joining a social media platform, it can be difficult to get started—to get friends, likes, followers, or just noticed in general. While the process of establishing oneself or one’s business on social media is admittedly a much slower one than most of us would like, here are some tips that will hopefully help you to speed up the process.

Use Keywords

“Keywords” is one of those funny terms that is thrown around all the time online and is easy enough to understand, Keywordsbut it is often forgotten about when it comes to putting together a social media profile page.

When people search for businesses or business professionals on Google or social media platforms, they start by typing in words that define the type of business they are looking for. For example, if they are looking for someone in the Calgary area, they will be sure to include the word “Calgary” in their search. This means that you, the small business owner in Calgary, must have the word “Calgary” somewhere in your profile, website, or blog. When people search for businesses, their searches are specific to what they are looking for, meaning that you must be specific in stating which services or products you provide in order for prospects to find you and not someone else.

The other important part of this to mention is that you must remember to use these keywords many times throughout your profile, blog, and website (or whatever it happens to be). It is in this way that these terms that describe you actually become key words. And by making these descriptive, specific terms keywords, search engines, and consequently your prospects, will have a far easier time finding you in the daunting vastness that is the cyberspace we have come to know and love. (Check out this great article about how to use keywords specifically for your LinkedIn profile page).

Engage, engage, engage!

HandshakeBeing active on social media really is the only thing that will truly strengthen your social media presence. Your profile can be full of keywords, but if you’re not engaging on your chosen platforms, it unfortunately won’t matter. By engaging with your online community—commenting on and liking others’ posts, retweeting , etc.—other people who are not necessarily directly connected with you will be able to see you and the insights you provide in your area of expertise. In this way, you grow your number of friends, followers, connections, and the more connected you are to the cyber-world around you, the easier it will be for you to be found online.

 

What strategies have worked for you in your social media endeavors? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

Sep 26

Social Media Time Management

Stressing about Social Media?

In our previous blog posts, we’ve discussed how to use social media, the key idea being to engage on your chosen social media platforms with the other users. Social media, remember, is not just about promoting yourself and your product. While it is certainly a very cost effective form of marketing, there are a set of rules that govern the proper way to do this that need to be observed in order for the lower cost to be an effective use of time.

But that’s just it—there is an element of time that goes into social media as a marketing strategy. Some of you may have resisted using social media for this very reason. Let’s see if we can make the concept of social media requiring time and effort a little less daunting.

Investing Time

Social media experts would all agree: in order to be an effective presence on social media, you need to invest Ringing alarm clocktime into the process. In order to establish yourself as a trusted advisor, you need to engage and connect with other users in conversation by putting in the effort to comment, update your status, and read others’ blog posts. Furthermore, whatever platform you’ve chosen to use serves the purpose of directing traffic to your blog. Meaning: you have to have a blog. And you have to write a blog post more than once a month.

At this point, it would not be surprising if you are reaching frantically for a paper bag. Small business owners are extremely busy and rarely have time to spend reading tweets and thinking about what to write a blog on, much less writing the blog itself. So how then, if social media is so important, are we to use it in such a way that we still have time for the actual running of our business?

Start Small

Since your blog is the most important part of your social media strategy, and also probably the most time consuming, let’s focus on it first.

Writing a blog is key in establishing yourself as a trusted advisor, someone to whom potential clients will want to turn for trustworthy information. Because it is so important, writing a new blog post deserves time and effort. However, it should not be overly difficult. As an expert in your chosen field, it should not take that much time to write a blog post on something you are so familiar with. A blog should not be long—350 words at least, but no more than about 700 words. It should be long enough to provide pertinent information, but short enough to be read in just a few minutes. Often when a post is too long, most people will stop reading about halfway through when they see how much longer it goes. Check out this interview with Jeff Bullas by Melonie Dodaro for more great blogging tips!

In terms of how often you should be writing a blog, you should not go too long without posting something new—no more than two weeks, at the very most three, between posts. When you’re just starting out, a two week interval is perfectly acceptable, but in order to really get your blog going it is better to post more often than that—once a week is ideal. Again, this sounds daunting. But when you are an expert in your field, a 500 word blog post will not take more than 20-45 minutes to write.

Wondering what exactly to write about? Check out this helpful blog post by Social Media Marketers!

Get Help!

PsychiatristAside from your blog, your other social media platforms of choice also deserve time and effort, but this is more easily done than a blog. There are tons of social media metrics sites available that will update statuses and create tweets for you. All that’s needed from you is to spend a few minutes at the beginning of the week scheduling your posts for the next few days!

All in all, social media should not be something you stress over, but keep in mind that it does deserve appropriate amounts of time and effort.

 

We want to hear from you! Do you have tips we didn’t mention about organizing your time spent on social media? What strategies have worked for you? Leave a comment below!

Sep 21

Business Mid-Life Crisis? How to Revisit and Recharge

How to Revitalize Your Business by Going Back to the BasicsBack to the basics

The mid-life crisis: people have them, and businesses do too. Small businesses often suffer from a stagnant work environment, but employing simple strategies can force your business out of the rut. Avoid the business mid-life crisis–revitalize by going back to the basics.

Passion Was and Still Is Key!

In the beginning, it was all about passion. A key ingredient to the success of a small business start-up, that passion may find itself dwindling through the years. That fire–is it still burning? Ask yourself: are you still passionate about your business? If not, work backwards and try to rekindle that passion.

Do a Double-Take on Your Initial Strategies

Revisit your original business plan. Are you accomplishing the longer-term goals? Where do you see weaknesses? Develop an action plan to target those weaker areas. Tweak your strategies and adapt where necessary. Ensure you keep your core values and company mission intact.

Map out your vision for the upcoming few years. Limit yourself to two or three-year periods to remain specific, streamlined, and most importantly, focused. Remember that attitude and communication are important contributors to a healthy working environment. Invest time to improve employee morale and client relationships.

Take a Look in the MirrorBack to the basics

The basic principles of aesthetics and visual communication may be longing for revitalization. Consider your business’ ‘look’ from logo to web-presence–how are you presenting your business to the outside world?

Consider Your Customers

Re-establish your target markets- if your niches have evolved, evolve with them. Going back to the basics means taking time to identify what is working–an honest assessment of what works will give you a more realistic outline when reviewing your vision.

Reach out to some of your oldest and most loyal customers. Try to find fresh, positive energy and motivation in relationships that have been part of your business since its fledgling days.

The Basics Make it or Break it!

The foundations of a successful business are rooted in the basics. A refresher course in Business 101 may be just the thing your struggling sales numbers need to bounce back.

The foundations are built from excellent products, sales, customer service, and employee engagement. Strong financial performance is the ultimate result.

 

We’d love to hear from you!

What is a basic business principle that has been integral to the well-being of your company? 

Feel free to share by leaving a comment below!

 

 

Copyright 2012, Bullseye Business Systems Pty Ltd. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from http://www.ranone.com

Aug 30

The Goal of Social Media

The Aim of Social Media in a Small Business

Social Media Aim

Right off the bat, some of you are probably thinking: WHAT?? My social media marketing needs to have a goal? Others of you might be thinking: Pfft. I’m good—I have a goal: to be on social media! I have bad news for both of you—you need a goal, and it can’t be that of just being on social media.

What do you want to accomplish?

When you make the decision for your company to be on social media, you need to establish why. Why do you want your business on social media? What are you hoping to accomplish? Are you simply looking to jump on the bandwagon of 2012 that is to be on social media—to have a Facebook account because everyone else does? Or are you actually looking to grow your business and establish yourself as a trusted advisor?

Here is a great blog post by Pam Moore that addresses the problems many businesses face when it comes to their social media marketing strategy. Missing alarmingly often in a company’s social media plan is just that: a plan. There is all too frequently no end goal of what the business hopes to achieve from social media, and many get sidetracked and think it’s all about getting another Facebook “like.”

“Be social”??

Be Social??In an earlier blog post, we discussed that social media is all about being social. However, as Pam points out, this is extremely vague, and businesses who, under “Goal of social media” on their implementation plan write “Be social,” are doomed to fail.

Being social on social media is an absolute necessity and extremely important, for the reason that simply setting up accounts on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook and doing nothing after that is as good as doing nothing at all. However, let’s clarify and elaborate on what it actually means to “be social.”

What “being social” does not mean

Being social means engaging on your social media platforms, and not isolating yourself in cyberspace. That said, this does not mean that you randomly “like” people/businesses/things on LinkedIn, follow anybody that Twitter suggests you follow, and “friend” total strangers on Facebook. It does not mean that you comment on every single post you see, especially when your comment has little value to add to the original post, or, even worse, is entirely unrelated to the topic at hand. It does not mean that the only status you update or tweet you post is an advertisement for your upcoming promotion (“Wait, what? But I thought that’s what social media was for…”). Yes, social media can be used to promote your business, and is certainly an extremely time and cost effective way of doing so. However, no one likes to be sold to, and if all you do is sell your product, eventually people will stop listening to you.

What “being social” does mean

What then, if not to be on social media for the sake of it, or to comment and follow at random, or to simply promote your company, does being on social media and being social entail?

Really the only rule here is that you must be consistent in what you post and who you follow, which brings us back to the opening topic of this post: to have a goal. If you are clear about what you want your social media strategies to be about and what you hope for your business to accomplish on social media, it will become more clear to you who to follow and what to post.

If the main goal of any social media endeavor should be to establish yourself as a trusted advisor, then that means becoming respected in your field by more people than those who already benefit from your services or those who you want to reach. As Bob Burg often says, if there are many people who know, like, and trust you, even if they don’t do business with you, they will refer you to people who will benefit from your services. By effectively using social media in this way, you will accomplish what is hopefully your goal of growing your business by establishing yourself as a trusted advisor.

What are your thoughts? How have you used social media to help grow your business? Do you have specific goals in place of how exactly you plan to harness the power of social media to establish yourself as a trusted advisor? Leave a comment and let us know – we’d love to hear from you!

Aug 27

Project Management: 3 Steps to Keep Business Projects on Track

How to Carry a Project Through from Beginning to EndProject Management

There are many reasons that can cause a project to fail during the implementation phase – focus, time management, and motivation are among the usual culprits.

Try incorporating these simple steps into your business to ensure that the excitement and drive of a new project gets carried through to fruition every time.

1. Refocus

Once a project has lost focus or started to miss critical deadlines, it’s important to take action. Identify the issue that’s causing it to stray from target. This may be the most difficult part of the process for a number of reasons, but it’s vital to establish why in order to put things right.

It might be useful to review the project with the objective of streamlining it. Look at how some of the trivial tasks could be removed or dealt with in some other way. They can be demotivating and can bring the entire project to a halt.

It’s important to understand that in small business, change is par for the course. Ensuring your team understands the need for any prescribed changes is essential. Constant communication within your team is the best way to overcome unforeseen obstacles.

Appoint an ambassador for the project – a point person – who can be available to field questions or concerns as well as managing a swift flow of communication between team members.

2. Revamp Your Time Management

If scheduling or time management is holding up progress, the Harvard Business Review suggests starting with these simple steps:

1. Look to the end to recover – go back to the long-term plan and make up for lost time by rescheduling missed deadlines
2. Narrow the scope – eliminate non-essential elements. This may well reduce costs and save time and allow team members to focus on the major goals.
3. Renegotiate – take time to look at alternatives including time, budget, personnel, deadlines, etc.

3. Remotivate

Your project may be faltering due to a lack of motivation or inability to meet deadlines. If this is the case it’s important to identify where the problem lies and look to offer solutions. This may call for delegation, re-assignment or incentives.

Be prepared to do what has to be done. Create a new timeline, put in more hours, increase the budget, re-energize and motivate your team–whatever is necessary. The project was started for a purpose and that purpose will remain unrealized unless the project is completed.

Often the best-laid plans will go awry. Adaptability is key in project management and, with good leadership, a slipping project can be salvaged.

 

We’d love to hear from you!

What strategies has your business found to be effective in managing the completion of projects?

Feel free to share by leaving a comment below!

 

Copyright 2012, Bullseye Business Systems Pty Ltd. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from http://www.ranone.com

Aug 22

Extending Your Reach: eMarketing

Ideas for How to Market Your Business Online

eMarketing should form an integral part of almost any business’ marketing strategy. It’s very useful for start-up or small businesses because it can be relatively inexpensive.eMarketing

As with all marketing strategies, the ultimate goals should include:

1. Generate and identify new leads
2. Enhance your brand and create a recognizable and lasting identity
3. Retain clients and foster long-term relationships
4. Measure effectiveness
5. Grow your business, increase profits

For starters, consider creating free content in the form of topical articles for distribution. This will enable you to establish yourself as a trusted advisor online. Target your niches to produce the most desirable prospects as well as solidifying your web presence and image.

Drip marketing is another targeted method that can help leverage your advertising.
Drip marketing is a communication strategy that sends (or “drips”) a pre-written set of messages to customers or prospects over time.

With this method of lead generation the follow up is automated and your chances of turning a lead into a sale are increased with relatively no effort at all.

Email still represents a cheap, effective way to establish or maintain a relationship with clients. However it’s important to avoid the most common email-marketing mistakes that small businesses often make. Do not purchase email lists or blast unknowing users with newsletters or promotional materials. Craft your list carefully with well-researched and specialized leads.

Monitoring Your OutcomesAvoid operating in a vacuum- in order for your eMarketing program to be successful you must be consistently analyzing the numbers and monitoring the outcomes of your efforts. Your efforts must be that of consistently engaging with your target market through various social media sites and other places online.

Remember the ultimate purpose of all eMarketing is to open and create dialogue with potential clients. Align your strategies with this goal to ensure the biggest pay-off.

 

We’d love to hear from you!

What are some insights that have been valuable to you in your business’ eMarketing? Feel free to share by leaving a comment below!

 

 

Copyright 2012, Bullseye Business Systems Pty Ltd. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from http://www.ranone.com

Aug 09

How to be an Effective Presence on Social Media

How to Effectively Use Social Media for Your Business

Most businesses today acknowledge the usefulness of being on social media. Many of their current and potential customers are using social media, and as such, social media can be used to reach a large number and wide variety of people. The question many businesses struggle with, however, is how to have an effective social media presence. How do you use sites like LinkedIn and Facebook to attract attention to your company? How do you use social media to establish yourself as a trusted advisor? The answer lies in the title: social media.

 Social Media: It’s in the nameSocial Media Sites

The key to having an effective presence on social media is being social. In order to direct traffic to your page—regardless of which social media site you are using—it is important that you are visiting others’ pages, commenting on links and statuses, and posting links and statuses of your own. No one is going to spontaneously search for your name, and if they do and they see that you are rather inactive, their interest will stop there.  The best and most effective way to get your name in the social media world is to comment on other users’ posts and faithfully follow like-minded individuals. When others see that you are following them, they will likely reciprocate.

Becoming a Trusted Advisor

Social media is not primarily about advertising your company’s products and services; it is about establishing yourself as a trusted advisor. That means that instead of simply advertising your company’s current promotion—which is valid, but not the first, and certainly not the only thing, you should be doing—you should also be engaging with other companies and offering useful advice for prospective clients. The primary way to do this is through a blog. In truth, all of your social media pages—whether Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.—function as ways to direct traffic to your blog. Your blog is where you offer important information about how to run your type of business or other small tips of advice people can benefit from. Melonie Dodaro of Top Dog Social Media has a fantastic webinar on how to become a trusted advisor.

Directing Traffic to Your Blog

As we’ve already said, the best way to direct traffic to your social media pages is through liking and commenting on others’ pages and posts. The same tactic applies to your blog. A blog isolated in cyberspace will never be found. People will only discover your blog if you are present and active on social media and blogging sites, commenting and asking questions on others’ blogs. One of the best ways to find out which blogs you should be reading and commenting on is to not only do specific searches yourself on the blogs which spark your interest, but also by encouraging people to leave comments on your blogs. A call to action—questions inviting opinions and other thoughts—at the end of every blog encourages people to leave comments on your blog or visit your website or social media pages. If what you have said in your blog is useful and relevant information, people will want to find out more about you, and will even want to pay you for your services because they trust you.

 

Social Media

In short…

Establishing a social media presence takes effort and commitment. The key to doing so lies in the name: social media, meaning you need to be engaged on social media and blogging sites. It takes effort and work to get going, but remember, social media is not supposed to be a chore—it’s supposed to be fun! So enjoy yourself and enjoy learning about how other business are using their social media presence to establish themselves as trusted advisors!

 

We’d love to hear from you!

What works for you in your social media endeavors for your business?

Leave a comment below.

———————————–