Promoting and advertising your start-up

There are many tools and techniques that will be useful to you when communicating with the outside world.  Think about these tools as another type of mix, let us call it the promotions mix!  Again, you will balance and blend these approaches to suit your business’ needs best.

Ask yourself ‘why?’ are you trying to communicate with your customers, and what are you trying to say?  The whole purpose behind promoting your small business is to persuade your customers that your product or service has value to them, and more importantly to build long-term relationships with customers.  How you do this is down to you.

There will be some trial and error, and unfortunately you may invest in some promotions which deliver less than you invest.  You will learn from your mistakes and develop effective promotional tools that suit you and your customers best.

Which promotions work best for you?

How do you select the best approach?  There are a number of factors that you need to take into account when selecting the best way to promote your products or services.  Let’s take a look at a few of them:

Cost.  Of course if you have bottomless pockets you can do plenty of promotion.  Therefore, you need to look at what are expected returns based upon your communications.  Don’t overspend!  Look for ways that you can get your messages across by spending as little as possible. That’s just good business.

Your target market.  The promotional tool that you select should be the most suitable one for your target market.  For example, if you have a local business, then the local advertising will be better; that would include local newspapers, local Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising, local billboards, local sponsorship, and any approach which will directly hit your potential customers.

Availability of communications.  Not all promotional tools will be available to you.  Their may not be a local radio station in your area for example.  A particular keyword in relation to Pay-Per-Click may be too expensive simply because your competitors are willing to pay more for it. More on this later.

Look for innovation.  Always think to yourself, how can I get some really effective marketing promotion by spending as little as possible?  It might be as simple as sponsoring a local junior football team.  You could send some very targeted e-mails to opinion leaders in your area that might have an interest in your product or service, and they might blog about your product.  It is the role of the small businessperson or entrepreneur to look for ways of networking and maximising big bangs for small bucks.

Offline tools for promoting your small business

  • Personal selling
  • Sales promotion
  • Advertising
  • Public relations
  • Trade fairs and exhibitions
  • Sponsorship

With all small businesses personal selling is likely to be an underpinning marketing tool.  Personal selling will be used for every stage of the marketing process for your product or services, from the early days when you are sounding-out others about your new ideas, right up until the product is withdrawn and replaced by new one.

Don’t be afraid of personal selling!  Anyone can learn it, and there are many tools and techniques that can be used to make sure that you get to a sale.  Let’s have a look at a typical personal selling process that you can use today to sell your product or services to your customers.

The idea is that you match the benefits of your product, service or solution to the specific needs of your customers, and remember that you want to build a long-standing relationship.  That might mean that you do not sell today, but you sell many products and services in the future as you nurture the relationship and maintain a dialogue with your clients.

Tips and techniques for successful blogging

Tips and techniques for successful blogging

Now that you’ve discovered the power of successful blogging for entrepreneurs, start-ups or small businesses, make the most of your writing time by considering some of the following tips.

  • Design a publishing schedule, and stick to it. You do not have to write an entry every day.  Find out what your readers require and how often they want it, simply by asking them.
  • Begin a list of potential blogging ideas. There will be times when you are lucky enough to have an abundance of ideas on which to base your blogs.  Take into account, that there will also be times when you work harder for ideas.  Therefore, keep a list of potential blog post ideas; give some examples of what you intended to happen; use short, sharp bullets, or mind-maps to remind yourself of your reasoning in the future.

Blogging for entrepreneurs.

  • Read as much as you can. By reading around your topic of expertise you will develop and enhance your professionalism.  You may read outside of your industry area of expertise, but then draw it back again and reflect upon your blogging topic.  Make sure that you’ve read all of the key texts, and that you are referring the main industry websites.  Keep up to date, and the current.
  • As you begin your posts, explain in short sentences exactly what will follow. This will entice your reader to continue reading, and will give you a structure for the post which you will write.  This will prevent any aimless meandering.
  • Continue with a straightforward structure, and don’t confuse your reader.
  • Do not leave your writing until the last minute. If you plan ahead, then spend time working on your blog and make sure that it is a quality piece of work.  If you would not read it, why should your clients read it?
  • It is a good idea to keep a post in reserve. Therefore, if you are ill or if life takes over, you have a post ready to send out to your eager readers.
  • You may be one of those people that is able to write from 8.00 AM to 8.00 PM, and you will generate some quality content. If this is you, that’s marvellous.  However, if you’re an entrepreneur or a small business person, it is likely that you will have many other tasks to complete during your busy working days.  A better solution would be to write for 30 minutes to 60 minutes, and then take a break and work on other tasks for your business.
  • Staying on this topic, if you feel enthusiastic and full of energy and your writing is flowing, then write more blog posts! If you have something on your mind, then write it straight away providing you have the opportunity to do so.
  • Go and take a look at other people’s blogs; this will give you an idea of what makes content mundane or compulsory. Find a Blogger that is interesting, and learn to write in a similar style or technique.
  • Make sure that you are focusing upon your target audience. the people who ultimately will spend money with your business and will become loyal customers.  Don’t waste your time trying to please everybody.
  • Write what feels natural for your audience; don’t write in hyperbole, which means to grab attention or to generate clicks. You are not in the business of getting people to click through, you in the business of retaining profitable customers.
  • At the outset, explain exactly what your blog is about and who it is going to please. Make sure that you stick to this purpose and generate content to please your readers, and to make them loyal – of course.
  • Vary the length of your blog posts. If you have finished saying what you got to say, then that is the end of the blog post.  There is no point in stretching content because it will become thinner and less interesting to your readers.
  • Check your spelling and grammar. If you make mistakes in your work your readers will notice it, and this will mean that they have less faith in your writing skills.
  • Include guest posts. You may have friends or colleagues there are interested in your area of expertise.  Perhaps you have employees or suppliers that work for your small business by blogging?  Ask reliable writers to write blog posts, and given credit for their work.
  • Include something visual. Try to add an image or video to support your blog post.  People tend to scan posts quite quickly, and having something which is eye catching will slow down the eye, and draw them towards your content.  It also important to include an image/logo for many blogging websites, so that it can be included in summaries of posts which can be found on other pages.
  • Look at your competition. Make sure that you know what your competition is up to.  What are they doing?  What are you doing, which adds value to what you do?  Look for opportunities to add value in terms of your blog post.
  • Use outbound links. Once you have written your work you can include links to other websites which have examples and/or support your reasoning.  Focused and relevant outbound links can improve the attractiveness of your blog post in the search engines.
  • Once you have completed your blog post, go back and proof read it. Make sure that you chop up out any unnecessary text.  Keep it focused and succinct.
  • As with your social media, you need to create a Ask your readers some questions in your copy.  Find out what they think about topics which you are writing about.  Ask them for their experiences.  You can even open up the comments on your blog page, but make sure that you monitor them carefully.
  • As you complete your blog post, draw together all your themes. If you post a question in your introduction, then answer it in your conclusion based upon what you have written.
  • Finally, add internal links to any similar blog posts that your reader may be interested in.

Conclusion

The public are generally interested to hear about new innovations. You need to promote yourself as an entrepreneur, and you can provide the narrative for your start-up using one of many free tools. Blogging is a cost-effective way of kick-starting your marketing.

Blogs for entrepreneurs

Writing a successful blog for your idea, start-up or small business

If you are new to blogging, then the whole topic of writing a successful blog for your small business, idea or start-up, may seem a little daunting.  This section will consider the pros and cons of a blog, and offer advice and tips on how to make your blog more compelling.

Blogs for entrepreneurs

Write a blog about yourself as an entrepreneur

What is a blog?

So, let us get back to basics -what is a blog? A blog as a personal diary which is updated online.  You can share your expertise, thoughts and ideas.  The word comes from a shortened version of web log or weblog, hence blog.  Originally blogs were simply places to write about your day-to-day activities, in the same way as you would do in a paper-based diary.

Some are boring and mundane!  Some are not!  In fact, the more interesting and absorbing blogs became so popular that the bloggers tended to make a decent living. Video bloggers, or vloggers, do the same today – in fact many of them have become thought-leaders and celebrities in their own right.

Create your own blog

  • You need to select a blogging platform such as WordPress or Blogger. If you have built a website already, it is likely that you will be able to blog freely by simply creating a new post.  If not, you will need to organize a hosting provider and a domain name (see earlier sections on WordPress).
  • Add a theme, or skin, to your blog. This will give it a more original and authentic look.
  • Once the blog is ready, and you have a theme, you can now change the look and feel of the site by using tools to alter its appearance; this will make it more personal.
  • You can add plugins which are tools to enable you to undertake tasks such as adding social media, or creating mailing lists.
  • The next step is to work on quality content for your blog. This is probably the most important aspect, and will generate a readership audience for your work.

Blogger is a free blog, from Google.

Become an expert Blogger

  • Your readers will expect you to be one of the opinion leaders in whatever topic you write about. So, if you have a flower retail business, your readers will expect you to know all about the best way to arrange roses.  Whilst there may be better qualified experts elsewhere, you are the person that your readers are following, and therefore you need to live up to the title of expert.
  • If you are not comfortable being an expert, then refer to other experts within your field.
  • Write at regular intervals and make sure that you always compose good quality content. Be reliable and post on time.
  • Case studies are fabulous tools for you to go in to more depth, and for you to demonstrate the extent of your professional knowledge. This may mean that you need to source and gain access to a particular organisation in order to write your case study.  It a good idea to obtain permission before you publish anything about someone else’s organisation, their personal qualities, or use photos, which include themselves or their business.
  • Do not worry too much about giving away things for free. Write compulsive, engaging and must-be-seen content that will grasp the interest and attention of your readers.
  • Deliver in-depth material rather than superficial jargon. This will show that you have a professional knowledge of your topic, and it will help you to recruit new customers.
  • Don’t write shallow posts. Don’t write simple lists.
  • Finally, you must have a strong opinion or view on the topic that you are writing about. Don’t sit on the fence!  Don’t be afraid to tell people what your view of a particular situation is, after all you are the expert.

Conclusion

The public are generally interested to hear about new innovations. You need to promote yourself as an entrepreneur, and you can provide the narrative for your start-up using one of many free tools. Blogging is a cost-effective way of kick-starting your marketing.

20 Networking Tips for Entrepreneurs

Networking for entrepreneurs and small businesspeople often involves meeting new contacts and developing existing relationships. Generally, you will attend a purposefully organised networking event. Look for general networking opportunities in your local trading area, or one organised by your trade/market association. Here are some tips to get you organised so that you make the most of your networking opportunities.

  1. Research the networking event beforehand, and try to find out who will be attending. Visit their websites and try to get some insight into their businesses. Make notes.
  2. Have a wide network. Reach out to others and use every networking opportunity. Target contacts and find out where they meet for networking.
  3. Have an elevator pitch or business summary ready; this means be prepared with few focused sentences to explain in plain language what you do and why you are networking.
  4. Get there on time. Turning up early might give you chance to meet the organisers, and to meet other early-birds.
  5. Be efficient and realistic. Connect with others that are useful to you now, or will be in the future. You don’t have time to connect with everyone, so don’t work the entire room.
  6. Speak with others. Sounds obvious but you are there to network. Try to build rapport quickly. Have an opening question, such as Tell me about your business, explain to me how your business works for customers or describe how you get new customers. Prepare some before you arrive.
  7. Don’t be afraid to listen to other groups, and to join in. If you have something in common, then it is important that you begin the dialogue. Expect others to listen in to your discussion, and to join in too.
  8. Have goals, but keep them reasonable and don’t spread yourself too thinly. For examples, try to make 2 new contacts.
  9. Dress appropriately. If smart dress is required, then dress smartly. If you don’t dress smartly as part of your business’s ideology, then where what make you feel comfortable – within reason of course.
  10. Remember, just be yourself. You are the most important part of your business.
  11. Remember your business cards. Make notes on the cards themselves to remind yourself why you need to network that contact. Only hand out your card to people that will value it; if you have rapport, then ask for a business card from the contact, and expect them to do the same with you.
  12. Give a firm handshake and look the contact in the eye. Smile.
  13. Get your elevator pitch or business summary ready. However, try to not turn the discussion into a sales pitch. You are not selling, you are networking.
  14. Listen to your contact’s elevator pitch or business summary. Ask a question to show that you are engaged and that you understand. Try to be interested in the conversations. Be passionate about your own ideas. Try not to hijack somebody else’s conversation.
  15. Be willing to end the conversation politely. Thank the new contact, and explain that you’d like to meet a few more people during the event. They will understand because they are attending with similar goals.
  16. Perhaps you might be in a position to introduce other networkers to each other. You may form an informal mini-network.
  17. After the meeting or event, review your new contacts. Follow up contacts quickly. Add them to your LinkedIn profile, or add them to your database. Make relevant notes.
  18. Use social media to connect with relevant contacts. As with your business card, don’t try to work everyone. Be efficient and focused.
  19. Once you have connected, develop the relationship. For example, send them a sample; ask them for a meeting, or invite them to become a customer or a supplier.
  20. Why not organise your own networking event? Or, you could volunteer to support an event or networking opportunity organised by others.

What is crowdfunding?

The basics of crowdfunding

By definition, crowdfunding is one strategy for financing a business start up by raising money related commitments from an extensive number of individuals. It is generally accomplished with the use of digital technologies through sites that raise funds; yet the idea can likewise be delivered through other digital technologies such as apps.

Crowdfunding is a technique for raising capital through the aggregate effort of companions, family, clients, and individual financial specialists. This approach takes advantage of the aggregate endeavours of a huge pool of people—principally online by means of web-based social networking and crowdfunding platforms.

Of late, crowdfunding has become more and more popular in the realm of business, be it a start-up or mature organizations. As per, Massolution, a US based research firm, business people have raised billions of dollars with more than 600 crowdfunding platforms, in a range on of online locations. There is no doubt that crowdfunding is digging in for the long haul, and it speaks to a noteworthy new spring of subsidizing for inventive new organizations.

Some examples of crowdfunding platforms

A portion of the various crowdfunding platforms available are Kickstarter, Indiegogo, LendingClub, and Fundable among a few others. On these platforms, gifts are looked for as a by-product of remuneration. While each site offers their one of kind terms, the general idea is the same over every one of the platforms.

Benefits of crowdfunding

Crowdfunding can be used to gather credit and reputation for financing. For instance, the site LendingClub, permits individuals to specifically put resources into and get from one another, removing the bank from the exchange. The thought is to bring entrepreneurs and the financial specialists together. It additionally means to offer organizations shares or proprietorship stakes in the organizations on crowdfunding sites, much the same as a first sale/floatation of stock but without the restrictions.

A fruitful crowdfunding effort furnishes a business with required money, as well as makes a base of clients who feel it is their obligation to support the business since they have a stake in its prosperity.

Why crowdfunding may fail

It could be a colossal exercise in futility if the innovation is not planned properly. It can be terrifying if you meet your objective however then acknowledge you belittled how much cash you required. Your integrity is not just in question here; clients can likewise sue any business that fails to fulfil its promise.

Also, when a business gets supported by a bank or a financial specialist, they furnish businessmen with business mentorship yet they bypass  a major chance for such mentorship when they choose crowdfunding.

 

Factors that can ensure an effective crowdfunding effort

Join with a group of friends, families and supporter who share your business enthusiasm and will help put your struggle into action, giving and encouraging others as well.

Think of a persuasive strategy for success and explain how capital will assist your start-up.

Raise your sincerity level by demonstrating to the general population what you, as an agent have put into the business.

Using UBE a technological company in Texas as a case study of this idea, UBEs central thought is basic, however capable: permit individuals to control and watch their power usage with their cell phone from any place on the planet. Their line of Wi-Fi empowered Smart Dimmers, Smart Plugs and Smart Outlets makes lighting and apparatus control simple and reasonable.

UBE commenced its crusade on Fundable with plenty of enthusiasm, tempting benefactors to get on board and submit over $935k, helping UBE outperform its financing objective and extend the round to oblige intrigued speculators. In just a couple of months, UBE had got $350k in pre-orders, offering more than 5,000 brilliant power units to innovative property holders and organizations the nation over.  The lesson learnt from UBE is that your first benefactors and promoters are there to set the pace for the great support that will follow.

Conclusion

In spite of the fact that subsidizing is most dependably the principle objective of a crowdfunding effort, it can likewise be a positive approach to increase visibility, approve your business, develop your client base, and the sky is the limit from there.