How to differentiate your B2B company

Tips to set your B2B company apart from the rest

How to differentiate your B2B company…

How to differentiate your B2B company

As a competitor in the business-to-business (B2B) world, you already have a leg up from your typical consumer-based business. B2B entrepreneurs provide products, services and solutions that keep other businesses afloat — and that puts you in an extremely valuable role. So how do you make sure you become a preferred vendor and set yourself about from the competition?

As Business News Daily describes it, “B2B companies are supportive enterprises that offer the things other businesses need to operate and grow.” You are an essential piece of the puzzle, but your industry is likely packed with copycats and similar organizations.

Here are a few ways to differentiate yourself from to convince more prospective clients that you are the right partner for their business:

Conduct a competitive analysis

Research your competitor’s strategies, strengths and weaknesses in comparison to your own. Then identify your gaps and clearly outline ways to improve. One great resource for this research is social media. Browse through competitor social networks and make a list of the keywords they use, hashtags, top followers, amount of activity and quality of engagement they receive from the same type of audience as your own.

Tools that may help you in this research stage include Hootsuite, Brandwatch, and Unmetric. And one you’re likely already quite familiar with is LinkedIn, which you can use in sleuthy ways to uncover clues and solve the mysteries of how your competition engages with their customers and prospects.

Create a top-notch website

In B2B sales, your website isn’t the only way you generate traffic, interest and revenue, but it is often the starting point and launching pad. There are several website must-haves to keep in mind. For one, determine the purpose of your website, such as generating leads and downloads or educating clients about your services.

Next, be sure your website messaging reflects that main goal. Provide meaningful (and relevant) content, follow along with an editorial calendar to stay active, and provide a consistent design. To do this effectively, find talent who can help you assemble a website that suits your business’ many needs, whether it’s someone to help streamline your site for mobile devices or a graphic designer to establish your brand with logos and graphics.

Improve your customer experience

How to differentiate your B2B company

Customer experience in B2B can often mean dealing with many people in one company, from front-line staff right up to the CEO. And put simply: The B2B buyers often hold the power.

Forbes contributor Blake Morgan explains that “the space is getting more competitive, so if a customer isn’t happy with the service they are receiving, they can take their business elsewhere.” Your ultimate goal is to get the customer to choose to do business with you. Take time to understand your target market as well as their own needs and goals so that you can create a personalized experience.

More and more B2B businesses are turning to technology as well to meet customer needs, such as help desk software, live chat and CRM software. These tools help resolve customer issues faster, provide a constant source of contact, and show your commitment to helping the customer meet or even exceed their goals.

Improve your public relations

Landing a sale isn’t as simple as making a single phone call. You have to go through various touchpoints and business contacts before a buying decision is made. In fact, most prospective businesses have entire teams of employees whose input ultimately goes into the final buying decision, so you could have an uphill battle.

A good way to reach such a large group is with public relations. You can accomplish this by being featured in a media venue that your target customers will see. Contact the managing editor and give them your best pitch.

Other ways to get your name and expertise out there are even simpler. As a starting point, it’s good to post regular blog articles formatted for SEO, publish press releases on your website, or even offering your insight on a new trend, product or service via a comment or post on industry websites, forums and LinkedIn groups.

Setting yourself up as a strong competitor is important if you want your business to succeed. While the B2B sector is unique, differentiating your business is achievable. It will take some hard work and dedication, but with patience and diligence, you’ll get your business where you want it to be.

How women can refresh their careers by becoming entrepreneurs

Could your career use a shot in the arm? Are you considering a venture of your very own? For women who feel they have climbed as high as they can in their current role, who aspire to be “more,” or who are simply ready for a change, entrepreneurialism can be an ideal solution.

Options abound

Do you have a clear vision you hope to pursue? For instance, maybe you have unique expertise to offer and could work as a consultant to other businesses, or maybe you have a thriving side gig and it’s time to transition to full-time.

On the other hand, maybe your path isn’t so clearly defined. Perhaps you have abundant leadership qualities, but you don’t have a certain place to exercise them.  People with ample confidence, who love to learn, and who believe in shaking things up often make the best entrepreneurs.

Narrowing choices

Determining a clear path for your business can feel pretty daunting, but sorting out your strengths and interests can help. For example, do you love doing work that makes the world a better place? There are several service-oriented careers to consider and by sorting out your interests, you can lay the groundwork to achieve your goals.  Here are some ideas:

Coaching: You could become a career coach, helping others pursue their hopes and dreams. In this case, unless you currently work in human resources, in an academic advising role, or another related field, you might want to start a side gig to gain experience before you quit your current position.

Continuing Education: Perhaps you have a knack for listening and communication. A career in speech pathology could be the perfect fit, and you can enroll in a master’s program with a bachelor’s degree in another field. By taking online courses, you can complete the bulk of your schooling while you’re still at your current job, which just leaves clinical work to do in person.

Combine Your Skills & Interests: If you love crunching numbers, perhaps you would enjoy freelance bookkeeping. In the role of bookkeeper, you help others not only with tallying their routine accounts, but you can help them find ways to stay on budget, identify places to cut costs, and avoid overspending. It’s easy to become established through platforms that connect freelancers and clients.

Grow Your Own Business: Do you love the idea of doing something research-oriented and creating your own business from that idea? Perhaps becoming a paralegal would be your ideal choice. There are several routes you can take, from earning a certificate to attending a four-year degree program. Once complete, Chron explains you can hang your own shingle as a freelance paralegal.

Identify barriers

There are many things that can hold us back from making a major career change. Do some thinking about what barriers could be keeping you from making the transition you desire.

For many women, financing can be a crucial hurdle to overcome. Thankfully, Hiscox points out there are numerous grants available designed specifically to help women entrepreneurs in their pursuit of success.

Do you lack both funds and an appropriate education? Explore grants and scholarships that are available to women who are returning to school.

Maybe the one thing you lack is connections or customers. If you need contacts with other professionals or need to develop a customer base, grab some solid networking strategies to build your business. Participate in events for founders, establish yourself on social media, attend industry conferences, and go to local events for business owners so others get to know you and what you offer.

There are many great options out there for women interested in starting their own businesses. Think about what you have to offer and what drives you, and narrow your focus so you can develop clear goals. With a set path, you can refresh your career with a satisfying entrepreneurial venture.

 

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Business people presentation

Making sure you safely store your business contracts

Business contracts

Photo Cred: https://edubirdie.com

When you finalize your business contracts and seal them with signatures and stamps, they are legally valid documents. Unfortunately, business owners often don’t pay adequate attention to storing their contracts safely for reliable retrieval in the future.

Why will you need to retrieve your contracts?

It’s important to keep your contracts in a safe in a place where you can readily access them, should you need to review them in the event of a contractual dispute. Usually, you’ll just need them to remind yourself (or your contractual partners) about the terms agreed upon when you got started. But in exceptional circumstances, you might need them in the case of a larger dispute, such as if the documents were called upon in court.

Businesses often make the mistake of storing an early version of their contracts, rather than the final version that is signed and stamped. Different versions of contracts are exchanged during the drafting process, and they simply store the wrong version. It’s important to avoid making this mistake.

You have a number of storage options

Keeping your contracts in a safe place can give you peace of mind. Ideally, you should store your contracts in three different ways.

  1. Storing physical copies: Not only should you physically save signed originals in a safe place, you should store copies as well. Ideally, the hard copy originals and copies should be in fireproof filing cabinets in different locations. Should something happen to one set of documents, you will at least have the other.
  2. Storing digital copies locally: Your signed contracts can be turned into PDF documents and stored in a safe, password-protected office computer. It’s a good idea to create a couple of backup copies as well to store in different places. Should one drive crash or be damaged, you can access the documents that you need on another drive.
  3. Storing digital copies on the cloud: When you put your documents on the cloud, you no longer need to worry about drives crashing. Professionally run cloud storage systems create enough backup copies to ensure that there is no data lost.

While there may be a few risks to do with data breaches associated with cloud storage, storage companies are generally able to implement security far better than the average small business. Considering that businesses are routinely targeted by hackers for the promise of ease of entry that they present, cloud storage makes a lot of sense.

No matter the size or scale of your business, storing your contracts safely should not be an afterthought. Make sure your business contracts are safe and accessible at all times, and you’ll be better prepared for whatever may arise in the future.

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6 time-saving tools to streamline your business operations

Whether you’re a solo entrepreneur (solopreneur) or you have a full team, running your own business can sometimes seem like a never-ending cycle of documents, tasks and communications.

Thankfully, there are tools available for almost anything you can imagine — and business operations are not an exception. Here are seven simple and proven tools that will allow any business owner to streamline their operations — from project management and marketing to finances and paperwork — saving them valuable time and money.

1. Manage your projects

Time-Saving Tools Trello

Businesses of all sizes often struggle with project management, prioritizing and keeping on top of tasks.

Trello is a versatile and collaborative online tool that allows you (and your team) to monitor and prioritize not only the big tasks, but to manage the finer details and assign responsibilities. With both free and paid options available on desktop and mobile app, Trello is the perfect project management tool (and to do list!) for solopreneurs and teams alike.

Price: Paid options from $9.99 to $20.38 per month

Trial: No trial, but a free version is available

 

2. Save time with templates and automation

Time-Saving Tools PitchBox

Whether it’s blogger outreach, pitching or link-building, there are a plethora of tools to help you save time in your sales and outreach.

A tool such as Pitchbox helps here, by integrating with your email account and contacts, supporting outbound communication campaigns. Part email management tool and part CRM, Pitchbox manages your outreach by matching incoming responses to your opportunities, allowing you to prioritize your responses.

Pitchbox also has an automated follow-up process, which allows you to set rules and messages for those who don’t respond to your initial contact. By prioritizing and taking the time-consuming follow-up process away, you have more time to focus on the other parts of your business, safe in the knowledge that outreach campaigns and outbound communications are covered.

Price: Upon request

Trial: You can book a demo

 

3. Bring your documents and paperwork online

Time-Saving Tools Google Suite

Another brilliant digital tool is the Google Suite — otherwise known as G Suite. Not only does it include your Gmail and calendar functions including Google Docs, Google Sheets and Google Slides, you can benefit from the sophistication of Word, Excel and PowerPoint without the hefty price tag.

Cloud-based and digital, your documents on these programmes save automatically as you type, cutting back on the time spent by repeatedly saving and sorting through version histories. (And say goodbye to losing unsaved changes!)

Google Drive stores all of these documents in one secure place. Accessible across all devices, you can even invite others to collaborate on these documents, track changes and share with others. With Google Drive, no longer will you have to rely on printed paperwork and multiple collaborator versions, saving you critical admin time.

Price: From $6 to $25 per user per month

Trial: 14 days

 

 4. Manage your marketing in one place

Time-Saving Tools Loomly

If social media is critical to your sales and marketing strategy for lead generation or brand awareness, it’s essential to use a content management tool. Curating and posting organic content across three or four platforms each week can become extremely time-consuming, and that doesn’t include the time spent on creating additional advertising content.

Loomly is an innovative social media management tool that not only allows you to manage your content and keep on top of all your social channels, but that also gives you tips as you create your posts including ideas, subjects, optimization tips and a preview function.

With Facebook post sponsoring and audience targeting available within the tool itself (goodbye Facebook Business Manager!), Loomly is a collaborative and useful resource to save you time on marketing.

Price: Starting at $20 per month

Trial: 15 days

Related: Just starting out in social media and not sure where to begin? Get these smart social strategies here. 

 

5. Automate your reporting

Time-Saving Tools DashThis

Reporting is critical to your role as an entrepreneur, providing a top-down view of your business. Whether it’s marketing, financial or cash flow reporting, it’s critical that you have the right systems in place to be able to quickly identify your priorities as a business owner. You may also want to gauge the effectiveness of your social strategy, as well as the growth and engagement on each platform.

A tool such as DashThis includes key reporting such as channel overviews, periodic dashboards and campaign dashboards to monitor the effectiveness of any given campaign. With widgets and templates, it lets you customise your social media reporting and to share this data with collaborators or clients.

Price: Starting at $33 per month

Trial: 15 days

 

6. Soar higher with automated reporting

Time-Saving Tools Kyte

If you sell products, the Kyte app is an excellent resource for automated reporting. As a business owner, you need to know what sold, which are your best-selling products, revenue and, of course, your profit.

Kyte gives you a dashboard on your chosen device that is simple to understand and accompanied by intuitive and detailed reports. This app also works as a Point of Sale (PoS) system and as an online catalogue for your customers.

Price: Pro version $4.99

Trial: No trial, but a free version is available

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How social media can improve your sales process (A real business case study)

Sitting in our weekly sales and marketing meeting, I am so impressed with (yes, my company, but also) how powerful a tool social media is for helping improve your sales process. We’re having a conversation inspired by a single tweet from earlier that week.

The CaseClassroom - Improve your sales process

Recently, one of our sales reps was following up with one of his inbound leads that came through a website lead form. When he couldn’t reach the person on the phone, he left a voicemail offering to follow up on the resources he downloaded.

That could have been the end of that story.

But what happened was the person tweeted about the voicemail, expressing his discontent:

noahwesley : «Someone from HubSpot just left me a VM & told me he noticed I’d been on the site often & «…consuming resources…» …who talks like that?»

The Response

Whoa! That’s not a typical HubSpot voicemail. We create tons of free resources and LOVE when people get value out of them — whether or not they’re interested in our marketing software. We had to respond, and did so in two ways:

  1. The marketing team, which of course monitors company mentions in social media and noticed this tweet, forwarded this message to sales management to respond appropriately.
  2. The marketing team also responded to the tweet from the @HubSpot account, apologizing for the ill-phrased message.

HubSpot : @noahwesley Sorry for the ill-phrased vm. That’s not how we think of visitors. We LOVE when people take advantage of our free resources.

The Result

Noah responded to both the rep’s phone call and the @HubSpot tweet – Success!

noahwesley : @HubSpot No problem at all. I love your free resources, I just thought the phrasing was funny 🙂 Thanks for the follow-up call.

Taking It A Step Further

Improve your sales process - Business strategy plan over ladder leading to success

Already this is a successful use of social media — we uncovered an issue and resolved it quickly. We could have stopped there, but instead decided to learn from this case and improve our sales process. At our weekly sales and marketing meeting, we discussed this tweet and this voicemail. What could the rep have said instead? How can we better follow up with these inbound leads? The team worked together to brainstorm different approaches.

Lessons

There are plenty of examples of using social media for lead generation or for PR or for customer service. With this case study, we learned that social media is a powerful tool for improving the sales process itself. What are the key takeaways?

  1. Listen. Social media gives you visibility into the sales funnel where before you were in the dark.
  2. Respond authentically. This was our bad, we apologized, and that relationship was restored.
  3. Learn and improve. Take this feedback and use it to improve your processes. Never before was it so easy to get candid feedback — now utilize it.

How have you been able to use social media to improve your business processes? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Advice for busy professionals to avoid burnout

Avoid Burnout

In our culture, we have a tradition of admiring people who stay busy. Unfortunately, for many professionals embracing that belief, it can mean losing fulfillment both at home and in their careers. If you want to avoid burnout, consider incorporating a few changes into your lifestyle to help you keep things balanced and feel more satisfaction in both the personal and professional realms.

Are you burning out?

Being busy is one thing, but burnout is a reality that can sidetrack your home life and career. When you continually overextend your time and energy, you put yourself at risk.

Even if you love your job, friends and family, without proper balance and healthy coping skills, you could be heading for trouble. Ask yourself if you recognize any of these signs of burnout:

  • Feeling fatigued all the time
  • Poor motivation
  • Feeling cynical or frustrated
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Waning performance or productivity
  • Unhealthy choices (poor eating habits, failure to exercise, self-medicating)
  • Continually thinking about work
  • Reduced general satisfaction
  • Increased health problems

All too often, we equate stress with success. A little bit of stress is helpful, such as when you’re preparing for a job interview or competing athletically, but our minds and bodies aren’t designed to be under a continual onslaught of stressful situations.

In fact, chronic stress appears to be linked with cardiovascular disease, digestive trouble, reduced immune function, and neck and back pain. It’s important to address this stress — and make positive changes to help reduce those feelings.

Lighten your workload

Avoid Burnout - Outsource

Being passionate about your job is wonderful, but cutting back can ease your schedule as well as your mind. Do you have tasks you could pass to other team members? Think about delegating some of your to-do list more often, and if you don’t have others who are properly qualified for something unworthy of your time, consider outsourcing it.

If funds or people power are a concern, another option is to add technology that facilitates routine tasks. For instance, bookkeeping, scheduling and communication can all be streamlined with well-chosen apps.

Positive coping methods to avoid burnout

Avoid Burnout - Yoga

There are healthy, natural ways to manage stress that you can incorporate into your business day. One natural stress management method is meditation. Harvard Health Publishing notes mindfulness meditation could potentially lower your levels of stress and anxiety. Not only that, it’s convenient since you can slip in some breathing exercises from your car, in the office, or wherever you happen to be when you feel the tension rising.

Yoga is another natural solution since it incorporates mindfulness with physical activity. If you aren’t getting in workouts, consider adding it to your lifestyle — it’s multitasking at its best! And supplements may be something to discuss with your healthcare professionals when it comes to stress management, as they may help regulate your mood and decrease anxiety.

Boost personal efficiency

Avoid Burnout - Boost efficiency

After parceling out tasks as much as possible, boosting personal efficiency can free up time and energy for things like working out or dinner with the family. Prioritize work carefully, and flex timing on less important tasks. Do your top items when your energy is best, so if you’re a morning person, schedule key meetings early in the day, and so forth. Lump lower priorities into low-energy, open slots in your schedule. And lastly, consider whether your workstation could be more efficient since you might not even notice that your office surrounding is slowing you down.

Burnout is a real thing, so avoid putting yourself at risk. Find healthy ways to manage stress, reduce your workload, and improve your efficiency. Balancing your personal and professional life can improve your health and save your career.

 

Up Next: Want to find business zen? Paying yourself first will help.

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Seven things to consider prior to launching your business blog

launching a business blog

In many ways, launching a business blog is like designing a rolling ball sculpture. Rolling ball sculptures also known as kinetic sculptures are so engaging because of the visual and aural spectacle — following intricate roller coaster paths, clinging and clanging along the way.  But the basic element is they are designed for perpetual motion.

The same goes for your business blog and the basic key to success is to plan for it to be a perpetual outlet for remarkable content.  When planned right blogs end up with the appeal, rhythm and engagement found in rolling ball sculptures.

 

Here are seven things to consider prior to launching your business blog:

 

1. Set aside time

Blogs fail because businesses cannot keep up with them.  Blogging requires frequency and commitment.  You should think about how frequently you want to blog and how much time you need per week to write.  Then set aside that time and stick to it.

2. Build a network or following

Your blog has a greater chance of succeeding if you have a larger community to share your content with.  Plan to build up a network or following prior to launching your blog.  That way it will have a wider reach from the get-go because more people can share it.

3. Keyword research

launching a business blog - keywords

One of the biggest benefits of creating content is the search traffic it will attract to your site.  Do some research so you are targeting keywords that will bring in good qualified traffic to your site.  If you are struggling with what to write about this is also a great way to queue up some ideas for articles.

4. Create calls-to-action

You should take the time to think about what calls-to-action should go into your blog posts and create them.  If you want to derive business value from your blog in the form of leads and customers you need good, relevant offers to go along with your content.

5. Queue up articles

launching a business blog - schedule

It never hurts to stay ahead of the curve.  If you plan to write once a week it may not be a bad idea to queue up four to five articles so you have a month’s worth of content ready to go.  This way you can stay consistent and keep up with your established publishing frequency.

6. Set up RSS/Subscriber feeds

If you want to grow your business blog you need to build a subscriber base.  Think about how to position your RSS feeds or email opt-in on your blog and your website to maximize subscriptions.

7. Ways to promote it

Lastly, it is critical to think about ways to promote your blog.  Will you tweet your articles or include them in your company newsletter? How often? How about sharing them on Facebook or LinkedIn? You might want to include your RSS feed on each of your profiles.  Spend some time on figuring ways to get the word out there!

What are some of the preemptive things you have done to help the success of your blog? Please share your experiences in the comments.

 

Up Next: 10 ways small business marketers can crush big competitors

 

Photo credit: Crimfants

An island

Cash Flow Survivor: Could you outwit, outplay & outlast your competitors?

Use these 3 alternative business funding strategies to avoid cash flow exile.

Cash Flow Survivor

Yes, Survivor may now be the ‘old-timer’ of reality game shows, but who can deny the sheer thrill you still get when your favorite players claim victory and send the other team to Tribal Council? When it comes to battling it out in business, finding the craftiest ways of improving your bottom line can also feel like winning an immunity idol and sending the competition packing.

Your finances are likely where the game can be won or lost. For alternative business funding, in particular, there are trends that continue to shape the way modern companies can secure the right working capital — some brand new and some time-tested and client-approved.

Survivors Ready? Here are three to keep an eye on as you outwit, outplay and outlast your competition:

1. Outwit your bank loan challenges

Cash Flow Survivor Outwit

When you need business funds, one of the first places you likely turn to is your bank. But banks can have strict criteria and getting that loan can become an instant roadblock. Unfortunately, it’s no surprise that businesses can struggle when trying to access credit and a lack of cash could put you on the chopping block.

To outsmart the traditional loan criteria, form an alliance with an alternative funding partner who can offer you solutions such as factoring — allowing you to sell unpaid invoices to access cash faster. You get paid upfront and can continue operating as usual, even if your credit rating isn’t the strongest. The important part is to form that alliance with an alternative funding partner that has a proven track record and is willing to work with you to advance your business goals.

2. Outplay the risk

Cash Flow Survivor Outplay the risk

Being marooned with no lifeline is a horrible feeling, so it’s important to have a support team to help avoid any risk in the business that can leave you stranded. Whether it be the risk of not getting paid on time (or at all), being subject to fraud, cybersecurity risks, or not getting cash in time to pay your suppliers or staff, you’ll want to mitigate the issues.

To start, ensure that your tribe (aka your funding partner) has the experience to back up their claims. They should have their own team dedicated to assessing risky funding opportunities, and they should be willing to say no when that opportunity is more likely to lead to your torch being extinguished. And since 76% of businesses are concerned about cybersecurity risks, it’s important to work with partners who are equally aware of online risks and take data privacy and security seriously.

Related: 5 ways factoring can clear your cash flow hurdles

 

3. Outlast without giving up equity

Cash Flow Survivor Outlast

When you work so hard at growing your business, would you give up equity in the company to gain financing? Many business owners do this, turning to venture capital firms, angel investors, crowdfunding, or even friends and family to increase their working capital. But according to the University of Cambridge, 67% of companies would still rather follow a debt financing model (such as PO financing) than to give up a portion of their business

Why is this the case? It may come down to predictability. Looking at your balance sheet is often easier to understand, and knowing exactly how much you are borrowing (and need to pay back) can allow the average business owner to formulate a plan that fits into their schedule. The equity model, on the other hand, can raise more questions and leave you wondering just how much of your business you’ll leave on the table.

 

Even if you’ve been exiled to Redemption Island, you have a shot at coming back and winning Cash Flow Survivor. Obtain your secret advantage by updating your cash flow budget to accurately forecast your incoming and outgoing cash flow. Assess all the financing options available to determine which will be best at maintaining consistent cash flow to stay ahead of expenses. And of course, don’t be afraid to explore options beyond what a bank may have to offer.

 

To become the ultimate business survivor by making the most of alternative business funding, download The Invoice Factoring Guidebook now.

Learn how to ask the right questions so that you can ensure you choose the right working capital solution.

Click to access the eBook immediately.

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How outside services can enhance your business

enhance your business

The age-old wisdom that time is money holds true for today’s small business owners. However, finding ways to streamline without sacrificing quality can feel pretty challenging. We’ve pulled together some of the best free and paid service options for companies in the B2B arena, so you can enhance your business and improve efficiency without skimping on quality — ultimately boosting your bottom line.

Go virtual

Knowing you want to make improvements is one thing, but knowing where to make them is another. Start by taking a hard look at where you and your team spend time, particularly on routine tasks. Sometimes, the solution to many problems comes in the form of equipment upgrades. For instance, Chron.com points out that virtual meetings reduce travel time, improve communication, and allow for more effective time management.

Get financing

Of course, if funds are keeping you from investing in technology, there are financing options to help you make it happen. Many of our clients make use of invoice factoring to increase their working capital.  Whether you’re running a startup, have a well-established company, or have struggled with accessing funding in the past, your trusted financial partner can help you find the right option for your company.

Build your brand

It’s no secret that brand recognition can be a key to success. Take the wide selection of soft-drinks for example. One glance at your choices and you may instantly gravitate to a favorite — and that might have a lot to do with the visible branding. While most companies never get to that stage of brand recognition, carving your niche out of the market is a realistic goal, and there are ample tools to help you achieve it.

An effective and recognizable logo is a great starting point, and for businesses just starting out, you can use logo design services to create your own. Whether hiring a professional designer, going the crowdsourcing route, or taking a crack at it, DIY style, your updated look should follow key design best practices to make it eye-catching and impactful.

Engage social media

Social media can seem like a mixed bag for small business owners. Posting about your company’s comings and goings can feel like a time drain, much less taking the time to respond to comments and inquiries you receive from interested parties. However, when it comes to getting the word out, Entrepreneur.com points out that business owners shouldn’t underestimate the power of social media.

It’s free and effective, and with a few well-chosen tools, you can stay on top of things without skipping a beat. There are even apps for building things like surveys and quizzes, creating animated videos, and increasing exposure through hashtags. It’s a great opportunity to build your brand with minimal investment.

Enhance customer satisfaction

You probably know happy clients help sell services and products. Not only does it keep them coming back for more, they are more inclined to tell others about you. What’s more, when they run into a problem, being able to connect with you about it promptly can sometimes make or break their experience. With that in mind, consider adding free apps to your repertoire that enables your customers to voice their needs, day or night, without adding to your workload.

Related: 4 ways to keep busy customers happy (without sacrificing exceptional service)


Keep sales flowing

A faster, more efficient, and highly effective sales cycle can mean putting more time and energy toward the next achievement. As a small business owner, this can sometimes feel tricky, as the personal touch is often what endears you to your clientele. Thankfully, there are numerous online sales tools that automate time-consuming, behind-the-scenes processes so you can make the most of interactions and building your customer base. From email marketing systems and task scheduling to automated reminders tailored to your clients, letting apps take on the grunt work can free up time and boosts sales.

Engaging outside services to enhance your business can take your business to new levels.  Look out for where efficiency could improve your processes, ensure customers are happy, and get the word out about your company in effective ways. These smart strategies can grow your small business by leaps and bounds in no time.

 

Up Next: See 10 ways that small businesses can crush big competitors.

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4 ways to keep busy customers happy (without sacrificing exceptional service)

Keep busy customers happy

Image courtesy of Pexels

If you own a successful small business, you know what it’s like to have a busy schedule. Your customers are likely just as busy as you are, so it’s important that you find efficient ways to help them out. But not just any service will do when you need to keep customers happy.

To win your customers over, you’ll need to provide an exceptional experience that will keep them coming back. Here are a few simple tricks to make that happen:

1. Save your customer’s time with easy transactions

Since customers are multi-tasking as much as you are, your checkout process needs to be as smooth and simple as possible. In a retail store, that means investing in a terminal that allows you to accept all forms of payment (even NFC payments and chip cards) and then getting your customers through the checkout process in a flash. The Square terminal could be just the system you are looking for to improve your business operations and streamline transactions for your customers. For e-commerce sites, users will appreciate an easy checkout experience as well, so make sure they can fill their baskets and checkout with minimum clicks.

2. Be prompt and courteous with your communications 

As a business owner, you know the value of your time, so place that same value on the time your customers take to connect with your business. Clear customer communication is what can really set a business apart from competitors, so invest time into making your communications a top priority. If your customers reach out via phone or email, be sure to answer promptly with courteous and professional replies. When those touchpoints occur via social media, your responses should be even quicker. Of course, you can decrease the need for multiple emails with a comprehensive FAQ page so your customers know exactly what to expect from your business and products.

3. Address customer questions and issues ASAP

Answering customer questions is pretty simple. Dealing with upset customers, however, can feel like a nightmare for small business owners. But with the right response, you have a chance to turn one negative experience into a point of growth for your business. You may even be able to retain that angry customer if you respond with humility and focus on fixing the issue, rather than fanning the emotional response. Just like other communications, this is an area where being social media savvy can save your business, and help you provide better service for your customers.

4. Realize that different customers have different needs

When dealing with customer issues and communication, it can be helpful to remember the golden rule… Treat your customers as you would also like to be treated. But it’s also important to know that not every customer will think, shop or behave like you. All people have different personalities, varied emotional responses, and diverse needs, so tailor your operations and service to fit your varied buyer personas.

For shoppers and business owners alike, time is precious, so make sure you use the time you have with your customers to build lasting relationships, and keep your most loyal shoppers coming back again and again. Focus on building those positive experiences, and your business will continue to grow and profit.