Sometimes it’s the little changes that make the big differences.
We’ve put together a quick-fire list of some of the most important lessons we’ve learned on our journey, so you can start yours. You’ll find advice on understanding your business, defining your market, and creating a roadmap to your goals. Put these helpful tips into practice and we guarantee you’ll see results.
Engage through Social Media
It’s important to have a proper plan if this is going to pay off. Find topics of genuine interest. Blog and Tweet links and information your audience will find rewarding and relevant – and keep doing it. Social media is a conversation that takes time to build. It’s also a conversation that works best when you target the right platforms. Target the sites your audience use the most.
Develop a Brand Image
The more professional you appear, the more professional your customers will believe you to be. What would you think if you visited a website with no logo, no company colours and no clear indication of what the company does? Exactly. Try to see all the elements of your business through your consumer’s eyes. Image really is everything. Get it sorted, and you’ll find everything else falling into place too.
Know your Market
You’d be surprised how many businesses fail to do this. You need to know exactly who your target audience member is: where she hangs out, what she loves, and – most importantly – why your brand is right for her. Researching your ideal consumer will help you to organise your marketing campaigns, design future products and services, and make profitable changes to the ones you’ve already got on offer.
Make Friends And Influence People
The oldest business advice is still the best: get out there, network, make contacts and take the time to converse with them. The secret is not to talk to people only when you need something, but to maintain a genuine relationship with real give and take. When the time is right, you’ll be amazed how many of your contacts are willing to help you get your next product or service off the ground.
Understand Your Brand
Your brand is the unifying force holding your business together. Setting aside the time to really get what it is you have to offer – how your products and services set you apart from the competition, and why they are perfect for your target audience – will inform everything you do next. All of your advertising, every product launch, every image and web page design: it all starts and ends with the brand.
Images have the power to give your brand an energy that can bring it to life. The impact of a well-placed photo, or the right graphic design, can supercharge everything you do. From your website design to your social media engagement, high quality images create a personality for your business and add emotion to your advertising. They’ll also raise the bar for the design quality of your mobile websites and apps.
Get Involved With Some Basic SEO
SEO helps you to target your audience by picking up potential customers when they search for relevant terms. Google pays particular attention to the mentions your site gets in your fans’ social media streams, so be sure to keep blogging and Tweeting while you’re chasing after those killer keywords. SEO takes time, and is often combined with paid online advertising.
Know Your Limitations
Now, we’re not saying you have to outsource everything. But think about it this way. Would you trust a mechanic to redecorate your living room? Find the people who are passionate about the things your brand needs to do – and get them on board. You’ll get the best work, done by experts, and you’ll free up the time you need to dedicate to providing some outstanding products and services of your own.
Learn how to talk the talk
The way you use words is central to your success as a business. Poor or badly-planned content can undermine the impact of your website, no matter how beautiful it looks. Your brand personality is expressed in how you sound as well as what you look like: if the words sound wrong, the illusion is broken. Turn customers into lifelong brand advocates – ensure what you say connects with how they feel.
Pay for Online Advertising
Pay per click (PPC) campaigns can be an excellent way to get your brand in front of a relevant audience. Research is key. Run your ad at a time when you’re likely to get maximum traffic at minimum cost, and set your budget realistically. Pay attention to the wording of the ad too. You only get a limited number of characters to draw people into your site, so make sure every word counts.
Budget, Budget, Budget
All business costs money, and for small businesses the margin for error is much tighter. We find it’s much easier to plan when you’re keeping tabs on spending on a regular basis. A big company reviews its budgets annually, Sii recommends budgeting monthly to avoid costly shocks. Review frequent expenses. Look at what you’re paying to who, and ask if you could be doing it cheaper. And always negotiate.
Set yourself achievable goals
The road from start-up to established small business can be long and difficult. Don’t look too far ahead without giving yourself some closer landmarks to hit. Draw up a route map of goals you can achieve in increments and use each one to chart your forward progress. Every time you hit a planned milestone, you know you’re that much closer to the business you always dreamed of.