Posts Tagged ‘small business’

Small Business Week: June 17- June 21

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

June 17th- June 21st is the nationwide Small Business Week!

Constant Contact is offering great online educational tools, including Marketing Minute articles, weekly Webinars, and Seminars near you.  Check out their great tips on managing your small business’ Facebook page, Using YouTube and Video marketing, and learn how to register for great conferences near you!  These marketing tips and other resources are perfect for Bed and Breakfast owners and innkeepers.

Marketing Minute Below: 

 

Webinars Every Week:

This Week’s WebinarRev Up Your Results with YouYube or Video Marketing

-June 6th

-Free

-Time: 9am-10am

Register Today & View Details

you must register to view webinar

Evening WebinarGetting Started with Constant Contact Email Marketing

– June 11th

-Free

-Time: EVENING 8:00pm- 9:00 pm

Register Today & View Details

you must register to view webinar

 

 

Upcoming WebinarGetting Started with Constant Contact Email Marketing

– June 20th

-Free

-Time: 9:00am- 10:00 am

Register Today & View Details

you must register to view webinar

 

Seminars in Nebraska

OmahaDon’t Miss Out on:

2013 MarkeTech Conference
in Omaha.  The conference is focused on Connecting Marketing and Technology.

Speakers Fat Brain Toys, Yahoo, Constant Contact, and More!  

June 12th

Time: 8am-4pm

Cost: $50 per person Select the Constant Contact Price Option.

See Agenda and Register Today! 

 

Papillion

10 Tips to Creating a Successful Email Campaign That Will Get You Results

June13th

Cost: 1 Business Card

Learn More & Register Today

Bellevue

10 Tips to Go and Grow Your Social Media Marketing

June14th-Limited Seating 

Cost: 1 Business Card

Learn More & Register Today

 

Lincoln 

See How to Create an Email Campaign That Will Drive Results

June 11th

Cost: 1 Business Card

Learn More & Register Today 

  

 

 

Small Business Ideas for 2012: Selling to Uncle Sam

Saturday, March 17th, 2012

Small Business Ideas for 2012: Selling to Uncle Sam

By IBTimes Staff Reporter: Subscribe to IBTimes’s RSS feed

January 28, 2012 3:38 PM EST

Throughout the Great Recession and in the years after it, one customer that actually increased its spending is the U.S. government.

Therefore, as the private economy continues to struggle, a savvy idea in 2012 for small businesses could be selling to Uncle Sam.

Generally speaking, the U.S. government is the “biggest customer in the entire world,” said Malcolm Parvey, founder of www.sell2gov.com and author of “The Definitive Guide to Government Contracts.”

“They’re also the best paying customer for small businesses because they are required by regulation to pay within 30 days,” said Parvey.

“The government will not go away, it buys goods and services at the rate of $1.5 billion every single day and it is the most level playing field a small business can be on,” he added.

FBO

Like us on Facebook

A great place to get started is the Federal Business Opportunities (FBO – www.fbo.gov), which posts about 500 new sales opportunities (for amounts greater than $25,000) each day, according to Parvey.

 

To win these opportunities, small businesses must fill out the paperwork to bid for them.

One advantage small businesses have is that some of these opportunities – about 20 percent, according to Parvey – are specifically set aside for small businesses.

Moreover, there are additional set-asides for business that are women-owned, minority-owned, veteran-owned, disabled veteran-owned or located in historically under-utilized business zones (e.g. a low-income zip code).

Agencies

For opportunities under $25,000, one might have to dig through on the Web sites of individual agencies.

For example, an opportunity for a courier services contract under $25,000 (seen below) is listed on the Fiscal Year 2012 Forecast of Contracting Opportunities document from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

 

A major agency that could turn out to be a lucrative source of contracts for certain small businesses is the Defense Logistics Agency (DIBBS), said Parvey.

GSA Schedule

The General Services Administration (GSA) helps other government agencies with procurement.

Once a small business gets on the GSA schedule, it can receive contracts from these government agencies.

A government agency may opt to use the GSA schedule, for example, when it needs something right away and does not have time to go through the FBO bidding process, said Parvey.

Professional Help

“There is a reason why I’m in business,” said Parvey, a sales and marketing consultant to small businesses for over thirty years.

He said turning in the right paperwork to win government contracts can be incredibly complicated. In his experience, it could take small businesses over a year to get on the GSA schedule if they forgo professional help. With professional, contrastingly, it could take just a few months.

Even for the less complicated process of bidding on the FBO, Parvey said it might be a good idea to enlist professional help in the beginning when small businesses are still unfamiliar with the process.

READ ALSO: Small Business Plan: A Template for Making Sales

READ ALSO: Small Business Ideas for 2012: Why not go Global?

READ ALSO: Small Business Exporting Advice: Crucial First Steps

 

READ ALSO: Small Business Culture: How to Build a Winning Team

READ ALSO: Small Business Exporting Advice on Foreign Operations

READ ALSO: Small Business Marketing Ideas, Tips from a Top Expert

READ ALSO: Small Business Survival: Overcoming the Recession and More

READ ALSO: Managing a Small Business: How to Inspire Employee Loyalty  

READ ALSO: Small Business Marketing Strategies that Work for Tight Budgets

READ ALSO: Small Business Ideas for Women at Home: Working with Realities 

READ ALSO: Small Business Loans: How They Work and What You Should Know

READ ALSO: Small Business Accounting: Tips, Tricks and Advice from TaxMama   

READ ALSO: Starting a Small Business: Ideas and a Few Thousand is All You Need 

READ ALSO: Small Business Strategic Planning: a Process for Success and Survival

top 5 trends, factors, and events that will shape your business in 2012

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

In my column last week I started looking at the top 10 trends, factors, and events that will shape your business in 2012. This week we are down to the Top 5.

Ask an Expert

By Steve Strauss

No. 5. Internet video takes center stage. Consider these statistics:

• According to Cisco, online video now makes up 50% of all consumer Internet traffic
• Last year, almost 200 million Americans watched online videos every month, and on any given day, 100 million people will watch videos online

What does this mean for your business? Plenty. People love video, and it turns out that video increases sales. Onlineshoes.com says that its conversion rate is up to 45% higher with video and Zappos.com says it sells up to 30% more when videos are used to display a shoe.

The upshot is that you need to strongly consider adding video to the mix, be it an online video brochure, a tour of your store, video newsletters, or just some instructional videos.

No. 4. Social media is becoming the land of the have and have nots: There seem to be two distinct camps when it comes to social media vis-à-vis small business: Those who get it and use it effectively and those that don’t give a whit about it (oh, and camp three — those that get it but dabble ineffectively in it).

According to the 2011 Impact of Social Business in Small and Medium Business Study, about 50% of small businesses use social media. Those that do, do so for the following reasons:

• 80% of online visitors use social media daily
• More than 50% of all social media users follow a brand
• Social media is growing exponentially — Facebook added over 200 million users in 2011

So for the small business that has figured out that social media must be a key element to their business model going forward, I say way to go. To the other 50% I say — what are you waiting for?

No. 3: The death of 9 to 5: Does anyone really work at a desk five days a week from 9 to 5 anymore? Of course I am being facetious . . . or am I? A myriad of things have combined to make it so that we can work anywhere, anytime (whether we want to or not): The Internet, laptops, tablets, smartphones, apps and software are the main culprits.

I say culprits because some of this work anywhere, anytime stuff is great (checking emails while waiting at the airport) and some of it stinks (checking emails while on the beach in Hawaii.)

As my sweet grandfather used to say: Too much of a good thing is a bad thing.

No. 2. Are happy days here again?

First a caveat: I am not an economic prognosticator and no one here is saying that the economy is peachy because it is not. But that said, there are signs that the economic doldrums we have been in for too long may be lifting a bit:

• Consumer confidence continues to rise
• Unemployment claims continue to fall
• Fourth-quarter GDP growth is looking to be in the 3% to 4% range

And while lowered expectations seem to be the new normal, it is nice to be able to report something other than dour economic news for a change. If this trend continues, it will surely shape your business significantly in 2012, and happily for the better.

And the Top Trend for 2012 is:

No. 1: Mobile mania! With iPads flying off the shelf and laptops outselling desktops, with smartphones all the rage and more than a million apps in the App store, with more than 20% of all searches being done on a mobile device now, it is clear that the era of mobile work is at hand.

For the small business, this sea-change will have all sorts of ripples:

• Employees will increasingly expect to work when and where they want (see No. 3, above)
• Customers will want to be able to interact with your business via their mobile device
• Sooner rather than later, you will be using apps to run your business
• Geo-targeting mobile marketing offers is a good idea
• Your website needs to be mobile friendly
• Mobile ad campaigns should probably become part of your marketing mix

SBA’s Web Chat to Focus on Tax Essentials For Small Business Owners

Monday, December 12th, 2011

SBA’s Web Chat to Focus on Tax Essentials For Small Business Owners

Published: Monday, Dec. 5, 2011 – 8:19 am

WASHINGTON, Dec. 5, 2011 — Thursday, December 15, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., EST

WASHINGTON, Dec. 5, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — With the end of the 2011 tax year right around the corner, small business owners can help prepare themselves for the upcoming filing season by clicking in to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s free December web chat for tips on potential year-end tax savings.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20110909/DC65875LOGO)

Chat participants can get valuable information on how to prepare now with useful tax savings tips and a set of red flags on mistakes to avoid.

WHO: Edward S. Karl, vice president of Taxation for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, will host SBA’s free December web chat on “Tax Essentials for Small Business Owners.”  Karl will answer questions about tax deductions and credits business owners can use to reduce their tax payments, as well as other tax-saving tips.

WHAT: SBA’s web chat series provides small business owners with an opportunity to discuss relevant business issues online with experts, industry leaders and successful entrepreneurs. Chat participants have direct, real-time access to the web chats via questions they can submit online in advance and during the live session.

WHEN: December 15, at 1:00 p.m. EST            Karl will answer questions for one hour

HOW: Participants can join the live web chat on Dec. 15, and also post questions in advance by going online at www.sba.gov, and clicking the web chat event under What’s New.

Internet Address: http://www.sba.gov/news

Follow us on Twitter, Facebook & Blogs

CONTACT: Cecelia Taylor,             +1-202-401-3059

SOURCE U.S. Small Business Administration

Read more: http://www.sacbee.com/2011/12/05/4100935/sbas-web-chat-to-focus-on-tax.html#ixzz1gHPXZyUt

Running a Smarter Small Business

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

Running a Smarter Small Business

It’s not necessary to work harder at your small business if you can just work smarter. It’s a well-known practice of the most successful entrepreneurs, tending to what’s important, ignoring what isn’t and knowing how to spot opportunities and problems before they arrive. Here are some simple tips to raise your small business’s IQ.

Tips

Build a business people will want to buy. No, this doesn’t mean you necessarily have to sell your business now or ever if you don’t choose to. But creating a saleable business also usually means creating a healthy and profitable business, and who doesn’t want that, right? It’s a pretty important yardstick for your business success. Is your business something people would want to buy? The Portfolio Partnership

Integrate social media effectively into your company. Are you using social media in your business today? This can involve much more than simply marketing. But if you already have other components of a more traditional marketing plan in place, you may definitely wish to combine them with your social media efforts. No matter what you are using social media for in your small business, you should integrate it into your other efforts too. ShopTalk

Planning

How to get things started. It’s important for more than just seeking investment or loans. A business plan should contain the information you will use to run and grow your small business. But where do you start when creating one? Creating a business plan takes thought and preparation, but it should never be a drudgery. Here are some steps to get you started on the business plan right for you. Expert Business Advice

Tips on the planing process. There are many concerns raised by small business people and entrepreneurs about the right way to create a business plan…or even if they need one. This example from one small business shows the benefits that having a business plan can truly give you. Realize the importance of a strategic approach to your small business when creating the best plan. Open For Business

Marketing

Keep blogging with these 20 tips for topics. Maintaining a blog for your business can potentially be a critical component of your marketing plan. But keeping a steady stream of original content flowing can be a challenge while running your business and serving customers. Not the least of these challenges is coming up with regular ideas you can transform into regular blog posts. This list of sources for inspiration should help. Riches Corner

Making your business show up on Google. Making your local small business visible on Google searches and on the Internet in general is more critical everyday if you plan on winning more business. Whether you happen to be interested in Tim’s service or not, his post and related videos including an entire online marketing blueprint for a local insurance company offer a wealth of information for any small businesses. timmcgarvey.com

Operations

15 ways to cut your small biz costs. There are a lot of ideas for cutting costs in your business without cutting productivity. Look for ways you can accomplish the same activities at lower costs and maybe even with better efficiency. Remember that many of your small business costs are based on decisions made over time. Re-evaluating these decisions over time may help you identify other options not considered previously. Angel Business Advisors

When financial insolvency may be near. Whether looking at your own business or the business of a competitor, customer or partner, it can be critical to see the signs. Could financial insolvency be ahead for your business or a company with whom you might have a strong business relationship? It’s important to know the signs and not be caught by surprise when financial difficulties appear. CorporateLifeOnline

Policy

Do we really need the SBA? Has the Small Business Administration finally outlived its usefulness? This issue has come up before with other calls to get rid of the agency whose main designated function is to loan money to small businesses. But if small business loans and even the demand for them are few and far between especially in a rocky economy, is the agency really worth the cost? WSJ

Changing roles for the self-employed. What could new pressure to re-evaluate the status of the self-employed mean for entrepreneurs and small business people? The stated aim of a “Freelancers Union” trying to get the Department of Labor to change the way it looks at “independent workers” is to improve working conditions for a major new segment of the economy. But the qualification could be so broad that it would apply to many small business owners too. Would this be a good thing or a bad thing for your business? Bloomberg Businessweek

The Latest News on Small Business Intelligence

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

Click here to find out more!

The Latest News on Small Business Intelligence

Being able to understand how your business is performing and where it is headed are both key benefits of the use of business intelligence in small business. A gift of the business software age, business intelligence takes a million tiny bits of seemingly meaningless data and transforms them into a meaningful whole. The result is an overview of your business’s past, present and future that can be used to make tough decisions and alter course, if need be. But what is involved in using business intelligence and will it really work for your small company? Read on and learn more. The BI world has arrived.

Introduction

(Editor’s note: While we usually bring you the very latest in online updates on all small business topics, because of the complexity and growth seen in the business intelligence field, we thought we’d start with some brief introductions. Even though these posts are a bit older, they’re a great way for readers to get up to speed on business intelligence, if you’re new to this topic as it relates to your SMB. Then fast forward with us into the next section as we look at how BI is affecting small business today.)

Business intelligence for small businesses too. You don’t need to be a Fortune 500 company with revenue in the stratosphere to benefit from the application of business intelligence. Would you like to know which of your products fared best last year and which cost the most in relation to return on investment? We thought so! A simple analysis of data your business may already be collecting could hold the answer. Small Business Computing

So what’s all this BI stuff about anyway? Here’s a closer look at the intelligent approach to your business and why you should care. Want to make more informed decisions about your business today than you did yesterday? What if you could harness the information your business may already have about what works and what doesn’t and use it to make more educated decisions in the future? Meet business intelligence and learn how it can change everything. Small Business Computing

Where We Are Now

It’s about to get a lot more important. A report suggests a 25 percent growth in opportunity for business analytics services through 2015 especially in offerings bundled specifically for small to medium sized businesses. That’s businesses like yours! “Many SMB business decision makers (BDMs) and technology decision makers (TDMs) are looking for data-driven business analytics and intelligence beyond spreadsheet-driven charts,” says Donald Best of AMI-Partners which authored the study. How about you? Business Wire

Tools & Products

New products bring business analytics to SMBs. Here’s a brief product preview of one particular offering from SAP. Take a look at this brief overview with basic functions, capabilities and pricing. Then for a more detailed look see the full press release at the link below. PC World

SAP announces business intelligence for small business. Here’s the full company press release on the latest generation of business analytics software that brings high level data analysis for multiple users within the grasp of smaller firms. How would you use fully featured business intelligence software at your small business? Small Business Trends

More business intelligence tools for your small company. Whether offered as SaaS solutions or more affordable stand-alone software, page through these cool selections that can deliver high powered analytics to your small business. How will these data analytics tools help you make decisions in your business tomorrow? Information Week SMB

BI for Lenders

Small businesses are not the only BI users. Lenders too are making use of Business Intelligence systems to evaluate credit histories of small businesses with whom they do business. Is your lender using business intelligence to make decisions about lending to your business? How could small businesses use similar tools to identify business partners and clients of concern in the future? Market Watch

Reality Check

Make sure your business intelligence solution delivers. Despite increased investment in business analytics solutions, a recent survey by the UK’s National Computing Centre suggests that 53 percent of IT decision makers considered the overall performance of these systems ”no more than average.” Though the promise offered by business intelligence may be great, small business owners have always been a pragmatic bunch. Use the tools that work. Don’t be swayed by the flavor of the week. Accountancy Age

The future of business intelligence? Richard Herschel, Chair of the Department of Decision & System Sciences at Saint Joseph’s University, attempts to give a profile of an emerging field and the problems it faces on the way to becoming the kind of useful tool that businesses can rely upon regularly for information to help make decisions at every level. What is the main area of your business in which you could benefit from greater data analysis today? BeyeNETWORK

Tech

BI goes mobile. An announcement by a business analytics provider signals a trend toward business intelligence on the go. Do you need all the data your business has produced with you where ever you go allowing you to make that next important business decision? The future is here. A mobile analytics solution allows you to make business decisions based on all available data no matter where you are. Yahoo! Finance

Is Groupon Hurting Small Business?

Thursday, July 28th, 2011
1 comment  |  July 4, 2011  |  about: GRPN

By Vinicius Vacanti

If you watch the nightly news, you would assume there’s a murder on every block, and if you’ve been reading TechCrunch recently, you would assume Groupon (GRPN) is murdering a small business in every city.

Given the hundreds of thousands of merchants who have run daily deals in the past year, it is inevitable that a few will have had bad experiences. However, to assume that a handful of these anecdotes fully represent merchants’ experiences with daily deals is insufficient and irresponsible.

A series of guest blog posts by Rocky Agrawal criticize daily deals, advising small businesses to stay away based on examples of where the deals fail to turn a profit for the businesses. While Rocky’s posts are surely well-intentioned, his evidence is largely based on a few anecdotes and a basic misunderstanding of daily deal economics.

As we detail in Yipit’s Daily Deal Industry Report based on more than 100,000 past deals, 43% of offers in May involved merchants running a deal for at least their second time. Can so many merchants be delusional? Clearly some merchants have figured it out.

While I understand and applaud Rocky’s motivation to protect small businesses, can those businesses really afford to ignore a marketing channel that can deliver hundreds, if not thousands of new customers in a cost per acquisition model? Not only are most small businesses struggling, their standard marketing channels of yellow pages and newspapers are becoming less and less effective.

Instead of telling small businesses to avoid daily deals, how about trying to understand why some small businesses are having success?

With that understanding, we could then educate other small businesses on how they might be able to replicate that success themselves.

It’s a Numbers Game

Like most marketing options, daily deals comes down to the numbers. The good news is that most of the key variables that affect the success of a daily deal experience can be optimized by small businesses via daily deal structure and execution.

My co-founder, Jim Moran, wrote a post on the economics of a daily deal including a calculator. While this calculator bakes in a lot of assumptions, it’s the start of a handy tool for small businesses.

The two most important variables that small businesses can optimize are:

Overage: This metric represents how much more revenue the customer generates for the business than the value of the coupon. The larger the overage, the better for the small business. There are many things small businesses can do to increase overage including:

  • Strategically Price the Offer. If you are running a restaurant and the average per person bill is $30, provide a $15 for $30 certificate. The person is likely to bring someone else turning the meal into a $45 for $60 deal.
  • Up-sell the user. In a Hacker News post, this skydiving business does a great job of explaining how they up-sell sky divers into getting videos of their jump (60% of customers) and even a second jump that same day (40% of customers).

Return Rate: This metric represents what percentage of customers come back as a regular customer after using a daily deal. Improving this metric has the potential to deliver the most value for small businesses as indicated by the calculator referenced above. In a report authored by Rice University, often cited as a reason daily deals are challenging, small businesses reported that 20% of customers came back. That’s actually huge! If a company runs a deal that sells 1,000 vouchers, 200 customers will come back. As the calculator above implies, that’s a high enough return rate to make the deals very successful for most small businesses. To improve return rates even further, small businesses can:

  • Surprise and delight daily deal customers. Daily deal customers can be a bit embarrassed to be using a deal. Instead of acting disappointed, small businesses should do the opposite and make them feel welcome. They should thank the customers for coming, tell them the story of the business. It’s actually an easy opportunity to surprise the customer.
  • Offer an incentive for them to come back. With their bill, offer them a 20% discount or, if you’re a restaurant, a free appetizer to come back and try the business again.
  • Collect their contact information. Tell them you often send out notifications for special events and promotions
  • Discount just the first session. If you have a business that involves several sessions like class-based businesses, offer a discount on just the first session. If users like the session, they’ll come back for the rest of the sessions paying full price.

Other factors that improve the economics of a daily deal:

  • Breakage: Anywhere between 10% and 30% of deals aren’t redeemed. North American businesses get to keep the profits associated with those vouchers without incurring the cost.
  • Exposure: Small businesses gets emailed to tens of thousands and, sometimes, hundreds of thousands of users. This exposure is often the entirety of the value provided by most other marketing channels for small businesses.

If small businesses focus on creating the right structure for their daily deal to increase overage and execute on the daily deal experience to increase return rates, daily deals can become a very attractive marketing option.

Not right for everyone

That being said, daily deals in their current form are not right for every business. The vast majority of deals are for spas, salons, restaurants, events, activities and other services. These merchants all have a large fixed cost base, perishable inventory and considerably lower variable costs. Accordingly, their marginal cost on an additional customer is low enough allowing them to discount aggressively. That’s why businesses have been offering discounts for hundreds of years.

On the other hand, traditional retail categories appear the least frequently across the Yipit database, representing less than 10% of all offers.

A powerful tool that shouldn’t be ignored

Daily deals represent a powerful, scalable new cost-per-acquisition marketing channel that small businesses can optimize via strategic pricing and good execution.

If we really want to help small businesses, we should stop telling them to avoid daily deals. Instead, let’s focus our energy on educating small businesses on how they might be able to effectively take advantage of this new marketing channel. Or, I guess we can just keep directing them to yellow pages advertising.

Editor’s note: This post is a response to our guest series taking a critical look at the daily deals industry. It is written by Vinicius Vacanti, CEO of Yipit, a daily deal aggregator that collects deals from more than 300 daily deal sites.

Original post

Is Groupon Bad for Small Businesses?

Thursday, July 28th, 2011
1 comment  |  July 4, 2011  |  about: GRPN

By Vinicius Vacanti

If you watch the nightly news, you would assume there’s a murder on every block, and if you’ve been reading TechCrunch recently, you would assume Groupon (GRPN) is murdering a small business in every city.

Given the hundreds of thousands of merchants who have run daily deals in the past year, it is inevitable that a few will have had bad experiences. However, to assume that a handful of these anecdotes fully represent merchants’ experiences with daily deals is insufficient and irresponsible.

A series of guest blog posts by Rocky Agrawal criticize daily deals, advising small businesses to stay away based on examples of where the deals fail to turn a profit for the businesses. While Rocky’s posts are surely well-intentioned, his evidence is largely based on a few anecdotes and a basic misunderstanding of daily deal economics.

As we detail in Yipit’s Daily Deal Industry Report based on more than 100,000 past deals, 43% of offers in May involved merchants running a deal for at least their second time. Can so many merchants be delusional? Clearly some merchants have figured it out.

While I understand and applaud Rocky’s motivation to protect small businesses, can those businesses really afford to ignore a marketing channel that can deliver hundreds, if not thousands of new customers in a cost per acquisition model? Not only are most small businesses struggling, their standard marketing channels of yellow pages and newspapers are becoming less and less effective.

Instead of telling small businesses to avoid daily deals, how about trying to understand why some small businesses are having success?

With that understanding, we could then educate other small businesses on how they might be able to replicate that success themselves.

It’s a Numbers Game

Like most marketing options, daily deals comes down to the numbers. The good news is that most of the key variables that affect the success of a daily deal experience can be optimized by small businesses via daily deal structure and execution.

My co-founder, Jim Moran, wrote a post on the economics of a daily deal including a calculator. While this calculator bakes in a lot of assumptions, it’s the start of a handy tool for small businesses.

The two most important variables that small businesses can optimize are:

Overage: This metric represents how much more revenue the customer generates for the business than the value of the coupon. The larger the overage, the better for the small business. There are many things small businesses can do to increase overage including:

  • Strategically Price the Offer. If you are running a restaurant and the average per person bill is $30, provide a $15 for $30 certificate. The person is likely to bring someone else turning the meal into a $45 for $60 deal.
  • Up-sell the user. In a Hacker News post, this skydiving business does a great job of explaining how they up-sell sky divers into getting videos of their jump (60% of customers) and even a second jump that same day (40% of customers).

Return Rate: This metric represents what percentage of customers come back as a regular customer after using a daily deal. Improving this metric has the potential to deliver the most value for small businesses as indicated by the calculator referenced above. In a report authored by Rice University, often cited as a reason daily deals are challenging, small businesses reported that 20% of customers came back. That’s actually huge! If a company runs a deal that sells 1,000 vouchers, 200 customers will come back. As the calculator above implies, that’s a high enough return rate to make the deals very successful for most small businesses. To improve return rates even further, small businesses can:

  • Surprise and delight daily deal customers. Daily deal customers can be a bit embarrassed to be using a deal. Instead of acting disappointed, small businesses should do the opposite and make them feel welcome. They should thank the customers for coming, tell them the story of the business. It’s actually an easy opportunity to surprise the customer.
  • Offer an incentive for them to come back. With their bill, offer them a 20% discount or, if you’re a restaurant, a free appetizer to come back and try the business again.
  • Collect their contact information. Tell them you often send out notifications for special events and promotions
  • Discount just the first session. If you have a business that involves several sessions like class-based businesses, offer a discount on just the first session. If users like the session, they’ll come back for the rest of the sessions paying full price.

Other factors that improve the economics of a daily deal:

  • Breakage: Anywhere between 10% and 30% of deals aren’t redeemed. North American businesses get to keep the profits associated with those vouchers without incurring the cost.
  • Exposure: Small businesses gets emailed to tens of thousands and, sometimes, hundreds of thousands of users. This exposure is often the entirety of the value provided by most other marketing channels for small businesses.

If small businesses focus on creating the right structure for their daily deal to increase overage and execute on the daily deal experience to increase return rates, daily deals can become a very attractive marketing option.

Not right for everyone

That being said, daily deals in their current form are not right for every business. The vast majority of deals are for spas, salons, restaurants, events, activities and other services. These merchants all have a large fixed cost base, perishable inventory and considerably lower variable costs. Accordingly, their marginal cost on an additional customer is low enough allowing them to discount aggressively. That’s why businesses have been offering discounts for hundreds of years.

On the other hand, traditional retail categories appear the least frequently across the Yipit database, representing less than 10% of all offers.

A powerful tool that shouldn’t be ignored

Daily deals represent a powerful, scalable new cost-per-acquisition marketing channel that small businesses can optimize via strategic pricing and good execution.

If we really want to help small businesses, we should stop telling them to avoid daily deals. Instead, let’s focus our energy on educating small businesses on how they might be able to effectively take advantage of this new marketing channel. Or, I guess we can just keep directing them to yellow pages advertising.

Editor’s note: This post is a response to our guest series taking a critical look at the daily deals industry. It is written by Vinicius Vacanti, CEO of Yipit, a daily deal aggregator that collects deals from more than 300 daily deal sites.

Original post

5 tips on repeat business marketing for SMEs

Monday, May 30th, 2011

5 tips on repeat business marketing for SMEs

David Mercer, Site Prebuilder | May 18, 2011, 5:06 PM

Traditional small business generally has to rely on word of mouth to grow the customer base, but the rules have changed thanks to the Internet and Internet marketing. If you aren’t already generating revenue via your web presence, it’s time you adapted to take advantage.

The following tips and techniques are aimed at doing two things:

  • Build a community of customers and potential customers
  • Engage and lock customers into your company

By keeping everyone and anyone who has shown interest in your products or services within your reach, you drastically increase your ability to spread ideas and communicate – market. The Internet is vast, and all you have to do is grow a tiny fraction of that into your business following and you’re going to make big money.

Here are five powerful internet marketing tips that will help drive growth and profits for your small business through repeat business.

1. Integrate your traditional products & services with a website

Add an internet or online component to all your products and services – even if it is something as simple as support. Whatever it takes to get customers who have bought something to sign up to your website.

2. Add SEO enhanced, high quality content to your site on a regular basis

I know that writing content is a distraction from an already hard and full day’s work. However, online content is an investment in your business’ present and future marketing, and something that will start working for you as your online presence grows.

3. Offer incentives for customer to sign up to a newsletter

If you think that adding a newsletter is more trouble than it’s worth, ask yourself this:

If you could email every customer who has ever bought (or even thought about buying) something from you, whenever you had some exciting new product, deal, special or so on, how much would that be worth?

Offering a newsletter with interesting content and information is a great way to expose people to more products and services.

4. Offer an online forum, group or chat for registered users

Give your customers a place to vent, criticize or praise and engage with them through your website. This not only provides valuable market research and feedback for you, but also serves to build trust.

5. Integrate social networking facilities

Encourage customers to like and share your content. Get them to follow you on twitter. Get them to join your FaceBook group or connect with you on LinkedIn. In other words, keep them in orbit around your business.

In the current economic climate, when many small businesses are struggling to make ends meet, it is more important than ever to hold on to new and existing customers with both hands. If you look back over your accounts for the past year or so and find that a significant number of customers only completed a single transaction, then it is time to use these 5 internet marketing techniques to drive revenue and repeat business like never before.

Small Business News: Creative Marketing Secrets

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Small Business News: Creative Marketing Secrets

Marketing for your small business can be part art/part science. But however you would describe it, it is the key to both getting new customers and keeping the ones you already have. Want to learn more about marketing creatively. We’ve collected a bunch of resource we hope will help. Please let us know what you think below.

Tips & Trends

Does it make a difference where your product is made? It could, especially in a world of outsourcing where customers value domestic brands that employ local workforces. Here’s a story on a marketing edge being exploited by U.S.-based brands who are finding manufacturers closer to home for some of their products. How can your product’s story be marketed to enhance your brand. Bloomberg Businessweek

Is your marketing copy magnetic? Communicating with prospects and customers via the copy on your Website can create a strong first impression of your brand, so the content you place on your Website is very important. If you want to be sure what you say will grab readers, hold them and keep them coming back for more, follow these simple tips and take your Web content to the next level in just 30 minutes. Digital Marketing Now

109 ways to get press for your small business. The best marketing costs nothing but the time to put it into action. It’s that way with media coverage, still some of the best free marketing there is for a small business. But, of course, there’s a lot more to gaining media interest in your product, service or company than just calling up and asking that a story be written about you. Consider these suggestions when trying to court interest in your brand. Copyblogger

Marketing Overview

The true power of marketing…and what we can learn from it. In the wake of the nuclear disaster in Japan, it’s amazing to consider what the real data tells us about the relative safety of various forms of power in use today. Real data versus our perceptions should tell us something about why consumers really make the decisions they do. Still think presenting just the facts will convince people your product is best? Take another look at the graph in this post. Seth Godin’s Blog

Why sometimes the best marketing is customer relations. Building strong relationships with customers can be the best marketing in a small business owners arsenal. That’s because these connections are tough for competitors to severe even with expensive advertising and marketing campaigns. Also, with some clients and customers, that one-on-one relationship will always trump a less personal marketing campaign aimed their way. So don’t discount the power of these relationships in keeping customers loyal. Bloomberg Businessweek

Adding the oomph factor. So if, as we saw in an earlier post, customers and clients don’t necessarily make their choices based strictly on an objective basics, how do you go about differentiate. Of course, customer service is fine once you’ve got them, but how do you go about convincing prospects or potential customers to go with you in the first place. Well, it’s all about brand…and about adding that extra oomph. One of a Kind Preneur

Tech & Techniques

Direct digital marketing for your business. Direct digital marketing is evolving beyond the e-mail address, the mobile phone number and the Web browser cookie. Today, you can use trackable data to identify your most influential customers within the new context of social media to “light the fuse to the powder keg.” What does the future hold for direct digital marketing and how can you best prepare your business for what lies ahead? The Lunch Pail

How to market (and sell) from your business blog. Of course, your business blog can and should be a marketing tool for your blog as well, but striking a balance between the free content you provide to keep visitors coming back and the marketing or sales copy that makes your visitors aware of the products and services you offer can be a difficult one, especially if you are new to using your blog as a marketing tool. Wake Up Cloud.com

Communications & Resources

Crafting messages to meet clients’ needs. What are your client’s communications preferences, and have you made the necessary effort to communicate in the method they feel comfortable? Whether using texting, telephone, face-to-face or e-mail communications, your marketing, customer service and sales communications must fit the preferences of those you trying to reach? How do your customers want to hear from you? The Sales Blog

10 steps to killer copy. We’ve noted earlier the importance of great copy for your Website or other marketing and sales materials including newsletters, e-mail etc. But how exactly can you be sure you are creating the right content and more importantly content your current and future customers will respond to? Well, among the first steps is to sit down with your sales team and ask them what’s worked and then to go to your customers and ask them too. Austin SEO Academy



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