The Biggest Marketing Keys To Ensure You Get Big Results In Your Business

This article is for business owners who are serious about growing their business, want to take action and just not sure how to go about it.

Like it or not Marketing Your Business is the key to growing your business.

The difference between successful and non successful marketing is that the majority of business owners undertake ad hoc marketing strategies – you know the ones like advertising in the local paper or sending a one off direct mailer.

Unfortunately business owners get so frustrated with the lack of results from these marketing tactics – that they market their business less or stop all together.

However what often happens is that when the current clients move on – there is a gap with new clients coming in the door.

Ask yourself, “How do prospects know that you exist, how do you get yourself out there.”

So, the next step to get the best results from your marketing is to move away from undertaking ad hoc marketing tactics and developing a marketing strategy or plan for your business.

One of the most important elements of Success is to create a clear plan of attack of how you are going to get there.

Sounds hard, not at all.

We are going to share with you the Marketing Keys To Ensure You Get Serious Business Results, so stayed tuned.

1. Define your customer base

It sounds easy, but you would be surprised how many businesses actually don’t have a clear picture of who their target market is. When you take the time to get clear in your mind and then put it on paper you will notice how things seem so much clearer. And so will your results.

Define your your target market by identifying the following:

* Who needs and can afford what you are promoting? Are you targeting a specific age, social, or ethnic group.
* Are they hungry? That is keeps them awake at night.
* How accessible will my product or service be to your target market?
* Who is the decision maker? Is your target market the decision makers/cheque writers?
* Will they spend money to solve it/They invest in themselves
* Can you reach them – do they congregate? Where? Give us a list of where?
* Have others succeeded before you and are still succeeding?
* Is the market large enough that it’s worth the effort and you’ll get a return on investment?

2. Integrate all your marketing as a whole

It’s so old-hat to only list your offline marketing tactics for the next year ie advertising, direct mailers etc.

These days, smart marketers combine both online and offline marketing all into the ‘one’ plan. All these mediums have a significant influence on each other and should be considered collectively.

We see so many businesses treat online marketing separately to more traditional marketing ie print and radio, when in reality the two ‘must’ be integrated. Your online and offline strategies will have similar messages, branding and call to actions, so make sure you are consistent across all mediums.

Interestingly, many businesses wonder why they get minimal results from ad hoc marketing tactics ie advertising or direct mailers. Most of the time because their marketing strategies model what other businesses are doing rather than what it best for their own business.

3. It’s time to try something new

All businesses need to push the boundaries from time to time, and marketing is an area of your business in which you should look to extend yourself. If you’re still using the same advertising mediums that you were using two years ago, then it’s time to try something new.

Consider dabbling in email marketing, or maybe public relations. Either way, make a decision and include it in your action plan and go for it.

It’s so important that businesses realise that marketing isn’t an expense, it’s a legitimate business building activity.

4. Make a real social media push

Whether you like it or not – consumers and businesses are moving online.

One of the great online marketing mediums is Social media.

Social media gives businesses the ability to engage directly with consumers, educate their prospects and allow them to get to know them, like them and trust them.

This all helps to build your database of potential clients to market to on an ongoing basis. Your goal as a company is to be Top of Mind.

It’s free to set up a fan page on Facebook or a Twitter profile to engage with prospects and if you launch something new into the market, engage with your community and see what they think of it, get there feedback and then tweak it.

5. You need to measure your Return on Investment

Depending on how much money you’re willing to dedicate to measuring your return on investment, there are a range of measurement tools available to businesses which can give you real insight into whether your marketing dollars are being spent wisely.

And with the growth in the number of measurement tools in the market, half the battle is wading your way through the tools on offer and finding one that best suits your needs.

So what tools are available to a business wanting to measure how effective its online marketing activity has been?

Many in business agree that one of the first ports of call is Google, which offers a range of products to help measure online return on investment without charging a cent ie Google Analytics.

6. Utilise email marketing

Email marketing continues to be a favourite marketing medium for companies given it’s one of the cheapest and most measurable forms of self-promotion around. But there are some hard and fast rules that businesses should stick to when it comes to email marketing.

You need to make sure that each campaign:

* focuses on a single message that’s delivered succinctly
* manage your database carefully and
* always include an unsubscribe link.

With all of this said, be weary that many people are also receiving an abundance of emails every day and struggle to get through the flurry of emails.

So your goal is to be marketing Only to your target market, grab their attention with an Attention Grabbing Subject Title and have clear and concise messages.

7. Get FREE stuff out into the market

There are things you can do to market your business that doesn’t cost a cent, so make sure you consider including marketing approaches that are free in your marketing.

Gain momentum by engaging the local media by distributing press releases and newsletters about your business. Provide a free eBook or dvd.

Social media is another free medium. If you’re unfamiliar with social media or online marketing tools, the best approach is to get onto the internet and actually try them.

9. Be the brand

Smart companies are putting themselves front and centre of their branding, often with great results.

And it’s not just for big business.

Your overall strategy and marketing plan should include points on how you can stretch your ‘brand’ across all your marketing mediums.

It really depends on your business whether you are the face of your business or not. This all comes out when you are in your planning phase.

10. Make sure you tackle SEO Search Engine

Optimisation (SEO) is the non-paid section when you search Google.

Think about it when you are searching Google you generally look at the sites on the first page and rarely any pages after that.

Finding The Best Small Business Scheduling Software

If you operate a business where you schedule appointments, class attendance, consultations, seminars, workshops, or any other type of event from which you earn revenue, it is critical that you use easy-to-use, yet powerful and interactive small business scheduling software.

I also encourage, if it’s possible with your business, to look for scheduling software that enables your customers to schedule themselves.

This not only makes your life easier, but is an outstanding website conversion tool. What I mean by this is new customers to your website can instantly book themselves for your service. No phone calls or any other obstacles that might lose the sale.

Ask Yourself:

When you book a customer, how much time does it take? Yeah, scheduling customers and clients takes time – yours and/or your staff’s time. How about the time you spend playing phone tag just to book an appointment?

That’s why if you can set up software where your customers can book their own appointments, you’ll free up a great deal of your time. You’ll also be offering a very worthwhile customer service (and impress them). Even if only 1/3 of your bookings do it themselves, you’ll be way ahead – and probably book more clients than otherwise.

The fact is in today’s fast-paced world, customers want immediate gratification. If your phone line is busy or you have to put customers on hold, you could lose that booking. Why not eliminate those losses and poor customer service with implementing online scheduling?

How Does Online Scheduling Work?

It’s simple, and you don’t have to worry about giving up control of your schedule with the right business scheduling software.

There are different uses of scheduling software – it depends on your business

1. Simple Schedule Viewable Online

Some businesses, such as yoga studios, dance studios, martial arts schools, and health clubs may simply wish to display class schedules on their website(s).

The key is getting scheduling software that makes it incredibly easy for you to change the schedule in one central location – which changes then appear on your website(s). Let’s face it, class times, instructors, etc. change regularly.

Instead of displaying your schedule in a fixed table on different pages in your website(s), which is inconvenient to change, use a central schedule dashboard where you can easily make changes.

Have you ever forgotten to change the schedule on your website? When you maintain separate schedules, it’s very easy to forget to update your schedule on your website(s). I don’t have to tell you how customers feel about being misinformed and relying on an out-dated schedule.

Solve this problem by using scheduling software you manage in one easy-to-access location – which updates all your schedules wherever posted.

Moreover, look for scheduling software that let’s you present pop-up descriptions of your classes and perhaps brief bios of the instructor teaching particular classes. The more information you place where it’s easy to find for your customers, the better service you’re providing.

2. Self-Booking Capability

Other businesses require customers to schedule appointments or reserve rooms/facilities. Examples of these types of businesses include hair salons, spas, tattoo parlours, massage therapists, physical therapists, etc. Take yourself as much as possible out of the booking process by getting scheduling software that enables your customers to book their own appointments.

The process is simple with the right software. Your customers register and you provide them log-in information to your online scheduling system. Once logged in, your customers see only availability and then book in available time-slots. Moreover, you then add a contact to your database.

Online booking puts the scheduling power into your customers’ hands. If they need to change an appointment, they can easily do so without taking up your time.

What Other Features to Look for With Business Scheduling Software?

1. Look Only For Cloud Computing Scheduling Software

Without a doubt, the most important feature to look for with business scheduling software is that it’s cloud-based. This means the software you use is hosted with the service provider.

A classic example of cloud-based software is Google Docs. You simply log in to your Google account and use their fleet of document-producing software (word processing, spreadsheets, etc.).

I’ve used desk-top scheduling software and like most desk-top software, it costs much more in the long run, and is very difficult to add new users (i.e. adding computers to the network).

The bulk of the long-term cost with desk-top software is paying a tech consultant to network the software among your computers. Moreover, your scheduling software is not available anywhere – only on computers on which it’s installed. Don’t even think about the cost when you upgrade computers or if you use a server.

Cloud computing solves all these problems because all you need is an Internet connection in order to access your software dashboard. You don’t have to pay for networking, installation, and/or have a server. Instead, most cloud-computing software services simply require a monthly payment for access. It’s easy to scale up – you simply add new users to your account. Your cost only increases as your business grows.

2. Get E-Commerce and Credit Card Payment Processing Integration

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if you could have customers pay upon self-booking their appointments? This frees up you and your staff from two time-consuming activities – booking appointments and taking payment.

Moreover, you can book appointments if you’re busy, thus reducing lost appointments. Often saving one booking will pay for an entire month’s software cost. Not to mention gain you another potentially loyal customer.

If you’re looking to get top-of-the line scheduling software, look for software that can process payments automatically upon a booking.

3. E-Mail and Text Messaging Reminders & Notices

Do you and your staff send out appointment reminders via e-mail and/or text messaging? This too is time-consuming. Maybe you don’t do this because you’re too busy – but wish you had the time or resources to send out reminders to reduce no-shows.

When deciding on scheduling software, be sure to opt for the capability for automated reminders. Yes, this is available. Once you have a customer’s contact information in your system, and a customer books an appointment, you can set up the software to automatically send e-mail reminders and text messaging reminders about upcoming appointments.

This serves three very important functions:

You’ll provide a great service reminding your customers about their upcoming appointment;
You’ll reduce no-shows; and
If a customer realizes they can’t make an appointment, they can re-schedule. This frees up appointment space which you can fill from your wait-list.

Speaking of wait-lists – with the right software, you can configure it so that once an appointment slot becomes available, e-mail notices are sent to your wait-list giving them an opportunity to take up that time – all done automatically.

4. Additional Sale Opportunities

Recurring Bookings:

Most small businesses earn the bulk of their revenues from loyal, repeat customers (especially service-based businesses that book appointments). With the right software, you can make it extremely easy for customers to book recurring appointments.

Perhaps they like to visit your business on the same day of each month. Instead of having to enter in their booking information manually for each month, use software to automate recurring bookings. Better yet, with self-scheduling, make it easy for your customers to book their own recurring appointments.

Packages:

Many small businesses that are appointment-based offer a variety of services. If you do, make it easy for your customers to create customized booking packages or you can create pre-arranged packages they can easily choose and book. This is a powerful up-selling option to earn more revenues per customer.

Gift Cards:

Gift cards are a very powerful sales tool. Not only do you make sales, but it’s a way to attract new customers. If you’re looking for powerful scheduling software, look for the ability to sell gift cards within the system.

Referral Tracking:

Do you offer referral incentives to your existing customers? If not, you’re missing out on using an extremely powerful sales tool. If you don’t, it’s probably because it’s a hassle to track referrals. You can automate referral tracking with some business scheduling software.

When a customer makes a referral, the software tracks that referral and credits the referring customer with whatever incentive you offer (i.e. discounts, free services, gift cards, etc.).

Online Point-of-Purchase Opportunities:

If you get scheduling software that has e-commerce capabilities, you automatically have a shopping cart available with which your customers can access while booking an appointment.

Point-of-purchase works both in-store and online. Why not increase sales by making it easy for your customers to buy your services and products online while they’re already in your system booking an appointment?

5. User-Friendly

If your customers can’t figure out how to book their appointments online or read your class/event schedule, then you’ve wasted your money. Sure, automated scheduling software will save you time – but the main goal is serving your customers. Look for a user interface that is extremely easy to use and pleasing to the eye.

6. Centralized Contact Database

Integrating your scheduling software with your contact database is absolutely crucial in order to get the most out of your scheduling software. Why? Because you can then use that contact database to manage your operations, financials, and of course leverage it for marketing.

When a new customer signs up with your business, you want scheduling software that automatically adds their data and profile to your contact database. Once in your database, you can leverage that information throughout your entire business’ operations from client management, report generation (to track your sales, attendance, etc.) to your marketing campaigns.

Impress Your Customers with Your Scheduling Software

If you offer self-booking capability and/or extremely informative up-to-date schedules on your website, you’ll impress new and existing customers. When they get reminders, they’ll be delighted. When you send them notices for openings, they’ll think the world of you and your business.

Even if you’re a small business, the right software doesn’t need to break your bank in order to appear and offer a level of service large, resource-rich companies offer. When you deliver a high level of customer service, you’ll build trust and make dealing with your business a pleasure.

Look for scheduling software that makes it extremely easy for your customers to use your services – and you’ll not only get more customers, but you’ll get regularly attending customers.

How Much Should You Pay for Business Scheduling Software?

This will depend on the size of your business and how many users you’ll need. Most cloud computing software pricing is based on the number of users. If you’re looking for some or all of the capabilities set out above, expect to pay at least $40 per month for a starter package.

I know getting desk-top software, which usually is a one-time payment, seems more attractive cost-wise. However, you’ll give up features, and in my experience, the cost for maintaining and upgrading desk-top scheduling software costs much more than the initial purchase cost.

I know, because I’ve used desk-top scheduling software and the cost alone for my tech consultant over the years is staggering.

Think of your “on-the-cloud” scheduling software as an investment. Better yet, if your software, because of its automation in booking and sending out reminders saves you one sale, that sale likely pays for your entire month’s cost of the cloud-computing solution.

As you can tell by reading much of the other content on this site, I’m in-tune with a great deal of software applications available for small businesses. I’m a small business owner and am always looking for ways to improve my customer service with technology (and automate processes to save me time).

I’ve used many business scheduling software applications, including Google’s online calendar. The problem with many scheduling software services is they are limited in features.

How to Manage Your Business and Get Results

The desire of anybody setting up a business is to make profit and sustain the business. But mastering the fundamentals of business success is critical to making any headway in one’s business engagement(s). This is especially so because business is both an art and a science. That is, it is a matter of practical experience, calculation, foresight and fortune.

However, one does not need to be weighed down by the thought of having to master art and science intricacies of business success, because Peter F. Drucker has come to the rescue with his book entitled “How to Manage Your Business and Get Results”. Drucker is a business management consultant of repute who is concerned with the economic tasks that any business needs to perform to be able to achieve enviable results.

He says this book attempts to organise these tasks so that executives can properly organise them so systematically, understandably and reasonably with the possibility of accomplishing tangible results.

Drucker asserts that though practical rather than theoretical, the book has a thesis. He adds that economic performance is the basic function and contribution of any business enterprise, and the major purpose of its establishment. The author stresses that to achieve economic performance and results, a lot of (hard) work is required, and the work has to be thought through and done with direction, method and purpose.

According to him, this book contains secrets of business success, and emphasises the need to focus on opportunities rather than problems in any business engagement.

As regards structure, the book is segmented into three parts of 14 chapters. Part one is eclectically christened “Understanding the business” and contains the first eight chapters. Chapter one is entitled “Business realities”. According to Drucker here, it is a universal complaint that executives give neither sufficient thought to the future. He adds that every executive voices it when he or she talks about his or her own working day and when he or she talks or writes to his or her associates. Drucker stresses that it is a recurrent theme in the articles and management books.

This business management expert says it is a valid complaint and executives should spend more time and thought on many other good things, their social and economic responsibilities for instance. He says both they and their businesses pay a stiff penalty for the neglect. Drucker asserts that to complain that executives spend so little time on the work of tomorrow is futile. He adds that the neglect of the future is only a symptom and an executive slights tomorrow because he or she cannot get ahead of today. Drucker says that too is a symptom and the real disease is the absence of any fountain of knowledge and system for tackling the economic tasks in business.

The business management expert educates that it is a matter of necessity for executives to spend more time and meditation on the future of their businesses. He expatiates that they should also spend more time and thought on their community responsibilities.

Chapter two is based on the subject matter of the result areas. Here, Drucker says the basic business analysis starts with an examination of the business as it is now and the business as it has been bequeathed to us by indecisions, actions and results of the past. He explains that we need to see the hard skeleton, the major stuff that is the economic structure. According to him, we need to see the relationship and interactions of resources and results of efforts and achievements of revenues and costs.

In Drucker’s words, “Specifically we need first to identify and understand those areas in a business for which results can be measured. Such result areas are the businesses within the larger business complex; products and product lines (or services); markets (including customers and end-users); and distributive channels….”

He educates that the analysis of the result areas has to begin with products or services and particularly with a definition of “product”. Drucker says questions regarding product-definition, though not simple, are at least known and understood by every experienced executive. He adds that this alone makes product analysis the best place to start.

Chapter three examines the concept of revenues, resources and prospects. Here, Drucker says every executive today is inundated with figures, and more and more data pour out daily. He educates that many businesses will ask that their financial analyses be based on cost accounting. The author explains that the answer is that it is misuse of cost accounting to derive from it, figures for a particular product’s share of total business costs.

Drucker educates that cost accounting has to find a place for every penny spent, and where the cost accountant cannot document what costs are directly incurred in making this or that product, he or she must therefore allocate. The author adds that the cost accountant can only do so by assuming that all non-direct costs are distributed either in proportion to direct costs or in proportion to the sales price of a product.

In chapters four to eight, Drucker examines concepts such as how we are doing; cost centres and cost structure; the customer as the business; knowledge as the business; and the business being ours.

Part two is generically entitled “Focus on opportunity” and covers three chapters, that is, chapters nine to 11. Chapter nine has the thematic focus of building on strength. Here, the author says analysis of the entire business and its basic economics always shows it to be in worse disrepair than anyone expected.

He explains that the products everyone boasts of turn out to be yesterday’s breadwinners or investments in ego. Drucker stresses that activities which no one paid much attention to later turn out to be cost centres and so expensive as to endanger the competitive position of the company. According to him, what everyone in the business believes to be quality turns out to have little meaning to customers.

Important and valuable knowledge either is not applied where it could produce results or produces results no one uses, asserts the author. Drucker says, “I know more than one executive who fervently wished at the end of the analysis that he could forget all he had learned and go back to the old days of the ‘rat race’ when ‘sufficient unto the day was the crisis thereof’.” The author adds that but precisely because there are so many different areas of importance, the day-to-day method of management is inadequate even in the smallest and simplest business. Drucker says because deterioration is what happens normally – that is, unless somebody counteracts it – there is need for a systematic and purposeful programme. He expatiates that there is need to reduce the almost limitless possible tasks to a manageable number. Drucker stresses that there is need to concentrate scarce resources on the greatest opportunities and results.

In chapters 10 and 11, the author X-rays the concepts of finding business potential and making the future today.

Part three, the last part is based on the general subject matter of a programme for performance and contains three chapters, covering chapters twelve to fourteen. Chapter 12 is tagged “The key decisions”. Drucker educates here that decisions are made and actions are taken at every step in the analysis of a business and of its economic dimensions. He adds that insights are “bled off” and converted into tasks and work assignments. At every step of the analysis there should be measurable results, guides the business management expert.

He says but for full effectiveness, all the work needs to be integrated into a united programme for performance. Drucker stresses that making the present business effective, may require one specific course of action. He adds that making the future of the business different may require a different action. “Yet what is done to make the present business effective inevitably commits resources, inevitably molds the future,” educates Drucker.

He expatiates that what is done to anticipate the future inevitably affects the present business in all its policies, expectations, products and knowledge efforts. The author says major actions in every one of the economic dimensions therefore have to be consistent with one another.

The business management expert adds that conflicts between the conclusions of the various analyses have to be reconciled. He submits that there has to be balance between the efforts, otherwise one effort undoes what another has been trying to achieve. Drucker explains that the hard reality of the present must not be obscured by the lure of tomorrow’s promises.

In chapters 13 and 14, Drucker beams his analytical searchlight on the concepts of business strategies and building economic performance into a business.

If there is one thing that makes this book a classic, it is the depth and creativity of the contents. By segmenting the text into three parts of 14 chapters, Drucker is able to make the book easy to read and study. The number of chapters, that is, 14, creates some poetic allusion as it reminds one of the fourteen-line poem technically called “Sonnet”.

The vehicle of communication, that is, language of the book is still contextually simple despite the technicality of the subject matter. What’s more, the “Stylistics” tool of “graphology” is also employed in the design of the title of the book on the outer front cover where keywords such as “Manage”, “Business” and “Results” are put in capital letters to convey their conceptual importance, while other less important words are in small letters. There is also application of separate colours to the keywords and less important words to show interface between visual distinction and conceptual uniqueness.

Also, the book looks like a typical essay in that it has the introduction, body and conclusion. Another of the enviable achievements of Drucker in this book is the combination of specific economic analyses with enviable knowledge of entrepreneurship or business success.

However, one of the errors noticed in the book is “Acknowledgement” instead of “Acknowledgements”. On page 28, omission of a comma immediately before the word “Figures” from the expression “…it is misuse of cost accounting to derive from it figures for a particular product’s share of total business costs” seems to make the expression ambiguous”. It is supposed to read “…it is misuse of cost accounting to derive from it, figures for a particular product’s share of total business costs”. Also the layout of the book needs to be improved upon to make it (more) eye-friendly.

In a nutshell, this text is a reservoir of effective business management strategies. If you want to run a successful business, then you need to read and digest this book. It is conceptually precious.