My desire is to provide helpful and thoughtful information about all aspects of doing business. Feel free to share your comments, experience and insight!

Friday, January 16, 2015

3 Content Marketing Tips for 2015

Content marketing tips for 2015 from Intuitive Designs LLC
Many small businesses are under the false assumption about a web site, "if you build it, they will come." We are at a time when more web sites exist than ever before and that number grows significantly every single day. So how do you go about getting your site - your content - noticed by the users that matter most to your business? It takes some careful thought, ingenuity and marketing. Here are three tips to help you market your content more effectively in 2015:

  1. Focus on your audience
    Your content is for people...not Google, Bing, bots and crawlers. Every item of content you create for your site should be uniquely targeted to your audience. Clearly define and get to know your potential customers. Create content that speaks to their interests, needs, preferences and provides information that is relevant to them.

    And the result? Your site will develop positive search engine optimization scores. Google's search algorithm has evolved enough to now take into consideration user experience factors along with programming protocols. So site content that is optimized for users will organically begin to perform better in search engine results. Not to mention the fact that your chances to convert site visitors to paying customers is much greater as well.

  2. Promote - Promote - Promote
    Half the battle of content marketing for small business is just getting it published. If it's a blog post, a product video on YouTube, a new page on your web site or a new product picture on Instagram, making the time to do it is the challenge. But once you make that happen, it's time to promote and share that content through every means you have - email, newsletter, social media, guest blog post, maybe even a press release. And a key element is to direct people who see your content to your main information hub - your web site. It's fair to say that you should strive to put as much effort into promoting your content as you do creating it.

  3. Align your message
    For every place you publish content - whether it's blogs, web sites, social media accounts, emails - make sure your message is consistent for your target audience. That doesn't have to stifle creativity but it does require some alignment in the way you present your information. As users follow your content and visit your web site they get a cohesive message. And as those users transition into customers, they value the content you provide and will be keenly aware of the fact that you meet their needs.
So make 2015 a year for content ingenuity, not just creation. Your small business has a value-added message for others and it's time to share it!

Friday, January 2, 2015

3 Simple Ideas To Create Effective Business Goals

Whether it's the beginning of a new year or you're starting a new business venture, goals are an important aspect of planning and strategic thinking. However, many small business owners struggle with the concept - because it's either viewed as a waste of time or they just don't know where to start. But setting goals is a key element of success. Earl Nightingale said it best, "People with goals succeed because they know where they are going...It's as simple as that." Use the following ideas as a road map to begin creating goals that help your small business succeed:

  1. Make goals achievable yet challenging
    It doesn't do any good to set targets that are truly unrealistic. If your goal is to have $1 million in sales this year and you only had sales of $25,000 last year, there is not much validity in your target. Be honest and thoughtful when creating the expectations. Feel free to use industry standards or comparisons for ideas but keep in mind the goals you set will be unique to your business and circumstances.

    Also, consider realistic time frames for making things happen. As a small business, take into consideration your time, abilities, strengths and current project load when setting targets. For example, if you know the first quarter is usually busy, don't make all of your goals focus on things that need to happen in February. Common sense goes a long way in creating achievable business goals!

  2. Use specific benchmarks
    A vague goal of "increase sales" or "grow the business" isn't much of an aspiration without specifics. A simple $1 increase in sales is an increase. But is that really what you meant? And for business growth, does that mean by number of employees, a larger physical location, or any other number of achievements that would fit the circumstance?

    To develop goals worth striving for, make measurable, calculated determinations of what you want to accomplish.  For example, if your goal is, "Increase sales to $250,000," it is now measurable and tangible. Partner that with realistic due dates or time lines and you have a goal that can motivate as well as hold you accountable.

  3. Plan and act
    For every goal you develop that is a realistic challenge and has some specifics behind it, you need a list of actions to make it happen. Goals don't just magically fulfill themselves. For example, I can't decide to run a marathon in 6 months, register and get to the starting line with the expectation of finishing if I did not train. Finishing a 26.2 mile race requires a training plan as well as the resolution to follow through with the plan.

    In business, that 'training' looks like a list of tasks for each goal that will bring about the desired objective. Using the example goal of increasing sales to $250,000, we may decide the following things need to happen : 1) hire one salesperson by March 31; 2) outsource accounting functions by February 15; 3) update website content by July 31. That's a simple outline of tasks to make follow through clear and measurable.

    And remember, your plans and actions may vary from others in your industry because your unique business situation is different. What one small business needs to do to increase sales could be completely different than what another needs. So while the overall goals may be similar, the benchmarks and actions will be individually yours.

Knowing where you want to go is half the battle of business success. Now get moving by creating effective goals and follow through...it's as simple as that!