Wednesday, 2 December 2009
Small business owners, sometimes referred to as solopreneurs, believe that they need to be able to do it all. If you run your business on your own, you’ll be wearing many hats as an entrepreneur and as a result, you’ll often be in react mode. You’ll motor through each day doing what needs to be done. But how will you plan for the future? How can you proactively plan for growth when you’re flying by the seat of your trousers?
A business consultant can help you.
Some entrepreneurs that like to work alone are not thrilled with the prospect of someone coming in and telling them what they’re doing wrong. But a business consultant doesn’t work like that. A skilled consultant can help in a non-obtrusive way that doesn’t take over your business --- this can enhance your business according to your own desires and long term goals. An expert adviser can do a lot for a small business owner, on the business owner’s terms.
What do business consultants do?
A business consultant can do various things for you, such as:
• Analyse your existing business infrastructure to help you make positive changes to procedures for productivity and profitability. This can help you find more time and make more money. What could be better than that?
• Marketing and advertising services. A business consultant could help you gain more exposure with your target audience and become your outsourced marketing department.
• Internet marketing services. Want to take advantage of the vast online audience that could be buying from you? A skilled consultant can help you get found online so you can make more sales.
Sure, large companies need consultants but small businesses can benefit form consulting services as well. Working one on one with someone who has accumulated business experience in many areas could help you in a vast way. A consultant will listen to your concerns, find out what’s important to you as an entrepreneur, and come up with a plan that can work for you and do it on your terms.
How do you choose a consultancy firm?
Finding the right people to help you succeed isn’t always easy. There are some red flags that should set off warning bells for you, such as:
• Companies or consultants that promise “the moon” super fast.
• Companies that you can’t find background information about.
• Companies who don’t offer guarantees.
Signs that you’ve found a solid resource include:
• A background you can investigate yourself (online and perhaps locally)
• A guarantee about satisfaction
• Flexible services that suit your specific needs.
While most entrepreneurs like to keep a tight rein on their business, the possibilities, when you have someone like a skilled business consultant to help you, can result in your achievement of your goals and dreams much sooner.
Wednesday, 11 November 2009
• Build rapport with your customers,
• Develop your brand,
• And improve your online presence with search engines.
People use many web 2.0 tools to connect with others in terms of business and pleasure. Those connections can benefit your business in many ways.
Let’s look at a few examples:
People of all ages are on Facebook. You can market to those who have heard of you through groups and fan pages and you can market to those who you’re interested in appealing to through targeted contextual Facebook ads. There are great advertising opportunities as well as Facebook applications that you can use to appeal to your potential customers. Facebook looks really casual but that’s part of the appeal. Businesses can talk to their existing and potential customers in many ways, such as by talking about promotions, asking for opinions, and sharing information about new products and promotions.
Twitter is a micro blog so while you can’t write a long article about something, you can deliver bite-sized updates and include links that go into more detail. The Dell company used Twitter for business marketing and was able to attribute over a million dollars in sales to that account. They built a Twitter account talking about clearance sales that were on and in a short time was able to search their web analytics software and account for over a million extra US dollars in sales directly related to that Twitter ID. Twitter allows 140 character updates but also allows you to connect with your followers. You can use tools to mine Twitter for information about what people are saying about your brand and you can answer queries as well as talk about promotional things. People can get these updates on the web, their desktop, and their mobile devices and if you’re creative with Twitter you can appeal to many people who may buy from you as a result.
Social bookmarking tools can help your business be at the centre of online conversations. Submit a great story to Digg.com that gets discussed about in an online water cooler and you can drive traffic to your website as a result. Bookmark blog posts and product announcements and more people have a chance of seeing the info you want to share. Add social bookmarking buttons to your pages and your visitors may share your page with their online followers and bring you new potential customers.
If you’re interested in learning more about using the Web for business marketing, I can help. Subscribe to this blog for regular updates that can be delivered to you or visit my website to learn more about my business marketing services.
Thursday, 10 September 2009
It is all about that first impression, something I have a real belief in and how important a logo business card, or letterhead design is for a business.
What a good graphic designer will do is create an image which sums up the business and develops a brand image. It is important to be memorable so slightly different from the norm without stepping outside of certain boundaries. The images and designs a graphic designer produces must be pleasing to the eye, memorable and functional.
A good graphic designer will know which fonts are in vogue, which fonts are easy to read and easy to print, which colours compliment and how to put all of this together to meet the business objectives.
Several times in my work with businesses I have seen some very poor examples of design. For example, I once saw a display stand which a company was intending to use at a major exhibition. Who ever had undertaken the design work couldn’t have thought how a display stand at an exhibition is seen. The colours were drab, the writing merged into a dark coloured background and was so small you had to be right up close to be able to read. A waste of an opportunity, if your prospective customers can’t tell in a glance what you are about they will just walk past.
Money is very well spent on having a professional logo, business cards and letterheads undertaken for you. These are your first impressions of what you business is about. It is your lasting investment, get this right and a lot of other ‘rights’ will follow.
If you are in the London area and looking for a London Graphic Designer, then please do have a chat with Jo at www.shishiishi.com First impressions really do count and none more so with all forms of marketing material which represent a company or organisation. If well designed and of good quality such material will present your business in a favourable and professional way and, if required, help you to build your brand image.
If you're an offline business, you might not believe that you need to do internet marketing. But if you don't, you're probably missing the boat on opportunities for growth. Even if you don't sell anything online, you can benefit from having an online presence for your customers and your prospective customers, too.
People who are your potential customers are probably searching the internet to find out where to get whatever it is that you are selling. People today use the web as their personal shopper. Even if they're looking for a taxi, a pizza shop that delivers, or a salon to get their hair done, they're looking on the Internet for phone numbers, addresses, and recommendations.
This isn't just happening with teens and young adults either. The largest demographic of shoppers for anything and everything that's for sale (products and services alike) are Mothers and the vast majority of Mums in the free world have a computer that they use as a time saver to help them.
They use computers to read product reviews, look for skilled professionals, and to read recommendations from other Mums who talk about what they buy and use. People in all demographics want to know who they're buying from as well so they like to research local companies for more information.
If you're doing internet marketing you're also going to take opportunities to communicate with your customers (and prospective customers) because you can use tools to remind people who you are and what you sell. Internet marketing techniques like newsletters, e-mail marketing, white papers, and other marketing tools can help you communicate continually with your clients and today's tools let you put that process on autopilot so that very little work needs to be done by you but with the result that you'll gain more exposure for your business and improve brand loyalty as well. If you're having a big sale, you can tell your customers. If you want to talk about a new product you're carrying, you can send out an announcement. You can create a blog for your website that lets you talk about what you sell and this can help you bring increased business to your doorstep.
Not only can you market to your existing demographic with the internet but you can also learn more about your customers through patterns and data related to your website. The internet is a phenomenal business intelligence tool.
Internet marketing is something that's not an exact science but it's something that you can definitely make headway with, especially if you get expert advice. This can come in the form of books, newsletters, blogs, and through internet marketing consultant services. An experienced internet marketing consultant can look at your business and help you create a marketing plan that suits your business model and improves your chances of growth, profitability, and success.
Thursday, 13 August 2009
The problem with an increase in individual debt is the increase in companies who promise to solve these problems, when all they after is the maximum amount of commission they can gain. Talking to Compass Debt Counsellors in Nottingham, they said there are a couple of key things to make sure of before you agree to any debt management, debt consolidation, IVA or even bankruptcy.
1. Make sure the company you are dealing with have a consumer credit licence.
2. Ask about the Debt Management Company’s fee arrangements, some company’s charge an upfront fee which can be quite high.
3. Some will only deal with some of your debts, leaving you to deal with the others.
4. Most companies will try and deal with your circumstances from a call centre who are just interested in commission, not in you and your circumstances.
By contacting Compass Debt Counsellors they will make sure you have all the relevant information and they will arrange for a sympathetic debt counsellor to visit you and talk about all the different ways which are best for you to manage your debt, whether this is personal debt or business debt.
So if in you are doubt of the debt advice you are getting best to ask a second or third opinion and look for a company which has trained debt counsellors, who are able to visit you and discuss your individual debt management needs.
Tuesday, 11 August 2009
Whether you're new in business or are well established but just want a fresh set of sage eyes on your business, a business consultant can help. Let's take a look at what this kind of expert can do for you and your success in online business.
New Online Businesses
As a new online company, the expertise of an experienced business consultant could make a vast amount of difference in how quick you become successful. Navigating through both the online world and the business world at the same time can be a bit overwhelming and an expert can help you make and then execute a workable business plan. By getting the right marketing and business advice instead of flying solo in an area you're not very familiar with, you'll be able to hit the ground running and ensure that you're operating at a profit quickly. An expert knows how to help you do what you need to do to get your online company set up and getting sales quickly.
A lot of new companies struggle in their early days, especially if they're a small business or run by a single entrepreneur. It might seem like there just aren't enough hours in the day to do all you want and need to do. When you meet with a specialist who's experienced enough to know what works and what does not, you can trim a considerable amount of time and effort off your learning curve and be able to accomplish more --- with less.
With the right help and advice, you as a new entrepreneur could : develop a marketing and advertising strategy, do competitive analysis to help you stand head and shoulders above your competition, ensure your website gets the right sorts of traffic and that you convert that traffic into customers, establish yourself as an expert in your industry, and more.
Improving an Existing Online Company
Businesses need to continually evolve in order for them to increase profitability. In fact, evolution is necessary if a company wants to survive and maintain position in their market as well because your competitors are trying to court your customers and divert potential prospects to their website instead of yours. A consultancy firm stays up to date on the latest business and marketing trends and could help you ensure that your business is able to to evolve and grow despite a constantly changing business landscape.
Is the expense worthwhile?
You could attempt to learn how to launch an online business on your own and avoid the expense of hiring a professional. But, that could result in a longer learning curve than is necessary. You could try to save a struggling business on your own as well. But learning through trial and error could be a costly mistake. The expense of hiring a skilled business consultant firm might be off-putting at first, but when you consider the potential return on investment over time, the fees could suddenly seem well worth the investment.
Thursday, 2 July 2009
Take a look at this brief history outlining how business consultants and their jobs have changed over the years.
Over a century ago, people were just beginning to examine business and the way it works. The book, Principles of Economics, was released – one of the first to determine that supply and demand was a major factor in success. Frederick Taylor becomes the first business consultant in the manufacturing industry using principles of Scientific Management. The Emerson Company becomes the first generalised consulting firm that resembles those of today.
The early part of the century witnessed the birth of the first business schools at Harvard and New York University. Bricklaying Systems is published; it detailed the most efficient processes to lay brick and was used as the basis for later consulting methodology. Charles Dawes becomes the first government consultant.
1920s – 1930s
Leading UK business consultant Lyndall Urwick publishes The Elements of Administration, which details his experiences offering management advice to factory executives. George S. May becomes famous for advocating commission-based marketing. A firm researches the effect of lighting in worker’s environments on productivity. The Great Depression keeps business consultants busy. Problem solving and clients become the focus of most consultancies.
1940s – 1950s
Business and government converge as ex-military officers take over the practice of consulting. Ernest Butten starts his own consultancy firm and advocates the PA Method of Training – still a viable resource for new product development. Future giant Price Waterhouse initiates a consulting department in the rapidly growing firm. The concept of hiring top students from universities becomes an accepted business practice.
For the first time, women begin to start careers as business consultants, buoyed by the success of Harvard’s business school and the new policy to admit women. Experience curve and growth-share matrix are added to the corporate lexicon and the focus becomes market strategy. The Stockholm School of Economics researches organisational behaviour. Shareholder value becomes an important part of a business plan.
Corporate executives turn to the book In Search of Excellence to guide their market strategies and achieve success. Computers in the office become more common, but few executives are trained how to use them – opening the door for business consultants to step in and help.
Salaries of business consultants continue to rise and many firms snap up newly-graduated MBAs. Top talent is in great demand. Price Waterhouse and Coopers merge and experience phenomenal growth in their consultancy branch through a focus on IT and implementation-oriented consulting.
Today, business consultants are still in high demand. In fact, as global economies continue to falter, the need for their services is higher than ever. Thanks to those first business men and women who began to study the processes and principles that make a company successful, business consultants have helped shaped modern corporations and the world as we know it today.
Saturday, 6 June 2009
Many business owners are not confident in their writing ability. One way to get over this fear is to decide what you want to say. Verbalise it first, then a marketing consultant can take your ideas and put them on paper, or in the content of a web page or email message.
Here are some tips to help you get started with a sales letter for your company.
First Things First
Perhaps the most important parts of the sales letter are the subject line, greeting, and opening. These are the first three things a customer, or potential customer will see when they receive your message.
Think carefully about the subject line for an Email message. These days, so many people are inundated with spam they tend to pick and choose which messages even get opened. Make sure your subject line provokes immediate interest. Ensure that it states succinctly how the body of the message is going to benefit them. You might want to offer something discounted or even free in order to grab the reader’s attention.
The greeting should be personalised, if at all possible. A generic address is a sure way to sound amateur and immediately indicate to the reader that this is a form letter.
The opening of your letter comes next. If you are sending the sales letter via Email, remember that many people use the preview pane included in their Email program so they will see the header even if they don’t open the message. Again, the idea is to make it attention-getting and eye-catching. It is appropriate to use colour here and perhaps a simple graphic.
Once you’ve attracted a potential client’s attention, don’t lose it by making your sales letter a blatant pitch. Make it friendly, informal, and interesting. You might want to consider including a story from a satisfied customer as a way to keep the recipient reading on. This also shows them how your product or service can benefit them.
Keep the text simple. Avoid using long or complex sentences or big words; neither do you want to use industry-specific jargon that might not be understood. Your sales letter needs to be easy and quick to read.
The last paragraph should include a short summary of the content of the sales letter. Always include a “call to action”. Ensure there is a link to your website and all forms of contact, from telephone number to Email address to physical address. You do not want to make it hard for potential clients to get hold of you. Put your name at the end so it is apparent the letter is coming from an actual person.
You may want to consider including a printable coupon, or a link to a discount offer. This is a direct call to action which should result in furthering the reader’s interest. If you are mailing the letter, include a coupon or brochure that the recipient can keep.
Remember that a marketing consultant can help you with this process. If you’ve already spent too much time writing and rewriting and are still not satisfied with your sales letter, then call a professional for help. Marketing consultants can also be of benefit by obtaining mailing lists and sending out the professional sales letter in a manner that will be most effective for your business.
Monday, 11 May 2009
Blogging (derived from the words “web log”) is quickly becoming the most preferred form of marketing for any variety of businesses.
Why Blogging Works
You might wonder why or how it can be so successful yet cost so little as far as time and money.
The answer is that blogging provides a means of social interaction with a customer you will never see face to face – the online shopper. These days, more and more consumers buy their products, and even services, from the internet. They are savvy computer users and know how to find what they want or need on the World Wide Web.
The only way a business can effectively reach them is to provide content on the internet that consumers will want to read. This is a very basic, simple concept. And it works.
What to Post
Your blog is like a sales brochure. But beware writing content that appears like a blatant sales pitch. Most people will shy away from anything overtly pushy.
In that same regard, ensure that your blogging site is professional. Do not use flashing stars or other over-the-top flash animation graphics. Your blog should reflect your brand, as outlined in your business marketing plan.
Decide where you will post your content. You have a couple options. You can create your own blog as a page on your website, or you can join a social networking site and update blog posts there. The best business marketing approach combines these two options and ensures you will reach the maximum number of possible customers. There will certainly be at least one social networking site that attracts your target market.
Give consumers information they want, or need. For instance, if your company sells lawn care products, then perhaps your blog posts could revolve around topics like when to plant grass and how to easily maintain it. In this way, you are giving out free advice, but also promoting your products in a subtle manner.
This is also a key component in ensuring that visitors come back time and again. You must post content regularly so that consumers can expect to find new and useful information often.
Blogging is a great business marketing tool. It costs only the initial annual fee to purchase the URL (do not utilise a free blogging account), and then time to create and post the content. What you receive in return will be increased interest, qualified sales leads, and hopefully, an increase in sales.
Sunday, 19 April 2009
During term time the academy teaches and prepares international students from all over the world for UK university places through our renowned and successful University Foundation Courses. Part of our teaching involves teaching English as a foreign language. (EFL or EAL) Our teachers are experienced and able to teach and improve the English skills of classes of beginners in the English language as well as accomplished English speakers.
When you let you’re a property to a tenant, you need to have an agreement for this tenancy. This is called an assured shorthold tenancy. This agreement means you have the guaranteed right to get your home back after six months, if you need it. You can charge a market rent and you can get your property back if the tenant owes you at least two months or eight weeks rent. How long an assured tenancy lasts is really up to you, you can agree for a set period or you can leave it open ended.
To get your property back, you can end the tenancy at any time after six months, providing the fixed term you have agreed has ended. You will need to give your tenant two months’ written notice. There are instances when you can end your tenancy agreement at any time, these included rent arrears, anti social behavior and damage to your property by your tenant.
Just some of the above is why people prefer to use a property management agency. A recent client is Nuneaton property management agency Homes2Let East Midlands Ltd, from their office in Nuneaton they cover the whole of the midlands including Coventry, Leicester, Derby, Hinckley and Nottingham. Not only do they find tenants for you, they do all the administration and collect rents all for a 6% management fee.
Home2Let covers the whole of the Midland’s region and has a proven working system to acquire tenants, in fact is has no vacant property at the moment. If you are thinking about letting property then Warwickshire letting agency Home2Let could be the perfect agency for you.
To find out more please visit their website www.home2letinfo.co.uk
Wednesday, 15 April 2009
You may have wondered if hiring an outside firm is worth the money involved. The first thing to consider is that no one person can be good at every aspect of business. You would not think about hiring anything less than a professional for your sales team or to manage operations, so why would you want to take over the marketing tasks yourself? A marketing consultancy provides a wealth of knowledge, guidance, and expertise that ensures results.
A good consultant will begin with a thorough analysis of the overall industry market and the existing state of affairs within your company. They will examine the products or services you offer, how your operation stacks up against the competition, and where your pricing and quality standards fall on a continuum.
Spend Advertising Money Where It is Most Effective
This is a key benefit of using a consultant for marketing your business. As someone without any particular knowledge of marketing and advertising, many owners may throw their money out here and there hoping something will eventually stick. Obviously, this is not the most cost-efficient way to develop a market presence.
A marketing consultancy firm will first identify the demographics of your target market. From there they will develop a plan to reach these potential clients and place advertisements where they will produce the greatest amount of interest.
Develop a Marketing Message
What is it that your company wants to say and how should it be said? This is a key aspect of any effective marketing plan. In conjunction with pinpointing this message, a good marketing consultant can offer advice on creating a brand, and collateral which is appropriate to the identity.
Market position is another aspect of your company’s message. Where in the market should your company be placed based on your target audience and the message you wish to send them?
Utilise Marketing Tools
Of course no marketing plan is worthwhile without a way to ensure that the strategies are executed. Your marketing consultancy should include the provision for tools that you and your entire team can use to keep the sales coming and your name at the forefront of the customer’s mind. These tools address such tasks as generating leads, follow up on prospects, and the best way to pitch sales.
Obviously, a marketing consultancy firm has much to offer any type of business. Consider hiring an expert in the field in order to get the most return on your investment.
Monday, 9 March 2009
Many times, moving your business to the next level depends on marketing and promotion. This can take a number of forms. An experienced consultant will have worked with a range of businesses and will know which strategies work best for what type of business. The consultant may recommend rebranding, changes to marketing material, overhauling your customer communication channels and more. Perhaps the consultant will suggest new ways of marketing yourself, such as a targeted email campaign. This business advice will not exist in a vacuum. Your consultant will review your entire business before selecting the strategies that are most appropriate for you.
Preparing For Growth
If you are preparing for expansion, then getting business advice from a consultant could help you to secure the funds you need to grow. Getting investment often depends on having a sound business plan and knowing how to present it. Your consultant can help you with forecasting and models and can use his contacts to get your plan in front of the right people. This is one reason to get business advice from someone with experience in similar business types – networking can be invaluable when you are ready to grow.
Perhaps you just need to find a way to become more efficient at managing your business. You might need advice on controlling cash flow, converting leads and enquiries to sales or setting up a web sales portal that sells your business as well as your products. All of these are areas where you may need business advice. A consultant can take an objective look at your business to see where you can save time, money or both. At the end of the process, you will have a more profitable business that is poised to dominate your chosen niche. Isn't that a great reason to pay for business advice?
Wednesday, 4 February 2009
Don't Flash The Cash
There's never been a better time to control your cash flow. Is the right amount of money coming in each month? Have your expenses spiralled out of control? Are your suppliers being less flexible than they were, putting the squeeze on your bottom line? Hiring a business expert who offers consulting services will help you to identify strengths and weaknesses. The consultant will review your business and will help you to see where you can improve. Even better, the consultant will give advice on how to make those improvements, making your business much more efficient.
When you hire a consulting service, you may learn new ways of promoting and marketing your business. The consultant has worked with many businesses and has picked up information on best practices. That means there's a shopping list of options for you to select. Perhaps there are networking events in your niche that you should be attending. Maybe you need to make contact with new suppliers or potential customers. It could be that your website and sales brochure need an overhaul. All of these are services that a consultant can provide. They will expand your market reach, boost your market presence and give you a new look that will appeal to your customers.
Perhaps your competitors are being short sighted in closing down some services. This could be a good time to snap up a bargain so you are ready for the upturn. One of the advantages of consulting is that it helps you to plan for the future, starting from where you are now. You will end up with a feasible plan for the development of your business which will make it stronger and more effective. There are always new opportunities around; your consultant can help you to identify the right ones so that you can gain the most value for your business.
Summary: Is the recession getting your down? Inject some new life into your business by investing in consulting services
Thursday, 1 January 2009
When I give business advice to a new client the first question I am asked is ‘How do I increase sales?’ My first consideration is to look at the competitors to a business. The usual first point of research for this is to undertake a search on Google and Yahoo. Not only looking at the organic listings, (these are the ones that appear on the left hand side) but also to look at the advertising businesses. I can gain a lot of useful information about the potential market place for a business very quickly through this.
Using freely available SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) tools allow me to view very quickly the basics of why a website ranks in search engines. After considering which of those appearing in the top pages of search engines are the main competitors, my next study is my client’s own marketing. Online marketing can be very quickly evaluated. Is my client’s website getting visitors? If so what is the conversion rate of visitors to customers. If there are low visits and low conversion, it’s then about looking for the reasons why. If you would like to know more about SEO tools and how to use them please email me through my website.
So what are the reasons for low visitor numbers? Quite often these are easy to spot. Low visits can be due to poor ranking. A key cause of this is poor use of content. What I mean by this is – think about a newspaper, some stories you will read some you won’t, what makes the difference? It is the same for a website it needs to be interesting and engage your visitor. As well as this the content needs to include words that your potential customers will be searching for. Quite a few websites have content that sometimes reads like an in house company magazine. Great for those in the know but could be totally negative for the searches that potential customers are inputting into search engines.
So how do you choose appropriate content? Again look at your competitor’s websites, with a few clicks of your mouse you can reveal what keywords your competitors see as important for them and then look to include these in your content. Although you need to make sure that these keywords are relevant today for your business.
So will you see a quick benefit?
You should do, although there is a bit more to SEO and content writing and website design. After completing these you are then at the mercy of search engines getting around to cache the website, but the quickest that I have had a website from completion to front page Google has been 6 days - so it can be done if you know what you are doing.
If you would like to know more about how my business advice can make that all important difference to your sales line, please do email me through my website.