Monday, September 24, 2012

5 Tips for a Start-Up Marketing Plan

A start up marketing plan is used by you to convince investors to give you money to fund your business. Investors aren't impressed by concepts such as viral marketing or premier branding. What they want to see his how they are going to get a return on their investment. Because of this they are some points you need to include in your start up marketing plan. Here are five suggestions to include and get the investors' money out of their pockets and into your business.
A professional website and blog is a necessity for any business. It is one part of your start up marketing plan you can't live without. The internet is the great leveler. Small businesses can compete with the big dogs with a professional website that is stylish and functional. Functionality is important so that visitors can find what they need and navigate your website easily. You can use Adobe Dreamweaver, or other low cost tools to create a website. You can also hire a website designer. A budget of $10,000 is a good place to start. A blog creates community and makes you an expert in your field. You can write it, or hire a professional writer. There are also plenty of free or low cost platforms on the web you can use.
Take advantage of social media. Social media gives you exposure for your business and is another way to set yourself up as an expert in your field. Content that engages your readers and helps to spread the word about your business is an important part of your start up marketing plan. Also use webinars, whitepapers, blogs, and press releases. Another way to create a buzz about your business is to convince radio, television, and newspaper reporters to cover your business as part of a local story.
Get your customer's attention. In your start up marketing plan you need to have ways to get your customer's attention by offering them something unique. Free give-aways, promotions, discounts, and coupons are all great ideas. This step will require you to put some thought into your business and start up marketing plan to identify what sets you apart from your competitors and who your target market is.
How will you generate leads? Include how you plan on generating leads in your start up marketing plan. This can include mining leads from your website, contacts, trade show connections, and lead generation services. This doesn't have to be an expensive part of your start up marketing plan, but it does need to be creative.
Make connections with partners and referrals. Happy customers spread the word, and if you can include marketing opportunities in your start up marketing plan. Be sure your partners and referrals aren't direct competitors.
A well thought out start up marketing plan is one of the things that separate a successful new business from a failure. Marketing is crucial to startups and established businesses. If you can show investors you have put thought into how to spread the word about your business, they will be more likely to help fund your start up business.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Increasing B2B Conversions

A common problem that business to business (B2B) companies have with their online inbound marketing campaigns is increasing their conversion rates. It can be difficult enough to get the businesses representatives you want to come to your site, but securing those leads and converting them into customers is a whole new challenge.
If you're wondering where you've gone wrong in terms of increasing your conversion rate, these strategies are some that you can begin to implement on your website and your landing pages today.
Make Offers that Make Sense
Here's something that we're all quite familiar with: we hop onto Google, type something into search, then click on one of the first few search result links. That website may answer our query (if we are lucky!), but many of these websites also have inappropriate offers, or "calls to action" (CTAs) on the page that deliver no value to the visitor.
For example, if you're trying to troubleshoot how to fix your clogged sink, you likely wouldn't click on a CTA that offers 10% off that website's plumbing services. What you may click on, however, would be an offer for a free white paper or eBook that takes someone, step by step, through the process of properly getting rid of a clog in the sink.
Other CTA tips:
- When creating a CTA, try having two offers presented at the same time. This can increase your lead conversion rate by 63% (Search Engine Land, 2011) - Avoid vague language and insinuations. Be direct and tell people exactly what they should do. - Consider creating offers that are time sensitive. Having a sense of urgency can boost your lead volume by as much as 46% (Search Engine Land, 2011) - Use images thoughtfully. For example, having a picture of a human face that's looking towards the CTA can help direct a visitor's eyes to that converting offer
Plan your Pages According to the Buying Cycle
It's well worth any business' time to do an audit of their website to determine what web pages are most visited by different businesses (and what specific industry or niche they're in) and then what stage of the buying cycle they're in.
Once you have quality CMS software and analytics in place, you'll be able to start seeing who's visiting your pages and at what phase of the buying cycle. When you have that information, you can then begin to place offers on those pages that are most appropriate for those visitors. This will significantly show an improvement in your lead conversion rate and, as a result, in customer conversion rates down the track.
Fine Tune your Landing Pages
The above also applies to your landing pages. The offers that you present have to make sense according to where the majority of visitors to that landing page are in the buying cycle. The best way to measure the results of your landing pages is to conduct regular A/B (split) testing. You can test a number of variables on each page to determine what elements are the most successful in terms of conversions, such as:
- Offers - CTA placement - Button sizes - Colors - Messages - Tone
Over time you'll be able to see what works, what doesn't, and how you can really optimize your online marketing campaigns.
Shorten your Forms
Step 1 of getting anyone to convert is obtaining their contact information. The easiest and most likely way that B2Bs do this is through forms. You may be surprised to learn that a lot of visitors click on your offer, but as soon as they see the information that your form is asking for them to provide, they back out. Why? Primarily this happens for one of two reasons:
- The form is too long and too time consuming; or - The form asks for information that they feel is too intrusive to reveal to a company with which they are unfamiliar
All you need to initially ask for is a first name and email address, and perhaps a company name. Once a lead then progresses through the buying cycle, you can ask for more detailed information, such as their last name, phone number, address, or what country they live in. When they begin to trust you more, they'll be more likely to reveal more about themselves.
TIP: To really boost form conversions, always place the forms 'above the fold' on your website and landing pages.
Provide Social Proof
Did you know that 52% of consumers trust what they consider to be "authentic" online reviews just as much as they do any recommendations made to them by their friends and family members (Search Engine Land, 2012)? Bazaarvoice's 2012 survey provided similar results, revealing that more than 8 out of 10 people are influenced to buy things based on recommendations made by strangers. Even more interesting was the fact that 51% of the same respondents said that they trusted the opinions of people they didn't know over those that they did know.
What it really comes down to is this: if people see other people "doing" something, they figure that it must be trustworthy. Otherwise, why would those people be doing it? This type of validation can be incredibly important in terms of purchase motivation, as we can see from the two survey results above. You can add "social proof" to your website by including things like testimonials and reviews to your site, blog, and social media, or by adding a "number of downloads" or "number of attendees" counter along with any eBook, white paper, webinar or any other offer you present online.
Especially with Google's October 2012 updates, one of the most important things to remember for your B2B website is to be sure to continually update it with fresh, unique written content.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Direct Sales Opportunities Can Help You Make A Career Out Of Selling

For all those restless souls who love to talk, direct sales opportunities are here! Yes, they're for the extroverts and social butterflies, who have high dreams in their eyes and wish to be independent. Well, I don't mean to say that introverts don't have a chance here. They too can make a career out of direct sales. However, for selling, you need to come out of your shell.
Now, before I tell you the benefits of grabbing a direct sales opportunity, you should know that direct selling has grown into a multi-million dollar industry in America, and it's still growing even as I write this article. This industry offers a golden opportunity to increase your business by marketing your products and services in the most exciting and attractive manner.
To be precise, direct selling is the marketing of products or services through presentations, demos, telemarketing, and visits. This is a kind of promotion that requires hardcore convincing and abolishes the need for dealers, agents, or brokers. For the most part, the products and services are those that are not likely to sell off the shelf.
The Benefits Of Direct Sales Opportunities:
1) You can choose your own working hours and the quantity of work that you can handle. You can choose between working part-time or full-time.
2) You get a chance to meet different people. Door-to-door marketing makes you rich in experience. Gradually, you'll begin spotting potential customers by their way of conversing with you. With time, you'll get to know all kinds of people present in the world. Some are harsh; some are polite; some are finicky; some are easily persuaded; there are some who may even slam the door in your face; while some may enjoy testing your knowledge about the product or service you're selling. At the end of day, you'll have some great experiences to share with others.
3) You become independent financially. You can even earn some extra bucks in the form of incentives or commissions.
4) You'll polish your communication skills and expand your social network.
5) Direct sales opportunities help shy people shed their inhibitions and develop more confidence to interact with people.
6) There's an overall personality development.
Anyone can take up direct sales opportunities, be it a retired person, homemaker, student, or a working person trying to earn some extra money. Success in this career is in direct proportion to your own convincing power and hard work.
When you were a kid, you unknowingly persuaded your parents to buy something you wanted. And you were successful in convincing them, weren't you? Therefore, if you could do it then, you can do it now too! Pursue those direct sales opportunities and start selling!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Your Loyal Assistant In Business

Direct sales software has made the life of many direct sales executives easy and less stressful. In this profession, customers are everything. Much of your work comprises of getting to know the customers, digging up their buying habits and preferences, and keeping in touch with them. When the list of contacts gets longer and becomes unmanageable, you'll need an "assistant" that organizes your networking to make it smoother and more efficient.
The Functions Of Direct Sales Software
1) It enters the complete information about guests and hosts. It adds their address, email ID, and contact number. You have an option to include their favorite items to personalize your service to customers. Simply click the check box and add the contacts to your e-mail list or post mail list.
2) It organizes your party details such as guest list, number of guests, shipping, sales, tax rates, and others at one place. You only need to click at the box to mark the closure of party.
3) It undergoes inventory tracking. It tracks wholesale as well as retail values, produces, and prints reports.
4) It undergoes mileage tracking. It makes categories to track specific mileage and produces a report for tax returns.
5) It undergoes expense tracking. It makes categories and maintains detailed records of every expenses incurred by you.
Through direct sales software, you can also print labels for your list of contacts. This program features a unique mechanism that lets you print a few labels. When you want to use that label again, you can command the software program to skip to the next label on your sheet.
Types Of Business Software
They include small business accounting software, small business marketing software, billing and payroll software, and small business CRM tools. It gets tough to manage every aspect of a business single-handedly. Besides, you need to make prompt decisions and take actions at times. You can't afford to carry out activities like accounting, billing, promotion, and customer care alone. This is when business software comes in handy.
Today, you can't depend on people alone. We live in an age of cutthroat competition, and you need to have instant results to keep in pace within a dynamic market. You can't afford to spend time on counting the number of contacts on a list. Leave this task to the software. It makes things easier and faster. Focus your attention on more important matters for expanding your business. In the cyber age, a combination of direct sales executives as well as direct sales software is the recipe for successful business.