Archive for March, 2012

How to Brand Your Business and Position it for Success

For small businesses, having a well-established brand with a loyal customer base is critical to both immediate and long-term success. While investing money in brand developing tools may be costly, building a suite of business cards, postcards, signs, banners, brochures and other products that give your business a professional look can be easily and inexpensively accomplished. When your brand acts as your identity, anything you can do to increase public awareness will only help your company.

First and foremost, it is important that your company map out exactly what it stands for, who your target customer is, how you would like to be represented, and how you want your message to be delivered. Once that has been decided, define your brand – how you are going to help a customer identify your business with a given product, promotion or piece of advertising. Will it be with a logo, color scheme or a slogan? To make this as effective as possible work with focus groups made up of current and potential clients, as well as peers within your industry so you can come to an educated decision on which vehicles will work best to accomplish your goals and objectives. Also, remember to always keep your marketing tools up to date.

Next, focus on which marketing tools your company is going to use to deliver your message. If you’re not in a position to develop a complete set of marketing materials, then focus your efforts on one piece at a time. For instance, one of the most valuable tools in today’s market is a simple business card. With a business card in hand, an ambassador of your brand is effectively able to provide your contact info and exposure to the corporate brand.

Business cards are most impactful when the logo is prominently featured and includes your associate’s contact information, title, website URL and Twitter handle, among other things, and the font is easily readable. It’s also important to develop a consistent message to deliver across all channels at all times. This assists in building a recognizable brand that consumers will automatically associate with your company.

It’s also important that you consider your geographic location. If your company is located in a bustling community with a large amount of foot traffic, it may be a good idea to create a large banner to place on your store front which features a special offer or promotion. Using this type of tool assists in generating awareness and not only helps to attract new customers but retains existing ones by providing additional incentives to keep them coming back for more. Alternatively, if you have a business specializing in lawn care or real estate, then perhaps creating a lawn sign to place on your client’s property may be beneficial as the property serves as a testament to your services.

Another low-cost promotional tactic is a well-crafted brochure to feature within the office or give to potential customers/clients. A high-quality brochure enables your company to relay in-depth information, such as the company’s mission statement, pricing, services, accreditations, certifications and more. Additionally, they give your organization an extra level of credibility since consumers have come to expect printed material from companies with whom they are doing business. Also if you truly want to make your brochure buzz-worthy, try to integrate an offer or coupon into the copy of the brochure itself.

Lastly, it’s important to remember that creating an effective marketing strategy will take a considerable level of effort to organize and execute. However, having an assortment of customized marketing materials will attract your desired target customer and leave them with the information and incentive they need to revisit your company in the future.

Provided by: ARA

Experts Expect Smartphones to Overtake Personal Computers in 2012

Smartphones are steadily becoming commonplace devices for everyone from professionals to busy moms. Users of these devices now instinctively turn to their phones for tasks that previously they would only have accomplished on a computer, over the phone or in person. These tasks include surfing the Web, obtaining driving directions, connecting via social media, and even shopping.

In the United States, 87.4 million people own smartphones. And, in 2012, smartphone sales are expected to top sales of personal computers. As smartphones allow people to connect with businesses in new and exciting ways, businesses in turn need to become savvier about going mobile.

For example, a small home health care provider recently utilized smartphones to expand to 400 patients across four major counties  in Utah. Its employees previously struggled to keep up with all the paperwork and regulatory requirements, so the company decided to go completely mobile, equipping its entire staff with Microsoft Windows Phones. This allowed the staff to visit patients and instantly update their condition and treatments.

For small businesses, embracing the smartphone age is becoming crucial for success. Here are some easy ways small businesses can go mobile in 2012:

  • Invest in smartphones – Transitioning from a flip phone to a smartphone makes it much easier to run a business on the go. Providing easy access to email, calendar information and the Internet, smartphones increase productivity and can provide peace of mind while out of the office. Today, smartphones are more affordable than in the past, so now is a perfect time to take advantage of their capabilities.
  • Consider industry-specific devices – Numerous mobile technologies, from smartphone applications to tablets, have been created with specific industries in mind. For example, rugged tablets that can withstand the elements are available for those in the construction industry and tablets created for the health care industry can be sterilized between patient visits to avoid contamination.
  • Make websites mobile-compatible – In an era in which most consumers first go to the Internet to find local service providers, it’s crucial that small businesses have a polished and informative online presence that’s friendly for mobile consumption. Even for business owners who aren’t tech-savvy, starting a website is feasible. A quick Internet search will reveal numerous free or low-cost website templates. You might also choose to work with a Web developer to ensure your business’s website is smartphone-friendly.
  • Get social – Popular social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter make it simple to connect with customers in a casual, but also personal, manner and also embrace the mobile population that frequents these sites on smartphones. Consider leveraging one or more of these platforms to further establish your business’s online presence and create positive buzz around new offerings and special deals and promotions.
Provided by: ARA