Are you ready for a bumper business year in 2015?
There’s just a couple of days left of 2014 and many people are relaxing and recharging their batteries over the festive season. This usually involves absorbing marketing messages from some of the most popular national chain stores in the form of television and online advertising. Small businesses provide the backbone of the British economy and many small business owners will be thinking about how to improve business, boost profits and grab their share of the economic growth blossoming across the country.
As with many new year’s resolutions, business managers come up with great marketing ideas or ways to improve their business but they never get round to implementing them. So this year, why not decide on your New Year’s resolutions for your business and spend the time from January 1st until the start of the new financial year preparing to implement them. That gives businesses three months to come up with effective ways to improve productivity and boost profits for the year ahead.
If time is a reason for failing to implement ways to improve the running of your business, why not talk to a marketing agency and enlist their help. Marketing agencies can help with the planning and implementation of business and marketing plans from assessing your strengths and finding areas that you can improve on through to improving your communications and marketing activity.
Here are five things that most businesses can do better with in 2015 – and how:
1. Call Handling and managing inbound enquiries
When a customer calls, how quickly is their call answered? Who answers the phone? Do you have provisions for when no one is available to answer a call? People begin interacting with your brand as soon as they dial a number, not when their call is answered. Do you have a plan in place to ensure calls answered within a certain number of rings? Some companies that understand the importance of prompt telephone answering even make the issue part of their mission statement. If you can’t guarantee a call will be answered immediately, why not consider diverting calls to a manned call answering service.
Having a reputable call answering company representing your business gives a far better impression than leaving the call to an answerphone. Many customers will have called after finding you on a Google search and will simply call the next company on their list. The service usually costs less than £50 per month and can include a dedicated call handler for your business that can answer questions, arrange sales visits and answer questions on your behalf, freeing up your time and helping increase custom.
2. Improve your website
Many small businesses don’t have the time or skills to update their website regularly. Millions of them still use websites they paid good money for four or five years ago when small design agencies would build custom websites using basic coding. Today, 42% of new websites use WordPress. This system allows companies to build state-of-the-art sites designed to look great to customers and do well on search engines. They are also easy to integrate with social media giving your online marketing a bigger bite for the same amount of effort and at a far lower cost.
As with most technologies, costs have dropped significantly over time and you can get a great business website that improves your marketing, online presence an search engine positioning for a lot less than many expect. £1000 would be a fraction of what many businesses have spent on their website in the past, but would by a significantly improved online presence in 2015.
Another thing to bare in mind is the changing ways that your customers access the Internet. More and more people use their mobile phones, tablets and home entertainment systems to search online. If your website isn’t tailored to work properly on mobile phones and iPads, you could be damaging your brand and reducing your sales potential.
3. Talk to your customers with social media
A staggering 92% of marketers now state that social media is an important part of their business in 2014, a rise from 86% in 2013 (statistics from the Social Media Marketing Industry Report 2014). Social Media is a great way to keep an eye on what your customers and target customers are saying about you and your competition, a way to talk to them before they visit, a way to encourage them to visit your business and remind them of your qualities as a business. Engaging with them also advertises you in a positive light to their contacts, increasing the likelihood of word of mouth recommendations and more business.
Getting your social media plan for business right is relatively easy, but if you’re new to social media on a business level, it’s wise to get training or a marketing agency to give you a few starter tips. The most important thing is to engage with the people that will use your company. Listen to what they say and they could make sure you’re buying in the right products, tweaking your offering and improving sales on an on-going basis.
4. Review your overheads
There are plenty of ways to raise funds for marketing and innovation. When did you last review your overheads? Switching suppliers for electricity, water, stationery and toner can all lead to cost savings. As can improve working practices. Improving your energy efficiency can also be done using government and local government grants, providing additional funds and long-term cost saving. Improving your energy efficiency and going carbon-neutral can be an important reason for people choosing you over your competition.
5. Outsource to plug skills gaps
One of the other main reasons for big ideas never getting off the drawing board is lack of skills in the business or funds to take on the necessary staff. There are however, companies that offer outsourcing for almost every need. Rather than give up on an idea, it’s worth doing some research online to see if there’s an alternative way to make it happen or talk to a marketing agency that might be able to suggest an alternative way to make it work. In fact, you can outsource all of the suggestions made in this article. Marketing agencies that work with small businesses will be able to offer advice, manage or help you outsource call handling, website management, social media services, overhead reviews and advise on what can or should be outsourced to improve your business.
If you could benefit from any of these services, give Bristol Marketing a call today and we’ll be able to help you put some of your new year’s resolutions into action.