Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Top Lead Generation Strategies And Tools For Small Business - Forbes

Top Lead Generation Strategies And Tools For Small Business - Forbes


Top Lead Generation Strategies And Tools For Small Business - Forbes

Posted: 12 Aug 2019 06:00 AM PDT

When you start a business, you want to make sure that it can stay in the black. Earning enough revenue to cover expenses and turn a profit is what every entrepreneur and shareholder wants. 

Even so, you cannot exist in the blind faith that your product or service will do the trick. Consumers need to know who you are. You can find them by generating leads or finding specific people who may like your product. 

Why Do You Need Leads?

You want people to buy your products. Sometimes, you cannot wait for them to come to you. Larger brands and corporations already practice regular lead generation, and they have established practices.

You need to find out what competitive advantage you can offer. What is your specialty? How can you make your offerings different from those in the same industry? Once you answer these questions, then you can figure out your strategy. 

Obstacles That Small Business Face

Globalization has shrunk the world for businesses. You can sell products digitally to people in Indonesia, even if you are based in Marseille, France. Or you can ship to Australia if you can afford the postage.

The rub with this smaller world is that, while you can reach more consumers, you also have to deal with a smaller market share. Contradictory? You might say so. But consider your competitors: corporations with pockets internationally. They want oligopolies and monopolies. 

You have a size issue. Amazon, Walmart and other giants can use their vast capital and resources to sell more cheaply and reach more consumers across the world. They can change storefronts to accommodate varying values, and that may not be in your budget.

Lead Generation Strategies

So, how do you grab that attention span? There are several strategies that you can implement for that express purpose. Below, I have outlined some of what I've found to be the best ones:

1. Assess that you deliver high-quality content.

People will know when the items you deliver digitally only contain hot air. Hot air is only good for when you are selling balls or toy dirigibles. You would rather that people deliver on substance, which has meaning imbued in every item that you put out in the world. 

Incorporating "meaning" can translate into many concrete concepts. When you are writing a blog, you want to make sure the topics are relevant to your business and consumers. 

2. Avoid spamming when sending emails.

Email campaigns can perform gloriously. You often see them from larger corporations that send coupons or product recommendations. There's a reason why Amazon constantly advertises Prime Day, Cyber Monday and lightning deals. 

By "spam," I'm referring to messages that filters perceive as lacking value. We know traditional spam as blatant ads sent to our mailboxes with inappropriate messages, spyware and even viruses. Your messages aren't that, but with the wrong words in your message or subject line, they can be flagged as such. In the worst-case scenario, it may violate the CAN-SPAM act. 

Make sure that your email addresses used for sending out messages aren't flagged as spam. Don't purchase email lists because that is illegal, and they may be garbage emails in any case. 

3. Perfect your landing pages.

Do you want to track website visitors over a certain length of time? Google Analytics can help, but you can do more to craft a well-designed marketing campaign. Landing pages are one such facet for a campaign. 

Landing pages assist in helping you track who visits your site when. You can set counters on them to measure who visits and who doesn't.

4. Master your SEO.

Search engine optimization is one of the organic tools in your toolbox. It refers to refining your advertising copy so it contains certain keywords that people seek online. Google ranks pages based on those keywords when people type them into the search engine. 

SEO, unlike paid ads, is organic growth. Google algorithms will rank your websites in search engines. It will identify potential spammers, however, so don't stuff your websites with keywords specifically to rank. Always add value. 

Best Tools For Lead Generation

Strategies may not simply cut it, however. You also want to amass all of the tools that you can to increase your leads. These can be free, or for a cost. 

I have a few recommendations for what tools are the best for this sort of work. Some we have discussed above, such as SEO and landing tools, but there are also websites and programs that can assist. 

1. Quora

Quora is a public Q&A forum where you can assist people with their questions. When you answer questions related to your specialty or business, you establish yourself as a reliable authority figure. People always have questions, and the algorithm will deliver them to the email address you assign to the account. 

Another benefit of Quora is that you increase your social media presence in a specialized, international level. You only have to pay with time and words and to provide value to people. The compressed space means that potential customers are more likely to read your answers and make decisions accordingly.

2. Google Analytics

Google Analytics is another free tool that comes in handy for tracking visitors. You merely need to register for an account, which is best with a Gmail address, and install a tracking code within your website's HTML. 

While the analytics is general, you can use it to pinpoint locations of website visitors, how many visited directly or used referral sites and what search terms are used to find your site. The raw data is valuable. You can analyze trends over hours, days and even months. 

Preparing Your Strategy

Diving into the world of business is not easy. But you can even the odds by proactively seeking out potential customers without hammering them with ads. You can adopt these strategies and deliver value. 

Our world has gotten smaller. You can still find people to support your business. Go out and find them and start to grow.

How To Leverage Emerging Trends In Your Small Business - Forbes

Posted: 12 Aug 2019 05:00 AM PDT

Whether you're in retail or the service industry, every small business depends on company leaders making the best possible decisions. We understand the risks that come with entrepreneurship. We do all we can to stay ahead by tracking emerging business trends.

I own and operate a Chicago-based restoration company. Knowing how to keep up with trends makes it easier to focus on innovations relevant to my industry. Over the years, I've developed these seven strategies for identifying trends that impact your company.

1. Learn how to look.

Understanding how to research is a critical first step when assessing which trends could impact your business. Traditional news can also be a great source for breaking trends. The internet serves up your quickest overview of emerging trends in business. It can also deliver an overwhelming volume of information. Hone in on market reports that apply to your industry. Start a list of topics you want to follow. Devise ways to analyze the data. I often use online trending tools to help me anticipate upcoming changes.

2. Keep your network strong.

Keep up with your professional network. A strong network enables you to keep up with emergent trends within your industry, well before they become mainstream and your competitors have taken advantage of it. This is why I've founding developing new relationships and maintaining established connections is critical. Make sure small business trends play a part in shared conversations.

Attend conferences, take part in roundtables and sponsor events. I, for instance, always look forward to restoration industry trade shows. They're a great opportunity to widen my network and pick up on ideas about the next big thing.

3. Keep your reading glasses handy.

We're all so busy with day-to-day operations, but we need to take the time to read. Keeping up with business trends can be a relaxing break from the routine. I've learned that it's productive, too. I subscribe to several print journals that help me stay in front of the latest business news.

You can follow most publications online. Mine articles for information you can use to create more innovative business strategies. Track key points that forecast upcoming changes in your industry.

4. Keep your channels open.

Use social media channels to spotlight trends that small businesses can easily implement. For example, chatbots became a website must-have several years ago. Today, they're evolving into more personalized ways to reach customers.

I'm also enthusiastic about analytic dashboard apps that let me synchronize data from different social media sources. They're a time-saving tool that makes it easier to follow trending news across multiple channels.

5. Filter, and drill down.

As markets evolve and consumer expectations change, trend forecasting becomes its own business. Don't let information overload slow you down. I sort things out by asking myself these questions:

• Why is the trend important?

• Can I translate it into an actionable plan?

• Is it consistent with my company's brand?

• How will implementation affect daily operations?

Develop a set of criteria specific to your business. Use it to filter through trends and drill down to the ones that can make a difference in your company's success.

6. Get your employees involved.

Multiply your eyes and ears by getting your employees on board with tracking important business trends. They might read a story you've missed. They might hear something out in the field. At my company, for example, we start every morning with a quick employee meeting to cover the day's schedule. We also use the time to share ideas about breaking trends.

7. Listen to your customers.

Customer feedback is an invaluable way to stay connected with the latest business trends. Consumer behaviors and habits drive changes that challenge small businesses. Create an employee training program that emphasizes listening to your customers and addressing complaints the right way. Incorporate customer requests and expectations into policy development when applicable.

Everyone who owns a small company stays on the lookout for ways to improve operations, save money and keep customers happy. Tracking industry trends is an important part of the process. Sharpen your business trend awareness, and leverage it into smart business policies that work for you.

An NYC community center is helping seniors build small businesses - Business Insider

Posted: 12 Aug 2019 12:04 PM PDT

Some senior citizens move to retirement communities where they play golf or shuffleboard. Other seniors looking to be tech-savvy or start a small business go to Senior Planet.

The MIT Technology Review recently went inside Senior Planet, a retirement community and coworking space founded by Tom Kamber in 2006. At their Manhattan location, seniors can learn everything from finding the "on" button on their computers to creating their own websites. Learning these skills has never been more important for older people, especially as senior entrepreneurs are becoming a bigger part of America's economy.

One regular at Senior Planet, Michael Taylor, used to run an antiques store, but had no choice but to close up shop amid rising rent costs. Despite losing his small business, he had little desire to retire. Instead, he got his master's degree at New York School of Interior Design. As he said in the MIT Technology Review's article, he started going to Senior Planet to get help with website design for an already successful small business.

The research finds that older business owners are more successful — and that continuing to work actually helps mental health.

According to Babson College's 2016 State of Small Business in America report, 51% of small businesses are run by people aged 50 or over, up from 46% in 2007. And those small business are staying open longer than ones founded by younger generations: 70% of senior-run small businesses are still running three years after opening, compared to only 28% of businesses run by younger entrepreneurs.

There are also more senior citizens than ever. Millennials may be the largest group in the labor force at the moment, but older Americans are catching up. According to the US Department of Labor, workers over 55 will be the largest group, at 24.8%, by 2024.

Taylor, now 71 years 0ld, had seen his father retire at age 84. Suddenly having no work aged his father quickly, he told MIT Technology Review. "And I'm like, 'If that's what retirement does for you, I don't want it.' So I plan on working until God calls me home or just until I can't work any longer," he's quoted as saying within the article.

Some experts say that the best way to stay active and prevent the ill effects of aging is to never retire. According to a 2013 study by the Institute of Economic Affairs, a UK think tank, retirees were 40% more likely to be diagnosed with clinical depression than seniors who put off retirement, which indicates that work is good for mental health in old age.

Entrepreneurship helps combat ageism, too.

While many older Americans are still in the workforce, ageism is keeping them from landing jobs. According to a study by job site iHire, 53% of baby boomers have felt age discrimination at work, including having trouble getting jobs they're qualified for.

Taylor has experienced ageism firsthand. "I found getting a job is not that easy if you're not the 20, 30, or mid-40s candidates," he said in the article.

Senior Planet's goal is make ageism a thing of the past by erasing stereotypes of elderly people who can't use technology or learn new things. Senior Planet founder Tom Kamber told MIT Technology Review that aging does anything but slow you down. In fact, "your horizon is shorter — your dreams become more critical and urgent," he says.

Kamber believes that age is not a barrier to entrepreneurship or success, but occasionally, technology is. "When you're a senior, and you've got an idea, and you want to make it happen," he said, "somebody's got to help out a little bit."

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