How to Create a Sales Funnel That Converts

how to create a sales funnel

By Austin Miller, founder of The Daily Hash—THE newsletter for foodies.

"Sales funnel" might just be a fancy way to say customer experience, but the metaphoric nature of the term provides us an incredibly helpful visualization and marketing strategy. Based off this idea, we've created a simple and non-fluff filled guide to teach you how to create a sales funnel the right way.

 Via  Giphy

Via Giphy

Cast Your Net

Traffic. In order to drive traffic you will need to cast your net and double down on the most profitable channels. This will include both paid ads and content marketing: images, how to articles, interviews, tips and tricks and whatever else can help get you in front of your ideal audience. 

                                                                                                Create Beautiful and (Highly Targeted) Landing Pages

marketing sales funnel

Paid Traffic

You'll want to direct paid traffic to a place where they can learn more about your products. The homepage isn't a terrible place to send them, after all it should be a sort of catch-all landing page for anyone who stumbles upon it. But if you're running ads, you should do your best to target a specific demographic. 

For example:

  • You know fantasy authors usually love your product
  • You create an ad campaign using imagery and text that will appeal to that vertical
  • Rather than sending them to your website's homepage (which is meant to appeal to a broad range of potential clients), you send them to a specially created landing page that is custom tailored to the needs and wants of writers. This might include highlighting value adds specific to that industry, and exhibiting testimonials given by other novelists who love your company.

Content Marketing

When sharing blog articles your approach will and should be different. There will be no landing page, since what you are sharing is the article itself. However, that doesn't mean your blog articles can't also act as landing pages—they'll just have to have more subtle calls to action.

There are dozens of tools to help the novice create killer landing pages, here are a few of the most popular choices:

Create a Successful Email Funnel

The key to a good email funnel to is to create a logical progression that leads subscribers from ice cold unknown, to satisfied client. 

Phase 1: Introduction

This is the phase where you'll want to efficiently let people know who you are and what you do. People will be quick to decide if they want to hear more from you or not. Your branding will to be eye catching and easy to digest. 

Phase 2: Education

Once people have decided they're interested (you'll know this because they haven't unsubscribed yet) it's your duty its to give potential clients a more in-depth picture of what it is you do. What sets you apart from others? Do you have any case studies? What are clients saying about your service? Do you have a white paper, demo, or in-depth explainer video? This is the time where you'll want to share this type of information.

Phase 3: Offer

After you've had the chance to introduce your brand, what you do, how you do and finally why you're better than everyone else doing it (Phase 2)—you'll want to give your potential client a hard sell. Give them a CTA that includes making a purchase or scheduling a phone call. If that doesn't work, consider sending a special offer or discount to entice them. 

A/B Test the BLEEP out of Everything

sales funnel examples

Each part of your funnel (advertisements, content marketing, landing pages, emails, social media) needs to be constantly reevaluated. Double down on the things bringing you the most success, and drop the things that aren't. Test colors, copy, fonts, placement, and anything else that can be changed.

Make sure to set a reoccurring time where you and your marketing team can reevaluate these things. It's important to read case studies and find where others have found success, but don't be afraid to try something that might go against conventional wisdom. After all, the beauty of A/B testing is that you can always drop what's not working.

Nurture, Nurture, Nurture!

 Via  Giphy

Via Giphy

Part of knowing how to create a sales funnel is knowing how to be tastefully persistent. Not everyone is ready to make a purchase when they visit your site, but that doesn't mean they won't do so later. Maybe they just need more time to research or for a paycheck to come through. Whatever the case, you've got to keep reminding these targeted visitors about who you are, and why they visited your site in the first place!

Retargeting Ads

Retargeting ads, target visitors to your site after they leave. Have you ever looked at a product on Amazon and then seen that very product pop up later as your browsing the web? That's not coincidence, that's retargeting!

Using tools such as AdRoll will help you target the people who have visited your site. Those who have visited your site are often easier to convert, as they already know a bit about your product and have shown interest.

Drip Campaigns

Another way you can keep reminding visitors of your value is through drip campaigns. When someone visits your site, you'll want to offer a value add that entices them to give you their information so you can contact them once again. 

Examples of Value Adds:

  • Get a copy of our E-Book "How to XYZ"
  • Get 20% off your first purchase 
  • Sign up for our monthly digest to stay up to date each month's best blog posts

Of course, before you offer these things, you need to create a way to capture these targeted traffic leads. One way is by using SumoMe, a tool we've lauded before for being simple to use and giving marketers lots of customizable options.

Once you have these emails, create an email drip campaign that starts with value driven content, and progressively makes a harder sale. 

15 Instagram Accounts That Are Killing it at B2B Content

B2B Instagram

By Austin Miller, founder of The Daily Hash—THE newsletter for foodies 🍔🍦🍜

Fitness? Easy. Food? Easy. Fashion? Really Easy. B2B? Not so easy...

With over 100 million users, Instagram has quickly become one of the most popular social media platforms in the world. But the reality is, that when it comes to social media and B2Bmany businesses struggle with how to position themselves. This is especially true when it comes to visual content. Accounting, tech support, legal workthese service types of industries don't always scream fun.

But when you start to look at your business as a group of unique people, with individual stories, and your brand as a message rather than a productyou'll begin to see just how visual your company truly can be. If you remain skeptical about the viability of B2B in the Instagram space, or you just want some B2B inspirationdo yourself a favor and check out some examples of B2B companies that are slaying it on Instagram. 

1. ADOBE

Adobe Instagram

Followers: 681k

B2B Industry: Software

Instagram Account: @adobe

With a product that plays well to the visual, Adobe is a fortuitous and unique entity in the B2B space. Their strategy involves highlighting what their products can do by creating stunning visuals that make even the most ungifted neophyte dream of trying their own hand at Adobe products. This is B2B marketing done right. 

 

2. WELLS FARGO

Wells Fargo Instagram

Followers: 40k

B2B Industry: Banking

Instagram Account: @wellsfargo

Banking is boring, real boring. But that doesn't mean an ambitious company like Wells Fargo has to make their Instagram account boring. The massive bank combines a good mix of video and images to add variety to their content. If that's not enough, @wellsfargo keeps content fresh by covering a wide variety of topics like current events, financial tips, quotes, and fun facts. 

 

3. INTEL

Intel Instagram

Followers: 1.1 M

B2B Industry: Tech

Instagram Account: @intel

IBM validates itself as one of the "big boys" by showcasing their role in big events like the X Games, Grammy's and hot tech conferences. Following IBM's journey feels like following a celebrity as you become privy to just how massive and innovative of a company they truly are. Each photo they provide shows a company whose fully aware of their unique voice in the B2B space. Large company's like these that dabble in many areas can sometimes have a hard time defining their voice, but IBM does a solid job of peeling back the layers on their many productsgiving you a detailed look at exactly what they do in the tech space. 

 

4. GREY ADVERTISING

Grey Instagram

Followers: 35k

B2B Industry: Advertising

Instagram Account: @grey

It's encouraging to see B2B company's pushing the boundaries of social media. Their account description reads, "Each week, one person from our Grey NY office takes over our Instagram to share what inspires them. Oh, and everything is in GREYscale." Following them is like watching a TV series, with each  "episode" (or new week) being seen through the eyes of a different employee. Despite the constant changing of hands, the account is able to maintain a singular tone with its mandatory implementation of "GREYscale" filters, and NYC setting. @grey is by far one of the most unique accounts on this list, and definitely worthy to be dubbed a B2B content pioneer.

 

5. AD AGE

     

 

 

Followers: 166k

B2B Industry: Media/News Company

Ad Age's bio states "Important to Important People." With that in mind, Ad Age likes to position themselves as an authority in the advertising space often highlighting celebrities on their cover shots or editorial content. Although they focus on advertising, their content touches on a wide variety of topics like music, food, and anything they deem creatively inspirational (like their name written with pretzels). 

 

Free Agency

Followers: 30.9k

B2B Industry: Content Production/Branding

Instagram Account: @free

If you had any doubts about Free's artistic vision, squash them now because photography just happens to be their bread and butter. And we're not talking about a slice of uninspired white bread with some I-can't-believe-it's-not-real-freaking-butter substitutewe're talking about some fresh focaccia straight out of the oven with lemon herb butter. This is B2B content that blurs the line between art and advertising. Maybe we should call it artvertising?

 

7. MAILCHIMP

Mailchimp Instagram

Followers: 76.7k

B2B Industry: E-Mail 

Instagram: @MailChimp

An email provider company. Boring right? Wrong. Dead wrong. MailChimp takes full advantage of their playful logo by breathing life into his 2d form and transforming him into a veritable personality. Their quirky brand image seeps through each photo, making sure you laugh a little on the inside each time they post a new photoan emotion we're sure they hope transfers over when you use their service. 

 

8. AdRoll

AdRoll instagram

Followers: 2k

B2B Industry: Marketing

Instagram Account: @AdRoll

Taking the most holistic approach of all the Instagram accounts, AdRoll uses a broad stroke approach when it comes to visual content. Company events, pop culture references (a la Star Wars), cute dogs, bring your family to work day, and behind the scenes looks at marketing campaigns. Perhaps of all the Instagram accounts on this list, AdRoll does the best job of making their company accessible. Have you ever seen an interview with an actor, and you get that feeling that you'd hit it off if you ever met in person? AdRoll evokes that same sentiment. 

 

9. Citrix

Citrix Social Media

Followers: 14.5k

B2B Industry: Apps/Data

Instagram Account: @citrix

Company bikes, French Bulldogs, and a grip of cool eventsCitrix shows why they're a leader in the B2B data space. Unlike many companies, Citrix avoids heavy promotion by opting for a soft pitch. Lately they've been integrating branded Lego scenes which can't help but bring a little smile to your face.

 

10. UBS

b2b instagram

Followers: 23k

B2B Industry: Financial Services

Instagram: @UBS

For a seemingly large financial corporation, UBS provides content that has a surprisingly accessible "startup" feel. They are extremely transparent, going so far as documenting their recent re-branding, something not all brands would be so happy to share with the public. A lot of their content so far has focused on artist Damilola's role in their brand transformation. We're not sure where the future of their Instagram account is headed, but we're confident it will not cater to the status quo.

 

11. Hubspot

Hubspot Instagram

Followers: 100k

B2B Industry: Marketing/Sales

Instagram Account: @hubspot

Hubspot has a penchant for highlighting good food, cute animals, and fun work activities. Of course it's not all play, they sprinkle in some solid quotes and advice to balance it out. Overall, Hubspot is a feel good account with a penchant for peeling back the layers for their customers' and potential clients' enjoyment.

 

12. SAP

b2b instagram strategy

Followers: 46.9k

B2B Industry: Software

Instagram Account: @SAP

SAP has a lot of great quotes and is unequivocally targeted towards other business owners when it comes to advice and contentsomething you would hope to see from a B2B company that provides software. They're also on top of it when it comes to staying current on holidays and special days like Groundhog day, World Cancer Day, Thanksgiving, The Holidays and New Year. 

 

13. FedEx

FedEx Instagram

Followers: 89k

B2B Industry: Delivery

Instagram Account: @fedex

Cargo shipment has never seemed more fun than with FedEx's Instagram account. With lot's of great photos of airplanes and trucks all over the world, FedEx is a bit of a promotional travelogue. But their promotion never crosses the line, just a subtle logo in the background of mostly stunning photos that make you want to travel as much as use their service.

 

14. IBM

IBM Social Media

Followers: 219k

B2B Industry: Tech

Instagram Account:@IBM

Of course IBM has many of the great qualities these other B2B companies possessesbut what's most intriguing about their voice on social media, is the personification of their API's in the form of an animitronic robot named Watson. In fact, they have a whole host of robots they use, each with their own unique personality. Following their Instagram account is watching a good sci-fi series that leaves with sense of awe at the power of technology and its potential.

 

15. HP

HP instagram

Followers: 1M

B2B Industry: Tech

INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT: @HP

A fashion diary? A global technology brand? We can't tell which one it is, but we're not too sure we even care! HP capitalizes on subtlety and styleshowing that even big brands can be nimble when it comes to social media.

Business Tax Checklist

glenn-carstens-peters-190592.jpg

Meet with your bookkeeper. Making sure your books are correct is the most important thing you can do before tax season starts. The sooner you can meet with your bookkeeper, the sooner you can solve any potential errors that may exist in the books. Take the time to go through your financial statements with them. Feeling confident about the financial standing of your business will take some of the pressure off during the tax season.

Organize your bank statements. Start early by having these documents on-hand and organized. A tax preparer may request your statements to ensure that all of your business expenses and income are reflected properly in the bookkeeping. Being prepared beforehand will also save you time in the event that your books need to be altered.

Figure out which form is right for you. Knowing which tax forms are specific to your entity will help you know what type of information you will need to have handy for your tax preparer.

 

Here are some organizational resources:

S-Corporation Organizer

Partnership/Multi-Member LLC Organizer

C-Corporation Organizer

Sole Proprietor/Single-Member LLC

Individual Organizer

 

Filling out these documents and having the associated documentation before meeting with your tax preparer will expedite the process. The process can be completed twice as fast if you sign up with Bookly for their bookkeeping and tax preparation services.

Know the important deadlines. Knowing your tax deadline will help you know how much time you have before you get slapped with a penalty. Your deadline will depend on your entity type:

 

Entity

Original Due Date

Partnerships, S Corporations, and LLC’s

March 15, 2018

C Corporations and Individuals (Includes Single Member LLC or Sole Proprietorships)

April 17, 2018

Exempt Organizations*

May 15, 2018

You will also want to keep in mind the due date for employee W-2 and Contract Labor 1099’s: January 31st, 2018

Schedule an early appointment with your tax preparer. This single action will put you far ahead of most. Bring all your necessary documents to this meeting, including your financial statements. Your tax preparer should be able to tell you what information may be missing. When you return for your actual tax consultation you will be fully confident that you have all the necessary documentation. Try to schedule this appointment as soon as you can into the new year. This will give you more time to prepare and will allow you a better chance to meet with your tax advisor before they get sucked into the tax season.


Shayler Stagg manages the books for 45 small businesses from various industries at Bookly.co, is an avid reader of Greek philosophers, and is a huge Metallica fan. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

The Pros and Cons of Accepting Money From Angel Investors

Angel Investors

Last year, we shared a post about the difference between venture capitalists and angel investors and what both parties can do to benefit small businesses in need of funding. For a fledgling startup, it might initially seem as though there are only upsides to getting investors interested in your business — after all, it’s extra money that you could really use! However, there are still a few areas of the process to watch out before saying yes to the investment. Here’s a shortlist of the pros and cons to keep in mind when getting started.

Pro: You’ll have more money

Let’s bring everyone up to speed on what it is an angel investor does first. Angel investors take their existing wealth and invest a chunk of it into your business. In return, they only request a piece of equity in your startup. These investors are all around us — doctors, lawyers, and even existing entrepreneurs can all be considered angel investors. However, unlike venture capitalists, they don’t have millions to financially cushion your company with. A typical angel investment varies at $25,000 to $100,000 per startup.

If an angel investor believes in your business and its offerings, they’re willing to take a leap of faith for you and invest in it. Now, you’ll have more money to put towards your company and various initiatives to help it grow like hiring new employees. This type of money is not a loan, so you’ll never have to worry about repaying it back, but before anyone invests…

Pro: Attracting angel investors means you’ve (probably) got a great idea

Angel investors are naturally drawn to entrepreneurs that are passionate about their companies, but even more so to the ones that understand how it can succeed over time. Before they invest, they will want to see your business plan to make sure you’re on the right track. (After all, once they put some capital into it, this is a track they’ll be on too!) Here’s your chance to draft up a business plan, elevator pitch, and executive summary that views your business and how it fits into the market as critically and objectively as possible.

Con: The business will no longer be 100% yours

For some entrepreneurs, this might not even be much of a con. If you don’t mind having others take charge, stepping back to allow an angel investor to step up and take control isn’t an issue. Other small business owners might not be so on board with having an outside party take over though. As advised by QuickBooks, if you’re not ready to let go try to find an angel investor you know or who understands your business first. Talk to them about the process and ask any questions you may have before investing. This will give you a chance to find out if you’re okay with having someone else run the startup too or if it’s a better idea for you to keep your freedom as a solopreneur.

Con: You might wind up having less money

Remember when I said earlier that all angel investors want in return for investing their capital in your business is a piece of equity? Because your startup is so new to the world, the risk of success and/or failure is higher, leading to investors taking a bigger slice in the pie. These equity percentages can start at 10% or more — and that’s a lot for a new company! Be sure to discuss in advance the expectations that angel investors have with your business and whether or not you’ll be able to meet them at what they’re looking for.

 

Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @mycorporation.

Please note that Bookly’s sponsorship of this blog article is not intended to address the specific circumstances of any particular individual or entity and does not constitute an endorsement of any entity or its products or services. This content represents the views of the author, and does not necessarily represent the views or professional advice of Bookly.

3 Things Small Businesses Should Look For in Partnerships 

business partnerships

When one small business partners up with another business, it’s typically a win-win for customers. Two of their favorite brands are joining forces to bring them more of the products and services that they crave in a natural collaboration. However, it’s just as important that while the partnership provides customers with what they want, both businesses involved are building a strong rapport together and have an understanding about each of their roles. Whether you’ve partnered with another company before or this is your first time doing so, here’s what you need to consider before getting started.

What are your shared interests?

Spotify and Starbucks, Apple and IBM, H&M and fashion houses like Alexander Wang and Balmain. No great brand partnership happens on accident, but rather they serve as strategic building blocks to help take each respective business further.

When determining who your partner should be, look for the shared interests and values. If both companies are similarly aligned, there’s a good chance there will be potential for customer overlap with an audience that knows (and loves) what both of these businesses are offering.

An outline of expectations and obligations

What am I supposed to do in this partnership, anyway? In order to get on the same page, it’s a good idea to have a strong, written agreement in place that outlines the expectations and obligations of the collaboration. Otherwise, instead of both parties working together you could be stuck with one party basically asking for the other’s customer list — and that kills the point of the partnership. If you’re working on creating that agreement now, here are a few must-cover elements to include.

  • Balance. Make sure that duties are balanced between both businesses so that one side isn’t doing all or not enough of the workload. Additionally, the businesses should be just as balanced as their responsibilities. It can be a nightmare if one partner is too pushy or aggressive!
  • Shared reciprocity. The best partnerships leverage the strengths that each side has to offer in order to create smart offerings for customers that are truly valuable. Define the obligations of each party so they know what they’re doing and outline expectations in the event that one side expects too much/little out of the agreement.
  • Offer up a trial run. Before going live, try out a test run so that expectations remain tempered and the trial gives both sides a taste of what the partnership could shape up to be like. If you’re a little nervous to collaborate with a business for the first time or fairly new to the startup world, this might be your best introduction to partnerships.

Practice patience —strong partnerships take time to build

From the start, make sure that everyone is on the same page about one of the least-discussed aspects of a partnership: the fact that it takes time to build up and understand one together. Rather than expect overnight success, treat the partnership like you would any other relationship you’re in. Be open-minded about making adjustments along the way and remember that much like life, a partnership is not a sprint. It’s a marathon and one that you can only continue to work hard and grow in together.

 

Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @mycorporation.

Please note that Bookly’s sponsorship of this blog article is not intended to address the specific circumstances of any particular individual or entity and does not constitute an endorsement of any entity or its products or services. This content represents the views of the author, and does not necessarily represent the views or professional advice of Bookly.

5 VR Marketing Tools for the Early Adopter

VR Marketing

The landscape might be sparse, but VR Marketing tools are on the rise, and they're here to stay.

Samsung Electronics America president Tim Baster revealed that users had consumed “more than 10 million hours of 360-degree video content on Gear VR devices,” research firm KZero found that over 171 million people could be using VR hardware and software by 2018, and a co-op study by YuMe/Nielsen suggests that VR possesses a higher emotional reaction than 2D video. Suffice it to say, VR is no lightweight in the marketing space.

So you know VR can be a powerful marketing tool, and now you probably want to try your own hand at it. But where to start? How to begin? After all, it’s not like they teach this stuff at business school…Lucky for you, I’ve taken the liberty of creating a list of 5 apps and platforms to help you get into the VR marketing game today.

ImmersVR

ImmersVR was founded by some of the same people who helped build the “Largest app distribution platform on Facebook, iOS and Android’s “App Distribution Platform on Facebook and then again on iOS and Android,” is a 360 video distribution platform. Since 360 video isn’t purely virtual reality (hyperlink), it’s able to be distributed to a mobile audience, not just to those who a VR kit. This allows to advertisers to reach a larger audience while still providing a newer and more interactive technology.

Strata inStudioVR

Strata has been producing 3D modeling software for over 20 years and just recently decided to throw its hat into the VR marketing ring.

Intended for product designers, packagers, and retailers — inStudio VR allows 3D designers to import their designs straight from their desktop CAD applications like Strata 3D CX, Maya, Autodesk to a virtual reality environment. From the app, users can stage, view, and alter their models using motion controls in different settings like a kitchen, living room, or retail store.

The app is free and comes preloaded with a retail module which includes a retail store setting with shelving populated with grocery items. Users can place their designs on the shelves and see how they look next to other products.

Retinad

Retinad is an analytics tool for your 360 video. Just like a website heat map can tell you where your visitors are spending most of their time, Retinad can tell you which parts of your 360 video that users enjoy most. This tool also measures the performance of your content on various platforms, the hardware being used to view your content, and measures overall engagement.

VadR

VadR allows you to monetize you and/or your clients’ VR apps. This native ad platform lets you place ads in any type of VR environment without forcing the user to leave the application. Much how Facebook, Pinterest and other social media platforms have allowed for sponsored posts that appear as part of your feed, this app promises to make ads a seamless part of the user experience.

Vire

Vire makes product placement within virtual environment seamless. It benefits both advertisers and app creators — as developers get paid anytime a user interacts with branded objects, and well — advertisers get to brand objects and monitor engagement.

These branded objects can also be used as offers. For example, let’s say someone grabs a branded coffee cup and looks at it — from there, they can claim an offer on real-life coffee.

4 Tips for Establishing Your Brand in a Big City

small business bookkeeping

Last month, we shared advice for how a startup can establish roots for their business — while still leaving their mark — in a small town. Now we’re flipping the setting to taking your company to a big city for the first time. While cities offer plenty of benefits to startups like a thriving customer base and workforce, they’re also loaded with competing businesses with the same products or services, many of which have been there longer and have loyal clients. It’s a big pond with even bigger fish inside of it — so, what can your brand do to stand out from the crowd? The answer lies in amplifying all of the advantages that your business has to offer as well as utilizing the resources that a urbane area has to offer.

1) Make excellent customer service your No. 1 priority

Before you begin planning ahead with a big advertising budget and elaborate social media strategy, remember that one of the simplest ways to stand out is with great customer service. When customers routinely have a good experience at your establishment, they spread the word to their friends who, in turn, visit and share the news to their networks. Word of mouth can go a long way, but only if you dedicate yourself, and your team, to maintaining excellent customer service each and every day.

2) Dabble in traditional and digital marketing

With so many people in the city, how do you find your true target market? The best way to target and reach your audience may require just as much digital marketing as it does traditional. Here are a handful of strategies to take on a test run.

  •  Creating and maintaining a website. That means making sure the site is easy to navigate across all devices from smartphones to desktops, optimized for SEO, includes an updated contact information page, and is updated on a regular basis to reflect seasonal offerings and promotions.
  • Depending on the city you’re in, you might want to opt for a billboard or a placard in a subway or on a bus to advertise your business. Billboards tend to work better in cities where commuters get to work via freeways while the latter is best for areas with plenty of public transit commuters.
  •  Take out a radio ad spot — or even advertise during a podcast that you know your customer base enjoys.
  • Establish an active social media presence where you can share relevant content with your audience about news and updates from your business as well as address any issues and highlight praise from customers.  

3) Do some in-person networking

From coworking spaces to startup incubators, cities offer a wealth of resources to entrepreneurs at all stages in business. Take the time to see what events and networking nights are in your area next so you meet and greet with potential partners and customers and share more information about who you are and what you offer.

4) Personalize your approach

When a customer has a positive experience with an establishment, it’s usually personalized just for them. Whether it’s taking the time to remember their order preferences at a restaurant or greeting them by name at a hotel, these extra touches go a long way to endearing customers to businesses. Skip the one size fits all approach in your marketing to your customer base in favor of building a deeper connection to your audience. Address e-newsletters to the name of the subscriber; take mailers to college campuses if you market to a twentysomething demographic, and follow your fans on social media.

Above all when marketing your business in the city, celebrate being different. It might feel easier to blend in with the competition, but be proud to be unique and always keep thinking of how you can wow customers by going above and beyond.

Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @mycorporation.

Please note that Bookly’s sponsorship of this blog article is not intended to address the specific circumstances of any particular individual or entity and does not constitute an endorsement of any entity or its products or services. This content represents the views of the author, and does not necessarily represent the views or professional advice of Bookly.

Small Town, Big Business: How to Market Your Startup Locally

how to market locally

You just brought the business of your dreams to life, but you’re just not interested in opening up shop in a sprawling city. You’d rather trade in the pricey rent and taxes for somewhere more affordable and less densely populated, like a small town. There, your dream of running a startup where everyone knows your name and where your business can be a local fixture can finally come true!

However, let’s be practical about the reality of your arrival to a new neighborhood. Customers may be hesitant to visit simply because they don’t know anything about what you have to offer. A lack of foot traffic means you might go through a few months of middling sales — but that can all change with the right marketing approach. Make and leave your mark with these tips that’ll encourage the community to warm up to you and your business.

1. Put a plan of action together

What can you offer that will make a big impression on locals and encourage them to visit, make a sale, and spread positive word of mouth? Strategize your goals and objectives for your target audience and its market and tailor them specifically for a smaller area. In between planning for ways that your business can get involved with the community and establish a presence, focus on what makes your business special and highlight what sets it apart instead of blending into the crowd.

2. Create a unique, consistent logo

Consider your storefront for a moment. What makes it memorable? While the primary goal for a brick and mortar business is to draw customers inside, they might be hesitant to make the first move when they don’t know anything about you. One of the best ways to advertise what you do and leave behind an impression that sticks? Create and trademark an original business logo.

If you need some design advice, our personal tips include keeping the design and color palette simple and consistent to brand your company and easily convey its message. The logo should be able to translate across all mediums including on your website, packaging, and marketing materials and using the same colors helps establish trade dress to further distinguish your product and company. From snagging the attention of window shoppers to giving your shop some built-in recognition, your logo brands your business more than you might think it does!

3. Advertise in the local newspaper

In the era of blogs and Facebook advertising, placing an ad in the newspaper may seem antiquated and unnecessary. Before you judge too much though, take into consideration that local papers have loyal readers. In small towns especially, these readers are looking for news on what’s happening with their local government and community announcements about new store openings and upcoming event celebrations. Take out and customize an ad to give your startup some early buzz and great local press!

4. Meet and greet with the locals

Ultimately, the most effective marketing tip is the one where you get up and go outside to meet and greet with members of the community. Here are just a few ways you can make your welcome to the neighborhood a warm one:

  • Host an open house for your new business. Offer freebies and raffle giveaways, bring in a food truck and some live music, and encourage everyone in the community to bring their friends along for the event.
  • Head to a networking night to mingle with other professionals or local events where potential customers may be. If you’re not sure what events are coming up, inquire with your local Chamber of Commerce.
  • Take your business cards with you wherever you go and strike up a conversation with passerbys. Even if you’re waiting in line at a coffee shop, you can still introduce yourself with a friendly, enthusiastic attitude that’ll encourage everyone to visit you and get to know more about you — and your business — one-on-one.

 

Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @mycorporation.

Please note that Bookly’s sponsorship of this blog article is not intended to address the specific circumstances of any particular individual or entity and does not constitute an endorsement of any entity or its products or services. This content represents the views of the author, and does not necessarily represent the views or professional advice of Bookly.

 

5 Questions to Ask to Determine If You’re Ready for an Intern

More often than not, we see this type of post written in reverse with interns trying to figure out if they’re ready to take on an internship. It’s just as important for a small business, typically more lean on staff and resources, to know whether or not they’ll be able to bring on a new hire and create a meaningful experience for them. Before you hit “publish” on posting an internship job opening, take the time to ask yourself the following questions to determine if an intern is exactly what your business needs.

Do you have enough (substantial) work for them to do?

Spoiler alert: going on endless coffee runs and fixing the printer doesn’t count as substantial work. When prepping an internship job posting, consider the needs of each specific department.  Where do they need extra assistance? How can an intern benefit them? Then, consider the age range of your interns in regards to their responsibilities. You wouldn’t want to assign a freshman in college the kind of workload that someone in a senior role would have!

When creating a balanced list of duties for an internship, be mindful that it reflects these three areas:

  •  Assign significant work that gives interns hands-on experience within their field
  •  Tailor the workload specifically for their age group.   
  • Create enough responsibilities that can be accomplished within the internship time frame.

Will you be available to train and mentor them?

How often are you physically around in the office? If you know you’re not there frequently enough for one-on-one meetings or that you plan on taking time off during the internship period, take this into consideration before moving forward. You may want to wait to hire when you are much more present. However, if you don’t want to wait, talk it over with your team and figure out if anyone has enough availability to train and mentor the intern in your place.

Will they be available to come in?

Every internship is different — some interns commute to an office and some work remotely. Determine what style fits the needs of your business best and make sure that the hire can meet your needs. If you prefer to have them come into the office, make sure that they have reliable transportation and can accommodate parking. If you’d rather have interns that work remotely, plan for how that will work out on both sides and if you can schedule in some time to meet up once a week to check in.

Can you offer them pay?

I’m a firm advocate in paying interns and, if there is no money available, providing school credit as an alternative. Consider whether or not your business has the budget to pay its interns on an hourly basis or provide a stipend by the end of the semester. If you truly cannot offer any financial compensation, offer school credit and as many incentives as possible like a free gym membership or parking pass.

Are there any projects you want to get started?

Earlier, I mentioned that establishing substantial work is critical for an intern to succeed during their internship. If there’s a project that you or your team have been trying to set aside the time to get started, this project may just be the perfect assignment to pass off to an intern. Utilizing their skill sets, you’ll be able to give them guidance to work on the project and see it through to completion, empowering them to leave behind a significant mark on your business. 

Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @mycorporation.

Please note that Bookly’s sponsorship of this blog article is not intended to address the specific circumstances of any particular individual or entity and does not constitute an endorsement of any entity or its products or services. This content represents the views of the author, and does not necessarily represent the views or professional advice of Bookly.

5 Small Business Podcasts For Growth That We Can’t Stop Listening To

Let me set the scene for you.

My business partner and I stood with beer-in-hand, kicking new ideas (and a little PandaDoc stress ball we got at a conference) back-and-forth across the room trying to come up with a better way to build a network of solid promotional partners.

This was about 60-days ago as I write this, and man were we stressed.

“We’re having tons of success with the few channel partners we can get in front of, but it’s so hard to turn our initial conversations into actual promotion.”

We needed a better way to get a foot in the door and create some momentum.

About an hour in with no progress, and my business partner looks up and says matter-of-factly, “well, I guess we’re just going to have to start a podcast.”

After a quick chuckle (there was beer involved), we decided that actually wasn’t such a bad idea.

Fast-forward two months and it could be the best decision we’ve ever made. We’re 10 episodes in with at least 5 new promotional partners in the fitness and wellness industries that we never would’ve locked up without starting the process by dropping a simple line like, “hey, we should really get you guys on the podcast, our audience would love it!”

Since then I’ve gained a whole new respect for this medium, and wanted to share the top 5 business podcasts on growth that you should be listening to in your car, while you’re eating, or while you exercise (2 with a little health and fitness bend - hey, that is my focus).

1 Simple Thing with Dave Kirby

iTunes | Stitcher

Dave Kirby may not be some Silicon Valley legend or a career CEO, but he does an incredible job with this podcast, highlighting potential pitfalls, blending in personal anecdotes, and contextualizing exactly what you need to be thinking about as a small business owner in an amazingly relatable way.

I also like the length - 15-20 minute episodes - and the fact that Dave does a great job hitting a specific topic with each guest making it extremely easy to reflect on what was said after listening.

Basically, it’s the perfect podcast for all of you small business owners out there.

Marketing School with Neil Patel and Eric Sui

iTunes | Stitcher

Unlike Dave from 1 Simple Thing, Neil Patel is about as famous as a marketer can be, and Eric Sui is no slouch either. So for a marketing podcast, these are some serious heavy hitters. However, much like Dave’s show, Neil and Eric focus on one, super-specific marketing solution in each episode in a way that makes it feel like you’re actually learning a lot given the hyper-speed 6-10 minute episode length.

It all makes this podcast perfect for anyone who needs to learn more tactics to improve their marketing results … so probably everyone.

The GaryVee Audio Experience with Gary Vaynerchuk

iTunes | Stitcher

Gary Vaynerchuk is loud, intense as hell, and probably takes some getting used to for slow-talking southerners like myself. With that said, he ain’t wrong. The dude is a go-getter through-and-through and when you listen to one of his rants, you’ll find you have a tendency to become a go-getter too.

This podcast is ideal for any business owner who could use a quick, honest kick in the butt to get in gear on that next campaign to grow their business.

Evolution of Medicine Podcast with James Maskell

iTunes | Stitcher

This podcast with James Maskell and Gabe Hoffman, the creators of the Functional Forum is an incredible business growth show masquerading as a niche medical podcast. I’m not saying it isn’t niche - don’t bother if you aren’t into new innovations in medicine, wellness or fitness - but James comes from a practice management background and the backdrop of every episode is how these innovations can help you run a more profitable practice or business.

Spending 30 minutes to an hour with James, Gabe and their guests is the perfect prescription for any wellness business or medical practice owner, looking for new ways to unlock more revenue.

Scale Well Podcast with Phil Beene and Mac Gambill

iTunes | Stitcher

Remember the story I opened with? It’s time to bring it full-circle.

That after-hours idea session on a cold December night turned into the Scale Well Podcast where my business partner at Nudge Coach, Mac Gambill, and I chat with entrepreneurs and thought leaders about how simple technology tools and platforms are enabling more scalable business models.

The list of people we’ve been able to book in our first 10 episodes has honestly been nuts, including a great chat with Zach Olsen, the CEO of Bookly which you can watch in video form here.

This podcast is perfect for any fitness or wellness entrepreneurs and business owners out there, but the episode with Zach is a great listen for any small business owner.

Hope you enjoy these 5 podcasts as much as I have!

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Phil Beene is Co-founder and President of Nudge Coach, a software company that gives gyms and wellness businesses a whole new way to support and engage members through a custom-branded mobile app. He also co-hosts the Scale Well Podcast with Nudge Coach Co-founder and CEO Mac Gambill. You can learn more about Nudge Coach at http://nudgecoach.com.

Please note that Bookly’s sponsorship of this blog article is not intended to address the specific circumstances of any particular individual or entity and does not constitute an endorsement of any entity or its products or services. This content represents the views of the author, and does not necessarily represent the views or professional advice of Bookly.