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Optimize Small Business Saturday for Big Returns

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Startup Stock PhotosIn an age of global markets and capitalism, many small businesses struggle, even when their products or services are superior. We have the power to change this, and Small Business Saturday encourages people everywhere to shop with small businesses for just one day, hoping that small actions will create big changes.

Since 2010, customers and small businesses alike have begun their holiday shopping season on a day celebrating the uniqueness, charm, and economic impact that small businesses bring to communities nationwide. Consequently, the shop small, shop local movement has quickly taken hold with consumers as a part of their holiday shopping traditions.

To get the best results, you do need to take an active approach. With planning and preparation, you can make this your most profitable holiday sales season yet. And done right, you can reap the rewards all year long, as more consumers extend shop small into their shopping habits year round.

Attract Shoppers with Special Events and Offers

Make the day meaningful for your new and loyal customers alike. Freebies and special discounts are good, but there are many more options. Limited offers make your customers feel special. Some examples that might work for you are complimentary giftwrapping or buy one get one (BOGO) offers available with a promo code tweeted or shared on your Facebook page. Make the day special by serving refreshments, have a unique theme or event, or donate a portion of the day’s sales to a local cause. These are just a few of the things you can do to make an impact on small business Saturday.

Partner with Other Area Businesses

Cross promotion can amplify your publicity as well as your foot traffic. Work with neighboring businesses to promote events or offer special discounts with area restaurants and coffees shops available only on small business Saturday. Create a group incentive that rewards shoppers for the number of businesses they visit/purchases they make. Encourage shoppers to visit multiple shops by creating a contest such as a scavenger hunt or multiple drawings culminating in a grand prize. Remember that all shoppers must be eligible to enter regardless of whether or not they purchase.

Ramp Up Excitement

Promote your event with a countdown calendar posted where your customers can easily see it, both in your shop and on your social platforms. Post signs inside and outside your place of business and through email, regular mail, your website, social media, and even word of mouth. Plan a social media strategy and coordinate with area merchants to like each other’s social media pages and start promoting each other early. With more people shopping in the area, everyone benefits.

In 2014 shoppers supported small businesses with 14.3 billion in sales. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, now is the time to plan your small business Saturday strategy and help your business get a piece of the profit.

October 30, 2015 |

Perfect Pairing: Marketing and Customer Service

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True story: On a visit to New York City I bought some chocolates from a famous chocolatier, carefully selecting special gifts for my co-workers. When I returned, my boss’ gift contained not only the wrong flavors, but flavors that she REALLY didn’t like. I was mortified. I called the company, to see if I could get the one selection replaced. The next day I received a replacement of the entire order overnighted. That’s not just lagniappe, that’s how customer service becomes a marketing tool. Because, of course, I became not just repeat customer but a brand evangelist.

As a local business, word of mouth is the most important and most cost effective marketing you can have. I’d say especially when you are building your business, but in reality, even a well-established business can suffer from the effects of poor customer service. Customer service plays a huge role in satisfied customers who reward you with loyalty and repeat business. And with increased competition online and off, your customer service can make you stand out. Customers increasingly turn to social media, and the retribution for poor customer service can be both swift and severe.

Long-Term Reputation vs Short-Term Profit

Although your business may be built one sale at a time, trying to optimize profits sale by sale leads to frustration and disappointment for both you and your customers. Poor customer service can lose not only the singe sale, but repeat business and tarnish your reputation in the process. Great customer service will win you brand loyalty, repeat business, and great word of mouth marketing.

Customer Service on Social Media

Social media platforms let you have genuine, personal conversations with your customers, and web users have become used to the human element in their customer service interactions. When you respond quickly and politely to comments on your social media pages, you build brand loyalty. If the problem can’t be resolved online, invite customers to contact you personally offline. Personalized attention shows your customers that you care about their experiences and value their business.

Accessibility Is Key

Once a customer has contacted you with a problem or issue, either by email, phone, or a visit to your establishment, providing a great customer experience will turn the tide in your favor. Make sure your employees understand the importance of customer service, and train and empower them to make decisions if problems should arise. Follow up to ensure the problem was resolved successfully, and listen to their feedback. They’ll more likely remain loyal if they feel their opinions matter and they can make a difference.

Even national companies are trending back to local and providing great customer service by empowering local agents to engage with their customers. It can become an extra competitive edge that keeps customers coming back for more, and telling their friends. The extra effort you put into training personnel and building relationships with your customer base will pay you big dividends in the long term.

October 7, 2015 |

Small Business Tips by #LtL

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LARGERWhen you start a small business, your to-do list is filled with a million action items to help you make it a successful venture. From marketing strategies, to spending habits, here are some helpful tips to help you hit the ground running:

What’s Your Marketing Plan?

Marketing is one of the most important parts of your company. Unless you have a perfect location, you need to inform people that your company exists. To start an effective marketing strategy, you first need to identify your target audience. Then, figure out the best way to reach that type of customer. With a well thought out plan, you can have a cost effective, successful campaign. Understanding the wants and needs of your target audience is also important. Relevant content on social media is a great way to promote your business without spending money.

How Much Money Do I Need?

A Wells Fargo Small Business Index showed that the average small business owner has approximately $10,000 of startup capital with the money usually coming from a savings account or family. Ask yourself, how can I get working capital to invest in the success and growth of my business? Look into small business loans or contact potential investors to help you with your business. Also, make sure you have an ample savings account that will help cushion any unexpected expenses that might arise.

LogoHiring the Right Type of People

When you start your own business, you are an all-in-one CEO, salesperson, CFO and CMO. Eventually, if you want your company to expand, you will need to hire people. A big mistake a lot of small business owners make is hiring their friends and family who have little to no knowledge of the industry they are in. Avoid this by hiring a few qualified people who can multi-task and do the work of many. When you chose the right kind of people, you will witness continual growth which leads to a higher profit.

Love the LocalsNetwork

A lot of people underestimate the power of networking. When you go to conferences and networking events, you get the opportunity to expand your knowledge and contacts. Sometimes it is the smallest conversations that lead to the biggest relationships. For example, if you are looking for somebody who understands IT to internally build your network, you might be able to find another small business owner at a conference who can help. You never know who you will meet when you put your name, company and brand out there.
Starting a business is no easy path. You will experience a lot of stress and headaches, but pushing through them with the right skills and knowledge will show that this new endeavor is well worth the investment.

September 10, 2015 |

Great Facebook Marketing Strategies for Your Small Business

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Simply said, if you do not have a Facebook marketing strategy, you may find yourself behind your competition. Social media plays a major factor in the success of any business. It has proven to attract new customers, increase brand awareness, and maintain credibility. To help you in your mission to conquer Facebook, here is a guide to having a strong and successful campaign:

You should star with establishing your marketing goals, and what you would like to accomplish as a result of your campaign. Social media marketing strategies may include a lot of different motivating factors. To help draft the clearest, most successful campaign, write down three things you want to accomplish. Here are a couple of the most sought out reasons on why people invest in a Facebook campaign:

  • Create a closer relationship between your business, and your current and potential clients
  • Solidify your brand, logo and overall reputation management
  • Show transparency in your business, and establish credibility
  • Showcase what services and products your business sells
  • Giving back to the community. People love seeing charitable acts done by businesses. It gives your company a humanistic appeal, and establishes a good reputation. This is also one of the best ways to gain attention and free marketing. The more people see you in the community, the more your brand and logo may be noticed.

After establishing what results you want from your Facebook marketing strategy, the next job is to actually implement it. Here are a couple of important tips to follow when executing your organic social media campaign:

Keep Your Followers Interested

Everybody uses Facebook for entertainment purposes. You want the content you post to be just as entertaining as it is informative. Vary your posts between topics that are serious, informative, funny and newsworthy to help people stay engaged with what you are saying.

Do Not Over Sell

Advertising on Facebook is equivalent to people knocking on your door in the middle of the day at your home. Facebook frowns upon too many sales oriented posts, and so does the consumer. Be informative and find creative ways to market your product. (Instead of bluntly saying “Buy our lawn mower today,” state “Help keep your lawn beautiful by using an efficient lawn mower like ours!) Switching up your content styles will not only keep your consumers engaged but will increase your overall impressions on Facebook.

These small, yet vital tips will help you successfully launch your Facebook social media campaign.

#SupportLocal

With that said, here are some of our own Locals’ Facebook pages. Head over and give them a Like!

A&A Western Store – https://www.facebook.com/pages/AA-Western-Workwear/185420473050

Affordable Transmissions – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Affordable-Transmissions-LLC/1633543820193868

Aggressive Health Solutions – https://www.facebook.com/AggressiveHealthSolutions

Agilus Health, Inc – https://www.facebook.com/AgilusHealth

Alexandria Beef O’Bradys – https://www.facebook.com/beefs1

Better Care Home Health – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Better-Care-Home-Health-Inc/117485584977134

Crossroads Gifts & Gourmet – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Crossroads-Gifts-and-Gourmet/176385712433965

Dr. Donna Breen – https://www.facebook.com/drdonnabreenmedspa

Fast Glass & Radiator – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Fast-Glass-Radiator/109326709404307

Gift Gallery @ Phoenix – https://www.facebook.com/giftgalleryphoenix

Gone Wild Safari – https://www.facebook.com/GoneWildSafari

Heart of Louisiana Credit Union – https://www.facebook.com/Credit.Union.with.Heart

Heyman Dental – https://www.facebook.com/HeymanDental

John Ward Interiors – https://www.facebook.com/JohnWardInteriorsandGifts

Lagniappe Homecare – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lagniappe-Homecare/429322030463161

Magnolia State Mortgage – https://www.facebook.com/MagnoliaStateMortgage

MR Imaging – https://www.facebook.com/MRImagingSystems

Pest Aid Company – https://www.facebook.com/PestAidCompany

Primary Care Specialists – https://www.facebook.com/primarycarespecialistsla

Rabailis Small Engine – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rabalais­Small­EnginesInc/288350741220339

Ray’s Pharmacies – https://www.facebook.com/rays.pharmacies

Robin Ewing Pools – https://www.facebook.com/robinewingpools

Rush Funeral Home – https://www.facebook.com/rush.funeralhome

Sacred Heart School – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sacred-Heart-School-of-Moreauville/1441931782779109

Sayes Office Supply – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sayes-Office-Supply/270947103557

Security Mobile Shredding – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Security-Mobile-Shredding-Inc/504283209676136

Security Sporting Goods – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Security-Sporting-Goods/153987074597?fref=ts

STAT Home Health – https://www.facebook.com/pages/STAT-Home-Health/184645104908435

St Frances Cabrini School – https://www.facebook.com/SFCSPanthers

The Garden Path Stone Center – https://www.facebook.com/TheGardenPathStoneCenter

Wallace Eye Associates – https://www.facebook.com/WallaceEyeAssociates

Y-Not Stop – https://www.facebook.com/ynotstop

August 25, 2015 |

SEO Tips for Local Businesses

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SEO is an integral part of marketing in today’s business world and you want to make sure yours is as effective as possible. For those that are not familiar with the term and like to handle their business old school style, it’s time to pay attention and update your strategy. Today, people spend around 8 hours a day online and one of the most common ways to get new customers is by ranking high on Google’s search engine. If you’re not on the first page when customers search for your service it will be difficult to acquire new clientele. If you want to rank high locally, here are some SEO tips you can follow.

traffic builders digital marketing search engine optimization square

Properly Optimize Your Website’s Information

If you want to rank high locally, start by creating a domain name that includes your location. If your business is called Pet Supplies and it’s located in Louisiana, then an appropriate domain name for you would be petsuppliesla.com. The LA at the end, representing the state of Louisiana, is one of the ways you can further localize your business online.

Another way you can do this is by adding keywords on page titles that have to do with your business name, its services and especially your location. You should also make sure that your contact information is found on all pages of your website.

Build Your Business Listings

Make sure your business is listed online in pages such as Facebook, Yelp, Yellowbook, Google, and YP to boost your local SEO. You want your address, phone number, and other contact information to be consistent across all platforms because Google constantly scan these sites to evaluate businesses on the web.

If you’re business isn’t listed, or the information is inconsistent, it can negatively affect your SEO ranking. You should add your website URL, pictures and videos to these platforms as well. Try to get a good picture of the outside of your office and display as many pictures as possible of you products and services.

Link Strategy

An important move in SEO is having links from your website to other pages that relate to it and vice versa. This helps establish the authenticity of your business. You must pick the right websites for your links because linking your website to unrelated pages will hurt your rankings in the long run. You can add these links to your customer newsletters, you can also ask other businesses around your area to link to your website and return the favor. Start a blog and mention related businesses offering them links to help them understand all of their options.

Be Social Media Active!

Lastly, be active on social media. Open an account on various platforms and manage them correctly. Post a few times a week and respond to comments. Engage with your customers and use these social media platforms as an opportunity for promotional campaigns.

Now that you have the tools to get your SEO strategy going then let’s get started! Give your business the chance it deserves to increase your customer base and position your brand the way you’ve always wanted to!

August 17, 2015 |
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