Tag Archives: marketing

Effective cash flow tips for startup owners

Most people struggle to get to grips with their own finances, let alone steer a business and manage that workflow correctly. While starting a business is a challenging task, you are taking a financial risk. It’s your responsibility to ensure that you handle your business’ workflow with its best interests at heart.

Often times, the money you save or lend from a broker is usually not enough to make it through the beginning stages of your startup. However, if you work according to a strict budget, you should be able to restrict yourself from unnecessary expenses that may have a negative impact on your company’s future.

Many people think that budgeting and setting goals aren’t important, but, usually, those are the businesses which end up having to close their doors because they cannot seem to work with their money properly. So, if you want to look after your company’s financial health and guarantee a fruitful future for years to come, here are a few important cash flow tips you need to consider with your small business.

Request payment upfront

When you’re a small business owner, you constantly want to please people and offer support with the hope of a trade exchange in return. This is certainly the wrong approach to have, as people and companies which take advantage of you from the beginning will continue to do so. While networking is an integral part of growing your business, you cannot assist everyone who needs help. This is only going to set you back in hard times. The same goes for your payments structure. Of course, your payment structure will differ from business to business, but you need to request payment on delivery when possible. Do not allow delayed payments and always encourage upfront payments on jobs. This will help you to predict your month’s turnover in advance without relying on people to pay you when they “can”.

Become up to date with your admin needs

When you start a business, you need to dedicate time to your admin needs and always stay on top of what goes in and out of the business. If you need to send a client an invoice, make sure that you send it long in advance without having your customers wait for their invoice. This type of behaviour will lead to customers being just as casual and carefree as you are. Make sure that you also have a penalty system in place for late payments or consistent follow-up messages. When customers know how strict you are about your payment policy, they will respect your needs and adhere to your rules. If you need to outsource your admin needs, or any needs for that matter, to ensure they are done, do so.

Try and limit your free offerings

Whether you’re selling a product or a service, it’s important to offer complimentary demos if, for instance, you’ve met a potential customer or partner at an investment conference. This will spark their initial interest, and hopefully, lead to a business opportunity. However, with regular customers and trade exchanges, you cannot let people take advantage of your free offerings. Try and limit what “free” items you give out to people at your next entrepreneurship conference as these freebies need to benefit your bottom line in the near future. Starting a business is tough because you need to be restrictive in the type of interactions you have. If someone wants to try your product, very well, but make it a once off trade.

Always be accountable for your actions

If you know that you’ve gone overboard with your finances on a particular experience or business asset, you need to be prepared to suffer the consequences. This is why it’s so important to have a budget. In the first year or three, you need to accept that you won’t be able to spoil yourself or the company until you really start making an impact in the market. Always hold yourself accountable for your actions and try your best to spend your money wisely and record every purchase.

Final thoughts

Being a part of an ever-growing and changing tech innovation ecosystem requires resilience and dedication to keep moving forward. If you know that your product or service has tons of potential, work hard at making an impact in the industry. If you’re not earning money, you simply cannot be spending a lot either. Think of many different ways to market your product or seek investor assistance if you really need it. The last thing you want is to find yourself in debt, having to shut the door on your dream.

Five types of marketing to invest in for your small business

As a small business owner, you know how important it is to market your business. You need to engage potential clients and retain your current ones. But it can be difficult to know exactly what type of marketing you should use to do so, especially if you are new to the world of business ownership.

If you have applied for business finance in South Africa you will need to start creating a marketing strategy from the get go. Not sure where to start? Below are the five types of marketing to invest in for your small business.

Google AdWords

Google Adwords is one of the smartest ways to use your marketing moolah. While you should try to improve your organic reach results using SEO (search engine optimisation) tactics, AdWords can certainly give you a leg up on the competition, especially when it comes to digital marketing.

Google searches are one of the top ways in which customers find your business online. Which means that spending money on an AdWords campaign is extremely effective. Be warned that AdWords is not an “autopilot” way of advertising, you will need to monitor your campaigns and make changes when necessary. While it might be costly, it is a marketing strategy that will pay off in the end.

Facebook advertising

Did you know that almost two million small businesses pay to advertise on Facebook? It is one of the most inexpensive and effective ways to reach an audience that is interested in what you have to offer. And, almost everyone uses social media these days, so your customers are guaranteed to see your adverts.

Facebook ads excel at advanced targeting, which means that you can set up the demographics of who you want to see the ads, such as certain age groups, geographic locations, online behaviours and much more. For a small business that has just taken out business financing in South Africa, the affordability of Facebook advertising makes sense. All you need is a solid headline, some good descriptive wording, an inviting image and the right link.

Printed business cards

Many entrepreneurs feel that, because the world has become so focused on digital technology, printed marketing is no longer relevant. However, this could not be further from the truth. Business cards are affordable to print and you can create a truly unique design for yours using free software or by asking a professional designer.

Not only can you give clients and customers your business card, but you can also give them to potential business partners at networking events. You will need to ensure that your card design is relevant to your company and that your details are clear and easy to see. Be creative and think out of the box, for example, if you are a small artisanal doughnut store then design round business cards that look like the doughnuts you have on offer.

Email marketing

Email marketing is still one of the most effective ways to market to clients. And, if you are using business financing in South Africa, it is an option that will suit any budget. Email marketing is relatively simple to use and there are several software options on the market.

It is effective for small businesses especially because you will be able to reach an audience who is already interested in your products or services, those who subscribed to your emails in the first place. You will need to ensure that you send these emails at the right time of day so as not to annoy people and only send to those who have opted-in to the subscription.

Google My Business

For small businesses hoping to make a mark, Google My Business is one of the best types of marketing to invest in. It is completely free and is easy to use. All you need to do is provide your up-to-date contact details and allow the system to combine all of your information such as your Google+ profile, Google Maps profile, your Google reviews and more.

Ranking your Google My Business listing is one of the most important things you can do for your business, as this will allow it to show up in Google search results when someone searches for the product or service you offer. For example, if someone searches for “pet stores Cape Town”, they will see Google My Business listings before organic search results. Having your business in these first listings is imperative to boosting any small business.

Think smart for your business

Marketing strategies are highly important for any small business, especially if you will be using your business finance in South Africa for part of your marketing budget. With the innovations of technology, there are easy and affordable marketing methods you can use for your small business, such as Google My Business, Facebook advertising and Google AdWords.

You can also go the more traditional route and print out business cards to hand out to clients and at networking events. Be sure that whatever type of marketing you use, it is relevant to your business, easy-to-use and will not break the bank.

How to grow your career in content marketing

In the digital age, content marketing plays a vital role in a successful communications strategy. The internet is filled with thousands of content sources, so if you want to create awareness around your brand, you need to work extra hard to have your content recognised above your competitors. The key is to create engaging content so that you can boost your traffic which leads to conversions, and grow your bottom line.

Without the right content, your campaign won’t work. And this is where content marketers become important. To be a content marketer, you need to have a specific skill set to be able to excel in the digital world. Here are a few of the most important content marketing skills needed to grow your career:

  • Build your writing knowledge

If you’re dealing with content and words on a daily basis, you need to be skilled in this department. You need to be comfortable with writing and have a deep understanding of the English language. On that note, it’s important to understand the difference between print writing and writing for a digital website.

A good place to start improving your skills is to start off as a copywriter or in a content producer position and familiarise yourself with marketing through the various digital marketing courses. This will prepare you for marketing management and wrap your head around the various writing tones, phrases and words used to deliver content on behalf of brands. Writing for companies will teach you how to market their products or services, and monitor the performance of each piece of writing. If you see that something is not generating traffic or awareness, learn from your approach. Digital writing is different to print as you need to incorporate various keywords into your writing, in order for Google to promote your content.

Content writing changes by the day, much like the digital space. You need to keep educating yourself about the internet and follow your competitors online. This will give you an indication of what works and what doesn’t. And that will teach you how to improve your writing according to a specific market.

  • Develop your technological skills

As mentioned, digital writing is a completely new ballgame. You will need to be familiar with working on a computer and the various digital marketing tools used to steer your content ideas. Most content marketers create content for different websites, therefore you need to be skilled in content management systems such as WordPress. Technical skills such as this as well as search engine optimisation (SEO) and a brief understanding of coding, will help to boost your career opportunities as many companies are looking for people who are already skilled and trained in these tools. Before you consider pursuing this career path, make sure you do your research on these applications to help better your knowledge of the online world.

  • Connect with your creative side

Creativity is a skill that you need to learn. Of course, there are some people who are certainly more creative than others, but you need to cultivate your own creativity. This can be achieved through creative activities such as reading, painting, drawing, poetry and more. If you have an eye for design, it’s a bonus. Having these creative abilities will ensure that you write better and deliver impressive results.

  • Learn how to research properly and efficiently

As mentioned, the digital space allows you access to thousands of content sources. In order to keep up with the industry and the latest trends, you need to educate yourself and keep informed about the latest news. Google allows you to research absolutely anything about the industry, and learn from it.

When you are writing fresh, new content, you need to stick to the latest sources and ensure your content is up to date. Poor researching skills and information can give you a bad reputation as a writer. The internet is particularly useful when researching about customer behaviour and trends. You will learn more about the type of content they like or dislike, and based on their actions, you will be able to adjust your approach to suit their needs. The same goes for a brand’s competitors. You will be able to leverage the internet to create unique and creative campaigns for your client, based on research and current trends.

  • Focus on developing your own personal brand

Lastly, the most important way to showcase your skills and jumpstart your career is by utilising social media platforms and creating your own online portfolio to generate awareness for you and your talents. You need to learn how to sell yourself to others, and this can be learned through sales and marketing courses. Find your position in the market and make sure that you keep your personal brand fresh.

These platforms are ideal when looking for a job in content marketing or even freelance work as people will be able to learn more about you. Take advantage of the digital world and connect with influential leaders in the field or network with professionals who can guide you in your career.

5 ways to help grow your landscaping business

Landscaping is one of those industries that aren’t always stable. Whether you specialise in fencing, decking, artificial grass or the entire spectrum of garden layouts, here are a few tips that will help you grow your business and increase your leads no matter what your service offerings are:

  • Quote your jobs professionally

Because landscaping for homes or business parks is a luxury for most, people want to be able to ask for a quote and be given one up-front in return. Having a clear and concise quoting system will truly make your business seem more efficient. For example, if you’re pruning bushes or setting up a diamond mesh fence for a customer, invest in a good quality software package to assist with your quotes.

Estimations are no longer credited because they often go beyond the amount estimated, which is not acceptable for people who are committing to big, expensive jobs. If you start relying on a computer program to quickly spit out quotes that also include a breakdown of everything that is included, you will be able to make a good first impression and keep customers happy with your honest, efficient service.

Another perk of having the right cost estimations at hand is that you will eliminate any miscommunications through verbal agreements. Once you have something on paper, which is signed by both parties, you will always have something to backup your word.

  • Schedule your jobs properly

In such an on-and-off industry, it’s completely understandable that you’re not always going to have a busy schedule. However, this cannot rub off onto your customers. You need to schedule jobs accordingly and make sure that you have a set plan on when you’re going to be meeting with your customer for their diamond mesh job. It cannot be on your time, it also needs to suit them. In busier months, you’ll be thankful for this as things can quickly get out of hand. Track your business through CRM tools and applications which help you keep to schedules and plan your days accordingly.

  • Hire the correct staff for the job

From marketing your business to transporting the goods and processing your invoices, you cannot be one person who does everything. Depending on how busy you are, you will need to hire people who can take on these jobs without having to put extra pressure on yourself. Some of the most important landscaping roles include general assistants who can do maintenance and diamond mesh installations, licensed chemical applicators, a financial person who can put through jobs and quote on them, general office staff who can assist with any last minute admin issues and someone who can handle your digital marketing. Owning a business in a digital-driven world means that you will need to venture into this space. Someone will have to boost your business on social media and connect with customers on a daily basis.

Because this is such a yo-yo industry, it might be best to contract these positions or hire freelance individuals who can assist you when you need them most. The same goes for contractors and suppliers who supply your stock. You never want to put yourself in a difficult financial position, unless you have signed on retainer clients that are bringing in a constant flow of money.

  • Revamp or rebrand

On the back of the previous point, make sure your website is telling the brand story you want people to see and feel. Updating your website or rebranding your business’ look and feel can bring you great benefits. If you’re someone who still has the same, unchanged website since the early 2000s, it’s time to step things up a notch. Speak to a digital agency or someone with enough knowledge and industry know-how to help you create something that is mobile-friendly and optimised for search. By search, it means that the minute someone searches for landscaping companies near them, your company will show up.

  • Expand your expertise

Lastly, if you want to keep up with competitors around you, you’re going to need to think outside the box with your marketing abilities and start incorporating new ideas into your business offerings. For example, if you’re only offering diamond mesh fencing, perhaps you should consider pushing wooden fencing targets. The same goes for mowing lawns. With water conditions being uncertain, try looking at artificial grass. When you start to offer a variety of different services, it will set you apart from your competitors.

Marketing on a tight budget

Money in business is always tight. And even more so when starting a business. There are so many initial costs, renting costs, monthly expenses and business expenses. Now you want to add in a budget for marketing?

The marketing department can easily be overlooked and brushed off as not a priority cost to the company. But the truth is, if you want to bring business in and find more clients, marketing is essential to do that. And there are budget-friendly ways to efficiently market your business so, cut down on the take-away coffees if you need to, it’s time to go for marketing courses, create a budget and get your business out there.

Piggyback

So there are shortcuts for most things in life. And when it comes to marketing, there are some shortcuts here too. Piggyback marketing is when you use the success of another brand to boost your own marketing campaigns. But it obviously happens in a more professional way.

Find a company with complementary products to your own, and they’ll end up incurring most of the marketing costs on your behalf, while your product offers additional value to the complete package.

Target

You’ll save yourself a lot of time and money if you thoroughly define and research your target market and audience. Focus on the market of customers that are near to you, it’s more cost-effective and, especially if you’re just starting out, it makes the most sense. Why spend all your marketing efforts on an audience who are miles away from you and not aware enough of your brand to drive all the way just to buy your product?

Newsworthy

Get involved in innovative or community-change projects that will be worth mentioning in the media. Call in to local radio stations, make your way into the local newspaper and get people talking about you and your business. There are many simple ways to get free publicity for the company which won’t require a cash budget, just some time set aside to put in a bit of effort.

Referrals

Love the customers you already have. It can’t be over-stressed how important it is to keep current and returning customers, well, current and returning customers. As a small business with a tight budget for marketing, these people are what keep your business afloat. More than that, they have the ability to serve as marketers for your brand.

Ask your customers for referrals or testimonials that you can put up online or have them share within their own circles. Word-of-mouth marketing is a traditional marketing method, but should not be underestimated. Words have power, as do satisfied or dissatisfied customers.

Internet

The internet truly is a wonderful medium for marketing. Three channels that we’ll look into include email marketing, website and social media marketing.

There are free email marketing platforms, like MailChimp and Constant Contact, that allow you to send out mass mailers to a customer database you create. They are painless, have free templates and are a great way to communicate and share with your audience.

Another marketing method made possible by the Internet is creating a website. Again, there are free website platforms for you to make use of and having a website linked to everything you market will drive traffic to the site and, ultimately, to your store. Use your website to create tailored content that is brand specific to your business and promote your business message.

And then we have social media marketing. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and LinkedIn are top social media platforms to work with to run organic or paid marketing campaigns (paid campaigns that work according to your budget).

In the online world (and the real world for that matter), quality is king and you’ll be wasting your own time and money if you skimp on quality to save a few bucks. It’s a quick way to establish your reputation as cheap and not be taken seriously or as a professional business. You need to be aware of what you put out there and how people respond to it.

Measure

Whatever you do end up doing with your marketing department, be sure to test different methods, measure success and analyse pitfalls. There will always be room for improvement, whether it’s from marketing during a certain time of day or knowing when would be the perfect time to extend your range.

Measure the statistics, change it up, and measure it again. It’s an ongoing cycle and you will learn what works for your brand and what you should never do again. Hopefully, you’ll start seeing an increase in ROIs from your efforts and you’ll be able to implement new marketing strategies that you couldn’t previously afford.