3 Ways Small Businesses Can Avoid Cyber Security Breaches

United States corporations have experienced a slew of cyber security breaches in the last year. Home Depot, Target, Sony, and more have had company and personal data thrown out into the open by computer hackers. The costs in every case have been substantial. Fortune 500 Companies and the Enterprise, however, are not the only organizations who can be susceptible to these types of vicious cyber-attacks. Small businesses, too, must invest the necessary time and resources to protect their organizational data and retain their customers’ trust. Here are four things every small business can do to avoid cyber security breaches.

 

  1. Develop Strong and Secure Passwords

 

Even in 2015 it is not uncommon for small businesses and their employees to use passwords that are easy to remember, or that are replicated for numerous accounts, to protect sensitive organizational and customer data. However, business owners must consider the security ramifications this can have for their business. Skilled hackers have a much better chance of accessing vital information through a password that is replicated across multiple channels or accounts, and that are very easy to remember without a lot of thought. Instead, businesses should consider developing strong and secure passwords using character combinations that are unique to each site, file, or account that you log into. Lisa Grossman, an industry expert recommends that your passwords “contain at least one letter, including one capital letter and one lowercase letter, at least one number and at least one symbol and punctuation mark” to be sufficiently secure.

 

  1. Train Your Employees

 

One of the most important things that small businesses can do to prevent cyber security breaches is to effectively train their employees. Company executives must work with senior management to grant employees access to data on an “as needed” basis, to avoid secure and sensitive data from falling into mismanaged hands. Additionally, companies should keep records of who has access to what organizational information. Finally, management should teach employees how to use strong passwords, as well as avoid and report spammy emails.

 

  1. Stay Current on Security Best Practices

 

To ensure that security breaches are sufficiently avoided, small business owners and executives should do their best to keep themselves up-to-date on cyber security threats and prevention tactics. Reading regularly about security software updates, about new ways hackers are exploiting computing networks, and how best to implement company-wide trainings will be incredibly beneficial to your organization. Staying up to date on security best practices will ensure that your company continues to operate smoothly, and that you earn the trust that your customers deserve.

 

About the Author

Scott has more than 29 years of professional product marketing and executive management experience in the high-tech industry. For the past six years Scott has worked for ProPay helping small businesses grow their businesses through online payment acceptance.

 

Scott earned dual bachelor’s degrees from Brigham Young University in Marketing and Finance. He also earned an MBA from Colorado State University.

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Time Waster to Money Maker: How Small Businesses Can Eradicate Distractions

Starting out in business you are every job role to everyone – accountant, recruitment, marketing, administration, personal assistant, sales, CEO, CFO, HR, PR…and with very little chance of R+R! You live in your email inbox or on the phone – it’s simply what you have to do.

Then, as a small business grows so does the team – and yet somehow you become even busier. I’m fortunate to work with a few companies who are at this stage, all of whom are tech savvy and a few of which are taking some rather extreme measures to save them spending all their time buried in their inbox or on the phone…

Research Behind the Reasoning

Researchers from the University of California found that employees get just eleven minutes of work time between each distraction, after which it can take up to twenty-five minutes to get back to the original task at hand. This suggests a huge loss in productivity and signals the need to erase at least some of the daily distractions employees face.

But, But But…

BUT… you’re running a business, how can you do so without being on the phone or answering emails? As mentioned above, I’ve clocked on to some excellent ways in which some SMEs have saved time and maximised productivity.

Option 1: Set an Out of Office

Tim Ferris, author of best-selling business book The 4-Hour Work Week, suggests using an out-of-office style email which states that emails will only be checked at 11am and 4pm each day. With so much time wasted scouring through inboxes and replying to each and every tiny request as it comes in, enforcing just two inbox checks per day can encourage clients or employees to:

a) Find their own solutions
b) Wait
c) Pick up the phone if it’s urgent and sort out the issue far more quickly

One hesitancy might be if customers get angry at this arrangement, however evidence largely shows they are not likely to be offended by the choice – indeed, they know exactly when their email is going to be seen which is more certain than the alternative. A client of mine did this for a boutique hotel, and didn’t get a murmur of complaint – customers and employees alike had no issue and it’s still in place today.

Option 2: Remove Your Phone Number Entirely

Take a look at this contact page – notice anything interesting? No phone number! They have removed the telephone number from their website entirely and instead, everything is done by email and online chat. This company is an eCommerce brand and very technical – as such this works both for their productivity as well as their customers; their reviews are positive and 40% of their customers use their online chat facility before they buy.

Through live chat, email or via their ticketing system, customers can get in touch in numerous ways and don’t seem to miss the option of a phone number. For this to work however, with 40% of customers wanting to discuss their potential purchase online, having competent technical sales staff is vital.

Option 3: Hire Out

It’s increasingly common to hire an actor to make those dreaded sales or lead follow-up calls that eat up an afternoon, and it doesn’t cost the earth – some actors charge as little as £10 an hour. Additionally, Virtual Assistants (VAs) are becoming more and more popular due to their ease of use and the fact that you don’t need to sacrifice any professionalism to outsource your admin and sales activities. For example, Internet companies such as Voipfone charge just £2 per month for a professional phone number that feeds direct to your mobile – a small price to pay to communicate a professional veneer.

Personally, I find speaking on the phone makes you a human to your client, and even better than that, is seeing them face-to-face. However, it is a hectic and busy world out there and having less stressful alternatives – be this in the form of outsourcing, limiting your time online or limiting your time on the phone – can help boost your morale and that of your team. Startups and SMEs are the most frequent new type of business in the UK and small teams are expected to make big waves if they are to compete with larger and more established ones.

With so much to think about when growing a team, the smaller administration matters such as responding to constant emails and being distracted by phone calls can cause a great deal of stress and detract from more important aspects of business growth. The three aforementioned options all approach these issues in different ways and what works for one company may not work for another. I have seen several companies reach the same end with varying techniques, but the message remains the same: creating new paths for the distractions gives way to the more important things, and allows you and your small business to grow and succeed without too much stress.

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Help Available for Small Microbusinesses With InterTradeIreland’s ‘Elevate’ Programme

Exporting can seem like such a large step to the smallest businesses on our island, however, it can be less daunting with the help of InterTradeIreland’s ‘Elevate’ programme which supports micro-businesses as they make this move.  The sales development programme assists small businesses, in particular those with fewer than ten employees, to develop sales opportunities through first time cross-border exports.

 

Elevate

The Elevate programme provides sector-specific sales support of up to £5,000 across a range of sectors including food and beverage, ICT and Engineering as well as many others.  The programme has already helped 245 small businesses and since 2013, those businesses which have been surveyed following completion of Elevate have generated new cross-border sales of approximately £2.6million.  In addition, over the same period, 31 new jobs were created and 52 were sustained.

 

Specialist support

Small businesses participating in Elevate can choose from a list of more than 100 experienced industry specialists.  These experts can then help them to identify sales leads in the cross-border market, negotiate deals, share relevant market insights, identify market research requirements and offer advice on the development of marketing materials.

 

Programme success for Antrim company

A shining example of what can be achieved through the Elevate programme, is the achievements of Advance Machinery Installation Ltd, a micro-business from Antrim. The company specialises in the relocation of single pieces of machinery right through to complete factory moves and re-organisations.  All of Advance’s clients are large manufacturers and customers in Northern Ireland include Bombardier, Diageo, Ryobi, Coca-Cola and Kerry Group.

 

Before the Elevate programme, Advance carried out around 90% of its business in Northern Ireland with the remaining 10% in the Republic of Ireland.  Alistair Carson, director, believed that the cross-border market could offer new leads but he didn’t have the time or resources to investigate properly.

 

Potential cross-border leads

In the past the firm had approached the cross-border market periodically and had never proactively searched for new business. They knew that there could potentially be leads but with a small team, the micro-business was busy focusing on the clients they already had.

 

Results of the Elevate Programme

Advance Machinery was delighted with the Elevate programme and said that what they had achieved within six months of taking part would have taken them years!  Where the firm had previously relied on the phone ringing to get jobs in the south, the Elevate consultant had turned this approach on its head and now the business was actively pursuing business.

 

This targeted approach has been very beneficial to Advance Machinery and it has highlighted that there really are opportunities out there if you go looking for them.

 

Since taking part in the Elevate programme, the firm has increased the level of business they do in the Republic of Ireland from 10% to 30%.  They have secured orders in Ireland in the region of £240,000 through Elevate, including major contracts with Sonoco, Manninckrodt and Norland with several other leads to take forward.

 

Support necessary to expedite success

As small companies make up 96% of businesses on the island it is essential that they receive the support they require to expand and flourish.

 

The cross-border market is often an underutilised but logical first step to wider export markets, giving experience of varied legislation and working with a different currency but has the comfort of being more accessible. Once mastered this makes looking at European markets a more realistic prospect.  The Elevate programme was designed with simplicity in mind to remove as much bureaucracy as possible.  As such, a relatively simple and straight-forward application process was devised and put in place. I would urge all interested small businesses with less than £1million turnover to register their interest and apply to Elevate today.

 

Like to know more?

For more information on the Elevate programme, including full eligibility criteria visit www.intertradeireland.com/elevate.

Making the right move: Thomas Hunter McGowan, chief executive of InterTradeIreland joins Alistair Carson, director of Antrim-based Advance Machinery Installation, to encourage all micro-businesses across the province to take advantage of the Elevate programme which is now open for applications. Advance, which specialises in the relocation of machinery, believes the fully-funded initiative by InterTradeIreland, enabled them to grow their cross-border business from 10%-30% in around six months and is urging other small firms to benefit from this growth opportunity. For more information, visit www.intertradeireland.com/elevate.

Making the right move: Thomas Hunter McGowan, chief executive of InterTradeIreland joins Alistair Carson, director of Antrim-based Advance Machinery Installation, to encourage all micro-businesses across the province to take advantage of the Elevate programme which is now open for applications.

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Startup Strategy: How to Cultivate Customer Loyalty

Customer acquisition and retention are probably the top focus for any startup. Without word-of-mouth referrals, it’s very difficult for a startup to stay in business long. Fortunately or unfortunately, the Internet and the prevalence of social media have made customer impressions rapidly publicized the instant a customer sends out feedback. This means that startup ventures need to be more careful than ever to cultivate customer loyalty.

The following are some useful techniques for establishing customer loyalty amid the immediacy of today’s online communication channels:

Meet Customer Needs

First and foremost, it’s necessary to provide customers with what they need to meet their needs. Don’t simply provide customers and potential customers with the information you have; instead, seek out the information they need. This should be part of your content marketing campaign. Every interaction with a customer counts. If an interaction takes a turn for the worst, you probably will never have the opportunity to get that customer back again, so act accordingly.

Strive for Absolute Transparency

Customers value honesty. This is especially important to customers when they are dealing with a new company abut which they may have some uncertainties. It’s easy to spread false information on the Internet, but it never pays off. Honesty should be the most important focus on any interaction with a new customer for a startup company.

Go the Extra Mile

What’s going to put you ahead of your competition? Sometimes, it may seem easier to just meet the bare minimum when it comes to your interactions with potential customers. It will seem easier to your competitors, too. A machinist from an online machine shop says it pays, in the long run, to make the extra effort when meeting your customers’ needs. You’ll be guaranteed success if you can provide customers with an offer that can’t be beat. Such an offer might cost you extra effort at the outset, but it will pay off as word gets around.

Establish Authority

When you make a purchase on a particular item or service, you want to know that you’re dealing with an authority on the subject. Likewise, customers want to do business with the authority in your industry. This means that you need to make yourself an authority to enjoy the success that you seek.

A loyal customer is thousands of times more valuable to your startup company than a disgruntled customer. Focus on cultivating customer loyalty and you will grow and prosper with time.

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How Can Small Business Owners Save Money on Foreign Exchange?

If you own a small business then you are aware of the huge outflow of foreign exchange that happens when you have to pay your overseas suppliers or staff. Importing machinery or paying for any specialized task that doesn’t happen in your country, requires a lot of foreign exchange and it is common for businesses to lose a huge amount of money every year. As it is important to curb your spending in order to maximize your profits, it becomes essential that small business follow some steps to save their capital. Listed below are a few interesting tips that might help.

1. Market Research and Analysis

The first step to each plan usually involves a thorough research and analysis of a subject or situation. It works pretty much the same way for the small businesses who want to enter the highly volatile foreign exchange market. It is essential for the owners to carefully examine the market and identify the loopholes and red flags. Whatever the type of business you own, forex trading is a complicated art and it would be unwise to jump in the market while unprepared.

2. Watch Out for the Political and Economic Changes

The prices of the currencies are regulated by the network known as the ‘Interbank’ and are highly influenced by the political and economic conditions of a particular country. It is highly important for small business owners to keep an eye on the changing political and economic conditions of a country. This will help you get an idea if the prices of a particular currency would rise or fall, which can save you a lot of foreign exchange in a year.

3. Online Transfers

The best and the easiest way to manage your payments, is by using online transfers. It not only makes payments and funds transfer more convenient but is also more cost-effective. International transfers done via banks can increase the payment costs as banks charge a fee for each transaction. Overseas vendors can be paid with ease using online transfers minus the extra fees and taxes levied with bank transfers. Online transfers are also safer and hassle free with zero possibility of the payment being lost or misplaced.

4. Getting Alerts From The Brokers

If you work with a reputed and experienced broker, you can get various types of useful information that will help you save your foreign exchange. Brokers have an all round knowledge about the market as they keep a close eye on the rise and fall of currencies. A broker can be directed to provide you with special alerts in case a currency’s price is expected to rise or fall in the future. This means if a particular currency’s prices are expected to fall, you can plan and invest when the prices are low and sell them when the prices rise. An interpersonal relationship with a broker is essential for success in forex.

5. The Importance of Stop Losses

Of all the risk management tools in Forex, the Stop loss order is one of the most useful especially when it comes to small business owners. All you have to do is direct your broker to sell the currency if the price goes below a certain point. This not only limits the amount of risk your capital is being exposed to but also keeps you from facing huge losses. As forex is a volatile market and losses are inevitable, the key strategy of most traders is to limit their losses as much as possible. You can know more about risk management on websites such as forexstars.com and others.

6. Transparent Pricing is Essential

To make sure that you do not lose any extra money during forex trading it is important that the brokers offer prices, which do not change without any notice. With more and more people and businesses dealing in forex, the brokers also offer special prices to attract more and more investment from small businesses. Nevertheless, it must also be noted that the brokers and banks can charge some extra hidden fees. It is highly important that the rates offered to you are the same or lower than the interbank rates.

While individual traders form a fairly small percentage of the total players in the forex market, more and more small businesses are jumping in the world of forex trade. As budgets are always tight, it is essential that the businesses follow the above tips to save the foreign exchange as much as possible.

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Ulster Bank Fraud Prevention Briefings – Further Dates Added Due to Popular Demand

Ulster Bank will be on the road during May, June and July with FREE seminars on Fraud Prevention. Ever changing technology means that fraudsters are always finding new ways to exploit your business. Everyone is a potential target! Protect your interests by understanding the threats and taking measures to counteract them. Ulster Bank is committed to helping you protect your money.

Due to popular demand, further dates have now been added!!

Dates and times of the upcoming seminars are detailed below:

28/05/2015 – 10.00 – The Crowne Plaza, Dundalk
08/06/2015 – 10.00 – The Savoy Hotel, Limerick
09/06/2015 – 10.00 – The Kilkenny Ormonde Hotel, Kilkenny
18/06/2015 – 10.00 – Ulster Bank Group Centre, Donegall Square East, Belfast
19/06/2015 – 09.30 – The Silver Birches Hotel, Omagh
30/06/2015 – 10.00 – The Glasshouse Hotel, Sligo
01/07/2015 – 10.00 – The Hotel Kilmore, Cavan
15/07/2015 – 08.00 – Ulster Bank Group Centre, Georges Quay, Dublin 2

Engage with experts

The seminar will give you the opportunity to gain information from the experts about a range of fraud related topics such as online fraud, cheque fraud, invoice fraud and insider fraud.

Places are limited

Places are limited and will book quickly. Please nominate an attendee for your business and secure a place at your preferred location by emailing: UlsterBankFraudAwarenessSessions@rbs.com

We look forward to seeing you there!

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Positive but Cautious Outlook Shown by Firms in Q1

The latest InterTradeIreland Business Monitor (Quarter one, Jan – Mar 2015) has highlighted a positive but cautious start to the year for businesses across the island. The report, which reflects the views of more than 750 businesses across the island, has revealed that almost nine out of ten firms are either growing or stable, with the number of companies expanding rising from 37 per cent in the final quarter of last year to 43 per cent in Q1 2015.

Investment a key goal
Although a third of firms are more cautious about investment than they were a year ago, it is encouraging to note that more than two thirds plan to invest in their businesses over the next year, particularly in the areas of IT and Marketing, with one in five companies planning to increase employment.
Q1’s report also highlighted the performance of those involved in cross-border trade and found that these businesses were significantly more likely to grow and twice as likely to be taking on staff over the next 12 months, further backed up by the statistics that 11% of firms took on staff in the Q1 period.

Businesses in Ireland continue to perform better than their counterparts in Northern Ireland with 47 per cent growing in the south compared to 34 per cent in NI. Seven per cent more southern firms also reported an increase in sales in Q1 than those in NI.

Construction the exception to the rule
Most sectors experienced stability rather than growth in the first quarter of 2015. Encouragingly though, after a particularly challenging quarter at the end of 2014, the construction sector bucked this trend and picked up significantly with 59 per cent of firms in the industry expanding at the start of 2015. Leisure, hotels and catering businesses struggled most in Q1 with only 33 per cent experiencing growth and more than one in five (22%) businesses in the sector contracting or surviving at all costs.

Decline in sales performance
Although 56% of firms involved in cross-border sales experienced growth compared to 40% of those with no export sales, sales performance on a whole has declined for the second quarter in a row with businesses reporting an increase dropping from 39 per cent in Q4 2014 to 32 per cent in Q1.

Positive outlook
Results in this Business Monitor reinforce the generally positive pictures that have been apparent since the middle of 2013 with 88% of firms saying they are either stable or growing. Of course, the fact that 45% are stable with just 43% growing, explains why the much-vaunted ‘feel good’ factor seems hidden.

Sales performance of exporters continued to outstrip non-exporters and remained very strong. However, it appears in the short-term, that the current environment for those selling across the border has been more challenging. This quarter, the report showed that there were more firms experiencing a decrease in cross-border sales in the last 12 months than those reporting an increase.

Exporting support is available
The volatility and fluctuation of the exchange rate may be having a temporary effect on cross-border trade. While current exchange rates are a significant issue for only a small number of firms, this is an issue which has been growing in importance, rising from two per cent at the start of 2014 to six per cent this quarter.

Despite short-term challenges, markets across the border should not be overlooked. It was worrying to find that more than half (56 per cent) of businesses surveyed don’t export, despite having suitable products and services. The reasons they gave included ‘being too far away’ and a ‘lack of management time and resource’ but we would urge firms to consider investigating their options. The first step would be to contact business advisory bodies, such as InterTradeIreland, where there are a range of programmes which can support firms in their exporting journey.

Overheads challenging
Figures also indicated that the cost of business overheads, including wages, is now the leading challenge for firms. The significance of energy costs has dropped considerably since the start of last year, falling from 30 per cent of firms recognising them as a key challenge in Q1 2014 to eight per cent at the start of this year, perhaps reflecting the reduction in fuel prices and the importance of transport costs to many sectors.

Business Monitor Survey
InterTradeIreland’s quarterly Business Monitor survey is the largest and most comprehensive business survey on the island and is seen to be the ‘voice of local businesses’.

Further information
For more information on InterTradeIreland and the business support programmes available, please visit www.intertradeireland.com . A copy of the 2015 Q1 InterTradeIreland Business Monitor Executive Summary can be viewed at: http://www.intertradeireland.com/researchandpublications/business_monitor/

The post Positive but Cautious Outlook Shown by Firms in Q1 appeared first on Small Business Can.

Positive but Cautious Outlook Shown by Firms in Q1

The latest InterTradeIreland Business Monitor (Quarter one, Jan – Mar 2015) has highlighted a positive but cautious start to the year for businesses across the island. The report, which reflects the views of more than 750 businesses across the island, has revealed that almost nine out of ten firms are either growing or stable, with the number of companies expanding rising from 37 per cent in the final quarter of last year to 43 per cent in Q1 2015.

Investment a key goal
Although a third of firms are more cautious about investment than they were a year ago, it is encouraging to note that more than two thirds plan to invest in their businesses over the next year, particularly in the areas of IT and Marketing, with one in five companies planning to increase employment.
Q1’s report also highlighted the performance of those involved in cross-border trade and found that these businesses were significantly more likely to grow and twice as likely to be taking on staff over the next 12 months, further backed up by the statistics that 11% of firms took on staff in the Q1 period.

Businesses in Ireland continue to perform better than their counterparts in Northern Ireland with 47 per cent growing in the south compared to 34 per cent in NI. Seven per cent more southern firms also reported an increase in sales in Q1 than those in NI.

Construction the exception to the rule
Most sectors experienced stability rather than growth in the first quarter of 2015. Encouragingly though, after a particularly challenging quarter at the end of 2014, the construction sector bucked this trend and picked up significantly with 59 per cent of firms in the industry expanding at the start of 2015. Leisure, hotels and catering businesses struggled most in Q1 with only 33 per cent experiencing growth and more than one in five (22%) businesses in the sector contracting or surviving at all costs.

Decline in sales performance
Although 56% of firms involved in cross-border sales experienced growth compared to 40% of those with no export sales, sales performance on a whole has declined for the second quarter in a row with businesses reporting an increase dropping from 39 per cent in Q4 2014 to 32 per cent in Q1.

Positive outlook
Results in this Business Monitor reinforce the generally positive pictures that have been apparent since the middle of 2013 with 88% of firms saying they are either stable or growing. Of course, the fact that 45% are stable with just 43% growing, explains why the much-vaunted ‘feel good’ factor seems hidden.

Sales performance of exporters continued to outstrip non-exporters and remained very strong. However, it appears in the short-term, that the current environment for those selling across the border has been more challenging. This quarter, the report showed that there were more firms experiencing a decrease in cross-border sales in the last 12 months than those reporting an increase.

Exporting support is available
The volatility and fluctuation of the exchange rate may be having a temporary effect on cross-border trade. While current exchange rates are a significant issue for only a small number of firms, this is an issue which has been growing in importance, rising from two per cent at the start of 2014 to six per cent this quarter.

Despite short-term challenges, markets across the border should not be overlooked. It was worrying to find that more than half (56 per cent) of businesses surveyed don’t export, despite having suitable products and services. The reasons they gave included ‘being too far away’ and a ‘lack of management time and resource’ but we would urge firms to consider investigating their options. The first step would be to contact business advisory bodies, such as InterTradeIreland, where there are a range of programmes which can support firms in their exporting journey.

Overheads challenging
Figures also indicated that the cost of business overheads, including wages, is now the leading challenge for firms. The significance of energy costs has dropped considerably since the start of last year, falling from 30 per cent of firms recognising them as a key challenge in Q1 2014 to eight per cent at the start of this year, perhaps reflecting the reduction in fuel prices and the importance of transport costs to many sectors.

Business Monitor Survey
InterTradeIreland’s quarterly Business Monitor survey is the largest and most comprehensive business survey on the island and is seen to be the ‘voice of local businesses’.

Further information
For more information on InterTradeIreland and the business support programmes available, please visit www.intertradeireland.com . A copy of the 2015 Q1 InterTradeIreland Business Monitor Executive Summary can be viewed at: http://www.intertradeireland.com/researchandpublications/business_monitor/

The post Positive but Cautious Outlook Shown by Firms in Q1 appeared first on Small Business Can.

Influencer Marketing to Spread your Brand’s Identity

Our product is unique, Our service is innovative! Customer’s inboxes are getting flooded with these marketing pitches. But how many of them actually get influenced by these words? May be a few of them… but what about the rest of the customers? As they receive impressive marketing messages from so many different brands, customers become sceptical about which brands to belief and choose and which one to avoid.

Marketers often do not understand how they can get their messages heard and absorbed. However, the key is identifying and empowering a brand’s most influential fans and followers to their network. Who are these influencers? They are individuals who have a sway over your audience, who have large followings in certain niches and affect opinions. The process eventually increases the visibility of your products and services. So how do you market them?

Put away the sales pitch. Your aim should be to bring people into your’ Marketing Sphere of Influence’. And once they arrive, it is your responsibility to deliver, engage and build the bond with your customers. The process is comprehensive but not difficult to achieve…

Search your Influencers from your Industry

With social media marketing being the buzz of the world, it is the easiest way to see who is talking about your brand. As you follow the influential, check out what and who they follow. You must recognize that influence is contextual. Your influencers entirely depend on what you’re trying to accomplish.  Participate in regular conversations relevant to your industry. Besides, some of the online tools also help you to see who’s sharing your content and how influential they are.

Do not Confuse Influencers with Reach

Some people assume that to find the influencers, they have to reach as many people as possible. However, influence marketing is all about reaching the right set of people. The motive should be to make the right people identify your brand. Create content that is specifically designed to attract the attention of the influencers. Try to follow the principle of reciprocity that says people are more likely to take interests in your stuff only when you take an interest in their stuff first.

Target and own your Niche

If you want to become the authority in your industry, you need to know your niche well. Do not jump into selling your products first. Read their content, articles, and discussion threads that you may come across. Do not overlook the loyal blog readers who subscribe to your newsletter, give interesting comments on your posts, or retweet your tweet. Focus on the primary influencers who get you traction. Own them by commenting on their blog posts, reply back on Twitter, respond to their Facebook status updates   and send them emails pitching your products and ideas. Do not underestimate the power of communities.

The more you interact with your influencers, the better you’re amplifying your brand message.

Sell through your Content

Look at the influencers as your potential consumers of your products. The product, in this situation is your content. You can probably apply AIDA’s progressive techniques in sales which incorporates four major factors to consider

Attention: Gain your influencer’s attention with a brief intriguing subject line

Interest: Draw their interests through genuine data and exclusive videos

Desire: Elicit a desire with emotional marketing (content) that most closely reaffirms with your products and audiences’ beliefs

Action: Ensure that your pitch includes the required call-to-actions.

Engage your Influencers

Engage people in your marketing space. Some of the best ways to drive engagement are through forums, groups, or communities. Google+, LinkedIn or Facebook will help you have the pipeline straight to the right people.  But how do you choose among the bazillion groups on LinkedIn or Google+? Make sure that your group

  • Are fit for your market
  • Are actively involved in
  • Have active and engaged members

However, be ready to manage the traffic before you start growing your marketing sphere.

Show some Love and not Business

Leveraging your influencers begins with building a strong bond with your customers. Investing in a superior customer experience and checking how frequently your customers speak about your brand on social media should be a top priority. If required interact directly with the customers, provide loyalty programs, promotional discounts, or create customer advisory board. This gives enough opportunities to encourage positive, organic and authentic sharing about your brand.

Attributes that make the Influencers

Echo: An influencer should be able to mobilize opinion and create reactions when they converse about a topic

Exposure: The size of the influencer’s community in a specific area is an important attribute to consider

Share of voice: influencer’s degree of participation on a given subject matter is a significant factor to regard.

You’ve Enough Reasons to Pay More Attention to the Influencers

Influence Marketing for Better Targeting

Word-of-mouth is the best searchlight that goes through every social network to find the most interested consumers.

Advanced SEO with Influence Marketing

By interacting with Facebook users and influencing their networks, marketers are able to reach a new group full of qualified prospective.

Influencers Affect Decision Making Process

Preferences or decisions coming from friends, families and social media networks always have a strong impact on the buyer’s purchase decisions.

Companies who understand the value of influence marketing stand to gain if they plan and execute well.

 

 

The post Influencer Marketing to Spread your Brand’s Identity appeared first on Small Business Can.

Influencer Marketing to Spread your Brand’s Identity

Our product is unique, Our service is innovative! Customer’s inboxes are getting flooded with these marketing pitches. But how many of them actually get influenced by these words? May be a few of them… but what about the rest of the customers? As they receive impressive marketing messages from so many different brands, customers become sceptical about which brands to belief and choose and which one to avoid.

Marketers often do not understand how they can get their messages heard and absorbed. However, the key is identifying and empowering a brand’s most influential fans and followers to their network. Who are these influencers? They are individuals who have a sway over your audience, who have large followings in certain niches and affect opinions. The process eventually increases the visibility of your products and services. So how do you market them?

Put away the sales pitch. Your aim should be to bring people into your’ Marketing Sphere of Influence’. And once they arrive, it is your responsibility to deliver, engage and build the bond with your customers. The process is comprehensive but not difficult to achieve…

Search your Influencers from your Industry

With social media marketing being the buzz of the world, it is the easiest way to see who is talking about your brand. As you follow the influential, check out what and who they follow. You must recognize that influence is contextual. Your influencers entirely depend on what you’re trying to accomplish.  Participate in regular conversations relevant to your industry. Besides, some of the online tools also help you to see who’s sharing your content and how influential they are.

Do not Confuse Influencers with Reach

Some people assume that to find the influencers, they have to reach as many people as possible. However, influence marketing is all about reaching the right set of people. The motive should be to make the right people identify your brand. Create content that is specifically designed to attract the attention of the influencers. Try to follow the principle of reciprocity that says people are more likely to take interests in your stuff only when you take an interest in their stuff first.

Target and own your Niche

If you want to become the authority in your industry, you need to know your niche well. Do not jump into selling your products first. Read their content, articles, and discussion threads that you may come across. Do not overlook the loyal blog readers who subscribe to your newsletter, give interesting comments on your posts, or retweet your tweet. Focus on the primary influencers who get you traction. Own them by commenting on their blog posts, reply back on Twitter, respond to their Facebook status updates   and send them emails pitching your products and ideas. Do not underestimate the power of communities.

The more you interact with your influencers, the better you’re amplifying your brand message.

Sell through your Content

Look at the influencers as your potential consumers of your products. The product, in this situation is your content. You can probably apply AIDA’s progressive techniques in sales which incorporates four major factors to consider

Attention: Gain your influencer’s attention with a brief intriguing subject line

Interest: Draw their interests through genuine data and exclusive videos

Desire: Elicit a desire with emotional marketing (content) that most closely reaffirms with your products and audiences’ beliefs

Action: Ensure that your pitch includes the required call-to-actions.

Engage your Influencers

Engage people in your marketing space. Some of the best ways to drive engagement are through forums, groups, or communities. Google+, LinkedIn or Facebook will help you have the pipeline straight to the right people.  But how do you choose among the bazillion groups on LinkedIn or Google+? Make sure that your group

  • Are fit for your market
  • Are actively involved in
  • Have active and engaged members

However, be ready to manage the traffic before you start growing your marketing sphere.

Show some Love and not Business

Leveraging your influencers begins with building a strong bond with your customers. Investing in a superior customer experience and checking how frequently your customers speak about your brand on social media should be a top priority. If required interact directly with the customers, provide loyalty programs, promotional discounts, or create customer advisory board. This gives enough opportunities to encourage positive, organic and authentic sharing about your brand.

Attributes that make the Influencers

Echo: An influencer should be able to mobilize opinion and create reactions when they converse about a topic

Exposure: The size of the influencer’s community in a specific area is an important attribute to consider

Share of voice: influencer’s degree of participation on a given subject matter is a significant factor to regard.

You’ve Enough Reasons to Pay More Attention to the Influencers

Influence Marketing for Better Targeting

Word-of-mouth is the best searchlight that goes through every social network to find the most interested consumers.

Advanced SEO with Influence Marketing

By interacting with Facebook users and influencing their networks, marketers are able to reach a new group full of qualified prospective.

Influencers Affect Decision Making Process

Preferences or decisions coming from friends, families and social media networks always have a strong impact on the buyer’s purchase decisions.

Companies who understand the value of influence marketing stand to gain if they plan and execute well.

 

 

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