Owner Of UK Small Business Shares The Secrets Of His Recent Success

Most people don’t like to admit this, but the last few years in business had been an uphill struggle for me, that was until I discovered some very simple secrets to successful marketing, which has helped me to increase my Turnover and Profits by 35% in the last 12 months.

I would like to share these simple secrets with other UK small business owners for free.

Having spent thousands of pounds over the last year obtaining the latest marketing information and 100’s of hours searching internet pages from around the world here are a couple of my TOP TIPS to Increase Your Turnover and Grow Your Profits.

LEAD GENERATION ADVERTISING

One of the best forms of advertising we have found is lead generation advertising.

What is lead generation advertising? – Instead of the traditional way of advertising, where you are trying to sell a specific product or service and the focus of the advert is just to get a sale, lead generation advertising is different. Rather than to sell your product or service, the purpose of lead generation advertising is to do just that – generate leads.

A lead is a sales term for someone who is a prospective buyer ie. someone who is interested in your product or service. It is a lot easier to generate leads than to get an immediate sale, which is increasingly difficult these days because everyone is under a constant barrage of advertising.

The best way of lead generation advertising is to offer anyone who maybe interested in your product or service something of interest to them for free in return for their contact details.

An example of a typical lead generation advert, that you may have seen, is from Centre Parcs who promote their resorts with TV advertising. The purpose of their adverts is to get you to request a free DVD. The reason for this is simply to get the contact details of anyone who is interested in a holiday ie. you have to give them your postal address for them to send it to you. They are not saying “book this holiday now”, they are saying “we’ve got something for you for free”. They are doing this because they know that after measuring and testing, proportionally they will get significantly more people to request the DVD and subsequently become customers than they would get people to book a holiday straight away.

Lead generation advertising is great because it gets people to express their interest at no risk to them. It is very unlikely your competitors are offering anything free to potential customers. If you do this it will give you a great advantage over your competition.

All you need to do is come up with something relevant to your business that your potential customers would find interesting. This could be a free report eg. if you are an electrician you could write a report – ’10 top tips to ensure your home is safe’ or if you are an estate agent ’10 top tips to make your home more saleable’ etc.

Other free items could be:-

  • a sample of your product
  • a free DVD or CD
  • a free survey or advice.

There are many things of interest you could give away for free and there are no rules to this, it just needs to be of interest to your potential customers.

Areas where lead generation advertising could be used are:-

  • Yellow Pages / Directories
  • Newspapers and Magazines
  • Websites
  • Email
  • Telephone
  • Radio or TV
  • Signage
  • Direct Mail

Give lead generation a try, I guarantee it will seriously increase the amount of potential new customers that contact your business.

WORD OF MOUTH RECOMMENDATIONS

One of the easiest ways of getting new customers into your business is through your existing happy customers by way of word of mouth recommendations/referrals. This is also one of the cheapest ways of marketing your business as it costs practically nothing.

Referrals tend to attract better customers who will stay with you for longer.

If you can build a referral system into your business this will help you to maximise the amount of referrals you receive.

Firstly you need to make your customers aware that word of mouth referral is how you grow your business. You can do this just by mentioning it in your frequent communications to your customers by email, mail out or simply in a telephone conversation, and you will find that your referrals will increase. Just by dropping in to your communications that you are busy with work from recommendations would educate your customers to the fact that it is important to recommend you to anyone they think could use your services.

The second, more direct and most effective way to seriously increase the amount of referrals you receive is simply to ask for them.

Speak to your customers – ask them “Are you happy with our work?”, say to them “I need your help, would you be willing to recommend us to anyone who could benefit from our services?” “Would you be willing to give them a leaflet or business card” or “Could you give me their contact details and I will contact them direct”. This could be done by phone, email or by direct mail – if you don’t ask you don’t get!

Be pro-active – If you are already receiving referrals without asking for them imagine how many you would receive if you asked all your existing customers!

So, before you spend thousands of pounds on wasted advertising – give something for free and go get some referrals!

I am convinced that if you implement these easy marketing tips you will see a considerable increase in new customers into your business and most important of all, an increase in your profits.

Don’t Operate Your Small Business Like It Is Small!

With 46% of small businesses failing within the first 5 years, they simply cannot afford to operate “small” any longer. Big businesses, aka Fortune 500 companies, understand the value of setting up a business with predictable, manageable systems and having the necessary framework in place to ensure profitable and productive results.

The 7 Big Business Tools:

There are 7 tools that all big businesses use within their organizations to ensure higher profits, higher quality, and increased customer satisfaction. Applying these tools to your small business will increase your chances of staying in business longer and give you more control of its operations, profitability, and get you out of a “small” business mentality.

1. Organizational Charts

Organizational charts outline the functions that are required for a business to run on a day-to-day basis, as well as the person responsible for that function. This tool determines the “Who” of the business. Organizational charts also drive accountability for each area of the business and outline clear responsibilities.

Big businesses have figured out that while it is important to have people lead each of the functions, it is even more important to make sure the skill level and competencies of that person match the role. As a majority of small businesses typically have a small staff, roles are often filled by whoever is available. This mistake could lead to inefficiency and prevent the business from operating at its peak level. Completing an organizational chart will help identify the gaps that exist in the skill set of current employees and should be developed even when there is only one person in the business. This activity will allow for future growth as the business is expanded to include more and more employees.

Remember: The more times one name appears in an organizational chart, the less productive and effective it will be!

2. Operations Manuals/ Procedures

Operations manuals and procedures document the tasks that are to be done within the business. Use this tool to capture the “What” of your business. This will serve as a step-by-step guide on how to complete each task and give clear expectations of how your business is to run. This documentation can also serve as a training aid for new employees, allowing them to ramp up faster, and reduce the amount of time you have to spend training. This tool will reduce the variability in output and quality that can occur when employees are allowed to do it their own way, in effect making it their business.

If there are no employees within your business, use procedures to help you become more efficient by performing tasks the same way, every time. You will also reduce wasted time remembering how you completed a task previously.

Be sure to review your operations manuals and procedures periodically for relevancy and areas of improvement. Have you found another way of doing things more efficiently? Does the task take a significant amount of time? Look for steps that may be duplicated, can be removed, or take a lot of time to complete. Conducting this review will lead to continuous improvement within your business.

3. Business Systems

Given the complexity in most big businesses, they always have systems in place to make sure their operations are set up to flow smoothly and reduce the chaos that can occur when there are so many functions and employees. Small businesses can take advantage of the benefits of having a systemized business as well. Systems are no more than how the tasks and functions interrelate to deliver a completed product or service. Having a system in place allows you to produce the same quality results every time, which in turn leads to increased customer satisfaction. You can describe this as the “How” of your business.

For businesses with only one person (the owner), set up business systems that automate some of the key tasks. This will give you more freedom to work your on business and strategize, rather than in your business doing a lot of the mundane tasks. You will find that you will have more time to grow your business when most tasks are systemized. Business systems produce a highly organized business and can also be used as an effective management tool for owners since feedback can be gained about your business performance when things don’t work as expected.

4. Process and System Audits

Auditing your processes and systems asks the question “Are we doing what we say we are going to do?”. When you have taken the time to document the key tasks in your business, it makes sense to periodically review whether or not the procedures are being followed. If they are not, then find out why. Auditing allows you to qualitatively measure how well your business is performing.

Take it one step further, and check for the effectiveness of the system, not only the compliance to it. An easy way to do this is to look at your customer satisfaction measures, the number of errors or defects you are getting, and how easy it is to follow your process. Often times, while all of the procedures are being followed, they may not be producing the results that are intended, so auditing can help you uncover these issues.

Use auditing within your organization to drive accountability, and make following the process a habit. Not only will you improve the efficiency of your business system, but you will continue to make your business better, meet your customer expectations, and consistently meet business goals.

5. Key Metrics and Reporting

Metrics are the key data that you need to make business decisions. As the old adage implies, “you cannot manage what does not get measured”. Your key metrics are a snapshot of how well you business is performing. Use these measures to quantitatively assess your output.

An easy way to determine what your key metrics should be is to ask: What do my customers want? What is important to them? The answers to these questions will be become the standards by which you measure your business. Other metrics can include weekly sales goals, revenue goals, or the number of calls made to prospective clients.

After key metrics are determined, institute a regular reporting of the results and look for trends upward or downward that need correction. Use dashboards that can be set up easily in an Excel spreadsheet program for quick access to the data and results. Also, be sure to tie the metrics to the functions in your business to increase accountability for the results.

In addition, consider using your metrics and reports as a communication tool to clients and prospective clients. Show how you differ from your competition, and what you can do for them relating to customer service levels, response time, or any other measure most important to that audience.

6. Six Sigma Process Improvement

A highly utilized efficiency tool used in Fortune 500 companies, Six Sigma is a data-driven methodology for reducing the number of defects within a business system. It will demonstrate quantitatively how well a process is performing and focus on variation (what the customer sees and feels) reduction.

Big businesses use Six Sigma to reduce lead time, excess labor costs, and processing times, saving them millions of dollars annually. Small businesses can also realize the benefits of applying this process improvement tool in the same way. Use of the tool increases customer and client loyalty as they know what they are going to get every time.

Find out more about Six Sigma and its benefits here at the iSixSigma website: http://www.isixsigma.com/.

7. Problem Solving Tools

There are different ways to address the issues that inevitably occur in businesses. Have a toolbox of problem-solving methodologies to solve the different problems that occur. This will allow for rational and data-driven decision-making, and help you get to the root cause of the issue. It is widely understood that if you solve the problem well, and eliminate the root cause of a problem, the problem will not re-occur.

Some commonly used problem-solving tools include:

  • Brainstorming
  • Root Cause Analysis
  • 5 Whys
  • Cause and Effect Analysis
  • Flow Charting
  • SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) Analysis

All businesses have problems, and that is actually a good thing! Look at problems as opportunities to improve, and as simply the difference between the current state and your business goals. Become familiar with the various tools available, and train your team to apply the tools as well. This will increase your confidence in the decisions being made in the business, and ultimately free a business owner from having to be involved in every business decision being made.

These 7 tools all work together to ensure a highly organized, productive business. Use these “Big Business” tools to increase productivity, profitability, and your chances for small business success. No longer think that your small business is not quite ready for this framework, and begin to operate your “small” business like it is “big”.

The Power of Small Business Classifieds

There are a great many potential buyers out there on the internet and many ways to advertise your small business in America. This article deals exclusively with internet classifieds.

Writing small classifieds is superb training for creating all types of advertising. The internet has developed since the home computer. You can now start a small business from home and produce terrific returns.

Small Business Classifieds, when used effectively, can be one of the quickest and inexpensive ways to increase sales and customers. One or two, well-written small classifieds can generate thousands in sales. Most people in America, don’t appreciate the pulling power of classified advertising. They think small classifieds are for selling unwanted items, or finding cheap bargains, not for developing a business. While it’s true small classifieds are a good way to sell unwanted items, or find a bargain, it is also true that small classifieds can be used to launch and operate a multi-million dollar corporate or small business.

Many a successful Corporate and Small Business depend totally on small classifieds to generate all their sales. The reason is simple. Once you have discovered how to harness the power of these small classifieds, you really don’t need to run expensive display ads.

Creating successful small classifieds is not a job for an amateur. You may become qualified to create killer classifieds, if you study and work hard at it. But without practice, you are unlikely to do a good job. And only good classifieds make money.

How to Write Successful Small Classified Ads

Your small classified ad must compete with other ads for the readers attention. Your small classifieds has no artwork or layout. The whole job of leading readers into and through your classified ad must be done by the first word or words in the advertisement. You must use exciting and interesting words to the potential buyers of your product. The lead words must go to the heart of the product.

Do not deceive people with your small classified ads. What you want are quality names of potential customers… not a large quantity of useless names. It would be easy to promise the stars in your small classified ads. But if it can’t deliver, you will not only lose the initial sale, you will have alienated your buyer.

Place your small classified ads under the most appropriate heading. If you were offering something appealing to health, the classifieds heading would be HEALTH. If you’re aiming at a specific type of sportsman such as cyclists, swimmers, or bodybuilders, you might find such a classifieds heading.

Small Classified advertising is a powerful tool. You must first become aware of the effective use of classifieds advertising as a business builder. Understand exactly what can be expected from small classifieds advertising and what cannot.

Stir Emotion with your Corporate, or Small Business Classifieds

Your product or service must contain the “emotional appeal” that is the key element of many display ads. This “emotional appeal” must have the power to attract the reader. After the lead words, the good small classified advertisement will contain whatever descriptive words are necessary to tell enough about your product to make your prospect want it and to convince him you are telling the truth and are reliable. Concentrate on benefits, not features. Include your contact details, so that you can follow up on leads from your small classifieds. If you are making direct sales, include the price. Study the small classified advertisements of your successful competitors.

Write the Best Small Classified Ad you can

Include all the classic advertising
words: “news”, “new”, “discovery”, “bargain”, “free”, “save”, etc. Hone and polish your small classified ad. Try to use the most powerful and evocative words. Make your small classifieds ad look exciting and big.

Mail Order Classifieds in America make Big Money !!!

Are you ready to make lots of money in your Small Business in America? Do you want to spend little time and money? If you are prepared to fulfill your dreams and realize your goals, mail order classifieds in America are your best bet to success. You have what it takes – right now. Small classifieds in America are the best dollar for-dollar return in advertising, and you can earn a high profit on your product investment.

People in America read small classifieds for a purpose. They aren’t interrupted – as in most advertising – and are specifically looking for products, services and information that appeal to them. Well-placed small classifieds in America will bring hundreds – thousands – of replies month after month, year after year.

Don’t forget the value of the names of your customers and enquirers. Satisfied customers can later be sold other products and each customer’s name can be very valuable.

Running Out of Leads? 3 Lead Generation Secrets For Your Small Business

Lead generation can be expensive and kill a small business marketing campaign before it even gets of the ground. You can tie up vital dollars in buying lead generating mailing list compiled together by outside companies. You can pay employees to collect data from each customer that comes thorough your doors. Then with all this data you still have to buy stamps to mail ads or post cards. And with most states enacting the no call list how good is the telephone data.

But don’t despair your marketing strategy is still safe and at hand, because of a little thing called the net. Here are three lead generation ideas for your business:

1) Ask and ye shall receive. Do you like T Shirts? Well I sell T Shirts! And yes it is that simple. The new wave of social networking has made it possible to build connections with customers and then create a forum to ask them what they like and don’t like. You can even go deeper as to ask them what they like and don’t like about your company, service and or product. It seems that we are more likely to speak our mind through email or social networking post then we are face to face. This type of arena is very helpful in marketing your business.

2) Yelp for help. Customer service sites like yelp are making it possible to ease drop on your customers. Although we are more likely to say things on the net we would not say face to face does not mean your customers will say it on your site. Companies like Yelp encourage customers to come to their websites and lay at the good, the bad and the ugly of other companies. You may find it worth while to visit these sites to find customers that are satisfied with your company and reward them or find customers unsatisfied and try to make them happy again. Trolling these sites should defiantly be part of your market strategy.

3) Follow the lead to a lead. Even the old school marketing strategy consists of networking. You got to know your client and you had them bring in a friend or two and as a reward they received a gift. You can use your social networking fan base in the same way. Take your list of fans and then look at those that are connected to them. We all put way to much personal information on our profiles. A quick glance of your fans friend’s profiles will generate leads that you can use in marketing your business.

These are more lead generation ideas for your business out there; these are just my three favorites. A successful marketing strategy can be fun as well as effective. I enjoy logging on each day to see how much my fan base has grown and then searching out other possible connections through my connections. The growth of the internet will only simplify small business marketing more and more.