How to Make Your Small Business More Innovative

Can You Spark Small Business Innovation? Don’t despair because you assume that great innovators are only born and not made. At the same time, prioritizing innovative solutions to your customer’s problems or your own company’s clunky business processes might be the only way that you can truly guarantee success in a competitive business market. One study by Accenture polled business executives from across the country and found that 90 percent of them believed that their companies needed to innovate more in order to keep growing and succeeding over the next few decades. A Step-By-Step Guide to Sparking Innovative Business Ideas It’s tough for you to come up with new ideas sometimes when you’re too close to the problem. That’s why

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Why Your Small Business Needs (and Can Afford) a Mobile App for Marketing

Your Business Isn’t Too Small to Profit From Mobile App Marketing If you run a local, brick-and-mortar business or a one-person consulting firm, you can probably use a mobile app to help attract prospects, encourage customer loyalty, and build your brand. Internet access has already reached the tipping point past where more people connect online via their mobile devices than they do on their traditional computers. While your company has probably already invested in a mobile-friendly version of your website, a browser-based site can’t do as many things for you as a true mobile application can. Why Does a Small Business Require a Mobile Application? Gallup ran a survey to find out how people used their cell phones. Seventy-five percent

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Retaining Employees in the Millennial Age

Why Do Companies Need to Learn to Retain Millennial Employees? At this point, the number of Millennial workers has surpassed the number of Baby Boomers and Gen Xers. This younger generation has also become notable for their willingness to seek new opportunities if they don’t feel satisfied with the experience that their current employer offers. However, the productivity and profitability of many companies hinges upon keeping turnover as low as possible. Retaining the Millennials has become a priority, and this means that companies need to learn what the younger folks want out of their jobs. Managers and human resource departments may need to dispel some myths about Millennial employees in order to keep turnover low. Just What Do Millennials Want

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Online Customer Retention for Local By-Appointment Businesses

CrowdfundingDo you run a dental office, beauty salon, massage therapy clinic, or similar business where you and your employees see customers by appointment? If so, you can still use online direct response marketing tactics to help retain customers. Of course, this works best if you employ both online and offline customer retention tactics to help improve loyalty to your service.

Why Invest in Customer Retention?

Different studies have different results, but HBR says that it costs businesses anywhere from five to twenty-five percent more to sell to a new customer than it does to an existing one. If you want to enjoy the highest returns on your marketing budget, you might focus on your customer retention plan.

Create a Simple Customer Retention Marketing Plan

Start charting out the path a typical buyer takes to:

  1. Find your service online
  2. Make an appointment
  3. Keep the appointment and pay for services
  4.  Make the next appointment

If you’d like, you can begin by simply drawing four boxes on a sheet of paper. An arrow should lead from each box to the next.The fourth box’s arrow should loop back to the third box. At this point, you can figure out what you’re doing now and then consider ways to improve your results.

Are Customers Finding Your Local, By-Appointment Business on the Internet?

Where do consumers look when they need to find a nearby beauty salon or local dentist? You can bet that they pick up their laptop or cell phone to search online. Your website, social networking pages, and listing in local business directories can make sure that you have an internet presence where they are looking.

If customers find you online, they probably won’t be adverse to signing up to schedule an appointment online either. You can find very affordable scheduling software that works with traditional computers and mobile devices. This software will help you save time because you let your customers view open appointments and select their own. You can even use reminder features that will automate the process of sending out emails or text messages the day before.

Do Your Customers Come Back?

If clients have a great customer experience, they should return to you. If you aren’t keeping a lot of your customers loyal, you may be able to improve their experience with your business. Naturally, you need to make sure your online scheduling systems works for you, and you work with it!

Beyond that, you should certainly work to own the experience that customers have when they visit your clinic or salon. This is, after all, your primary business. This is also your best chance to use relationship marketing to improve customer retention.

You’re probably good at what you do. However, you might consider adding in a few extras that can help customers remember you well after their appointment has ended.

For instance:

  • Make sure that people get greeted and made comfortable promptly after they walk in the door.
  • Make sure that you understand what they hope to gain from their visit.
  • As they leave, encourage them to set their next appointment.
  • Send followup messages via email or text to ask customers for feedback about their appointment and to remind them how to schedule their next one.
  • Consider offering a promotional discount or other bonus if they book an appointment or complete your service. In the best case, this should be something they need to visit your location to take advantage of.

Your Investment in Customer Retention Can Increase Profits

It’s almost always easier and cheaper to keep a customer than to find a new one. If you can invest in customer retention, you may not need to spend as much money to recruit new customers. In fact, loyal customers are likely to tell their friends and family about your service, so you might even enjoy some free, word-of-mouth marketing. Consider setting aside some portion of your marketing budget to invest in keeping your current customers loyal.



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5 Effective Ways to Earn Money From Free Mobile Apps

Five Tips to Make Money With Free Mobile Apps

Mobile Marketing AppsWhy would anybody go to all of the trouble to develop a mobile app, invest in promotion, and then just give it away? They do it because there are plenty of ways to make money from free mobile apps. Free apps can be used to develop a marketing relationship that makes it much easier to sell in the future.

How Do Free Apps Generate Income?

App companies who hope to make money by giving apps away typically hope they can score as many free downloads as possible; that increases the chance of getting paid on the inside of the application. Consider some tested ways that free app makers use to earn an income from their free mobile applications:

#1. Offer Upsells Inside the Application

If you’d like to earn money from app development, you might consider giving them away and monetizing them from inside the app. Just consider the example of mobile app marketing example of Pokemon Go. Nintendo gave away the functioning app for free and still managed to clean up very nicely from in-game upsells.

#2. Offer a Premium Version

You might release a free version that only contains some of the functionality of the paid version. If your free version engages your audience, you can entice them with the benefits of paying for a full version of the software. You could also offer a limited trial for free and then ask for payment after the free trial ends.

#3. Sell Advertising

Just as you can sell advertising space on a website, you can also sell advertising within your mobile app. If you can find advertising that your own app audience is likely to respond to and generate plenty of downloads, you may find this is a fairly stress-free way to earn a living.

#4. Promote or Enhance Your Other Business

Both online and offline vendors use mobile marketing apps to promote their other businesses. For instance, Amazon has mobile apps that consumers can use to make physical or electronic purchases. You don’t need to pay for HBONOW, but it’s pretty useless without a subscription.

#5. Use the Free App to Collect Subscribers

Do you want to collect email addresses or cell phone numbers for an email- or text-based subscription? You might offer a free app as a lead magnet in order to help you grow that list. With good mobile marketing app engagement, you can even use the app as a way to communicate directly with your audience. For example, you might have some sort of financial app developed to help collect subscribers for your financial planning firm.

Do You Have Other Ideas to Generate Money From a Free Mobile App?

This list isn’t meant to include every possible method that companies use to make money from free applications. Instead, it’s intended to spark your own creative process and help you figure out the best route for your own project. If you have any great ideas, you might submit them in the comments.

from MiniBiz.US

4 Ways Female Entrepreneurs Overcome the Business Funding Gap

What Keeps Female Entrepreneurs From Getting Their Small Businesses Funded?

Female BUsiness FundingAccording to some fairly recent statistics published on Newsweek, women own about one-quarter of US firms and are about half as likely to start a new company as men. While the entrepreneurship gender gap has slowly started to close, the keyword there is slowly. It’s not that women necessarily lack skills, education, and an entrepreneurial spirit.

However, it’s possible to argue that’s a common perception that both women and other people have, and that can make it tougher to gain all-important startup funding. Overall, women have worse credit scores and less savings than males do. Meanwhile, startup founders usually find that they need to rely upon their own personal assets and ability to obtain credit in the beginning.

Four Ways Women Can Gain Small Business Funding on a Level Playing Field

Consider some examples of ways to overcome barriers to funding for female-owned startups and small companies:

  • Get help from the right places: A poor or nonexistent credit history and the lack of collateral will hurt your chances to get considered for a loan from many banks. However, local banks and credit unions, especially with SBA backing, might be somewhat more forgiving. At the same time, most lenders will want documentation to establish creditworthiness.
  • Consider alternative lenders: You may or may not pay more for financing an alternative loan. It’s a good idea to research alternative and creative lending options. Some examples include crowdfunding lenders and online lending platforms. They don’t always require an owner stake or a high credit score, but some might require some evidence that the business has actually already been in business. In the meantime, some crowd lenders will just need you to present your great idea.
  • Consider alternative funding besides lenders: You may not have to borrow money if you can gain enough support with other options. For instance, the donation crowdfunding site, IndieGogo, says that women-led campaigns tend to do better than those started by men. This is true even though women run less than half of the site’s campaigns. You might also seek out organizations that help connect female investors with female entrepreneurs.
  • Find a mentor: Entrepreneurs have a reputation as lone riders, but you don’t have to do everything alone, stumble over the same barriers, or reinvent the wheel all the time. You may a local business owner who is excited enough about your idea to mentor you, even if they aren’t excited enough to invest. You can also search for organizations that help connect new businesses to mentors. You might look for help at a local SBA Woman’s Center, your school alumni organization, or even an organization like Project Entrepreneur.

Why Your Woman-Owned Business Needs to Find Funding Now

You might think you have the resources to get your business off the ground. However, one problem with women-owned businesses is that they tend to be under-capitalized even more than new companies that men start. You need funds to create and market your product at first, but you’ll probably also need funds to grow to the point where you can ride it out on your own profits.




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Mobile App Marketing Lessons From Pokémon Go

What Can You Learn About Mobile App Marketing From Pokémon Go?

Pokemon and Moble App EngagementSadly for some, Nintendo isn’t accepting requests for new Pokestops and Pokemon Gyms at this time. There’s no information on when they will start again. Some small businesses established these centers to attract players and help increase their own business and visibility.

That was great while it lasted, but you can still use this popular game to attract mobile app users, boost your social reach, and increase revenues. In the meantime, you can use Pokémon Go to learn some lessons about mobile app marketing, relationship building, and mobile app engagement.

Obviously, Nintendo was pretty good at mobile app marketing. Consider some statistics about use of this popular mobile game, Pokémon Go:

  • Over half a billion downloads
  • About 20 million active, daily US users
  • Average daily use of about half an hour

How Did Nintendo Get Mobile App Marketing Right?

The initial fervor over the augmented-reality, mobile game appears to have leveled off somewhat, but plenty of people still download and actively play the game. There’s no doubt that the developers understand mobile app engagement very well. Nintendo made money from in-game upsells, and they helped other businesses boost their own mobile and social marketing too.

For instance, one pizza store owner reported record revenues and profits when he spent a few dollars to create a Pokestop in his establishment. He attracted game players who wanted to collect free items, and many players also politely ordered drinks and food.

Brand Recognition Helped But Wasn’t Everything 

Naturally, the game had an advantage. The franchise already had released TV shows, movies, and video games. Some people would have tried the new release even if it wasn’t as good as it was. However, Nintendo didn’t just rest on their laurels.

What else set Pokémon Go apart from other mobile game apps:

  • They created an augmented reality game that really built upon the magical reality world of the story about Ash, Pikachu, and all of the other anime characters.
  • The developers focused on creating the best user experience that they could, both before and after release.
  • Nintendo incorporated different kinds of mobile tech, including virtual reality, GPS, and animation to create a new experience.

Pokémon Go Was About Relationship Marketing & App Engagement

Here’s what really set this game apart. Sure, Nintendo earned a lot of money from app purchases. However, it also encouraged players to interact with each other and actually leave their homes to go out to seek little pocket monsters and other useful items. Players also posted their latest finds to their social networks, which helped promote the brand.

The game also allowed Nintendo to build relationships with other businesses when they allowed them to request their own Pokestops and Gyms. When players bragged about their wins on social networks, they promoted Pokémon Go and also the place that they were playing at. People who played made friends as they played and they also discovered new places. This isn’t something that previous mobile games or almost any games or apps did so well.

It’s easy to marvel about the unique user experience and create use of technology that Pokémon Go delivered. It would be foolish to miss the actual human heart of the game. The game worked because the tech work, but it became a major success because of the builtin relationship marketing.

Use Your Mobile App Marketing to Catch ‘Em All!

See, your customers might enjoy interacting with your mobile app, but if you can also get them to interact with your business and even with each other, you can score a big win! It’s pretty easy to see that Nintendo took the Pokemon motto seriously: Gotta Catch ‘Em All!

from MiniBiz.US

Why Apply for Startup Business Funding Sooner and Not Later?

Why Wait to Apply for Business Funding?

Business funding alternativesHave you thought about how you plan to fund your startup through its initial establishment and future growth? If you’ve done any research into starting a new business, you have probably already learned that managing cash flow and accessing enough capital presents one of the biggest challenges for new companies. That’s why it might be prudent to think about funding as early as possible.

Reasons to Apply for Business Funding Sooner

Without the ability to pay bills, you can execute a great idea very well but still struggle. That’s why you might consider applying for some sort of business funding as early as possible.

Consider some of the reasons why access to funding should help your business grow:

  1. Enjoy the benefits of incorporating: Incorporation gives you certain protections against risks. If you use personal funds, you can’t take advantage of those benefits.
  2. Don’t limit growth: Unless you’re sitting on a large pile of money or a great deal of credit, your business growth might suffer because you lack capital. You might not be able to foresee all of your future costs. Access to funding will give you the ability to take advantage of chances to grow your company and to ride out bumps in the road.
  3. Manage cash flow better: Even if your business isn’t seasonal, you’ll probably experience some seasons that are busier than others. During slow periods in your industry, you might be able to take advantage of good deals on inventory, machinery, or supplies.
  4. Build your company’s credit score: You can’t establish great credit for your company if you don’t borrow some money and pay it back promptly. You certainly want to manage your use of credit carefully, so you might start with a modest loan.
  5. Stop sweating the small stuff so much: No matter how well you manage risks, you’re bound to run into some unexpected expenses. If you have access to credit, you won’t need to worry about a repair bill or the cost of hiring a new employee as much. Give yourself a break to focus on your business goals.

Where to Find Startup Funding?

Your company deserves a chance to establish itself, and so do you. The lack of capital makes companies much harder to run and dooms quite a few of them. Even if you already know that you need more funding, you may find the process challenging. Banks or investors usually require a good track record either from the business or the owner.

Some kinds of online lenders may have more flexible rules when they consider applicants for new loans. You might also check out this MiniBiz article, 6 Creative Ways to Fund Your Startup.” In any case, you probably won’t regret the effort it takes to obtain plenty of funding to help you manage cash flow, grow, and really enjoy running your company.


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How to Use Facebook to Make Buyer Personas

Gathering Buyer Persona Data From Facebook Pages

Facebook Insights for Buyer PersonasNew companies tend to struggle when they need to gather demographic data in order to make buyer personas. However, even if you don’t actually have a lot of customers yet, you can gain plenty of insights if you have an active Facebook page.

If you haven’t created a Facebook page or attracted an audience, that might be an excellent step to take in the near future. At the same time, you can learn something from Facebook even if you are the only member of your page. Of course, you’ll learn more if you have gathered up a collection of followers.

Using Facebook Insights for Buyer Personas

You can get started with Facebook Insights by clicking the link in this sentence. You’ll see two options:

  • Everyone on Facebook: This option lets you view general demographic information for everybody on Facebook. This might be somewhat useful for your marketing. At least, it might tell you if this social site is one that you should try to market on or not.
  • Your pages: After you click this option, scroll down about halfway. You will see an option to choose people connected to your own business page.

Either way, you can learn many valuable things about your audience. Some examples include  education level, gender, relationship status, and much more.

Facebook Surveys for Buyer Personas and More

You can learn a lot from Facebook Insights, but you might want to know more. Did you know that you can also run attractive surveys right inside this social sites? This link takes you to the official Facebook Surveys app page.

Not only can you directly ask consumes what you want to know, you can also use surveys to help improve engagement and reach. Yes, you can promote these surveys to a much larger audience than the fans you already have, and you can also use them to attract more fans.

If You’re Business is Already on Facebook, You Can Start Today

Marketers usually make buyer surveys as one of the very first steps in their marketing plan. They provide the blueprint that makes it easier to figure out where to promote and who to promote to. It’s also much easier to create content and close sales if you have a pretty detailed idea of the kind of buyers you hope to appeal to.

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