Marketing Tip – Small Business Owners Need a System to Keep in Touch With Contacts and Build Sales

Many small business owners know keeping in touch with their contacts is an important part of their marketing plan. However, all too often, keeping in touch is a sporadic effort. Sending birthday cards or an e-mail newsletter is something that can be done “later.” The problem is “later” never comes. 

Small business owners need to build a marketing calendar that includes when and how each person (or group of people) is going to be contacted.  The best way small business owners can keep on top of their contact efforts is to have some type of system in place.  The system should be as easy and as automatic as possible.
  
There are many software tools you can use to organize your contacts.  Microsoft Outlook and Excel are great programs.  With either of these, you can merge with Microsoft Word to create phone lists, mailing labels and personalized letters. More sophisticated contact management programs you can purchase include ACT! and Goldmine.  
 
Marketing Tools for Keeping in Touch
 
There are a variety of different marketing tools small business owners can use to keep in touch. Here are just a few ideas.
 
E-mail newsletters are a great way to communicate with a large group of people. There are a number of great on-line resources available for e-mail newsletter creation and management. Use e-mail newsletters to provide product information, announce sales, and promote special events. 
 
Real greeting cards (the kind that come in an envelope with a stamp) are great marketing tools to use at Christmas, birthdays and other times of the year.  In fact, the best time a small business owner can send a greeting card is when there is no real reason to send a card! A card sent in August will be remembered much more than one sent in December.

Savvy business owners know that phone calls, personal visits and lunches are always appreciated. The key there is to remember the marketing message when scheduling those calls or visits. Yes, having coffee with a long-term client is great. But be sure to let the client know that you have a great new product that can dramatically help him or her. Too often business owners get wrapped up in the social aspect of personal visits and forget to ask for more business!

The most important part of any system is using it regularly.  If you are very busy, or have a hard time working with schedules, you are better off delegating or outsourcing.  If you have an assistant, that person can print letters, write e-mails, even sign Christmas cards for you.  That leaves you free to work on other areas of your business.

If you don’t have any help in your office, outsourcing is the answer. There are a number of local and on-line services that help business owners with their marketing. Or, try using a virtual assistant.  The marketing money you spend to outsource these routine tasks will be repaid many time over with the new business you get.

Remember — the key to a successful system is to have it automated as much as possible. The less work you have to do, the more likely it is to be done on time, and the more likely you are to get referrals!

Leadership Tips – Small Business Requires Faster Decisions

Introduction

This leadership tip has something in it for managers everywhere, but it’s particularly targeted at those of you with large company backgrounds who have made career moves to smaller businesses that you own and/or manage.

My background is primarily in large scale management of IT organizations. The companies where I’ve worked were places where changing a process or behavior took some time. I always thought I was quicker than most, and action oriented. As a small business owner, I found I had to be much quicker.

I’ll offer this leadership tip in the form of a story. It’s a story of how taking your eye of the ball can cost you money, and worse than that can cost you customers.

My First Small Business

I opened a small personal services business. It was located about an hour from my home office, and with all my other commitments I knew how important hiring the right manager would be for this shop. It took a few tries, but I found one with a good background and references, and she seemed to quickly develop loyalty to the business and to me.

For the first six months we grew slowly but steadily. We were behind plan in terms of customers and revenue, but the trend was up. There were a few staff issues, but overall turnover was okay. I decided to invest a little more in marketing to try and get more new faces in the door.

Over the next three months, customer counts were mostly flat, and average sale was actually down a little. Concerned, I visited the shop a few times more than usual. The people were not as upbeat as they had been. When asked about that, they attributed their moods to less business and less enjoyment of the job. I wondered about seasonality, the economy, and whether I needed even more marketing investment.

Want to know what was really going on? My trusted manager had some personal problems that I had not been aware of before, and was exhibiting some totally unacceptable behaviors:

  • Criticizing staff in front of customers
  • Intimidating staff, letting them know they were at risk of being fired, and telling them I was out to get them.
  • Stealing money by voiding transactions and other means

The Damages

I’m still figuring out how much money all this cost me, but the money is only today’s problem. The customers I’ve lost are a more serious longer term issue, because many of them won’t be coming back.

When I figured out what was going on, I moved quickly to fire the manager. There were only two problems:

  1. I was too late, and there had been several months of damage done;
  2. There was collateral damage. I had to fire two other employees who had adopted the attitude and behaviors of the manager.

Today, I’m working on putting together data to see if I can assemble a case for prosecuting the employees and the manager. An even higher priority, though, is the work I’m doing to recruit and orient new staff and develop a recovery plan for our customer service reputation.
This leadership tip was a painful lesson that I hope never to repeat.

Choosing the ‘Right’ Programming Language for Your Business Solutions

Most likely there are two reasons why you are reading this article at this moment. Either (1) you are starting a business and looking for the most apt software for the best price that will help you get ahead; or (2) you need to revamp your software and technology to stay ahead in this ultra competitive business world.

There are an endless number of programming languages out there – Is java the best technology for your project or is it .Net, PHP or may be Perl? There are an equal number of databases to choose from – Access, mysql, SQL server or may be Oracle. But the question is – how to choose the ‘Right’ technology which is affordable and can cater to not only your current business needs but to its future requirements as well.

Ideally deciding on the best software programming language for your business solutions, should be a team activity which involves heads of IT and relevant departments and experts from your solution provider. But in case you are a small business owner or just starting-up on your own, evaluating the following factors can help you too, to take the right decision on the technology front.

Key Factors

Budget

The first thing to consider for your business is the costs and the possible return on that investment. Decide the budget based on the return, a product/service is expected to bring. If it’s a product with small shelf life and limited features, you might consider a boxed solution rather than a custom solution. It’s a quick and less expensive way to market. But if this application is the lifeline of your business then you need to evaluate the long-term business requirements and benefits of investing in custom build solution with a high-end technology.

– Choose the right features

What are the features you are looking in your software? What are the shortcomings in your business that can be resolved by having the right system in place? Identify the areas where technology can automate the processes, thereby improving business efficiency and productivity. What features would be required in the long run to accommodate more products or services when your business expands? Discuss these features with your solution provider to decide on a programming language which can handle your business for a long time without being outgrown by it.

– Time to market

If you are developing a time-sensitive product, the most critical factor in its success will be its timely release. It may be your best idea and you may have invested in the best technology, building an error-proof product. But if you are not able to market it at the right time, you may lose to your competition who would have captured the market impulse and brought the product at the right time. Quite possibly, you can lose out on a huge market share. Choosing the programming language which can quickly build the product is the key factor here.

– Scalability requirements

What is the intended life cycle of your product/application? If your business requires it for next 5-10 yrs, there is high probability that you might need to expand its functionality or increase usability. The technology used for such solutions should be scalable and upgradable, with or without vendor involvement. Imagine a situation where you have invested a good amount of money and time in training employees to use a software, which after 2-3 years needs upgradation to meet your business requirements but doesn’t has the capability to do so. Surely, you don’t want to land up in such a situation. So, a golden rule – always clarify with your solution provider about the future business requirements and capabilities of the chosen technology and programming language.

– Application demands

o Performance

If you application sees some peak traffic in certain time of the day which is crucial for your business, then performance is the key factor for your system. It will be important to choose a programming language with ability to handle a large number of simultaneous requests/transactions (supplemented by high-end servers) without affecting the speed and performance of the system.

o Security

If security of your application is of paramount importance, then short-listing a technology with focus on security features is what you need to do. For ex – Java security technology provides a large set of APIs (cryptography, public key infrastructure, secure communication, authentication, access control etc), tools, and security algorithms, mechanisms, and protocols. Zero-in on a programming language which provides the user or administrator with a set of tools to securely manage applications.

o Content change requirements

If your application requires a frequent change in the content or you need to change the look and feel of your website quite frequently, it’s good idea to go for a CMS with features and flexibility to be managed by the system administrator without vendor involvement.

MarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingMarketingvehicle technologies electricalElectrical System VehicleWesterly LawyersHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and Garden Home and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome and GardenHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessHome Based BusinessProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProduct ProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductProductBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessBusinessstrok.us outrok.us mtotrok.us oiitrok.us peitrok.us aelytrok.us filmfoodtrok.us brathtrok.us ooaakestrok.us oystowtrok.us ursandpinstrok.us devadtrok.us viofreklestrok.us bakiipitytrok.us thelsewifetrok.us unpspoontrok.us siblymoretrok.us vegetrok.us motoytrok.us nowningtrok.us smaloguetrok.us mouteruptrok.us haitehippytrok.us stoodqtrok.us ofeaesundaytrok.us karunuitrok.us myluvistrok.us myonmotrok.us vintseholdtastrok.us quiandytrok.us statetalestrok.us britdesigntrok.us riellakirstintrok.us jergurtistrok.us jordemilytrok.us joyknudsentrok.us luenhalltrok.us simrenetrok.us realroberttrok.us storiestrok.us thendahlstrok.us vestlifetrok.us whideountstrok.us txstephenstrok.us ashandtaytrok.us lromneytrok.us tuerperewtrok.us bangbagstrok.us odydaytrok.us akstakisstrok.us bluesindigotrok.us dabaloghtrok.us jaranottagetrok.us jaypatotetrok.us medladytrok.us prettylady21trok.us shellooktrok.us thegildedmoosetrok.us twohomestrok.us kristineampbelltrok.us gatohytrok.us pixfeedtrok.us subjetifytrok.us liZaeshoetrok.us alihtsupakestrok.us sumleedingtrok.us elinaminntrok.us kurashiarekoretrok.us tellyoutodaytrok.us uyutrok.us hineriorstrok.us aysmingtrok.us sarahshifttrok.us sorrisitrok.us thetvelblogtrok.us raflbournetrok.us theshopbugtrok.us iaoesignstrok.us deoratedlifetrok.us fromalofttrok.us labohemmetrok.us ofestherleetrok.us desderovertrok.us reatyhanneltrok.us mihearhtrok.us missiesuetrok.us notodaynottodaytrok.us paperokettrok.us purplejantrok.us sophiehensontrok.us sppikletrok.us theindsessionstrok.us swtpnaitrok.us adanetrok.us aploriggstrok.us bywathemoontrok.us folkitytrok.us taylaesigntrok.us betodreamstrok.us eots.us eoou.us eomto.us eooii.us eopei.us eoaely.us eofilmfood.us eobrath.us eoooaakes.us eooystow.us eoursandpins.us eodevad.us eoviofrekles.us eobakiipity.us eothelsewife.us eounpspoon.us eosiblymore.us eovege.us eomotoy.us eonowning.us eosmalogue.us eomouterup.us eohaitehippy.us eostoodq.us eoofeaesunday.us eokarunui.us eomyluvis.us eomyonmo.us eovintseholdtas.us eoquiandy.us eostatetales.us eobritdesign.us eoriellakirstin.us eola.euter.us eojergurtis.us eojordemily.us eojoyknudsen.us eoluenhall.us eosimrene.us eorealrobert.us eoseotories.us eothendahls.us eovestlife.us eowhideounts.us eotxstephens.us eoashandtay.us eolromney.us eotuerperew.us eobangbags.us eoodyday.us eoakstakiss.us eobluesindigo.us eodabalogh.us eojaranottage.us eojaypatote.us eomedlady.us eoprettylady21.us eoshellook.us eothegildedmoose.us eotwohomes.us eokristineampbell.us eogatohy.us eopixfeed.us eosubjetify.us eoliZaeshoe.us eoalihtsupakes.us eosumleeding.us eoelinaminn.us eokurashiarekore.us eotellyoutoday.us eouyu.us eohineriors.us eoaysming.us eosarahshift.us eosorrisi.us eothetvelblog.us eoraflbourne.us eotheshopbug.us eoiaoesigns.us eodeoratedlife.us eofromaloft.us eolabohemme.us eoofestherlee.us eodesderover.us eoreatyhannel.us eomihearh.us eomissiesue.us eonotodaynottoday.us eopaperoket.us eopurplejan.us eosophiehenson.us eosppikle.us eotheindsessions.us eoswtpnai.us eoadane.us eoaploriggs.us eobywathemoon.us eofolkity.us eotaylaesign.us eobetodreams.us strok.us outrok.us otrok.us oiitrok.us peitrok.us aelytrok.us odtrok.us thtrok.us kestrok.us towtrok.us ndpinstrok.us dtrok.us klestrok.us tytrok.us wifetrok.us ontrok.us moretrok.us etrok.us oytrok.us ningtrok.us guetrok.us teruptrok.us hippytrok.us stoodqtrok.us esundaytrok.us nuitrok.us istrok.us motrok.us dtastrok.us dytrok.us etalestrok.us esigntrok.us tintrok.us latrok.us rtrok.us rtistrok.us nudsentrok.us nhalltrok.us renetrok.us berttrok.us iestrok.us ahlstrok.us lifetrok.us deountstrok.us phenstrok.us dtaytrok.us eytrok.us perewtrok.us bagstrok.us daytrok.us akisstrok.us indigotrok.us loghtrok.us ttagetrok.us patotetrok.us adytrok.us tylady21trok.us ooktrok.us dedmoosetrok.us twohomestrok.us ampbelltrok.us trok.us edtrok.us etifytrok.us hoetrok.us upakestrok.us edingtrok.us aminntrok.us ksakoretrok.us teutodaytrok.us uutrok.us hirstrok.us aysngtrok.us sashittrok.us soritrok.us thlogtrok.us rafurnetrok.us thopbugtrok.us iagnstrok.us deedlifetrok.us frofttrok.us labommetrok.us ofeherleetrok.us desrovertrok.us reaanneltrok.us mihhtrok.us missuetrok.us notodaytrok.us pakettrok.us purantrok.us sopnontrok.us spletrok.us tionstrok.us swtnaitrok.us adatrok.us apriggstrok.us bythemoontrok.us fotytrok.us taylsigntrok.us betodamstrok.us saboe.us ouaboe.us oaboe.us oiiaboe.us peiaboe.us aelyaboe.us odaboe.us thaboe.us kesaboe.us towaboe.us ndpinsaboe.us daboe.us klesaboe.us tyaboe.us wifeaboe.us onaboe.us moreaboe.us eaboe.us oyaboe.us ningaboe.us gueaboe.us terupaboe.us hippyaboe.us stoodqaboe.us esundayaboe.us nuiaboe.us isaboe.us moaboe.us dtasaboe.us dyaboe.us etalesaboe.us esignaboe.us tinaboe.us laaboe.us raboe.us rtisaboe.us nudsenaboe.us nhallaboe.us reneaboe.us bertaboe.us iesaboe.us ahlsaboe.us lifeaboe.us deountsaboe.us phensaboe.us dtayaboe.us eyaboe.us perewaboe.us bagsaboe.us dayaboe.us akissaboe.us indigoaboe.us loghaboe.us ttageaboe.us patoteaboe.us adyaboe.us tylady21aboe.us ookaboe.us dedmooseaboe.us twohomesaboe.us ampbellaboe.us aboe.us edaboe.us etifyaboe.us hoeaboe.us upakesaboe.us edingaboe.us aminnaboe.us ksakoreaboe.us teutodayaboe.us uuaboe.us hirsaboe.us aysngaboe.us sashitaboe.us soriaboe.us thlogaboe.us rafurneaboe.us thopbugaboe.us iagnsaboe.us deedlifeaboe.us froftaboe.us labommeaboe.us ofeherleeaboe.us desroveraboe.us reaannelaboe.us mihhaboe.us missueaboe.us notodayaboe.us paketaboe.us puranaboe.us sopnonaboe.us spleaboe.us tionsaboe.us swtnaiaboe.us adaaboe.us apriggsaboe.us bythemoonaboe.us fotyaboe.us taylsignaboe.us betodamsaboe.us