Archives for April 2014

Why your small business simply must have a memorable phone number

When you’re picking a telephone number to promote your small business, getting a memorable phone number, rather than any string of digits, could make a significant difference to how many of your customers, or potential customers, respond.

Business phone on white background

So, what constitutes a memorable number? This can depend on a number of factors, including whether you want your business to be recognised in a particular geographic location, whether you want to offer free calls to your potential customers or whether you’re a charity or other not-for-profit organisation. Some examples of memorable numbers include:

  • 020 3151 1555
  • 0800 955 22 55
  • 0333 444 1 444

Here are 3 cast-iron reasons why your business simply must have a memorable phone number:

A memorable telephone number can be part of your brand

The best example of this is with taxis. If you’re anything like me, you’re more likely to remember the taxi company’s number more than the name of the taxi company. People will share a memorable telephone number, then remember which taxi company the number relates to.

This sort of “telephone number to company” association can work for other companies as well, particularly if you rely on word of mouth (e.g. plumbers, glazers, computer servicing).

But there are other ways you can make a telephone number more memorable and link it with your brand. They’re called “Alpha numbers”. This is more popular in the US, but can still work in the UK as well.

Alpha numbers aren’t any different to normal telephone numbers in how they work, but all you’re doing is associating the digits in the telephone number to the letters shown on a phone’s keypad. For example: 0845 468 MINT (0845 468 6468).

A memorable telephone number can make your adverts stand out

Having a telephone number with repeating digits or repeating your company name within it (an Alpha number) will add another dimension to your adverts.

You’ll see this all the time in TV advertising. People with short attention spans, or simply walking passed your advert in the street are more likely to take in your telephone number and respond if it’s made up of repeated digits, or sequences of digits.

But do people really remember telephone numbers anymore?

This is a common question. Is there really value for your business in getting a memorable number? Surely with mobile phones these days, people don’t remember numbers, they’re just saved in recent call lists on the phone?

That may well be the case, but in the same way as a memorable number helps your adverts stand out, so will that memorable number when it appears in people’s call lists.

Even with the power of Google at everyone’s finger tips (literally), word of mouth seems to be more important than ever. People still want to deal with people, so if you can make it easy for your customers to share your contact details using a memorable telephone number, you’ll then be sure of getting those quality leads.

Do your research and choose wisely

There are a number of telephone number vendors in the UK and it is important to make sure you deal with a reputable company that is classified as a Network Operator by both Ofcom and PhonepayPlus. Look for a company that has a simple to understand pricing structure, an easy to use number management system and offers different payment types for your memorable number. A particularly good example of an established, regulated telephone number company is TTNC who offer numbers for all UK area codes and 40 countries internationally, including USA toll-free numbers. Numbers can be set up to forward to your mobile or landline in a matter of minutes. You then have complete control of your numbers through their specially developed control panel.

How to Write Effective Product Descriptions to Capture More Sales

Understanding Your Sales Model

For all the talk about the best ways to shift traditional sales models and techniques to the online world, there’s one important aspect you always need to keep in mind. In contrast to a traditional brick and mortar store, an online customer can’t really look at the product you’re selling – they can see pictures of it, but they can’t actually pick it up in their hands and look at it directly.

Tips for Writing Effective Productions Descriptions-030414

This is why it’s absolutely essential that you effectively tell them about what you’re selling. You accomplish this by writing solid product descriptions for every item you sell on your website. Here are some tips for writing the most effective product descriptions possible.

Your Product Must Be Good For the Buyer.

Don’t waste your prospect’s attention span talking about why your product is so good, or why it’s better than anything else on the marketplace. Isn’t this exactly the same as what your competitors would say about their own products? Instead, explain to your prospect why the product or service you’re selling is the best solution for them. A potential customer isn’t looking for the product that’s the best in an abstract sense; they’re interested in buying what’s going to be best for their individual situation.

You Need to Identify Your Customers.

Of course, in order to explain why your product is the best for a particular person, you need to understand more about that person. This includes not only identifying your ideal customer in terms of their general demographics, but also making sure to measure everything you can about the actual individuals who come to your product page. There are various ways to accomplish this, including Google Analytics, and customer signup where you ask them for key bits of information about themselves.

Write For Your Customer.

Chances are you take SEO considerations into account when you write your blog posts and other information on your business website (and if you don’t then you probably should be). After all, if a prospect never finds your site, there’s no chance they’ll ever become a customer. But scale back your SEO practices when it comes to your product descriptions. You want your descriptions to do the best job possible in connecting with a prospect, even if the text of the description doesn’t boost your SEO ranking.

Quantify and Evaluate Your Product Descriptions.

How do you know if your written product descriptions are doing the job? You can’t necessarily assume that they’re as good as possible just by the fact that you’re actually making sales. After all, maybe your sales figures would be even higher if your descriptions were better.

The best way to evaluate the effectiveness of your product descriptions is to quantify them. Track your sales figures (both in terms of absolute numbers of sales as well as your conversion percentages), then tweak your product descriptions to see what types of descriptions lead to more sales.

Presentation Matters.

Finally, it’s important to understand that it’s not just the text of the product description that matters – how you present it to a prospect matters as well. Would a different font or font size lead to more sales? Should the text be placed in a different position on your product page? What about the colors you’re using on other parts of that product page?

Again, you can only be confident that you’re providing the most effective sales pitch to your prospects when you measure your sales figures and test against other options.

How To Make Brand Difference Sell For You.

I read an interesting blog today. The author felt that using differentiation as a brand strategy was misguided. He felt that being different wasn’t enough considering that many people purchase things based on a commitment in their minds. Being different wasn’t enough of a reason to change their minds.

Time for ChangeI think he was well intentioned but he took ‘different’ too literally. Using his theory, it’s easy to understand that if you’re a fan of say, Apple products, it’s not likely that your next purchase will be swayed by a brand that is completely different than Apple. Different doesn’t necessarily mean better. Different for difference’s sake IS misguided.

A differentiation strategy from my perspective takes a stand. ‘Different’ can mean many things. But it can’t JUST be different. Your brand strategy has to been authentic. Just being different is masking a weak reality. Swaying a purchase your way involves many things. In addressing a need, one has to intrigue the buyer. To get the customer to move their money to a new resource, that resource has to provide a solution that resonates with the buyer. It has to compel them to give your brand a shot. It’s not enough to emulate the leader in the category, which really only reinforces that leader. Your offer has to lead not follow. Your brand has to earn the trust of the customer and deliver on a promise to your customer that raises the bar against the competitor. You have to exploit the weak flanks that they are taking for granted. Once you own that flank, you must become it as well. You must offer a benefit in your differentiation. Your brand has to be a viable alternative, not just window dressing.

If it were just being different that would be too easy. If that difference emulates from every corner of your brand, then it can resonate and allow you a foot in the door. Difference is all about the conversation. You want to change the conversation and control it. If you are able to do that, your customer will take your story and give it a moment of their time. Branding properly opens doors. From there it is the sales staff’s job to land the business. If you are one and the same, then you have to be a master of your message and consistent in its delivery.

Embrace your difference, then sell it and land it. If your difference is all visual you will lose the opportunity. Your difference goes to the core of your brand – exploit it.

Brand Naming: You Can’t Sell it Until You Put a Name on It

You have a concept for a product and a business plan — or maybe you already have the product or service, itself, all ready to go. But, you can’t market a product or service without a name. It’s the single-most important aspect to your marketing strategy, so it’s imperative that you choose wisely. If you have kids, chances are that you thought long and hard about what to name them… you looked at every angle: Would other kids make fun of them on the playground? Would it be a name that could transition from childhood to adulthood? Would there be any nicknames? How does it sound with your last name? Do the initials spell something embarrassing?

BrandNaming

A name that can grow with your brand

You need to consider all the same issues, and then some, in choosing a name for your brand. For one thing, the name needs to be able to withstand the test of time. Consider the current popular baby names: Aiden, Violet, Grayson, Avery… they’re trendy now, but think of how they will sound when they’re 30, 40 or 50 years old. Similarly, when the dot-com boom took place in Silicon Valley, brands were popping up everywhere with super-techy sounding names. Now, those that have endured sound a little dated and kitschy. As well, you want to leave room for growth. In other words, even though it may be your intent to brand one particular product, it would be wise to select a brand name that is not product-specific so that if you expand your product line, or add another set of products, you can continue to use the same brand name without it becoming incongruous. For example, if your business is based on home interior design, choosing a name with the “home” or “residential” means that if you decide to eventually branch out into corporate design, you either have to rebrand your entire enterprise or create a separate brand for that aspect to the business. Neither of those options would be good for growing a business. Instead, select a name that focuses on an aspect to your business that has more to do with the result than the venue. Anything you can do to ensure that the brand name you choose isn’t pigeonholing your business is smart — plan for now, be ready to be wildly successful later!

Keep it simple and memorable

The next time you travel through a densely commercial area, check out all of the businesses with intentionally misspelled names and “creative” use of the English language (I’m looking at you, Krispy Kreme). Don’t do this. Yes, Phish and Eminem are successful; they’ve created brands that are recognizable and have become household names, but that’s the exception to the rule. Since you’re building a small business and not a rock band, stay away from creative misspellings and the compulsion to use a “4” in lieu of “for” in a brand name.

Following these rules will help in a few ways. First, you’re avoiding search confusion for your customers and prospective customers. Depending on the type of business you’re branding, the odds are that the vast majority of customers who find your business will be doing so on the Internet. Search engines are not infallible, and whether someone is trying to find you on Google or whitepages.com, or searching your name by asking Siri, a name that includes “2”, rather than “to” because you thought it was cute is going to mess up the search results, which could lead to a loss of business.

Second, you’re going to want your website’s domain to match your brand name. Whether you’re an Internet-based business or otherwise, a business’ website is the gateway to customer service and discovery. A simple, correctly spelled brand name will be easier for a user to input directly to a browser, and also is more likely to rank better in search results for someone using Google or other search engine to find your business.

Be unique

Now that almost any business has the potential to become a global enterprise, it is becoming more and more difficult to find that unique brand name that no one is using. You can choose something that’s not necessarily a unique word or name, but that’s used in a unique way within your industry. Google “Apple”. Go ahead. Do it. For me, Google’s first auto-complete is “apple store”, and you can bet that it’s not my local supermarket. However, you may not be quite so fortunate with your brand name. Search engines have special arrangements with enormous brands that have “common” names like Gap, Target, Apple or Amazon. A small business with a single-word common name will never compete on that level. However, if you can combine something simple with something unusual (but still easy to spell), you could have branding gold. Also, do a little research of your own. Spend a few minutes looking up your potential brand name, and close variations, to be sure that someone else isn’t already using it. Your state may have an online registry where you can search DBAs and corporation names, but that won’t help you find national brands. Really, the best way is to spend some time searching and see what’s out there.

The brand name and logo are not mutually exclusive; the name might not lend itself to a specific logo right off the bat (unlike, say, Apple), but try to envision what your logo might be and make sure that it seems cohesive with your name of choice.

What message do you want to send?

Generally, a best practice in branding is to steer clear of any name with emotional, sentimental or political associations. The exception is that many of the country’s largest and most successful brands are associated with a sense of patriotism, but not because of their names. In a recent study, the brands deemed “most patriotic” by Forbes were Jeep, Hershey, Levi Strauss, Disney, Colgate, Zippo and others. Certainly, if you’re considering branding strategy for your business, those are some accomplished role models. Bottom line: You can profit from patriotism. Your brand name, itself, doesn’t have to scream patriotism — your logo could sport an American flag, which would evoke a good down-home image of American workers with U.S.-based jobs bolstering the economy and keeping your business going, while keeping this country strong. Go with that. The key, when brand naming and otherwise, is instilling confidence in your customers. It has been shown that consumers will be more likely to choose a brand that they associate with some type of U.S. pride and patriotism than one that doesn’t.

Confident. Unique. Memorable. Let your brand name speak for your business and set yourself up for success.

11 Important Success Strategies for Small Business Owners

There is a seemingly endless supply of advice for small business owners to follow on their path to success. Here are 10 of the most important ones (and a few inspirational quotes from successful business people to back them up):

Success Strategies

1. Be Nice. Being a business owner doesn’t mean you can put your manners on hold. Be nice not only to your customers, but also your suppliers, business partners, and any one else you come in contact with on a professional level.

2. Take Risks. Owning a small business is in some ways the opposite of having a job and working for someone else. Small business owners sometimes need to take risks in order to succeed.

“If you are not willing to risk the usual you will have to settle for the ordinary.” – Jim Rohn

3. Don’t Give Up. Taking risks implies that sometimes you might fail. (After all, that’s why it’s a “risk” and not a “sure thing.”) What’s important is that you use your setbacks to teach and motivate yourself.

“Failure defeats losers, failure inspires winners.” – Robert T. Kiyosaki

4. Cherish Your Family. Successful business owners have a lot of support behind the scenes. Make sure you spend plenty quality time with your family as you work hard on your business.

“A man should never neglect his family for business.” – Walt Disney

5. Focus on the Customer. Remember that the success of your business will depend on the quality of the experience you give to your customer – focus on that.

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” – Bill Gates

6. Business is Personal. Don’t be afraid to bring your unique personality into your business.

“The NBA is never just a business. It’s always business. It’s always personal. All good businesses are personal. The best businesses are very personal.” – Mark Cuban

7. Have a Plan. Don’t think about trying to just “wing it” throughout your journey to business success. You should have a plan that covers virtually every aspect of your business operations. This plan should include all of your goals, and the steps you plan to take to meet those goals. Make sure to reduce this plan to writing; by doing so you’re making a commitment to yourself and your future success.

8. Be Flexible. While it’s essential to have a business plan, you shouldn’t resist changing it if it becomes necessary to do so.

“Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach.” – Anthony Robbins

9. Be Passionate. Obviously one of the reasons you own your own business is to make money, but your financial goals can’t be allowed to overshadow your passion.

“If you work just for money, you’ll never make it, but if you love what you’re doing and you always put the customer first, success will be yours.” – Ray Kroc

10. Keep Track of Your Business. Keep written records on every aspect of your business. It’s difficult to change and improve your business when you don’t have the data to do so.

11. Stay Healthy. Finally, make sure to keep yourself healthy. If you’re ill, your business will invariably suffer.

“One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important.” – Bertrand Russell

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