A business to many (B2M) model sells goods and services to both consumers and other businesses, so is a mix of both business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C). Meeting the needs of such a diverse set of clients is challenging.
There are about 30.2 million small businesses in the United States. Some of those businesses are B2B, some are B2C and others take on many faces. Trying to serve many different markets in the same niche requires a bit of finesse and attention to detail. There are some specific things on which you can focus that will make your B2M better than you ever imagined.
1. Know All Your Target Audiences
As a business that serves a variety of audiences, you must take the time to dig deep into the analytics of the different audiences you serve. Develop buyer personas for each different demographic. Although marketing campaigns might hit on more than one audience at a time, you still need to ensure you speak to specific people. Look for areas of commonality among your different audience segments, so your marketing speaks to all your buyers.
Facebook’s model is an excellent example of how a business serves both other businesses and consumers at the same time. They offer services for business owners, such as advertising and business pages. However, they also serve consumers, offering features for them such as online groups, free profile pages and games.
2. Dig Into Your ROI Reports
What goods and services bring the best return on investment (ROI)? While you expand your customer base by becoming a B2M company, it doesn’t help your profits if you don’t make a decent ROI for one segment or the other. Knowing which audiences spend the most money and on what also allows you to predict what inventory you might need and ramp up marketing campaigns around specific seasons.
3. Segment Your Website
If you don’t want to have multiple landing pages, you can simply segment your site into sections that serve your different buyer personas. This works particularly well with service-based industries. You might even make the transition as simple as offering a section for consumers and one for business owners or adding details to listings about how to buy in bulk as online retailers such as Office Depot do.
Shipley Energy creates a sales funnel for both segments of its buying audience. They offer a section titled “For Your Home” with an invitation to enter your zip code and click on the type of information you’d like to purchase (heating oil, propane, natural gas, etc.) On the other side of their home page, the column reads “For your business” and offers different information geared toward business owners, such as fleet fueling and wholesale fuels, and offers a free quote. Although the two segments look similar, the information contained is quite different.
4. Cross-Train Employees
Make sure your customer service staff is cross-trained to handle questions and problems from both the B2B and B2C segment. Calls get routed to the wrong department, or some customers will have a personal need of your product as well as business needs. Your employees should all feel comfortable answering any questions that might come their way. The only way to ensure your employees are fully versed in B2M needs is through extensive training and asking them to work in different departments from time to time.
5. Meet Everyone’s Needs
Figuring out how to meet the needs of one audience without disrupting another is a balancing act. Think about some of the direct sales companies out there. If they sell their products online, their sales consultants may suffer. However, the ability to sell to the general public is a tempting proposition that’s difficult for many multi-level marketing (MLM) companies to resist. One way some companies get around this is by matching buyers with consultants. However, MLM isn’t the only industry which must balance the needs of many.
Think through each aspect of your services to B2Bs and make sure they don’t violate the needs of B2Cs and vice versa.
Sony Pictures discusses their product placement policies and are pretty well known for placing products in their films. At the same time, they must create entertaining films which aren’t too advertisement based. They’ve set some standards for the types of products they’ll place in order to protect their audience (consumers). For example, they won’t advertise tobacco products.
6. Adjust Your Marketing
While there are ways of reaching both audiences at the same time, marketing to B2B and B2C is quite different. Marketing to businesses requires educating your audience and showing them you’re an expert. On the other hand, consumers want to know you can meet their needs or solve a problem. The ROI is also skewed. With consumers, they typically buy one of an item, while business owners may buy in bulk and spend much more money. A more expensive advertising campaign aimed at B2B may have a higher ROI because of the average sale.
The only way to come out ahead with your marketing efforts as a B2M is with careful tracking of costs and results. When the ROI is significant, repeat those efforts. When the results fall flat, find something different.
When it comes to running a B2M business effectively, the way you view your audience segments makes a huge difference. Know your customers and all the little details about them so you can meet their needs and give them a positive experience with your brand. Serving multiple segments isn’t just possible but might be profitable. However, you must be highly organized and ready to adapt to any market changes.
Determining Your Marketing Budget
Every business, no matter if it’s a startup, a small business or a large enterprise, has difficulties setting aside a budget for anything, let alone marketing. The main reason is that you can never truly predict the exact amount of funds you’ll need to invest in something important.
Costs may vary and unexpected expenses may arise practically anywhere. Therefore, you can estimate a best-case-scenario budget and set aside a bit more than you’ve planned just in case. But what about the digital marketing landscape today?
In 2019, digital marketing is as dynamic as it ever was. Technological and market trends still shape consumer behavior, which in turn influences how marketers develop their strategies, as well as their campaigns.
All of these activities can have an impact on your marketing budget. So figuring out how much and where to invest when it comes to marketing in 2019 may be a daunting task. With that in mind, here are a few ways you can determine how much should you budget for marketing this year.
How much do companies spend on marketing?
If you’re trying to answer the question of how much to spend on marketing, the answer is always “It depends”. Your goals may differ from other companies on the market, which means you may need to budget more or less on marketing efforts alone.
You can compare how much other companies spend on marketing, on average, in order to gain an approximate estimation of how much you should budget. As an example, here’s average spending of companies on marketing in 2018.
Marketing budget as a percentage of a company’s budget:
- B2B product – 9.2%
- B2B service – 8.9%
- B2C product – 16.0%
- B2C service – 14.9%
Marketing spending as a percentage of a company’s revenue:
- B2B product – 6.3%
- B2B service – 6.9%
- B2C product – 9.6%
- B2C service – 11.8%
Invest in marketing research
Marketing research should be one of the most vital factors in your budgeting efforts. Research can help you determine the audience’s preference, needs and expectations, as well as the trends they’re currently following.
In addition, you can determine which marketing channels are best suited to your campaigns, as well as decide whether to consider both digital and traditional marketing in your campaign. Aside from all that, you can conduct a competitive analysis to determine which marketing efforts your competitors opt for and how much they’re investing in their strategies.
Your marketing budget depends on the approach you’ll implement, and research can help you develop such an approach. Even research requires investment, so it may be a good idea to keep the research budget separate from the marketing budget. That way you can clear out any confusion regarding spending and allow research to guide you in developing a budget for your marketing efforts.
Keep the cash flow positive
As mentioned before, digital marketing is quite a dynamic landscape. Things may change sooner than you think and they may change quite often. In such cases, additional and unexpected costs are quite common.
You may have to pour funds out of other business operations to make up for marketing costs that exceed your budget. That being said, it’s very important to maintain a positive cash flow in order to avoid a negative impact on your bottom line. There are various ways you can maintain a positive cash flow, such as by reducing operational or overhead expenses.
Moreover, you can consider various debtor finance options, they can help you manage your accounts receivable and thus help you maintain a positive cash flow. The fact of the matter is that it’s always better to have good financial health when unexpected expenses arise than it is to go into unnecessary debt to cover such expenses.
Consider return on investment (ROI)
Marketing efforts will eventually yield some kind of a return on investment. How much and how long that will take depends on the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. That begs the question of where to invest, in the first place. Again, that depends on your goals and what you want to achieve with your marketing efforts.
As an example, you should consider both digital and traditional marketing methods. In 2018, the majority of companies invested 42% of their marketing budget to online efforts. Digital marketing is oversaturated these days which leaves traditional marketing with untapped potential for ROI. In addition, consider both inbound and outbound marketing.
Inbound marketing, such as SEO (Search Engine Optimization), PPC (Pay-Per-Click) and social media may be more efficient at tracking ROI because you can use metrics to measure results from owned and earned media. On the other hand, outbound marketing, such as called call, trade shows and email promotions may be high-cost-low-gain efforts in some cases, but they may prove effective if your goals align with such methods.
Determining how much to budget for your marketing efforts can be a daunting task. However, if you make an effort to research relevant information, as well as leverage data from your previous marketing budgets, you’ll be able to set aside enough funds for your marketing efforts in 2019.
Must Have Apps for 2019 to Download Before Your Next Trip
Seasoned travelers know you can do a lot of little things to make being away from home more comfortable. You can follow tips to pack lighter, such as rolling your clothes and using hotel laundry services and certain credit cards accepted everywhere. What you may not have considered are the apps you should download before your next journey.
Experts predict that U.S. domestic business travel will reach 483 million trips a year by 2020. By the year 2021, experts predict business travel spending will reach $1.7 trillion. If you aren’t already traveling as part of your work, you’re likely to at some point in your career.
Figuring out which apps are worth downloading and which are a waste of time isn’t an easy task. Dozens of travel and business apps are available. We’ve done the work of sifting through them and figuring out which are most beneficial for business travelers. Here are seven of them.
Skyscanner offers a mobile app that allows you to sort through the different prices for flying to and from various destinations utilizing business class. Some airlines offer discounts at specific times of the year, so pushing your meetings a week or two out might save you as much as 50 percent or more on your business class fare.
The app also notifies you of any specials, helps you track which airlines have the best deals and offers a chart which shows the cheapest months and days to fly. If your company makes travel arrangements for you, you can still offer input to the assistant making plans by looking at your Skyscanner app for the best dates before asking them to book your travel.
Have you ever headed out on a business trip that ran a bit longer than expected due to intense negotiations or a sudden added meeting or two? In large cities, the hotel you were already in may be booked up for a conference or other event. There are times when you suddenly have to find a hotel room at the last minute.
Enter Hotel Tonight, a way to find a hotel in any city with a few filters. The app has a partnership with some of the best hotels in the largest cities. They offer their unsold rooms at a discount. You can book rooms in advance or look for something at the last minute. The app includes a full description of each hotel along with ratings from other travelers.
This app is the perfect tool for syncing your travel itinerary and work calendars. If you plan to do a little sightseeing at the end of a work day, then you can also plan side trips around important meetings, meshing the best of both business and leisure travel.
You can also share your itinerary through the app with your work colleagues, which reduces communication issues and keeps everyone informed of when essential meetings are on the schedule. This app helps keep you productive and on task while on your business trip because you see at a glance what’s next in your planned day.
You might have some issues with actually converting your currency into foreign currency when traveling, including that there are only a limited number of banks which convert currency. Last-minute travel plans don’t always allow enough time to convert. You may find yourself in another locale with different money than your country uses. However, in tourist-heavy areas, they will likely still take the United States dollar and other popular currency in exchange for goods and services.
Elk is a currency converter for those trips that take you outside of your home country. The difference between what your local currency is worth in another country varies daily. You can quickly see if you’re being treated fairly and also being fair to others by using Elk to convert currency in real time. The app works with an iOS device and integrates with your Apple watch, putting information at your fingertips.
You may have some downtime during your business trips, so entertaining yourself is a vital part of travel. Watching videos is one way of keeping yourself entertained. Listen with headphones, and you won’t disrupt those around you.
If you have a Netflix account, downloading the app is a must for any traveler. However, there may be times when you don’t have access to cellular data. You’ll want to download a few movies or episodes of shows to your app, so you can pull them up even without WIFI access.
When you do have WIFI access, your viewing options are unlimited. Remember that downloads take up space on your mobile device, so delete files after you’ve viewed them.
6. Google Maps
Google Maps is one of the top means of navigating in a car or on foot. If you’re in an unfamiliar city, you can pull up the app and figure out what restaurants and stores are near your location and get walking or driving directions to the destination. The maps also integrate with Google Reviews, so you can see what others think about a particular establishment before frequenting it yourself as well as get price ranges.
Google Maps also offers stop-by-stop directions for local mass transit along with departure and arrival times for trains and buses. Never again will you feel overwhelmed by big city subway systems you aren’t familiar with. You can pull up the app and figure out the best route to take along with where to get on and off transit.
One of the worst parts about business travel is keeping all those receipts and tracking expenses, so you can get reimbursed or prove your per diem. Fortunately, there’s an app that simplifies the process of expense tracking.
The app is free to download. You take a snapshot with your phone of a receipt and describe the expense and submit a final report to your company when you’re finished. Even if your company doesn’t partner with Expensify, you can track costs for your records in case you accidentally misplace a receipt or to make your final report easier to pull together for accounting.
Be Choosy About Apps
The seven apps above represent some of the most useful ones we’ve found. While numerous apps for business travelers exist, be selective about which ones you use. The best apps serve a purpose by making your travel experience easier or reducing your workload in some way. Look for apps that expand communication between you and your home office or solve problems likely to arise while traveling.
Mistakes happen. We are human, and we are not infallible. The trick is not necessarily avoiding mistakes altogether, but instead using them as a learning experience. In business — particularly when running a startup — it’s also essential that you deal with any problems as soon as possible to prevent them from growing into something insurmountable. Some business mistakes may even come back to haunt you later down the line, in that case, it’s about being prepared.
Of course, the best thing to do is to avoid making the mistake in the first place. That’s not always possible, as some things are just going to play out how they play out. However, you can avoid some common problems during your first year of business — mistakes which many other entrepreneurs have made in the past. Here are eight examples.
1. Register as a Business Entity
In the U.S., most states require you to have a business license or at least be registered before you can start operating as one. This process is not the same as incorporating or starting an organization, but it’s just as important because it separates your personal assets from your business assets. What does that mean?
If you’re selling a product that hurts someone or makes them sick and they decide to sue your company, that’s where the business entity comes into play. When registered as a business, that essentially takes over, and the person(s) suing can only collect from your business assets and funds, including available insurance. If you’re not an “entity,” your personal assets are on the table, too. It could very well be the difference between only losing your business funds and supplies or losing your home and personal materials, too.
The most common form of business entity is an LLC or limited liability corporation.
2. Plan Ahead
There’s no way to know for sure what’s coming in the years ahead. Your business could slowly start to grow, die off entirely or hit a sudden boom bringing in millions of dollars a day — you just don’t know. But that doesn’t change anything in regards to planning. You should always plan ahead and have multiple contingencies for when an event or scenario plays out. Don’t prepare just for success, either.
More importantly, you should remember to set goals you can strive toward. Don’t just set them in the near future, either — consider two, five and even 10 years down the line. What would you like to achieve? What new avenues, products or services would you like to pursue? Would you like to be in new markets?
Expanding your business into new markets or opening up new locations, for instance, will be necessary to grow influence and support. But it’s important to understand the risks, timing and requirements, so you don’t incur more significant problems. Do it at the wrong time, and you’ll stretch your capital and assets thin, which could result in failure for the entire operation.
Start with a huge list of desirable yet realistic goals and narrow down what you want to achieve as you continue to grow.
3. Learn to Protect Your Business
Too many startups fail simply because the owner or owners were not prepared to deal with certain unfortunate yet legal events. They did not consult legal assistance, they did not file the appropriate paperwork to protect their assets or they did not draw up a contract to prevent gutting or theft.
Imagine two friends working together to build a startup. Things start to go sour, and one decides to leave, but they want to take “their” ideas or accomplishments with them. It’s too late to draw up a contract to protect the business at that moment. So, you should do it beforehand.
Here are some things to consider:
- Protect intellectual property through trademarks, copyrights, etc.
- Draw up a contract before things get hot and heavy, explicitly outlining what stays with the business and who gets what during a split
- Create similar contracts for partners, vendors and investors
- Consult attorneys, accountants and bankers for advice and support — don’t do everything yourself
- Acquire the necessary insurance or emergency financial support
4. Don’t Incorporate Too Early
Many companies and business owners will decide to incorporate when they’re running low on funds, which opens up their business to public investments and incredible growth. It’s a good idea, and it’s a great source of capital — but that doesn’t mean it’s the best option for your business.
Do not incorporate until your business has a clear foundation and it’s apparent whether you’re going to sink or swim over the coming years. That might sound vague, but you can predict relatively well through past performance how a business will do on its current trajectory.
There are many requirements of an incorporated business you may or may not be able to deal with. For example, investors are going to want the company run the way they think is best, which means making decisions that please them — not necessarily how you would want your business to be shaped. This can completely alter the planning and design phases, as you must incorporate what your investors want as part of your decision, as opposed to only what you or your team might want.
5. Undervaluing Your Products or Services
The price you charge for your goods when you enter the market sets a precedent for your business. In most cases, it’s difficult to raise prices or change a payment plan after your company is in operation, even with iterative product updates. You’d have to make substantial changes to warrant the increase, and many customers are going to be against it or upset by it.
That doesn’t mean you should never change prices, but the critical point here is that you don’t want to undervalue what you have to offer when you’re just starting. A lot of businesses set their price points too low because they aren’t confident or they fear failure.
Before launching anything, explore the market thoroughly to review comparable products. What are similar companies charging? What do your products or services have that others don’t? What’s a good price range for your industry?
6. Avoiding New Technology
For any business, the adoption of new technologies, systems and tools is going to be a costly endeavor — that’s just how it is. The bigger the team, the more time and resources it will take to roll out a new solution — which includes higher costs.
Money aside, you should never be afraid to adopt new technologies or solutions. Many will help teams do their work more effectively, increasing output and ultimately lowering operating costs. In other words, it’s almost always worth the investment.
Do your research beforehand. Also, don’t adopt too many new platforms at once, just work on a single upgrade at a time. When assessing what to try or what to install, consider what parts of your normal day-to-day operations could do with a little improvement.
7. Know Your Ideal Customer
You could have the greatest idea ever for a business or product, but it won’t make a difference if you don’t know who your customer is. That also means understanding what they want, how they live and how they might interact with your business in the future. Will they be willing to upgrade to a new model as soon as it’s available, for instance?
Knowing your customer is not just vital for regular business operations and development, it’s also crucial to marketing. You need to speak directly to your customers through your marketing campaign, including those that have yet to invest in your business.
8. Need Strong Marketing
Speaking of marketing, you won’t see a lot of growth if you aren’t continually promoting your business. Marketing takes many forms from online and social media content to word of mouth referrals. Furthermore, as a local business or new startup, your marketing campaigns are going to look a lot different than large organizations.
You won’t succeed at marketing, however, if you don’t understand your market. That means getting to know your customers, understanding your competition and knowing the current market sentiment. Are people just not interested in the products or services you wish to sell, for instance? How can you change that?
If you don’t learn to market early, you’re going to have a much more difficult time later on. Not to mention, you won’t have a consistent way to bring on new customers and clientele.
Mistakes Happen, So Learn to Correct Your Trajectory
Even armed with these incredibly helpful tips, you’re going to make a few mistakes. That’s okay. What’s important is that you correct your trajectory as soon as you realize what’s happening and that you learn from any errors, so you don’t repeat them.
Running a startup business is not a simple or easy feat. It’s challenging, there will be lots of obstacles and it takes a lot of time, patience and money. But you can make it happen. Just stay focused on your goals, trust in your support and keep pushing forward.
There is a certain draw, a certain magnetism towards being an entrepreneur. Sure, the potential profits can be amazing, there is barely a ceiling on how much money you can make, but there must be something else that makes a person work the insane hours required. It’s the freedom, the control. It’s the fact that all the profits you make, all the success you have, and it’s all yours. However, the risk is very high, as is the starting investment. This is where franchise businesses come in.
Instead of starting everything from scratch, you get the opportunity to run a local branch of a franchise you concluded a contract with. You, for a fee, obtain the right to a franchise, to run a branch with their products, brands, trademarks… With a franchise, you get to essentially be your own boss, all your achievements (and failures) will be yours and yours alone. However, the stating capital needed is much lower than what you need to get for your own business. Furthermore, you get a completely developed plan and marketing strategy pretty much handed to you.
Know that while franchising isn’t for everyone, for some it is the perfect opportunity to achieve their entrepreneurial dreams. However, giving it a shot requires some forethought (obviously). Below are some tips on how to figure out what kind of franchise is right for you.
Which Franchise Business is Best?
What is your initial budget?
The first thing you need to ask yourself is – what is your budget like? Franchise prices vary greatly, they can range from anything between ten thousand dollars, to a cool million. Weight in what your initial investment can be, as well as your expected profits, how soon you will break even, what’s your lifestyle like, and what your goals are.
Understand that the initial investment will depend on the line of work you have chosen. A restaurant will be much more expensive when compared to a B2B company. The equipment can be substantial, refrigerators, coolers, ovens, grills, all the cutlery. You will also need to set up the right décor. Utilities can be quite high, as can the cost of rent if you’re anywhere near a high-traffic location. On the other hand, a B2B consulting company that does all its work online can have its location set-up essentially wherever you want. The initial equipment, besides a few costly computers and software licences, is pretty minimal.
What role do you want to play?
Now, depending on how you want to spend your workday, you can choose to work as an operator, or an absentee owner. If you’re interested in getting right into it, going on the frontlines, then being an operator is an excellent choice. You will have direct insight into what’s going on at the company, will be able to control everything. It is the perfect choice for anybody who gravitates towards a hands-on approach.
On the other hand, absentee owners are more like pure investors. They hire the right staff, and are involved with some of the day-to-day grind, but they are mostly behind the scenes. They let the staff they hired to actually manage the whole enterprise. Now, of course, these choices depend on the franchise. Some places expect one type of work, others the other. Most often you will have free reign, but the actual type of business may require you to be at the office every day.
Do you have any experience (and in which area)?
Finally, you need to figure out where your interests are, in which area have you accumulated experience. There is no point in running a company branch whose line of work you despise. Go with your passion. Are you obsessed with cars? Maybe get the number from some car selling franchise. Do you love artisanal teas? Then calling up Chatime for franchise options is your best bet. How about fashion? Then contact a clothing brand. What you need is passion, and some kind of (formal or informal) education in that area. A couple of years in the business can come in handy as well.
And this isn’t just about passion, or pure knowledge, but about connections as well. If you want to get a franchise focused on the fast food industry, having some ties in that world will serve you well. Knowing the right distributors, maintenance workers, wholesalers and retailers will make your life much easier than just starting from scratch.
A franchise can be just as exciting and lucrative, if not more so, than regularly starting your own business. You still get a serious amount of control, and will have very high potential profits. Furthermore, a big chunk of the work, regarding marketing and planning, will be laid out in front of you. Just remember to figure out what you’re passionate about, and how much experience do you have. Be honest with how big your initial budget can be, and what kind of leadership role can you take on.
As we welcome 2019, business owners look into the future for growth and improvement beyond mere sales figures. Goal setting is a big part of business growth. Those who set specific and measurable goals are much more likely to succeed. If you want your business thriving in 2019 and beyond, write out your goals, and come up with a plan for reaching those goals.
It isn’t easy figuring out which goals to set and how to make them specific to your business. Here are nine precise steps toward setting your new business goals.
1. Collaborate With Your Team
Setting goals works better when company leaders and employees both offer their viewpoints — it becomes clear what’s possible and what isn’t. First, gather information from everyone on your team. Business goals should include the views of every department, from human resources to marketing. Each goal must mesh with the others, so the more input you receive from employees, the better.
The boss can set goals for everyone, but when your employees feel like they’re part of the process, they’ll work harder to help you achieve those goals.
2. Look at Broad Trends
Take the time to study internal analytics and trends in your business. If revenue falls by 50 percent every January, how can you increase income in the first quarter? Study both positive and negative patterns to see what works and what doesn’t.
Set specific goals to overcome the negatives of your business as well as ones that take advantage of what works well. Brainstorm with department heads, and figure out ways to improve even a modest 10 percent each year.
3. Set SMARTA Objectives
Set key goals and objectives that are specific and measurable. SMARTA goals help you set goals and take the steps toward achieving them. SMARTA stands for:
- Specific: Create specific goals with a narrow focus.
- Measurable: Decide how you’ll measure success (sales numbers, subscriber growth, etc.).
- Achievable: Your goals should be possible, or you’ll get discouraged.
- Relevant: Goals must make sense for the next phase of a business’ growth.
- Timed: Set deadlines.
- Agreed: Consult with company leaders and get their input.
Simply setting goals isn’t enough — set them with a purpose and vision.
4. Create an Editorial Calendar
Publishing frequently results in more exposure — businesses that publish at least 16 posts each month get over three times the attention. However, business owners often get distracted by the many other aspects of running a business and forget to schedule new posts. An editorial calendar creates a plan for what to post and when.
5. Hold Daily Meetings
Creating a plan is a nice start, but if you don’t follow through with it, it’s worthless. When you first come up with goals, the excitement drives you toward achieving them. As the year goes on, however, the excitement fades.
Holding daily meetings provides an opportunity to get everyone back on the same page and look at what tasks were completed and what ones need more focus.
6. Break Big Goals Into Smaller Ones
In one study on New Year’s resolutions, researchers found that only eight percent of people achieve their goals. One reason for abandoning goals is that large ones seem overwhelming.
One solution is to break big goals into smaller goals, which are more achievable. Look at your broad goals and divide them into smaller tasks that you can check off as you complete them.
7. Make the Goals Visible
One way to keep your eyes on the prize throughout the year is to write out your goals where everyone can see them and make them as visible as possible. Create large wall hangings and send out team email reminders about smaller goals.
Once you achieve a goal, either add a sizeable green checkmark over it or replace it with a new one. Seeing goals in black and white prioritizes the most critical ones over less important tasks.
8. Find an Accountability Partner
Saying you’ll do X, Y and Z is easy, but following through is more laborious. Keep your eye on the prize by finding a mentor or someone to whom you’re accountable. Set up specific deadlines for check-ins to see where you’re at with your goals.
A good accountability partner understands your business and cares about your success. For example, another executive in a different department has a stake in your success because it impacts the company as a whole. For small businesses, seeking out another business owner who is not your competition but is in a similar industry would be a great option.
9. Reward Small Successes
Make progress toward your end goal by rewarding the small successes along the way. If your big goal is to double sales in 2019 and you add 25 percent new revenue in the first quarter, you’re a quarter of the way there. Go ahead and reward employees with a pizza party at lunch or a cake in the breakroom. Take a day off for team building or some other fun activity. When employees know they have something positive to look forward to along the way, they’re more likely to keep plugging ahead.
Create Multi-Year Plans
Goals should go far beyond the next few months or year and on into five years, 10 years and even 15 years in the future. Sure, the ones so far in advance change and morph, but having them maintains focus. Write your business goals out and break them down into smaller tasks until your dreams become a reality.
Starting your own firm or freelance business? Have your own small business, but looking for a boost? We here at Go Media, your favorite Cleveland design firm, are here to help by providing you with 14 fundamental questions that will have a big impact on how you grow your own company or freelance business.
Whether your focus is creative in nature like ours or whether you are a small business of any kind, we believe that answering these questions will give you some much needed inspiration. While some of these questions may seem obvious, we implore you to take time to answer them fully and honestly.
These questions were taken from our Drawn to Business Design Firm Business Plan Workbook. For the full list of 75 questions, head to our Arsenal and purchase the full workbook. Although design-focused, the workbook will assist any small business owner looking for encouragement to start making positive changes in their company.
Let’s dive in.
- Visualize your ideal firm. What does it look like and how does it operate?
- How will you know when you need to hire a new staff member?
- What do you look for in a new employee? What traits will they have? How will you know a great employee when you see them? How will you assess their character? What does the hiring process look like? Will it look different for each role you’re hiring for?
- When you are hiring, where are you looking for candidates? Will you have any assistance finding candidates? What is the process candidates will go through before they walk through your doors for an interview?
- What is your plan to utilize interns? How many interns are you looking for at any given time? Who will be in charge of your interns/internship program? What value do you hope your interns add to your business? What value will you bring to their experience?
- What kind of systems, policies and traditions would you like to see in your company? For example, what kind of monthly metrics will you run? What will your billing structure look like? Will you throw a killer Christmas party every year?
- What kind of perks do you offer in addition to salary for your staff? What kinds of benefits will you offer (bonuses, profit sharing, medical, life insurance, paid vacations, company holidays, personal days, free PB& J?)
- For creative firms: What is your policy on employee freelancing? Do you allow it?
- How do you plan on keeping your best employees? List all the ways you can show your employees they are appreciated – both monetarily and otherwise.
- When the time comes when you have to fire or let go of an employee how will you handle it? What does a worst case scenario look like? How would you handle it? Best case? What practices would you put into place to guard yourself again many negative experiences?
- What do your employees love about working for your company or what will they love about working for you? What are your strengths as a manager?
- What do your employees dislike about working for your company? What are your downfalls as a manager? How can you improve these things?
- What are some companies you admire for their culture? How can you borrow their ideas?
- What has been the hardest part about growing your company? What are your current pain points? How can you improve?
Go Media is a Cleveland Creative Agency that specializes in web design, graphic design, print, logo design, and web marketing. We’d love to provide you with any and all of these services to help you grow your small business. Contact us for a complimentary review of your brand and to discuss how we can discuss your website, branding, logo, packaging design or other graphic design needs.
Hey Designers, one of our most popular posts is about Top Social Media Hashtags for Designers. We thought we’d continue to shed light on this topic, this time focusing on the best hashtags for creative business owners. We hope that these hashtags enable you to expand your audience. You deserve it!
Now onto the hashtags…
Top Social Media Hashtags for Creative Business Owners
Use a mix of broad and specific hashtags.
Posts with broader hashtags like #Art and #Design will compete with millions of others.
Specific hashtags like #WatercolorArt will afford your post the opportunity to stick around longer.
Are you following your favorite influencers on Twitter and Instagram?
Take tips from them on which hashtags they are using!
Question: How many hashtags should I use?
TrackMaven did a study, and found that posts with nine hashtags received the highest engagement.
Instagram allows the most hashtags, at 30. It’s best to use minimal hashtags on Twitter due to the
Consider coming up with a hashtag that is specific to your company.
Some examples from companies here in Cleveland are Destination Cleveland’s #thisiscle
and Townhall’s #TownhallorNowhere. Keep clearly using your brand hashtag and your customers just
may join in on the action, too.
Good design makes the difference in a company that serves other businesses well and stands out above the crowd. Computer-aided design, or CAD, is one way B2B companies can improve their services, becoming more productive and better meeting the needs of their customers.
By 2023, experts predict the CAD market to reach $11.2 billion globally. The number of businesses using CAD, especially 3D technology, grows annually. CAD is changing the way we design, and, in particular, the way B2B companies do business. Here are five ways CAD is making an impact.
1. Offer Innovation
Computer-aided design allows you to test out a variety of situations before they occur. It saves you from having to create expensive prototypes or develop a product and suddenly realize it doesn’t have the strength or ability to carry out a given task. When businesses use CAD, they can stretch their skills more than ever before.
Hensley Industries creates parts for equipment for construction. So, imagine a new bucket for a piece of excavation equipment or parts to swap out when the current ones wear down. With computer-aided design, engineers can push the limits of the function, while still making sure the equipment is stable.
Since their specialization is attachments and wear parts, figuring out how operators can replace a tooth on the bucket of an excavator quickly is a major concern. CAD allows engineers to run simulations while designing parts. They can see how the part will perform in a real-world situation and figure out a consumption ratio that works both for the businesses they serve and for their bottom line.
2. Personalizing Productions
CAD makes it easier to test minor changes and personalize products to meet the individual needs of clients. In a world where people expect things to fulfill their needs perfectly, this gives your business an edge over competitors. Instead of somewhat meeting the needs of businesses, you can exactly meet their needs.
In one report, 75 percent of consumers reported they want to buy from someone who knows them by name and tracks past purchases to make specific recommendations. It isn’t as easy to accomplish with B2B business, but CAD allows the ability to at least try different features to meet the specific needs of your customers.
3. Presenting a Solution to Clients
Working with other businesses often requires coming up with a solution to a client’s problem. You’ll need to present various answers until you find one that fixes things for the business owner or meets a definite need.
With the use of CAD, you can present the solution in a three-dimensional format, so the client sees exactly how the answer will look in real life. Even better, these solutions are digital, so you can present them via a virtual meeting, saving both of you time and effort.
Playworld creates playground equipment and uses CAD to come up with designs that work in a variety of settings. The company uses what they call their SketchUp 3D Warehouse to bring design ideas to life. They also have a library of CAD files if you want to see what other people have done creating play zones for children.
4. Improving Collaboration
Digital designs make it much easier to present your ideas to collaborators by uploading to the cloud and using a shared workspace. Imagine your client wants a few changes to the design. You make the changes in your software and upload some screenshots or a three-dimensional image or video to the workspace. The client then approves or asks for additional changes.
Gone are the days where you had to painstakingly create prototypes, only to be told they wouldn’t work and you had to start from scratch. CAD saves designers time and money. You’ll be able to take on more projects than before and manage them all seamlessly and efficiently.
5. Accessing Universal Data
Because many companies post their data to the cloud, future project managers benefit from the ideas that have succeeded in the past. If something didn’t work, you’ll be able to avoid that scenario easily. And if something does work, you’ll be able to build on those ideas and take them to the next level or higher.
Whether the information is only within your company from work with the client at hand or past clients, or different companies are sharing information, CAD allows storage of ideas and the ability to pull up specific files for adjustments.
Eagle Engineering uses CAD to help their engineers become increasingly efficient over time. In one step instead of multiple steps, their engineers can create a project by accessing information stored in the system. Then they can use a “streamlined package” to make modifications or correct an error. Other advantages include more precise designs and the ability to test a design before building it.
CAD Is Changing B2B
CAD is just one of the things changing the way businesses serve other businesses. The world is advancing by leaps and bounds, and computer design technology is only one component of creating new products. As CAD continues to develop and improve, expect to see even faster design capabilities and finely tuned features, unlike anything that was possible even a few years ago. If your business isn’t already using CAD, this should be the year you shift over to it.
Your company mission statement shapes everything you do as a business owner. It sets the tone for how you grow, how you treat customers and what you value most as a business owner and a person. Taking the time to create a mission statement that will stand the test of time and work even years after your opening day is a good investment of time.
One study found there is a positive correlation between mission statements and performance. However, the overall impact of how a mission statement influences a brand is almost impossible to measure. There are some important factors to consider as you create your mission statement and how to show off that mission to consumers.
1. Figure Out Your Company’s Purpose
Why did you want to start your company in the first place? Once you know your purpose, it’s much easier to write a mission statement. If your goal is to help people in your community by providing a solution to the problem, this should play into your mission statement.
Your mission statement should explain the “what,” “who” and “how” of your company. What does your company do, who does it and how do you serve the community? Answering these simple questions is a great place to start with a mission statement.
Watts of Love’s mission statement reads, “Watts of Love is a global solar lighting nonprofit bringing people the power to raise themselves out of the darkness of poverty.” Note how the statement tells what Watts of Love is (global solar lighting), who they are (a nonprofit) and what they do for the world (bring people the power to raise themselves out of the darkness of poverty). Everything they do will reflect back to that statement.
2. Highlight Your Mission Statement
There are more factors to consider as you create a strong mission statement, but before you finish the statement, you should also consider how you’ll utilize it. If you plan to use it online and offline, then you’ll want to ensure it’s concise enough for print advertising.
Think through places you’ll use the statement, such as social media channels as well as your own website. Does the statement fit or can you break it down into smaller points? Highlight your mission anytime you get a chance. It will also keep you focused as a business owner on your ultimate purpose.
3. Help the World
One way to figure out your mission is to figure out how your company helps the world. While it is typically obvious how a nonprofit helps those in need, it may not be as readily obvious if you run a for-profit business.
This is your opportunity to find a way to tap into what you’re most passionate about. Some companies choose to take on a cause and donate a portion of their proceeds while others focus on how their very product or service helps others.
Take a look at how Mercy Corps works up a mission statement that highlights how they help the world. Their statement reads, “Alleviate suffering, poverty and oppression by helping people build secure, productive and just communities.” That’s a pretty strong focus on how they help the world at large by alleviating the suffering of poverty and oppression. How do you help the world with your business?
4. Study Other Mission Statements
One of the best ways to figure out your mission statement is to study the statements of other companies. Check out the missions of both large non-profits and for-profits. What do you like about their mission statements and what could be better? Take notes on which statements you like the best and why.
Once you’ve studied other statements and have a series of notes, take the time to study what you liked and didn’t like. Really break sentences apart and look at the elements in the sentence. Do they match what you know about — as well as who, how, when and why?
5. Write a Rough Draft
Your next step should be to come up with a rough mission statement. Answer the questions about what your company is, who you are and how you help the world, or at least your customers. You may need some help brainstorming here. Pull in friends, family and other business owners and ask for their views of what your business does and why you do it.
Once you have some ideas, begin to play around with the words until you have a few mission statements you somewhat like. This is your rough draft that you can build on — more on that in a minute — and use to create something polished and well-honed.
Google’s mission statement reads, “Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” They go into more detail on their About page and explain that they want to make information accessible to everyone around the world. It’s simple, but they clearly show how they are making the world better for those seeking information.
6. Deepen Your Mission
Once you have gone through the steps to come up with a few rough mission statements, spend some time thinking about which one truly defines you as a company. Once you’ve developed your mission, take time each quarter to study how well you’re delivering on that mission and figure out ways to better meet your mission goals.
Are you communicating your mission to your customers and your employees? The best way to be successful in delivering your mission is to get everyone on board with it.
The Importance of Knowing Your Purpose
While the values of your company are separate from the mission, the two are intricately entwined. Your values shape your overall mission and your mission statement reminds you — and the public — of those values. Putting your mission statement in writing is a good way to redirect your focus when you veer off the path you set for yourself in the beginning.
You’ve heard it said that time is money, and this is particularly true when running a tech company. The more productive and efficient your company becomes, the better you’ll fare in this highly competitive field.
Some of the big tech giants, such as Apple and Google, run companies that are about 40 percent more efficient. Over time, this results in more profit and these companies edging out the competition. Fortunately, you can repeat their success by adopting some of their tactics, as well as a few other smart business standards.
1. Group “A” Players Together
Every company has a few stars in their employee pool. These are the people who are the go-getters. They have ideas, and they make things happen. They likely graduated near the top of their class, have internship experience and a passion for what they do.
In most companies, these “A” players are put into various roles throughout the company, working with all different levels, including employees not performing well. However, at Google, the “A” players are put on the same team and allowed to work together to accomplish amazing things. Not only does this spur on the others in the “A” group, but other groups look to them for inspiration.
2. Get Rid of Processes That Slow Things Down
Every company has certain processes that are cumbersome. Sometimes these processes are well intended, such as keeping management in the loop about important decisions or limiting how much money executives can spend.
Companies lose about 25 percent of their productivity to organizational processes that prevent work from getting down. People have to stop and get permission or are unable to complete a task because of all the rules in place. Even though rules protect your company, also include a way around the rules when it’s in the best interest of moving your business forward.
3. Improve Your Company Culture
A strong, positive company culture does several things for your business. First, it promotes a spirit of teamwork. If Manager A isn’t quite sure how to complete a big project, he will feel much more comfortable consulting Manager B if he knows that person well and has participated in teambuilding activities.
Reward hard work and good attitude, and your employees will lose their fear. Celebrate small and big successes together. Keep everyone on the same page with short meetings every morning. All these little things add up to a company culture that teaches employees to thrive instead of simply survive.
4. Audit Your Program
Some industries rely heavily on high quality and remaining competitive, such as aviation. Take the time for a program audit and figure out how you can improve various processes as well as decrease costs. A good audit will also identify ways to move forward and give you a solid plan of action for the future.
Audits have other benefits as well, such as opening up new business ideas, improving quality control and finding issues in the supply chain. An audit isn’t a one-time occurrence, though. A thorough audit should be done at least every year or two.
5. Automate Tasks
Take the time to really look at your business and what tasks require hands-on work and which ones could potentially be automated. If you require employees to file lengthy reports, is there a way to generate the report more quickly or shorten it the process?
The more tasks you can automate, the more time you free up for your best employees to innovate. In a tech company, you can easily automate and outsource customer service tasks. Just make sure the service is still up to your standards. This frees resources you can then point toward creating new products.
6. Stop the Multitasking
Multiple studies show that multitasking is not efficient and actually lowers productivity. Most people simply can’t multitask. Instead, their brains are moving from one task to the other, bouncing back and forth rapidly, but losing momentum in the process. A very small 2.5 percent of people can multitask with any success. That means the rest of us are just spinning our wheels.
Encourage your employees to focus on one task at a time instead of trying to do multiple things at once. Stress the importance of this and share the studies with your workers. Create a company culture that rewards focus rather than quantity of tasks completed in a day.
7. Ban Unplanned Short Meetings
One of the biggest time-wasters in many workers’ days is the “hey, do you have a minute or two?” meeting. This is when someone has a question and they pop over to the other worker’s desk and ask a few questions. The person’s work is interrupted and it takes several minutes to get back into the flow of what they were doing.
Encourage people to shoot out an email instead that the person can answer at a later time. Few things are as urgent as they seem. Teach employees to figure out the difference between urgent and important and to keep unplanned meetings for only those tasks that truly are urgent.
8. Engage Employees
Investing just 10 percent more in employee engagement improves your bottom-line revenue by about $2,400 annually per engaged employee. What are some ways to engage employees, though? First, cultivate leaders in your company. A strong leader can inspire employees and will make them feel part of the team.
You should also allow an open forum where employees present their ideas, reward the effort and provide plenty of team building and company teamwork opportunities. Reserve one day a month for mini-retreats and one day a week for recognizing stellar work and effort.
9. Seek New Tools
When it comes to running your business on a day-to-day basis, embrace new software and tools. More and more people use Instagram today. Is your marketing department focused on an Instagram presence? Does your target audience live there?
Don’t be afraid to try a new tool, new way to promote your business or new software. A tech company should be on the cutting edge of new innovation more so than other types of businesses. You can always return to the old way of doing things if needed.
Successful Tech Companies
The most successful tech companies start with innovation and a unique outlook on the world and never stop innovating. Apple didn’t just create a smartphone and leave it at that. Instead, the company constantly releases new updates and phones with better features. If you want your tech company to be the next Google, or even just successful in your own little corner of the world, you must open your eyes and mind to doing things differently and encourage your employees to do the same.
What is real time technology & how has it changed the way we do business?
Real-time technology is exactly what it sounds like — data that changes what we do at the moment we do it. With the rise of cloud servers and better wireless capabilities, more businesses use this type of technology in daily operations today. Here are a few ways businesses use real-time technology and how it’s improved or changed over the years.
1. Using Live Chat
Live chat is one way real-time technology changed the way we do business online. Even though the capability has been available for years, live chat wasn’t as popular in the past as it is today. A decade ago, people still used email or picked up the phone if they had a question.
Today, consumers go to a website and connect instantly with a customer service representative to ask a question. Analysts estimate live chat will grow by 87 percent in the next year. Although some companies choose hours when live chat is available, it is still fast, efficient service.
SnapEngage includes their live chat option on their 404 error pages. Since a 404 page often results in visitors leaving a website, adding a live chat feature is a way to keep site visitors engaged, no matter where they are on your site.
2. Updating Information
Real-time technology provides the opportunity for updated information. This is particularly true for industries that provide information, such as online newspapers. Gone are the days when people had to wait until the next morning to see a breaking story in the newspapers.
You don’t need a television these days to get your news. In fact, breaking news sometimes hits Twitter and Facebook before journalists report it on cable news networks. Updated information that is ahead of the game is why many news consumers prefer the Internet.
3. Locating People in Real Time
Real-time technology can also track where someone is at any given moment. This type of technology tracks traffic flow at a trade show or predicts the needs of a patient in a hospital and allows staff to respond quickly and efficiently.
Centrak is an example of a real-time location system built with health care in mind. The system allows for efficient serving of patients, and it measures environmental conditions and integrates with other technology and systems within the facility. One advantage with this system is the ability to track assets. If two departments share the same medical device, whoever needs to use it can locate it quickly.
4. Improving Performance
Real-time technology improves the performance of people such as athletes. Most NFL teams use real-time GPS location tracking now during training. The trackers report data that allows coaches to figure out ways to improve performance.
Watching game tapes provides some information to these teams, but having the ability to see the exact positioning of a player during a specific play adds the ability to tweak fine points that mean the difference between champions or almost champions.
5. Planning Reservations
Real-time technology also helps businesses that sell tickets, such as theaters, airlines or event venues. This technology helps consumers see what is available at any given moment, but also helps the business sell empty seats. Systems have the capability to adjust pricing.
For example, if there is a single seat available, it won’t be as attractive as seats in groups of two or more. The price on that single seat can be reduced to make it more attractive and hopefully fill the empty spot. This increases overall profits for the business.
Cinemark is one of many theaters moving to a reserved seating system. Instead of showing up at the last minute and hoping to get a decent seat, consumers purchase tickets ahead of time and choose the seat location. The system updates availability in real time, so consumers see what seats are still available.
6. Managing Field Workers
Another way real-time technology works for businesses is by managing field workers. If you employ workers who go out into the field, such as movers, service professionals or salespeople, organizing calls is a real challenge.
However, with real-time GPS tracking technology, call center managers easily see where each field worker is. Workers check in at different points throughout the service process, so the call center also sees if the job is almost wrapped up or the field worker needs more time. This current information allows the call center to assign jobs as they come in and re-route field workers who finish a job earlier than expected.
7. Pushing Notifications
Mobile devices create the perfect conduit for real-time push notifications. For example, the consumer nears a store at the local shopping mall and suddenly their phone pings. It is a message from one of their favorite stores informing them of a flash sale going on at that exact moment.
This use of real-time technology allows businesses to highly target customers and make sure they aren’t forgotten amidst all the competing stores. Businesses can also use other triggers to push notifications, such as the opening of an app, arriving home after time spent out driving or an number of other triggers all created by real-time data.
Real-Time Technology Tomorrow
Already, real-time technology impacts our lives every single day. From gaming to online chatting to improving processes, up-to-date technology makes businesses more efficient than ever before. In the future, expect technology to become even more refined. While tech can track people’s movements within a short distance now, as technology improves, this will become even more precise. Who knows where business in the future might take real-time technology and where real-time technology might take businesses?
Satellite technology changed the world dramatically after the first experiment in the late 1950s. Today, people communicate in real-time around the globe, view a specific location via Google Earth or beam a signal from one corner of the globe to another. Satellites get smaller and more powerful with time similar to the advances in computers.
The advances in communication alone are staggering. Fifty years ago, people were not able to watch an interview with someone in Jerusalem in real time. Today, with a minor delay between the person speaking and the stream arriving, we see what is going on at almost any point on the globe at any time thanks to satellites.
Investment in space companies is growing and with good reason. The advancements are astounding — from launching rockets into space to reusable booster experimentation to reducing the size of satellites. In the last 18 years, space startups attracted over $13.3 billion from investors. Much of the growth in coming years will be in satellite technology. There are six main reasons your business should consider investing in satellite technology.
1. Edge Over Competitors
Launching your own personal satellite into space, typically low-orbit, lets you collect data about a specific area. This can give you an edge over competitors who don’t have access to this information. The cost of these personal amateur satellites is rapidly decreasing. What was once government domain is now in the hands of anyone. For example, a small cube satellite, called a CubeSat, may only cost a company $3,000 to launch into orbit.
Larger corporations will benefit from that ability to privatize their own communication channels. No longer will they have to rely on outdated and expensive telephone companies, but they can launch their own systems to use for everything from connecting a computer network around the world to teleconferencing capabilities. Chrysler and Hughes have a contract for a very small aperture terminal (VSAT) system that will allow the company to transmit data more easily.
2. Information to Grow
Another advantage to investing in satellite technology is the actual analysis capabilities of the information you collect. Imagine a real estate investment group having access to how many people are flowing into an area over time. This would allow that group to see where to build new condos or where shopping complexes are most needed.
While you can do some of this analysis from the ground, getting these stats from orbit gives you another piece of the puzzle and allows you to make more informed decisions about the future of your business.
3. Offer Supportive Products
Another way your company can invest in satellite technology is through offering supportive services. For example, one of the concerns with CubeSats is the thermal challenges. A way to overcome that challenge is through heat sinks or embedded radiators to reduce the heat. Knowing what products to offer and how to best support satellite technology requires partnering with the companies building mini satellites and thoroughly studying the issue.
4. Invest Financially
Perhaps you aren’t quite ready to launch your own mini satellite into orbit or create a new product to provide support for those who do. However, you can still invest in satellite technology financially.
Any type of business can provide financial support for a local entrepreneur looking to launch into space or further develop this technology. Alternately, you can invest in a large company or donate funds for research — which may be tax deductible if the organization is non-profit.
5. Be Ready for the Changes
Knowing what satellites provide can also allow your business to look toward the future and figure out how you might prepare for the coming technological changes. One way to figure out what satellites will offer is by looking at what they have offered. As the cost of equipment continues to drop, enhanced communication will follow.
Imagine a world with a wireless Internet that anyone anywhere can connect to, even those in very rural locations. Not only would it be easier than ever before to connect and have face-to-face conversations, but the network will become more reliable with less dropped communication or some of the delays experienced today.
6. Support the Environment
Has your business committed to the environment? If your goal is to leave a small carbon footprint, you can take things a step further and actually improve the environment by using satellite technology to spot issues before they grow too large.
Imagine that there is an oil spill in an area near your company headquarters. With satellite imagery, you can see how far the spill reaches and make a plan for the best way to begin cleanup. Perhaps you run a dog food company, so your commitment is to go in and save as much of the wildlife as possible. With satellite technology, you can pinpoint the areas of the spill and the areas where wildlife is located. Then you can make a plan to rescue as many creatures as possible.
Invest in Satellite Technology
Technology advances at such a rapid pace in the twenty-first century that it can be hard to keep pace. Companies that don’t stay on top of advances tend to fall rapidly behind. Satellites are the future of data and now is the time to invest in this technology, particularly if you work in the IT or technology sectors. If you don’t invest, you can be certain your competitors will.
Photographs of before and afters allow you to highlight the difference your product makes in the lives of your customers. They serve as a visual testimonial of what you can accomplish for the consumer as a company.
If you aren’t already using some form of visual content marketing, you’re missing out. Most people skim over the text on a page, reading only 20 to 28 percent of the words. However, a visual makes an impression in milliseconds, so adding before and afters makes a quick impact on your target audience.
Other reasons your site needs before and afters include the following.
1. Earn Social Media Attention
There are about 1.96 billion people on social media. Although not everyone will be interested in your product, a portion will be. Before and after photos give you the opportunity to showcase what your company can do on social media. The side-by-side look at before and after is a powerful testimony about your brand.
2. Give Customers Creative Ideas
Before and after photos can help your target audience be more creative in the ways they utilize your product. For example, if you sell a home improvement product, you may offer a lot of different options for the homeowner. By providing before photos of how bad a home looked and after photos of how fresh and new it is, you also offer ideas for how the customer can apply your product in the best way.
Take a look at how Global Home Improvement integrates before and after photos to show what adding new windows to your home can do for your home’s overall curb appeal and interior design. Some of the photos are quite dramatic, showing a home go from outdated and drab to modern and amazing.
3. Provide Weekly Reveals
You can create a lot of excitement by doing a weekly reveal of results as time passes. This strategy works particularly well for sites that focus on weight loss or other big image changes that take time to accomplish.
For example, if you sold a weight loss product or service, you would ask one of your customers to share weekly photos of their progress. You would then do a weekly or even monthly photo reveal of the results. This method can get other users excited about what’s possible with your product.
4. Showcase Inspirational Results
Another way to utilize before and afters is by sharing dramatic photos that show inspirational results. The best photos to use in these cases are ones that show a dramatic difference. If the difference is only slight, then the before and afters might not translate as well for the first-time site visitor. On the other hand, if the results are dramatic, that same visitor will be wowed. Online before and after photos are one of the top things that inspire people to lose weight.
Take a look at the dramatic before and after photos used on the Anderson Dental website. In the first image, the person’s teeth are yellowed and uneven. In the second image, the teeth are white, straight and nearly perfect. This type of dramatic imagery shows potential patients what the dentist can do for them as well.
5. Excel in Your Industry
Some industries lend themselves to before and after photos more so than others. However, any type of business can utilize before and afters. If you sell a weight loss product, provide medical procedures or complete home improvement projects, before and after photos may seem almost integral to your website. Other industry experts who might benefit from before and afters include website designers showing a site before and after fixing it.
Another idea is to dig a bit deeper and provide customer testimonials and case studies that highlight just what your business can accomplish for customers. Sometimes, the before and after photo will be obvious, such as showing the improvement in a newsletter’s format. But sometimes it won’t be as obvious, such as displaying a simple photo of a happy consumer after your company has helped them.
6. Create a Connection
Before and after photos can help forge a connection with the consumer. People tend to look at photos and put themselves in the same situation as the people in them. This process creates an instant connection between your website and the consumer, allowing the potential client to see how your product might work for him.
Merrie’s Organizing Mania features photos of homes before the organizer began her work and after. This side-by-side shows a dramatic difference in cluttered garages and rooms in the home. Imagery like this shows the consumer what the service might do for their home as well. It allows them to picture how their house might look after being organized.
7. Gain Interest
Without visuals, your website can turn pretty bland. Visual elements enable the consumer to skim and still gain valuable insight without stopping and reading every bit of text on the page. Before and after photos add a lot of interest to your website and give the user something to share with others.
Should You Add Before and Afters?
Whether before and afters work best for your site or not is ultimately up to you and based on what your site visitors respond to, but most people find them helpful. Look for creative ways to show off what your business provides. Even if you share only one or two before and afters, they’ll act as a testimony to just what you’re capable of accomplishing for consumers.
Website color choice is never an easy decision. Do you stick with your company colors or go with a color scheme that has maximum impact on site visitors? There is a science to figuring out the psychology behind various color choices and the impact they have on people.
The hypothalamus reacts to color, and hormones release which trigger emotions. The emotions, in turn, impact your behavior, including shopping behavior. Somewhere between 62 and 90 percent of the decisions to purchase something is based solely on color. Using the right colors can increase your conversions and help you make an emotional connection with consumers.
Of course, different industries should focus on different color choices. The right choice of color can create a tone, a sense of trust or even lend credibility to your website. While you can experiment with different combinations to stand out, it is important to know which colors associate with an industry and how to create a sense of trust in your brand from the minute a user lands on your page.
Here are five industries and the best color choices for those industries:
Most restaurant websites stick to a basic color palette that includes colors such as brown, red, white and black. You will see these colors appear over and over on food-themed sites. Of course, some trendy designers work in additional colors to grab interest, and this can work well, especially in such a crowded marketplace.
Food photographs tend to really pop on a black or white background, which is often one of the reasons for the choice of black and white. Red has long been associated with enticing people to hunger, although there is some debate about how effective that choice is today with more and more people aware of such tactics.
Experts advise staying away from the color blue for anything food related as it is a color often associated with poison. There are not many naturally blue foods, which may be why it doesn’t work well for restaurant websites.
Fig restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina uses the basic approach of a black and white base. They add a pop of color through the image of one of their dishes and also show an image of a chef cooking and using a kitchen tool. The use of black and white lends a sense of trust in the establishment as it is a color scheme people are used to seeing and the pops of red and green in the food photograph draw attention.
Hospitality can encompass everything from hotels to salons. Hotels can actually increase bookings by using color psychology. The color brown lends a sense of comfort and home, but adding a pop of blue to the CTA button can draw visitors to book a room.
If creating a website for a salon or spa, using colors that put the person in mind of health and nature is a good choice. Consider using colors found in nature, such as green, brown and sky blue.
When creating a medical website, you want to evoke feelings of security and trust. The color blue is often seen as trustworthy. In addition, blue is a good choice because it’s a favorite color of both men and women. Many medical sites use white and blue color schemes. This keeps things simple, and the color blue makes the person feel secure.
For example, you wouldn’t use the color red, because people might associate red with blood. A color scheme of red and white might even scare potential patients away.
Beltone, a hearing aid provider, uses very traditional colors of white and blue with a touch of gray to lend a sense of credibility to their website. A visitor can immediately see that this is likely a medical type website. Even the colors in the photograph mirror the blues and grays in the overall design. This works well for a site providing a medical device.
Construction websites tend to gravitate toward brown, orange and blue. While you do have a bit more of a range of colors you can utilize, it’s smart to think through the message you most want to convey. If you want to convey energy and excitement, then orange is a good choice. If you want the site visitor to think about the earth, then browns work well. If you want a more generic color choice that is fairly safe, go with blue, which also lends a sense of trust in you and your work.
Don’t be afraid to add plenty of white to any design. The use of white is fairly neutral. You can then add pops of color with your headings, photographs and your CTA.
Have you noticed that a lot of banks tend to use blue and white similar to what the medical sites use? Again, this invokes feelings of stability and trust. When you place your money with an institution, you definitely want that feeling of stability.
Green might seem like a natural choice when talking about money, however, people tend to associate green with nature. So, unless you’re an environmentally friendly banking company, you might want to utilize other colors.
Note how T. Rowe Price uses a variety of blues to add a sense of credibility and stability to their website. Even the image that takes up the background is fairly neutral, which places the emphasis on the pops of blue and the single CTA in orange. Note that the orange used in the CTA is rather subdued instead of a bright color that might appear more youthful and less serious.
Best Color Scheme for Your Industry
To figure out the best color scheme for your industry, spend some time studying competitor websites. You’ll likely begin to see a pattern. Combine that knowledge with the psychology behind color choices to come up with a scheme that works for your target audience. Don’t be afraid to add a pop of color on a CTA button and to do split testing and see what works best for conversions.
Email etiquette for creatives
We exchange emails with clients and potential sponsors on a daily basis. Sometimes multiple emails in a day. It’s vital that these messages mean what they say and say what they mean. Here is a guide to writing emails that make you look like the professional creative you are.
Ask Google first.
Have a question that you think Google can answer? Definitely check there first. There is nothing more annoying than receiving an email or IM and thinking ‘Why didn’t they just Google this?”
Be positive always.
Avoid using negative verbiage in your email. Make sure that everything has a positive spin to it. No one likes an email that starts with: “Unfortunately…” or “I’m sorry to have to annoy you with this question, but…” Either put a positive spin on it or rethink what you’re sending.
Provide value in return.
When you send an email with a request for value, make sure you’re giving value in return. For example, when reaching out to a possible mentor, asking to pick their brain about everything they’ve learned about business in 30 years, you’ve got to:
– Only offer them something valuable right back and
– Give them an easy way out in case they’re busy or uninterested.
Do not put them in the position where they have to feel rude if they have to/want to say no.
Be a unicorn in a field of horses.
Here’s the thing to keep in mind. Time is currency. I don’t know about you, but I have a constant rush of emails flooding my inbox on any given day and it seems like they never stop. The most refreshing emails that I open are the ones that have a few lines or less…what I like to call the magical unicorn of emails. They get to the point and even better, make my ability to respond a whole lot easier.
– If this is an initial reach out with a sponsor or potential partner: introduce yourself, say hello, who you are, and that you see a synergy between your brand and theirs. Attach some information about what they do and ask that they get in contact with you should they agree.
– If this is your ordinary email and you need something or have a question: ask for it, ask it. Be polite, but leave out the fluff.
Pro tip: Leave your social media links in your signature, so that potential clients or brands can take a look at your work if they’re so inclined. This will reduce the amount of material you have to put in the body itself.
Good luck and happy emailing!