Article | March 24, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic presents unique challenges for every business and every individual, creating a new reality. It also provides an opportunity for creative solutions to maximize customer and employee service and value and ways in which each business can individually be of service to others, said Mark Lupo, a consultant with the Small Business Development Center at the University of Georgia. “For small businesses, this can be a time to build relationships with customers and employees on a deeper level, by communicating that you care about them and are concerned for their safety,” Lupo said.
Article | March 24, 2020
We have more upcoming business challenges for 2021 now that the year 2020 has passed. Therefore, we ought to be prepared with some power-packed small business marketing ideas for the upcoming year.
Starting a business, no matter how big or small, is easy; the real challenge is keeping it running smoothly and efficiently. Marketing is critical to the smooth operation of a business. Marketing is an essential component of any business for it to thrive. Marketing allows you to establish and promote your brand, generate sales, generate leads, and so on. It isn’t easy to implement the right marketing strategies for a business. Furthermore, due to limited resources, implementing the right marketing ideas for small businesses is more difficult.
Whether you are starting a new business or already have one, it is critical to have an online presence for marketing and brand awareness.
Before we get into the meat of this blog, let me clarify a few concepts for a better understanding of business marketing.
Importance of marketing for small businesses
Marketing is critical for the success of small businesses. Without proper marketing, your reach is extremely limited. Marketing has a long-term impact on your company. It increases sales, helps businesses grow and engages customers. All this necessitates careful planning. Planning entails deciding on the best platform and tools for marketing your company.
Develop a marketing plan
A marketing plan is a detailed plan that outlines the advertising strategy used to generate leads and reach the target customer and market. It collects various marketing strategies used to promote a company, its products, or services. Thus, preparing a marketing plan is very important to set small business marketing ideas. Knowing your audience, spelling out marketing and promotional strategies, creating buyer personas, generating leads and demands, generating web traffic, , and converting leads to sales, are all part of a marketing plan. It is of utmost importance to keep marketing trends in mind and carry out a marketing plan.
Benefits of a marketing plan
A marketing plan brings everyone on the same page.
Makes marketing strategy documented and easy to consult.
It makes it easy to evaluate new opportunities.
It gives a better understanding of your marketing strategy.
Helps in making the right decision for your business or marketing.
Having a plan implies that your objectives are measurable.
It enables your business to be proactive and aligned with its vision and goals.
There are plenty of small business marketing strategies available for your business. I will assist you in selecting the best ones for your business's success by providing you with a few small business marketing ideas.
Top 8 small business marketing ideas
Know your audience
How would you identify your business's target audience? Any marketing technique aims to attract customers to their brands, but not everyone can be a buyer. For your product or service, you must concentrate on a specific target audience. However, this necessitates some market research, which will assist you in identifying your business's niche.
Market research entails gathering information from customers, such as what motivates them to make a purchase decision? What are their requirements? What do they expect from a service provider or a product vendor?
Emphasize search engine optimization (SEO)
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) optimizes the content on your website. . It is popular and preferred by business owners because organic content is a free source of high-quality traffic and internet searchability. You can bring in more traffic to your content and more leads only through SEO. Top ranking achieved through SEO promotes your website 24 hours a day, seven days a week, where Google searches occur 60,000 times per second. However, reaching the top ranking necessitates a significant amount of effort. SEO is a long-term marketing strategy with remarkable long-term returns.
Here are few tips to be kept in mind for the success of optimizing your content via SEO:
Produce high-quality content on hot topics in your niche.
Create content that focuses on relevant and valuable keywords.
Optimize your header tags so that search engines capture your pages.
Include your primary keywords in all your website's landing pages, titles, meta descriptions, and so on.
Use internal linking that helps search engines crawl and index your pages.
Optimize meta descriptions.
Reduce page load time by optimizing your website's images.
Concentrate on generating backlinks.
Use engaging videos to connect
Customers are getting video savvy on the social media platform. Videos develop a personal connection with the viewers or clients, and in this age of social distancing, it has proved to be a blessing for business marketers. Videos play a key role in brand awareness of the business. People with short attention spans are drawn to videos (everybody). Video marketing is also done with a limited budget; therefore, it is one of the best small business marketing ideas.
Marketing teams use video marketing as a strategy to create, curate, and use videos for marketing their products or services to their target audience. However, the goal is to keep audience members engaged with the brand in a simple and easy-to-digest manner.
YouTube receives five billion video views per day. Besides, the average viewing session is 40 minutes per day, a 50 percent increase year over year. Other platforms for live videos, such as Facebook and Instagram, are also very popular. Facebook live videos have a 4.3 percent engagement rate, while non-live videos have a 2.2 percent engagement rate.
People watch 16 hours of online video per week on average, a 52% increase over the last two years.
Viewers retain 95 percent of a message when they watch it in a video versus 10% when they read it in text.
Social video generates 1200 times the number of shares as text and image content combined.
Optimize your marketing technology stack
The marketing technology stack is a collection of technologies used by marketers to optimize their marketing processes throughout the customer lifecycle. Implementing a marketing technology (Martech) stack allows you to leverage and improve your marketing activities.
Benefits of optimizing Martech
Marketing teams can streamline workflows.
Martech tools reduce internal friction.
Allows all departments to work together towards common goals.
Marketing technologies help simplify complex processes, measure the impact of marketing activities, and drive more efficient spending.
Make social media significant for the promotion
Social media networks have transformed the face of marketing and are one of the powerful marketing business tools.
According to Global WebIndex research, approximately 53.6 percent of the world's population uses social media. The average daily usage is two hours and twenty-five minutes. The social media platform is the cheapest and most effective for small business advertising. Social media helps you increase your domain authority, brand awareness, improves search engine ranking, and offers higher inbound traffic, among many more.
As a small business owner, you just need to invest your time and effort into it.
Use relevant hashtags in the post.
Visual content (high-quality and eye-catching) along with text.
Encourage comments on your posts.
Find your brand voice.
Make use of influencer marketing.
Social media proved to be encouraging small business marketing ideas.
Automate your important marketing channels
When it comes to simple marketing ideas, automation is the best solution because it streamlines marketing processes. Thus, businesses need to leverage the automation of marketing channels to reduce manual tasks and save time.
Marketing automation is done by:
Repetitive tasks such as email and website actions can be automated.
Marketing process effectiveness measurement. This results in increased operational efficiency. Also helps to increase your revenue.
Creating a schedule for social media posts.
Marketing automation integrates all business channels and outreach into a single customer database. Automation turned up as one of the key trends in B2C business. Marketing automation makes small businesses competitive.
AI is also a part of marketing automation and is often used in marketing efforts where speed is essential. Marketing automation is feasible for small business ideas. Looking at all the above advantages, there is a growing need for automation as a small business marketing idea.
Optimize your content for voice search
Voice search uses voice technology that allows users to perform searches on a device simply by speaking into it; the device could be a smartphone, a computer, or a smart home assistant (like Amazon Alexa, Siri, Cortana, and Google home). Voice search has grown in popularity in recent years. For instance, voice input now accounts for 50% of all searches. As a result, now is the time to optimize your web pages for the same.
The year 2020 predicted the widespread use of voice search, but 2021 is when consumers are using this technique via voice-enabled devices during the pandemic. Small businesses have a real opportunity to capitalize on a local search through voice. Companies that want to stay ahead of the curve in digital marketing are already implementing a voice search strategy. Small business owners can take advantage of such popular marketing technology trends.
Send and respond to review the request and perform referral marketing
Customers trust and rely on the reviews and customer’s feedback. Thus, encourage customers to share their experience with the products or services that the company is offering. Customer feedback acts as social proof that your customers trust. The reviews or testimonials could be positive or negative, but it surely helps businesses to improve their business or marketing strategies.
Send review requests via text or email that will make the process easy for customers. However, it is equally important that you also respond to the reviews. Responding to reviews can help your business rank higher in search engines.
Small businesses often think referral marketing is not their cup of tea and is meant for large businesses. However, small businesses have a lot more to gain from it as it is one of the best ways for lead generation. A referral is nothing but someone you know recommending the product or service to their known or friends. This marketing idea acts as a promotional channel for small businesses.
Everything is going online, and digital marketing is booming. Since you are now aware of marketing ideas for small businesses, you are only one step away from putting them into action and reaping the benefits of the above marketing ideas.
What are the best marketing ideas for a small-scale business?
The best marketing ideas for a small business include social media, search engine optimization, referral marketing, market automation, etc.
Why is marketing strategy important for small businesses?
How you communicate your value to others is defined by your marketing strategy. Small businesses must improve their positioning. A marketing strategy will help you make sound decisions.
How to calculate the online growth of small business?
Companies should have year-over-year growth of between 15% and 45 percent as a general benchmark. According to a SaaS survey, companies with less than $2 million in annual revenue grow faster. When you have a diverse audience base, you have all necessary processes in place that show the online growth of the small business.
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Article | March 24, 2020
If your enterprise-level eCommerce business is reaching the point of expansion, it’s time to think about how you can scale your processes as effectively as possible. With efficiency and future growth in mind, we have a word of warning: Now is not the time to throw things at the wall to see what sticks. Instead, it’s time to buckle down and do your homework. The first step in scaling an eCommerce business is to prepare for that growth. You should be sure you have your data organized, your features lined up and your strategy set.
Article | March 24, 2020
Treasury management or more generally Supply Chain Finance management is still a neglected topic at many SMEs.
While large international corporations make the investment into expensive treasury management solutions (often part of their ERP solution) and even setup their own In-House Banks, this is considerably more difficult for the mid-corp segment and even more so for the smaller segment of the SMEs. Often SMEs lack the funding, time and expertise to deploy those platforms and often those platforms lack the flexibility required by an SME.
Nonetheless in this globalized competitive market with fast moving cash, even SMEs are in need of an effective treasury management. Every SME has its own specific challenges, due to its specific payment cycles and cash reserves. Nonetheless most SMEs (estimated to about three-quarters) still do their treasury management via (complex) Excel sheets, requiring a lot of manual effort. This gap forms a big opportunity (in Europe SMEs account for more than half of all gross value added) for incumbent banks and Fintechs to offer easy and user-friendly tooling for this. In recent years, more and more Fintech players try indeed to provide an answer to this gap, often via SaaS platforms, which connect easily to the customer’s banks (via Open Banking APIs) and for which the setup cost is limited.
The gains for an SME in optimizing their treasury processes can be very substantial. A good treasury management can reduce costs in multiple ways:
Reduce working capital by reducing the time to collect money from customers, by reducing inventory and/or by paying suppliers only at the payment due dates.
Reduce unpaid invoices by a better follow-up and good debt collection techniques
Reduce penalties (such as administration costs or late-payment interests) due to late payments and indirectly also improve the relationship with suppliers.
Reduce effort (resource workload) for financial management, like the follow-up of payments of incoming and outgoing invoices, automated generation of payment instructions for incoming invoices…
Optimized cash management allowing to keep on your current account only the required cash amount to run your business, thus allowing to invest excess cash, but also to avoid requiring short-term debt when too much cash is invested (and blocked in medium- to long-term assets)
Reduce foreign currency costs and exposure risks by keeping the right reserves of foreign currencies, applying hedging (like swaps or options) techniques, correctly taking forex rate fluctuations into account in future cash flow predictions…
Reduce transaction commissions for bank transactions, by selecting the right banking products, but also by using the right banking partner(s) (especially for international foreign currency payments big price differences exist between different banking parties)
Reduce cost of fraud by improving control, transparency and accountability via a pro-active, automated monitoring of all cash flows, allowing to detect anomalies as soon as possible
This can be achieved in multiple ways:
Setup and optimize the processes and tooling with the help of specialized services companies (like e.g. the offering of BelPay)
Setup or acquire software solutions (often in the form of SaaS offerings, i.e. Treasury in a Box) for cash & liquidity management, like invoice generation and follow-up (including invoice and payment matching), debt collection, incoming invoice processing (including payment), cash pooling, cash forecasting/capital planning… These software tools allow a more pro-active treasury management and reduce manual effort by automating certain steps in these processes. Examples of such platforms are HighRadius, Gtreasury, CashForce, Kyriba, Nomentia, Monite, Pair Finance, AiVidens… But there are also more specialized tools, offering only a specific service, like debt collection (e.g. Virteo, recovr, Pair Finance, TrueAccord, CollectAI, CollectionHub, inDebted, Attunely…), digitalization (through OCR) of paper invoices (e.g. Tangentia, Contract.fit, Metamaze, Klippa, SimpleOCR…), expense management (e.g. Payhawk, Rydoo, Expensify, Spendesk, Pleo, Circula…), account aggregation and payment initiation (e.g. Isabel 6/Ponto)…
Capture revenue by allowing customers to pay for products or services in a way that is most efficient for them and for the SME, allowing to increase sales, but also to ensure the best possible payment ratio. This includes solutions like digital onboarding and management of Direct Debits (e.g. via Twikey or DigiTeal), including a Pay button (e.g. via Twikey or POM) in invoices which allows to pay the invoice with a pre-filled credit transfer, card payment or other payment option, integration with PSPs (like Adyen, Mollie, MultiSafePay, Ingenico, Stripe…) for online payments, digital invoicing allowing to combine invoicing and payment (e.g. PEPPOL platform or offering invoices with immediate payment option via UnifiedPost, ZoomIt or Doccle), "Buy Now, Pay Later" solutions (like Klarna or AfterPay) or new solutions like PSD2 Payment Initiation or the upcoming new scheme of SEPA Request to Pay (SRTP).
Improve integration between accountancy software (and/or accountant) and the cash management solutions and associated bank accounts. Solutions like Silverfin, TOCO, Yuki, OkiOki, Billit, Furoo, Clearfacts, Billtobox, sevDesk, Candis… can provide (a part of) a solution to this.
Usage of solutions for cash management (e.g. international cashpooling, sweep accounts…) and more general treasury management services offered by banks to their customers. These can be incumbent banks or new Fintechs, which specialize in the niche of serving SME customers. Examples are Tide, Qonto, Azlo, Arival, Fyrst…
Reducing costs of international payments and forex transactions via new Fintech offers, like XE.com, TransferWise, CurrencyTransfer.com, WorldFirst, iBanFirst, Ebury…, but also via specialized software tools, like Kantox, FiREapps, Money Mover, Acumatica…
Get cheaper financing via specialized credit institutions and banks (e.g. OakNorth, CapitalBox…), by issuing commercial paper (short-term paper) or long-term debt, via crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending (e.g. Funding Circle, Auxmoney, LendingCrowd, Iwoca, Look&Fin, Crowdcube…), via Credit Lombard loans or inventory-based loans (e.g. Finventory) or via invoice factoring (e.g. Edebex, Previse, Optimum Finance, GapCap, BlueVine, BillFront, Crowdz…). There are also more and more marketplaces and comparators assisting SMEs to find the best financing option, e.g. Funding Options, BusinessComparison, Crowdz…
Improve risk management (like currency risk, interest-rate risk, market risk, credit risk, counterparty risk…) via trade finance, like bank guarantees (cfr. Ebury), via better authorization and fraud detection mechanisms (detecting patterns and anomalies) or by better assessing counterparty risk (e.g. DueDil, InsideView, PitchBook…)
Apply tax optimizations, by optimizing for different tax regimes worldwide and also optimizing for tax deductions (like e.g. generate revenue on entities which have collected losses in the past)
Clearly the Fintech market for SMEs is in full evolution, but still quite immature. As a result dozens of offers exist, making it very difficult for SMEs (which was one of the reasons in the first place they work with Excel) to select the best and right offering(s) for their company. As such there is a big market for consultancy and other services firms, specialized in helping SMEs to improve their treasury management processes.