Latest Event Updates

November Events to Market Your Business

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November is a great month to market your products and services by creating some excitement around the many events occurring during the month.  Take the opportunity to publish and distribute event related content with the overall goal of attracting, engaging new and existing customers. Here are some important events and dates to help inspire your November marketing content:

  • Movember/No Shave November

Movember or No Shave November is a movement for men’s health issues. Participants are encouraged to grow a mustache for the month of November to bring awareness and raise donations for men’s health and cancers. Some companies host Movember competitions between employees or among customers. Movember is a fun way to host contests or showcase your facial hair for men’s health on social media and to get involved in the chatter on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.  Be creative by thinking of ways you can get involved in Movember while marketing your business.

  • November 23rd Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is the holiday star and a great opportunity to market your business. Consider offering specials to celebrate this huge event and your best bet is to get the undivided attention of your customers before the start of the hectic holiday season. Let your customers know about the most important things that need to be taken care of before the main holidays. The marketing opportunities for Thanksgiving are plentiful so don’t miss out.

  • November 3rd National Sandwich Day

Who knew there is a day to celebrate the humble sandwich! National Sandwich day is an opportunity for those who are in the food industry to get some traction going with a Twitter poll asking users about their favourite sandwich or advertising your food offerings on the day. It’s a bit of fun and everyone loves to talk about food.

  • November 13th  World Kindness Day

Since social media campaigns tend to run over a short period of time, brands often promote a random act of kindness (#RAK) campaign before the 13th in order to generate enough revenue and exposure. Consider how your business can promote World Kindness Day and increase sales.

Here are a list of some other events that might be more applicable to marketing your business:

November 1st

  • World Vegan Day
  • National Stress Awareness Day

November 5th

  • Guy Fawkes Day

November 10th

  • World Science Day for Peace and Development

November 19th

  • International Men’s Day

November 20th

  • Universal Children’s Day

November 30th

  • St Andrews Day

If you would like assistance with marketing your business, then contact MentorUs today.

How to Discover Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

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Rosser Reeves considered by many as the father of modern advertising was quoted as saying “adverting is the art of getting a unique selling proposition into the heads of most people at the lowest possible cost”

Your unique selling proposition (USP) is what makes your business stand out from the crowd and tells your customers what is special and different about your product or service. Your USP is the factor or benefit that makes your product different from and better than other equivalent products on the market. Identifying your USP takes quite a bit of time and research, but without the research you are selling just another commodity.  If you are unsure how to identify your USP then here are some tips to help you.

Understanding your Target Audience

First and foremost, understand your target audience.  To develop your USP, you need to begin by identifying who they are and what it is they want from the market you are operating in. Is the market meeting their needs and if so, how so? In other words, are they looking for a product to deliver efficiency, industry expertise, a trustworthy supplier or something else. Ask your customers, colleagues and friends and then make a list of all the reasons why someone might choose to buy your product or service.

Understanding your Competitors

Before you can discover what makes your product unique, you’ll need to know what else is available for your prospective customers. That means understanding in what way your competitor is meeting the needs of your target market.  What products exist and more importantly what is the USP used by your competitors to promote their products over yours. There’s no shame in reviewing their marketing materials, especially websites and social media and try out as many competing products as you can to get a feel for how they work and why they might be better or worse than yours.

Some Research

Once you have identified your target market and know the USP being used by your competitors, then it’s time identify the possible USP’s for your products or services. A good way to help you with this is to listen to your customers and what they have to say about your product. If you’re selling B2C products and services, then customer reviews online can be a goldmine of feedback. These comments don’t just talk about the product’s good and bad points, but also service issues like delivery costs, bad tech support experiences and billing complications. Search for reviews of your competitors’ products as well as your own. If you see a particular feature or problem mentioned frequently for a given product, write it down. This will give you an excellent feel for why your customers buy from you and will help to identify your area of strength that you can promote as your USP.

Identify your USP

Success comes when you settle on one single area of strength and turn that into a USP. Screen these USPs against trends and competitors. Now remove the USPs that are already being well met by competitors. Don’t forget that your USP is a unique selling proposition so you are looking for a gap in the market.  This must be a quality that is important to your customers. Ideally, your choice should also be a feature or quality that will be both memorable and difficult for someone else to copy. Come up with a strong statement that conveys each USP.

Promoting your USP

Once you’ve picked your USP, it’s time to share it with your customers. Add the same tagline to your email signature and social media marketing accounts. And work your USP prominently into both your cold call pattern and your main sales pitch. Your USP should be driving the development of your company and your marketing strategy whether you are creating a website or a logo or embarking on an online advertising campaign. Always ask yourself if your image and activity clearly communicates the benefit you are offering.

Examples of USP’s at their best:

M&Ms – The milk chocolate melts in your mouth, not in your hand.

DeBeers – A diamond is forever.

Domino’s Pizza – You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less or it’s free.

If you would like assistance with identifying your USP, then contact MentorUs Business Solutions today

Common Business Mistakes to Avoid

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Starting a business or running an existing one is never easy. There are so many things to think about and decisions to make on a continuous basis, it can be difficult to know if you are doing things right.  Sometimes the pressure can cause you to make a poor decision that can hurt your potential for success, or at least set you back.  Unfortunately all it takes is one bad decision to break the business.

While there is no perfect plan or magic wand to help you succeed, there are several common and dangerous mistakes often made that can have a negative impact  on your business.  As a business mentor, here are the mistakes I have encountered over the last three years:

1. No Strategic Plan or Long Term Vision

Planning is essential!  Without a solid plan for your business that includes business ideas based upon market research and market potential, you will be operating in the dark. The most important plans to consider are a robust and evidence based business plan, a simple but realistic financial plan and an agile marketing plan that is reviewed and edited  often based upon changes and results.

2. Not Setting Goals or Clear Business Objectives

Business goals or objectives give you direction when you first start your business, then keep you on track during the day-to-day operations.  It is vital that your goals are realistic and  identify where you want to go and outline specific steps that you will take to get there.  Have a clear plan on how you intend to measure your goals i.e. profit levels, sales, feedback etc.

3.Undervaluing Your Products or Services

Undervaluing your product or service is a serious mistake in business.  This is a dangerous path to take because it undermines the unique value you bring to the your industry and your customers. Recovering from undervaluing your goods is a long road, so you should explore the market thoroughly as you start your business to identify the best price entry point for what you’re selling.  As they say….. the value you place on yourself is the value others will take you as!

4. Being Afraid of Marketing

A big mistake to make is to assume you don’t need to market your business. Marketing involves using social media, networking and engagement as well as maintaining an informative website that is updated on a regular basis.   There aren’t any set rules when it comes to marketing although it is vital that you identify your target market and consider how best to communicate your message to them in the most effective manner.

5. Cash Flow and Spending

You don’t need a significant investment to start a business, but it can be tempting to spend money on equipment and software that may not be necessary.  Always try to be prudent and go for the less expensive but equally viable options if available. Stay aware of your financial position each week and be honest with yourself.  Don’t over spend when the cash is not there.

6. Not Knowing Your Target Audience or Customer

One vital part of any successful marketing campaign is understanding who your ideal customer is. It’s not enough to create a marketing budget and try a little bit of everything. You need to do market research to identify exactly who you are trying to reach, where you can find them and how they will react to your marketing activities. A scatter gun approach will never work.

If you are unsure about how best to avoid these mistakes, then contact us today so we can assist you in achieving your business goals.

Small Changes to Grow Your Business

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Sometimes as a business owner we can lose sight of how our business is perceived by prospective customers.  It is important that we make our products and services as easy as possible to access whilst making it attractive to the buyer to engage and purchase.  Here are just a few simple tips that will improve the shopping experience of the customer and as a result improve the bottom line and grow your business.

  1. Display Pricing

There is nothing more off putting for a potential customer that to have to go seeking a price either through telephone conversation, online messaging or email.  With the fast pace of life, customers don’t want to spend time and energy on chasing information relating to your product or service.  In most cases, customers won’t bother asking and will move on to the next company that displays details and pricing.   In my experience, in many cases, not putting up prices is costing you sales.

  1. Professional Images

If you’re in the business of selling products then this is a big area for potential growth. Ask yourself, am I showcasing my products to their full potential by using high quality images?  You could be selling the best product in the world but if it isn’t presented well especially on your website or social media, then you can be sure your competitors will be doing it better and getting results.  Any professional photographer will tell you that good lighting and a bit of effort can make a significant difference to the marketing of a product and attract the right attention.  For your high end products or big money items, consider employing a professional photographer and for the lower products, ensure you take high quality images using a high megapixel camera.

  1. Respond & Engage

Golden rule of business……always reply to your customers query. Very often customers ask questions on social media pages, email or messenger and don’t receive a reply.  This is the definition of poor customer service and one bad experience will have a significant impact on your brand reputation and business. Always be prompt with replies, friendly and informative.  Take the opportunity to tell the customer about any promotions or special offers and make sure you deal with their query by answering their question fully.  If a customer feels ignored they will go straight to your competitor even if it will cost them more.  People will always pay a little bit more for a personal service and will return time and time again for that exact experience.

  1. Branding

Good branding will make your business memorable and stand out from the crowd.  Do not underestimate the power of an eye-catching professional logo, clear and informative business card and interesting brand presence. These key features will make you stand out against your competitors.  Make sure you incorporate your personal branding into the mix by showing who the people in the business are and how they can be contacted directly.  The old adage people buy from people is still true so add your personality and business ethos in all of your branding and don’t be afraid to engage with customers.

If you would like assistance with any of these tips, then contact us today.

Building Your Personal Brand

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Branding, especially personal branding is such a crucial component of success and can open up new opportunities and help you fulfill your business goals. Building your personal brand is just as important as building your company’s brand as customers tend to buy and stay loyal to companies they like. Fine tuning your personal brand will ensure that your reputation precedes you and you’ll be one step closer to the old adage “Work until you no longer need to introduce yourself.”  Customers really do want to hear the story behind the business including your failures, struggles and your achievements. This means putting yourself out there and marketing yourself in addition to your business. Here are a few tips to help you along the way.

1. Be Seen & Network

You won’t be seen if you hide away behind closed doors, engaging through your computer and expect to build a personal brand. You need to get out and let yourself be seen and be accessible. A good way to do this is by networking and attending events and conferences where you are likely to meet potential customers and contacts. If you have a presence on social media, ensure your profiles are open to the public and engaging and responsive to messages and comments. The more visible and accessible you make yourself, the stronger your personal brand. A great tip is to enhance the “About” page on your company website or social media. Make sure that the description is personal, friendly, easy to read and engaging. Include a professional headshot with your name, title and tag line.

2. Social Media

Don’t make the common mistake of using social media as a 100 percent marketing channel.  Successful marketing will always involve the use of a variety of business appropriate channels. It is recommended that you occasionally post customer offers or promote your company, but effective use of social media requires a focus on showing the real you, further developing the personal brand. A big turn off is if you come across as a robot or unauthentic as this will only serve to push potential customers away. Customers enjoy seeing a glimpse of the real you when you’re not pushing the company brand, for example where you eat, hobbies that you are passionate about and other interests especially those that incorporate an element of your business. This will make you appear more real, which in turn will attract more customers to you.

3. Be an Expert

An important element of being an “expert” is staying up to date on the latest trends, developments and your competition. A business is only as good as the people running it, and this will be evident from your personal branding. It is vital that you continuously illustrate your knowledge of your industry and that you have a deep understanding of what is current and any potential future developments. This will help you to position yourself as a thought leader in your industry, elevating your personal brand to a higher level.

4. Develop Value Proposition

Your value proposition is a business statement that you will use to summarise why a customer should buy your product or service.  When developing a strong value proposition think about what makes you as a person attractive to potential customers. Is there something that makes you special and different from your competitors? Once you have this established, make sure your audience knows what it is and use this statement in your marketing material.  This will help develop your personal brand and make you stand out from the crowd.

5. Purpose & Social Responsibility

Social responsibility can take many forms however, when developing your personal brand; it can often be about giving something back to society.  Aside from feeling good and giving you personal satisfaction, giving back can help you build your personal brand. Whether it’s donating money to a charity or volunteering your time to a cause that’s important to you, this type of deed can benefit your personal brand significantly. People remember selfless acts.

If you require any assistance in developing your personal brand, then contact us today.

Tips on Improving Your Business

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If you are running an SME, continuous improvement and development is the name of the game as businesses are not static. It is important to accurately identify if your business is either on an upward track or if it is on its way down. So making consistent improvements to make your business better and continuously improving is a conscious choice. Not only must you balance your time, energy and money, but you must also choose the right area of business that will make the biggest impact to the bottom line.

Here are 7 tips to help you do this……….

  1. Analysing Business Data

Do you have an accurate idea of the daily, weekly and monthly numbers and financial trends in your business? If not, remember that it is vital that you spend the necessary time keeping track of your cash flow as this is the best indicator of how your business is performing.  Continuously monitor the return on investment such as spending on social media marketing, traditional advertising and membership fees relating to professional groups and associations. If they are not delivering then change the plan and divert funding elsewhere.

  1. Set Goals & Objectives

Setting realistic goals and objectives is an essential part of business success. Set goals and use them as an ongoing planning tool to ensure you continue to move forward in your business. For the months when you don’t meet those goals, consciously put them on the agenda for the next month and don’t lose sight of why you set that goal.  Some goals will take a little longer to achieve than other due to conditions outside of your control, so don’t give up.

  1. Use Effective Marketing

It’s easy to waste money and your valuable time on ineffective marketing. Learn how to use low budget impact marketing to improve your business. Test one or two new tactics and see which perform best before adding them to your marketing mix. Remember not all marketing channels will work for your business sector and effective marketing is about being successful in producing a desired or intended result.  No result or return on investment means it is ineffective and wasting your time and money, so learn to move on and test out another method that works for you.

  1. Business Presentations & Short Videos

A powerful business presentation or video can help improve your small business by offering potential customers a quick snapshot of the exact nature of your business and should provide a clear insight into the benefits you offer to customers when they engage with your business. Visual displays are a powerful way of getting your business message across and should be informative and interesting to watch.

  1. Monitor Trends

Social, economic and technological trends will have an impact on your business. The events and changes in the global landscape may work for or against your business so it’s important that you stay current with the issues happening in your business sector and local community.  This is particularly important when you are competing in a highly competitive market place.  Watch out for your competition to see how they are adapting.

  1. Improve Your Selling Skills

A well functioning and organised sales approach is vital for any business regardless of size. And whether you’re a one-person operation or managing a sales team, you must continuously focus on ways to improve your sales techniques and view a change in your approach as an opportunity to improve profits. Be honest and ask yourself, is my current approach yielding the sales required to sustain my business.  If the answer is no, then change is necessary.

  1. Your Business Sector

Every business sector has its own ways of doing things that are tried and tested. So, don’t spend time and money trying to reinvent the wheel and avoid  wasting even more money and your time reinventing the industry……. Unless you’re set on building the next Apple.  Identify the best practices within your business sector and strive to improve on those instead. Add value and quality and you will stand out from the crowd.

If you would like assistance with implementing these changes to your business, then contact MentorUs Business Solutions today.

 

Understanding the Sales Funnel

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The sales funnel, which is sometimes referred to as a marketing funnel or revenue funnel, illustrates the idea that every sale begins with a large number of potential customers, and ends with a much smaller number of people who actually make a purchase.

Sales funnel stages will vary according to your business and the products and services you offer, but they are generally divided into four sections.

Awareness & Prospecting

This stage includes the largest amount of customer prospects. It’s at this stage in which customers have determined they have a problem, begun searching for a solution and become aware of a business providing such a solution via content marketing, an email campaign, social media marketing or other avenues, usually following research.

Interest & Engagement

At this stage, the number of customer prospects begins to decrease, but the possibility of a sales conversion increases. This is generally when the customer will engage with the business, request more information and ask questions. This stage is crucial for a business as it providers an opportunity to showcase all the benefits of buying from your business and not the competition.

Research & Decision

Once the customer has become aware of the business, reached out and sought answers to questions, it’s time for the decision. This stage of the process may include sales offers and further research into the different options available, presented by the business and the products or services on offer. Discounts and special offers can clinch the deal at this stage in the funnel.

Action & Sale

All of the previously mentioned stages funnel down into the final step: action. At this point, the customer has decided to purchase the product or service and the sale is finalised.

Every business should understand and master every stage of their sales funnel, as it has been proven time and time again that a well managed and engaging sales funnel has a significant role in increasing sales.

How to Sell!

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People buy from people……. Fact!  Your business success will be determined by your ability to generate revenue and sell because without money you won’t last very long in business but it’s not just your products or services you are selling. You are also selling yourself.

If you are wondering if you are doing things correctly and well positioned to succeed at the art of selling, then read on:

Selling is People Business
Lots of business owners get caught up in what they are selling and forget that they’re in the people business. Your customer wants to be treated personally and it’s your job to make sure they feel special and important. Whatever products or services you are offering, don’t forget that ultimately the solutions you are selling should provide your customers with happiness and a pleasant experience by meeting their needs.  It is usually these nice customer experiences that prompt complimentary reviews and lead to recommendations and referrals. Each customer provides you with an opportunity to showcase your people skills.

Results is King
The sales game is not one of organising, planning or meetings, it’s about getting results…. End of…. Business owners often spend time being very business but unfortunately are kidding themselves as they are not getting themselves in front of customers who can buy their products or services.

Your success in selling is about getting results and that means getting your products into the hands of more customers. A great business person knows how to get the customer’s attention and present their product or service in a way that causes the customer to buy. Don’t confuse results with efforts. You don’t try to get an appointment, you either get it or you don’t.

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
The best business owners are willing to throw themselves into uncomfortable situations and take risks. So convinced of their product or service, they are willing to get in front of the tough customers, ask the hard questions and go for the close. Doing the uncomfortable thing is where the top performers live.  You can’t bring the big deals home without getting into the deep waters where the big fish swim.

Impress the Customer
Great business people look for ways to inspire a customer’s emotional involvement and create the urgency to take ownership. When you wow a customer, you make a difference and cause them to want to hold onto that experience. You can take any product or service, even a boring one and make it a wow!

Be Bold and Ask for the sale.
This may seem very obvious, but most business owners never ask for the sale. This is hard to believe, but it’s true. Regardless of your product, price or how professional you are, if you don’t ask, you will only sell to those who are going to buy regardless.  Be bold and ask for the sale!

 

Tips to Convert Leads into Sales

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Converting leads into sales is the single biggest challenge we encounter when mentoring clients who are running SME’s.   It is fair to say that the majority of your leads won’t automatically convert into sales by simply being sent through your conversion funnel. It will often require additional help to produce the conversion. So here are our main tips to help your business convert more leads into sales the easy way.

  1. Entice the lead

We all like a freebie…. fact! Offering a free gift or providing a special time sensitive discount is a great way to push leads to convert as it creates a sense of urgency. The discount doesn’t have to be something outrageous and the free gift doesn’t have to have a high monetary value but it is all about creating a sense of urgency. The average consumer simply can’t pass up a free offer or a limited-time discount.

  1. Be brave and ask for the sale

It makes perfect sense to ask the lead if they are ready to purchase and watch how many reply “yes.” They became a lead because they were interested in what your business offers. Food for thought: if your business doesn’t ask for the sale your competitor will so don’t be behind in coming forward!  And if the lead is taking too long to respond then implement no 1 above!

  1. Promote the potential ROI carrot

Does your product or service have the potential to increase your lead’s return on investment?  If yes then don’t be shy in letting them know this. Reminding them that you are offering a solution that will help them make more money will often push them to convert.

  1. Develop a great FAQ page on your website

We all enjoy anonymously web browsing and gathering as much information as possible before we make that purchase…. Many leads won’t convert because they have questions that they need answered before they commit to the sale. Answer common questions that your leads might have and make it easy for them to find all the information they need on your website.

  1. Don’t waste your valuable time on dead leads

Set a “no communication” deadline to remove unresponsive leads from your marketing funnel. So for example: “We have not heard from you in 30 days. Even though this will be our final communication, please feel free to reach out to us in the future if you have any questions.” This will often cause a reaction and if it doesn’t then it prevents you from wasting valuable time and energy on a dead lead.  Remember to file their details in your list of future follow ups in 6-9 months.

  1. Simple follow-up

A quick follow-up email or phone call asking your leads if they have any additional questions will often get them back into purchase mode. This is an effective way of quickly converting leads into sales before a lot of time passes. It is imperative that you immediately contact all of the leads that are generated through various platforms such as email, Facebook Messenger or your website and then follow-up with them a few days later, offering to answer any questions that they might have or simply email them the link to No.4 above.  The simple follow-up will close a large percentage of leads for virtually every industry as it’s important to always strike while the iron is hot!

To end… remember the problem is that most leads (80% or more) are not ready to talk to you just yet about sales, when they first contact your company. However research shows that 90% of them will buy within the next 12 months. But most of them will end up buying from a different company for the simple reason that they were ignored. People buy from people so remember to keep engaging.

 

How Effective is Your Website

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Your website should be one of your most valuable tools for your business to use to connect with customers, inform them of what services you provide, build credibility and how they can contact you, ultimately driving more business your way.

If you website is not giving you the value you need and attracting customer queries, then it’s safe to say you have a problem. Because of this common challenge, here are some of the reasons why you should consider assessing and possibly redesigning your website.

The website does not have a call to action

What is the purpose of your website and what is it you want website visitors to do once they have landed on your site? Every site needs a call to action on each page to allow it to be quick and easy for the customer to make a phone call or subscribe to an email list or follow you on your social media accounts and more.

It’s not optimized

Can your website be viewed on multiple device types i.e. laptops, large monitors, phones, tablets, etc. If your website does not run well on all of these devices, customers will click out.

The website is out of date and cluttered

Customers want to visit a website that is clean, easy to navigate, pleasing to the eye and informative. With fierce competition, it is vital that your website stands out from the crowd. If you haven’t updated your website in the last 24-months, chances are it is out of date. If you are unsure, ask a friend for an honest opinion.

Search Engine Optimization isn’t included

If you want to rank highly on search engines, your website must be search engine optimized. You have to use the proper keyword phrases within your content.  Optimize your images with the correct alt tags and if you are a novice, get an expert to help.

It’s slow to load

There is nothing more painful than a slow loading website.  It will frustrate you and your customers and will damage your sales.  Due to the increasing internet speeds available, users have lower tolerances for waiting times and this is very evident on mobile devices. People want sites that load quickly when they are on the move.

It’s not selling your products or services  

Does your website make it easy for customers to make a purchase?  If the answer is no, then reconsider how to advertise your products or services to attract customers.  If you do have a high number of views, consider additional advertising.

Is your brand visible and memorable? 

Are visitors connecting with your company? Think about your brand statement and whether customers are connecting with you and your brand.  Make sure your logo is clearly displayed and cheerful.

At MentorUs Business Solutions, we are here to assist you to achieve your business goals so contact us today!

How to Begin Writing Your Business Plan

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A business plan is a written description of the future of your business.  It is an essential road map for business success and without one, the business will lack direction. This living document generally projects 3-5 years ahead and outlines the route a company intends to take to build customers and grow revenue and profits.  Consider your mission statement and let this theme run through your business plan.

This is an easy guide to get you started.  There are six main heading in a business plan:

  1. Executive Summary

This section can only be written when you have finished putting together the other sections of your plan, however it usually appears first in your business plan.  Your executive summary is a snapshot of your business plan as a whole and touches on your company profile and goals. It is often considered the most important section as it briefly tells your reader where your company is, where you want to take it, and why your business idea will be successful.

  1. Company Description

This section provides a high-level review of the different elements of your business and should be written to help readers and potential investors to easily understand the goal of your business and its unique proposition.  It should include:

  • The nature of the business and list the customer or industry needs that you aim to satisfy
  • How your products and services meet these needs
  • The specific consumers, organisations or businesses that your company serves or will serve
  • The competitive advantages that you believe will make your business a success such as your location, expert personnel, efficient operations or ability to bring value to your customers.
  1. Market/Competitor Analysis

The market analysis section of your business plan is vital in accurately illustrating your industry as well as your research findings and conclusions. You should provide in detail:

  • The critical needs of your potential customers
  • Demographics of the group and where are they located
  • Seasonal or cyclical purchasing trends that may impact your business
  • Forecasted market growth for this group
  • How much market share can you gain
  • Pricing and gross margin targets (define your pricing structure, gross margin levels, and any discount that you plan to use)
  • Information about market tests or research studies you have completed
  • Competitive analysis should identify your competition by product line or service and market segment, market share, strengths and weaknesses and opportunities and threats (SWOT)
  • How important is your target market to your competitors
  • Are there any barriers that may hinder you as you enter the market
  • What is your window of opportunity to enter the market
  • Are there any indirect or secondary competitors who may impact your success
  • What barriers to market are there (e.g., changing technology, high investment cost, lack of quality personnel)
  1. Product or Service

In this section you will get into the details about your product or service and outline the benefits from a customers’ perspective. Think about how your product or service will meet customer needs and include any advantages your product has over that of the competition. Outline where your product or service is in its life cycle, as well as any factors that may influence its cycle in the future.

  1. Finance

The finance section should consist of three financial statements, the income statement, the cash flow projection and the balance sheet and a brief explanation and analysis of these three statements.

Illustrate your sales forecast in detail by including a spreadsheet projecting your sales over the course of three years. Set up different sections for different lines of sales and columns for every month for the first year and either on a monthly or quarterly basis for the second and third years as this will give potential investors a good idea of future profits.

Finally, include a short analysis of your financial information. Include a ratio and trend analysis for all of your financial statements, both historical and prospective. Since pictures speak louder than words, you may want to add graphs of your trend analysis, especially if they are positive.

  1. Marketing

It is vital you define your marketing strategy early on in the business planning stage. There is no single way to approach a marketing strategy; your strategy should be part of an ongoing business evaluation process and unique to your company. However, there are common steps you can follow which will help you think through the direction and tactics you would like to use to drive sales and sustain customer loyalty.

Using the Four Ps Model (product, price, place & promotion) will help to develop a marketing strategy suitable for your product or service.4ps

  • The first of the Four Ps of marketing is product. It’s imperative that you have a clear grasp of exactly what your product is and what makes it unique before you can successfully market it. Identify the unique selling point (USP) as this will act a guide when analysing the other P’s.
  • Once a concrete understanding of the product offering is established you can start making some pricing decisions. Price determinations will impact profit margins, supply, demand and marketing strategy. Therefore your product or service may need to be positioned differently based on varying price points, while price elasticity considerations may influence our next two Ps.
  • We’ve got a product and a price now it’s time to promote it. Promotion looks at the many ways marketing agencies disseminate relevant product information to consumers and differentiate a particular product or service. Promotion includes elements like: advertising, public relations, social media marketing, email marketing, search engine marketing, video marketing and more. Each touch point must be supported by a well positioned brand to truly maximize return on investment.
  • Often you will hear marketers saying that marketing is about putting the right product, at the right price, at the right place, at the right time. It’s critical then, to evaluate what the ideal locations are to convert potential clients into actual clients. Today, even in situations where the actual transaction doesn’t happen on the web, the initial place potential clients are engaged and converted is online.

If you need help with writing your business plan then contact MentorUs Business Solutions today!

The Differences Between Business Mentoring & Coaching

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It is a common mistake made by many who think business mentoring and coaching are similar or even the same thing. But they’re not!  There are so many differences between the two industries, but here are the main few to note.

“A coach has some great questions for your answers; a mentor has some great answers for your questions.”

Short Term –v- Long Term

Business mentoring is always long term and is all about the journey you embark upon especially when embracing change. To truly have a successful mentoring relationship, there is a requirement of time to allow both parties to learn about one another and build a climate of trust that creates an environment in which the client can feel secure in sharing the real issues that impact his or her business. Successful mentoring relationships can last for many months and can sometimes go on for years.  Confidentiality is crucial.

Coaching is short term and goal orientated. A coach is usually involved with a client for a short period of time, maybe even just a few sessions. The coaching lasts for as long as is needed, depending on the purpose of the coaching relationship.

Strategy – v- Immediate

M – Business mentoring focuses on determining the strategic purpose, the key problem areas, the specific mentoring goals and the specific components that will guide the relationship, especially when business issues have been identified and require long term attention.

C – Coaching does not require strategy and can be conducted almost immediately on any given topic and does not necessarily require a long lead-time to actually implement a coaching program.

Development –v- Performance

M- Business mentoring is development driven with its main purpose to develop the client not only for their existing role or business, but well into the future. It’s all about developing skills and analysis techniques for use for many years to come.

C – Coaching is performance driven and focuses on improving the clients performance on the job or in a specific role. This involves either enhancing current skills or acquiring new skills. Once the client successfully acquires the skills, the coach is no longer needed.

Mentor Skills – V – Coach Skills

M– A business mentor is normally more experienced and qualified in business than the client.  Their knowledge and experience would often be gained from holding a senior business position in an organisation and or possess the relevant business qualification.

C – Coaching is generally not performed on the basis that the coach needs to have direct experience of their client’s formal occupational role, unless the coaching is specific and skills-focused.  A coach offers a client a process to follow to help reach those.

If you would like to learn more about business mentoring and what it can do for your business, then contact us today.

 

What is Content Marketing?

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According to the content marketing institute “Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience and ultimately to drive profitable customer action”.

Relationships rely on honest, relevant, and respectful two way communication. The content you create and publish as part of your content marketing strategy is your first line of communication. Providing valuable information about your product or service in a way that respects your consumers’ preferences for consumption, is the way into their hearts.

Content marketing has taken its place as the key to building those relationships that connect with and convert your consumers.

So what do you need to do to get on the content marketing train?

Have a Content Marketing Strategy

74% of business to customer marketers have a content marketing strategy! Why?? Because without a strategy you will generate random content that no one wants to read whilst also failing to successfully appeal to your target audience and ultimately generate leads.

Blog!

Companies with an active blog generate 67% more leads per month than businesses who do not blog.  That’s a significant boost to sales if followed through correctly.

Brand Awareness

More than 80% of business to business marketers listed brand awareness as the key content marketing goal for their business.  It makes sense……

More Content Does NOT Equal More Web Traffic

Quality over quantity is key when it comes to content marketing.  Clutter or boring content may fill up the spaces but it will also drive customers away in their droves….. yawn……..

Target your Target Audience

The strength of good content marketing is in providing the information and answers that your target audience is looking for, but your hard work is wasted if they can’t find it! Make sure you’re creating content for the user, but that search engines will also favour.

Consistent Quality Content

Content marketing is a long-term strategy, based on building a strong relationship with your target audience, by giving them high quality content that is very relevant to them on a consistent basis.

So…….in a nutshell content marketing is marketing with content that a target audience finds relevant and valuable using a systematic approach to continuously publish and distribute great content.

If you want to find out more about content marketing for your business or industry, then contact MentorUs Business Solutions today.  We assist you to achieve your business goals!

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Starting a Small Business – Things to Do!

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Starting a new business is never easy, taking that idea and turning it into reality…. exciting, scary and everything in between.  Here we will look at action you can take to get that new business off the ground and all for free!

  • Start with a business plan to focus you and your business

No matter how rosy the image of what your dream business looks like, it will stay a dream until you develop a robust and realistic business plan. While a vision or goal is vital in business, writing those ideas down into a tangible road map or business plan will provide the foundation for how you want to structure your business and plan for growth and development.  Once completed it will act as a reminder of what it is you are trying to achieve and will make you question decisions or deviations from your original business idea.

  • Carry out extensive market research in your industry and know if there is a market for your idea

Understanding the local landscape of your industry and where your business will fill a needed gap, is crucial for a smart start. No gap in the market will equal no profit! Leverage all resources for your business set up, including analysing the competition. Find out if they are making money or whether is it a saturated industry with little money to be made. Complete aswotSWOT analysis and be truthful , what are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Talk with other small business owners about their successes and pitfalls and learn from their experiences.

 

  • Start a blog to let the world know you have arrived!

A blog is a great way to get relevant content out there for your target audience. The blog can be informative and fun and should get the reader excited about your brand as well as informing everyone what you do, what you sell and how you can solve their problem. A well written blog is a clever way to infuse your business information into your blog, information that you want your readers to know.  This way, you won’t bore or scare away readers with heavy technical information. You need to know what emotions are conveyed through your blog. For example, if it is trust or convenience, then your blog will evoke those emotions in your readers. Emotions are a powerful force as readers will begin to associate these emotions with your brand.

 

  • Use Social Media and own your real estate!

Social media is the customer service platform of the future, FaceBook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram are the four big social media platforms where it is all happening.  Social media customer service inquiries are getting more frequent and many people are using Twitter or Facebook to ask companies questions including the older generations who are catching on as well.  A business who has frequently monitored social media accounts, makes it easier to get customer questions answered and issues resolved. Creating this form of networking and encouraging your customers to reach out through social media, makes your business more accessible whilst raising your online profile.Image result for social media for small business

 

  • Engage with a business mentor

A business mentors can offer you expert advice and guidance based on actual experiences successes and failures.  They can provide you with a fresh perspective by asking you the right questions to get you thinking. It’s easy to get caught up with your ideas to the point of questioning, confusion or second guessing and having a sounding board in a business mentor is a great way to work through some of those kinks. You may also be presented with some considerations from a business mentor that you wouldn’t have come across otherwise. So it’s a great opportunity to broaden your own outlook.

If you would like to discuss your new business then contact MentorUs Business Solutions today.  We help you to achieve your business goals!

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Brand Execution 

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A brand is your promise to your customers. Brand execution is how you deliver on that promise and how you make your brand actionable. A brand being actionable means it is not merely an idea or a concept; it has a tangible action plan. Here are some excellent examples of brands that have executed brand awareness in offering something distinct and unique.

What is Agile Marketing and Why is it Important for Your Business?

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Agile marketing is a tactical marketing approach in which a business identifies and focuses their efforts on a high value marketing projects whilst continuously reviewing and editing to incrementally improves upon the results over time.

Agile  Marketing is not about quick returns nor is it about long term plans. Agile Marketing is more about committing to doing marketing right whilst adapting to change. You have to practice it every day, and over time, with commitment and consistency, the benefits begin to accrue.

Agile, in the marketing context, means using data and analytics to continuously source promising opportunities or solutions to problems in real time, deploying tests quickly, evaluating the results, and rapidly iterating.

There are a number of values that should be applied when implementing agile marketing to your business:

  1. Responding to change instead of following the plan
  2. Start with a small strategy instead of the big plan
  3. Test and use evidence instead of conversations and opinions
  4. Many small tests and campaigns
  5. Different people bring different benefits to the campaign
  6. Work together and not against eachother

So to sum up, agile marketing is about doing it differently from how you have been. Instead of spending weeks planning your marketing campaign, try and test lots of various approaches and continually gauge what is and isn’t working.  If it isn’t working then stop immediately and move on to the next test. Evidence is crucial when evaluating the effectivenes of your marketing, so don’t ignore the failings as it will cost you dearly. Be agile enough to change it up and to get the help and expertise necessary to make your marketing a winner for your business and profits.

If you would like to learn more about agile marketing, then contact MentorUs Business Solutions today.

Facebook – v- Twitter for Marketing Your Small Business

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Small business marketing is evolving quickly for small business owners, which implies that advertisers must be nimble in how they connect with potential buyers and communities. As buyers navigate from Facebook to Twitter to Pinterest and Instagram, offers and deals are processed in an unexpected way. Eventually, the system that will be best for your versatile […]

via Twitter vs. Facebook: Which is Better for Small Business Marketing?  — Luminary Small Business Academy

The Elevator Pitch

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The Elevator Pitch in business is a brief, persuasive speech that you use to spark interest in you and your business.  It takes time to get your pitch just right and you’ll more than likely go through several versions before finding one that is compelling, and that sounds natural in conversation.

Follow these steps to create a great pitch!

The Three Elements of Business Success

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3 Social Media Marketing Mistakes that Business Owners Make!

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As social media continues to grow in popularity, the value of using it for business has become obvious. In fact, 92% of marketers say that social media is important to their business. And this number only continues to grow year on year. But while businesses understand the importance of social media marketing, we continue to […]

via 3 Social Media Marketing Mistakes that Business Owners Make (And how to fix them) —

Common Mistakes When Running a Craft Business

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If you are having problems with your craft sales or experiencing a downturn in sales, then take a few minutes to read these common mistakes and hopefully they’ll point you in the right direction.

  •  Are you under price and undervaluing your product? If you are under pricing it says you don’t believe in your product. Customers will pay a premium price for a premium product only when all the key elements are in place including a personalized customer service or a quick response to queries.
  • Is the packaging appealing?  Too many  businesses fail to fully showcase the beauty of their product and fail to distinguish their unique brand. 4 out of 5 of my recent buys came in either plain envelopes or plain cardboard boxes. Receiving your handmade product is meant to be a unique experience, making the buyer feel special. Keep the excitement to the end by adding an extra touch to your packaging too and it doesn’t mean adding extra cost. Be creative use craft leftovers, whatever you work with, hand write a note ‘thank you’, maybe use an ink stamp! Just make it your unique brand, personal and special. Customers will return again and again but more importantly they will tell others about their experience. 
  • Are you forgetting to reply or engage? Operating any business means you will spend a lot of time marketing online.  Always put aside time to reply to messages and comments on your social media. It’s crucial to have an easy to navigate website that allows feedback from customers. Get to know and understand your potential customers and make it easy for them to buy your product.
  • Are you sharing unrelated content on social media? Your business page is for your business. Use it to promote and display your products and don’t post any unrelated posts.  Remember keep it all about craft, your products and your new product ideas.  Let the customer know what you’re working on and keep it fresh and interesting. You’ve got around 10 seconds to draw potential customer attention, so remember to attract their eye..
  • Are you guilty of displaying poor quality images?  This is so important! If you don’t have professional gear, aim for natural soft light, do not use flash and keep the background plain, remember nothing too busy as it’s all about the product. If you have the budget to hire a professional photograoher to snap some of your best pieces, then consider it an investment. Beautiful handcrafted products deserve to be displayed to accentuate key features. Plus, professional photos assist in showcasing the overall quality finish of the product.
  • Are you open to change? If you’ve been working incredibly hard and still aren’t gaining any traction after weeks/months/years, then perhaps something might need to change.  Be open to the fact that in order to succeed, you might need to make a change.  It may be your pricing, poor photos, lack of social media presence or simply not reaching potential customers.  Whatever it is, change is necessary so be brave and never be afraid to alter the plan or product.

If you would like assistance with improving your business, then contact MentorUs Business Solutions today.