Weekly Roundup – Top Ten Small Business Tips

My plan is to take all the information I have read and heard over the week and create a nice and neat “Top 10 Tip List”. This week is a collection of tips I received from Manta. Manta provides free company profiles and company information on U.S. and International companies, including market research reports, business news, and resources. I have a Manta listing for my photography business. Everyday I receive a Manta tip, which is intended to help small businesses. After clearing out my email this week (something I recommend everyone to do at least once a month), I thought I better read some of the Manta tips I had saved to read at a later date. Here are the Top 10, I found to be the most helpful.

1. When marketing on social media platforms use the 80/20 rule. Spend 80% of the time sharing, answering questions and interacting. The other 20% use to promote your business.

2. Create a daily schedule for the amount of time you want to devote to social media and stick with it. Don’t get sucked into the “social media black hole”.

3. Good customer feedback can be used to market your business. Every time you get good feedback, ask the client if you can use that feedback as a testimonial on your website, in leaflets and sales letters–anything you share with prospective clients.

4. If you send your customers an invoice in print or electronically, use the invoice to promote your product or service. This is also a valuable touch point to thank your customers and prompt them to learn about other things you offer. A great way to sell some more prints or specialty items.

5. Survey your customers.  Listening to your customers can always give you a reality-check. It’s easy to listen to good news, but what happens when a customer gives you bad news? Acting on bad news might just be the best thing you can do to make your business  better. And if you think you won’t get any “suggestions for improvement”, you’re wrong, no matter how great business is going. Everyone has his or her own opinions. So be brave, and learn what these opinions are, by simply asking.

6. Go the extra mile. When you ship out a product, include a nice thank-you note that you hand-write to your customers. Call a client to see how they liked your service earlier that day. They’ll be shocked you did it. Then your customers could tell their friends about this amazing thing you did and could potentially spread positive word of mouth.

7. Use a loyalty program. We’ve seen a lot of shops be very successful with printed rewards cards. It’s nothing more than a business card with 8  or 10 boxes to be stamped. Each time a customer buys a product or certain dollar amount, they get one of the boxes “punched” or “stamped”. When they reach 8 they get a free gift. It might not seem like much, but loyal customers come back. We’ve even seen businesses store the cards on behalf of the customer, this way they don’t need to remember to bring it each time they come in. In the photography business, this could be used simply as a discount or special gift to returning customers. 

8. People have the tendency to watch videos over reading text, so you might consider using Youtube to promote your business. It can give people a stronger sense of your business and can set you up as an expert in your field. And that means more sales. This approach is especially effective in reaching out to young audiences. I have a YouTube channel where I post videos that advertise my business and showcase my work. 

9. Create greater value by co-marketing with businesses that complement your services. We’ve all seen things like, “Bring your movie stub and receive 15% off at Joe’s Pizza.” Same idea. Who can you partner with to create greater perceived value for your customers? Alliances are a powerful way to make the most of every marketing dollar.

10. Keeping up to date on the latest industry news and happenings can be time consuming. Follow these simple tricks to streamline and save time:

• Set up a free Gmail (Google email) account to receive “Google Alerts.” Google Alerts allow you to track stories of interest by topic, like your industry’s key terms or competitors. When Google finds a story containing that term, it will arrive in your Gmail inbox as an alert.*

• Search for industry-specific news sites or blogs and sign up for their free RSS feeds, which will be sent directly to your email address.**

* I just signed up for my Google Alerts. I am tracking stories on “owning your own photography business” and “tips on portrait photography”. I’m pretty excited to have all this information find its way to me, instead of spending countless hours searching it out. I’m sure I will be expanding my topics as time goes on. I will share what I learn on future blog posts.

** I am on a search for some good photography blogs. I found this site, “Blog Rank“, and they listed the top photography blogs. I will be checking out the list and visiting some blogs over the next couple days. I will be sure to post which ones I subscribe to.

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