* Spreadbetter sees European bourses opening lower

* Nikkei edges higher, on track for 0.9 pct weekly rise

* Dollar edges down, but DXY poised for a winning week

* U.S. crude edges up, pulls further away from this week’s lows

Read More : Global Business Conference 2017

TOKYO, June 23 Asian shares flatlined on Friday but remained on track for a weekly gain, while crude oil prices pulled away from this week’s 10-month lows.

Financial spreadbetter CMC Markets sees European markets opening modestly weaker, with Britain’s FTSE 100, Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 all seen shedding points in early trade.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was nearly unchanged on the day, and was up 0.4 percent for the week.

The Shanghai Composite slipped 0.7 percent while China’s blue-chip CSI300 index was down 0.3 percent. The latter earlier this week hit an 18-month high on excitement over MSCI’s decision to include mainland shares in a key index.

“Investors have no incentives today to take new positions ahead of the weekend,” said Mitsuo Shimizu, equity strategist at Japan Asia Securities in Tokyo.

Japan’s Nikkei stock index was slightly higher in afternoon trade, on track to log a rise of 0.9 percent for a week in which it touched its highest levels since August 2015.

“The actual macro situation in Japan is pretty good,” said Ed Rogers, head of Rogers Investment Advisors in Tokyo, who noted the country’s streak of five quarters of positive gross domestic product numbers.

He said the dollar remained bolstered against the yen by the Federal Reserve’s move to hike interest rates last week and leave the door open for further monetary tightening later in the year.

Read More : Global Business Conference 2017

“We’re not seeing global inflation, but we think the Fed will continue to move. That stone’s rolling down the hill,” Rogers said.

Longer-term, that will support the dollar and underpin Japanese shares, he added.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, was down 0.2 percent at 97.449, though up 0.3 percent for the week.

The euro was up 0.1 percent on the day at $1.1163 but was down 0.3 percent for the week, while the dollar was steady against the yen at 111.29, up 0.4 percent for the week.

“We’re getting close to the end of the month, and fundamentals aside, there will be people selling dollars, so it will be easy for the yen to strengthen next week,” said Mitsuo Imaizumi, Tokyo-based chief foreign exchange strategist for Daiwa Securities.

“We also need to keep an eye on the healthcare debate in Washington, because political turmoil tends to undermine the dollar,” he said.

U.S. Senate Republicans offered a bill on Thursday to overhaul Obamacare, the next phase in the party’s long war against the 2010 law enacted by then-President Barack Obama, though it remained unclear if the bill has enough support to pass the Senate.

On Wall Street overnight, U.S. shares put in a mixed performance, though the S&P healthcare index rose 1 percent and hit its fifth consecutive record close following the release of the Senate Republicans’ bill.

U.S. economic data on Thursday showed the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose slightly last week, but remained at levels consistent with a tight labour market. Home prices also increased in April more than expected.

The Mexican peso added 0.1 percent after soaring 1 percent on Thursday as Mexico’s central bank board raised interest rates, saying it wanted to anchor inflation expectations and take into account last week’s move by the U.S. Federal Reserve to hike borrowing costs.

Crude oil futures pulled further away from this week’s lows, though market sentiment remained fragile amid a global crude glut that has persisted despite OPEC-led output cuts.

Brent crude was up 0.4 percent at $45.40 a barrel. U.S. crude futures also rose 0.4 percent to $42.91 a barrel.

Spot gold added 0.2 percent to $1,252.51 an ounce, moving away from a five-week low touched earlier this week.

Read More : Global Business Conference 2017

Global Business Conference Attendee Brochure

Olympia Conference Centre, London

Promoting Entrepreneurs & Business Collaboration

21–22 September 2017

Hammersmith Road, London,

United Kingdom

 

 

International Business Federation (IBF) is a non-profit organisation that creates global platform for entrepreneurs. Its objectives are:

i) Promoting international business collaboration

ii) Promoting business growth through showcasing business at international level and networking

iii) Promoting innovation through cross fertilisation of ideas and business mentoring.

iv) Helping dynamic collaboration between the emerged and emerging markets

IBF helps building trusted relationships of businesses across the globe to enhance collaboration. It organise Global and International Business Conferences and Networking Events, Trade Exhibitions and Business Expo. The IBF consultants help cross -country bridging including legal formalities and deeper understanding.

Global Business Conference & Business Expo 2017 is opportunity for Entrepreneurship Promotion & Connecting Businesses Some of the top minds in international business will be at the event.

You can gain and share invaluable insights in a live and highly interactive environment. Put simply, Global business conference is unmissable for your brand and business to seize the global business presence and seeking future opportunities.

It is estimated that the venue will host 5,000 business visitors over two days, including entrepreneurs, CEOs, managing directors and other key business decision-makers. There will be multi Industry focus between UK and BRICS.

There will be key note speakers, presentations, workshops, seminars and B2B meetings across 2 days.

 

Global Business Conference and Expo 2017

ATTEND THE CONFERENCE WITH PRIDE at LONDON

OLYMPIA CONFERENCE CENTRE

As the world of marketing evolves and becomes more complex, one has to wonder how small business owners can stay abreast of what marketing trends are emerging, never mind figure out which are worth investing in for their particular situation.

Let me offer some help. First, as you update (or create) your marketing plan , ask yourself:

  • Will the marketing activities that have been effective continue to work for my business?
  • Will I need to add new marketing tactics or simply make adjustments to those in which we currently invest?
  • What should I be adding to my marketing activities that are worth my time and effort?

6 small business marketing trends that are important for your upcoming marketing efforts.

1. The integrated marketing plan becomes popular again

Although I’m not a huge fan of complex marketing plans, I do believe having a plan is more important for small businesses than they realize. A marketing plan focuses your efforts and helps you avoid wasting time and money doing things that aren’t moving your business towards your goals.

And now, with all the varying online activities – email marketing, social media marketing, content marketing, mobile marketing, search marketing – you need one place where you define what you will be doing and in what time frame.

2. Content marketing dominates small business marketing strategies

Today’s buyers are smart – we no longer want to be sold and we are sure going to know a lot about the possible solutions to our problems before we make a purchase decision. In fact, according to the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) almost 60% of the purchase decision is made before prospects reach out to vendors. This means the buyer is finding content from expert sources to help them determine the best solution to their problem.

To position your business as an expert resource, you need to create content that speaks to your audience, helping them determine the best route to take. What this means for small businesses is that you need to have a blog if you don’t already have one and you must keep adding new, fresh content regularly. Blogs convert readers into buyers. 42% of consumers look to blogs for information about potential purchases; 52% say blogs have impacted their purchase decisions. According to Hubspot’s State of Inbound Marketing, almost 80% of marketers with a company blog have acquired new customers.

3. Case studies get reinvented into content marketing stories

It’s hard to continually produce content that is relevant to your audience. Most small businesses have plenty of satisfied customers but few use these experiences as a source of rich content that will help others understand how you solve a problem better than anyone else.

But did you know that for B2B marketers customer testimonials (89%) and case studies (88%) have the highest effectiveness rating for influencing potential buyers? And 85% of consumers say that they read online reviews for local businesses and 73% of consumers say positive customer reviews make them trust a business more.

Most of us underestimate the value of what we do really well because what we do for our clients may seem so simple to us. We are taught that things of value must be difficult, therefore what we do which is easy for us has no value.

Just remember that your ideal clients are willing to pay you to do what you do best because it solves a problem or fulfills a need, regardless of how simple it may seem to you. Your existing clients and customers can often provide inspiration for your most powerful and engaging content spoken in the language your customer understands.

4. Marketing activities evolve from mobile enabled to mobile optimized

A year ago in my post on small business marketing trends, I said that mobile support was mission critical and that mobile responsive design would be the most popular small business solution. Today, responsive design is just the first step.

If you are like me, you read email, participate in social media and research information regularly via your mobile device. According to Pew Internet research, 63% of adult cell owners now use their phones to go online and 34% of these cell internet users say that they mostly go online using their cell phone.

With this growth, if the first impression a buyer has of your brand on their smartphone or tablet is not the experience they expect, you can potentially lose a customer before you even know they are interested. Review your marketing tools and determine if mobile access provides a user experience that doesn’t detract from the message you are trying to convey:

  • Can your email newsletters be easily read?
  • Is your website content consumable?
  • Can the visitor fill in your contact forms?
  • Can they use the shopping cart easily from their mobile device?

Going forward, mobile needs to be at least an equal partner with the web browser if not the primary platform for all marketing, taking the lead in design and usability.

5. Getting and staying visible is no longer an option

If I can’t find your business online, do you really exist?

I ask this question every time I am speaking with a small business owner who is wondering if they should create a solid web presence for their business. 93% of online research starts with a search engine, and 68% of consumers check out companies on social networking sites before buying. Online visibility is a must, so every small business needs a strategy that increases their visibility when someone is in need of their products or services.

Although your web presence begins with a well-designed, mobile responsive website and integrated blog, it is much more. Start with a web presence analysis to find out how visible your business is today. Once you have your baseline visibility, then add marketing activities that help increase and optimize your presence on social media and online directories.

6. Simplicity in marketing will become the norm

Many marketers feel that today’s buyers are web-savvy, mobile-enabled researchers capable of sifting through the complex information about a product or service in order to make a purchase decision. In reality, buyers are looking for trustworthy information that helps them easily and efficiently weigh their purchase options. Too many options and messages can paralyze decision making, encouraging the buyer to look at your competitors.

Keep your marketing simple. It will help both you and your prospective customer. Make your value clear, your purchase process simple and customer service awesome. Focus on creating websites and marketing materials whose design is clean and message is clear to attract more people to your business.

What small business marketing trends will effect you?

Evaluate where you are with these areas for your business and add to your plan where necessary. Get ready and have the best year in your business yet.

I wrote about Google Authorship before, but many small businesses are still unaware of Google Authorship, why it is important and how to implement it. They are writing great, authoritative content but without Google Authorship, they are missing out on the opportunity to gain a huge advantage over their competition.

With all the changes in the search engine optimization arena recently, it is extremely important for small business owners to focus on a solid content marketing strategy that builds authority in your area of expertise.

Once you have that great content, getting it found in the search engines is a challenge. Google is continuously changing its search algorithms in order to discover the best content from the original author and providing those more relevant search results to those looking for that information. To gain more visibility and better search engine rankings, you need to implement Google Authorship and make it easy for searchers to focus on your content in the search results pages.

Why is Google Authorship Important?

Google is adamant about delivering the best content in its search results pages. Google Authorship is another signal that indicates whether the content is of high quality and from the original author. When Google Authorship is implemented, it helps them improve search quality by rewarding good, trustworthy content with higher page rank.

Google Authorship ties a Google+ account to content to better identify the original author. Once Authorship is setup and linked to your content, information is added to its search result including your profile picture, a link to your Google+ profile and the number of  Google+ circles you are in. This additional information:

  • Creates more visibility and higher click-through rates because people are naturally drawn to the image of the author.
  • Validates you as an authority and thought leader in your area of expertise.
  • Creates a powerful first impression that establishes trust and credibility in your content.
  • Reduces plagiarism as search engines will be able to link the original author to the content.
  • Improves search engine rankings of your content over that which is not linked to a Google+ profile.

In the following screenshot, content was attributed to me via Authorship even though it is from a website other than my own.

Implementing Google Authorship

The first step in making sure your content is recognized as yours regardless of what website you are writing for is to link your content to your Google+ profile:

  • Fill out your profile completely and indicate websites where you contribute content in the section called “Links”.
  • Upload a high quality profile photo that shows your face
  • Make sure your name used on your content is the same as your Google+ profile
  • Include a byline containing your name on each page of your content
  • Go to plus.google.com/authorship to verify your email address if it is not on the same domain as your content (needed for guest bloggers)

Setting up Google Publisher

In addition to setting up authorship, small businesses gain another advantage by ensuring your brand is associated with your content as well. Implementing the Google Publisher markup links your Google+ Business page to your content on your own website. You can only link one Google+ Page with one website.

To set up your publisher status is simple.

  • Set up a Google+ Page for your business and link it to your website. You will find that section in the About section.
  • To link your site to your page, you need to add the rel=”publisher” markup to any link on your website that points to your Google+ page.

WordPress SEO makes implementing Google+ Authorship and Publisher easy. When you install the plugin, it adds a Google+ field in the user profile for your personal profile. Then through the social area in the settings, you can add your Google+ Page link for it to implement publisher on your website. This plugin adds all the right markup to the head of your website. When you are done, you can verify that everything is set up properly with the Google Structured Data Testing Tool.

Can Google Authorship help your small business?

The competitive advantage authorship can provide for your business is huge. If you are currently publishing content, associating that content with your Google+ profile will increase your authority and add legitimacy to your writing.  Increased visibility and influence will boost traffic to your website. Google is on a mission to deliver quality content from verified authors and you can use that to your advantage.

Are you starting a business and are stressing over what to name it? Or do you have a business but the name just isn’t working and you are wondering if you should change it? If so, you are not alone. Choosing a business name is an important exercise because the right name that sends the right message can have a tremendous impact on whether your customers take your business seriously, view it as a successful entity or shy away from your brand entirely.

Many small business owners don’t realize the long term implications of naming and may choose a name without much thought. Not getting it right the first time can cost your business a lot of money and effort later if you have to change the name. Think of all the time you spent on creating brand visibility that is now wasted and how much more you need to invest in doing it all again.

I personally have gone through this exercise when I renamed my business from Vista Consulting to Masterful Marketing and although my transition was not that painful, I have seen others that truly were. Luckily for me, the switch was relatively painless and happened long before my business was thoroughly entrenched in social media.

If the name you originally chose is not the right fit for your business (as was mine) and is causing confusion about what you do, you should make the move to a name that helps to simplify your marketing. The process takes planning and execution, but in the long run, choosing a business name that projects the right image is more than worth the effort.

Benefits of Choosing a Strong Business Name

Choosing a business name that works for your business has many benefits:

  • Sets the tone for your business
  • Helps people understand what you do
  • Attracts the right audience for your products and services
  • Makes your marketing easier
  • Increases memorability

If you need to change your business name because the one you have is not working, assess the areas that will be impacted by the change and have a plan to address those changes before you begin the process.

  • What about your business filing with your state if you are incorporated? Do you need to submit a name modification? What about your town?
  • Do you need to change your domain name and your email?
  • How about social media? Changing your Facebook business page name, Google+ page name, LinkedIn company name could be problematic.
  • Do you need to research and update directory listings? If you are a local business, how much time will you spend claiming all the business listings, changing the name and verifying that you are the business owner?
  • Do you need to change or modify your logo, website design, brochures and business cards? Is the name change significant enough to make the cost to change worth it?

How to generate name ideas for your business

Many small business owners handle this exercise by either picking a name without much thought or using something they like but doesn’t offer the benefits of a really descriptive name. If you are not sure what would be a good name for your business, go through this exercise.

  • What are your goals for this name? Set the ground rules of what image you want to project. Then create a list of adjectives that describe your business. List terms such as strength, expertise, playfulness, energetic or flexible.
  • Choose a word that describes what your business does such as marketing, consulting, electrician or remodeling.
  • Take the word that your business does and combine it with the adjectives you chose. Examples could be “agile remodeling” or “energetic healing”. These word combinations may not be the exact name for your business, but they can lead you in the right direction.
  • Use that theme to come up with a list of potential names. Spend some time searching for synonyms to the adjectives you chose to describe your business. Sometimes the work combination comes easily. Other times not so. Don’t give up and don’t rush the process.
  • Once you come up with a list of viable names, make sure you check to see if they are available – search for the domain name and check with the US Patent and Trademark Office to see if it is trademarked. Then search for the name in Google to see how it has been used. Given other ways the phrase is used, you may not want to use it for your business name.

Tips to remember when choosing a name:

  • Stay away from names that are so generic that it makes it hard to differentiate you. Go to Google and search for “Computer Services, Inc.”. With 440 million results, do you think you’ll ever rise to the first page?
  • Avoid names that can really date your business. As with everything, there are naming trends that will go out of style.
  • Avoid industry jargon in your names. If your clients are outside your industry, they won’t get it and you are back to explaining what you do.
  • Choose a name that is descriptive enough to help people understand what you do but also gives you some flexibility to expand your offerings in the future within your respective niche. If you want to expand to an entirely different area, start a new business – it will be easier to brand and market!
  • Avoid names that don’t clearly relate to your line of business as they may cause confusion with clients and probably won’t show up in Internet searches for your type of product or service.
  • Combine real words in a way that is catchy and can be easily branded. If you can include something descriptive as well, you’ve hit the jackpot. Besides making the name memorable, the combined words may make it easier to trademark and get the domain name.
  • Make sure the name is easy to pronounce, is pleasing to the ear and easy to spell.
  • If you are a global business, make sure the name you choose is not offensive to any culture or translates into a negative word or slang in another language.
  • Keep the name as simple as possible – one-word names are the best, two word names are fine. Three short words if you must.
  • Avoid initials as they are meaningless and boring. Big brands who have spent millions on branding can adjust (such as IBM and CVS), but a small business with minimal dollars doesn’t have the same advantage.
  • If you want to someday sell your business, avoid using your name as the business name. If you don’t think you will, that may be an option but again, decide whether you are your business or you want something else to brand. (I’ve actually done both with Masterful Marketing!) Either works but that is up to you and what you are trying to accomplish.

Coming up with an appropriate name and getting the domain name to match is a challenge, but with some thought, brainstorming, and creative thinking, you can create a short, catchy name and a domain name that works and can be trademarked. Getting it right from the beginning makes building awareness and brand recognition more effective. Don’t get discouraged. You will arrive at a name that can become a great brand.

Your website is the central focal point of your online marketing. Cure these website design mistakes that prevent visitors from connecting with your brand.

Your website is the virtual front door to your business and an integral part of your in bound marketing strategy. In many cases, it is the first experience people have with your brand.

But when someone comes to your website, what type of first impression does it project? Is your site welcoming and professional? Can visitors quickly find what they are looking for? Or does your website turn away prospective customers because it is confusing and doesn’t make your visitor feel as if you understand their needs?

In order to develop your website so that it helps drive inbound leads, you must first understand your target audience. Put yourself in your target audience’s shoes and thoroughly understand:

  • Why they are searching for a solution?
  • What do they need?
  • How can you help them?

Your website should introduce your business to the target visitor in a way that relates to them and encourages them to dig deeper into what you have to offer. When scanning your content, the visitor is subconsciously asking “what’s in it for me”? If your website doesn’t answer that question or convince them that you understand their needs, they will look elsewhere.

Having a well-developed, professional web presence is a requirement for gaining new customers and establishing credibility. To make your website attract, educate and encourage visitors to learn more, avoid the following website design mistakes that keep your visitors from connecting with your business.

1. Your homepage is all about you

People need to quickly figure out what your business is about, what you have to offer and whether your business can help them. A clear headline that speaks to your visitor’s challenges can stop them from hitting the back button and encourage them to find out more.

But writing in terms that your target audience understands and associates with is not easy. As business owners, we are often too close to our businesses to objectively view what makes our clients appreciate what we do so the content ends up focusing on your company without relating it to what problem you solve and why you are the best option for them.

Tip: If you struggle writing about the problems you solve, have someone interview you about your business, what you do and how you help people. A fresh ear can pick out those nuggets that will help form your most compelling message.

2. Content is unorganized

Content organization is critical to keeping people on your website. Businesses that have a wealth of content struggle with presenting it in a way that is clear and easy to understand. Remember that people don’t understand your business as well as you do and visitors  want access to information quickly without spending unnecessary time searching for it. Organize your content to be clear and educational while demonstrating that you are an expert in your field.

Tip: Take inventory of your content and decide what is important to the main body of the website and what could be used as blog posts. Keep the content in your main pages simple, defining your products and services in terms people understand and how it benefits them. Stay away from your industry jargon.

3. Navigation is complicated

Visitors should be able to find what they are looking for quickly. Try to keep your navigation to no more than two levels and use clear text-based links. Keep in mind that most users are searching from a smartphone or tablet and may be shown alternative navigation schemes. When it comes to website navigation, the simpler the better.

Tip: Once you have your content organized for your target audience, the navigation should coincide cleanly with the structure.

4. Content is hard to scan

People won’t read a wall of text under any circumstances. To capture attention, you need to make your content easy to scan to find the keyword phrases that are of interest. Crowded text, tiny fonts and minimal white space all discourage people from scanning.

Tip: Make use of headings and bullets. Write shorter paragraphs. Use interesting, legible fonts that are easy to read. Bold important content to draw the eye. Font size for the content body should be 14 pixels or more to make it easier to read on any device. Include enough white space on the page to make the content stand out.

5. Text is too much or too little

There’s a fine line between too much and too little content on your web pages. Many believe all you just need a couple of messages with images and you are all set. They see Apple and Nike and want to copy their minimalist look. Unfortunately for most small businesses, we’re not instantly recognized so we need content to explain what we do, for whom and what benefits we provide, otherwise visitors will go elsewhere to find the information they need.

On the other hand, a text heavy page makes finding the right information difficult. Many businesses try to cover everything they do on the homepage and end up with clutter. It’s important to present your information in an engaging and simple way to ensure you keep the attention of your visitors.

Tip: Work on making your messages clear and concise. People need to land on your website and quickly determine if you are the right solution for them. You can use bullets and headlines to get your message across. For every sentence you write, ask the question “so what?” If there’s no answer or the answer doesn’t add to the value you provide, eliminate it.

6. Images are irrelevant or low quality

Images are an important element of your website design. However, irrelevant, overused stock photography or low quality images are distracting. Images should be used to illustrate your message so the visitor can understand the context without having to read every word of the text.

Tip: Take the time to search for unique, quality images for your website or take your own. If you purchase stock photography, buy the right size and resolution to ensure the image is clear and not distorted.

My opinion about using sliders on your homepage: There are folks that believe that sliders are distracting and don’t add to the design of your home page. I agree sliders are not for every business, but in some industries that are very visual, a well designed slider with relevant images and appropriate messages can be a powerful way to get your point across.

7. Call-to-action (CTA) is missing or unclear

Once your website has your visitor’s attention, you must tell them to do something. People don’t want to think – they want to be guided. If you leave them confused or frustrated or overwhelmed with too many choices, they will leave because it was unclear what you wanted them to do.

Tip: Determine the primary goal of each web page and create your call to action to achieve that goal. Understand the buying process of your target audience and provide them the right call to action at the right stage in the process. If someone is just starting their research on a potential solution, asking them to buy is premature. However, giving them an educational piece may be just what they are looking for.

8. Visitors have to search for your contact information

A contact page is a must but don’t make your visitor search for it. Put your phone number where it is clearly visible and make it click to call for mobile visitors. I don’t expose email addresses on websites due to harvesters, but web forms can help people contact you via email without the risk.

Tip: Use simple forms that are clearly targeted at what the person may want. Title the forms appropriately so people know what to use them for. Want more information? Need an estimate? These forms help people take action and make your call to action clear.

9. Website isn’t mobile friendly

Google now gets more search queries in the U.S. from mobile devices than it does from web browsers on PCs. So if you think mobile friendly websites aren’t important, think again. Ever land on a website that hasn’t been optimized for mobile devices? Do you try to stretch the screen so you can click on the navigation and find what you are looking for or do you leave and find a website that is easier to use? Giving visitors a mobile friendly experience can be the difference between a new customer and one that never knows how your business can help them.

Tip: Make sure your WordPress website is using a mobile responsive theme. Most newer WordPress themes have included responsive technology. If you have a WordPress website and it is not mobile responsive, time to switch your theme to one that is.

Your website is no longer just a brochure that you send people to when they ask for more information but the central hub of your web presence. Review your website for these mistakes and correct them to ensure your website works hard for your business.

Small businesses regularly face many challenges. As the business owner, you are tasked with hiring the right people, increasing sales, making payroll, filing taxes and providing quality customer service.

Then there’s marketing!

You know you need to market your business to become or remain visible to your target audience. But like most small businesses, there are more pressing priorities of operating a business that demand your attention. Your time will be spent on operational issues and you will struggle to find the time to do any marketing at all, until you realize that sales are dependent on creating visibility and generating demand for your product or services.

Small Business Marketing Challenges

The concerns I hear most often from small business owners are:

  • Lack of resources (budget / people / time)
  • Increasing visibility or generating quality leads
  • Choosing the right social media platforms for my business
  • Producing and delivering content takes a lot of time
  • Keeping up with trends and technology

Notice most of these challenges are tactical. The good news is tactical challenges can most often be solved with a little planning and focus. So, let’s talk about how you can conquer these marketing challenges and successfully market your business.

Create a marketing plan, action plan and editorial calendar

Solving the majority of marketing challenges is accomplished by creating a simple marketing plan to guide your efforts based on your resource constraints and schedule your time. I’m not a big fan of writing lengthy and complicated marketing plans. But if you are serious about being in business and want to effectively market it to your ideal client, you need to take the time to plan.

Without a plan, you have too many “opportunities” coming at you with no way to determine whether they make sense for your business. Or without a plan optimized for your business, you will copy what other businesses are doing which may or may not be the right thing for you. In either case, you will most likely waste time and money with little to show for it.

A marketing plan will focus your efforts on attracting your target audience and help you determine if you are veering off track and what you need to do to reach your destination (or marketing goals).

Your marketing plan will help you:

  • Determine your marketing goals. Focus your goals on increasing your brand visibility and generating quality leads so your activities help you overcome those two challenges.
  • Define your marketing strategies that will help achieve your goals. Strategies can include content marketing, social media, event marketing (both online and offline), networking, direct marketing, search engine marketing, email marketing, public relations and advertising.
  • Outline what activities you will use within each strategy. There are many activities you can use. Figure out which ones make sense for your target audience and will work for you in terms of resources.

Once you have your marketing plan in place, then you should create an:

  • Action plan – The action plan is a schedule of each step leading up to successful execution of an activity. For example, if you plan to do webinars, you will need a schedule for finalizing the presentation and promoting the event across various channels.
  • Editorial calendar. Similar to the action plan, the editorial calendar will set the schedule for what content needs to be produced and by when to support the action plan deliverables. This helps you achieve consistency in your content marketing efforts.

Setting schedules for tactical execution and content creation points out whether you may be trying to do too much at once. Setting deadlines helps keep you on track.

Tip: Download my marketing campaign action plan template, a spreadsheet that includes a campaign action plan, editorial calendar and instructions on how to plan and execute a successful marketing campaign!

Outsource tasks when necessary

Small businesses and solo professionals have resource constraints. We normally lack people, rarely have a huge budget and there are only 24 hours in a day. With the many marketing strategies available to you, trying to do it all is overwhelming.

This is why having the marketing plan is so critical. The plan should take into account your resources and provide you with the most effective strategies that you can do with your limited resources. In addition, you may want to consider outsourcing some tasks where you know you won’t be able to consistently execute.

Tip: Once you are focused, you can then determine where you need help and what you can do yourself:

  • Need a website refresh? Choose someone who can deliver a well designed responsive website that supports your marketing goals.
  • Need help with social media? Maybe a virtual assistant may be the solution.
  • Aren’t proficient writing your blog posts? Hiring a copywriter may be the answer.

When outsourcing, be cautious. The Internet has leveled the playing field for small businesses to compete with large, but it has also lowered the barriers of entry for many disciplines, especially marketing. Many small businesses have listened to the advice given by self-proclaimed experts in social media, web design and online marketing and suffered the consequences of their bad advice. Just because someone knows how to use social media, doesn’t mean they know how to use social media for marketing.

How do you know whether the person you plan to work with to market your business really knows what they are doing?

Tip: Check out their online presence. Search for their name and business name and see what comes up. Unhappy customers will post negative reviews that can warn you before you get into a relationship that is hard to get out of. Review their website. Do they practice what they preach?  Get references, meet or speak with them multiple times, and ask them a series of online marketing questions to see if they understand marketing at all.

Keeping up with trends and technology

This is a much harder challenge for small business owners. The rate of change in marketing tools and technology is staggering. But with all the new tools and technology, marketing really hasn’t changed.

  • You still need to understand your target audience and what problem they are trying to solve or need to fulfill.
  • You still need to understand what makes you different and why your target audience would want to do business with you.
  • You still need a compelling message to make your target audience take some action.
  • You still need to develop strategies to reach your target audience with your message.

What has changed are how you deliver that message to your audience.

Traditional marketing reaches your audience via channels such as newspapers, television, billboards and direct mail.

New media marketing uses the tools of the Internet to deliver your message. Twitter and Facebook are now old in digital marketing years. Meerkat and Periscope are at the forefront of the live-streaming video trend.

Yes, the tools and technology keep changing, but marketing strategy does not.

So trends are important – you want to be aware of new ways to reach your target audience and what will appeal to them – but you don’t need to dwell on it regularly. Just because the new technology is interesting, it may not be relevant to your business.

Tip: Consult with experts in marketing or read their blogs to get the latest updates that may affect how you reach your ideal client. When you find someone you trust, speak with they regularly to get updates on what’s new.

Does your company face these marketing challenges? Create your marketing plan and focus on achieving your goals so your marketing will be more effective.

People understand the value of having an in-house email list, but many small businesses haven’t started building their list or planning their email marketing strategy. Remember that there are only two things a business owns in the online world – your website and your email list. All other instances of your brand – social media profiles or business listings – are rental space. At any time and for any reason, these can disappear.

As the foundation of your content marketing strategy, building an email list is the process of generating quality inbound leads by providing content that helps your target audience through the buying process. This activity is extremely important to your online marketing and should be high on your list of strategies to pursue.

But once you have started generating quality leads and building a solid opt-in email list, you need a plan on how to communicate with them and what you can offer that is of value. Having people sign up for your list and then never connecting with them helps them to forget you. Then when you do send them an email, most won’t remember why they are on your list.

Four types of email marketing campaigns

There are different types of emails that you can send to your list, but for most small businesses, these following are the most useful:

  • Dedicated emails
  • Educational blog posts
  • Email newsletters
  • Lead nurturing

Depending on the goal of building your email list, you may end up using one or all of these at some point. The key is to segment your list based on interests and send only relevant correspondence.

Single topic email with strong call to action

Most businesses use dedicated emails to announce a a new product or an event. They are popular because they take less planning, are easy to set up, focus on one topic and include a strong call to action.

Examples of where you can use these include:

  • Letting past event attendees know of upcoming events.
  • Greeting new members of your community with a welcome email
  • Generating interest in a new product or service
  • Announcing a special to loyal customers

Use these sparingly since they are more promotional than educational but they have their place in your communication strategy.

Offer value to your audience

Blogging regularly as part of your content marketing effort can help attract strangers to your website and turn them into leads. If optimized properly, your blog posts are a great way to drive traffic to your website and increase the trust and authority of your brand.

When people come to your blog via a search, provide an offer to get them to sign up for your email list to receive your posts via email. As long as your posts are educational and informative, and not all about your business, it is an easy way to stay in touch.

Educate and entertain regularly

An email newsletter is a great way to stay in touch with your list and help you build strong relationships with your readers. Delivered on a consistent basis, your newsletter can take many forms:

  • Educational or entertaining content (or both). This one takes the most time to create. A great example of one that is both entertaining and educational is the biweekly newsletter from Michael Katz of Blue Penguin Development.
  • Digest of interesting posts from other sources. This is easier to produce but less personal as you are sharing content but not building your authority.
  • Combination of both. Include a short article or tip from you plus a list of related content with links. Or provide your viewpoint on one of the curated content links to offer additional value. A good example of this type of newsletter is Almost Timely News from Christopher Penn.

Whatever you choose as your newsletter format, create a plan and deliver it on a consistent schedule. If you don’t blog, you may wish to deliver a newsletter bi-weekly. If you do blog, a newsletter can go monthly or quarterly, depending on your business needs and resources.

Guide them through the inbound marketing funnel

Email newsletters are a great way to communicate with your subscribers, but remember people only start receiving your content once they become subscribers. What if you want to send the same series of emails to all new subscribers?

Lead nurturing emails are a connected series of emails that provide useful content to move your lead through your inbound marketing funnel. The main purpose of lead nurturing emails is to drive prospects to take action, build a stronger relationship with you and eventually turn these leads into customers.

Lead nurturing emails are more effective than general newsletters or blog post emails in terms of click through rates. To use this tactic effectively, your list needs to be segmented and your series needs to be automated. Lead nurturing emails which are targeted and segmented perform better than mass email communications.

Types of content that work well through a lead nurturing campaign include:

  • Webinars – Offer your subscribers a free educational webinar to help them overcome some challenge.
  • Case studies – Relate client success stories to provide real world experiences on how you can help them.
  • Interviews – Interview industry experts about their success stories and deliver them as podcasts.
  • Tips and tricks – Help your readers quickly gain one new useful idea that they can apply immediately.
  • How To Articles – Develop in depth “how to” articles making difficult tasks easy.

Make sure your email series is strategically leading the person to an end result. Four disjointed emails will not help people decide whether they want to do business with you.

Before you hit send

  • Develop an email marketing strategy to define what you want to say, how often and the resulting benefits to the reader.
  • Give your readers quality content that help them solve a problem. Forget about your press releases – your readers don’t really care what’s new about you – they are only concerned with how you can help them.
  • Be sure your email correspondence is professionally branded and consistent with your website and social media profiles.

Email marketing complements your other online and social media activities. By using email to point people to useful information, you build your reputation as an expert and thought-leader, creating long-term, lasting relationships with your audience.

Marketing success is never guaranteed. But one thing is guaranteed – if you don’t market your business, your competition will step in and take business away from you.

Marketing must become a regular daily activity if you want your business to grow and thrive. I realize that there are plenty of marketing challenges facing your small business on a daily basis, so I understand your reluctance to start for fear of marketing consuming your entire day. But without marketing activities that create visibility and attract your target audience,  you become just another business in a sea of mediocrity.

So how do you make marketing a regular activity in order to reap the benefits?

First you need to have the right mindset about marketing. Businesses that consider marketing an investment rather than an expense are more likely to succeed at committing to regular marketing activities.

But like any activity that must be performed every day, you need to figure out a way to make it a habit. Creating daily habits that you schedule in your calendar can help you take your marketing from an overwhelming task to a completely achievable system.

Once you have the right mindset, here are 5 tips to help you crack the secret code to marketing success:

Stop planning and start acting

I didn’t say don’t plan. I recommend a rolling 90 day marketing plan that helps you focus your activities on short term goals that benefit your business growth. Focusing on the important goals help you make decisions on what you should be doing and what you can let go.

But without action, your marketing plan is just words. Nothing will be accomplished to help your business thrive. Schedule time to fully develop and execute your marketing campaigns. Create an action plan that breaks the effort down into smaller tasks that can be scheduled to help you achieve small wins that lead to your ultimate accomplishment.

Start small with one activity and expand later

Habits are formed when someone can successfully do something over and over again without too much thinking. Working out every morning for an hour becomes a habit when you no longer have to force yourself to get up and get to the gym. A marketing activity becomes a habit when you unconsciously take on the task, complete it and move on.

Pick something you can do easily and do it.

  • Don’t like to write? Try recording your content as either a podcast or video. Or hire a writer to interview you and write your blog post for you.
  • Not a social media fanatic? Pick one platform that makes sense for your business and begin connecting and interacting with a few people every day. Find and share other people’s quality content with your followers to make your posts valuable.
  • Are you a people person? Connect with 3 to 5 new people that you value or admire and send them an email offering help with no strings attached.

Once your first marketing activity becomes routine, add a second. Keep this process moving forward so you continue to market your business regularly.

Create a marketing system to achieve your goal

A marketing system is a documented repeatable process for creating visibility and generating quality leads. Once you know what you need to do to effectively market your business, divide the tasks into daily, weekly or monthly activities and schedule them into your calendar.

For example, if you are using content marketing to attract qualified leads, you may want to:

  • Publish new content on Mondays
  • Promote your content on social media on Tuesdays
  • Create a Facebook sponsored post with a call to action on Thursdays to drive people to your website to get your offer and sign up for your list.

If you repeat this process regularly, you will find yourself doing them more consistently, which in turn should produce better results.

Outsource Marketing to Buy Back Time

Divide your marketing activities into those you need to do and those you can outsource to more qualified resources. Does it make sense to try to design your own brand identity, business cards or website or should you outsource those tasks to creative professionals while you prepare for a seminar, speaking opportunity or event? You are the expert in your field and you do need to be responsible for the educational content. Create time for the right marketing activities by determining where you can effectively delegate and where you need to take control.

Be Persistent and Patient

Marketing is a process that never ends and it takes time for marketing activities to bear fruit. Don’t expect instant results from your marketing activities or you’ll get discouraged and give up too quickly. Every activity plants a seed. Every activity reinforces the previous one. Persistence and patience are the keys to successful marketing. If you spend time each week marketing your business, you will find that your efforts will pay off with more visibility, more quality leads and ultimately more clients.

Take the Marketing Success Challenge!

The future growth of your business is dependent on quality marketing executed regularly. Prioritize marketing as an important area of your business so you give it the attention it deserves. By changing your mindset about marketing, you will be able to make marketing a habit that produces impressive results.