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You have a brilliant idea. You formulate a development plan and produce a great product. And then what? Success is not automatically guaranteed, even for the most innovative new tech.

Trend leaders like Uber and Airbnb had great products, but they also offered a well-articulated and lucid value proposition (VP). Many experts believe that formulating this VP is the key to real business success.

The most successful VPs lay out clearly the function or nature of the startup and why it’s uniquely qualified to solve existing consumer problems. If you can’t come up with a compelling and unique statement of your company’s VP, then you may struggle to attract customers and engage the attention of potential investors. Ultimately, you might also miss the chance of eventually scaling up to major success.

Some academic research suggests that the VP is the essence of good strategy and a company’s “single most important organizing principle.” These researchers also discovered that “less than 10 percent of companies formally develop value propositions.” In order not to join the majority who fail in this respect, here’s what you should do to build a clear and compelling VP that could take your startup smoothly to the next level.

Five Steps to Your Future 1. Identify your Target Audience

When you developed your product, you probably had a fairly good idea of who your customers were, but now it’s time to be more specific. Take a closer look at the demographics of your target market, including primarily:

  • Location
  • Gender
  • Employment status
  • Income

Once you have better details, you can craft a more directed VP, more precisely attuned to your consumers.

According to some experts, in order to assess and define your target market properly you should examine your existing customer base. You need to find out who your current customers are, what they’re buying and why, and especially why they’re buying it from you instead of someone else. Can you identify any shared interests or characteristics that might indicate why they appreciate your particular product or service?

You also need to take a look at your competitors to find out why they’re not attracting customers away from you. Do they have a different angle, or have they maybe overlooked a niche market demographic? Once you know more about your target audience and gain a better understanding of their needs, you’ll be better equipped to construct a VP that is more closely aligned with consumer preferences, values and beliefs.

2. Customer Pain Points

It’s also important to know what problems customers have and how your product or service can solve them. Draw up a list of specific pain points mentioned by customers, and show clearly how solving them helps your target market, and increases the value of your business.

Many marketing experts believe that customer conversions can be maximised by split-testing, sometimes by over 50%. Running a quick A-B comparison of VP headlines can easily determine how clear your message is.

For example:

  • Company A offers to “Quick Fix your PCBs”
  • Company B suggests “24-hour Turn-Round for PCB Problems”

Which one are you most likely to choose?

In marketing surveys, Company B will attract significantly more consumer interest because it directly addresses a specific issue of value to customers – their time. When responding to customer pain points, it’s important to read the small print.

3. Determine Your Startup’s Unique Differences

Step three is to turn the spotlight on your business strengths, and identify what uniquely differentiates your startup from your competitors. Do you supply some particular feature unmatched by any other company? Maybe your proprietary tech runs a software algorithm with unique results that only your startup delivers? Do you field an unusual or unconventional methodology that is of special value to your customers?

Identify what makes your business unique and decide whether it makes sense to highlight that strength in your VP. If you find yourself unable to come up with anything that makes you stand out from the crowd, it’s time to revisit your Minimum Viable Product and find something that does. Remember that viability in a product only means delivering sufficient value to the targeted end user, so that they are willing to try your product over others.

4. Research Consumer Language

The purpose of the VP is solely to engage your customers. Avoid all buzzwords, industry jargon, and boring tech details, and don’t try to second-guess what language is used by your target audience, but do your due diligence in research. Send out surveys, conduct focus groups, join forums and check out social media to learn how your consumers speak about your product.

Make note of speech patterns such as frequently used phrases, words and syntax that you can incorporate into your copy.

5. Write the Unique Value Proposition (UVP)

When you’ve completed your due diligence, you can begin writing your startup’s UVP. While there is no obligatory template, the following elements should be included:

  • Headline: Invoke curiosity or emphasise a unique benefit
  • Subhead: Describe your product, its target audience and why they’ll be interested
  • Bullet Points: List three key product features or benefits
  • Visual: Support your text with a ‘hero shot’

Startups evolve rapidly, and you’ll always be discovering more about what is of value to your customers, so it’s a good idea to revisit your UVP every 6 to 12 months to keep up with any changes.

About the Author

This article was written by Wesley Rashid, co-founder and CEO of The Accountancy Cloud.

The post How to Build an Effective Startup Proposition appeared first on Successful Startup 101.

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Wedding planning can be a profitable and exciting business. People who are interested in this business have a passion for the beauty and romance of weddings. You might have planned your own successful wedding.

You need, among other things, a solid business plan to start a successful wedding planning business. Here are three important steps to get you started.

1. Learn the Basics by Getting an Education and Hands-on Experience

One effective way of learning the business is working as an on-site event coordinator at a successful catering business or reception venue. This entry-level position lets you gain experience in the industry without the risks of business ownership. On-site event coordinators work with various wedding vendors such as reception venues, photographers, videographers, DJs, and bands.

Professional associations, such as the Association of Certified Professional Wedding Consultants, the Association of Bridal Consultants, Weddings Beautiful Worldwide, and June Wedding Inc., provide educational programs in wedding planning. While they may not guarantee success, these programs can help you familiarize yourself with many aspects of the business.

Grow your portfolio by taking the opportunity to plan weddings for family and friends. Reach out to established wedding planning businesses and offer to assist on events as an intern or volunteer.

2. Create a Business Plan and Brand that Matches your Style and Purpose

Style is at the heart of wedding planning as brides trust your ideas for planning a gorgeous wedding. So you need to develop a stylish brand that demonstrates attention to detail. Bring your brand to life by hiring talented professionals including website developers and graphic designers to create your website, logos, business cards, and so on.

Create a written business plan to give you direction and get investors on board. Research your product, the market, and your competition. Business plans can serve many purposes so determine the purpose of your plan. Create a company profile including details such as your products, target market, and resources. Develop a strategic marketing plan that’s adaptable to your audience.

3. Build Relationships that Grow your Business

Invest in relationships with successful wedding professionals that will help you plan amazing weddings for your customers while keeping costs low. One effective way of minimizing costs is taking of easy-to-use and affordable online resources such as Mixbook wedding invitation cards.

Top wedding vendors with whom you have a good relationship can be a reliable source of new customers for your wedding planning business.

Consider signing up to the local chapter of the professional associations such as the International Special Events Society or the National Association of Catering Executives. Being a member of these organizations puts you in contact with a variety of wedding professionals, including caterers, venues, videographers, photographers, and bridal salons among others.

Alternatively, you can directly reach out to wedding professionals and get together for coffee or set up lunch meetings. Most professionals will agree as they are also eager to grow their networks and learn about new service providers in their market.

The post What You Need to Know About Starting Your Own Wedding Planning Business appeared first on Successful Startup 101.

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The world of eCommerce is one of the fastest growing markets today. Many consumers find online shopping to be more convenient and efficient. But what about B2B customers and having a B2B eCommerce site you’re selling goods and products to other businesses rather than to broad consumers on the market?

Although these customers may be similar in many ways, they do require a different approach. The fact of the matter is that B2B customers are oftentimes more difficult to handle than general consumers. That’s why it may be challenging to get them to use your eCommerce site.

In most cases, these customers usually find some sort of an excuse not to use your platform, whether it’s about the inconvenience, the pricing or they claim that they’d rather prefer if you didn’t have a platform, to begin with; there’s always some kind of issue standing in the way. With that in mind, here are a few ways to get your customers to use your B2B eCommerce site.

Promote Your Site Early On

Launching a B2B eCommerce site differs from launching a B2C one. The main reason is that you’re not dealing with average consumers. In fact, you have to go that extra mile to get your customers interested in the first place.

You can use email promotions to inform your customers prior to the launch and gather their feedback and their opinions on the matter. Getting customers involved in the project can make them more willing to explore it once you launch your site. As an example, you can educate your customers about what’s coming but you should also ask them about their needs.

It’s important to understand that B2B customers will pay closer attention to details such as alignments between functional areas, communication features, resources and the information available. Therefore, asking clients for feedback will be a good opportunity not only to get them interested and involved but also to improve your site based on customer needs before you actually launch it.

Focus On The Functionality

One of the things B2B and B2C customers have in common is that they have expectations when website functionality is involved. If your platform isn’t performing well, you shouldn’t expect from customers to use it.

That’s why you should focus on ensuring that your eCommerce site is fast, responsive, accessible, available and user-friendly, among other things. You must also ensure that you’re able to provide a seamless and exceptional customer experience in order to encourage customers to use your platform. What’s more, functionality isn’t just about website performance, per se.

It’s also about the browsing experience of your customers while they’re on your website or platform. That said, ensure seamless navigation and access to any relevant information for your customers. That way, they can easily find what they need and without any inconveniences, which will make them more eager to use your platform regularly.

Communication Is the Key

It’s no secret that customers may have difficulties navigating your eCommerce site at first even if you made your site to be easy to navigate. It’s crucial to communicate with customers in such scenarios in order to avoid losing them.

Therefore, ensure that your customers can contact customer support easily by implementing proper communication methods, such as live chat, for instance. Aside from that, communicating with customers is essential, both on and outside of your eCommerce platform.

You can implement a reliable B2B sales management solution that will allow your staff to generate and nurture leads through outbound calls, tailor specific offers based on customer needs and educate customers about your offers across various media channels. The point of fact is that B2B customers require a bit more convincing and encouragement compared to average B2C customers. In other words, you need to be able to provide more value to B2B customers in order to encourage them to use your site.

Improve The Business Processes

Every B2B customer is skeptical about new systems. They commonly fear that by implementing your system, i.e., using your eCommerce site, they’ll need to make significant changes to their existing business operations and processes.

Instead of trying to make changes, you should focus on providing value by improving their business processes. If your B2B customers see value in your offers they’ll be more willing to utilize them. As an example, make sure that your customers can easily track their orders through your platform so that they won’t have to make an extra effort to do so.

In addition, provide them with a logistics solution so that they won’t have to take care of that process themselves. If you can save them time, money and effort on mundane yet necessary tasks, you can ensure that more B2B customers will be not just interested but also willing to give your eCommerce site a shot.

Developing a B2B eCommerce site can be quite difficult mainly because B2B customers can be a tough nut to crack. You must tailor your site to their specific needs and meet their expectations in order to encourage them to use your site, in the first place. Aside from that, if you focus on delivering value through your offers, you can be sure that more B2B customers will be willing to explore your offers further.

About The Author

Raul Harman is the editor-in-chief at Technivorz blog. He has a lot to say about innovation in all aspects of digital technology and online marketing. Connect with hi

The post 4 Ways To Get Your Customers To Use Your B2B eCommerce Site appeared first on Successful Startup 101.

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In a recent report, Frost and Sullivan found that live events are worth $500 billion. In case you are wondering, this is huge, and B2B marketers are investing 20-30% of their budgets on event marketing each year. The only problem with this is that while most marketers say that event marketing is their top strategy, businesses are still struggling to leverage profits and gain conversions post event.

The key is adopting strategies that maximize each dollar spent on event marketing. If you are a small business looking to make this happen, here are the strategies you need to make this happen.

Have Intent

Like every other aspect of your business, success takes planning. As a small business, your resources may be more limited. It is important for you to strategize about what your end goals of holding a live event are. To garner the most interest, live events should be focused and tailored to specific niche of your audience. Otherwise, followers might not understand the purpose.

Of course, there are times, like grand openings, that you have the luxury of being a bit more generic with the event theme, but otherwise create your event around your goal.

For example, if you are looking to bring more awareness to your advanced technologies, host an unveiling of your new product or service.

If you want to be viewed as an authority in your field, host a seminar.

If you are looking to grow one niche of your target market, host an event that is tailored to them.

Knowing what you want to achieve before you even get started will lead you in the right direction for choosing the best live event for your business.

Choose The Best Event To Highlight Your Product or Service

Ok, you’ve decided to host a live event. You even have goals for how the event will benefit your business. Where do you go from here?

One of the trickiest aspects of event marketing for small business is understanding what type of event will best help them in meeting their goals.

Five of the best live events for small business are

  • Seminars or roundtables
  • Small B2B or B2C conferences
  • Product or Service Unveilings
  • Virtual Events
  • In-house customer events

These are the types of events that your audience will recognize and be interested in. Whatever your live event is, chances are it fits in one of these categories. If it doesn’t, ask yourself why. Thinking out of the box isn’t a bad thing, but make sure that your focus is on target for generating leads and conversions, not just hosting a really cool event.

Optimize Before, During and After

Successfully incorporating live events into your small business means understanding how to optimize to your marketing strategy at every point of the journey.

Before:

  • Make sure your event is discovered through organic search. Tie relevant keywords into your event marketing and create a space for your event on your landing page. People who make it to your event page through organic search are more likely to follow through to registration.
  • Market your event across all social media platforms. Social media marketing is huge for live events. It is also the most effective word of mouth platform you have for promoting your live event. Instagram and Snapchat stories are a great way to build up anticipation and get followers excited about your event.
  • Don’t forget about outbound marketing strategies. Depending on your target market, you might not be able to find them all on social media. Use outbound marketing strategies to approach and attract potential guests that might otherwise slip through the cracks.
  • Analyze, analyze, analyze. Before the day of your event, you need an idea of just how successful it is going to be. This will help you determine if you need to adopt new marketing strategies before it is too late. Keep track of data like social media engagement, CTR and reservations. With reservations, pay close attention to what days people are registering for your event and special promotions or discount offers affect registration rate.

During:

  • Use event management software to add names and contact information of every new subscriber.
  • If you are hosting your live event on social media, take advantage of survey and questions to gather data on how your audience feels about the event. What do they love and what do they feel is missing in the heat of the action? People’s opinions will change over time, and small details will be forgotten.
  • Use social media analytical tools to track engagement over the course of your event.
  • Open up a live suggestion or Q&A period at the end of your event if applicable.

After:

This is the point where many small businesses fall short. The live event is over, and you marketed your heart out. All you need to do now is sit back and reap the rewards, right?

No, this couldn’t be the farthest thing from the truth.

  • Depending on the nature of your event, you may or may not have made conversions that day. However, the most potential lies in what happens afterward. This is where you can really generate sales.
  • Remember the software that you used to keep track of registrant’s names, and maybe each new follower that engaged with you on social media? Now is the time to go back and use it. Create an outreach strategy and contact those people. The optimal timeframe for doing this is 24-48 hours after your event.
  • When you reach out to those potential customers, have something to offer them. A nice thank you for attending your event is great, but sweetening the deal with an incentive to commit is even better.
  • Review and strategize for your next event. It’s never too soon to start thinking about your live event. Now is the time to take all the feedback and everything you have learned to develop an event marketing strategy that even better than the one you just started with.

Think of each live event as a growth opportunity. An opportunity to grow your business, grow your revenue and grow your experience in marketing each event. Event marketing is great for small business because it yields big results. Don’t miss out on this potential.

The post The How – and Why – of Event Marketing for Small Businesses appeared first on Successful Startup 101.

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Having a modern and responsive website for your law firm in this time and age is extremely crucial. With a website, you not only gain more exposure but it also helps you secure more leads which can easily be turned into customers.

Unfortunately, it is shocking to see many law firms still operating without a website. If that isn’t enough, many law firms who do actually have a website don’t really care how well it is made. As a result, many of them have an unresponsive website with an old and outdated design that is doing nothing for them.

If you want to hit the next level with your law firm and become a well-recognized name like FarhanNaqvi law firm then you must have a modern and responsive website.

Here are some more reasons how it helps.

Responsive Website Engages The Visitor

The modern internet user mostly browses the internet through their smartphone or tablets which are very different from desktops. Since these devices have their own technological advantages, a website may work differently on them.

If your website isn’t responsive on a smartphone, you are losing a lot of potential clients. No one will want to stay on your website and read what’s on offer if they have to pinch zoom and read the text on your website. So make sure you have a responsive website that is well optimized for tablets and mobile phones.

A Good Website Strengthen’s Your Brand Name

A website is essential if you want to establish a brand name in the modern world. Have a website that has a strong logo, tons of features, and a brand identity that people can relate to. You can also add in your values and mission statement to give an idea of what your brand means.

A good website gives a professional outlook to your business and conveys a message to the user that you are serious about what you do. It will also help them recognize your brand and will put you on the top of all law firms in your area.

A strong brand may even land you a deal with a new startup because they are always looking for a good law firm to work with.

Responsive Websites Are Good for Seo

In modern times, SEO isn’t all about stuffing keywords and attracting people from search engines. These days search engines like Google will rank your website based on the content as well as the responsiveness of the site.

If the site is slow, or it isn’t optimized for mobile phones, Google will automatically drop the ranking and that will affect your law firm negatively.

Conclusion

Every big firm, be it a law firm or any other organization has a responsive and powerful web presence. This is essential to secure new clients because most people conduct business these days through the internet.

Gone are the times when people used to look at phone directories and would call you for help. These days they look at law firms on the internet and decide from their website whether they should get in touch or not.

The post Why Having a Modern and Responsive Website for Your Law Firm Is So Important appeared first on Successful Startup 101.

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As a small business, your employees are crucial in defining your business and brand image. A smaller workforce means that those you do employ need to make a bigger impact. They are the backbone of your business, and they can determine your success. Of course, you want to recruit the best. The question is what do you need to do, as a business, to attract the best talent. The answer is simple.

You build a great reputation.

It is often thought that employers have the upper hand in the recruitment game. You might have stacks of resumes in your inbox to choose from, and between Google and social media, you have the tools to thoroughly check out each prospective candidate before you even contact them for an interview. The flip side of this is that talent can check you out just as thoroughly before they even consider sending along their CV. How you manage your reputation directly influences the quality of talent that you attract.

First, Know Your Stats

You can’t manage, or build, your reputation, if you don’t know what it is. Too many small businesses focus only on customer satisfaction, and those are the only reviews they care about. Of course, this is important, but you need to be aware of your image from all angles.

Before seeking out or attempting to recruit new talent, take inventory of your image in the community. Do you have a good relationship with the community? Is your business looked at as an asset or a liability to community quality? What steps have you taken to reach your hand out into the community to help build it up?

Secondly, don’t ignore employee review sites like Glassdoor.com. You don’t want to make the mistake of thinking that just because you are a small business, that your employees have not publicly rated your value as an employer. If, your business name doesn’t have a presence on any of these sites, go directly to the source for some information and insight. Your current employees.

Open the dialogue about their impression of you as an employer and a community member. Encourage them to speak freely without fear of offending you. If the dialogue is difficult to achieve, consider asking your employees to complete an anonymous survey. Your current talent can be your best word of mouth strategy for attracting new talent. Do everything you can to create an environment that ensures they only have positive things to say.

Know Where You Are Going

If there is one aspect of small business that turns off new talent it is the perception that there is often no potential for growth. For new talent to be interested in you, they need to be excited about the opportunities you can provide them with. Even if they are fresh out of school, just looking for a foot in the door, they are looking for a learning and growing experience.

What can you do to promote your image as a forward moving company?

You need some serious long-term goals. Maybe you have just gotten started and for the longest time THAT was your goal. Great. Getting started was hard work and a major accomplishment. But now what? In what ways do you plan to be a leader in your industry? Where are you taking your brand in the next 5 years? In what ways can new talent expect to grow with you?

New recruits will be interested when they see that you have direction, that you are moving forward and that there is potential to build a rewarding career with you.

Have An Active Presence On Social Media

As a small business, if you have a low profile on social media, you could be missing out on great opportunities. Social media marketing is the thing right now, but that doesn’t mean it is necessarily the right fit for every business. Some small businesses choose to purposefully back away from social media. If that marketing strategy works for you, then great. But, attracting customers isn’t the only goal. Social media provides one of the best platforms for attracting top new talent.

Most people use at least one social media platform daily. According to Pew Research, 69% of adults have at least one social media account. Now, narrow that down to adults age 49 and under and that rises to 80%. For adults 29 and under, who are often looking for career growth opportunities, that number jumps to nearly 90%. What does this tell us?

Social media is crucial for building a reputation that attracts new talent.

Being active on social media opens your small business to an incredibly large pool of potential new talent. This is your chance to build up your business reputation by taking advantage of how accessible your image is.

For example, you can tailor posts to show how you are a small business industry leader. Or you can post behind the scenes workplace videos, give teasers about exciting new projects and highlight reviews that illustrate what is so great about your company. This type of presence will keep prospective new talent interested, and they will be the first ones to notice when you post that you are looking to add the best new talent to your team.

New talent that will help propel your business forward is out there. As a small business, your reputation is your number one asset for bringing them to your door. You have a great business, and a bright future. Take the time to polish your reputation, and get ready to build your best possible team.

The post Ready To Recruit? Why You Need To Build Your Reputation First appeared first on Successful Startup 101.

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Marketing is crucial for nonprofits, but if you have spent any amount of time in the nonprofit sector, you know that this comes with its own seemingly impossible challenges. Nonprofits depend largely upon funders for money. When a person, business or organization sends money your way, they want to make sure that each of their hard-earned dollars is spent making an impact. They want to make a difference.

Most of them don’t feel that spending their money on marketing is achieving this goal.

Research estimates that for profit business spend about 10% of their budgets on marketing. For highly competitive industries, this number can go as high as 20%.  For nonprofits, both numbers are pretty much out of the question.

You simply have too much to do with the money you do have to devote such a large amount of valuable resources to marketing.

So, you have an immediate need for marketing, but no budget to do it with. What are you supposed to do?

The answer is you become creative and resourceful. It is entirely possible to run an effective, budget friendly marketing campaign when you know where to turn for inspiration.

Here, we set you in the right direction.

Go For Grants

Many nonprofits are unaware that grants exist for the sole purpose of helping them market their cause. One of the best marketing grants available is offered by none other than Google.

Google offers $10,000 a month in Google Ad grants that help nonprofits get noticed. In all, they award $120,000 annually. If you have ever run a PPC campaign, you know the type of impact that amount of grant money can have on your marketing success. Google Ad grants increases your online visibility which is a sure way to boost donations and the number of volunteers that contact your agency. Want to know if your nonprofit is eligible? Check here to find out.

Earned Media Opportunities

Earned media refers to the opportunity to promote yourself through PR, or unpaid sources, such as featured local news articles, TV, radio or newspaper interviews and free engagement through social media channels. This type of marketing strategy is one of the most sought after by nonprofits, but also one of the most difficult to attain. Why? Because everyone wants it.

To make the most of your earned media, you need to make sure that you have positioned your nonprofit to be highly visible when opportunity comes knocking. To optimize earned media opportunities, ask yourself these questions.

  • What are you doing to reach out and get noticed in the community? Has your organization done anything newsworthy recently, and what do you have planned as newsworthy happenings in the near future?
  • What is your press release strategy?
  • Do You have a process for optimizing press releases on your website?
  • What earned media channels is your target audience interacting with on a regular basis? Are you finding ways of reaching them there?
  • Do you have a strategy for taking earned media and transforming it into a larger following and engagement in social media?
  • Are you using tools to analyze the impact of earned media channels on converting supporters, donors and volunteers?

Optimizing earned media strategies is a three-step process that involves identifying opportunities, maximizing the power of each, and making sure you are reaching your target market.

Understand Who You Really Are Marketing To

With limited marketing dollars, it becomes even more important to really understand where your support is coming from. You are looking for the person, or group of people, that can make decisions that will positively impact the future of your nonprofit.

For many nonprofits, this area of focus will be corporations, not individuals. The public, in general, is more likely to donate when they receive something tangible in return. For example, once a year, Girl Scouts take to cookie booths to gain financial support for the organization. In return for a donation you get a box of cookies and everything is great.

But, unless you have the budget to invest in an incentive program, you have to turn to the people who are more likely to respond to the long term, big picture incentives of investing in your nonprofit, and those are the businesses and corporations with pockets deep enough to offer support and funding.

Before you invest a single cent in marketing your nonprofit, make sure that your dollars are going in a direction that will yield the highest results.

Come From Different Directions

It is never a good idea to put all your eggs in one basket, and marketing your nonprofit is no different. Avoid the temptation to take every dollar of your marketing budget and invest it in one marketing avenue, such as PPC, Social media or developing an email strategy.

The best approach is to instead reach your market from as many different directions as possible. In the short term this might dip into your nonprofit’s wallet a little more than you like, but let’s look at the potential.

People need to see your message multiple times before they are engaged enough to act. What if over the period of couple months, you received a dozen emails from the same nonprofit looking for support. At some point, you would probably become annoyed, and it is likely that you would stop opening the emails and unsubscribe before you addressed their request.

Now, what if you read a press release about something that organization was doing to build the community, and later that day you easily pulled them up in a Google search (thank you Google Ad Grants). Then the next day, you caught a glimpse of a Tweet. By the time you got around to opening your email, you have received multiple different and interesting bits of information about this nonprofit. You automatically feel more invested and willing to engage.

The key for nonprofit success is learning how to optimize free or low-cost marketing tools across a variety of platforms for higher engagement and greater success.

Assess Your Marketing Channels

Where are your marketing dollars being spent, and are you getting the maximum ROI on your investment? Now, with a heavy shift toward digital marketing, outlets like print, radio and television are taking a back seat to less expensive digital channels that produce more in terms of engagement and financial support.

This is also the time to contact any non-digital channels and talk to them about what they can offer you to keep their business. Many of these marketing outlets are willing to cut deals and even offer a certain amount of free advertising just to stay competitive in the changing marketing industry.

Nonprofits can have as much marketing power as for-profit businesses once they learn how to harness all the opportunities in front of them.  It takes more strategy, and you need to put in a little more leg work to compensate for the funds you don’t have available to spend. But, the affordable marketing channels are there to help your nonprofit reach a greater level of success than ever before.

The post A High-Level Guide To Low Budget Marketing for Nonprofits appeared first on Successful Startup 101.

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Manufacturing is an industry driven by innovation. Growth in manufacturing technology is constantly changing the industry, propelling it forward to meet the demands of a worldwide market. To stay on top, manufactures need to not only adapt to changes, but also position themselves as pioneers of innovative thought and technology. Top manufactures know that this means keeping ahead of industry trends.

What trends will industry leaders be looking at this coming year? Be on the lookout for growth in technologies, higher-level innovative thinking and a focus on developing a more direct path to the consumer.

Here are 5 of the hottest manufacturing trends you need to know now and for the year ahead.

Internet of Things (IoT)

The IoT has been key in driving the transformation of global manufacturing. As an industry, manufacturing is the largest spender on IoT technology. Last year alone, IoT spending in manufacturing reached $178 billion. This year, we can expect to see that number grow.

IoT technology allows manufacturers to connect software, integrated systems and devices from around the world. The manufacturing industry depends on the data collected and organized by IoT technology to constantly assess their process and make quick decisions with real-time information.

As IoT technology continues to help manufacturers create better products and build a stronger industry, it will remain key to an integrated approach that includes robotics, big data analytics and new operational technologies.

As a manufacturer, IoT technology is the tool you need to keep connected to the global manufacturing industry.

3D Printing

3D printing is about to revolutionize how the manufacturing industry approaches product development.

Prototype development and production is one of the costliest aspects of the manufacturing industry.

3D printing gives manufacturers a way of creating tangible product prototypes without committing to a costly production process.

With just one machine, manufacturers can create functional prototypes, analyze opportunities for improvement and strategize on how to make it better. In the past, the constant cycle of prototype development, production and tweaking has consumed resources that, thanks to 3D printing, can now be allocated more efficiently in the industry.

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality, technology that blurs the lines between reality and computer-generated graphics and sounds, will take the leap into manufacturing this year.

Augmented reality gives manufacturers the opportunity to test products in a virtual real-life platform. From the beginning stages of product development, through to the end product, augmented reality will provide manufacturers new troubleshooting and problem-solving opportunities before products hit the open market.

Augmented reality is also a tool that manufactures will find useful in increasing productivity. According to Industry Week, AR technology increases engineer’s accuracy by 96%, while working 30% faster. These are numbers that easily convert to more potential for innovation and increased revenue for the manufacturing industry.

Increased Automation

There is nothing new about the association between robotics and manufacturing. The two have been hand in hand for decades now. New developments in robotic technology and automation will become even more influential in the manufacturing industry.

Automation makes it possible for manufacturers to reach new levels in areas of production, precision and safety. There are just some things that robotics can do better, faster and more efficiently than humans.

The current advances in robotic technology have supplied the ability to replicate and perform complex series of human tasks with more accuracy than ever before. There is no question that automation is the answer to many of the industry’s shortfalls, and manufactures world-wide are looking at how they can better optimize the latest in automation technology.

Automation is also predicted to drive job growth in the manufacturing industry.

While advances in automation night replace more entry level jobs, this presents the opportunity for those workers to develop the more specialized skills the manufacturing industry needs. It is estimated that robotics and automation will result in the creation of 15 million jobs over the next decade. It will be exciting to see where automation takes manufacturing in the next few years.

Direct Sales

Every industry wants to drive profits. To do this, you must identify the roadblocks that keep you from maximizing revenue. In manufacturing, that main roadblock is the middle man.

With advanced technology that better facilitates direct relationships between manufacturers and customers, those in the manufacturing industry have grown tired of funneling money into the pockets of the middle man.

More manufacturers are moving from a B2B strategy to a customer focused B2C concept instead. While profit is a big motivator in this trend, manufactures are also learning that direct customer relationships are more satisfying and provide better insight for future product development than relationships with retailers alone.

Direct to customer sales a two-way, mutually beneficial relationship that consumers will be quick to adopt. This strategy means better prices for them, but also higher quality goods.

Today’s customer is just as interested in the consumer experience as they are the product itself. Focusing directly on the customer creates the personalized buying experience that consumers are demanding. This is a top-notch strategy for manufacturers to take control of their image and build brand loyalty.

Have you given thought to how innovative technologies will energize your manufacturing firm in the near future? Don’t stay stuck in the past. Great things are happening in manufacturing, and now is the time to jump on board and see where they will take you.

The post The Future of Manufacturing: The Top 5 Trends You Need to Know About appeared first on Successful Startup 101.

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When searching for an attorney, one of the main features a prospective client is looking for is the free consultation. Clients are looking to not only have their questions answered, but also obtain a more realistic idea of how much the service will cost, and get a feel for if they trust the attorney they might be working with. There is nothing but benefits in a free consultation for the client.

The same isn’t exactly true for the attorney.

How many hours have the attorneys in your law firm lost to unqualified prospects and dead-end consultations? No matter what your answer is, we know that the number is higher than you would like it to be. Unqualified prospects are a drain on your resources and your bottom line. If only there were a way to streamline the qualifying process while still driving in a trust and value message to prospective leads.

The good news is there is, and it’s called video.

Video Appeals To A Broader Market

Have you ever wondered where your leads are looking when they start the search for an attorney? The answer is into the palm of their hands. In a recent survey, 71% of respondents said that they used their handheld mobile devices to conduct their search for an attorney, or when looking for legal advice.

This is an important number because the type of content they are most likely to choose to engage in is often dependent upon the device they are using. For example, if a law firm were to offer a lengthy page of legal advice on their website, a mobile user would find this difficult to scroll through and read. When this happens, there are two things that can result.

They can skip over the legal advice and contact you for a consultation, using time and resources on questions they could have answered themselves. Or, they can back out and choose a law firm with a more engaging, mobile friendly site.

Neither of these is good for your firm.

Video is not only mobile friendly, but it has taken over the number one spot for preferred content. Cisco predicts that by 2019, video will make up 80% of internet traffic. If you want to attract a larger lead base, video is the tool you need to be using.

So, video will bring more prospects to you, but if they are unqualified, is that really such a good thing? Well, no. But optimizing your video strategy to weed out unqualified leads before they reach out to you is a good thing. Here is how to make it happen.

Post Informational Videos That Answer Questions

When a prospective client comes to you for a consultation, they have questions that need to be answered. For unqualified leads, this time is usually spent going over details of why they may or may not have a case, and if the time and money invested is worth it to them. This isn’t exactly an effective use of an attorney’s time. In an ideal world, the free consultation would be spent discussing how you are going to win the case, not if it qualifies as one to begin with.

Your law firm can streamline this process by providing free content on your website, or through social media that answers the questions prospects have. For example:

  • A video series that focuses on the individual areas of practice within your firm, with each one highlighting the attorney’s role, their responsibilities and what they do not do.
  • Q&A about common issues people seek an attorney for. For example, auto accidents, personal injury, workplace discrimination, child custody issues, etc. These videos can answer the questions that prospects are most likely to present during a consultation, giving them a better idea if pursuing legal help is the best path.
  • A video that summarizes the legal process for specific niches. For example, everything that a bankruptcy client will need to do before filing, and what the process looks like, along with what qualifies a person for bankruptcy in the first place.
  • Short videos that compare cases with outcomes. For example, one personal injury case against another, and what factors made a difference in the final outcomes.
  • A video series that bust common myths. Law firms know all too well that there is a segment of the population that feels the need to seek legal counsel on every sense of wrongdoing, no matter how small or justified the other party might have been. A video series can help answer questions about what does and doesn’t qualify for a solid legal case under a variety of topics.
 Why Does Video Work

Well, aside from it being the preferred type of content, video has unique attributes that can’t be found in print, or even an in-person consultation. Here are few statistics to consider.

  • When people hear information, such as in a consultation, they only retain about 10% of it three days later. When relevant images are presented with the information, such as with video, 65% of information is retained over the same time. Video information stays with the prospect long enough for them to think things over and make rationalized decisions.
  • Four times as many people prefer to watch a video than read content on the same subject. Video engages your prospects, which helps them answer some of their own questions.
  • Video takes only a fraction of the time and resources of a consultation. 55% of people prefer a video length of 5 minutes or less. While production time does come into account, that 5 minutes of video can reach multiple clients, saving your attorney’s hours of time spent in consultations.
  • Videos get shared. If you post a video to social media, it is more likely to get shared than text content. This is great for marketing your firm, but also further spreading the information that can save you time and money in consultations.

Are you ready to put a stop to the time and resources spent on consultations for unqualified leads? If so, video is the strategy you need to employ today to help more qualified prospects land at your door tomorrow.

The post How Video Can Bring More Qualified Leads to Your Law Firm appeared first on Successful Startup 101.

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As an engineering firm, your reputation is everything, but at the end of the day, you’ll only ever be as good as the quality of your staff. Your reputation isn’t just important for attracting clients, it is critical for attracting the talent into your firm as well. You need talent to build a great reputation, and you need a solid reputation to get the engineers at the top of their game onto your payroll. You can’t have one without the other.

When your reputation is strong, recruiting the best talent is going to be a breeze. If you have some weak spots in your reputation, you run the risk of stunting your growth due to the inability to attract the talent that will help you rise above your current setbacks and achieve your goals. Do you know what prospective employees see when they look at you? Do you know how to build a strong reputation so that recruits flock to you over the competition? Here is what you need to know about managing your reputation and creating the professional persona that no rising talent can resist.

See What They See

Nobody wants to admit that their reputation is less than stellar. Often, businesses focus on how they appear to clients, but completely neglect the professional image they put forth in the job market. To be fair, this can be a tough one to assess. Clients are usually more than happy to tell you what they think, prospective employees on the other hand have reason to not be so forthcoming.

So how do you get a clear picture of the image you present to potential incoming talent? You start by asking yourself the right questions.

When was the last time you Googled your company the same way someone considering joining your team would?

New recruits are looking to find out what type of employer you are, and searching for clues on how time spent with you will escalate their careers. Try looking at your company through their eyes. What are they seeing when they look at employer review sites like Glassdoor? What do your client reviews say? Is information about your achievements and innovation in the industry easily accessible?

The goal is to get a clear snapshot of what talent sees when they first scope out your business.

Create a Reputation That Speaks Accurately of Your Presence in the Industry

You are one part of an ever-growing industry. Every other engineering firm is looking to bring on the same exceptional talent that you are. Are you looking to just fill voids in your workforce or do you want to fill those spots with the best talent around?

It is guaranteed that other engineering firms aren’t looking to settle for last round picks, so what are you doing to promote your company as a leader in the field?

Many, and by “many” I mean most, companies are turning to social media to market themselves. A strong presence on social media can reinforce your reputation as an authority in the industry when you take the time to create quality content that highlights the best of your business. Plus, social media makes this information easy to find.

  • Use social platforms to strategically keep followers updated on major projects you are currently working on
  • Once or twice a week, highlight local projects of interest that your company’s name is attached to
  • What direction is your direction firm heading in? What innovations are you on the forefront of?
Use What You Already Have

Managing your reputation to attract new talent means showcasing an image that new hires want to be part of. What better way to do this than highlighting the talent you already have working for you?

New talent will want to know who they will be working with, what they can learn from them and what the future holds. Highlight the reputations of exceptional engineers that are already part of your firm. What are their accomplishments? What prestigious engineering programs are your engineers alumni of? Don’t be afraid to brag about what you already have.

Build a Better Tomorrow

So, let’s say that your firm is too new to have a solid reputation, or your reputation is a little less than stellar and that is why you are looking to hire new talent with a knack for innovation? The best time to start building the reputation you need is right now. The good news is that there is high quality talent that will be willing to jump on board and help you build your reputation if you know how to approach them.

  • First, be honest. Honesty is a universal reputation builder. When you are honest about where your firm is, where it has been and where it is heading, new talent will see the potential and want to jump on board. False promises and fake claims will turn away potential talent faster than any little smudge on your reputation.
  • Want to get interested talent excited about working for you? Come at them with a problem. Show them your weakness and ask them their plan for solving it.
  • Introduce prospective talent to your team. The sooner you can introduce a potential new hire to your team, the faster a sense of community and belonging will develop, and that is something that is difficult to resist. Let them in on the base details of a project or two, and let them interact with current staff. Great talent will want to jump on board, share their ideas and start working.

The next time your firm is looking for new talent, but can’t seem to find the person you are looking for, ask yourself if it is because the person you want isn’t looking for you. Manage your reputation and let it help you build the best team in the industry.

The post How to Manage Your Reputation to Attract the Best Engineering Talent appeared first on Successful Startup 101.

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