How Your Small Business Can Collaborate With Others for Better Results

Ever heard the saying, a tree cannot make a forest? How about no man is an island?

There’s no doubt that you’ve heard that a hundred times. Now, the truth is that doesn’t just apply to humans only. Businesses too stand to gain a lot when they collaborate.

Considering the challenges of the business environment these days the idea of small businesses working together shouldn’t be toyed with. As a small business entrepreneur working with other similar businesses can help you overcome most of the challenges in the marketplace.

Some of the benefits from this include gaining fresh ideas on running your business, leveraging the power of togetherness to compete more favorably in the marketplace, tap into the knowledge and experience of partnering businesses, etc.

Fact it, collaborating with other businesses is better for you than flexing your muscles and competing with everyone else out there. Of course, I understand that you’re proud of your business’s ability to fend for itself. But you need to be careful because that kind of lone wolf attitude will only take you so far.

As I have said before just as no man is an island so also no small business is an island. Your small business functions as a part of a much large ecosystem, and it can really benefit from working with and collaborating with others.

If the idea of small business collaboration fills you with trepidation, then here are a few suggestions on how you can do it properly…

Tips for small business collaboration

How to Collaborate With Other Businesses

1. Find Companies That Can Do Things and Provide Things You Can’t

Your business might be great, but it can’t do everything for itself. That would simply be unrealistic.

You don’t have to fall into the trap of operating your business like a one-man band. There are companies that can assist you with logistics or technical issues that are hard to get your head round. Then there are financial service providers, such as smallbusinessloans.co, that can help you out too. Those are just a few examples among many others.

There is always going to be people out there who can solve problems you can’t by yourself.

2. Embrace Mutual Benefits

Any and every relationship your business has with another should be mutually beneficial. If it’s not, then it’s simply not worth pursuing any longer.

Go to socialmediaexaminer.com/how-to-use-social-partnerships to find out how marketing relationships can be fostered to everyone’s benefit. This is something that you should embrace, as long as you’re not trying to set up partnerships with direct rivals. That’s something that should always be avoided, but there are still many companies out there to work alongside.

Explore the options and don’t ignore the opportunities out there.

Mutual benefits of small business collaboration

3. Be Open to Learning When You Collaborate

As an entrepreneur, it might be easy to think you know it all, especially if you’ve had some success already. However, you should always be open to learning new things and embracing new experiences. When you do that, you will change your own conceptions and make your business better placed to increase its appeal.

Never go into this kind of project with a closed mind because you will only ruin the experience for yourself and your business. And that makes no sense at all. Go into this with a completely open mind.

4. Build Trust and Work Through Issues Constructively

Trust is going to have a big part to play in all of this. If you don’t feel like you can trust the people you’re working with, or they don’t trust you, that’s going to cause very real problems for your business.

However, trust can be built, and it always takes a bit of time to reach that point. It’s about proving to each other that this relationship is worth it. And when issues and differences do arise, critique and make your case in a constructive way.

Basic decency can go a long way when managing business is relationships.

Ways for small businesses to work together

Conclusion

While the idea of two separate companies working together may appear not practicable, in the post I have just shared with you briefly what this can do for your small business and how you can go about it. I’m sure you can now understand what it means to work with others and how you can manage problems, when they arise from your collaboration. It’s now your turn to get out there and start collaborating. It could be exactly what your business needs.

The Internet of Things and Its Challenges for Businesses Relying On the Internet

To say the internet has greatly enhanced the operation of businesses in our time is nothing but stating the obvious. Businesses everywhere now use and rely on the internet for their everyday activities even though some require it more than others.

But this reliance is growing by the day especially with what is now called the Internet of Things (IoT) which has greatly extended internet connectivity beyond traditional devices like desktop and laptop computers, smartphones and tablets to a diverse range of devices and everyday things.

With the internet of things businesses now leverage applications to automate different tasks to improve their business dealings; pushing businesses to be more reliant on the internet. While some businesses might still interact with customers and clients in stores or offices, or perhaps over the phone, others are almost entirely now internet-based.

It’s worth pointing out however that being so reliant on the internet has both its pros and cons. There are challenges that this presents and it is important that these challenges are appreciated so they can be approached with the correct strategy.

If your business, like many others, is reliant on the internet to operate, you need to know how to prepare for certain issues that you might have to deal with. In this article I want to share with you some of the challenges that relying on the internet to do business presents and how to deal with them.

Internet of Things and its challenges for businesses

Challenges of Relying On the Internet for Business

1. Maintaining Communication with Contacts

If your business is almost entirely based online, you might not meet face-to-face with people very often. The internet gives an excellent benefit in that it helps you communicate with people around the world. It enables you to provide remote services to people everywhere.

However, never meeting people in person can sometimes be a detriment to your business. It’s essential to find other ways to stay in contact with people and make connections with them. Using methods such as video conferencing, phone calls, email and even instant messaging is a good idea.

You should make an effort to find out what type of communication your clients prefer.

Internet of Things and maintaining communication in business

2. Dealing with Downtime

Any business that relies on IT systems and the internet has to be aware of the chance of experiencing downtime. If something affects your IT systems or your internet connection, it could leave your business unable to operate. What’s worse, it might also lead to the loss of valuable data that you need to work.

Having a plan for these events is vital and will help to protect you if anything happens. You can maintain uptime with disaster recovery services, which can rescue your system as soon as something goes wrong. You’ll be able to keep working without too much disruption.

Dealing with downturns in businesses

3. Adapting to Advancing Technology

When technology is an important part of your business, keeping up with it is essential. If you don’t pay attention, your competitors will and they could overtake you. Whether you’re a single self-employed person or you have a larger business with employees, you need to keep an eye on what’s happening in the world of technology. Even small changes can make a huge difference to your business.

For example, fiber optic broadband becomes available in your area, it could improve the speed and quality of your business’s internet connection.

Keeping up with technology

4. Keeping Your Business Secure

Another important issue to think about is security for your business. If you’re not careful, inadequate security could mean that you’re exposing sensitive information to anyone who might want to see it.

Maintaining excellent security for your business is vital and can mean having to do a number of things. For example, you might need to use encryption to store important information. Protecting your business against viruses and hackers needs to be a top priority.

Internet Safety for Businesses

Conclusion

There is no denying it that relying on the internet is difficult to avoid in our today’s business world. The reality is that the opportunities that the internet offers are virtually endless. With the Internet of Things we cannot even think of or fully appreciate the impact that the possible connections have for us right now.

But as we have clearly seen, it’s important to be aware of the challenges that it presents so that we can better prepare for them.

4 Effective Strategies for Managing Your Small Business Accounting Books

That more and more are taking up the entrepreneurial challenge by starting their own businesses is no more news. In fact, with the economic recession pushing more people into the labor market this is indeed a good thing.

However, starting your own comes with its own . There is so much to be managed and except you manage things well, that dream success can become illusive.

Managing your business books as a small business

Now, one of the areas you need to manage very well if you want to succeed with your is the financials. You need to manage your business books properly if you desire to see the good results.

While you don’t have to be some financial expert to do this correctly, fact is, if you plan to be your own accountant, there are many tax pitfalls you can fall into during the upcoming year if you are not aware of them.

While balancing your own books can be a viable way to save money, tax and bookkeeping errors may cost you a great deal in fines and lost time. The way out is to have a workable system that will help you manage your business books effectively.

No matter the size of your business, you can avoid a lot of mistakes by practicing a few simple accounting strategies. In this post I want to share with you a few proven accounting strategies that will help you manage your business books and succeed doing so as a small business.

Recommended: 3 Simple Tips to Starting a Business Online From Scratch

Strategies for Managing Your Business Books Successfully

1. Plan Ahead

Panning ahead is essential to manage your business books well

One of the most effective strategies for keeping an efficient bookkeeping system for business can be to plan carefully from the start. Read and review different types of accounting software and be aware of new rules that might affect you as an .

As MVU Online reports, technology is changing accounting practices and you must be quick to adapt. Once you find a system that works for you, create an accounting schedule so you can plan to do certain tasks on certain days to remain consistent.

2. Track Business Expenses Carefully

Knowledge about taxes is important for succeeding with your business

When you balance your own books and handle your own tax information, you must remember to record business expenses carefully and truthfully.

Some business expenses may include office furniture and supplies, gas for a vehicle you use for business, and shipping supplies. If you , you may even be able to claim certain utility bills, such as heating, lighting, and wireless internet.

Record usage each day and keep all business receipts in one place so you can access them easily.

3. Seek Training

Get training to succeed with your business

You do not have to be a financial expert to do your businesses’ books, but it may help you to take a few accounting classes or a seminar to gain a bit of additional know-how. If you are planning to be your own accountant in the long term, you may want to consider getting a master’s degree in accounting, especially if you plan to grow your business quickly.

If you are considering the pursuit of a master’s degree, New England College offers a variety of graduate degrees in accounting. Having additional education from this institution may help you keep up with different types of accounting practices. NEC also offers online forensic accounting degrees, which may help you find a job if you decide to switch careers later on.

4. Include Taxes in Your Business Budget

Never default in tax payments

While it is always exciting to make a profit with your new business, you should remember that not every dollar you make will remain in your wallet. Taxes must be paid, and when the time comes to pay them, they might take you by surprise. However, you can avoid this by budgeting for your taxes all year long.

One way to save for your taxes is to open a separate account for the money and save about twenty percent of your monthly income for taxes. By tax time, you will not have to scramble to find the money elsewhere.

Recommended: 5 Simple Ways You Can Build A Cult-Like Following Around Your Brand!

Conclusion

As a small business owner being your own accountant will definitely save your business money, especially if you are running on a shoestring budget during that difficult first year. But it’s important that you brace up for the challenges this throws your way. You will need to carefully plan and ensure that you keep up with new tax rules and regulations as this is essential to your continued success.

As long as you stick to these strategies, managing your business books yourself will be enjoyable and less tasking.

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4 Powerful Techniques That Will Effectively Improve Your Office Communications

Communication is essential in any business. You need to effectively keep in touch with a range of people. These range from suppliers and employees to clients and other businesses.

For an office-based company or part of an enterprise based in offices, communication systems need to be up to date. You should be able to make the most of them, from phones to email and online conferencing tools.

The good news is that technological improvements have made things a lot easier for us. There are so many things you can do now. You’re no longer limited to a range of basic tasks such as sending an email or making a simple phone call. But with these new technologies come some challenges. That’s why you need the right techniques in order to get the best from your communication systems.

In this article I will be sharing with you a few techniques that will help you improve the communications systems in your office.

Interested?

Then, let’s roll…

Effective office communication techniques

How to Improve Your Office Communication Systems

1. Use An IP-Based Phone System

Many small businesses can benefit from using VoIP and other IP-based telephone systems. With a phone system hooked up to the internet, you can use a range of functions that you wouldn’t have had access to in the past. It can help to improve communication with employees and with clients and customers. For example, you could automatically call all your staff members one by one to find someone to cover a shift. They only need to input a number to confirm they can come in, so no one needs to waste their time making phone calls. You can make phone calls much cheaper too, and even free in some cases.

2. Go Beyond Email

Email is still a cornerstone of office communication. We use it to contact people both within and outside of the office, and it’s an excellent way of having a record of a conversation. But it’s not the only way to communicate with others online. Sometimes you might want something more instant, such as a messaging service. There are collaborative tools that make working together easier and are superior to emailing documents back and forth. Then there are methods to improve customer service, such as using social media. Many people prefer to tweet a company than to send them an email for a quick question.

3. Don’t Discount Fax

Although office communication has evolved, fax is still essential to many businesses. Faxing is universal and accepted all over the world. There are many benefits to using fax, ranging from security to creating legally binding documents. People have been using faxing to send documents for years, but you no longer need a fax machine to do it. You can use a service such as eFax to send fax online, without any hardware or software. You can receive faxes in the same way too, having them land in your email inbox.

4. Use Online Conference Tools

Meetings often necessitate communicating with people across the country or even the globe. You don’t always want to meet in person, so speaking over the phone or a video link is necessary. You can find lots of useful conferencing tools, both in terms of software and online services and hardware. If you have regular meetings, make sure you have the right equipment to hold them. You don’t want to contend with shaky connections and audio or visual problems.

Conclusion

There’s no gain saying that the right communication systems in your office can improve efficiency and relations with both employees and clients. The above simple techniques can greatly impact your office communications. I invite therefore to take a look at your communication systems today to see how you can improve them using these techniques.

What Does It Take To Succeed In Business?

Ask any entrepreneur and you will receive the same answer: building a successful business is not “bread and butter”!

The common statistics about small businesses is that most go bankrupt or are closed abruptly in their first five years of getting started. For those that move beyond the 5 year mark, many “pack up” shop and lock their doors before they are ten.

Why Do So Many Businesses Fail?

Why do you think that people like Aliko Dangote (Africa’s Riches Person) were able to, not only move beyond these statistics, but have also been able to grow their businesses to world renowned status?

A careful scrutiny of these businesses point to some very specific things which can be classified into three main areas namely: personal, customer, and operations!

Succeeding in business

1. The Owners Personal Sphere

This deals with the owner’s personal motivation to start a business. For example, if you want to start a business but you are not willing to make the necessary sacrifices, then you are already putting yourself at a disadvantage.

You must understand that when you start a business for the first time you will need to sacrifice time, money, and happiness to ensure that that business succeeds. If you can’t do that, it is unlikely that such a business will flourish. So, before you rush off to “be your own boss” remember that building a business is far more than just having a bright business idea.

2. The Customers Sphere

This is another very crucial component of your business success. Without customers you do not have sales, without sales you do not have money and without money you do not have a business.

Now, to build a profitable customer base there are many factors to consider. In the beginning you must have a cost effective marketing strategy that targets your intended buyers. You can do this by developing a profile of your customer and then advertising in those places that they frequent.

3. The Operations Sphere

This is only second to the Customer Sphere. In operations you must have an appropriate method of reducing costs, keeping track of paperwork, and maintaining improvement. Operations can also take into effect the tax paperwork, accounting, scheduling of workers, benefits or any non-producing functions.

Of course, when you are just starting out, there may be challenges putting these three components together. Seeking help from those who have succeeded in these areas is a sure way of overcoming such challenges.

Another route you can take is seeking out resources, like these top business success guides, from some of the world-renowned captains of the business world.

If you’re thinking of starting an online business, then subscribing to this blog will be a great idea. In addition to your free subscription you will have access to an insightful ecourse that will help you get started on the right foundation. Subscribe using the form at the top of this post.

How to Start a Small Business on a Budget

Quick guide to starting a business on a budget

Can you start a business on a budget that is less than $1000 in our today’s economy? Of course, that may seem impracticable but it is not beyond the realm of possibility.  The truth is, many have successfully built flourishing businesses starting on a shoestring budget.

In this post I want to highlight a few tips on how anyone starting as low as $1000 can creatively build a business from scratch.

1. Your Choice of Business

Starting a small business on a budget or $1000 or less will greatly depend on the type of business you are going into. The fact is that there are some businesses that demand a whole lot of capital. If you are going into a business that requires thousands of dollars to start then jumping in when you don’t have the capital will amount to digging your own grave.

So, if you’re considering starting a business on a budget you definitely need to choose the right type of business.

2. Have a Strategic Plan

Starting a business on a shoestring budget is indeed a tasking Endeavour. Every ounce of your mental and physical power will be needed to make things succeed. To avoid being a wreck along the way you will need to have a plan that will not only allow you to work smart but also ensure that the money start flowing in  as soon as possible. If you are offering a service you must make sure that clients settle your bills as soon as you complete your job.

3. Go Lean

There is always the tendency to have a big office when you are starting a business. Of course, this is good as you will want to look professional and successful to potential clients. However, if you want to make a success of your business on a shoestring budget then you must avoid that temptation. You can however start from the comfort of your home but then design some good looking and professional business cards. Use your home phone as your business phone but ensure that you present a professional appearance when communicating with clients and customers. To ensure that you do not fall into situation where you forget what you are doing, set up a separate corner in the room for your business dealings. This way, you will always beware that you are in business.

Related Reading: How to make money online on a shoestring budget!

4. Use No-Cost Advertising

Advertising your business is a must but you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to do so. Seek out free advertising mediums for your business. Use online community boards, free advertising websites and possibly personally deliver business fliers in your community, if your business is targeted at your locality.

5. Collaborate

Whatever your target market there are other no-competing businesses you can partner with to exchange leads. You need to be creative in this. Look at the type of business you are running and consider other non-competing business that share similar customer bases with yours. Reach out to them and strike some form of partnership so you can directly refer customers or out-rightly exchange business leads

6. Get a Website/Blog

A website is one of the cost-effective ways of marketing your small business in today’s virtual economy. You can get a domain name and reliable webhosting anything from $10 – $30. If you lack the competence to setup your website, there are places online that you can get someone to do it for a very small fee. Most importantly, do not forget to add a blog to your website. This will allow you to use content marketing to drive consistent traffic with ease. Check this offer to see how you can have your blog set up for your for free.

7. Maintain a Positive Mindset

Attitude is everything. This is something that many take for granted. The fact that you are starting on a low budget can bring up a lot of challenges. These challenges could be so daunting that sometimes you just want to throw in the trowel. The only antidote that will help you in times like this is your mindset. Being able to positively motivate yourself no matter the situation will help you keep moving despite the challenges.

Conclusion

Going into business with enough money to drive your ambition is really great but where you have the right business idea but you are short of the cash, you can always start on a budget. If you’re thinking of taking this route, the above tips will definitely come handy. Though you may be starting on a low budget never lose sight of the fact that you will be trading your time for this shortage in capital. So, true is, your time would be the capital you will be investing. So what is your time worth to you? The value you put on your time will determine how much work you will be ready to make your shoestring startup succeed!

How Are You Sure You’ll Succeed In 2014? [GOALS]

Goa setting success 2014!

It has become a ceremony that many must perform at the start of every year. Even when they nothing has come out of their previous years’ ritual they will gladly perform some more with the hope that this year would be different!

Of course, I’m sure you already know what I’m talking about here. But in case you still cannot figure it out, I’m talking about New Year resolutions and goal setting!

Do I mean making New Year resolutions and setting goals for the New Year is a wrong thing to do?

No, and a thousand NOOOOOOOOO!

However, as you can testify (because I’m sure you have personal experiences) the excitement that moved you to make that resolution or set those goals in the first place, most times rarely last 3 months!

It is true that many hardly remember what their resolutions and goals for the New Year are after the first couple of months. They simply make these resolutions and set their goals but then they continue with every other thing they have always done.

Can I hear you already saying, that’s insanity?

Yes, and that’s exactly what someone actually called it. If you continue to do the same thing and expect new results, that’s the sign of insanity!

So, may I inform you today that if you want to be sure of success this year 2014, forget about simply setting goals and making New Year resolutions. Take practical steps to ensure that you succeed.

If you have not taken a good look at your business activities in the past year, this is the time to do so. No, it’s not too late, do it now! I did mine in December and I took the Christmas holidays to work on putting in place some very pertinent changes that you can see on this blog right now. I just wrote about that here. And, I intend to follow the path I have set out for the year.

How Can You Make 2014 Different and Guarantee Your Success?

In setting your goals and making 2014 the best year in your business, I want to give you the following 3 action steps:

1. Be Specific

You’ve heard it said, set SMART goals, right? Now look at the goals you have set for the year, are they really specific? Read most of the blogs that have posts on the blogger’s goals for this year. Can’t you see that something is wrong?

Look carefully and you discover that most of what is being referred to as goals in these blog posts are nothing but “to-do-list” for the year! There should actually be a goal(s) which these “to-do-list”, rightly called objectives, are targeted at achieving.

So, if you want to guarantee your success in year 2014, be specific about your GOAL!

I intend to expand on this in my next post. If you don’t want to miss it, subscribe to my newsletter and you’ll be notified at no cost whatever.  Don’t miss it!

Work SMART: Set Goals!

2. Be Methodical

Now, setting that goal is not enough if you want to truly achieve your aim. The next step is putting in place a methodology for bringing that goal to fruition. You must be methodical. Plan out your strategy. Take a look at what you have being doing and note what you will need to change and what you must retain.

This will require work but don’t shy away from it. Take the time to carefully layout your strategy for the year.

From experience this is actually the bane of many online business entrepreneurs. Many do not take the time to do this. After setting what they call goals for the year, they simply continue with their work somehow hoping that things will fall in place.

But that is a fallacy! Things will not work unless you work on them!

3. Be Consistent

This is where many fall off.

In fact, it does appear that our human nature has a way of playing pranks with us here. When we set out to work on something the tendency is to always be on the lookout for results but once this refuses to come when and at the time we expected them, we quickly loss interest.

And, this has caused many a heartache!

If you must see results from your New Year resolutions or goals in 2014 you must consistently push on with your strategies. Be consistent with your methods. Of course, you need to evaluate them along the line but never make the mistake of switching from one method to another just because you saw someone else using something else.

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  • The woodpecker is able to accomplish its job because it is consistent.
  • The spring of water is able to grow and become a mighty river because it was consistent in its flow. Meandering and snaking its way around obstacles, it continues its flow until finding the place of least resistance it spreads out to become a might river!
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Do not allow obstacles and the troubles of life stop you from achieving your goal for the year. You have all that it takes to overcome that obstacle.

Remember, there’s nothing that you’re facing right now or will face that others have not faced. The Good News? Whatever obstacle that comes your way, you have all it takes to overcome it!

So, keep on keeping on and success will be yours!

It doesn’t matter what market you are serving. It does matter the competition you are up against. If you decide this year to really be specific about what you want to achieve, if you will be methodical in working it out and if you will stay your course and be consistent no matter the challenges, 2014 will be the best year you ever had!

I look forward to saying “Congratulations” to you at the end of 2014!

Let’s continue this discussion in the comments section below.

[Quick Guide] How To Use Social Media Marketing To Acquire Loyal Customers!

There is no doubt about it; social media marketing is an important part of effective eCommerce marketing. However, it can also be a tremendous time waste if you are not careful. So, the question is, how do you make sure you are not just wasting your time and resources promoting your ecommerce business on social media?

The answer is in effective social media marketing that is targeted in drawing in loyal customers rather than general curiosity seekers.

Effective Social Media Marketing Guide

Here are 3 simple but powerful ways you can make your social media marketing effective:

1. Specifically Target the Types of Customers You Want to be Loyal

One of the biggest mistakes that eCommerce store owners make is to try to make their marketing campaigns as broad as possible. Of course, they reason this way they can try to get as many people as possible. But this is precisely what reduces the effectiveness of your campaigns.

Instead, you need to get to know the type of customers that you want to attract. Your marketing campaigns and efforts on social media platforms should include information and promotions that would make those types of customers the most interested. The easiest way to increase your effectiveness here is to get to know the greatest density of demographics in your marketing pool. Find out everything you can and make the language of your social media posts target them.

2. Offer “Secret” Promotions

People love being in on a secret. Whether it’s something small like finding a newer and better POS machine or letting people in on a new site upgrade, it makes them feel like they’re special. Taco Bell, for instance, has been using Instagram as an effective social media platform for VIP Taco Bell customers. These customers receive secret images and special videos that are not released to the general public. It creates a feeling of closeness, and it gets their customers excited. These are initially focused on the main target audience, but Taco Bell has started to expand the customer base over the past few months.

3. Let Them Know That You’re Listening

One of the biggest challenges in eCommerce marketing is letting your customers know that you actually listen to them and care about what they have to say. While all large businesses face this problem, eCommerce stores in particular struggle with the conception that they are faceless corporations with no interest in their individual customers.

Take the time to respond to your customers. Ask for their opinions, and then incorporate these into your actual strategies. When you do this, let them know that you listened. It will go a long way toward accomplishing your goals and turning your customers into loyal ones.

Marketing Takeaway

When you use social media for marketing your ecommerce stores, you need to make sure that your activities are effective. You will gain the greatest benefit if you focus on creating loyal customers. Your first step is to target the type of customers you want to be loyal and focus your efforts on them. You can also offer secret promotions. Additionally, you must let your customers know that you are listening. Ask for their opinions, and then make sure that you take some of their recommendations.

Do you have an ecommerce store? What are the major challenges you are facing right now trying to promote through social media marketing?

How to Design an Effective Content Marketing Plan for Your Organization

Content marketing has, in recent times, become a buzz word among online marketing professionals. But beyond being a buzz word, content marketing when done right, can greatly turn around the fortunes of any business because of the evolving changes in customers’ buying behaviors.

It is a confirmed fact that buyers are now more educated and will want to research different options before they approach a sales rep. Therefore, content marketing is basically a strategy to position your organization so that when the customer goes on her self-education quest, you will be there for her to find you! The beauty of this is that instead of you being an ‘intruder’ in the life of the customer, you become the sought-after authority in your market! So, content marketing at its core is a strategic ‘permission marketing’ rather than ‘interruption marketing.’

A Content Marketing Framework Is Necessary

For your organization to truly succeed with your content marketing campaign you need a framework that works. The challenge that many online businesses face today is that of a workable content marketing framework. Many are confused with the what, the how, the where, and the when of a strategic content marketing structure.

In this post I want to lay out the essential elements of an effective content marketing framework. This is to help you design a structure for your organizational needs.

Recommended: Online Business Marketing: 8 Reasons Why Blogs Are An Important Part of a Business Website

A strategic content marketing plan

The 7 Essential Elements of an Effective Content Marketing Framework

1. A Workable Content Marketing Plan

It doesn’t matter the size of your organization you need a well thought out strategic content marketing plan that aligns with your overall business goals. Your content marketing plan should be built on answering some very pertinent questions about your organization like, who are you as an organization and what do you bring to the market? What are your marketing challenges and how can content marketing help you overcome these challenges? Once this plan is laid out it will become the driving force of your on-going marketing optimization.

2. Your Audience

The next element in your content marketing framework is your target audience. Once you have an idea of who you are, where you are and where you want to get to with your content marketing, you seek to know who your target audiences are. What are their needs? How does your product or service help them with these needs? How best can your reach with your marketing content?

Besides this, you should also take into consideration how your target audience needs may change as they go through your sales cycle. This will help you in delivery your message with the right medium and at the right time.

Recommended: Content for SEO: A Content Marketing Strategy to Beat Google and Its Demons!

3. Your Brand Story

Content marketing helps you in building relationship with your target audience. A relationship that is necessary in to build your business success. This is where story telling in marketing is gaining strength these days. You should be able to use your knowledge of who you are and who your target audience is and what their needs are to build a story that will help your connect with them emotionally. Remember your brand story is not a “selling tool” but a bond-building tool. Get your target audience to bond with you and selling to them later will be a thing of joy.

4. The Delivery Channels

There are different channels available for you deliver your story to your target audience. One thing however is that your choice of a delivery channel should depend on your content marketing goal.  The two shouldn’t be aligned. Besides, the context within which your target audience will consume the story should also play a role in your choice. Your delivery channels could be: (1) Text – example, blog posts, case studies, press releases, article marketing etc, (2) Video – example, product demonstrations; and (3) Audio – example, podcasting.

What you simply need do therefore is to consider the story you want to tell, to whom you want to tell it to and where you will want to tell that story and then choose your delivery channel.

5. Content Creation Process

This is where your aforementioned planning is translated into action. Some of the questions you need to answer here are: who will be responsible for creating your content? What content should be created at a specific time? And when is the right time to create a particular piece of content? This stage of your content marketing framework is very important because if you get it wrong all of your planning will be in vain. Getting the right content marketing services to create your content is as important as knowing when to create the content. If you do not have in-house content writers getting outside professional help will become inevitable. There are thousands of so-called professional web content writers out there but be careful that you don’t pick the wrong ones. The best bet is to have an in-house Chief Content Officer who will then take charge of dealing with in-house and outside content creators.

Recommended: How To Choose An SEO Content Writer For Your Content Marketing Needs!

6. Interacting And Conversing With Your Audience

Be careful of your content writing servicesIt’s unfortunate that many business organizations still see the internet today with the eyes of yesterday. Their websites are nothing but an extension of their business catalogs – beautifully designed with enticing graphics but no interaction with their audiences! As an organization that wants to succeed with content marketing, you must understand that content marketing is a 2-way conversation. When you tell your story you also need to listen to what your audience is saying and respond to that. This conversation may happen on your own platforms like business blogs and social media profiles and also on external media like forums and review sites. Your strategic content marketing framework should therefore include a well laid out plan to interact and converse with your target audience.

7. Measurement And Evaluation

It’s definite, every business is about profitability. No business will want to invest in any venture without any commensurate return in investment. This being so, there is need to monitor your content marketing activities to know what is working, what needs to be changed and what to focus on etc. of course, this measurement and monitoring should be carried out at every stage of your content marketing framework. There are indeed many variables and metrics you may want to measure but don’t be taken in by that. Determine the fundamentals necessary to enhance your content marketing plan and concentrate on that.

Marketing Takeaway

Content marketing is not just a buzz word. If you are not involved right now right now you might just be miles behind the competition. Get to work today. Design your content marketing framework and commit to working it. If you do not have in-house content writers/officers to create and manage your content marketing campaigns, then it is good business sense to get freelance writers to do it for you. I recommend that you check out LocalDigitalHERO.com for professional help.

Your Turn:  How do you think businesses can better tackle the challenges of getting quality and valuable marketing content for their marketing needs? Share with us in your comments below.

8 Proven Tips for Becoming a Successful Freelancer!

The Internet offers a number of ways for people to use their skills to make money. Many talented individuals choose to earn a regular income from freelance work. This type of work can involve anything from web design to writing. This article suggests eight useful tips to help online freelancers make the most of their time.

1.     Create a Website

Owning your own website gives potential customers an easy way to contact you. You can use your website to host and showcase your work for prospective clients to see. Additionally, your website helps establish you as a part of the online freelance community. Ideally, your website should look professional and use an address that is easy for people to remember.

2. Time Management Skills

make money with freelancingLearning how to properly manage your time will help you become a successful freelancer. As a freelancer, you do not have an employer who is constantly reminding you of important deadlines. You will need to work out a method to help you keep track of your schedule on your own. You can use computer software to keep track of your schedule and deadlines.

3. Seek Balance

 As a freelancer, you have no regular work hours. However, you can’t expect to work all day and all night without feeling stressed and anxious. Once you find yourself in a comfortable groove, you can start setting firm work hours. If you can learn to set limits, you’ll still have plenty of time to unwind from work and enjoy your hobbies.

4. Learn To Communicate

Each time you get a new assignment, you must use your best communication skills to keep your client happy. If you’re designing a website, involve your client in the process. Show your progress to the client as you work through the design. You can also ask your client for helpful feedback. By keeping a professional and respectful tone at all times, you will increase the chance of a client hiring you again.

5. Organize Your Office

If you plan to do most of your work from home, you need to create a comfortable office environment. Remove any distractions from your office, including your television. If working from home isn’t an option, you can rent a small office space near your home. Working at a rented office can help you steer clear of the distractions in your home.

6. Create Limits

Many freelancers find it difficult to decline an offer of work from a new client. If your workload is already more than you can handle, you should consider turning down any more offers until you’ve finished some of your projects. If you take on too much work at once, the quality of your work may suffer. You can avoid stress by keeping only a manageable workload.

7. Use Social Media

If you need new clients, you can turn to social media networks to seek out new customers. These networks offer you a number of easy ways to advertise your work across the globe. You can also form relationships with other freelancers to learn more from their experiences.

8. Take a Break

Sometimes, a new project may present unexpected challenges. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and anxious, take a short break from your work. Try going on a walk to a new cafe for lunch. Forcing yourself to work when you have no motivation can result in a disaster.

Conclusion

Deciding to become a freelancer is not an easy choice to make. You will face challenges as you try to find new clients and keep them happy. However, this work will give you the freedom to get paid for doing something you love. Put these tips into use and you will see good results from your freelancing activities.