Business Basics: Return on Investment (ROI)

Welcome back to business basics! In case you’ve forgotten, every week we take a look at a basic business concept in order to try to help new business owners better understand it. This week, we are covering Return on Investment, or ROI – a fairly straightforward, but often misunderstood, part of running a business! Though you may think you know all about ROI, you could be using it incorrectly. But first… ROI

What is ROI?

Return on Investment, or ROI, is pretty easy to grasp – heck, the definition is right in the name. It’s whatever return you get after your invest in some part of your business. So if you hire 2 new salespeople, a basic measurement of ROI will be the money they bring in, minus their wages. Continue reading

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How to Market Your Small Business Successfully From the Start

How to Market Your Small Business Successfully From the StartIn the early days of a start-up, you have to wear pretty much every hat possible. You have to develop your products, sell and support them, keep your accounts and other legal documentation up to date, and never take your eyes off cash flow. All of which, plus managing a few people, takes up lots of time and energy.

Marketing is one of those things that are a bit ethereal. It’s not concrete. It doesn’t deliver immediate results. It’s so intangible that it’s easy to push it to another day. Isn’t it?

You may want to reconsider doing that. Ignoring your marketing could be the biggest risk to your company’s survival. There’s still time to get started though, if you keep a few of these tips in mind.

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Business Basics – Cross-Blogging

Content marketing is amazing. Studies have found that inbound and content marketing cost 62% less than traditional marketing, and yet brings in three-times as many leads. If you don’t blog, you’re missing out on a huge marketing opportunity, and a great chance to network. Over the last year or so, we’ve really amped up our cross-blogging, and we’ve seen some amazing results. New markets have opened up, our web presence has never been bigger, and we’ve made some great new partners. cross-blogging

But, in finding new partners to blog with, we’ve noticed that some businesses don’t know the first thing about cross-blogging. So to help those of you experimenting with inbound marketing out, here are a few tips on how to make your cross-blogging experience positive and rewarding.

Make suggestions and share ideas

Some of the best articles we’ve ever written have come from ideas brainstormed with our cross-blogging partners. However, entrepreneurs can be a little skittish when it comes to sharing ideas. Now when a business is built on an idea, guarding it makes a lot of sense, but if that idea is nothing more than a possible topic for an 800-word article, you don’t have to treat it like a trade secret. So feel free to pitch ideas with your partners, and build off of each other’s suggestions. A major part of cross-blogging is networking. You want to forge a strong, working relationship with the people you partner with, and brainstorming is a great way to do just that.

Keep the relationship light

New bloggers sometimes get a bit overly zealous when contributing or accepting a post. Before anything is written, they want a thirty-page contract filled out in triplicate and faxed to their attorney’s office. Remember, you aren’t sharing revenue or starting a business together. You’re cross-blogging. A few simple requests like ‘don’t plagiarize’ and ‘don’t publish this somewhere else’ are really all that you need.

Don’t ask your partner to do all the work

We feel like this should go without saying, but we’ve had way, waytoo many potential partners ask us to just write the post for them. There’s no quicker way to ruin this networking and marketing opportunity than by shirking all of your responsibility and expecting someone else to pick up the slack. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Would you want a crummy, hastily written article, riddled with spelling and grammar errors on your blog? We doubt it. Any articles you send to your partner should be insightful, unique, and engaging, and you should expect the same of them. That way no one feels slighted, and your new partnership starts off right. 

Interested in contributing a guest post? We’d love to talk to you! Click here to read our author guidelines, pitch an idea, and get in contact with our social media team.

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5 Signs That It’s Time to Update Your Logo Design

5 Signs That It’s Time to Update Your Logo DesignHave you heard? Netflix just redesigned its logo. Just a few months prior, so did Black & Decker, Yahoo, VISA, Absolut Vodka, and a long list of other major companies. That’s because every logo design has a shelf life, one that varies from business to business. So how do you know if your logo is becoming stale? Good question. Here are the answers.

1) Revamp your logo design if it looks unprofessional or too generic. Your logo conveys the quality and professionalism of your company and should reflect your corporate mission and values. A poor quality logo does damage to any company, at any size. Often early-stage businesses choose overly complicated, obscure or cluttered logo designs that screams old fashioned. Aim for a simple, clean design with a stylish flourish.  Another common mistake is to choose a logo that looks too similar to a competitor’s. Your logo design should always be unique to your unique brand.

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12 Must-Know Rules for Startups

12 Must-Know Rules for StartupsIn 2012, entrepreneur Mark Cuban wrote “12 Rules for Startups“ for Entrepreneur.com, contained valuable insight and some entertaining ideas from Mr. Cuban. The article shared some snackable ideas to the startups to roll out with large profits and tag their business as ‘successful’.

Keeping the same spirit, this post is going to narrate 12 additional rules of thumb for startups to follow in 2014 – for both those launching new businesses and those associated with these startups. It’s been a two year leap since Mr. Cuban wrote his article and while the market and tactics have changed quite a bit, startups in 2014 still have plenty of exciting things to look forward to.

Rule 1: Grow Your Passion

Startups are diligent, and have to build a problem-solving attitude since the launch of business. Startup strategy must consist of moving two steps forward and one step backward. However, it’s critical that all start-ups include plenty of passion as it’s important for entrepreneurs to deal with business upheavals.

Rule 2: Never Give Up

As startups grow and experience challenging times, they need an attitude in place that tells them to never give up! Overall persistence in business works to help startup owners grow a strong survival strategy in the long run.

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How to Take Your Website from Annoying to Inviting

How to Take Your Website from Annoying to InvitingEstablishing a professional website is important for every business even if you aren’t selling your products online. Your website is the biggest first impression you have for potential customers searching for your services, and it will either convert visitors into real customers or send them looking elsewhere.  Make sure that your company has an updated and easy to navigate site that showcases your business in the best possible light. Here are four factors to consider when evaluating the kind of website you have.

Your website should be appealing. 

Much like the traditional retail storefront, customers want an experience with a company website that is organized, easy to use and helpful, convenient, and uncluttered. All of the necessary information should be easy to find on your website. Once customers have reached your home page, they should be able to find what they are looking for in a reasonable amount of time. If your website is cluttered with too many ads and irrelevant material, they’re more likely to feel overwhelmed and go to another site instead.

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3 Areas That Your Small Business Should Invest In

3 Areas That Your Small Business Should Invest InThere are staples and initiatives that every business needs in order to succeed. From marketing efforts to employees and equipment, you’re going to need to pay it forward in order to gain results. After all, the nature of business is to make investments.

However, the question lies in understanding where to make those investments and when to pull back. Read on to discover three areas within your small business that, with a little understanding and tact, will prove your efforts to be worthwhile.

Marketing

No matter how amazing your business offering is, it won’t mean much if no one is aware of it. Marketing is essential for any business that wants to bring in new business while educating and entertaining a consumer group. However, when it comes to setting a budget, where should you save and splurge?

Ad campaigns (consisting of flyers, banners or direct mail) can provide you with a return on investment both in a growing customer base and a more solidified brand image. The key to making your investment worth it is to have a consistent message across the board that speaks to your niche’s needs and wants.

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How Your Business Can Think Beyond the Everyday Ad

How Your Business Can Think Beyond the Everyday Ad Marketing requires keen insight in how to approach a product, service, or brand and effectively get it out to customers or other businesses. As one of the main forms of communication within commerce, marketing has evolved radically with tech advancements and social media, but some principles still remain the same. Cutting-edge ways to market a brand or product will either capitalize on a new insight or reformat a classical view in marketing to the 21st century economy. In today’s economy, businesses demand marketers think beyond the everyday and try looking outside of the box when it comes to ad campaigns.

What Consumers and Businesses Want

Marketing techniques have evolved to work beyond the everyday concept of an advertisement presenting or selling a product or service and now telling them what it is. Consumers, in an ever-competitive marketplace that has been energized by the internet, no longer want ads that talks at them. They want something that many ads have lost over time: engagement. Consumers and businesses want to be engaged in how the item relates to the customer or how it will help empower them. This leads to a new school of thought and appreciation toward the customer where companies want the consumer to become part of the greater whole of the business’ mission.

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Why Peer Recommendations Matter for Your Business

Why Peer Recommendations Matter for Your BusinessThere was a time when word of mouth was the best way to spread the buzz surrounding a service or a product to potential customers. Now more than ever, word of mouth advertising has come back into vogue through social media. By harnessing the power of tweets via Twitter and status updates on Facebook, you can inspire your current customers to make peer recommendations to their friends and neighbors, which increases the bottom line of your brand for the long term.

If your company has little or no money available for advertising or marketing, social media represents a powerful tool to get the word out about your product or service. A customer referral from a satisfied patron to his or her friends can carry far more weight than even the most persuasive or expensive advertising. Best of all, you can launch and manage highly effective social media campaigns without blowing your company’s budget.

By encouraging your present customers to spread the word about the great products and services you have to offer, you can save money on advertising, while generating trust among potential customers. As a result, you can concentrate your time, effort and money into producing the best possible products and services. With the winning combination of excellent offerings and trusted peer referrals, your company has a better chance of enjoying a healthy profit margin now and in the future.

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5 Ways to Generate Buzz and New Customers for Your Business

5 Ways to Generate Buzz and New Customers for Your BusinessWithin any type of marketing, the goal is to stand out from the competition. The hard part is when every industry in the business begins using the same tactics and mediums to communicate their message. Rather than falling into the trap of duplicating everything that your competitors do, why not try something new, to really show your audience what your company is about? It may not be as difficult as you think to do.

When you begin looking at all of your surroundings as a potential canvas for getting the word out about your business, the potential of doing something that stands out increases exponentially. You can get the word out about your business while doing things that improve the morale of the community, and the look of your neighborhood.

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