3 PR Hacks for Your Small Business

3 PR Hacks

PR is one of the best tools a small business has in its toolkit. It’s knowing how to earn it that’s the key. We wanted to share three hacks in PR that have worked for us, and how marketing and PR has helped our business to sell. 

Unsure of how to take your business from good to great? ProStrategix knows how to help. Read some of our other articles below, or feel free to connect with us and get a complimentary thirty-minute consulting session.

PR Hack 1 – Write About What’s Hot

Let’s face it. Small business doesn’t have the newsworthiness of larger organizations. Neither can we afford a large PR budget or firm to track trends and pitch stories to reporters. So, we have to find what’s hot in the media and build a bridge to what we do.

A small business example

Let’s say we are looking for topics about small business about which to write. We could head to Google Trends and search “Small Business” as a topic. 

First, we see that interest in relatively high right now: The first PR Hack Infographic

Second, we would see that interest is high in our market, so local New York State media outlets might be looking for stories 

Lastly, we see that healthcare is a breakout topic. Also, other hot topics might be the Reorganization Act of 2019 or marketing Apps. All three of which are relevant to our area of expertise. 

Your business could do the same thing. Find the topic about which you are expert. Figure out how to link that to what is trending. There are several other social platforms you can use.

PR Hack 2 – Know What Your Outlet Wants

social media customer service

You can write the best pitch in the world, but if the outlet or journalist doesn’t cover that topic, you’re out of luck. So, what can you do? 

First, set-up a Google Alert for your main area of expertise. For us, it’s Small Business. Not a ton of reporters and outlets cover small business, so it’s easy to make a list of journalists and outlets that specialize in our segment. Read your daily alerts. See what writers cover. 

 

Second, if they write something about your topic, send them a comment. Share something useful. When we found a journalist, who wrote a great piece about gig-workers, we sent a comment to her. We praised her work, and we offered her a different lens from which to see it. That was the small business perspective. She liked so much that she added our comment in a blog post, and now, we are connected on LinkedIn. 

PR Hack 3 – Make an Editorial Calendar

We just told you to follow what’s hot and comment on current events. If we are constantly trend scouting, you might ask should you bother with an editorial calendar? The answer is yes. While not as powerful as it once was, most media outlets have a planned calendar. If you have a shortlist of media outlets, you can always reach out to them to ask for their editorial calendar. This way, you at least have a heads-up on what they will be covering, so you can content ready.

Unfortunately,  you need to be prepared for both guerilla tactics and pre-planned content if you want to be heard. But hopefully these three PR Hacks will be enough for you

At ProStrategix, we know you have concerns.  We’re designed to help give you the business support you need so you can focus on doing what you love.  If you would like to learn about how we might be able to help you, please contact us.

How to Use Marketing to Boost Slipping Sales

A woman attempts to boost her sales through marketing techniques

Today, we want to tell you a story about of client of ours named, George. George runs a decent-sized small business and has for a few years, but his sales have started to slip. So we showed him how used marketing to boost his slipping sales.

George’s business might not be the same as yours, but his challenge was one that we all face. How do we understand our customers enough that we can communicate with them effectively? By communicating effectively, how do we get their attention, keep it, and motive them to do something different? If you’re facing marketing challenges, then read on to see what tips we shared with George. If you haven’t, consider yourself lucky… and remember to come back to us if you do face problems.

Unsure of how to take your business from good to great? ProStrategix knows how to help. Read some of our other articles below, or feel free to connect with us and get a complimentary thirty-minute consulting session.

George’s Story: A Classic Marketing Challenge

George’s business model was a bit old school. George produced products that he sold through distributors, and then those distributors sold the products to brick and mortar stores. Yes, this still is the dominant way people buy products. While e-commerce is growing fast, it still only accounts for around 10% of total retail sales. It also varies widely from category to category.

You can use social media marketing campaigns to boost sales

Jason is in health and beauty. This is one of e-commerce’s weak spots. In health & beauty, e-commerce sales account for less than 5% of total retail sales. Nevertheless, Jason was starting to see some negative impact from that shift. His volume was starting to drop off and his marketing needed a booster shot to help the sales. His e-commerce sales were tiny. He’s tried to sell through Amazon’s marketplace but he’s had a hard time breaking through. He has his own e-commerce platform but has struggled to gain traffic and conversions.

How do we understand our customers enough so that we can communicate with them effectively?

So, what exactly did we change in George’s marketing to help boost the sales of his company? And how could we achieve that without wasting everyone’s time and money?

Spend some time walking in their shoes

George was in a tough spot. He didn’t sell much directly to his customers, so how could he reach them? Luckily, he did have some sales through his e-commerce portal. We re-contacted those former customers and offered a nominal fee to participate in a moderated Zoom call. We spent that call discussing their challenges and how Jason’s products helped them meet them. Then, we spent time to understand their motivations. We asked them to take us through their day. We uncovered a lot about how they wanted to feel after using Jason’s products.

After spending time in the customer's shoes, craft a message relevant to what’s motivating them

marketing can help boost sales for a small business

After conducting a few Zoom focus groups, we had a clearer picture of what was motivating George’s customers. They wanted to look naturally beautiful. They were motivated by wanting to look their best, but not looking like they tried. We are own worst critics. We see all the flaws because we know they are there. As long as we know they are there, we are self-conscious. When your self-conscious, it’s hard to project confidence. And, that’s what this was all about, finding the marketing plan that worked

Communicating our message consistently and effectively

Armed with this new information, George was able to upgrade his website, Amazon page, paid digital ads, landing pages, ran social media posts, and more marketing platforms to boost his sales. It was no longer about shades and colors and the like. It was about how to use a combination of his products to look natural, letting the real you shine through. And it was a major hit, helping Geroge in the long run of his career.

How Can You Boost Your Business's Sales with Marketing?

The steps that we took can be used by anyone. It takes time and effort and a little bit of money. However, it is time well spent. Understanding your customer is key to unlocking sales. We hope this case study helps clarify how that might work.

At ProStrategix, we know you have concerns.  We’re designed to help give you the business support you need so you can focus on doing what you love.  If you would like to learn about how we might be able to help you, please contact us.

How to Cope if Your Business is Struggling

A woman trying to cope with her small business's struggles

Small business owners face many challenges. Whether living paycheck to paycheck or attempting to qualify for a small business loan, it’s no wonder that some of us are struggling. We all probably have at some point or another. The most important thing is knowing how to cope if your business is struggling. We’d love to share with you a story about a client of our named Benjamin.

Feeling like your business isn’t going the right way? ProStrategix knows how to help. Read some of our other articles below, or feel free to connect with us and get a complimentary thirty-minute consulting session.

Benjamin’s Story of Coping with Business Struggles

business-credit-score

Benjamin is part of a dying breed. He runs an independent pharmacy here in New York City. In smaller cities, most independent pharmacies have long succumbed to the pressures of big chain drugs stores. In NYC, proximity matters, and big-box retailers struggle because their large store formats don’t translate well to the smaller retail spaces in the five boroughs. Because of that, independent pharmacies have hung on. However, it hasn’t been a picnic for owners like Benjamin. He’s faced added pressure, and not only because of needing to pay rent and wages. He’s also had to cope with new workers’ rights legislation such as paid sick time and family leave for part-time employees and other struggles that businesses face. Benjamin’s problems weren’t all due to regulations, but also because of changing customer expectations and needs. 

While your business might not exactly mirror Benjamin’s, it’s possible you’ve had to deal with a major increase in both fixed and variable cost, possibly along with a drop-in demand. Whether this is you now or not, you may want to hear Ben’s story. 

How to Handle It

In Benjamin’s case, he was struggling to deal with both a significant rent increase and raise in the minimum wage. One rise in payment he could manage, but two simultaneously was overwhelming. He struggled to pay the rent and payroll on time. Plus, on-demand prescriptions had started to take off in the city. It’s not huge now, but he could see it growing into a problem. Benjamin knew he needed help.

Deal with cash-flow problems first

Ben had some cash flow issues. Unfortunately, he had come to us a bit late and by then, his business credit had taken a hit. A commercial bank wasn’t an option. Since he needed the money quickly, neither was an SBA backed loan. We were able to secure a loan with an alternative lender. The rates weren’t great, but he had enough cash to give us enough time to right the ship. 

 

Luckily in NYC, we have the Department of Small Business Services (SBS) that can help struggling businesses cope with their problems. If you’re not in NYC, your local city will likely have a similar program(s). However, like most government programs it is widely known. The SBS offers is a “commercial lease program connecting small business owners with free legal services with a dedicated attorney. The free legal services include help negotiating a lease, resolving landlord issues, responding to an eviction notice and negotiating a lease renewal.” We were able to connect Benjamin to SBS to help with renegotiating the rent. 

Staying relevant to your customers

There were two areas where Benjamin needed to focus in order to remain relevant. First, he had to give his customers a reason to come to his store. It wasn’t enough to rely on only the prescription refills to drive them to the store. We need to create something ‘special’, which focused on a unique benefit that only his store could provide. In this case, we partnered with other local healthcare providers to create quarterly health fairs. Neighbors could stop by not only to get discounted/free health screens but also in-store discounts. These events helped increase traffic by 50% and sales by 25%. 

Second, we needed to fix our delivery system. Expectations in NYC is that everything can be same day delivered. Benjamin could do that within his service region, but it wasn’t very efficient. Here, we partnered with a local delivery service, who could bundle deliveries to increase efficiency. Now, this is tricky for pharmacies. Since we are dealing with medications, there are several legal hoops we had to jump through to ensure compliance with the law and to avoid risks to patient safety. Our local delivery company was able to barcode and scan the products, which made this much easier. 

Finally, Benjamin had put little effort into his website, so his e-commerce platform needed optimization. Some keeping up with marketing and technology trends was all that was needed. His customers wanted to refill online, and he was missing an opportunity to send them notifications and reminders to refill. They would have to call Benjamin directly, and sometimes he would call them himself. Both of which were inefficient and not what his customers wanted. By re-tooling his site, we were able to increase refills by 25% and new prescriptions by 10%.

Staying current

Coping with business struggles in medical fields is an important skill

While these fixes would help Benjamin in the short-term, he needed to upgrade his skills or the skills of his team to remain current. Here, we connected him again with SBS centers, which featured instruction in marketing, social media strategies, e-commerce and Web site fundamentals to help small businesses better market themselves in today’s economy. It isn’t going to fix every single problem that Benjamin’s business is struggling with, but it may help him cope with it all a little bit easier

In Summary...

Benjamin’s story isn’t that uncommon. We have all dealt with points in the life of our business when we need to keep up with rising costs and slowing demand. The first rule to remember is that profit is like food, while cash is like air. You can live without food for a while but not air. The first step is to put your air mask on, and then, deal with the issues of slowing demand.

At ProStrategix, we know you have concerns.  We’re designed to help give you the business support you need so you can focus on doing what you love.  If you would like to learn about how we might be able to help you, please contact us.

The Unfortunate Truth of E-Commerce Failures

e-commerce failures

Technology has been changing business for a long time now, but recent developments are particularly groundbreaking. A new survey from MarketingSignals reported that the unfortunate truth about e-commerce businesses is, 90% fail within the first 4 months of starting up. In contrast, the survival rate of the first YEAR for brick and mortar stores is 78% according to the Small Business Administration. In other words, almost 8 times more brick and mortar stores live to see their first birthday than e-commerce sites do. Let’s identify why there are so many E-Commerce failures.

Your business is doing well. But what’s next? ProStrategix knows how to help. Read some of our other articles below, or feel free to connect with us and get a complimentary thirty-minute consulting session.

Why Is There SUCH a Stark Difference?

One word. Marketing. According to MarketingSignals, “Poor online marketing performance coupled with an overall lack of search engine visibility [was the reason for market failure].” In simple English, if people don’t know you exist, how can they buy from you?

E-Commerce businesses are vast but fail at a rate larger than normal commerce businesses

It’s probably fair to assume that most people don’t think all you need to do is put an e-commerce plug-in on your website, and you’re golden, but few probably realize the amount of effort and resources (time and/or money) required in order to be successful. The survey points this out.

What Causes E-Commerce Failures?

Nearly 4 out of 10 new businesses failed because of poor online marketing. When you look across the top 10 reasons for e-commerce failure, the top 6 are all marketing related.

The top ten reasons why e-commerce startups end in failure:

1. Poor online marketing – 37%

2. Lack of online search visibility – 35%

3. Little to no market for their products or services – 35%

4. Running out of cash – 32%

5. Price and cost issues – 29%

6. Got outcompeted – 23%

7. Retail giants dominating a large share of the market – 19%

8. Lack of customer service – 16%

9. A poor team – 14%

10. Product mistiming – 11%

How to Avoid E-Commerce Failure

We have outlined before the ways that you can develop a successful marketing plan that won’t break the bank.

“Many tools can be used to increase their [businesses] brand awareness and search visibility in their first few days and weeks, where consumer trust and loyalty hasn’t yet been established.”

Marketing Signals

Unfortunately, they weren’t as forthcoming as to say where. We’re not surprised. In fact, our experience has been that there are no quick fixes. You need to be careful. It’s very easy to get ripped off if you don’t know what you are buying. In our post, “Google Small Business Portal – Marketing Gimmick or Value-Add”, we show how even large companies are willing to take your money.

E-Commerce relies on maintaining a customer base that keeps coming back to your website, which is helped by having a good marketing program

In the end, we found you really do have to put in the hard work. You need to educate yourself on the fundamentals of digital marketing. You can find some great courses offered through SCORE or the SBA. We highly recommend you take a least one of them before you start your business. You might want to consider a mentor or hiring an agency or a consultant to help.

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither will your e-commerce business. However, you can put in the work, find the right support, and avoid the scammers to be one of the E-Commerce success stories instead of an E-Commerce failure.

At ProStrategix, we know you have concerns.  We’re designed to help give you the business support you need so you can focus on doing what you love.  If you would like to learn about how we might be able to help you, please contact us.

How A.I. is Transforming Business Lending

AI and Lending

The rise of Artificial Intelligence has completely shifted all forms of business practices. Specifically, A.I. is transforming small business lending in ways both positive and negative. On the positive side, it helps detect fraud, increases the speed of underwriting, and levels the playing field somewhat. On the negative side, A.I. loan monitoring can be both a blessing and a curse. So, it is wise to be aware of what these changes mean to your small business.

Your business is doing well. But what’s next? ProStrategix knows how to help. Read some of our other articles below, or feel free to connect with us and get a complimentary thirty-minute consulting session.

Funding is One of the Biggest Pain Points for Small Businesses

As we’ve said in multiple posts, small to medium size businesses employ nearly ½ of the nation’s workforce, but the sector is often overlooked. Whether it’s healthcare, retirement, or taxes, small businesses rarely have the advantages that big businesses do.

Funding is no exception. Small to medium-sized businesses often struggle with traditional lenders. Traditional lenders make the most money on big loans. Microloans and SBA loans are not their main focus. While SBA loans are hands-down the best option for small to medium-sized businesses, the application process is slow and cumbersome. We’ve discussed these challenges before, but digital lending may help alleviate some of these challenges.

Fraud Detection

Machine learning allows for better fraud monitoring

When it comes to small business lending, underwriters are always concerned about fraud. A.I. has vastly improved the fraud detection process with algorithms based on credit-bureau data, ID verification systems, and numerous other data sources. These algorithms provide a predictive probability of fraud, which can immediately flag risky applications. Thereby, it speeds the process along.

Somewhat Leveler Playing Field

The traditional lending process is laden with bias. Both gender and racial biases are well-documented. A.I. has the potential to lessen these biases, but its track record so far is a bit mixed.

That said, the A.I. models do use a significantly larger data set to help paint a more detailed picture of creditworthiness. This does helps avoid the Paydex paradox. In other words, you need a load to gain sufficient credit history, but how can you do that if you’ve never had one. It’s the “insufficient credit history” trap. While A.I. doesn’t eliminate all bias, it does help to level the playing field somewhat.

Hands-Down, A.I. has Dramatically Improved Efficiency

The best time to ask for capital is when you don’t need it, but few small businesses have that luxury. Historically, the review process for larger loans can take weeks at best, months at worst. Not to mention, the time it takes to collect and provide all the necessary documents and follow-up questions. Even if you didn’t need the capital at first, you could be in more dire straits by the time the process ends.

A.I. has made programs more efficient

The best time to ask for capital is when you don’t need it, but few small businesses have that luxury. Historically, the review process for larger loans can take weeks at best, months at worst. Not to mention, the time it takes to collect and provide all the necessary documents and follow-up questions. Even if you didn’t need the capital at first, you could be in more dire straits by the time the process ends.

A.I. solves this issue with its predictive models. These models dramatically streamline the underwriting process. The model can quickly provide eligibility parameters in hours vs. weeks. Thereby, it makes the process simpler for everyone.

Improved Loan Monitoring Through A.I.

This helps the banks, but not necessarily the small business borrower. However, this is the price we pay for the benefits above. Since lenders now have access to all this data, tracking your business is much easier. Those same A.I. models that were trained to improve fraud detection, level the playing somewhat, and speed things along, also were trained to predict default.

This is where a dose of caution is worthwhile. While improved loan monitoring does make small business lending less risky and more profitable for the bank, it does make it a bit more risky for the borrower. Lenders are a conservative lot. Therefore, given any mixed data, they are likely to interpret it more negatively. So, while you may think the business is fine, the A.I. model may not. It could be much harder in the future to secure a small business loan.

On the whole, the changes to small business lending due to A.I. are mostly positive, but with any new tool, it helps to understand how it can be used for you and against you.

At ProStrategix, we know you have concerns.  We’re designed to help give you the business support you need so you can focus on doing what you love.  If you would like to learn about how we might be able to help you, please contact us.

5 Quick Steps to Get Results for Your Small Business

Small business wins

As small business owners, we don’t have the resources in time or money to waste. You didn’t start your business wanting it to fall apart. To help you, here are 5 ways we’ve gotten results for our own small business quickly. While we can’t guarantee the same results for you, they are based on sound business principles that have proven successful repeatedly. Plus, they may help you as well as they helped us.

Your business is doing well. But what’s next? ProStrategix knows how to help. Read some of our other articles below, or feel free to connect with us and get a complimentary thirty-minute consulting session.

Blogging allows people to find your website easier

There are several ways to build your brand. Obviously, we believe that blogging is one of them. It helps you connect with your target audience. It helps improve search rankings. It’s nearly free. It’s time-consuming, sure. But, it also forces you to stay up to date with what’s going on in your market, and what matters to your customers.

Ashley Lipman for Lobster Digital Media has some helpful guidance on how to blog better.

2. Get Over Review Phobia

Second, reviews can really help. Reviews help establish your reputation and help build credibility. Websites like Yelp and Google show customers what they need to know about your company. It matters to get results that help your small business grow.

We know that it’s tough to ask for a review. Even we still struggle to ask for honest feedback. But, we found Jason Yormark’s NetBlaze post to be helpful.

3. Social Listening

Finally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t talk about Social media and social listening. Yes, social media is a crowded morass where you need to shout to be heard, but if you are smart about social the importance of the insight. ​listening, you can find what your customers care about, resulting in success for your small business In our posts about marketing content and about how to learn about marketing from politics, we speak about 

social listening

the importance of the insight.  Smart social listening can improve your chances of being heard since you will be speaking about what your customers care about.

4. Cultivate Influencers

Why do big brands, like Pepsi, use celebrities? They want to tap into that celebrity’s fans. Simple. We can’t afford celebrities, but we all have a micro-influencer we know. It’s about building relationships and seeing how you might be able to help each other.

On the smallest scale, it’s your local business community providing referrals for each other, getting everyone the results they want. On a larger scale, TopRank Marketing outlines some good suggestions.

5. Don’t Screw Up the Sale

You might scoff at this, but it’s not always common sense to everyone. Have you ever forgotten to follow-up with a client within a few hours? Maybe, been just a little too pushy and turned someone off? Perhaps, you just sold too much and didn’t listen? If you’ve done any other these things, you likely screwed up the sale. If you want more detail, we recommend you read SmallBiz Tech’s post.

For the Results You Can’t Guarantee, Bring Your Small Business to Us

If you want to get results quickly for your business, these 5 ways are a good place to start. There any many others, and we’ve found these to be the most helpful to us. If you want to learn more or if you think your small business needs more targeted tips, that’s where we can step in and help.

At ProStrategix, we know you have concerns.  We’re designed to help give you the business support you need so you can focus on doing what you love.  If you would like to learn about how we might be able to help you, please contact us.

Marketing and Politics: Not Too Different in 2019

marketing politics

The way we market has completely changed in recent years. Not only have trends in marketing shifted, so too have trends in social media. But of course, marketing isn’t the only thing that has changed how social media looks in 2019.

Whether you love or hate Donald Trump or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, you have to admit both are brilliant at using social media. They treat it like a tool to market themselves and their ideologies to a wider audience. Why has #MAGA and #AOC had such an impact? It goes back to the same basic marketing principles that any small business can apply.

Thinking about making changes to your business? ProStrategix knows how to help. Read some of our other articles below, or feel free to connect with us and get a complimentary thirty-minute consulting session.

Both Tap Into a Key Emotional Insight

The marketing of both of our #political stars tap into a strong emotional insight, ironically caused by the same societal trend – the changing demographics of the US. On the #MAGA side, I would argue you have the people who feel left behind by the changes in technology, demographics, and shift in economic opportunity.  On the #AOC side, I would propose you have those who have benefited from the changing demographics, technology, and shift to a gig economy mindset. Both hit a raw nerve within their target audiences.

Political-Star Marketing Demonstrate the Power of a Strong Insight to Change Behavior

From Gage Skidmore via flickr

One look at Donald Trump’s rallies, and you can see the raw emotion driving the excitement of the crowds. His audience wears his MAGA gear as a sense of pride and belonging.

Likewise, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was an unknown bartender from the Bronx just 18 months ago, but she tapped into the fury felt by her audience, their repulsion of the principles driving MAGA, and impatience for change. By leveraging that fury, she was able to catapult herself into the national spotlight.

They Both Underscore the Risk of a Powerful Insight

A powerful insight is only beneficial if you can deliver the benefit you promise. Our # political stars face significant challenges on this front. It a challenge all marketers face.

First MAGA, Donald Trump can no more stop the changes taking place in today’s society, than he can stop the sun from rising. He can blame this or that, but after some point, you have to deliver.

Likewise, the same is true for #AOC, she can no more impose her policy positions than she can make it rain.

The power of the insight and the emotion behind it will likely sustain them for a while, but eventually, the benefit will have to be delivered. Importantly, this is true for any marketing.

So, What Can Small Businesses Learn from our # Political Stars Marketing?

Build a Powerful Insight

An “insight” is defined as a statement which connects with the target on an emotional level (fear, hope, love, etc.), that when leveraged, can change behavior. In our post, “How to Create Marketing Content That Gets Attention AND Sells”, we discuss the insight in more detail, but we hope # Political Stars examples have driving this home.

Have a Unique Benefit that Delivers Against the Insight

Delivering a benefit based on a strong insight will definitely get immediate results. Delivering that benefit uniquely will get you BOTH immediate and long-lasting results. As small business owners, we need both. 

Being Provocative Works

From Ståle Grut / NRKbeta via flickr

This is a tough one for me, personally. I grew up in marketing during an age when offending someone was viewed as a huge negative. Brands tended to steer clear of controversy and kept negative press to a minimum.

However, if I’ve learned anything over the past 4 years for the marketing of our # political stars, it is that being provocative cuts through the clutter. The media clutter is exponentially more than it was 10 or 20 years ago. There is so much noise now, shouting is the only option left. Whether this provides a long-term benefit remains to be seen, but to deny it is to deny reality.

Finally, Be Authentic

All brands need to be authentic. Each has a personality. If it’s fake or stilted, people aren’t shy in calling you out on it. Nor, are they willing to tolerate it as much as in the past. # Political stars’ marketing has taught us that.

Not everyone is cut out to be so outspoken or comfortable with criticism. However, truly being authentic takes courage. It means being loved by some but disliked by others. You need to stand for something, or else you stand for nothing. 

In closing, you need to keep that authenticity front and center. For Mr. Trump, “TOTAL EXHONORATION” is considered a lie to most, but it’s authentic to his base. His defiance is their defiance. For Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, her 5 AM Instagram of washing her clothes may be seen as a just another Millennial over-sharing, but I assure you, it’s not. To her base, it’s a powerful image of a common struggle they all face – the impact of meeting the demands of today’s work environment for young people.

Key takeaways from the # Political Stars Marketing

Look, if an unknown bartender can make the leap, why doesn’t this work for everyone? Well, there are three reasons. First, true emotional insights are hard to find. Just being provocative for provocative sake isn’t going to get the job done. Second, delivering a benefit that truly satisfies that insight is also not simple. In fact, it’s the risk that both Trump and AOC have yet to achieve, fully. Finally, not everyone is comfortable with being provocative.

All that said, we can still take elements from this playbook to make ourselves more successful. First, get to know your customers. Understand their issues. It’s only by doing this can you truly find a meaningful insight. Second, position yourself in such a way that ONLY your business can deliver on that insight. This may cause you to be provocative, but as we’ve seen, being provocative works. Finally, stay authentic. Be true to your brand.

At ProStrategix, we know you have concerns.  We’re designed to help give you the business support you need so you can focus on doing what you love.  If you would like to learn about how we might be able to help you, please contact us.

How Small Businesses Can Help Each Other Succeed

Help Other Small Businesses Succeed

We all buy products and services every day. Why not try to purchase these from other small businesses so we can help each other succeed. This strategy has worked in immigrant communities for years. While it may not be cost-effective at first, it is an investment in your own business. Reciprocity is hard-wired in human nature.

Your business is doing well. But what’s next? ProStrategix knows how to help. Read some of our other articles below, or feel free to connect with us and get a complimentary thirty-minute consulting session.

It’s Not Always Easy to Help, BUT it can be done

Why isn’t easy? Two reasons – cost and competition. By definition, small businesses don’t have the economies of scale to effectively compete on price like larger competitors online or off. As a result, costs are usually higher. Consequently, because they aren’t as competitive, they can more easily be pushed out of business. Therefore, the best way small businesses can help each other succeed is to create a network. Your neighborhood local chamber of commerce or LinkedIn are all great places to start.

While there are several factors working against helping other businesses succeed, there are a few ways which are working in our favor. The increased adoption of e-commerce by small businesses provides greater access than ever. This is also why a network can be helpful.

Build a Small Business Network to Help Each Other Succeed

A small business network is a powerful way to help each other succeed. How do you do that? Simple:

Get to Know Your Neighbors. A walk or a drive around town can be very enlightening. See who is there. Walk in the door and get to know them. Helping other small businesses succeed in your community pays dividends in the long-run. Not only can your neighbors recommend you, you also help the local economy create jobs, and make your neighborhood a better place to live.

Go On-line. If you want to help a particular kind of small business succeed, start by looking online for directories. For instance, if you want to buy from women-owned businesses, Hispanic-owned businesses, or LGBTQIA businesses, you can find directories devoted to these types of business owners.

Use LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a powerful B2B tool that you can use to help other small businesses succeed. You likely have small business owners in your network, and you don’t even realize it. Putting out a request to your feed can help start building these links. If you want a less techy approach, you can use your local chamber of commerce or other business/professional associations.

How Helping Other Small Businesses Succeed Helps You Succeed

When you boil it down, business is about relationships. Relationships are sticky. They tend to be resilient. Remember, reciprocity is hard-wired. We’ve built client relationships via referrals both to and from our business. It may cost a bit more to buy from a small business, but it is an investment in relationships. You never know who will be wildly successful, or from where a great business idea or opportunity might come. 

If you are a small business and would like to join our network, feel free to contact us. We’d be more than pleased to add you.

At ProStrategix, we know you have concerns.  We’re designed to help give you the business support you need so you can focus on doing what you love.  If you would like to learn about how we might be able to help you, please contact us.

5 Ways to Grow Your Small Business Without Spending a Penny

Grow-your-small-business-without-spending-a-penny

Many small businesses cannot afford the cost of expensive marketing campaigns.  So, how can you grow your small business without spending a penny? Here are 5 ideas that we’ve used.  Hopefully, they will help you too.

Feeling like your business isn’t going the right way? ProStrategix knows how to help. Read some of our other articles below, or feel free to connect with us and get a complimentary thirty-minute consulting session.

First, Get to Know Your Neighbors

Make a list of businesses near you that have similar clients or customers as you do. It’s likely that you both have a shared interest in growing your businesses. So, why not leverage them as your natural allies? Something as simple as exchanging business cards can be an effective tool. Human beings naturally work on the principle of reciprocity. It could be as easy as offering referrals, or offering discounts to each other’s customers. It’s old school, but it can help grow your business without spending a penny.

Second, Help a Reporter Out (HARO) = Free Press

HARO is a service by Cision, which curates reporters questions.  It sends an e-mail out 3 times a day from Monday through Friday.  In each e-mail, reporters ask questions regarding specific topics.  If you are knowledgeable in that given area, you can reply with an answer.  This has been an effective tool for both ourselves and our clients. It’s an awesome tool to help grow your business without spending a penny.

Third, Social Media

Granted, to get the most out of the social media sites, you may need to spend some money. But, if you are willing to invest the time and energy, you can still generate a decent following for free. The trick is to post content that is interesting to people. The choice of social media depends on the business. Some, like ours, benefit the most from LinkedIn. Others, however, with a more consumer or visual bent, may do better with Facebook or Instagram. If you have the time and energy, these sites can help you grow your business without spending a penny.

Forth, Google My Business

Notably, this is best for businesses with a physical office or store where it services their customers. You can create a free website, advertise your hours, and showcase your business with photos. Also, it allows you to respond to customers directly. It helps with SEO, too. It’s one of Google’s best tools for helping you grow your business without spending a penny.

Lastly, Review Sites

Finally, review sites like Yelp or Craigs List, for instance. Yelp reviews can help drive SEO, which can help you connect to customers who don’t know anything about you. Sure, it takes time to respond to the reviews. But, it provides you an opportunity to be proactive about issues and positively promote your brand. Best of all, it’s free so you don’t have to spend a penny to grow your small business.

To get the most out of any of these vehicles, you need a comprehensive marketing plan. We offer some free tools to help you build one, and we’ve covered how to write one in our post “4 Simple Steps to Write a Successful Marketing Plan”.

At ProStrategix, we know you have concerns.  We’re designed to help give you the business support you need so you can focus on doing what you love.  If you would like to learn about how we might be able to help you, please contact us.

The Shocking Truth About Small Business Marketing Plans

small business marketing plan

1/2 of Small Businesses don’t have a marketing plan for their small business.

“According to a survey of 350 small and medium business (SMB) owners, 50% do not have a marketing plan for 2019.”  A marketing plan is the engine that drives demand.  Your car wouldn’t get that far without an engine.  The same principle applies to your small business.

Search Engine Journal

Let’s talk about why that is a problem.

Unsure of how to take your business from good to great? ProStrategix knows how to help. Read some of our other articles below, or feel free to connect with us and get a complimentary thirty-minute consulting session.

Why is it shocking not to have a marketing plan?

A marketing plan is the engine that drives demand.  Your car wouldn’t get that far without an engine.  The same principle applies to your small business. You may say, “yeah, but I’m doing fine”. Then, I would say, “But, you could be doing better if you had a small business marketing plan”.

Why don’t small businesses have a marketing plan?

For one, small business owners are more stressed about their business.  “62% of small business owners are stressed about their business”, which leads to the marketing plan falling to the wayside:

According to Search Engine Journal:

    •  25% of respondents are unsure of how they plan to grow their businesses in 2019.
    •  55% of small business owners spend less than 5% of annual revenue on marketing.
    •  Over 58% of small business owners spend five hours or fewer on marketing every week.
    • 86% of respondents would rather spend their time on other business activities than spending time on marketing.

This makes sense. Small business owners didn’t start their businesses to be marketers.  They did because the love what they do.

Why having it matters?

However, if you want to grow, the impact of a small business marketing plan is clear.

    • 81% percent of respondents who invested between 5% and 10% of annual revenue in marketing said they experienced revenue growth in 2018.
    • By comparison, only 50% of respondents who invested less than 5% of revenue into marketing experienced revenue growth.

Let’s face it.  A dentist didn’t start his or her practice because they love positioning, value propositions, or writing small business marketing plans.  He or she did it because they wanted to help people keep their mouths healthy.  Many others are the same. 

At ProStrategix, we know you have concerns.  We’re designed to help give you the business support you need so you can focus on doing what you love.  If you would like to learn about how we might be able to help you, please contact us.