Lauren June, Business Development Strategist at Lauren June
Oh I love questions about email marketing - This is the area I specialise and love.It's not just about what landing page software you use (althought Leadpages & Instapage are great) structuring a landing page to convert the right people to subscribers are key. You don't want everyone and anyone signing up as they will soon unsubscribe and this can effect your spam rating. Knowing who you clients are is important to know how to market to them and speak their language to of the upmost importance so they can resonate with your message.
Jef Lippiatt, Owner at Startup Chucktown
What we are using for several different ventures is Mail Chimp. They have a free tier which makes it really cost effective for building an email list. They also have a widgets that you can add to a regular website or a Wordpress site with minimal effort.
Another tool we have used is Google Forms. You can quickly create a form and post it your website or social media to gain feedback (and email addresses among other things). It has a few more steps than Mail Chimp but gives you more flexibility for capturing different types of information.
I would also suggest using social media to connect with interest users or perspective clients. Connecting with them on social media isn't going to create a database of users for you, but it will give you a great idea into who some of your more engaged connections are and you can leverage them to help you spread your message.
I was talking to a friend the other day - getting the right business finance is hard. With so many loan products on offer, how do you go about selecting a product that is right for your business? Is it the bank or financial institution and their reputation, or perhaps it's the features you look for (e.g. overdraft, line of credit)? Are there other considerations or experiences you've had that we should know about?
This is a complex question to answer as the solution is highly dependent on your situation. i.e. do you have a residential/commercial property that you are willing to use as security? Are you looking for working capital facility, or trade finance facility to buy stock, invoice financing facility to manage cashflow, or are you looking to secure a business loan to buy an existing business? In addition, there are many different policies and niches at each bank/lender on what type of loans they are willing to give out to SMEs. The number one key to secure financing on competitive terms and rates is to be able to match your individual circumstances with a bank that has the risk appetite to lend to you for your business needs. The second most important thing to consider is how to present yourself to the bank/lender, the same set of information can be presented in different ways and yield vastly different results.At the end of the day, it's always good to speak to a professional about securing business loan as they are vastly more complex than a residential homeloan and banks/lenders have significant discretion on whether they are willing to provide the loan or not, so it's not a matter of ticking the boxes and putting in an application form, a lot of care and finesse needs to go into the application to ensure financing can be secured competitively.
If you are selling higher value items to clients you may want to consider offering your clients finance.
One small business I know sells thongs (yes - shoes) to small retailers and offers 6 months interest free finance for their stock while getting paid the very next day and not wearing the risk of factoring (where you still own the debt after three months). This allows him to win a lot of new business and get stock on shelves without owning the finance risk.
Try Scott McNally at ASM Money 0438 680 898 and use my name as an introduction or email me and I can send over more details
OK this may be asking you to reveal parts of the "Secret SEO Business" aka what to us, mere mortals, at times looks like Black Magic..! But how do you keep on top of the different changes that Google is making to their ways of determining site rankings? Are there some information sites somewhere? Trial and error? What's the secret?
David O'Donnell, Head of Search at Sumo Group
If you're looking for guidelines and updates straight from the horses mouth, checkout Google's own sources:
Webmaster Guidelines: http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=35769
Google Webmasters Blog: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com.au/
Google Webmaster Tools on Twitter: https://twitter.com/googlewmc
Hope that helps!
Henrik Larsen, Director at IePlus Pty Ltd
Actually not a bad question though.. Perhaps these days it's less about "secret magic" and more about just taking that extra task off our all too crowded daily task list..??
Can you sum it up simply? What is the essence of your brand?
‘Reality optimization’ will become a thing, content feeds will become finely-tuned for each individual, non-digital ads will die, privacy concerns will reach their zenith, spawning more brands that prioritize it. Competition will be reduced, strange new social interactions will be introduced and face-to-face interactions will be rare, but highly valued.
Gwendolyn Kestrel, Digital Analyst at seoWorks
I think that advertising will continue to go "native." in articles until some lawsuits endeavor to establish guidelines for what's "content" and what's "advertising" that will immediately have more loopholes found in them.
I think that remarketing will become even stronger and more effective. So, when you've put that shirt into your shopping cart, but haven't gone back to it, it will haunt you, along with similar shirts from other companies, for a very long time.
I also think that advertising will be smarter about related products. I buy a lot of dresses that are dry-clean only. In the not-distant future I will start to see ads for dry cleaners near me, alternations, and clothing-donation shops like Goodwill. These are all targeting my fancy dresses.
Jef Lippiatt, Owner at Startup Chucktown
I believe that product reviews and customer testimonials are going to continue to be powerful forms of advertisement. In a way, they are the digital equivalent of word-of-mouth advertising between happy customers in person (now just online).
I think ads will move deeper into the content almost like product sponsorship (reminiscent of the 1950's TV shows at least here in the United States). Obviously it'll be a bit craftier but most advertisements will try to be as subconscious as possible (as those are harder ideas to shake than a poster or a TV spot).
In many ways I see a bigger surge happening on and within our clothing. I have a feeling you'll pay more for clothes that have little or no advertising on them. Also, if you want clothing without tracking sensors, RFID tags and other wearable tech you'll be paying more. Why? Even though you'd think those sensors would cost more, retailers will have figured out how to leverage them to track your every movement and use it much like Facebook currently uses your personal data. However, the difference being this time the data will be your physical movements, frequency of use, perspiration, speed and places you frequent.
Intriguing? Scary? Maybe both.
I'm guest curious here. Typically I see the most engagement on static text posts (with relevant hashtags) and with video. However, depending on the topic, my posts with links to blog articles perform reliably as well.
So, what performs best for you?
If you use anything not in the list, I'd also be interested to know what up and coming types of sharing people are doing.
Depending on your brand, the social media platforms you should engage in may vary. For example: a Fashion Brand is very different to a Food and Beverage or an IT Brand. It’s because your target consumer is very different, so they tend to hang out in different places online. If you are a fashion brand, you will likely want highly visual content to appeal to your customer, so a platform like Instagram is recommended. If you are an IT brand your content needs to be educational so a combination of blogs and twitter might work better.
Ultimately, it’s a process of experimentation, testing out content and different messages across different channels to find what resonates best with your audience and what drives more leads to your website.
Often it’s a combination of multiple channels. We recommend focusing your efforts on 2 or 3 key platforms that have the most appeal to your target market, reach your social media KPIs and generate conversions.
If you’re finding it hard managing social media accounts across multiple platforms - luckily there are many tools available on the market that make this easy, our favourites are MeetEdgar and Hootsuite.
If you’d like to know a bit more about this please see below =)
Steven Lusi, Director at Direct Property Group
Thanks for asking the question.
Text with links have given us the best engagement, particularly when its a positive achievement through the business i.e. a mention in the paper, t.v. etc. Followed secondly by blog articles, we do these monthly.
A lot of my receipts (Aust Post) are printed on thermal paper and fade over time.
Generally you need to Tax compliance info for 5 years and needproof in form of electronic or printed copy of every payment you claim against.
Kirsty Fox, Principal at Spitfire Accounting Solutions
Yes. If you are audited the ATO can ask for proof of your expenditure. There are a number of apps where you can take a photo of it to store it, or you can scan them and keep an electronic copy. It's fine if you want to put several together for one A4 page photocopy as well.
What qualities do you look for in a lawyer for your small business?
Great question Deborah!I like lawyers whom I can trust and build a good rapport with. I hire lawyers who has my back, and who is able to attend to issues in my business, however complex those may be. He/she should be someone I wouldn't hesitate to pick up the phone and have a chat without worrying about how much is that call going to cost me!I stay away from lawyers who charge by the minute, because I don't think they understand the needs of their clients. I don't want to be unreasonable, and I believe professionals should be compensated for their time equitably but that said, when professionals puts too much focus on their billable hours and percentage of utilisation, they tend to lose sight of their clients' needs and the bigger picture of what's at stake.I need to be confident that they have the right experience, and whether they have the right expertise in my industry to take care of unforseen issues confidently. For example, our business is a unique marketplace that most lawyers would not have the depth of experience in. So I'd need to look at their portfolio of previous projects, the type of clients whom they work with the most, client references, and recommendations from people in my network. The problem is that it always take so long to gather all these data to make the right decision lol.I'm also big on transparency, not just about scope, fees structure and processes but how we should handle issues ethically and with the highest integrity at all times. I don't like surprises so open and honest communication is key, which in essence is a pre-requisitie to building great rapport. I don't believe in shopping for the lowest fee. I believe you get what you pay for, and I'm willing to invest in the right expertise and experience as long as they're competitive in their pricing. Again, I do look for some flexibility, and know that I won't incur extra charge each time I pick up the phone for a quick question. Last but not least, I look for lawyers who are good cultural fit - a lawyer who is results driven and willing to go the extra mile, someone who would think of alternatives, someone who thinks ahead, and raise potential risks I may not have thought before, and generally is always looking out for my business. These are the only lawyers I trust. Then, it doesn’t feel like just a service I’m hiring but more of an investment I’m making. Hope that helps.
Jef Lippiatt, Owner at Startup Chucktown
I think one of the most important things is looking for a lawyer that understands your industry and practices in that specific area. Next you need one that understands your specific business needs. Lastly, look for a lawyer that wants to be a part of your long-term business strategy.If are constantly contacting different lawyers you will never have anyone that has a good history of your company. They will only be transactional. Look for one that wants to help you with your legal needs as your business grows and changes.Don't waste time. If you need help with intellectual property seek a lawyer out that specializes in that field of legal issues. By going to a general business lawyer or a family lawyer you are just wasting everyone's time and your money. Ask others for a lawyer referrals before spending tons of time looking yourself. Perhaps someone in your network already knows a great lawyer for your needs.
If you were going to hire someone to fill a Client Experience role. (Content Marketing, Onboarding Experience, Customer Service Enquiries) Where would you look/post job ads to find the best people (locally and globally)?
Megan Edwards, Expert Content Marketer + Copywriter at mWords Communications
Depending on the industry you're recruiting for, or that which you'd prefer your ideal candidate to come from, there are a few options. The following are some of the sites I would consult myself:
If you were considering outsourcing the recruitment process, I've had great experiences with Aquent (http://aquent.com.au/) could be a good source of Australian candidates in marketing related roles.
No job is safe these days, no matter how important you are or how secure you feel. Even the Prime Minister wasn't safe. Business, can be very risky, things can happen and it could all be taken away tomorrow. What is your backup plan for income?
Jef Lippiatt, Owner at Startup Chucktown
Risk can not be completely eliminated. It can only be mitigated. As entrepreneurs we should be hyper-aware that risk is a constant as well as a variable. Consider that without risk there is no need to be an entrepreneur, but being an entrepreneur carries its own risks.
This is truly a loaded question. Steven diversification above and he is correct, but that needs to be seen in more detail (I'll circle back on this below).
Richard you have made some interesting suggestions, but they have risk as well. Take Intellectual Property, sure there is a reasonable expectation on return, but consider the cost to achieve the IP, just because you've secured IP doesn't mean it creates a product people want or need. Even if it leads to a product people want, it won't last indefinitely. The same is true of writing and selling a book. What if you spend all that time and money creating the book and no one buys it? What if the book sells well for a while, is that rate of sales sustainable? There is still risk involved.
Diversification is the only way to truly minimize risk. I speak of true diversification, not in the sense of a Monetary Portfolio. This is what successful diversification looks like to me:
The primary job is consulting. This leads to an offshoot of paid speaking engagements. The added visibility leads to writing and selling a book (while still consulting and doing speaking engagements). The book surfaces the opportunity to do training workshops (helping others gain your skills not applying your skills to clients, but still doing all of the above). The added projects have brought additional revenue. You decide to invest your extra revenue. You split your investments across Stocks, Bonds and Cash. You continue doing all of the above and decide you want to buy part or all of a related business but leave them to operate on your own. Now that you have all that going you realize you don't have as much time to do all of the above, so you cut back on training and open up an e-commerce store to sell whitepapers, training guides (CDs/DVDs) and other related material.
This could continue on and on. The idea is that you are truly diversified. Sell services, digital products, physical products and be in different industries and verticals so that lows in one market are offset by another.
I will say it again, risk can not be eliminated. It can only be minimized. The biggest risk is not taking any. Life is always changing so you must plan to adapt constantly.