Small Business and Crowdfunding

Small Business and Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding can be a powerful fundraising tool for personal projects, startups and small businesses who need some financing help. It allows people to seek funds online as a loan for their company that they will pay back with interest over time. People may choose to invest in certain crowdfunds to make a profit while supporting a small business.

One of the reasons businesses choose crowdfunding as a way to obtain loans is that they are often more flexible than bank loans. Getting a loan from a bank can be more complex with a long application process and stricter rules about what the funds can be used for. With crowdfunding it can be easier to apply depending on the website used and businesses have more freedom with their funds.

There are two main types of crowdfunding known as reward crowdfunding and equity crowdfunding. Reward crowdfunding is a way to provide incentives for people to donate their money online such as VIP access, discounts, new versions of products or other rewards. Equity crowdfunding allows investors to provide money in exchange for shares in the company.

The most popular websites used for crowdfunding include Kickstarter which was one of the first reward crowdfunding platforms and is a great option for funding creative projects like films, video games or recording. Another commonly used crowdfunding site is GoFundMe which is one of the largest fundraising platforms with a community of over 50 million donors. These kinds of sites tend to charge processing fees and 5 percent of all funds raised to use their platform.

If you are considering using a crowdfunding platform for your small business it is important to keep in mind that you will need to a marketing plan in place in order to achieve your goal. Overall, crowdfunding can be a useful choice for businesses who need new resources for financial support.

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.

Working for Clients vs Collaborating with Clients

Working for Clients vs Collaborating with Clients

When you provide a service your clients expect you to work closely for them in order to achieve their goals. Retaining clients means not just working for them but listening to their needs and feedback so that you can collaborate on a project that will be satisfactory to them. Client collaboration can be the main factor that determines whether someone will want to work with you again.

Collaborating with clients means keeping the lines of communication open and encouraging them to bring their own ideas to the table. Instead of maintaining complete control over how a project is completed, you can be flexible and incorporate their suggestions throughout the process of working with them. Clients will appreciate the fact that you continually look for your input instead of retreating to work on a project and providing occasional updates.

When you work closely with clients there are a number of mutual advantages that make the whole process easier. You can make decisions faster, get an early opinion before spending too much time on an idea, avoid misunderstandings or miscommunication while creating a much clearer dialogue. Clients will also have a greater sense of ownership when the project is complete which will make them feel good about working with you.

Ultimately, collaborating with clients helps build trust with them so that they know you have their best interests in mind. The relationship can move beyond simply fulfilling a contract and become a long term partnership. They might keep you in mind for future projects or recommend you to others because of your personal touch.

Collaborating allows both parties to learn from each other and create something that they know will be effective. The more you allow your client to be involved in what you do the better the outcome will be for everyone involved.

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.

Should I Diversify My Clientele or Stay Niche?

Should I Diversify My Clientele or Stay Niche?

There are a lot of pros and cons to remaining a niche company or deciding to branch out and reach a broader audience. Some businesses find that their niche works perfectly for them and helps them stay true to their brand. They do one thing well and can focus on that rather than trying something new that could potentially fail or alienate their audience.

However, some companies might be more interested in converting new clients and feel too limited by having only a niche audience. A niche business can have steady and reliable income but a business that wants to expand will find that being too focused can hold them back. One of the dangers of being niche can also be that people lose interest in your products over time and by not diversifying you are leaving yourself more vulnerable to the shifting market.

Diversifying can take time but it can open up new possibilities for businesses that want grow and stay relevant. However, if you become too unfocused and stray too far from your core product you might begin to lose your existing audience. The best solution is to remain focused but innovative enough that you aren’t limited by your niche.

Every business should try to improve on what they do best instead of staying static and continuing to create the same product. You should make plans to diversify in order to meet new technology, marketing shifts and other changes so that you aren’t left behind by being too limited. Businesses don’t necessarily need to be a jack of all trades to diversify but simply need to continue keeping their products fresh and interesting.

There are benefits to both staying niche and diversifying but finding a balance between the two can often be the best answer to maintain an interested audience.

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.

5 Reasons Why Yelp is Important for Your Business

5 Reasons Why Yelp is Important for Your Business

Small or growing businesses need to take advantage of every opportunity they can to get more exposure and bring in more customers online. Yelp was created to help people find good local businesses that they can trust to deliver good products and customer service. For businesses, yelp can also be a vital part of your marketing strategy.

Yelp has more than 80 million unique visitors every month and many of those visitors write reviews about their experience with a particular business. Fortunately the vast majority (about 78%) of those reviews range from neutral to great with very minimal negative reviews. People can use yelp to find your business and read positive recommendations about what you do.

These are some of the main reasons Yelp is helpful for business owners:

1. Influence People at the Right Moment

The moment when someone is looking for a business on Yelp is at a critical point when they are ready to make a purchase. If they see your Yelp page and read a positive review they can be easily influenced to use your business and possibly continue to be a customer for years to come. When people are reading Yelp reviews they are usually on the verge of becoming a customer and a couple positive reviews will be enough to get them into your store.

People use Yelp not just as a way to see what businesses are close by in their area but as a way to help them make purchasing decisions. Most Yelp users make a purchase soon after seeing a listing and they may write their own positive review if they have a good experience at your establishment.

2. Respond and Interact with Customers

Should you receive any negative reviews or complaints on your Yelp page, you can use the site as a way to address these issues either publicly or privately. This can be a powerful tool to make your business appear invested in each customer’s experience and responsive to correct any potential issues. You can show empathy and caring for people who have a bad experience which can still leave people with a good impression of you in spite of the negative review.

You can also interact with people that leave positive reviews to show that you appreciate all your customers and their feedback about what you are doing. Thanking people for their positive response can help encourage more positive reviews and communication between you and your customers.

3. Create a Brand Image

Yelp

With a Yelp business listing you can add your own content so that you have more control over the way your business is presented. Yelp customers can add their own photos along with their reviews but they may not always be the best images. Adding your own photos to the business listing can be a good way to tailor your brand image and make your Yelp page look more appealing.

You can claim your Yelp page and upload your own personal business photos so that people have a better first impression of you. Creating your own Yelp listing or claiming an existing one lets you have more control over the content that is available for customers to see.

4. Use Yelp as an Authority

In terms of internet marketing, Yelp is useful for website rankings and getting your business seen online. In SEO terms, Yelp is considered an “authority” site meaning that it can carry more weight and help boost traffic to your site. If you claim your Yelp listing you can add a link directly to your website and it will boost your rankings in Google.

With a link to your website people can read a brief overview of your business and then click through to a landing page where they will have more information and can make a purchase or reservation.

5. Make it Easier to Find Out About You

With Yelp you can add listings that provide people with crucial information about you that they can see immediately when they search in Google. Your Yelp can list your location in Google Maps, your business hours and a description of the items you have. Restaurants can have a menu available for customers to view online.

Having this information readily available through Yelp can make it much easier for people to find your business and make a quick decision about whether to visit your store. This is especially useful for mobile or voice searches when people are looking for information on the go. Someone in the area can find you because your location is close and they know you are currently open.

If you don’t have a Yelp listing or haven’t claimed an existing one there are numerous benefits to getting more involved in Yelp. With Yelp you can provide a way for customers to find and interact with you so that everyone benefits.

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.

Social Media Spending Trends for 2012

A recent report by Borrell Associates shows that small business spending for social media marketing is growing. But you don’t need a fancy study to tell you that. The interesting part of this article is that more small businesses feel that social media is a more important marketing channel than paid ads. Some experts have put these two findings together to predict that small businesses are going to be willing to spend more on social media marketing than paid search in 2012.

Why Spend More?
As some comments in the article suggest, the findings do not break down what “spend” really means. Does this consist of training, set up, consulting and other fees? And what do you plan to do with these assets after your accounts are created? As social networks become more popular, it’s also important for small business owners to have a good idea of the ROI on their investment for social media. Putting money into a marketing strategy without proper research or followup doesn’t guarantee success. In fact, investing the same amount into a paid search campaign may be even more productive for your business. There is no “right” answer and you can even choose a mix of both.

Choose an Effective Strategy
A growing demand and interest in social media can be overwhelming as you try and decide what is best for your small business. The answer isn’t easy, which is why an experienced marketing firm can help you evaluate all your options with a budget and resources that will fit your need. There is no set guideline for an effective social media plan, which is why experience and industry insight can give you a better idea of what to expect in your specific case. Contact us for a free consultation on how a social media campaign can help your business today.

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.

Cyber Monday and Your Ecommerce Site

Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday is over but some retailers, like Walmart, have extended the event into something even bigger…Cyber Week! Sales for Cyber Monday have continuously grown over the years, so expect online retailers and shoppers to take advantage of all the online buzz.
Online sales for Cyber Monday 2011 are expected to break records yet again, the total for 2010 was $1.03 billion in sales.

Here are some more interesting statistics via Get Elastic:

– 64% of adults shop online for holiday gifts because they believe they will get the best prices and deals
– 52% of online shoppers will spend more than one hour researching the best price for each holiday purchase
– 49% of online shoppers use social sources to find gift ideas
– 92% of online retailers are offering deals over Thanksgiving weekend (80% linked to Cyber Monday)

Are you a part of this growing holiday shopping phenomenon? If not, it’s time to take a look at why your online store isn’t using this word of mouth advertising to your advantage. Do you need help with e commerce design or social media? These are all great ways to start building a foundation for the busy season, long before it starts. Remember, there is still time to prepare for Christmas, and even the beginning of the year in 2012. Check out our free site analysis to see how we can help your ecommerce store live up to it’s great potential.

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.

Recap of 2011 Google Agency Summit

Here’s the recap of our visit to the Google Agency Summit that we’ve been promising!

We’ll take a quick overview of marketing spending, display ads, mobile ads, and video in terms of small business use. The overall focus throughout the day was on small business (SMB) growth. Makes sense, doesn’t it? The small business segment is a promising category with big opportunities. Here are some key points that we learned:

SMB Spending and Growth

  • Total SMB digital ad spend is growing at 25% YoY (year on year)
  • Growth is happening within Google local services and beyond on platforms like: Facebook, Groupon and LivingSocial
  • According to Google’s (see graph), total US SMB marketing spending is expected to almost double by 2015. This is a self-proclaimed “conservative” forecast, so we could see numbers even higher than that!

Display Ads

With over 2 million sites, Google now has the largest ad network . What does this mean for the potential of display ads? The emphasis here was on the concept of remarketing. Remarketing allows you to target and show ads to users who have already visited your website. This is helpful to help them recall your products and services, something that they’ve obviously been interested in since they have already been to your site. This is an innovative new way to match the right customers to your message.

Mobile Ads and Video

Mobile ads are evolving and should be a different and more helpful experience for mobile users. There is less space on a mobile screen, which means that functions like “Store Locator” take priority over plain old text. People searching on their phone aren’t going to have the time or space to read text. Learn how you can build a basic mobile site with this free Google tool.

As for video, the big push is for small businesses to come on board, given the massive potential and size of YouTube. Small businesses could utilize video marketing by using banners, pre-roll commercials and even encourage user created content. With so much up and coming news, you can always stay updated with Google’s latest ad products here.

Marketing Goals

At the end of the day, it’s clear that Google is trying to make things easier for everyone – small business owners and their customers. This is why Google is so intent on integration and working closely with with agencies like Emarketed… so that we can help our customers!

It looks like there’s a lot in store in the future for small businesses. As a small business owner, it’s important to stay informed so that you don’t get left behind. Here’s a list of some helpful information on topics related to what we just talked about:

Mobile Web Sites
Video Marketing
Website Marketing
Landing Page Optimization

You can also comment, or find us on Facebook or Twitter if you have any questions!

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.