Many small business owners will undoubtedly be faced with some downtime over the coming weeks and probably months. Why not use this time productively and get on the front foot when we return to some kind of normality? Here are my top 5 tips for small business during COVID-19. Firstly, don’t panic. This emotional reaction is rarely good for making any kind of decisions let alone those that revolve around your business. To help you remain calm seek opinions and advice from professionals in your network.
After 15 years of providing the fantastic service that is Google Maps, the search engine giant has just actioned their biggest update to the map platform for smart devices. This update is more than just the new app icon, and in this article, we break down each of these category updates and highlight how they can help you and your business.
For many of us, owning and running our own small business is the stuff dreams are made of. It is however rare for a franchising business model to be looked at as the pathway to achieve these dreams.
Freedom, lifestyle, challenging, rewarding, satisfying, are some of the words and emotions felt by those that are just not cut out to work for a boss or are looking for a challenge.
For some, it is a natural path from early on as this entrepreneurial itch has been ever present and for others perhaps it is forced due to job scarcity or a new interest in their life?
Whilst extremely rewarding at times, running your own business can often lead to risking it all and unfortunately, losing it all.
Homes, assets, credit ratings, relationships, marriages, confidence and mental stability are just some of the losses experienced if the business turns ugly.
However, many have ventured down the path of self-employment before you and many will long after you have retired in the Bahamas somewhere.
Those that have chosen this life share a special and unique bond that only business owners will ever truly understand.
My advice is to surround yourself with as many smart people as you can.
Those that have been there and done it for themselves.
Those that have been successful and especially those that have failed.
It is quite often these people that have learned the hardest lessons of all and therefore have the experience to assist you so as to not to make the same mistakes they have.
The "F" Word.
The franchising and licensing business models have many fantastic benefits to them and reduce the risk exponentially.
When initiated correctly, professionally, fairly and for all the right reasons, a franchise can be hugely beneficial to all involved and can quite quickly become a powerhouse in their industry or niche.
Franchising and business go hand in hand, and below we will look at the benefits to the franchising business model and how to execute a successful marketing and lead generation strategy.
Become Part of a Team
“To come together as a team to achieve a common goal” is the definition of Team in the dictionary.
By nature, a team has a fantastic opportunity to utilise skills and attributes from each of the members.
Working together can spawn enthusiasm, inspiration as well as new ideas and ideals.
Highlighting a common goal can keep everyone on track and focused on the same direction.
Sharing of workload is another benefit to being part of a franchise team as many hands do make light work.
Fun. Who doesn’t want more of this in their lives?
Catching up for regular brainstorming meetings or drinks after work can often help in making your work or job just a little bit more fun.
More reasons as to why having fun is so important in our lives.
Successful businesses quite often share the similarities of structure, processes, procedures and automation.
With a proven structure to follow, a new franchisee can literally follow the steps and be confident of the outcome.
Without structure, many business owners will waste hours of their time by not heading in any one clear direction. This can lead to lack of uniformity as well as impact profitability.
Take McDonalds for instance. Everything is structured and processed right down to how many pickles goes onto a Big Mac.
It matters not whether you are in the London, New York, Tokyo or Brisbane, when you order a Big Mac from McDonalds, you know exactly what you are going to get any time of day or night.
This is not by chance. The golden arches have invested millions of dollars, if not billions, on structuring, systemising and processing their business model and it works.
We should never stop learning and we should never stop innovating.
The world needs this to advance into the future.
Without innovation there would be no smart tv, no advance in health and wellness and no bagless vacuum cleaners, we as a society would just forever stand still.
A company that rests on its laurels is a dead company in many industries.
A good franchising business system should recommend ongoing learning and training of its franchisees.
Many will offer an initial and extensive on-boarding training regime and the good ones will offer and promote on an ongoing basis.
Further training can ensure legal responsibilities are met, assist productivity with new techniques learned and product availability as well as impress a future client or prospect.
Compliance and Legal Obligations
To be found non-compliant or on the wrong side of a legal obligation can be extremely costly in so many ways.
Many business owners do not have the time, let alone the expertise, to stay on top of these requirements themselves.
Ensuring that compliance and legal obligations are being met is often the role of Head Office, this means that the franchisee can be assured their legal obligations are being met and that they are compliant and legal.
To Market to Market
Strategic partner building
Build a network.
Form alliances and strategic partnerships.
Together, everyone can grow.
If you are a concreter, look at forming a good relationship with a landscaper, a fencing company and a builder at the very least.
A referral is always going to be much easier to close than any other lead you generate.
Look at who could refer work to you in your industry and reach out to these people.
Perhaps you could incentivise them to refer their clients to you?
Utilise Your Buying Power
Nobody wants to pay full retail. Ever.
Sure, a stand-alone business can negotiate a good deal with suppliers and service providers but will struggle to reach the potential that a franchise has.
The franchise teams buying power is huge and resellers understand this.
They also understand the potential future they have with a franchise as the majority are always looking at expansion of some kind.
Expansion = volume.
Volume = more sales for the reseller and everyone loves sales.
From vehicles, to sign-writing, to telecommunications to marketing, trade and industry suppliers to insurers and professional services, negotiate and then negotiate some more!
Results are reliant on trust.
Your colleagues rely on it, your suppliers rely on it, search engine relies on it and so do your future customers.
It is most business owners dream to have their website rank well on search engine and for Google to generate good quality leads and enquiries each and every day.
This is achieved by building trust and proving your authority to search engine.
Ideally, a great online structure is to have the head office and the main website and then a mini website set up on a sub domain.
Of course, your website should be developed by a reputable specialist who also understands search engine optimisation.
The mini website would have 4 to 5 pages of content unique to them focusing on demographics and geography.
Head office would have its own Google My Business profile as well as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube etc as well as listing the main website on 30 to 40 local and free directories.
Replicate this for each of the franchise locations and you have a fantastic online presence with huge authority in a very short period of time.
A strong trusted brand is the echelon of business.
Typically, building a strong brand can take many years and huge budgets.
However, we can now build an extremely powerful brand quickly thanks to the online world.
When an enquirer Googles your business name, there a few things we can do to ensure a great first impression to the prospect.
Ideally, you need to have a great Google My Business profile that is filled out correctly, has some great relevant images and video as well as some good recent reviews.
This will ensure Google displays your Knowledge Graph.
The next point of attention should be every organic listing owned by you.
These listings will be made up by pages with your website, social media links as well as directory listings.
To view this strong brand will give great confidence to the enquirer in the first 2 to 5 seconds of the search.
Build your brand for people and build your brand for search engine.
Create and engage in a decent social media marketing campaign.
Yes, your potential clients are hanging out here on various social channels so be sociable.
Each new franchisee that comes on board and follows this set up will add to the overall branding to search engine which in turn will see immediate value and trust from them.
It is always recommended to have multiple lead generating streams rather than have all of your eggs in one basket.
By following the process laid out under Trust Building, you will have a very chance of generating organic traffic and leads from Google and other search engines over time.
Most small businesses want (and need) to generate some high-quality enquiries soon after commencing in business.
The solution to this necessity is paid advertising or pay per click.
They enable you to define your target audience demographic and geographic, like never before seen, and to invest your marketing dollar into advertising to only those likely to actually buy something!
Across all search terms we know the number to be around 20% to 25% of all traffic will click on a paid ad. These numbers are not to be ignored.
By having a Google Ad running, your business listed in the Google My Business Map Pack, as well as having a good organic ranking, you can have 3 bites of the cherry, so to speak.
I recommend focusing on lead generating offers and campaigns.
If you are posting on social media, mention an offer for that month only or for the next 5 people that comment or share you post.
Give your audience a reason to act now instead of just blending in with 99% of other business advertising messages they will be exposed to that day.
I am not necessarily a big fan of discounts, but I love value adding!
The concreter that specialises in driveways could give a 3-month car wash subscription with every driveway sold this month.
The house painter could give a 2-night stay in an apartment in the city with every full interior paint sale made.
Focus on what makes you unique and your USP (unique selling proposition).
Stand out against the crowd.
Of course, there is more to running a successful business or franchise but follow these recommended guidelines and you will be off to a pretty good start.
Should you like to discuss your business, business marketing or lead generating and anything franchising, please reach out anytime.
Please let me start off by saying this is not a spiel from a digital marketer to try to generate more leads.
I’m not here to spruce our services or any special deal for this month only or the first 10 enquiries.
I totally get that business owners receive multiple emails and phone calls every week from SEO experts all around the world promising page 1 rankings but let’s look past that for just one minute.
There are very few businesses that can survive, let alone grow, in this day and age without a half decent website and online presence.
Believe it or not, there are actually quite a few decent digital marketers and agencies out there that can certainly assist in helping you with both branding and more importantly, lead generation.
Here are the top 10 reasons I strongly recommend meeting with a digital marketer as soon as possible.
1. A Health Check up
Many digital marketers offer a comprehensive health check and audit of your website and online presence for free.
These agencies often pay hundreds of dollars per month for the latest in reporting software and various tools.
They are usually more than willing to give you extremely important and useful insights into what you are doing well and where you may want to focus your time and energy.
With so much riding on websites, social media and online enquiries, I struggle to see a better way to spend an hour or so of your time in the coming weeks?
2. The Dreaded Algorithm Changes
Yes, by now the majority of us are aware that Google, and all other search engines, make many updates to their algorithms each and every year.
In 2018, Google reported over 3000 updates in the calendar year.
Many of these are quite minor but some are quite major and have significant impact on where you rank and also the potential for penalties.
I don’t believe that knowledge is power, instead I believe that knowledge has the potential to be power.
The more knowledge we have, the more opportunities and options will be available.
By educating ourselves, the better equipped we will be at making informed decisions and sourcing solutions to any issues or problems that may be present or face us in the future?
4. Justification and Clarity of existing Providers Performance
Many business owners are engaging with a digital marketer or agency and are unsure if the results are up to scratch?
I would be wary of meeting with a marketing consultant that bad mouths your existing provider.
However, they should be able to offer some advice and give honest feedback as well as recommendations of what to pay attention to even if they feel they are not going to win your business in the short term.
Quite often, by asking a few questions to your existing provider, it can give them added incentive to pay a little more attention to your campaign.
5. Budget Forecasting
No one likes it and few are prepared when it happens.
Perhaps your website is getting a little old and needs a refresh in the coming months or years?
Maybe you had a slow period repeatedly over the last few years and would like this year to be different?
You may be interested in increasing your social media presence as well as increasing leads in foreseeable future?
Why not create an implementation plan for creation of social profiles, content creation and posting as well as planning for increase in both enquiries and also sales that will be generated from the activity?
This may include having to look at hiring staff to cope with the extra work or buying more stock of your product etc?
By consciously planning for these times, they won’t come as a shock and we can also minimise the impact on our businesses and most importantly, our cash flow.
6. Identify Shifts in Market and Customer Behaviour
Once upon a time, in the days of cassettes and only 4 to 5 channels on the television, when we needed to find a plumber, we opened the yellow pages or simply asked our neighbour for a referral.
A good marketing consultant will be able to assist you in identifying your target audience as well as perhaps identifying new audiences?
A good marketing consultant will be able to help you fish where the fish and also forecast where the fish may be swimming in the future?
7. Networking Opportunities
Typically, digital marketers have fantastic networks and therefore make fantastic networkers.
Are you looking for a potential collaboration or forming a strategic alliance?
Chances are your marketing consultant could give you some name and numbers of some good reputable referrals?
Be sure to hand over some business cards and perhaps keep in contact as they may be able to refer some decent leads and business to you in the future?
8. Save You Money
While saving money is pretty high on everyone’s wish list I would recommend thinking about a better return on investment?
Marketing and lead generation is about investing rather than just saving money.
Invest $50 and see $100 return or $500 return.
Very few business owners have a clear and concise figure of what a customer, a sale or a lead actually costs them?
Wouldn’t it be nice to know that every qualified lead you generated over the last 12 months cost you an exact figure of say $8.50?
Wouldn’t this information be useful for business growth if you knew your average dollar sale was $3500 and you had a closing rate of 35%?
You could now quite easily plan to increase your business turnover by whatever percent purely based on increasing your current marketing investment.
Selling your product or service has numerous amounts of steps and stages.
We need to market and advertise on various channels and platforms, we need to generate a lead via website or landing page click, an opt in on a social media post or even generate a phone call.
These all come from the traffic we generate through our marketing and advertising actions.
What if your marketing consultant could help convert another 5% or 10% of your traffic to the next stage?
This would give you a much better return on your existing marketing investment and possibly even reduce the investment required?
9. Grow Your Database
Although I touched on a better return on investment in the previous point, I wanted to mention building your database more specifically based on a conversation.
I recently had a chat with a good friend who manages a camping store.
When I asked about their target audience, she gave the expected reply of outdoorsy, relatively fit 30 to 40-year old’s etc.
While yes, I agree these are the types of people they want coming into the store I suggested the actual audience, that is the easiest to sell to, are those people that have already bought something or even just visited the store.
Until our conversation, the camping store had no email database they could advertise to and advise of upcoming sales, new products or new manufacturers they now had onboard?
Pretty crazy when you think of the power of top of mind marketing?
A good digital marketer will be able to help you funnel contacts, store easily and advise on various ways to communicate with them to achieve some outstanding return on investment.
10. Help You Close More Deals
While marketing and sales are different fundamental aspects of your business, many good digital marketers will be able to offer advice and assist you to close more deals.
It is, I believe, the role of the digital marketer to be involved in the whole process.
From identifying existing and new target audiences, branding, traffic generation, leads and enquiries, data capture, sales, closing and also follow up marketing and client nurture.
The more experience, the more businesses your digital consultant has been involved with.
Chances are they have assisted other business owners in the same industry and perhaps even some of your direct competitors?
So, there you go, the top 10 reasons I believe spending an hour with a decent digital marketer could be the best hour you may invest this year.
Sales Manager and Digital Marketing Specialist.
Get authoritative and up-to-date recommendations from Google”
Google has just released a free, open-sourced plugin for wordpress called Site Kit. The plugin allows website owners and publishers to have easy access and usability to essential Google products. This would mean that your wordpress dashboard would easily display Google Analytics, Google Adsense, Google Search Console and Google PageSpeed insights. Which is awesome to monitor your website analytics, SEO and marketing campaigns.
What Google products are in Site Kit?
The first version of the plugin will include:
- Search Console: how users discover your content on Google Search.
- Analytics: how users navigate on your site.
- AdSense: Set up and monitor earnings.
- PageSpeed Insights: Identify performance optimizations for your site.
While this plugin is primarily used as a reporting and analytics tool – it will also
“…provide deep links into Google products for advanced reports and product configuration capabilities,”
– Mariya Moeva, Product Manager @ Google
How to set up Google Site Kit:
To get Google Site Kit plugin set up on your website only take sa few clicks. You can then add more modules to get further insights from other Google products.
To set up Google Site Kit on your wordpress website:
- Verify URL
- Connect Search Console
Other Google Site Kit Features
Milestones – the plugin will let you know when your hard work has paid off by creating and notfying you when you reach milestones.
Statistics – It’s important to know how your website visitors interact with your webpages. With Google Site Kit integration with google analytics – you are able to see impressions, clicks, average time and more key metrics right inside wordpress.
Site Kit by Google will provide website owners with easy to digest information and allow them to understand website traffic, audiences, and performance – all from the one place.
“Google plans to expand Site Kit’s capabilities and integrations in the future based on feedback from beta testers.” – searchenginejournal
Media Booth Australia’s sister company PRO FLIGHT was tasked with filming the fantastic water, lightning and aerial display that is carnival. One of Seaworld’s many attractions hosted throughout the year. Our ground crew couldn’t help themselves and took a broadcast camera and filmed the action, this is what they seen. Checkout this cool short clip.