Practice Your Copywriting Skills with Small Business Dream

Small business owners rarely write their own copy. Most of the time, they have copywriters to do it for them.  The great thing with copywriting is it’s a learnable skill. It’s not rocket science. You can start with a few basics and build your copywriting skills as a business owner.

Let’s take a look at copywriting and find opportunities to practice copywriting for your landing page, sales funnels, and email campaigns.

More Research, Less Writing

Copywriting looks a bit too easy. After all, you just need to find the right words to get more people to buy from you. But after spending hundreds of hours on your first copy, you realized you can’t just write a bunch of emails, send them to everyone on your email list, and expect to find more customers.

Copywriting is 80% research, 20% writing. So, before writing your copy, you’ll need to get these down first:

Value proposition. This answers the question, “What’s in it for me?” or “Is it for me?” To answer the question, you’ll need to do some research. Interview people, conduct a survey, look for customer reviews at Amazon, or visit forums like Reddit. Try to look at people’s problems and frustrations, and create your value proposition around those issues.

Target Audience. These are the people who will benefit most from your product or service, also known as your ideal clients. One commonly used method is to come up with a detailed buyer persona to guide your marketing efforts.

Customer Segmentation. Since you’ll be doing a lot of email marketing through your autoresponders, segmenting your email list is a must. Lay down a list of categories in your demographic such as age, gender, specific interests, brands, etc. This will come in handy when writing your email copy for your drip mails and email campaigns.

We won’t go much into the details like the length, type of language, and font size. You can find lots of video tutorials on copywriting over the internet. Instead, we’ll give you some ideas on how to practice your copywriting with our Small Business Dream Sales and Marketing Automation.

Landing Page Copy

Internet marketers spend a ton of work on their landing pages, for good reason. Landing pages are essentially print ads and commercials on a web page, but they’re more specific to a given audience and allows for user interaction (call to action).

A well-written landing page copy can instantly double your sales and is way more cost-effective compared to traditional advertising. However, you can’t just read one article and write amazing copy for your landing pages overnight. You need to do some actual work and test things out yourself. Small Business Dream Sales and Marketing Automation helps you become a better copywriter by giving you templates to experiment on.

Notice there’s no navigation like a typical website. Landing pages are more direct-response — visitors will either leave your page or take the offer (click the ‘call to action’ button). Your copy should state your value proposition in your title and copy text.

You can slowly improve your landing page copy by making a slightly different version of it to see if it makes any difference on your conversion rates. Small Business Dream provides an easy way to do your own A/B Split Testing or you can try our DFY (done for you) package and have our team of experts set it up for you.

Sales Funnel Copy — the AIDA Principle

For those who are new to sales funnels, AIDA stands for Attention/Awareness, Interest, Desire, and Action. These are sequential steps your visitors take in the buying process. Some compare this to a buyer’s journey.

Sales funnels are extremely versatile. You can use it solely for sales conversion or for many other purposes such as up-selling, cross-selling, one-time offers, customer acquisition, lead generation, and so on. You can practice your copywriting skills using Small Business Dream’s sales funnel template.

Begin with your title and value proposition, similar to a landing page. However, with sales funnels, you can take a step further. You’ll be able to narrow down your audience to a particular type of customer based on how they respond to your offer. They can take the offer straight away, choose a different option, or they can decide later, in which case, you can keep them interested by offering freebies, one-time offers, and newsletters.

Sales funnels are a bit slower compared to direct marketing, but the goal is pretty much the same. One advantage of using a well-executed sales funnel is that it almost guarantees high-quality leads and repeat customers every single time. Combined with a solid email marketing strategy, sales funnels are an amazing, must-have tool for your small business.

Small Business Dream Sales and Marketing Automation offers a complete suite of tools designed to rapidly grow your sales from landing pages, sales funnels, customer acquisition, email auto-responders and more.

Email Marketing Copy

Email never gets out of style. Don’t believe it? Find any Android and iOS phone that doesn’t have a built-in email app, or any online service that doesn’t require an email account (think Google Play, Apple Store, etc.). However, getting people to open, let alone respond to your emails is more challenging than ever.

The problem lies with not being able to properly segment your email list and poor copywriting skills, e.g. sounding too robotic or salesy. The key to successful email marketing is to be relevant with your recipients. Hence, you have to be very specific with your email copy.

What’s truly amazing is that with Small Business Dream Sales and Marketing Automation, you can fine-tune your email campaigns, drip mails, and follow-ups, all the while using automation. Set up a survey page, and automate certain tasks like sending them to your landing page, sales funnel, or switch to a different email series when clicking specific items on your survey page.

Another strategy we’ve talked about in our previous blog about the best follow up tips for small businesses is by giving value each time you send an email like a newsletter or links to highly informative blog articles. Once again, be very specific whom you’re sending to. All your email marketing efforts will be a waste of time if you’re just sending them out to random people.

Conclusion

Need help promoting your own business? We’d like to spend some time with you.  We offer a FREE Sales and Profitability consultation where we identify key aspects in your business to rapidly boost your sales. Come visit us at www.smallbizdream.com to learn more about our 5-step system to rapidly grow your sales and profits with less stress.

Turning Slow Months into Opportunities to Grow Your Business

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Businesses aren’t always bustling with customers buying. Some businesses are in a lull during summer and post-holiday winter. People’s spending habits change. They go on summer trips, spend more time outdoors or they had to pinch the dollar after spending everything for the holiday season. But there are things you can do to prepare your business for changing spending habits to help see you through the dry spell. In fact, this could be an opportunity to set your business for massive growth in time for the “days of plenty.”

1.    Improving the customer experience

You should always be working on ways to improve your customer’s experience. Set a priority system, if you haven’t done already. If you’re a brick and mortar store, move merchandise a bit to improve traffic and freshen your look. Set the vibe with posters, slogans, or works of art. Note how your customers shop, what they pick up, what they look at and where they wander. Anything you could think of to improve your customers’ overall experience, slowdowns can give you that opportunity.

Say you’re running a restaurant that serves Italian cuisine. Having replicas of Italian renaissance art or paintings of popular destinations can lend a traditional Italian vibe to your restaurant. Customers will start coming in, not just for the pasta, but for the whole experience. It’s one of the keys to Starbucks’ worldwide success as an iconic brand. People come not just for the daily dose of coffee; it’s the whole coffee experience they’ve grown to know and love.

Same goes if you have an e-commerce site or online store. You can use downtimes to improve your website by making it easier for customers to navigate or make buying and paying more frictionless. This brings us to our next point.

2.    Working on your online presence

There’s no excuse for not having a web presence, particularly during slow months. Popular webhosting platforms have made it easier than ever to create your own. If you want to test it out, try using a sales and marketing automation tool that comes with its own page builder/editor like Small Business Dream. Unlike most generic webhosting platforms, Small Business Dream is made specifically for small business owners like you.

You don’t have to start from scratch. If you’re a restaurant owner, simply choose Restaurant from a list of templates, and you’ll be greeted with a web page specific to your industry, complete with background and featured images, sample text, and call-to-action. Slap your brand and logo to make it truly yours. Jazz it up with pictures of your mouthwatering dishes, and promote your site through email and social media.

Once you’ve established an online presence, you become more searchable, enabling your business to gain more clients through online visits, thus maintaining your cash flow even during slow months.

3.      Empowering your employees

Use their spare time to level up and acquire new skills. Teach them how to be a sales and marketing pro. With cutting edge technology in sales and marketing automation, we can condense the learning process significantly. What has taken many top earners and marketing legends to master can now be learned in less than a year at just a fraction of the cost (before we have Internet, they had to spend hours finding leads and qualify each one over the phone).

Think of how many hours you’ll save by getting your team up to speed. They can reach their goal, say 10 to 20 leads per day, in just one or two hours instead of eight. Multiply that with the number of hours per week and the number of sales people in your team and see how your company can save hundreds of hours for other productive endeavors. This could mean more sales and bigger opportunities to grow your business.

4.    Finding business partners

Successful businesses are built through partnerships. In retail businesses, this could mean finding the best suppliers that would allow you to get the highest profit margins, or in the case of auto repair shops, provide you with both high quality aftermarket and genuine OEM parts at a lower price. Having less customers during these slow months means you’ll have more time looking for these people.

There are many ways to find partners. One way involves finding business partners through social media. Of course, not everyone on social media are genuinely interested teaming up with you (some aren’t even real people, i.e., bots and fake accounts). You’ll need a tool to curate your “likes” or “follows” to see if their businesses do exist or if they really want to build serious business relationship with you. Small Business Dream offers a way to curate your leads through the Social Connect function. This allows you to find potential partners and weed out bad ones in one sweep.

A second option involves meeting up with people in business conferences, expos, and networking events. This requires social skills, a compelling business idea, and the ability to handle objections. This type of event allows you to network with likeminded people who you can partner with – or at the very least become a customer. You’ll have to own this skill through experience and gaining a lot of exposure in social events.

Conclusion

Regardless of the industry you’re in, you’ll find many practical uses of sales and marketing automation for your business. Struggling to find high quality leads? Train your realtors and insurance agents to set up sales funnels and survey pages to qualify unlimited number of leads. Other businesses like home improvement, dining, beauty care, and repair service, can also find lots of creative ways of using sales and marketing automation.  Need more sales ideas? Small Business Dream can lend a hand through their mentoring services and help oversee your sales people.

As you can see, slowdowns doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being less productive; you’re simply channeling your resources to further your business goals over the long haul.

How Small Businesses Can Take Advantage of Boxing Day Sales

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Sales and discounts are everywhere this time of the year as businesses gear up for the shopping spree. For many small businesses, this could be their chance at getting more customers, boosting sales, and reigniting old customers. Customers who missed out on Black Friday and Cyber Monday would certainly be scrambling for Boxing Day sales, so take the time prepping up for the holiday frenzy.

Gear up for the Occasion

As a small business owner, this could be your chance to reengage customers who haven’t bought from you in a long time. What better chance than to entice them back with a nice juicy Boxing Day Sale?

Try to be competitive with your pricing. Finding the sweet spot is a fine balancing act which requires some knowledge in marketing and managing your cash flow. However, since every store in the city will be dropping prices as much as 25 to 50 percent, you might want to consider a sale if nothing more than to stay competitive with your competition. Think of price cuts (also known as “loss leader”) as part of your marketing expenses.

Freeing up your store from old inventory and putting them on sale is also a good way to beat the competition. Make sure they’re still in good condition, though, to avoid hurting your reputation.

Maximize Customer Engagement: Online and Offline Sales

Small businesses don’t usually end up having “blockbuster deals” like you see in big chain stores because they can’t beat them on price so don’t even try to compete with them. Instead, the more successful small businesses have their own signature product, speciality goods, or service not found at any other place.

You might have the perfect several items sitting on your store for some time. A Boxing Day sale is the perfect time to mark them down to attract sales volume.

Having an e-commerce site or a Facebook Page for your business can also help maximize customer engagement if done correctly. Alternatively, you can set an email autoresponder to notify your customers a day ahead when they subscribe to your newsletter. Small Business Dream suite of tools can vastly improve shopping experience by engaging with customers on multiple channels such as phone, SMS, social media, email, landing page, sales funnel, and so on, whichever method they prefer.

Follow up on Your New Customers on Boxing Day

Aside from being a great way to maintain customer loyalty, one of the great things about the holiday season is the amount of information you’ll get from new customers. You’ll need a tool such as CRM to collect customer information (online or in-store visits and purchases), manage your customer database, and maintain customers’ interest through customer communication (email autoresponders and newsletters subscriptions) long after the shopping frenzy is over.

Shoppers are in the holiday spirit so they are more likely to sign up for newsletters to be notified for the latest deals to make sure they never miss out on anything. They want to know which products will be on sale and when. CRM makes this all possible for you, at little or no expense to your business.

You should also collect new customer information even before Boxing Day starts by using CRM to conduct customer surveys or newsletter subscriptions via social media. Small Business Dream puts all the information from your Survey Page or Sales Funnel straight to your customer database, segment your customers right off the bat and send them on to your email autoresponders.

You can do it the old way and let Small Business Dream take it from there. Have your in-store customers fill up a short survey or ask for their business card and quickly add them to your database using Small Business Dream’s Card Scan feature, or you can do it yourself on your spare time.

Conclusion

Take this opportunity to grow your business and get noticed this holiday season. Use technology and your creative flair to your advantage, but most importantly to bring joy and satisfaction to your valued customers. So go ahead and make this Boxing Day an unforgettable shopping experience!

Learn more on how you can successfully build your small business through sales and marketing automation. Visit SmallBizDream.com and start using our suite of tools to increase your sales and profitability like never before.

How Cash Flow Can Make or Break Your Business

Managing cash flow is one of the critical aspects of business success and survival. As much as 82% of businesses crash and burn because of poor cash flow management. The smaller the business, the more crucial and challenging it is to maintain a steady income and pay the bills on time.

But what exactly is cash flow, and why is there so much talk about cash flow management when it comes to business? Let’s go through some basic concepts, understand how it affects our businesses, and find out solutions to improve cash flow.

Understanding Cash Flow

Cash flow is the movement of cash into or out of an account. This is known as the inflow or outflow of cash in a business organization. When more money is coming in through the sale of goods or services than the actual cost of running a business, it is said to be cash flow positive; cash flow negative if it’s the other way around.

Businesses will experience cash flow positives and negatives throughout their lifetime. Start-ups are the most difficult to manage for having low cash reserves and susceptibility to undercapitalization. However, they’ll have better opportunities to accelerate their business through loans, stocks, or bonds after demonstrating their ability to handle cash flow properly (known as cash flow statement).

Operational cash flow is the movement of cash during its regular business activities, e.g. receiving payments from customers, settling monthly dues, and paying out employees. Investment cash flow applies when a business acquires properties to further its goals. For instance, acquiring a vehicle through a financial institution can help boost inflow by speeding up delivery and reducing logistical cost.

Difference between Profit and Cash Flow

Some financial experts use the metaphor of looking at a still photo and watching videos clip to differentiate profit and cash flow. Profit is usually regarded as stationary data, which is determined by comparing the opening and closing balance of a company’s primary account or by its total net worth by the end of the year.

Cash flow provides a better picture of how businesses performed over the course of time. It tells us where the money is coming from, where it’s going to, and most importantly how fast. Without cash flowing in and out of the business, the whole system will come to a grinding halt. All gains in the form of assets, products, or inventories are of little consequence at this point. Having no cash to work with, businesses are on the verge of bankruptcy.

In other words, a company can increase its net worth but may actually lose the business if it doesn’t generate inflow through sales, and utilize these resources to pay the right people working for the company and acquire the best technology to improve business.

How Cash Flow Affects Your Business

Managing cash flow can be a tough balancing act for small business owners. Increasing inflow and keeping outflow at a minimum on a shoestring budget is especially challenging for small business owners.

Consider the following aspects of cash flow management:

Cost of running a business. The initial cost of starting a business is just a tiny part compared to the actual cost of running it. People can get this information through research and interviews with successful business owners. Operational costs make up the outflow including lease, water and electricity bills, fuel and maintenance, inventories, employees’ salaries and commissions, monthly amortizations, taxes, insurance, contingencies, penalties, and surcharges (if you’re not careful), and the list goes on. Expenses are either fixed or fluctuating. Some experts suggest putting a little extra and exaggerate the cost at the planning stage. The purpose is not to deter you from starting your own business, but to prepare yourself mentally and financially for eventualities. Running out of cash and borrowing only when you needed one sets you up for business failure.

Real and potential income. How much money can you realistically make with your business? Some businesses, especially new ones, can be overly optimistic and assume they can strike it rich too quickly. We need to consider other factors as well, such as the competition, supply and demand, sustainability, market value, what the trends are and where they’re headed for, and so on. Unlike the previous one, we need to be a little conservative on this. We cannot expect our chosen industry to follow the same trend all throughout the year. Our businesses should be flexible enough to adapt to changes. If the demand for a certain product or service drops, what are your other options? Do you have a method in place that allows you to get more customers and build relationships with them? The key is to maintain a specific number of customers to keep the ball rolling in order to stay in business.

Method of payment. Your business may receive payments either on a cash basis or receivables on a weekly or monthly basis – or you may have both. Cash-based transactions allow businesses to have a steady inflow of cash, whereas receivables carry some risks due to some customers not settling their dues or paying too late, costing a lot of money to your company. You can mitigate the risk by imposing penalties for late payment or encouraging them to pay early by offering rebates and discounts for settling their dues early on. Just keep in mind that any delay with the cash will cost you money. If your business needs to pay out employees on the 25th of the month and you still have a lot of receivables unpaid, you might have to borrow on interest just to get your employee’s paid (this justifies why you need to penalize late payments).

 

Steps to Improve Cash Flow

With these in mind, let’s look at some of the ways to improve cash flow in your business.

  1. Forecast your cash flow. From your research and interviews with business owners create a chart of your projected inflows and outflows for the whole year. Make sure to include all the small details and make it as comprehensive as possible. Use this to benchmark your progress when conducting your business.
  2. Identify your key performance indicators (KPI). This answers the question where most of your resources should go to keep your business running. Some businesses failed just because they didn’t use their resources on things that would help improve its overall performance. For instance, not having enough inventories to cater a large number of customers or not investing in technology or equipment to speed up delivery and enhance customer experience will have consequences in your cash inflow.
  3. Manage your inventories. Too much, or too little, can make your business cash flow negative over time. You need to be able to predict customer orders to keep a steady flow of cash going into your business, but at the same time, we want to avoid excess or unwanted inventories sitting on the shelf for too long.
  4. Faster inflow, slower outflow. Perhaps the most important principle when it comes to cash flow management is speeding up the inflow of cash and slowing down the outflow. To increase inflow, obviously you need more customers. But more importantly, you need to develop good customer relationships, and have a loyal customer base to keep the money flowing in. Customer referrals from loyal customers could increase the inflow even more, which is why we put a strong emphasis on customer relationships with our Small Business Dream mini-CRM. To minimize outflow, you’ll just have to keep the money in your primary account for as long as you can. If you have to invest in technology, property, or equipment, acquire them through a financial institution instead of paying out in cash. The longer the amortization period, the smaller your monthly dues are, and the bigger your potential inflow will be.

Take your business to the next level through sales and marketing automation. Visit SmallBizDream.com and start using our suite of tools to increase your sales and profitability like never before.

The 4 Content Marketing Steps To Increase Sales

Content marketing is one of the most successful methods of customer engagement used by businesses for centuries. Although the buzz around content marketing is new, it’s been around way before we had the Internet or the very first website in 1991.

Content creation is probably the most challenging and time-consuming aspect of acquiring and maintaining customer engagement. Rules have changed quite a lot since Google Panda, which now favors quality, substance, and relevance over quantity.

This gives users a much better experience by providing them only the most relevant information from online searches, and, from the standpoint of online marketers, an incentive to create high quality, shareable content throughout the Internet.

 

Defining Your Target Audience

Content marketing revolves around the target audience, customers and clients, who are the main source of revenue for nearly all kinds of businesses.

Defining you target audience should always be the first priority before starting off with any business venture. Over time businesses may expand or evolve to include additional products or services which could also mean redefining the target audience in every stage of a company’s lifetime.

For a small brick-and-mortar business the target audience could be just the people within or around the city who might be interested with what the company has to offer. However if the brick-and-mortar business has an online component then it could include a national or even international audience.

 

Setting the Tone and Purpose of Your Content

When you’re absolutely certain about your target audience, the next step is to determine the purpose of creating content. Depending on which stage of the sales funnel you’re currently working on, you could also set a different purpose in creating your content. Some of these include:

•     To stimulate interest
•     To inform or educate
•     To entertain
•     To persuade

Content creation, to be most effective, should be a part of a larger system which works hand in hand with every aspect of the business instead of being a separate strategy on its own. Most sales funnels rely on a systematic approach to content creation to lead their clients from one stage to another.

During the initial stages of client acquisition, the purpose for creating content is usually to stimulate viewer’s interest.

Writing copy for landing pages is one great example of how content can be used to start a conversation with the clients. This may also include subscription to a free monthly newsletter or a quick survey for collecting relevant customer information.

Potential clients respond differently to different content. If they want to know more about the company, its products or services, your purpose should be to inform or educate the audience about the benefits and advantages of using or applying them, whether it’s in a form of free content, an informative blog post, infographic, or YouTube video.

The latter part which involves your prospects taking action requires a more persuasive form of content or writing. Content creators needs to be able to make the final push to lead conversion by conveying a sense of urgency and what they stand to lose for not taking action.

Following-up with your prospects is essential to lead conversion at this stage of the customer’s journey.

Being able to define the purpose of content creation allows businesses to accomplish their sales and marketing goals more efficiently.

 

Maintaining Interest

Holding viewer’s interest is the next important aspect of an effective content marketing strategy. It not only helps with lead conversion, but in the long run, it would also help increase the company’s visibility through online search or social media.

When creating content, keep the following characteristics in mind:

  • Usefulness – Viewing or reading content will use up some time from your target audience. Creating content that is useful is an incentive to spend more of their time viewing or reading them in the future.
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  • Relevance – What’s in it for them? Creating content that is on point to the viewers or readers is a sure way to keep an audience. This applies to email sequences where clients receive updates based on how they respond to a given call-to-action (CTA) or data gathered from subsequent surveys.
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  • Timeliness – Proper timing is also key to maintaining interest. Blog postings, for instance, should follow a certain schedule or pattern where readers could expect something new from time to time. This applies to any type of content whether it’s a YouTube v-log, new findings or research, press release, etc.

 

Improving Online Visibility

 Online content can be used to leverage your marketing efforts due to the fact that it can be viewed or shared across multiple channels. This is particularly true with high quality, shareable content.

Marketing experts have already developed some of the most effective ways to increase visibility through search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), email marketing, and social media.

Each method has its own ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ but for most startups with limited budgets, improving visibility can be achieved through social media and email marketing.

Some CRM services incorporate these two features to enable small businesses to communicate with their clients at very little or no expense at all. Link-building through SEO or paid inclusion in search engines through SEM, although quite effective in extending reach, could entail higher expenses.

 

A Better Alternative for Small Business Startups

 Having a good sales and marketing app that goes hand in hand with creating content that really speaks to your audience is by far the most reasonable, if not the only way of starting up and growing a small business.

Small Business Dream goes beyond by offering client acquisition tools through its survey creator and landing pages along with sales and marketing automation features. Find out how at www.smallbizdream.com.