10 Marketing Tools and Apps to Make Your Life Easier

Marketing is one of the most essential areas of business yet it can also be one of the first areas to be sidelined when business gets busy. Here are 10 marketing tools and apps to help you streamline your marketing and make your life a little easier.

1. WhatsApp

Available on iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Windows Phone and Nokia, WhatsApp allows you to send text messages, photos and videos to clients, team members, collaborators and associates who are also using WhatsApp for free.

2. Evernote

Evernote is a handy app that helps you keep text notes, audio and web pages in the one place for easy access. It’s perfect for writing blogs on the go and recording your ideas with the added ability to categorise them across all of your devices.

3. HootSuite

HootSuite allows you to manage your social media accounts in one simple dashboard. Schedule messages and tweets, track brand mentions and analyse social media traffic at the office or on the run.

4. Buffer

Buffer makes it easy to share pictures, videos and links with your social media fans and followers. Simply put what you want to share into Buffer, and it will be posted at the best times throughout the day, so more of your fans and followers see your updates.

5. Fast analytics

Fast Analytics helps you monitor your website and blog statistics on the go by syncing with your Google Analytics account. The app shows you your daily, weekly, monthly or yearly statistics as well as, traffic sources, search engine keyword reports and visitor browser, country and engagement reports,.

6. Portent’s Content Idea Generator

Having a hard time coming up with content marketing ideas? Portent’s Content Idea Generator can help, simply enter your subject and get hundreds of interesting topics and headlines for your blog posts, reports, e-books and more.

7. Google Alerts

Set Google Alerts for your industry, your business name, your name and any topics that are relevant to your area of expertise so you can see who is talking about your business, respond to any criticisms or thank someone for a mention or endorsement.

8. Wordle

Wordle is a great tool if you’re a blogger, or you are serious about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

Wordle creates word pictures from your text and helps you see what words are the most prominent in your copy. The bigger the word, the more frequently it has been used in your copy. So your goal is to ensure your keywords are largest in the image.

9. MindNode

MindNode is one of the hundreds of mind mapping apps available today that are ideal for strategising and planning on the run. Some are paid, and some are free, though most of them are all similar in their function so test a few to see which one you like best.

10. Grammarly

Avoid the embarrassment of missing spelling and grammatical errors in your marketing material, blogs and client communication with Grammarly. Grammarly reviews your text and corrects your grammar, spelling, word choice and style mistakes with far more accuracy than your usual spell check.

What marketing tools do you use regularly in your business?

Amanda


Four ways to identify more business opportunities

To be successful entrepreneurs we need to be continually innovating and looking for opportunities to grow our business.

But how do you find new opportunities to take your business to new markets and growth levels? Here are four ways to identify more business opportunities.

1. Listen to your potential clients and past leads

When you’re targeting potential customers listen to their needs, wants, challenges and frustrations with your industry. Have they used similar products and services before? What did they like/dislike? Why did they come to you? What are their objections with your products or services?

This will help you to find opportunities to develop more tailored products and services, hone your target market and identify and overcome common objections.

2. Listen to your customers

When you’re talking to your customers listen to what they saying about your industry, products and services. What are their frequently asked questions? Experiences? Frustrations? Feedback and complaints?

This valuable customer information will help you identify key business opportunities to expand and develop your current products and services.

3. Look at your competitors

Do a little competitive analysis (don’t let it lead to competitive paralysis though!) to see what they doing and more importantly not doing? Where are they falling down? What are they doing right? What makes customers go to them over you?

Analysing your competitors will help you identify key business opportunities to expand your market reach and develop your products and services.

4. Look at industry trends and insights

Subscribe to industry publications, join relevant associations, set Google alerts for key industry terms and news and follow other industry experts on social media. Absorb yourself in your industry and continually educate yourself on the latest techniques and trends.

How do you identify additional business opportunities?

Amanda


How to avoid being overwhelmed by your competitors

Researching your competitors can be a great way to keep up to date with industry developments, identify new market opportunities and find out what is and isn’t working for others.

But occasionally competitive analysis can turn into competitive paralysis, where you become so focused on what your competitors are doing that you lose sight of what you are trying to achieve or worse lose all motivation.

To prevent you from becoming overwhelmed and distracted by your competitors, here are five tips to keep your competition in the proper perspective.

1. Be a leader not a follower

When you change the way you do business or take an alternate course of action because of what your competitors are doing, they become the leader and you become the follower.

You are making business decisions based on someone else’s plans and goals instead of your own. Your business becomes dependent on what your competitors are doing, putting you always one step behind.

As a business owner you shouldn’t change your actions or decisions in reaction to any competitor. Certainly innovate when needed, though focus on building a business that works for you and value-adds to your customers.

2. Remember you won’t get every customer

It’s important to realise that you won’t get every customer, there will always be those that go elsewhere. So don’t covet your competitor’s customers, even if some of them once belonged to you. Instead focus on your own ideal target market and look to dominate there.

3. Be different

If you want to get ahead in business the key is to be different. You can certainly learn from other people’s successes and failures though don’t spend all of your time looking in the rear view or side mirrors watching what everyone else is doing, focus ahead on your goals and the best direction to go.

Develop your point of difference, what you can offer your clients and prospects that no one else can (or at least not as well). Perhaps it is in your processes, the quality of your products or services, your experience and expertise or the follow up services you provide. Focus on your differences and what your current clients say they love about you.

4. Look at their weaknesses not strengths

When you do look at what your competitors are doing, look for their weaknesses and the growth opportunities you have out of those, instead of focusing on their strengths and how you can replicate them. Find where they fall down or are vulnerable and turn those areas into your strengths.  

5. Stay focused on your customer, not your competition

If you want to grow your business and expand your market share, the best and quickest way to do it is to stay focused on your customer not your competitors.

What do your customers want and need? What are their problems and challenges? What results do they want from your product or service? The more you can get inside your customers mind the more relevant and targeted you can make your products, services and marketing. Give your customers what they want and they will not only keep coming back they will also refer their family, friends and colleagues.

So be a leader, find opportunities to be different, stay focused on what your customer wants and continually value-add and innovate to give it to them. Do this and you won’t have to worry about your competitors. They on the other hand will have a lot to worry about with you.

Amanda


Finding your point of difference

In business it pays to be different, but when you’re selling the same products or services as everyone else in your industry, it can be hard to find a way to differentiate yourself that doesn’t include competing on price.

While it can seem like a good idea to begin with, focusing on price alone means you have to work harder to make a profit, it leaves you vulnerable to competitors who undercut and you tend to attract a certain kind of customer – those difficult, fickle, price-driven customers who will up and leave you the moment they find a cheaper price.

So how do you find your point of difference when you have the same offering as others? Here are six ideas to get you thinking about how you can differentiate your business without competing on price.

1. Experience or expertise

Take a closer look at what you personally bring to your business and clients that your competitors don’t.

  • Have you been in business longer?
  • Have you had more industry experience?
  • Have you built your business out of your own need so have first-hand experience with the issue your clients are facing?
  • Do you specialise in an area most don’t?
  • Do you have any specific qualifications that are hard to attain or very exclusive?
  • Have you dealt with difficult or uncommon situations that have given you more specialised knowledge?
  • Are you or your business more well-known and trusted?
  • Have you worked for any major companies?
  • Have you written a book?
  • Are you a member of any exclusive groups or associations?
  • Have you won an award?

 
2. Better processes

Are there any key differences in the way you develop, produce (or source) and deliver your products or services compared to the way others do?

  • Is your project briefing more comprehensive to ensure more tailored products or services?
  • Do you take extra steps to ensure higher quality products or services?
  • Do you follow a specific process or formula that gets more consistent results?  
  • Do you have better client follow up to ensure they received what they needed/wanted?
  • Do you offer a guarantee that is more inclusive or longer than your competitors?

 
3. Exceptional quality and/or consistent results

Do you produce higher quality products or services or do you get greater or more consistent results? If you can prove you products or services are of a higher standard, have more value or achieve better results than your competitors, a potential client will quickly select your business even if you are more expensive.

  • Have you helped a large percentage of clients achieve something? (70% of clients achieve their goal weight within six months of training with you)
  • Do you have quantifiable results that are proven through testimonials or case studies? (Doubling profit, halving expenses)
  • Do your products last longer or work faster?
  • Are they more environmentally friendly or energy efficient?
  • Do you use more stronger, durable and/or safer materials?
  • Do you as a business have a better safety record?
  • Do you have the exclusive rights to sell a particular brand or product?

 
4. A wider range of products or services

Do you or could you offer a wider range of products or services than your competitors?

  • Do you have a wider range of colours, shapes or styles?
  • Do you have it available in different material?
  • Do you have better or more add-ons?
  • Do you offer (or have you aligned with other businesses to offer) a one stop shop of services?
  • Do you include “how to” guides, workshops, or webinars on how to get the most from your products or as a value add for your services?

 
5. More personalised and/or quicker service

Do you provide a really quick turnaround on products or services compared to others in your industry? Or a more personalised service where your competitors are faceless? Many people will choose a business and pay more if products and services are received quicker and/or they have the convenience of being able to contact someone easily.

  • Will customers always talk to a human being or only be on hold for a certain period of time? (particularly important in industries where you are normally left on hold or have to do everything through a website and not talk to someone)
  • Are you easier to get hold of?
  • Are you available for longer hours or have an emergency after hours call service (if applicable to your industry)?
  • Do you have a set time you answer enquiries by?
  • Do you ship products or deliver services quicker?
  • Do you have a guaranteed delivery time?
  • Do you give your clients more one-on-one time?
  • Do you spend more quality time getting to know clients in order to help them better?

 
6. Well-known clients

Do any well-known individuals or brands use your products or services? Being able to differentiate yourself by the quality of your clients can be a great way to establish credibility and generate publicity for your business.

Not only do you appeal to their fans and clients, people will naturally assume you are good if high-profile people or businesses use and endorse your products or services.

Ask your well-known clients if they would mind giving you a testimonial (video is ideal) about how they have enjoyed your products and services. Also ask if you can use their name and logo on your website and in other promotional material, as this will help build credibility and rapport with potential customers.

There are literally hundreds of ways to differentiate your business and establish your value. The key is to get a little creative. Look closely at the needs and frustrations of your potential clients and what your competitors are doing and more importantly not doing, very soon you will start to identify your existing points of difference and additional opportunities for you to differentiate.

Amanda


Eight tips to generate more repeat customers

Repeat customer sales are the cheapest and easiest business you will ever generate, so it makes sense that more of your time should be spent nurturing and leveraging your existing customer relationships than bringing in new business.

But how do you keep customers coming back and buying again and again? Here are eight tips to help you turn those once off buyers into loyal, profitable, repeat customers.

1. Develop products or services that have a repeat buy

One of the most important factors in getting repeat business is to have products and services that can be bought repeatedly or added onto. Being able to upsell, upgrade, add on or repeatedly sell products or services to your current customers will help you develop a constant stream of income without a large marketing outlay.

2. Get your customers details

It sounds obvious doesn’t it, though you’d be surprised at how many businesses don’t capture the contact details of the customers that buy from them. But the trouble is if you don’t who your customers are how can you market to them and stay in touch?

If you’re wondering how to capture their details, offer an opt-in registration for a free report/checklist/cheat sheet or newsletter on your website, give them free gift or gift certificate for filling in a contact form, include contact details on feedback forms and surveys and/or hold a competition.

3. Send “you’re due” reminders

Keep track of when customers are due for your product or services whether it is a refill, check-up, follow up or replacement.

Think of dentists and chiropractors who let you know when you are due for an appointment, or mechanics and pest specialists who put stickers on your car or cupboards with when you are due for your next service or pest check-up. Think about how you could implement reminders to help prompt your customers to buy again.

4. Create a customer loyalty reward program

Reward your loyal customers with a bonus or free product or service once they have bought a certain number of products or services from you or spent a certain amount of money (think “buy 10 and get the 11th free, a VIP discount or a gift certificate after a spend of [x] amount).

Whatever you choose, just make sure the incentive is high enough so they will want to keep coming back.

5. Send out a “thank you for buying” offer

Once your customer has bought your product or service send out a special offer or gift voucher (valid for a limited time) to use with their next purchase as a thank you. This can be quite effective in encouraging your customers to buy again soon after their last purchase.

6. Stay in contact

Staying in touch with your customers, seeing how they are going, telling them about new products and services and informing them about specials and promotions can help you keep your business in the forefront of their minds and give them the prompt they need to buy again.

7. After sales follow up

Never underestimate the power in following up after a sale. A simple call to see how your customer has found your product or service can be a great way to get valuable feedback, testimonials and have the opportunity to upsell with different products and services.

8.  Go the extra mile

If you really want to have repeat customers, go beyond their expectations and give them what they can’t get anywhere else. It could be as simple as taking the time to answer all of their questions to creating a wow customer service experience, anything to make an impact and keep them coming back.

How do you keep your customers coming back?

Amanda


‘Tis the season to be busy – four tips to boost downtime profits

For some business owners the Christmas and New Year period is one of their busiest times, but for others it can be nervously slow.  So how do you ensure you generate as much income as possible through the holiday season? Here are four tried and tested tips to help you boost your downtime profits.

1. Have a special

Specials can be a great way to generate business though you do need to do it wisely. Not just to make sure you preserve as much of your profit margin as possible, but because discounting too much or having specials too regularly can make you seem desperate, and it can also make customers question your pricing and the value of your products and services.

So how do you not sound desperate? It’s all in the way you market your sale. Your sale should be seen to be of a bigger benefit to your customers than to you. For example saying “Giving you/your business a Merry little Christmas with our …% off sale” is far better than hinting or saying directly that business is slow or we need to move stock.   

2. Develop limited edition or “limited time only” products, services and packages

Never underestimate the power of limited edition or “limited time only” products, services and packages. Scarcity and competition can be great selling motivators. Build desire by making your limited products, services and packages attractive, full of value and of course, strictly limited.

3. Value add

Value adding can be a great way to increase sales and a good alternative to discounting, provided add-ons are valuable and relevant to your audience. Think about what bonuses you could add in to make your product or service a “must-have” in the eyes of your customers, and get them buying now and not later.

4. Do a little PR

While some of the more major publications have published their Christmas editions, there are still a number of opportunities around for some Christmas themed PR, particularly in publications that are local or published more frequently. Don’t neglect blogs and large websites either as many of them will also do Christmas gift guides and features.

If you have a product or service that would make a good Christmas gift or you could do up some suggested gift ideas using a number of your products and services (like “Ten gifts your [mum/dad/partner/kids/pet] will love this Christmas”) it’s worth doing up a media release or quick editorial and sending it out. Also keep an eye on SourceBottle to monitor requests and opportunities.

If you don’t have a product or service that would be considered a Christmas gift look at other different Christmas and New Year angles you could use. For example, a Financial Planner could share “[x] tips for spending within your means this Christmas” or an accountant could share “[x] tips to get your business fit for the New Year”. Have a bit of fun and get a little creative in order to find ways you can piggyback of the holiday season.

What are you doing to boost your business through the downtime?

Amanda


Four marketing mistakes that could be costing you big money and business

When done right marketing can generate you thousands of dollars in sales and grow your business to levels you had only dared dream of. But when done wrong, it can be a very costly exercise, not just in wasted spending, but also in lost opportunity and credibility.

To ensure your marketing is effective as possible, here are four of the most common mistakes businesses make regularly that could be costing you money and potential business.

#1 – Not following up

One of the biggest and most expensive mistakes you can make in marketing is to not follow up.

Whether you’ve attended a networking event, sent a sales letter, conducted a meeting or distributed a media release, if you want to increase your marketing results – always follow up.

Not every letter is delivered, not every email is seen, not every business card is kept and not every media release is opened. Following up gives you a second chance to convert the sale or opportunity.

#2 – Not up or cross selling existing customers

The second biggest marketing mistake a business can make is to focus only on bringing in new business instead of utilising their existing customers and database.

These are people who already have a need for your products or services and have seen the value in buying with you or at the very least hearing from you.  

While bringing in new business is important, look to up sell, cross sell and generate repeat sales your existing customers and database. They will always be the easiest leads to convert.

#3 – Targeting everyone

The third marketing mistake is to not be clear on your target market. There is no quicker way to waste your marketing dollars than to target anyone and everyone.

To be more strategic with your marketing know who needs your product or service and who has the problems you solve.

Once you know who they are look at their key motivators and influencers. What is most important to them? What keeps them up at night? What do they read? Who do they listen to? Who do they follow on social media? Where do they network?

Start to develop a profile of your audience so you can identify strategies and platforms that will make your marketing more targeted.

#4 – Not establishing your value

The fourth mistake is to not clearly articulate your value and why a customer should come to you above anyone else.

Even the cleverest advertising and most targeted marketing campaigns won’t help you if you can’t establish your value and convert the people you are talking to.

Before you embark on your next marketing campaign or print thousands of brochures, work out your target market’s needs, challenges and frustrations, how you can add value and why you are different to every other person out there offering the same products and services.

Are any of these marketing mistakes costing you business? What can you do today to ensure your marketing is more effective, targeted and profitable?

Amanda


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