Tag Archive : how-to

Just like all things in life, your business changes over the course of time. To you, these changes feel natural. But, what about to your customers? Little things such as discontinuing a certain product, or big things like moving locations may take your customers by surprise. It’s best to avoid a frenzy of confusion, and keep your customers in the know. Easier said than done, right? Follow these tips about creating a great business announcement:

Prioritize your Content
If your business is moving in a few months, for instance, you would want your announcement to say something along the lines of “Guess What? We’re Moving!” first and foremost. All the details, logistics, and less important content should follow. Just make sure to start off on the right foot.

Use Your Best Writing Skills
Any piece of content you show your customers is a direct representation of your business. No matter what kind of business you run, you definitely want to use proper grammar, parallel structure, and a tone that suits your business image. You want your customers to remember the content of your announcement, not a spelling error!

Make It Visually Appealing
This way, your announcement will grab people’s attention and they will be more likely to read on. Take the time to experiment with colors and fonts that represent your business, but also appeal to the eye.

Use a Variety of Mediums
If your business has something important to say, then you need to do everything you can to be heard. This means sending the announcement via mail, email, social media platforms, etc. If you are unsure where to begin, start with us. On SLN, we allow you to share your content with just the click of a button.

Just in case none of that made sense, here’s what a great business announcement looks like:

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Sometimes a formal business announcement is the best way to help customers through a change within your business. Keep them informed, and your business is sure to flourish.

We totally get it, not every business is equipped to offer price reductions, percentages off, buy-one-get-one, or as we like to call them, “deals.” That doesn’t mean SLN isn’t for you! With the SLN platform you can create endless promotional content. If you aren’t sure what to offer, check out some of these ideas to get you started:

Free Consultation- This is a great option for businesses that want to get people in the door but don’t necessarily have the option of offering discounts.

Free Quote- Similarly to free consultations, this promotion gets the ball rolling with the client.

Learn More About Personal Loans and Lines of Credit- Use the platform to highlight details about the different programs and services you offer. This will insure you always have relevant content on your profile while also letting consumers learn more about your company.

Online Banking now Available on an App- Create campaigns that feature different products or services that are unique to your business. Not only will this help differentiate you from other businesses, it will also guarantee you always have fresh content for your consumers.

Speak to a Professional- When in doubt, offer up your expertise! Consumers like knowing that they can talk to a real person when they need help. By letting clients know they can speak to a professional at any time, you’re helping to create a more personal relationship.

 

Can’t quite remember how to log into your SLN account? No problem! Follow this easy cheat sheet to help jog your memory:

Step One: Go to members.savelocalnow.com.

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Step Two: Enter your username and password and click “LOGIN.”

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Step Three: If you have forgotten your password, click the “Forgot Password?” button.

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Step Four: Enter your email and then click “Submit.” You will receive an email from us shortly.

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What is branding? To some, it is the visual identity a company presents to the public, to others it is a business’ overall reputation. More often than not though, branding is a misunderstood field, often generalized and simplified by many. Because of its ever-changing nature, and our inability to concretely measure its success like we do with sales, market share, stock price, etc., branding is often viewed as an insubstantial add-on. Truthfully though, neglecting a brand is not only naïve but also shortsighted for any company, big or small.

When managed properly, a company’s brand can be their most valuable asset. Of all the things a business owns, its brand is one of the few items that will never depreciate. Rarely do companies intentionally manage their brands as the valuable resource that they are. Effective branding improves the visibility of and respect for a product, service, or company. It draws attention and can drive sales. It can also enhance margins, as customers are far more willing to pay more for a product or service from a company that they know and trust.

It is also important to remember that anything done or not done within an organization effects how the brand is perceived.  Company leaders who ignore this are doomed to fail. A company’s brand is not just their logo or mission statement. Branding includes everything from how a PR department deals with customer complaints to how a company is being represented on social media. A business’ brand needs to stand for something and give the customers something to believe in.  It must be presented with clarity, consistency and continuity. With the explosion in digital technology, mobile and social media companies now have the opportunity for a closer, more intimate relationship with consumers.  This increased connection between businesses and their consumers demands a stronger more consistent brand identify.

Here are 5 quick tips for how to better your brand:

1.     First off, build a brand you’re passionate about. Your enthusiasm will shine through all of your branding efforts and will get your customers excited about your product.

2.     Define your brand, and become an expert. Take the time to determine exactly what your company is and what makes it unique. Whether you are looking to gain media attention, attract new clients or build your business, you should focus your efforts on becoming an expert in your field.  Keep it relevant to the goals you want to achieve.

3.     Incorporate a philanthropic component. People are drawn to companies that have a strong sense of corporate responsibility. Building a reputation and status with the community will help establish your company as a trustworthy and compassionate business.

4.     Establish an online presence. Social media, online networking opportunities, and web-based marketing are vital when it comes to establishing your brand. Like previously stated, the increasing importance of digital technology, mobile, and social media give companies the opportunity to establish real and personal relationships with consumers. Businesses not using online resources to engage with its customers are throwing away a valuable opportunity to further establish their brand.

5.     Remember the 3 Cs of branding. Clarity, consistency, constancy. You need to establish a solid foundation for your brand that is easy to understand, consistent with your goals, and use it whenever possible. By doing this your customers will develop a sense of understanding and trust for your brand.

2014

Marketing your small business can be tricky. As marketing trends change and change again and platforms offer you more and more options, you may be wondering, what are you supposed to focus on?

Well, let’s take a look. These are some of the upcoming trends in marketing for 2014.

1. Mobile Marketing – You might already know this one. You should. Mobile marketing is still on the rise and will continue to be for some time to come. As more and more people own smart phones (147.9 million people in the U.S. by the month of September), social media, email marketing, and GPS location features will also continue to rise. Mobile marketing ads are also cheaper and easier on companies with small budgets and can have a lot more impact than television or other traditional advertising methods as they are often seen repeatedly.

Save Local Now strives to continually update our mobile app. Providing sharing features to both the business and the consumer, and streamlining the way a customer finds your business are just some of the ways we put your business on top of mobile marketing. Best yet, our app is top rated and available for both the iPhone and Android market! There really is no need to go building your own app these days when you can use ours for free!

2. Geo Targeting – As mentioned above GPS locating features will continue to rise with mobile. Geo targeting is similar in that it pays (literally) to target people within a few miles of your business. This has been true especially in retail where targeting audiences within a two mile radius can help the business create marketing campaigns that are current and relevant.

We offered Geo location mapping on your mobile and browser from the beginning, and as always we remain a tool for local businesses only. However, Geo targeting at Save Local Now came about a year ago with one of our app updates. With users being able to sort Deals and Events by clicking “Nearby” we give you the opportunity to create custom actionable offers specific to the customers who might be looking for you right around the corner!

3. Image centric Social Media – Twitter and Facebook are not the only Social Media that matters anymore. In fact as Facebook usage declines newer networks are getting a lot of buzz. Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, and Vine are among some of the top players even though some of these are still very young on the scene. Whats the draw? Large images or videos dominating the page with short descriptions and hashtags to browse other posts. Sites like Buzzfeed, Imgur, and Tumblr also play a part in this.  We can expect to see a continued growth in image sharing as 2014 rounds the bend.

Save Local Now was onto this when we updated the site in early 2013 to create more focus on your images. With larger placement for your logos or Deal & Event images, we really recommend you take advantage of this trend by updating your images with higher quality photos that pack a lot of punch. Even if you are just starting out and don’t have a logo, we have some suggestions on how to start building one for yourself!

This year, why not make it your resolution to check in with the blog for more tips on how to stay current and relevant in your small business? We are going to make it ours to continue to improve ourselves for the benefit of YOU the local business!

One more thing. As the year wraps up, we’d like to say thank you. We are working hard to help your local businesses thrive and though we might not be local for all of you, we are a small business that values local business being great business and we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you. Please stay happy, healthy, and remember to support your community. We wish you all a thriving, busy new year!

As with all promotions, the key is getting customers to actually look at them. Your deals, events, and email marketing with Save Local Now are no different. You could be offering the best deal in town but if the title doesn’t make people want to click, you might never get anyone to look at it.

We are here to help. Here are some great ideas to help inspire your deals, events, and emails for both the upcoming holiday season, and year round.

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Ask A Question

Asking your customers a question in the title of your deal or email will allow them to become intrigued. It also calls for action and begs to be looked at.

For example, a question that relates to something happening right now:
1. Do you really have the perfect gift this holiday season?

Or questions that everyone can relate to at some point:
2. Are you ready to lose that last 10lbs?

Or even questions that let people know time is limited:
3. Have you seen our newest collection?

The point is not to tell people what you have or are promoting but ask them something to make them think and get their attention. It’s a reason for them to go looking for the answer.

Create Some Urgency

Sometimes you can be more direct to create a sense of urgency in the title of your deal, event, or email. This will let your customers know that this is something they absolutely can’t afford to miss out on.

Letting them know there is a time limit is a great way to create some urgency:
4. Don’t wait! Save 50% for this week only.

Or telling your customers that others are interested:
5. Reserve your spot for [name of your event] as they are going fast!

Or making them feel like they are in on something special.
6. Get a sneak peak at what’s in store for us in the month of December!

A call to urgency will at the very least, get your promotions clicked on! The rest is up to you!

Offering Up Your Knowledge

We are in the age of DIY and self proclaimed experts. It’s hard sometimes to offer something when a lot of people think they can do or create what you have themselves. That’s why creating a sense of sharing or a learning opportunity for your customers is sometimes the best way to go

This works even if there are things for sale:
7. Check out the top 3 hot gift ideas for your [husband/wife] this year.

Or if you want to get people in for a workshop or event:
8. Learn how to [do something] this holiday season.

Or just accrediting your business as the expert in something
9. Find out how we do it. We are ranked best in the industry for 25 years!

Try to get them to understand that you are both A) an expert and B) willing to share your expertise (as well as your goods and services) with them. This will help them to look at it less as spending money and more as a learning experience.

Create a List

Lists make it easier for people todigest the information you’re giving them. Lists can also make your points a lot more clearly.

Lists can be great for your deals:
10. 5 gifts under $50!

Events:
11. 8 reasons to attend [name of your event].

Or even for email marketing:
12. 10 holiday time-saving tips from [your business].

Keeping it to a simple number and list in the title means that the content should also be clear, simple, and to the point. Don’t go overboard but also remember to add in some personality!

Fill them in on what’s new

Don’t forget to offer special promotions, or simply send out emails, to let your customers know when you’ve changed something. This is not only important so that they aren’t misinformed, but also creates just another reason to come check out all your business has to offer.

Create excitement over any simple change:
13. Bring on the Holidays, we’ve changed our menu!

Or letting people know that you’re participating in a national event. Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, or Cyber Monday are all around the corner:
14. Come celebrate [shopping day] at [your business].

Or whenever something new is coming:
15. Don’t miss our December collection!

Make sure these titles stay limited to when something is really new or exciting. Don’t try to tell them something new is happening when it is something they have seen before only a month ago.

That should be plenty of information to get you started. But, if I may offer a final bit of advice it would be these 3 tips:

Tip #1: Bounce your titles and subjects off your family, staff, or even your friends at the chamber to get some feedback and see what they think

Tip #2: Always always always check back on your promotions on your analytics page to see how they did and which ones were more popular.

Tip #3: As usual, Keep reading the blog, or follow us on social media to find out more great ways to boost your business this holiday season and all year long!

This article was inspired by this one 🙂

Social Media sites are here to stay. It seems like everyone has a Facebook and a Twitter account these days. People are following the tweets and posts of anyone who they want to hear information from whether it’s  politicians, news organizations, or their favorite celebrity. So there is no real reason not to tap into the resource of social media.

If you haven’t created a page on Facebook or Twitter yet here are a couple of reasons why you should consider it.

But you don’t have to create an account on these sites to reap the benefits. One of the ways this is possible is with your Save Local Now app. You could easily create a deal or event that promotes sharing on social media without actually having a page.

Imagine a deal or event that offers 20% off to those people who share the discount on Facebook, and an additional 5% for every friend that shares the deal from their page. All they would have to do is come in to the store and show you their Facebook page on their mobile phone.

By doing this even once could create a huge outpouring of your business name on people’s computer screens. With Save Local Now you can edit the deal or event anytime you want. So if you get overwhelmed you can take the discount down or if you expect too big of a rush you can include the disclaimer “while supplies last” or “only valid for the first 50 customers.” The real benefit here: People seeing your business name on their friends pages will check out your company and what it’s all about.

Also as I mention my article about SEO the more your name is re-tweeted, posted, shared, the more your search engine ranking will go up. This is a  because it makes your business easier to find and more likely to get business over your competitors. So by increasing your own shares, you encourage others to share as well.

A QR Code is short for a Quick Response Code, and if you don’t know what it looks like it’s the picture above. It’s a matrix type bar code that can be easily scanned by smartphones to take the user to a website or destination on the internet. It is the simplest way for a consumer to check out what they are looking at without searching for the correct information to type into their browser. They simply scan the code.

On the business end of things, a QR code can be a powerful marketing tool. You can use it to direct customers to any page you want from an email sign-up on your website, to your facebook or twitter page, or better yet, to your deals and events page on $LN! They are inexpensive to create (actually they are free for Save Local Now members) so you should try to put them on things like business cards, flyers, pamphlets, and price tags.

If you don’t think anyone is using the QR code system, think again. The app to scan a QR code is easy enough to download but most smartphones have them already installed.  According to a report by emarket, a market research firm, “nearly 20 million US adults will redeem a mobile coupon this year,” and that number is expected to double by 2013. If you need more incentive, AisleBuyer found that 82% of mobile couponers ages 25-34 said they would switch brands if they received a mobile coupon for a competing product while shopping. It’s not just the younger shoppers though, over one-fourth of all scanned QR codes were scanned by 35-44 year old consumers. The numbers are only expected to increase as well as smartphones become the norm and retailers become mobile saavy. As it is already 75% of online retailers use QR codes.

So why aren’t you using them? Not only stores, but services and restaurants can also use these codes effectively. If you think it’s hard for a business like a dentist to create a deal or event on Save Local Now, try slapping a QR code to your $LN page on a poster about what you’re offering. The number of deals redeemed might surprise you.

Just so you know you can create your QR code for free to your $LN page, or any other page of your liking in your business profile on $LN’s website. You’re welcome! We’re happy to help!

One of the most daunting tasks of any business owner can be telling people what you quickly while still setting yourself apart. Unless you’re a huge company with people to do this kind of stuff for you, or you’ve been doing it for years, or maybe you’re a company of poets, the task of talking about what you do is never easy. Yet, it is necessary to get it right in places like on your website, or on marketing materials, or even in conversation. The description of your business could be the make or break of whether a person decides to check you out.

First thing you should do is write down everything you want to say on a piece of paper. I mean everything. Go ahead, now’s your chance, write a whole page if you want to. Make sure you get everything in there. Doesn’t it feel great to unload all that? Now comes the hard part.

We’ve all heard of the elevator pitch concept in which you should be able to pitch your company’s concept and qualifications in the time it takes to ride in an elevator? Let’s try for 4 sentences. Yes, four sentences. Just try it and you can always go over by a sentence or two if you HAVE to. Here’s a few things to keep in mind:

  • Be Honest- if you are small, say that you are small, if you are deliberately slow, say that. Whatever it is, you obviously chose to do business a certain way for a reason and by putting it out there, you will find the right customers for you. Someone is looking for that quality which you have so tell them about it.
  • What do you do for whom and how? This is the real definition of your business. You can play it up with descriptive words in the other sentences, but one of these sentences needs to say just what it is you do. Your company does A for B by doing C.
  • Differentiate yourself. What makes you different from your competitors?  Use keywords to make yourself stand apart. There is something you do differently and you should play to that point.
  • Use a personal tone of voice and speak directly to your customers. It’s important to sound professional but it’s more important to relate to the every day client. Using a bit of humor or speaking in first person can go a long way to draw customers to your company’s personality.
  • Use keywords and be descriptive. Always use words you think people might use in search engines to find your business but you can also be descriptive. Words like distinguished, substantial, and flourishing can sound a lot better than new, small, and great. So get out the old thesaurus and be creative!

The reason I say to stick with 4 sentences is because usually people stop reading after 4 sentences, or keep reading but stop retaining information because they are still processing what they just read. You also don’t want to be too brief as you want to make sure you get the point across that you really care about what you do. So take your original description and just start cutting back using the guidelines above. Be patient and take your time…go ahead…I can wait…

So how did you do? If you really get stuck my last piece of advice is to take a step back from it, ask someone who is familiar with the business and see what they have to say about it maybe even your best customer. After all, it’s their opinion that makes the difference.

Every business needs a definition. When you created your company, you didn’t set out to do the same thing everyone else does in the exact same way and with the same prices. No, there was a mission at hand, a goal, an identity to your idea that made you want to start your story as a business owner. But you already knew that, you don’t need me to tell you, or else you wouldn’t have started the business in the first place! Now what I am here to tell you is that branding that company is one, if not the single most important things you can do for your company. I mean it, you need an image, a look, to help you show your customers in one glimpse what the important message, idea, feel of your business is, and more importantly, to help them remember it.

Let’s face it, the information world these days is a lot more like a picture story than a novel. Everywhere you look are logos, icons, and color schemes that you know better than the company that they represent. Don’t believe me? See if you can name any of the companies here:

First thing is to get an idea for what you want. Even if you have decided you want to hire a designer for your logo, you will save yourself a lot of money by doing a little brainstorming before hand. Who knows? You might surprise yourself and decide you don’t need anyone after all.  Basically there are three types of logos:

The first would be a logo that describes what the product or service is. So for a pizza company that would be a pizza or a book for a bookstore etc.

The second is a text based logo that uses a special font on the name of the company to make it more attractive.

The third is an abstract image that has nothing to do with the company name or product. An example of this is the Starbucks logo you see above. The image itself is not something one would normally associate with the name Starbucks or coffee but years of great marketing placement and repetitive branding have created the association we all have with the image.

As a small company or start-up the best thing to start with is one of the first two types of logos. As years go on and your business grows there are ways to add small changes to your logo and get it to something trendy and abstract but for now maybe it’s best to stick with something that tells the customers exactly who you are and what you do.

So now let’s start by defining what exactly you want to say about your business. The best thing to do is to sit down with a blank page and write your company name at the top. Write 8 words you can associate with your company and what you do. These can be anything from adjectives like “quick” or “vintage” to nouns you associate with your companies job such as “books” or “contracts”. This will help you to create simple word image associations in your head. If you think of an actual image for a word make sure you write that down too.

Now it’s time to narrow down your choices.

  • Decide what it is you really want to focus on, what sets you apart, and what sends a good message to the customers. If you know a certain quality that people look for in your business try to stick with imagery that will capture that idea.
  • Check out the competition’s logos. What works for other businesses in your industry and what doesn’t? How do you want to set yourself apart?
  • Remember the mediums you have. If your logo is mostly going to be on your business cards make sure it looks best at that scale. If you are planning to buy a big neon sign of your logo, make sure whatever you pick will look good in lights.
  • Don’t do what’s been done. Avoid using clip art images as they are easy to copy and unoriginal. Remember to stick with what you know and what says something about your business but get creative with it!
  • Watch the amount of detail. Too many lines or pieces and parts might not look good on any size logo. Remember your customers want to know what they are looking at. Also too many colors can be expensive when you go to print flyers or business cards. Try to keep it to a maximum of 3 colors to start.

Come up with a few sketches, or if I just scared you with the thought of drawing something even a few very key ideas with notes will do. Be specific and think about all the things we just discussed.

Then, if you don’t want to take the risk, hire a designer. By narrowing down your ideas you’ve already eliminated the back and forth in the concept stages and probably saved yourself a ton of money. Yes, design firms can be expensive but there’s probably a lot of freelance graphic artists in your area who will work for anywhere from $15 to $100 an hour depending on their experience level. Ask around and get the recommendations from other business owners you know. It’s always best to find someone who is more familiar with your field. Even if you are happy with what you designed, my recommendation is always to get a graphic designers final say on it, even if just to put it in the correct file format for printing or for a second opinion. They are the professional after all!

Once you have a logo, make sure you take steps to protect it and use it. You can trademark it at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Then use it on all mediums you have. You’ll want your customers to learn it and associate it with your business at first glance. Use it on shopping bags, business cards, menus, brochures/flyers, bills, your sign, and most importantly, your Save Local Now business profile! That is why you created it right? Good luck!!