SIGN.COM Blog

Top quality signs locally crafted

Tips for Managing Millennials

March 28th, 2017

Managing Millennials – Tips for Small Business Owners

Managing Millennials

Creative Commons licensed Flickr photo by ITU Pictures. “Millennials Jam Workshop: Youth and ICTs beyond 2015″ http://bit.ly/2mNwQIx

As a small business owner, one of the most pivotal aspects of your job is management – specifically of people.  Subsequently, one of the largest groups of people you must learn to manage are members of the Millennial generation. This includes people born between 1982 and 2002.  These tips below are intended to help you learn the fine art of managing millennials.

In fact, according to the Washington Post, 2016 was the first year “millennials surpassed baby boomers as the nation’s largest living generation.”  Millennials already number 75.3 million.  There will be more and more of them in your place of business – so it is vital you take advantage of their strengths.

Tara Wolckenhauer, DVP of Human Resources for Human Capital Management, explains: “with the incredible influx of Gen Y (millennial) employees entering the workforce over the next several years, it is crucial…companies prepare and ready themselves for transformational changes.  These changes will encompass all elements of the business paradigm: recruiting, tenure, total rewards, engagement, recognition, [and] customer service.”

In other words: adapt, or die. But it doesn’t have to be that dire! Here are some tips from the experts.

Connecting with Millennials

One of the first things to consider in order to have beneficial interactions with the younger generation and more effectively manage your millennial employees is to integrate yourself and your small business into the world of social media.  Millennials were truly the first generation to grow up in a heavily technology saturated world – so for them, social media has become an essential part of their world.

Let’s examine just one example of how powerful social media engagement can be.  The blog Inc. claims “over 70 percent of Millennials have friended their manager and co-workers on social media.”  This means companies are able to connect with millennials – both inside and outside their businesses – causing them to feel included and connected to your goods and/or services.

Also, involve your millennial employees in your business’s social media presence. This can include monitoring your social media accounts, posting photos and other business activities and inviting customers to engage on social media. You’ll find most millennials will approach these with enthusiasm and will add to their job satisfaction.

Meaningful Work

Once millennials feel connected – it is important to emphasize how your small business is making the world a better place.  “92% of Millennials believe business should be about more than just [simply] profits” – show them how this is true of your small business. For example, involve them in any local charity or sponsorship events your small business may be doing.  This will allow millennials to become more engaged, because they can see how their work for your small business is impacting the world at large.  If you’re providing meaning in the work place, you will be better at managing millennials.

Constant Feedback

Part and parcel with social media integration and small business engagement is ensuring you have established clear paths of communication within your small business.  Millennials are natural communicators – technology has opened up their world in such a way where any other sort of management method wouldn’t be anywhere near as effective.

It is always essential to give feedback.  Inc. claims 85% of Millennials feel more confident “when they have frequent conversations and feedback with their managers.”  This is now a natural and healthy way of doing business – keeping the doors open so education and development can be a continuous process.

On-Going Employee Development

In fact, speaking of education and development, you may also wish to consider establishing an in-house development program. This is a critical part of succeeding in managing millennials.  This is another form of prime communication within a small business.  Not only will your millennial-age employees develop new skills and best practices, but these sorts of programs will also foster bonds between them and management/leadership.

Indeed, encourage your managers and other employees in leadership positions to become better coaches.  The Washington Post cites 79% of millennials would “prefer a boss who serves as a coach or a mentor.”  This will keep them engaged, learning, and motivated and will, in the end, contribute a significant amount to your small business’s bottom line.

Set Clear Performance Expectations Up-Front

Along with all this social media integration, extra-strength communication, and in-house development programs – you will also want to set clear expectations.  What exactly are your employee’s roles?  In what ways could they accomplish those roles in a more efficient and complimentary manner?  As we stated previously, Millennials seek collaborative feedback and this would just be another source of gaining such feedback.  Be on the lookout for being as clear and direct as you can – and your small business’s goods and/or services will undoubtedly improve.

More Flexibility

Along with all these guidelines to keep in mind, when managing millennials, it will also be important to remain flexible.  Remain open to new ideas and new ways of doing business.  Perhaps your millennial-age employees will have some great methods for ensuring healthy social media integration and engagement with your small business’s customers.  Or maybe they’ll have ideas concerning the establishment of increased optimization for workflow.  All of these – and quite a few others – will allow your small business and its goods and/or services to flourish in the future and for a long time to come.

Indeed, now you are equipped with some new tools and guidelines when it comes to managing millennial-age employees.  With these new tips under your belt – you’ll be a millennial managing maven in no time!

 

Perform a Small Business Competitive Analysis

February 24th, 2017

How To Perform a Competitive Analysis for Your Small Business

how to perform a competitve analysisTo become a successful small business owner, you must keep many things in mind.  The quality of your goods and/or services, how to properly market those goods and/or services, the management of your employees, keeping up with the rapidly changing technological times, taxes, location, and of course keeping current customers happy and satisfied with your goods and/or services.  However, it may also be advisable to keep tabs on your competition.

One of the best ways to ascertain where you, your small business, and your goods and/or services fit within your chosen market or industry is to perform a competitive analysis.  As Thrive explains: “a competitive analysis offers small and middle market business owners more than [a simple] examination of their top competitors.  This research takes a deep dive into the strengths, weaknesses, and marketing strategies of [your] business’s top competitors.”

Marketing Leverage

While completing a competitive analysis may take time out of your busy schedule, it is an important tool in the discovery of your small business’s marketing leverage.  Marketing leverage is a vital item to be aware of – something your small business can provide, which your competitors can (or will) not.  An example of marketing leverage could of course mean the goods and/or services your small business provides – but it can also refer to the way you choose to market or advertise said goods and/or services. These are the advantages you will have once you learn how to perform a competitive analysis for your small business.

Once you are aware of your small business’s particular flavor of marketing leverage, you can take advantage of that marketing leverage.  It may allow you to target your demographics more effectively – and may even help to widen your marketing leverage even more.  Additionally, it has the added benefit of demonstrating to current and prospective investors that you understand your industry and can implement a sound marketing strategy based on the information your competitive analysis provided.

Getting Started

Let’s get started with best practices to incorporate into your small business’s competitive analysis.  The first thing to establish is a schedule for performing competitive analyses.  How often should you conduct them?  Many small businesses conduct them once a year – so they can integrate the information these analyses provide into their annual marketing strategy.

Other appropriate times for performing competitive analyses include the stage before establishing your small business or before launching a new product and/or service line.  It is also advisable to conduct these sorts of analyses when major changes occur in your industry or marketing environment.

The second step to take while performing a competitive analysis for your small business is to identify your competitors.  (This goes without saying, of course.)  You may already know most of your competitors, but it may be helpful to broaden your radar and find three to five locally based competitors providing similar goods and/or services to your small business.  Limiting the maximum number of competitors to keep tabs on to five is essential if you wish to ensure your competitive analysis is as comprehensive as possible.

Assessing the Size of Your Competitors

A quick and easy way to determine the revenue size of your competitors is to do a head count analysis. First, take your total revenue for last year and divide it by the number of employees you have. This gives you the average revenue per employee. Next, acting as a customer, call your competitors and ask them about their goods and services. Also ask them how many employees their company has. Most businesses will provide this information. Multiply their number of employees by the per-revenue employee number you calculated for your business. Assuming they are in the same local economy and industry as your business, this can give you a fairly good estimate of their total annual revenue.

Products and Services Matrix

Once you’ve conducted these stealth customer calls to your competitors, it’s easy to create a simple matrix to compare your small business’s goods and/or services to your competitors’ goods and/or services.  How do they stack up? What are the bigger businesses offering that you don’t? What are your small business’s goods and/or services strengths and weaknesses?  Ask the same question when studying your competitors’ offerings.  It is always important at this stage to be honest with yourself.  Otherwise, the information you gather will be meaningless.

After answering these sorts of questions, you will be able to see clearly what your small business’s goods and/or services bring to the table and what your competitors’ goods and/or services bring as well.  What does your small business provide, which other small businesses are unable or unwilling to provide?  What about the other way around – which sorts of items do they provide, which you do not?  Is there any way you can?  Is there any way you can provide an improved product/service/experience which will compare favorably with your competitors?

Marketing Comparisons

Of course, it’s not all about your small business’s goods and/or services either.  It could be facets of you and your competitor’s marketing strategies.  Are they selling a similar good and/or service in a more effective way than you are?  Is there any way you can possibly rectify this situation?  Is there any way you can market your goods and/or services more effectively to your target customers?  Have you by any chance missed a demographic your competitors are focusing on?  Are there forms of social media your competitors are using effectively that you aren’t?  (In order to discover information like this you may have to subscribe and follow your competitors on these various social media platforms – to establish and monitor the lay of the land.)

Answering these sorts of questions and others like them will allow you to establish your small business’s market position.  If you are clear about where your small business lies within the marketplace you will be far more equipped when it comes to developing a marketing plan.  You will be able to see more clearly the gaps in the market and possibly even untapped potential demographics.

This way, your small business can grow more rapidly and effectively.  When all these questions can be clearly and carefully answered – you will see why this practice was such a beneficial decision for the continued (and exponential) flourishing of your small business.  Now you know how to perform a competitive analysis for your business, use this knowledge to gain an advantage!

Benefits of Using A Local Sign Shop

February 14th, 2017

From signs advertising your business or special event to personalized parking signs and just about everything in between, there’s a sign that’s appropriate for any application. At Sign.com, we’re proud to be your source for professional sign design, and we can help you design signs of all types, including business, parking, political, yard, magnetic and funny signs.

When you choose us, we’ll work with a local sign shop in your area to produce your final project. You may wonder, though, why you would want to go this route instead of just ordering your sign and having it manufactured by an online vendor.

Today, we’d like to take a few minutes to clear up some of the confusion and share some of the many benefits of choosing a local sign shop.

Benefits of Choosing a Local Sign Shop

Local Shops BudgetsCost

People often turn to the Internet to save a few dollars, but which option truly costs more? Rather than solely focusing on the overall cost of the project, consider this:

When you submit to an online printer, your file must be perfect. There’s likely no one who will check for errors or make sure that the file is formatted properly. Your sign will be printed exactly as submitted, and if there’s a problem, you could end up paying for a useless sign.

A local sign shop, on the other hand, will work with you to make sure everything is just right before printing the final product. This means you’re much less likely to end up with an unsatisfactory product due to a problem with the file.

Expertise

Most online print companies don’t have in-house experts with years of print and sign making experience. They may know how to use the equipment, but they don’t have the expertise necessary to allow them to help customers with complicated projects or to find solutions to unique problems.

Local sign shops generally are staffed by people with decades of experience and a true passion for sign making. They offer expert guidance and assistance throughout the project to ensure customer satisfaction.

Customer Service

Even the best online customer service doesn’t compare to the customer service of a local sign shop. Working with a local sign shop means talking to real people who are committed to ensuring customer satisfaction from start to finish.

Speed

An online sign shop may be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but there’s no telling when they’ll actually print and ship your order. And if the shop is located on the opposite of the country, delays during shipment could make it take significantly longer for your product to reach you.

Local sign shops strive to stick to tight deadlines and deliver products when their customers need them. And if your sign is printed on the other side of town rather than the other side of the country, the problem of shipping labels is delayed.

Custom Signs from Sign.com

At Sign.com, we are proud to work with a vast network of sign shops. We are here to help you create the perfect design for any type of sign, and when it’s finished, we’ll route the file to a trusted sign shop that’s close to you. In addition to the many benefits this method offers you, it also allows us to help support local economies throughout the US. Get started on your custom sign today, or give us a call at 1.855.505.SIGN for additional information or design assistance.

What Is A QR Code: The Why’s & Hows For Businesses

August 13th, 2016

QR Codes: The Whys and The Hows for Small Business Owners

What is a QR code? QR Codes, or Quick Response Codes, were first utilized within the Japanese automotive industry.  Created by Denso Wave in 1994, QR Codes were initially used to track vehicles during manufacture in order to allow high speed component scanning.

Now, however, as you might have been able to guess, QR Codes are becoming more and more prevalent in all sorts of code-156629_640industries.  Essentially, a Quick Response Code is a two-dimensional sequence Smartphone cameras are able to scan at a rapid pace.  And why would you want to scan such a thing?  Well, a QR Code is capable of pulling up text, photos, videos, music, and URLs.  So, following along this line of reasoning, future small business endeavors would be greatly enhanced by the use of QR Codes – particularly as a marketing tool.

Now, at this stage, you may still be asking yourself why you, as a small business owner, would use QR Codes in this capacity.  Well, we here at Sign.com are here to alleviate some of those hesitations.  One of the main draws of QR Codes is that they are free.  All you have to do is visit an online QR code generator such as Kaywa QR Code Generator, create your free code – and you’re well on your way!

On top of their free price, QR Codes are inherently trackable.  It’s what they were designed for in the first place.  This means you and your small business will be able to measure who is reading your ads – all based on scan numbers.  This will allow you to plan and strategize your small business’ marketing plan more efficiently and effectively.

QR Codes also boost traffic to your small business’ website, help you turn new and potential customers into email newsletter subscribers, and also allow you to grow your small business’ social media platforms.  In the case of sites like Facebook or Twitter, if you provide a QR code linking directly to your Facebook and Twitter presences – potential customers will be far more likely to “like” and “follow” your small businesses at these places.

Don’t confine your small business to just these two online spaces, however.  Why not place a QR Code on other sites such as Pinterest?  Pinterest is a great way for people to discover and display many different interests.  Make sure your small business and its goods and/or services fit into those interests!  That way, people will boast about them on Pinterest, and your prestige and more importantly, your brand will grow.

Once you create your free QR Code, though, how do you put it to work?  Well, there are a number of places, which would work.  As we have previously discussed, an easily accessible QR Code on social media is a great way to begin building a trusting community around your small business and its goods and/or services.  Social media isn’t the only way to spread information via QR Codes, however.

An optimal place to put your small business’ QR Code is your business card.  This makes it easily accessible and distributable.  “Generate a barcode that directs scanners to your online resume, small business Facebook or Twitter pages, or your website” and potential customers will have all the information concerning your small buisness they need.

Additionally, you could consider placing a QR Code on various marketing materials for your small business and its goods and/or services.  These marketing materials could be fliers, brochures, posters, banners, signs, handouts, yellow pages ads – you name it.  All of these options carry a very large net of people gaining information about your small business.

Another great location for the placement of QR Codes is of course your small business’ brick and mortar storefront windows.  Catch the eye of people strolling past.  Everyone has a Smartphone on them at all times these days, so this marketing scheme is as easy as potential customers pulling out their phones and scanning your code.  Even if they are in a rush at that point and are unable to enter your location at that time – they will have information regarding you, your small buisness, and its goods and/or services on them – and at their earliest convenience they’ll be able to dive into this information.

Now that you’ve answered “What is a QR Code?” you can use them to grow your business! QR Codes, among many other marvelous technologies, are undoubtedly part of the wave of the future for small (indeed, even big!) business marketing.  Keeping them within your arsenal of marketing materials will be a valuable tool when it comes to attracting more and more potential customers.  QR Codes are highly cost effective – being free – and bring dimensions to your small buisness you couldn’t even dream of.  Put as much information into the hands of new and potential customers – this way they can make an informed decision about your small buisness.  And when people are given room to make these sorts of informed decisions – they will be more likely to trust you.  And trust is the first step in a mutually beneficial business relationship.

 

Attract New Customers With Pokemon Go

July 20th, 2016

How to Get New Customers Using Pokemon Go

The future is here, and it’s helping savvy small business owners bring in more customers, increase sales and connect better with their local communities.

As you probably know, Pokemon Go is a new augmented-reality smart phone app. Like a particularly virulent form of a zombie virus, it has taken over the world in no time at all!  In fact, Pokemon Go is already on more than twice as many phones as the popular dating app Tinder, doubles Snapchat’s engagement rates, and even has a higher percentage of daily active users than Twitter!  Nintendo, the company responsible for this adorable infestation, had its stocks rise over 30% in less than seven days after the app launch.

This is all very good news for small businesses that follow these tips.

How Pokemon Go Increases Foot Traffic

Pokemon Go Small Business Sig
In order to discover how Pokemon Go can benefit you, your small business’s foot traffic, and the rate at which you sell your goods and/or services, you must first understand what Pokemon Go is.

Pokemon Go, of course, is an augmented-reality game centered on the capture and development of hundreds of different virtual (and often adorable) “pocket monsters” found all around the real world.  The game utilizes smart phone cameras and GPS map tracking in order to place these unique virtual characters into the real world.  You may have heard about Pokemon before.  They’ve been around for a while – but they’ve truly exploded in popularity ever since they, well, exploded, into our (augmented) reality!

PokeStops and Your Location

Players (or “Pokemon Trainers,” as they prefer to be called) collect “Pokeballs” (containers used to catch and keep their monsters) and other supplies at “PokeStops” scattered around the real world.

This is very important, so the first thing you need to do is discover whether your small business’s brick and mortar location is already designated as a PokeStop or is near a PokeStop. To find out, download the Pokemon Go onto an iPhone or Android device.  Don’t worry – the download is totally free!

How to Lure Players to Your Location

If you’re fortunate enough to be near (or in fact be) a PokeStop- one of the first things you can do is create a “Lure” to your location.  These Lures cost a little more than a dollar and last for 30 minutes.  If you place a Lure at your location, Pokemon will be found scampering all around the area!  Inevitably, Pokemon Trainers (a.ka. players) will follow.

In order to create a Lure within the Pokemon Go app, all you have to do is tap the red Pokeball at the bottom of your HUD (screen), tap “Shop”, scroll down and tap the purple, box-shaped Lures to purchase.  This will re-direct you to the app store’s payment system.  Once back in-app, tap the red Pokeball again, then tap “Items” and tap the purple Lure to activate!

Before you know it, potential customers will be swarming your premises!  As one business owner on Reddit has been quoted as saying: “As a manager of a store, Pokemon Go is $%&^ing amazing.  SO.  MUCH.  FOOT TRAFFIC.  Time to invest in some Lures.”

Pokemon Teams and Battles

Players in Pokemon Go are divided into three teams – “Instinct” (Yellow), “Valor” (Red), and “Mystic” (Blue) – and these teams battle for supremecy all around the world – mainly over real locations that in the game are called Pokemon Gyms. These locations can be taken over by player’s Pokemon characters. They are also where Pokemon character battles take place. Amusingly, the White House in Washington, D.C. is a gym guarded by a Pidgeot (a Pokemon that appears half pigeon/half eagle) called “Merica.”  At least as of last Tuesday, anyway…things change very quickly in this game.

How to Become a Pokestop or Gym

pokemon-go-make-pokestop
If your small business’s location is nowhere near a PokeStop or Gym, you can request Nintendo to become just such a location.  Just visit the official Pokemon Go support page, click on Submit a Request, select “Report an Issue with a Gym or Pokestop” and fill out the form there.  Hopefully they’ll get back to you soon!

Pokemon Go Gyms are Great for Business

Now, if your small business is at or near a Pokemon Go Gym, the procedure will be slightly different.  No Lures necessary here!  Pokemon Trainers will already be there – battling each other for supremacy over the location.

Pokemon Go Signs

Here is where you can really start to get creative.  Ensure you know which team is currently in control of your gym.  Maybe Pokemon business signeven keep score – put up a sandwich board or some other kind of highly visible signage within your brick and mortar location.  When one team or another takes control – put their team on that sign!  Perhaps consider offering discounts to the team occupying your Pokemon Gym.  Players will be more likely to come and congregate around your location – and as we’ve written in many of our previous blog posts – this will help ensure you are building relationships with the community around you.

To get good quality signage, use our SIGN.COM sign making tool, or contact your local SIGN.COM sign making business.

Be sure to announce such promotions on your social media presences as well!  Take pictures of winning teams and tag them with buzzwords from Pokemon Go as well as use hashtags like #pokemongo #pokemonstop and #pokemongym.  That way, people obsessed with the game in your local area will easily find you.  Their Pokemon obsession will perhaps in turn fuel an obsession with your small business and its goods and/or services.  Even if your small business is nowhere near a Pokemon Go PokeStop or Gym, you can still use social media to your advantage. Post things like “Pokemon Go Trainers welcome. Discounts to Team Instinct!”  Then the next day, discounts to Team Mystic, and so on and so forth.

Well – there you have it.  The secrets to “catching ‘em all” – increasing foot traffic to your small business with a little help from the folks at Nintendo.  Pokemon Go is a great way to find and engage with local potential customers for your small business and its good and/or services.

How Vehicle Signage Helps Small Business

June 16th, 2016

We here at SIGN.COM have written many blog posts discussing best practices when it comes to your small business’ marketing strategy.  At SIGN.COM one of our most emphatic suggestions revolves around signs, of course.  Signs are a simple, effective, and clear way to get peoples’ attention about you, your small buisness, and your small business’ goods and/or services.  But, unfortunately, not all signs were created equal, including vehicle signage.

Small businesses often use in-store banners or signs, or window signs, but what about vehicle signage?  If you are unsure or hesitant about the use of vehicle signage within your small business’ marketing plan – well, then here are some compelling reasons why you should consider it for your business.

Vehicle Signage Can Be Tremendously Effective

It is important to keep in mind that your marketing campaign is limited only by the percentage size of your budget you wish tovehicle signage spend on it.  With that consideration at the forefront of your strategy: you most likely want to use methods that have been effective for small businesses for a long time.

Modern society spends much of its day in and around cars – they are the lifeblood of our cities and communities – and to overlook them would be a mistake.  In fact, according to a recent report conducted by the Outdoor Advertizing Association of America, small buisness owners have the potential to reach 30,000 – 70,000 people per day – just with the use of car magnets!  Imagine how many more eyeballs you could directly beam your message into if you had a full vehicle wrap!

Indeed, other places you may put signs have nowhere close to the high-visibility rates cars find themselves in on a day-to-day basis.  You may not currently be aware of this, but during your daily commute or usual errand running, your car has the capacity to reach a wide-range of people across all different demographics – some of them in very different areas to where you have set up shop with your small business.  Indeed, it has been scientifically determined that vehicle-based signage is far more effective than static signage such as those found at the edges of roads on billboards.

Cost Per Impression

Still not convinced?  Well, let’s take a look at the specifics.  Even at the low end of the spectrum – only 30,000 impressions made per day due to vehicle signage – you and your small business are getting an amazing return on investment!  Just think about it.

Let’s say the average car magnet costs about $50.  $50 dollars divided by 30,000 impressions (per day!) is equal to $.002 per impression.  Not bad.  For a fifth of a penny per impression every day – even at the low end of the impressions – you are getting an exceptional bang for your buck.  On top of this, you and your small business will be able to use and re-use that same vehicle-based sign over and over again.

Fresh Marketing

Vehicle-based signage also allows small business owners the freedom to change the message presented and conveyed by the sign.  If you had instead decided to buy a billboard for advertizing purposes, as opposed to vehicle-based signage – changing that sort of sign would be expensive and limited.  But with the convenience of vehicle signage, just pop off the magnet, put another one on: and just like that you’re ready to go! Think of the possibilities of seasonal vehicle signage that has timely messages and promotions that drive new business your way.

Indeed, if you are using a personal vehicle to advertize a small business (let’s say you wish to place vehicle signage on the vehicles of your small business’ employees) you can easily pull that signage off – and place it back on again at the beginning of a new business day.  In essence, vehicle-based signage is the most convenient of all signage.

Types of Vehicle Signage

Vehicle signage varies depending on your budget and needs. The lowest-cost is obviously vehicle magnets which you can purchase for under $50 each to place on doors. They also work well on the back of trucks. You can even customize and order these magnetic signs right on SIGN.COM.

Vinyl vehicle lettering is a more permanent option and cover a vehicle more aggressively with messaging. However, as single color vinyl letters and numbers, it’s less effective marketing than signage with visual images that can communicate more emotionally.

If you have the budget, full vehicle wraps are a highly affective form of sales-generating advertising. Properly done, vehicle wraps can last for years and maintain their vibrancy. A full vehicle wrap can cost several thousand dollars and is the best way to go because it stands out the most. However a less-costly partial vehicle wrap will still get noticed and may be a more cost effective option. Fortunately, you can also request a vehicle wrap quote from a local professional sign maker right on SIGN.COM.

Keep it Legal

Now, traditionally, it is believed that if you place vehicle-based signage on your vehicle, it is legal to write off all vehicle expenses as business based expenses.  We at SIGN.COM are here to tell you that that simply isn’t true.  Again, if you attempted to do something like this, it would be against the law.

However, you would be well within your legal rights to write off any direct advertizing expense as it applies to the design, ordering, and application of magnets, wraps, or other vehicle-based signage.  Just remember to please be careful and cautious about the potential tax and money incentives when it comes to vehicle-based signage.  In fact, we here at SIGN.COM would recommend you consult a local tax and money expert in your area – just to ensure that you are your small business are well within the legal boundaries of your city, state, and country.

For every reason listed above, vehicle-based signage is a great way to get the word out there about your small business and its goods and/or services.  These vehicle-centered advertisements are a great investment – they’re fun – but most of all they catch the attention of many eyes around you as you go about your daily routines.

Converting Customers – How To Convert Potential Customers

May 16th, 2016

How to Make Customers Out of Potential Customers

You are a small business owner.  You have ensured your goods and/or services are top quality compared with other

converting customers

You’ve Got A Great Product. Now How Do You Convert Potential Customers Into Owners of That Product?

businesses in your industry.  You have spread the word locally – as well as in the digital space (websites, social media, etc…) – concerning your small business’s offerings. There’s just one small problem.

You have accrued many potential customers who may be interested in your small business’s goods and/or services – but only a few of them have actually purchased yet. In other words, you’re having trouble converting customers.  Well, we here at SIGN.COM are here to help you convert these potential customers into actual, loyal, paying customers who keep on coming back.

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty details.

How to Succeed at Converting Customers During the “Comparison Stage”

First of all, it is important to note that making actual customers out of potential customers begins with the “Comparison Stage” – sales are won or lost here.  In his book, Streetwise Relationship Marketing on the Internet, author Roger Parker explains a small business owner’s strategy during this “Comparison Stage” should be demonstrating to potential customers “how your [small business and its goods and/or services] can better satisfy the [potential customer’s] needs than your competitors can.”

If you’ve already put in the work in making sure your small business’s offerings are top notch – this “Comparison Stage” should be easy – now it becomes simply a case of convincing potential customers this is true.

Creating a line of credibility – of trust – between your small business and potential customers is essential.  Create spaces (particularly online) where potential customers can easily peruse facts and figures demonstrating the sorts of things your small business and its goods and/or services can provide for them.

Competitive and Self-Analysis

A three-step process can help you visualize how to convey this feeling of trust between you and your potential customers.  The first step is to know your enemy.  (All right – perhaps enemy is too strong a word – let’s just say – competitors within your industry!)  If you are able to identify and analyze these competitors – you will be able to understand their strengths and weaknesses.

Hand in hand with this competitive analysis goes self-analysis.  What are your small business’s strengths and/or weaknesses?  Is there anything you can possibly do to change or otherwise address them?

Once you have identified your small business’s strengths – you will be able to “focus on areas where your [small business and its goods and/or services] can offer [potential customers] a real advantage” when it comes to their choices within your chosen industry.

Once you have identified both your competitors’ and your own strengths and weaknesses – the third step in this process is to “shift the battleground to areas where your [small business and its goods and/or services] enjoy the most advantages.”  It is essential you put your best foot forward – that way potential customers will begin to be persuaded into becoming actual customers of your small business.

Provide the Best Information

One of the most pivotal aspects of your marketing campaign should be ensuring the right information gets into the hands of potential customers – in order for them to make more informed opinions about you, your small business, and your small business’s goods and/or services.

This kind of small business information includes “case studies of previous successes, background information about your small business and your employees, testimonials from satisfied customers, product reviews, comparisons, and even benchmarks.”  If you provide these and other tidbits concerning your small business – they have the potential to turn heads and change minds, helping in converting customers.

Additionally, begin to focus on building trusting relationships between your small business and its potential customers.  This can be as simple as making an easily navigable website a priority – creating tailor made pathways for customers with specific questions or goods and services in mind.  If you streamline their experience with your small business – this will go a long way towards meeting your marketing goals.

Improve Your Promotional Offers

If all else fails – perhaps you should consider improving your offers to potential customers.  If these potential customers were already on the fence when it comes to splurging money on your small business and its goods and/or services – a better, more attractive, easier to stomach offer may push them over the edge and convert them into actual, paying customer territory.

Customer Follow-Up

Additionally, your small business should consider developing a follow up system when it comes to potential – and even new – customers.  You’re not just aiming for them to become actual customers – but loyal, long-term customers as well – so it is important to keep this aspect of your marketing campaign in mind.  This will help insure that you’re not only converting customers, but you’re retaining them.

Increasing Your Small Business Visibility

May 4th, 2016
Small Business Visibility

How Do You Increase Your Small Business Visibility?

Your small business is doing well.  You have a group of loyal customers who come back again and again for your goods and/or services.  Only – you have one problem – you can’t seem to find and retain more loyal customers because you don’t have enough small business visibility.

Well, fear not, for we here at Sign.com are here to help you find best practices when it comes to increasing your brand and small business visibility.  Before we get into specifics, however, it is important to first define exactly what visibility is.  This way you have something to shoot for.  Visibility is the cumulative effect of publicity.  This means you should focus on creating and maintaining a stable, steady marketing campaign.  Once this has been achieved, your small business and its goods and/or services will become more visible.

So, without further adieu, here are some tips for marketing within such a campaign more effectively – and to a larger audience than you currently have access to.

Tips for Increasing Your Small Business Visibility

The number one tip we have is probably already pretty self-evident.  As a successful small business owner you probably do this anyway.  But it is always helpful to reiterate the basics.

Ensure every interaction with current and potential customers leaves those customers with a feeling you were being honest, personal, and authentic.  This of course goes without saying in a brick and mortar situation but in digital situations as well.  Chief among those digital interactions will be your social media presence.  Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter are an optimal way to network.  Your visibility will no doubt increase if you use these social media entities in an intelligent, thoughtful manner.  These sites are great venues for getting that personal touch through to people without even meeting.

One of the other main things you should be focusing on in order to increase your small business’s visibility is leveraging the network you already have.  (Whether in the brick and mortar or digital spaces.)  Talk to friends, colleagues, industry insiders – even those loyal customers you currently have.  Seek out referrals and testimonials and other such references from the people who know you, your small business, and its goods and/or services best.  Potential customers will be far more likely to trust you and your brand if they’ve heard about it through the grapevine or other reliable sources.

You should also focus on making sure your small buisness rises higher in Google rankings.  Of course, we are aware of the realities of this endeavor.  It can often be a frustrating and time consuming experience.  But there are ways in order to cut down that time.  For example, if you put your small business on Google maps, your small business’s listing will be sure to climb those rankings.  Coupled with this innovative strategy, make sure you continue to generate quality content on social media platforms as well as your small business’s website.

It may also behoove you to insert links somewhere within those posts – to your website and to your small business’s various goods and/or services.  This way, potential customers will know exactly where to go and how to take advantage of your small business’s goods and/or services.

Photos Are Powerful For Increasing Small Business Visibility

Additionally, when generating content through these diverse means and social media platforms – make sure you’re posting photos.  Photos have a certain viral quality about them, and this will no doubt allow your brand to heighten its current visibility.  When it comes to deciding exactly what sort of photos to include within these posts and on your small business’s website – perhaps focus on your small business’s industry.  Keep these photos fun, of course, but be sure to make them topical as well.  This will give potential customers a clear idea of who you are, what your brand is, and the sorts of goods and/or services your small business can provide.

Yet another excellent way to increase your visibility is to invest in customer rewards.  This will get potential customers excited about your small business.  One such way to do this is to create and then promote a loyalty program.  A small business loyalty program can reward enrollment, provide graduated incentives, and will keep customers coming back for more.

Along with a small business loyalty program, you may also want to create various contest giveaways.  Potential customers will be happy to win things – and will engrain positive experiences in their heads – associated with you, your small business, and your small business’s brand.

Launch An event To Increase Small Business Visibility

Small Business Visibility Event

A cocktail Party Event is a Great Way To Increase Small Business Visibility

Lastly, and this tip evolves out of customer loyalty programs and contests – is to perhaps consider launching an event.  Events are optimal for the generation of publicity.  For example, not only do events create a buzz around you and your small business, but they can also provide the media with a “hook” – a reason to feature your small business in some way.  If you also partner with a charitable organization or choose to speak at another event – such as your local Chamber of Commerce’s meeting – this can only increase the buzz for your small business.

Do not feel obligated to throw big, gigantic parties you couldn’t possibly afford (yet) either – perhaps just focus on establishing small dinner parties.  Even a small gathering has the potential for a big buzz, depending on whom you choose to invite.

There they are.  Ways in which you can ensure your small business’s visibility is growing.  If you follow just a few of the tips we’ve outlined above, you and your small business will be well on your way to new customers and even brighter horizons.

How To Start A Printing Business

April 22nd, 2016

How to Start a Printing Business – Tips For New Owners

How To Start A Printing Business
Up until this point, Sign.com’s blogs have focused on general small business interests such as advertising, marketing, and other ways in which small business owners can get their goods and/or services into the general zeitgeist of their communities.  This was in order to get people running all sorts of small businesses on their feet.

For this particular blog, however, we’ve decided to focus our lens somewhat.  As the printing industry is near and dear to Sign.com’s hearts – we thought we’d focus on tips and other things to consider if you are someone is wondering how to start a printing business.  Of course, at first, you will want to decide exactly what sort of printing business you want your small business to be.

What Kind of Printing Business Should You Start

There are many different processes and products, which make up the printing industry.  The first thing to ask yourself is which combination will serve your small business best.  As with many general small business considerations, you should start with your target customer in mind.  Challenge yourself to find a niche within the world of printing.

Focus you and your small business into a specialized area – for example sign making or digital printing.  If you chose to be simply a general “printing business” – you would spread yourself far too thin – attempting to be all things to all people – and master of none.  Instead, choose one specific area of the printing industry to grab hold of – and focus on being the best at that particular thing.

Creating A Business Plan For Your Printing Business

Business Plan How To Start a Printing BusinessThe next consideration during the development phase of your small printing business is to create a business plan.  In fact, the U.S. Small Business Administration can help you towards this lofty goal.  The SBA (as they are known) has free business plan information available to the general public.  Be sure to use this resource.

In a small business plan, you should give details of your operation including startup and operating costs, marketing and advertizing budgets and plans, and pricing for your small business’ goods and/or services.  Ensure that you are projecting your financials properly.  This will undoubtedly be to your benefit for a long time to come.

The next step is bureaucratic, no doubt, but it will allow you to move forward in your small business with the confidence to know you are bending no rules or breaking any regulation.  It is imperative that you thoroughly research and obtain any and all licenses, certifications, and permits, which legalize small businesses in your local area.  You may wish to meet with your local economic development agency to acquire the exact right steps required to move forward.

Make Sure To Follow The Rules

As a small business owner, you will be responsible for quarterly estimates of income, “reporting of actual proceeds and paying your personal proprietorship (or limited liability corporation [LLC]) for taxes and social security for yourself.”  During this process, it is also important to decide on your small business’ specific business structure.  Be sure to contact your Secretary of State and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to ensure that your small business’ name is not already in use.    For some small businesses, you may also need to obtain business financing through the U.S. Small Business Administration, your bank, or various equipment providers.

Speaking of equipment providers: the next step in the establishment of your small printing business should be the purchasing or leasing of your printing equipment, supplies, software, and stock.  This, of course, will all depend upon which niche of the printing industry you have chosen as your small business’ focus.

What Tools Will You Need

For example: what sort of graphic design software will your small business and its operations require?  For digital printing, perhaps Adobe Photoshop and other applications within the whole Adobe Design suite would fit your needs.  For sign making small businesses: perhaps SAi Flexi Software would be optimal.  “SAi Flexi is the only all-in-one design, print, and cut software for sign and print providers.  With nearly 3 out of 4 [sign] shops using it, Flexi is the industry-standard for sign-specific design tools, RIP software, print-and-cut software, and direct vinyl cutting.”

Following these steps, you may also want to consider using your new equipment and printing process in a test run: print your small business’ marketing and promotional materials.  See how well your new process works: and how effective your marketing materials actually are.

Next, use these brand spanking, shiny and new marketing materials in order to attract potential customers for your small business.  Turn printed items into products by creating a menu of the goods and/or services your small business has the ability to offer.

Set Up Your Printing Business Website

Another great step in this final marketing process is to ensure that you create the best website for your new small printing business.  This will allow you and your goods and/or services to reach an even greater audience than any brick and mortar location could ever possibly offer.  A larger audience, of course, means more potential customers filtering in to your actual brick and mortar locations.  And that is never a bad thing.

These steps on how to start a printing business will help you to begin establishing your small printing business’ brand.  If you follow them all, you will be well on your way to creating a business which fills a niche printing need within your community.  Best of luck!

Small Business Marketing to Millennials

April 15th, 2016

 Small Business Marketing To Millennials

marketing to millennials

You have a small business.  It’s doing quite well and you are beginning to make a name for yourself and your small business’s brand.  But now you are attempting to aim your small buisness and its goods and/or services to specific demographics.

You are attempting to focus on one demographic in particular: Millennials.

But how exactly do you go about marketing to millennials?

The first thing you need to know is: What exactly is a “Millennial” in the first place?

Who Are Millennials?

“Millennials” has become such a vague, catch-all term, which has come to mean many different things all at once.  So let’s define the term a little bit.  Millennials are those people born between the early 1980s to the year 2000. So today, that means everyone between the ages of 15 to about 32 years-old.  In the United States of America, this means the Millennial Generation is made up of 75-86 million consumers.  For reference, Baby Boomers, the previous generation, constitute seven percent fewer than this number.

In 2015, Millennials made up half the workforce and by 2020 they will make up 75% of the workforce.  This means the Millennial Generation has power and influence right now.  In fact, the Millennial Generation is considered to have had $2.45 trillion annual spending power in 2015.  This annual spending power will surpass Boomers’ spending power by 2018.

All this goes to show Millennials are a powerful demographic for you and your small business to aim for and hopefully target as potential customers.

Millennials Are Different

The trick is, Millennials think and respond differently than previous generations – especially to marketing.  As a business owner, you must understand they are a fundamentally different species to their parents, the Baby Boomers.  Millennials are digital natives.  Since birth, [most of them] have lived in a world drowning in technology.  As a consequence, they are far more adept and comfortable when it comes to the digital world.  This is even truer in countries such as the United States of America.

small business millenials social mediaFor example, American Millennials are far more likely to be highly active when it comes to social media.  And we’re not just talking about Facebook.  YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, etc… – for your small business to succeed in your quest in marketing to Millennials – you must ask yourself: A) does my small business have a presence on any of these networks and B) which of these do my target millennials use? B) what do these networks do for my millennial customers that I can tap into?

Do some homework. Talk to your millennial customers about how they use their mobile devices to shop. Commit yourself and your small business in such a way so you are not left behind in the digital dust.

How to Go About Marketing to Millennials

It is vital you and your small business become part of the conversation on these social media platforms.  Do you know what Millennials are saying about your goods and services on them?  You should discover exactly what they are saying, listen, and adapt.

After you have listened and adapted, it may also prove beneficial to you and your small business to communicate with Millennials on these social media platforms.  Connect with them on a personal level.  This way your small business’s brand will stick with them and they will be far more likely to check out your goods and/or services.

Your goal should be to connect with this younger generation on a personal level.  Part and parcel of this connection is to ensure your small business’s brand has a consistent message when in the digital space – as you would in a brick and mortar space as well.  If you say you will do something, do it.  It is essential to follow through.  Keep your content steady and consistent as well.  This will create a trusting bond between your small business’s brand and potential customers from the Millennial Generation.

marketing to millennialsDigital Advertising to Millennials

When it comes to digital advertisements, it is also important to keep in mind conveying a clear, concise message.  If you wish your small business’s advertisements to go viral – you want the fact you’re selling something to be clear within such advertisements as well.  An offshoot of this is to also ensure your small business’s goods and/or services are easy and accessible to discover and purchase online.  If for some reason your goods and/or services are not – well then, you may be in a spot of bother.  If your products are not easy to find, make it a priority to have them become easy to discover.

As with any aspect of your small business, make sure your brand’s quality and service are top notch.  Millennials are like Boomers in certain ways: such as spreading the word when they have had a good experience with your small business and its goods and/or services.  The only difference is – Millennials have a much greater chance of having a much greater impact.  Millennials are incredibly connected – so if your small business and its services somehow stumble and make a mistake – many more people have the potential to know about it than ever before.

Ensure every interaction you and your small business has with a Millennial is a positive one.  Just like with the negative experiences, positive experiences also have great potential to be broadcast among the different social media platforms.

There you have it.  You and your small business should be well on its way to cultivating the coveted Millennial demographic.  It is important to stay on your toes and gather information about how Millennials are interacting with your brand.  Once you understand this – your goods and/or services will sell better among them.  On top of that, your small business’s brand will have the potential to reach an even more massive audience than you could imagine.  Once you can master marketing to millennials, you will have access to a whole new network of potential customers.