This post brought to you by SMSGlobalsmall business support

Five years ago, Facebook marketing was where it was at for businesses wanting to grow their market share and succeed. While Facebook – and other social media platforms – are still extremely relevant, the digital landscape continues to evolve and adapt to changing technologies and consumer behaviour.

Read on to find out four communication mediums and platforms you should be using to help your business succeed:

1. Your Own Website

Anything you ‘own’ is gold as far as digital marketing and communication goes. On your own website, you get to control the content and can access so much valuable data to help understand what people want from your business. Make sure that your website is updated regularly – and not just with great, engaging content. It’s important that you stay up-to-date with technological advances as well, especially as mobile becomes a dominant way that people access websites. ‘Mobile friendly’ isn’t enough anymore; to avoid a high bounce rate you need to ensure that your website has full functionality regardless as to whether your users are on a computer or a portable device like a tablet or their smartphone.

2. SMS Marketing

How effective is your email newsletter? Is it really working for you or does it end up sitting unread in a cluttered inbox, or worse, in the ‘junk’ folder of your target audience? Marketing messages don’t have to be lengthy to make an impact – you can achieve great results with 160 characters or less! The modern consumer likes to be able to choose how they receive messages and communication from companies so make sure you are giving your customers options for how you interact with them. Providers like SMSGlobal make it easy and effective for businesses to start SMS messaging customers virtually straight away.

3. Podcasting

Did you know that Soundcloud has more active users than Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram? While YouTube and video content may seem like where you should be focussing your multimedia attention, audio shouldn’t be discounted as a viable option to grow your audience and build a relationship with your customers. Harvard and PlayStation are two companies who are using Soundcloud and audio streaming to achieve great results.

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4. Pinterest

If you run a business with an e-commerce element, you could be losing sales if you don’t have an active Pinterest profile. With a business profile, you can set yourself up a virtual shopfront and use the platform to drive qualified, motivated buyers to your shop. Even if you don’t actively sell anything, you can still use Pinterest to increase your website traffic and grow your audience and influence, so make sure you’ve installed a Pinterest widget or app on your own website to make it easy for your site visitors to pin and share useful information they find.

It’s important to remember that you don’t have to be on every single platform so make sure that you have a well thought out, strategic communication plan and choose the mediums that you have the time and resources to put adequate effort into to achieve impact and results.

What platforms or mediums would you recommend for business growth?

Images courtesy of photostock and sippakorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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This post brought to you by Elbowroomwomen in business

Starting a new business is just like starting a new stage in your life. Knowing what niche in the market you want to fill is one thing, but implementing an action plan to bring it to life is quite another.

If you’re in need of some advice, take a look at four things you should consider during this daunting – yet truly exciting – period of your life.

1. Online or Bricks and Mortar?

Have you thought about whether it’s more effective to run your business online or in a bricks and mortar location? If you’re thinking of running your business online, make sure you consider the most cost-effective and secure hosting for your website. You must also search for user-friendly website layouts for the best client experience.

If you’re looking to base your business outside of the digital realm, you must understand which office or shop will work best for you. For example, how will you most effectively display your products? Do you have a stock room for deliveries and excess products? Take a look at companies like Elbowroom to see how you can safely organise your stock. Click here to see their range of pallet racking solutions, and start researching to find other solutions that best suit your business’ platform.

2. Legal Matters

To avoid headaches down the line, you need to have considered all legal obligations before you start your business. For example, once you’ve chosen your business name, you must register it and trademark it to stop any other companies from taking on the same title. General insurance and insurance for public liability are other crucial elements to consider before you open your doors.

3. Social Media

Social media has become a powerful tool in getting your brand well known, especially in your business’ early days. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube are all great platforms to consider when you need to advertise your business. Also ensure you conduct ongoing research to see which channels best sell your product and appeal to your clients. To do this consistently well, you may need to hire a social media professional.

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4. Know Your Clients and Competition

To ensure the long-term success of your business, you must know the likes and dislikes of your clients and how effectively your competition is campaigning their products and services. Social media is again a key tool in understanding how past and present campaigns and trends performed with your target clients.

Before you start your business, research established and other start-up companies that will be your competition. Learn how they optimise their content towards their clients and read any feedback and comments their clients leave on their social media pages and on review sites. This will help you understand what you should (or should not) be doing when you’re running and branding your business.

While the process of starting up a new business can be overwhelming, it’s important to take it step by step. If you know of any other points to consider, please leave them in the comments.

Images courtesy of phanlopp88 and Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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This post brought to you by Airtaskermumpreneur

Being a mum in biz means you are juggling many different roles and managing them all can be extremely stressful.  Just how do you juggle kids, housework, cooking, school/kinder runs, after school activities, play dates and run a business?  It takes hard work and supreme organisation and flexibility.

Read on for our tips on how to make everything fit so you have more time for business:

Get your kids to help

Get your kids to do more around the house with a schedule/routine/reward chart to help them with the structure.

Believe it or not, kids actually like routine. If you talk openly with them about how much you value their help and what it means when mum can get more work done (depending on their age of course), they will likely be very accommodating (even more so if you add a reward at the end of each job).  If you make a daily routine, new habits will be formed and they will start to do their jobs without being asked.

Outsource the Household stuff

Consider using outsourcing sites to get jobs done around the house that you’ve been putting off.  You can get everything done from your windows to the gardening to cleaning services from Airtasker in Melbourne by simply placing your ‘job ad’ and having people bid on it.

I didn’t have time to drive around with my boyfriend when he was learning on his L’s so we found someone on Airtasker for $20 an hour to do it!  Time is money and there is always someone willing to do a task you have been putting off if they are being rewarded financially.

Outsource the Biz stuff

Outsource your admin/bookkeeping/easier tasks to a VA.  They can take care of all of those “do later” jobs you have been putting off such as accounts/admin but countless other tasks such as manage your  social media, diary, non-important emails and even take phone calls!

You will be surprised how much time having a VA can save you and because they are specialists at what they do they will jobs done in half the time you will!

Take on an Intern or Staff Member

If a VA isn’t for you, consider using a friend looking for work, a school mum or an intern.  Your local university or TAFE is a good place to start to find someone in your field or a wanted ad on Gumtree or the like. Use social media to reach out to people as well. You never know who might know someone suitable on Facebook or LinkedIn.

This arrangement is win win as you get extra time to spend on your business and they get practical experience in their field.

Get a Cook

Get a cook. There are many businesses that now deliver meals to your home, or food and recipes for you to cook yourself.

Or you could be like me and pay a friend/school mum to make meals for you. When my chef mum cooks for us, she simply makes more of what she is cooking for her family – so it works for everyone!

If you can’t let go of this job, make sure you meal plan and do some big cook ups and freeze your meals so all you have to do is defrost, heat and serve.  Thinking about and preparing dinner on the day is guaranteed to take up much needed time.

Get up earlier

This one won’t work for everyone (i.e. me), but getting up just one hour earlier each day means you are on the front foot and can get in some solid time before the kids wake.  If your kids wake early, use the time to get them ready, engage with them or have some family fun.  That way you won’t feel guilty later for spending extra time on your business.

It is virtually impossible to do everything yourself when you are a mum in business.  Fortunately, there are many ways you can free up a few hours a week by outsourcing  some simple jobs.  Don’t be afraid to let go of the reins a bit. You will be a much happier mum and your business and family will benefit.

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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This post brought to you by Capital Training Institutewomen in business

With New Year celebrations well and truly behind us, and the optimism of our resolutions beginning to fade away, it can be easy to slip into old habits at work. But 2015 is not over yet, so hold onto that optimism and take control of your career.

Whether you have a clear idea of where you are heading, or you are just not quite sure but know you need a change – here are 3 easy steps to kick-start your career now.

1. Identify the next step on the career ladder

The easiest way to move upwards at work is to have a clear idea of how you get there.

Take the bull by the horns, be proactive and organise a meeting with your manager to discuss career progression options.

Get clarity on what challenges you need to overcome and the potential routes you can take to get your foot on the next rung of your career ladder. Have an open and honest discussion with you manager to let them know that you are willing and open to taking on more responsibility whenever it comes up.

Make sure you and your manager are in firm agreement on where you are heading and how you are going to get there this year.

2. Back to College: Re-train or Upskill

To be successful in the long term it sometimes pays to change direction, or to take some time out to learn new skills through training. There is a growing trend in employees returning to school to skill up.

Adding to your existing skills by taking a training course, or re-training for a completely new industry demonstrates to new employers that you have the initiative to take your career into your own hands, and highlights your commitment and desire to progress.

Here are some top tips to consider when choosing a course that works for you:

• Does the training institute recognise prior learning or experience?
• Are there flexible learning options available?
• Is the course recognised nationally?
• How is the course delivered e.g. in a classroom or out on-site?
• Will the qualification help you to get a job or promotion?

Once you’ve found the right course for you consider approaching your manager to see if your company will assist with or cover the cost of the course.

3. Get your work-life balance right

Our work life balance has a bigger impact on how we perform at work than we often like to think.

Eating healthy, keeping fit, drinking more water and getting a few more early nights are staple New Years resolutions. So if they appeared on your list at the beginning of January then now is the time to make a real effort to carry them out.

The well-known saying ‘a healthy body makes for a healthy mind’ really does ring true.

Hitting the desk fresh and ready, with improved concentration, more ideas and the power to fend off an attack of the mid-afternoon slump means you’ll be right on track for that upcoming promotion.

For 4 more tips – take a look at our presentation below:

If you are interested in learning more about training and qualifications available in Australia then visit Capital Training Institute. They offer a wide range of courses from Project Management and Business Administration to Safety Training and Building Courses.

Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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This post by Melissa Pepers, Lure GraphicsSEO Article-300x249

Like all new digital industries the landscape of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has seen rapid change over the last few years. If you are reading this article, like me, you have probably identified that ranking highly on search engines might be a worthwhile way for you to generate new customers.

I taught myself SEO because I wanted to show search engines that my business Lure Graphics was a relevant result for those looking for a strategically focused design service. I now rank on page 1-2 for the most competitive search term in my target market – Melbourne graphic design studios – without having ever paid a cent for it. The best advice I can give you is to learn SEO for yourself.

The power of SEO hinges on one central concept – relevance. As long as search engines have existed they have focused on ensuring the most relevant results get displayed and every algorithm change builds upon the idea of improving machine understanding of what makes a website relevant for a given term.

In its infancy, this involved things like how often keywords appeared on your page and resulted in a lot of ugly, spammy sites being ranked highly. Fortunately the industry has come a long way since then, here are some of today’s most important SEO tips:

MOBILE-FIRST STRATEGY

There has been a global shift towards using mobile as a primary source of Internet access that is evidenced in Google’s ‘mobilegeddon’ algorithm change. This algorithm change means if your website is not optimized for mobile it won’t rank highly or at all on mobile searches, making it mandatory for all websites to be responsive.

Making your website responsive isn’t just about ranking highly in Google, it also means your users will find your website easier to navigate which leads to more traffic and potential customers. You can find out if your website is optimized here.

MAKE A BLOG

A blog is necessary if you want to rank highly because they demonstrate to search engines that your page is relevant. They bring new people to your website including potential customers (popularity) and they keep people on the website for a while, which demonstrates to search engines that your page offers people valuable content (quality). Blogs are also a great business tool for brand engagement as they enable you to show your customers why you are an authority on what you do.

The big question for everyone is of course what to post. I recommend a two-way approach of using posts to answer commonly asked questions about your industry (this creates a higher volume of traffic but is less likely to create leads) and cover specific areas unique to your business and its niche skills (this creates a lower volume of traffic but is more likely to create leads). You can also find guest writers through sites like Source Bottle who are able to write specialty content for you.

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PERSONALISATION

When you check how you rank for a search term it is important to ensure that the results are as accurate an indication of your websites ranking as possible. Unless personalization is forced off, most search results are bias as a result of your location, frequently visited sites and many other factors. To force personalization off, type your search query in and hit enter. Then add the text that is inside the quotation marks to the end of the text in the address bar: “&pws=0&filter=0” hit enter again and you will see your search results have changed.

So what does the future of SEO look like? Google, the largest search engine continues to be the trailblazer here and they are currently investing a lot of resources into a new team. Predictably, the work of this team is in line with that central concept of relevance – they are looking at the gargantuan task of defining what a fact is.

In the future they intend to rank highly those results that are most factual. For businesses, this means that those who rank higher will likely have content that demonstrates they are the best and know the most about what they are doing. Therefore customers will easily find businesses that are likely to actually be the best at what they sell – essentially ranking businesses based on quality of service.

Lure Graphics is a design strategy studio that solve business challenges through innovation.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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