SMB Nation Blog

SMB Nation has been serving the Bainbridge Island area since 2001, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Overcoming the Challenges of Starting a Business

Every entrepreneur faces challenges which need to be dealt with persistently and regularly, though few would disagree such difficulties are more prevalent than when you are starting your business.

Sage collaborated with business owners and entrepreneurial support groups to Start up Challenge 1understand the common trials new leaders face, offering guidance to give you the best opportunity when starting your enterprise.

Marketing & Costing

Every new business marketing strategy should begin by examining its competition. If they are successful, find out where they are advertising and how. Use their same marketing techniques to give your own business a jump-start.

Once customers are visiting your store or website, if they are not making purchases, don’t adjust your prices. If you think they are fair, others will, too.

Instead, it is likely they aren’t convinced by your business. Ensure your website is modern-looking and using high-quality images, advertise your most high-end clients by publishing testimonies or getting permission to feature their logos, and offer incentives, like discounted prices.

Customer Contact Information

Most websites feature pop-ups which invite users to sign up to the business’ e-mail campaign so they can stay updated, though it may surprise you that the most effective place for this link is actually on the About page; Blog Tyrant noticed it’s the same customers that are interested in learning about your business that want to know more later, too.

This process can be a little trickier for brick-and-mortar stores, but instead of just asking purchasers to leave their contact information at the till, you can increase the number of sign-ups and purchasers in one go by placing your sign-up forms throughout the store alongside purchase incentives.

Admin

As much as every entrepreneur wants to focus on generating income, every business has to deal with administration. Fortunately, the digital age is making this easier than ever.

From hiring an online virtual assistant who can help you from anywhere in the world, to utilising smart applications, which can do anything from managing your business’ finances to enabling small teams to collaborate and share files, cloud-technology is reducing the time business owners need to dedicate themselves to repetitive and mundane tasks.

Relevant Technology

From AI applications and social media trends, to building responsive websites, technology is changing quickly. Even after following all the best-practice guidance available, one new piece of technology can be enough to cast your enterprise into obscurity.

Thus, it is essential to try and stay on top of the latest trends and innovations which might be relevant to your business strategies. Task your employees with each tracking a key technological area and meet for monthly updates. Alternatively, listen to business-technology podcasts in your free time or hire a virtual assistant to provide you with reports.

Of course, these are only the most common challenges business leaders confront when starting a venture, but the underlying lessons can apply to the majority of issues. Use your competitors’ strategies to break into their customer base, entice customers with attractive displays and incentives, and stay up-to-date on relevant technology that can improve customer experience and make your job easier.

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7 Steps to Start Your First Content-Marketing Campaign

You've heard about all the amazing benefits of content marketing. You want to jump in. But . . . how? Here's how.

Content Marketing

 

Jayson DeMers

Founder and CEO, AudienceBloom

By now, you've heard about all the amazing benefits of content marketing. You know that with the right strategy, you can earn more traffic, build a better reputation and see compound growth in both areas over time without greatly increasing your budget.

In fact, content marketing is truly one of the most cost-efficient marketing strategies around, but its rewards are proportional to the quality of your strategy and execution. That's why more experienced writers and marketing agencies charge more, and why long-running strategies perform better.

So, what if you have no experience with content marketing at all? It would seem that someone totally unfamiliar with this strategy stands no chance of success at all. But, at the same time, everyone has to start somewhere, right?

The truth is, you can enter the content-marketing game with no experience. You might not live up to your full potential right off the bat, but if you follow the approach described below, you'll be publishing with the best of them in no time. Here's how:

1. Get a briefer.

Your first job is to get a briefer on what content marketing involves. Yes, as you're reading this, you probably have a grasp of the basic concept, but you need to dig deeper into the details. Familiarize yourself with the beginning, middle and end of a piece of content's life, how you're going to measure your results and your ROI and the process you'll use to build your empire.

Also, get a high-level perspective on the strategy before you start mastering those details -- you'll be glad you did. If you need help getting started, I presented a webinar about a year ago on this subjectt, which will teach you the basics of content marketing and how those basics relate to search engines.

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Show Us Your...

Show us your newsletter that you send to customers! Here is the official story:

Harry here. I need your help.

I'm researching how MSPs, consultants, IT Pros and good old fashioned 'puter guys communicate with customers (small business owners).

newsletter image


There are a couple reasons for my research. Too often we spend far too much time researching recurring revenue and how to get you to sell more stuff for vendors. I am on a mission to see if we can strengthen the organic relationship between a service provider (MSP, etc) and the SMB customer.

My ask is this.

Please both SEND me and SUBSCRIBE me to the customer facing newsletter you send to your customers. Kindly use the following email address as I anticipate the response to be a large sample size: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

I'll publish the results of my research and analysis. One offshoot I'd like to discover is, based on how you communicate with your real world end-user customers, can we craft a better level of community engagement for Small Business Saturday in late November 2017?

Thank you for helping me. Your participation makes us a better community - even 18-years later since our humble start in the early days of Small Business Server (SBS) in the late 1990s!

Enjoy the ride....harrybbb
Harry Brelsford
206-201-2944 (yep - that's my real phone number!)

UPDATED: I've receive a number of great responses, samples and sign-ups since I announced this matter last Friday, March 17, 2017 (THANK YOU). I'm amazed at the innovation by wiser MSP minds out there. For example - one franchise organization provides newsletters for its franchise holders. Another MSP only sends print newsletters. So far this has been really interesting research.

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MSPs: Learn Enterprise Marketing, on an SMB Budget - Webinar

By Harry Brelsford, CEO, SMB Nation -

MSPs: Learn Enterprise Marketing, on an SMB Budgetmarketing puzzlePS

Join SMB Nation and other MSP's
Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015 at 12:00pm

Marketing is critical for MSPs to maintain their current revenue and grow their bottom line.You’re considering ramping up your marketing efforts in 2016, but is there a realistic way for an MSP owner/operator to accomplish their marketing goals without much time or budget? Where do you start? Where should you focus? What resources are necessary? Let us guide you through the complexity of marketing in a realistic and actionable way.

Click Here To Register!

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Building a Profitable and Scalable Cloud Business / SMB Nation Webinar

Sign up today! SMB Nation Webinar 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM PDT. Friday, Oct 30th

Presented by: Harry Brelsford CEO of SMB Nation and Dan Shapero Founder of CLIKCLOUD Digital Marketing

In today’s ever-changing business landscape, cloud computing is profoundly shifting the way businesses operate. As more SMBs are moving to a cloud-based strategy, new growth opportunities are opening up for channel partners seeking a competitive advantage in the channel.clikCloudlogo2

This session will examine the latest trends impacting SMBs and how they present unique opportunities for channel partners.
Attendees will learn:
● Learn how leveraging Office 365, among other best practices can help build a successful cloud business.
● Gain exclusive IDC research on the latest trends fueling channel success in cloud.
● Explore how leading Cloud Service Providers are capitalizing on Cloud as a “Door Opener”.
● Discover ways to recalibrate your sales compensation to support the Cloud business model.
● Learn about exclusive offers for to help partners implement Microsoft SureStep and Modern Marketing Programs.

Registration Link > https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/46816475679947778

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Adobe and Microsoft Partner to Improve Marketing, Sales and Customer Service

Adobe and Microsoft announced at Adobe Summit a strategic partnership focused on redefining management of marketing, sales and services to better engage with customers across all touch points. adobe

Through this partnership, Adobe’s Marketing Cloud Solutions will be integrated with Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM, creating a CRM-marketing solution that helps brands to take all customer engagements into account.

“Helping our customers reinvent productivity and business processes is one of our top priorities. Partnering with Adobe enables us to deliver a comprehensive set of customer engagement processes to enterprise customers to help them be more productive and better engage with their customers,” said Kirill Tatarinov, executive vice president, Microsoft Business Solutions. “The integration of our industry-leading Dynamics CRM solution with Adobe Marketing Cloud will enable business professionals to maximize their investment in technology and deliver breakthroughs in marketing, sales and customer care.”  

Adobe and Microsoft are also working on a connector to enable data and insights from Adobe Analytics to appear in Microsoft’s Power BI.

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Brands Don’t Know Customers, Study Finds: What Brands Don’t Know Hurts Them

The perception gap between how effective businesses think their marketing strategies are and the customer’s IBM-logo1experience is wide, with 80 percent of consumers saying the average brand doesn’t understand them as an individual.

IBM today announced results of the IBM and Econsultancy study, “Listening to the Customer: 7 New Research Findings,” which discovered deep divides between consumers and companies. The gap between the two results in costly loss of revenue for shopping websites and service providers, among others.

Successful marketers will combine the online and offline presence of the company, creating a continuous, exceptional experience. Investing in marketing innovations, IBM Commerce general manager Deepak Advani said, will give teams the ability to gain insight to demographic and experience information vital for personalizing consumers’ experiences and retaining business.

“The fundamental thinking behind digital marketing has shifted. The goal of providing the right message to the right person at the right time is now just a part of the larger puzzle. The real challenge is providing the right experience for the right person at a time that’s right for them,” said Stefan Tornquist, Vice President Research for the Americas at Econsultancy. “At the center of it all is the marriage of marketing and technology and a commitment to innovation that’s driven by individual customer needs.”

Two parallel online surveys including marketers from more than 275 consumer companies and 1,135 consumers, respectively, contributed to the development of the report, available in full here.

 

 

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Cloud4Wi Mobile Management Provides On-the-go Access

Cloud4Wi, a cloud-based Wi-Fi engagement platform, announcedCloud4Wi today the launch of Cloud4Wi Mobile Management, which provides remote access to its platform to control Wi-Fi marketing campaigns remotely.

“Consumers today expect a great mobile experience. Around half of customers will search for deals and coupons online before making an in-store purchase, about the same amount that will use a Wi-Fi enabled mobile device to do so,” CEO Andrea Calcagno said.. “Brands not leveraging Guest Wi-Fi are missing out when it comes to creating an enhanced experience for shoppers. Cloud4Wi Mobile Management means retailers are always up-to-date on the latest in-store trends even when on the go. This allows them to make changes to their Guest Wi-Fi strategies, create a more customized marketing experience for shoppers and increase loyalty to positively impact their bottom line.”

Cloud4Wi Mobile Management is designed to provide retailers with information on customer Wi-Fi usage and demographics to capitalize on connected customers.

 

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Are you making these 14 Channel Marketing Mistakes?

Jay McBainBy Jay McBain, Co-Founder, ChannelEyes

It doesn’t come as a surprise to Channel Professionals that things are changing faster than ever across the partner ecosystem.  A perfect storm of new technologies, transforming business models, rapidly evolving competition, consumerization and economic forces have fundamentally changed the traditional supplier/partner relationship.

Not only are things moving much faster, the relationships have become significantly more complex.  10 years ago, a solid email, phone, advertising and events strategy was all that was needed to communicate effectively to partners and customers.  Today we have more than 30 marketing vehicles in play, and the level of noise and clutter is, at times, out of control.

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Robin Robins Launches Video Series on how MSPs Can Gain Additional, Quality Clients

Robin RobinsLate last week we heard from our friend Robin Robins, founder of the Technology Marketing Toolkit, who informed us that she has developed (and is now offering) a new video seminar series to show you how to get more high-quality clients to outsource their IT support to you, without discounting or hard-selling. But Robins warns that you must not hesitate as this new content (geared toward) companies selling outsourced IT support services) will only be available for a limited time.

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VaultLogix Offering “Cash for Clients” Incentive for Partners

logo-vaultlogixYou remember Obama’s “Cash for Clunkers” incentive from a few years back? Well VaultLogix has its own incentive, yet their spin is a bit different. The cloud backup service provider is now offering its “Cash for Clients” incentive program through the end of 2013 for its certified VAR partners.

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“Built in Spiceworks” Designed to Give Small Start-Ups a Giant Push

Spiceworks is working to assist SMBs in start-up mode with the introduction of “Built in Spiceworks,” a program designed to help B2B startups get to market and grow their businesses faster. The program pairs startups with hand-selected groups of IT professionals from Spiceworks’ network of 2.5 million to provide the feedback and advice companies need to develop and market the latest B2B products and services.

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Zetta.net Announces New Lead Generation Program and Management Console for MSPs

Zetta LogoYesterday, Zetta.net, a California-based backup and disaster recovery services provider, released news of a new lead generation and marketing program, as well as the addition of an MSP-specific management console for their DataProtect solution. These additions are designed to help SMB MSPs who are looking to update their marketing model and/or move away from application-based systems.

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Continuum’s Marketing Advantage Program will Help MSPs Populate, Nurture Sales Leads

In response to high partner demand for a complete lead generation solution, Continuum introduced today Marketing Advantage, a fully integrated, turnkey marketing program. Developed using input from hundreds of MSPs and research into how and why SMBs buy IT services, the program goes beyond traditional approaches to offer a highly systematic process that addresses the unique marketing requirements of MSPs. Designed as a set-and-forget system, Marketing Advantage requires minimal investment in time and resources with everything implemented and completely customized to the MSP’s brand identity. 

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Constant Contact Releases Technology Pulse Survey Results

Constant Contact logoYesterday, Constant Contact, a Massachusetts-based online marketing company, released the results of their second Technology Pulse survey. Approximately 1305 participants from various B2B and B2C organizations on the Constant Contact Small Biz Council provided insight on the top tools to earn new customers and keep existing customers engaged.

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Friday Afternoon Club with Dana Prestigiacomo, Datto’s New Marketing VP

Even though we heard about this late last year, Datto this morning formally announced that it has hired Dana Prestigiacomo as its new Vice President of Marketing. The new hire was in part due to the result of Datto’s 5,554% revenue growth that occurred from 2009-2011.  

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Top 10 CMO Predictions from IDC Released

IDC logoYesterday, the IDC held a web conference titled “IDC – 2013 IDC - 2013 Chief Marketing Officer Predictions: Today's CMO Becomes Master of Data” which covered the company’s top 10 predictions for the CMO niche in 2013. The event was hosted by respected analysts, Kathleen Schaub and Rich Vancil.

The top 10 IDC predictions for the CMO role in 2013 are as follows:

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