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6 Apps That Make Starting Your Business Easier Than Ever

Becoming an entrepreneur is no easy task but with today’s technology, starting your business is a very real option for anyone, at any stage of their career. The internet is chock-full of useful advice for industry professionals, best practices from top research firms and incredibly useful tools that simplify running and sustaining a business.

With so much available with just a few clicks, let’s look at six apps you need to make starting your business easier than ever.

eSign

One of the first things you’ll learn when you’re starting your business is that there are no business hours. Luckily there’s eSign from Adobe which allows you to sign contracts, disclosures, or any document right from your mobile phone. You can even forward documents that require more than one signature and track its progress so you know who to call to keep your startup moving forward.

Juggling, Commitment Issues, and Growth: What’s Your Micropreneur Struggle?

Sometimes I’m so busy focused on what I’m doing with my own business—both the wins and the challenges—that I don’t know what’s going on in the world around me. I find that there’s comfort in knowing that others share the same frustrations (and successes) as I do as a micropreneur. So I asked a few of my contacts what their micropreneur struggle has been. Do their answers ring true with you, too?

Juggling, Commitment Issues, and Growth: What’s Your Micropreneur Struggle?

Being a One-Woman Show Is Lonely

Micropreneurs, by definition, work alone. Sometimes, though, that presents its own micropreneur struggle, or it has for Allison Bethurem Sinclair, Founder of Matryoshka Media Group.

For the first few years, I found it hard to not have a team to bounce ideas off of and brainstorm with. When presenting campaigns or projects to clients, I always felt so confident with my ideas when I received positive feedback from co-workers. Once on my own, I lost that and had to just go with my gut and work it out on my own. Luckily I am still connected to old colleagues so when I really need it, i’ll shoot them an email. For the most part though, I do what feels right and it turns into a success and a happy client.

How to Use Your Business’ Birthday as a Customer Appreciation Tool

As I’ve blogged here before, every year on Egg’s birthday (June 30, if you’re curious), I send our clients birthday gifts. Seems backward to give gifts on our birthday, but it’s fun, and there’s purpose.

How to Use Your Business' Birthday as a Customer Appreciation Tool

For one, I don’t talk to many of our clients on a regular basis, or if I do, it’s purely transactional and via email. Sending an egg-shaped gift surprises and delights people. It makes them think more about us as a company, and it humanizes us. It’s a fantastic customer appreciation tool.

6 Tips To Make Naming Your Business Easier

It’s an exciting place to be: you have a business model, your business plan is underway, you’ve identified your target customer, and scoped out your market. All that is left is settling on your business name. After reading “7 Mistakes to Avoid When Naming Your Business” by our President, Susan Payton, I wanted to write about naming a company from a marketing perspective.

6 Tips To Make Naming Your Business Easier

When you’ve just begun conceptualizing your enterprise you may have a name or a phrase to which you have an emotional attachment that you’ll want to use for your business without any research or forethought. It’s great that you have the enthusiasm to forge ahead, but it’s important to do some study before you commit to that name. After all, you’ll be stuck with it for the life of your business, so it should be well-planned. Here are six things to keep in mind as you develop your company’s name:

Happy 9th Birthday to Egg!

We're quickly creeping to the 10-year mark at Egg Marketing & Communications, and today we celebrated 9 years in business. Every year, I'm so grateful for our amazing roster of clients — many of whom have been with us since Egg's early days — as well as my ever-growing team. Here I'd like to introduce you to the companies we help.

Franchise Roundup: Marketing, Failure, and Lessons Learned

I spend a lot of time blogging about marketing a from-scratch small business, but less blogging about marketing a franchise. Which is funny, because I used to own one. So let’s look at some marketing tips, as well as lessons I’ve learned from the failure of my ice cream shop in this franchise roundup.

Franchise Roundup: Marketing, Failure, and Lessons Learned

Lesson 1: The Franchisor Will Not Do All the Marketing

That’s probably the biggest thing I needed to learn. Just because we were a part of the Marble Slab Creamery family didn’t mean they would hold our hands in the marketing. Yes, they sent promotional material, but it was me contacting the local Little League and pitching them on hosting an ice cream social at our store. Or placing ads with coupons in the local paper.

Event Marketing on a Shoestring

Whether your small business sells goods or services, marketing events can be an ideal way to get in front of your audience because you literally get in front of your audience. Marketing events can encompass a variety of events; from trade shows to roundtables to cocktails, meaning any business with any budget can pursue event marketing, even on a shoestring.

The Open House

Don’t underestimate the power of relationships. Inviting customers, clients, business partners and other interesting guests to your office or store will create a touchpoint with your audience and an opportunity to put a face to an email address or voice on the other end of the phone. You only have to provide some wine (there are four glasses per bottle and people usually have two glasses max), and something to nibble on, to host an event.

To take your open house a step further, make it a charitable event and encourage guests to bring cans of food or donations and watch your guest list grow. Plus, you might be able to write off the expense. And you can add your open house to local community events pages for free PR and advertising.

Experiment Now to Improve Your Small Business Marketing

No matter what time of year it is, you can continue your annual plan to improve your small business marketing by looking for ways to experiment. New technologies, services and strategies are popping up every day and now is the perfect time to do a little research and dip your toe into new pools. Asking a junior member of your team to do some research and manage the experiment not only frees your time but also improves their professional development and skills. So let’s look at some ways you can experiment with your marketing this month.

Like any good experiment, you must start with a hypothesis. So look at your marketing and identify something you want to improve or a trend you see. Then, create a hypothesis around how you can improve your small business marketing and design an experiment so you can get the best outcome for your business.

Experiment with Personas

Personas can be extremely powerful and effective ways to market to your audience. More than segments, personas group your audience by behaviors and allow you to speak their language, on the channels they use, offering the value they need from your product or service. Putting together a plan can be simple, but be sure you inform your marketing and sale teams what you’re experimenting with and why, so you can remain consistent outside of the experiment.

Giant Post of Productivity: Marketing, Operations, and More

I write about productivity on other blogs, and occasionally here, and wanted to share with you some of the best productivity resources and tips I’ve found for managing your time, no matter what area of your small business you’re working on.

Giant Post of Productivity: Marketing, Operations, and More

Manage Your Marketing Minutes

Especially if you’re not a marketer by trade like I am, you need to maximize the time you spend on marketing tasks. If you feel drained by sitting down several times a week to write blog content, block off a chunk of time and knock several of them out at once. I also like scheduling them several weeks out so I don’t have to worry about filling the blog bucket each week.

And while it might seem counterintuitive to better productivity, writing more can actually make it easier to get flowing when you need to write content. I also like to keep a list of blog topics handy so I don’t waste brain energy coming up with one when I need to use that energy to write.

Now’s the Time to Use Social Sweepstakes

As the social media space gets more and more crowded with advertisers and marketers of all sizes, social sweepstakes are proving a valuable way to generate more followers and more leads. Let’s look at how you can conduct your own contest on social media.

Pick Your Venue, Know the Rules

You may decide that running a contest on all the social media platforms doesn’t make sense. A Pin It To Win It contest, for example, doesn’t really makes sense on Facebook while a simple hashtag on a photo contest works across platforms. Choose a channel, or multiple, and then develop the type of contest to run based on your audience, platform user profile and, not least, the rules of that social media site. Pinterest has the least rules, while Facebook has the most. Be sure you follow their guidelines or risk getting banned.

From the Journalist’s Mouth: 5 Things You’re Doing Wrong With Press Releases

I will argue that press releases are an essential part of a good marketing and public relations strategy. But it occurred to me: what do journalists and reporters think of them? Are they accomplishing what we want them to (getting the attention of the media and making them clamor to write about our brands)? So I asked a selection of journalists what they thought of press releases. Their responses make it pretty clear where many businesses are missing the mark, and lay a clear plan for how we can improve. So here are the things you’re doing wrong with press releases…and how to do better.

From the Journalist’s Mouth: 5 Things You’re Doing Wrong With Press Releases

1. You’re Not Targeting Us Well Enough

I heard this again and again: journalists are sick of companies sending press releases that don’t relate to the beats they cover.

“If I’m a reporter in Miami and we cover all hard news, why would I care about a man in Kansas who just wrote a book that has nothing to do with my market?” says former TV reporter turned media relations specialist Christina Nicholson. Learn a lesson from this and make sure you only send press releases to journalists who cover your industry (and your geographic area).

4 Don’t Ignore Data Points To Help with Your Marketing

Big Data is all the buzz these days, but it’s a double-edged sword. On the one hand, we’ve got more useful information that can help us really target our customer experience online, but on the other, there’s simply a ton of data out there, and sometimes we experience overload. Don’t shy away from data just because you don’t know what to pay attention to or how to interpret it. These four data points, if you listen to what they tell you, pack the biggest punch in terms of helping you do more with your marketing.

4 Don't Ignore Data Points To Help with Your Marketing

1. Keywords Sending You Traffic

In order to attract more visitors to your website, you need to know how existing visitors find you. Start with your keywords. Google Analytics will tell you the words people searched for before clicking on your site. Review these to make sure they’re a good fit for what your site offers, and use them more frequently in your web copy and blog posts.

2. Websites Sending You Traffic

Also pay attention to what sites are referring traffic to yours. Traffic might come from guest posts you’ve written on bigger blogs, press releases, or social media. Naturally, you want more of the channels that are sending you the most traffic, so consider amping up your efforts there and pulling back on the channels that aren’t sending you much (or any) traffic.

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