edmiston

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TEXT MESSAGING TO MARKET YOUR BUSINESS

Text-Messaging-for-Small-BusinessIf you’re good at what you do, you will have no problem keeping customers happy and coming back to use your services time and time again. But it’s getting the word out there to obtain those customers in the first place that can be challenging.

One less familiar way that businesses are driving engagement is through text messages. Promotional text messages cost pennies to send, and depending on the platform you use you may not be charged for any messages you receive in return. That makes it possible to have two-way text conversations at a low cost, making it easy to engage customers.

Text Messaging referred to as (SMS) or Short Message Service is often overlooked when promoting your business. Millennials prefer text marketing. They don’t mind receiving marketing messages on their phones.

There are a number of applications where SMS can be used in business.

  • Discount Coupons
  • Order Confirmation
  • Appointment Confirmation
  • Last Minute Cancellations
  • Targeted Sales
  • Surveys
  • Alerts and Notifications

Similar to an email list, you’ll only want to text customers who have signed up to receive communications from you. Pittsburgh North Chamber of Commerce utilizes a text message program to send reminders of Business After Hours events, networking opportunities and other announcements. With effort and a small investment, you can grow your text messaging program to generate many repeat customers.

Target your ideal customers.

It’s incredibly difficult to try to reach every potential customer out there, especially if you’re a small business. It’s much more effective and realistic to take a look at who your target customers are and focus on marketing directly to them. If this works with your business strategy and marketing plan, you can instantly reach thousands of contacts and engage with them, promote your services, or make announcements.

In today’s noisy world, text messages go directly to the customer on a device you know they use every single day, so you know they will see your message. Because… people very seldom leave home without their mobile phone.

About the author: Autumn Edmiston is the CEO and owner of the Edmiston Group. The Edmiston Group is a multifaceted Pittsburgh based marketing consulting firm providing senior level marketing management services to businesses and non-profit organizations on a short or long-term basis. Core areas of service are business development, marketing, strategic planning and public relations. The Edmiston Group has consistently delivered and implemented real-world, proven business marketing ideas and strategies for business.

TIME BLOCKING TIPS FOR PRODUCTION EFFICIENCY

Time-Blocking

Time Blocking is a technique used to focus on a project. I’m guilty of not using this technique efficiently. It’s all too easy to keep your email browser open and immediately respond to the most recent inquiry or touch from a client. But all that back and forth leads to wasted time.

A colleague recently challenged me to keep track and time everything I do in the course of a week to see how my time is spent. By diligently working in this fashion – it has helped me to focus on the task at hand because in my mind I knew that I would need to record what I was doing. I actually put in an entry for nonproductive social media scrolling and personal calls I took during my workweek.

We all have our “To Do” lists and in a recent Tony Robbins podcast, I learned it’s not enough to have the 10 “To Do’s” to move from day to day but we need to pick the top 3 or 4 things that must be done that day and block the time on your calendar to do that given task. No phone calls, no interruptions, no email checks and no social media surfing – just focus at the task at hand.

ARE YOU THE MASTER OF YOUR DAILY SCHEDULE?

Most people let their calendar completely dictate their time. If it’s on the calendar, then it happens. You allow other people to take time from your calendar for calls to schedule appointments and to attend events. But, are you allowing YOURSELF to schedule work time on your calendar to complete projects that adhere to deadlines? By blocking off work time, you remain in control of your calendar and minimize the need to work late nights and weekends to complete projects on time. The end result is a better work life balance.

Large projects require focus and scheduling. It forces you to recognize your priorities and commit to action. This type of blocking helps to minimize procrastination. If you still can’t complete the action for the priority you set on your calendar, then perhaps it isn’t a priority and should be reevaluated.

Do you have Open Loops in your day? These are things that pop up and need to get done, but don’t have a concrete next step. They may float around in your head, pop up in the middle of the night, but they don’t have a priority. Get Things Done works by capturing and defining the next step somewhere that is not your head, ready to act on at a later moment. This is helpful, but doesn’t answer the final open loop about any task: when will I do this? Time blocking helps to prioritize and schedule those open loops with actionable next steps.

IMPROVE YOUR BOTTOM LINE

Time Blocking trains you to be better at estimating how long things take.

When you reach the end of a task before the block is up or reach the end of a block and still have stuff to do, you know you guessed wrong. Rearrange time later in the week to finish the task. Then, review why you estimated wrong. Was the project more complex, were you distracted? By fully understanding the time it takes to complete a task, you will accurately be able to bid future projects.

GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK

Don’t schedule time blocks back to back. Your brain and body need time to adjust to completing a task. I recently purchased a stand up desk and at times during the day shift from sitting to standing. It gives me a different focus.

Things happen throughout the day that can affect your schedule. Don’t sweat it, but be sure you’re the one who remains in control of your calendar and time.

About the author: Autumn Edmiston is the CEO and owner of the Edmiston Group. The Edmiston Group is a multifaceted Pittsburgh based marketing consulting firm providing senior level marketing management services to businesses and non-profit organizations on a short or long-term basis. Core areas of service are business development, marketing, strategic planning and public relations. The Edmiston Group has consistently delivered and implemented real-world, proven business marketing ideas and strategies for business.

SHOW ME THE MONEY!

business-processes-and-operationsNow that you’ve started your business are you ready to take your small business to the next level? As a small business owner, you wear a lot of hats. Things such as scheduling employees, managing finances, creating marketing campaign – you name it! It’s hard work, but setting up processes can make a big difference. It allows others to step in and execute a particular task as you grow.

Finance Your Growth

Establishing a strong relationship with a business banker will help to strategize and prepare your business for growth. Be it a line of credit, merchant processing, or other management issues, it’s important that you stay on top of your finances. For the Edmiston Group, we have our banking relationships. We also keep track of our P & L by the use QuickBooks online. Our bookkeeper enters information into the system and on a quarterly basis our accountant reviews. Our sales tax is paid electronically and by outsourcing this area of my business, I have peace of mind in knowing these experts will keep me on a solid financial footing.

Electronic Invoicing Go Green

Consumers, especially millennials, wholeheartedly support sustainable businesses who go green to combat climate change. What can you do to save on resources? We use electronic means to create and send invoices. Not only does it save time, but money on postage as well.

Streamline Business Operations

How organized are you? Do you have an office filled with loose papers and random documents? When working on projects for multiple clients such as we do, we try and block times in our schedule and turn off email and other distractions.

There are a number of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software tools available. Utilizing a CRM not only allows you to see your sales pipeline but also is a way for you to track past history with a customer. A CRM will allow you to build a healthy relationship with your customers will keep them coming back for more. Analyze purchase history, sale trends, and create loyalty rewards programs. The history will allow you to target market your message to a given audience.

Human Resources Services

You may not have enough money to hire a full HR team. There are a number of consultants that will help you with talent acquisition, review your policy manual and keep you in compliance. As your company grows this is one area you don’t want to neglect.

Project Management Tools – No More Missed Deadlines

Team projects have a number of deadlines and benchmarks. The Edmiston Group uses Asana, but there are many other types of software tools such as: Wrike, Smartsheet, Clarizen, Workzone, Mavenlink, Jira to name a few. They all come with different features and price points. The key is to determine which one will best fit your needs.

Time Tracking Services

If you own a small business, you most likely pay some of your employees hourly. Time tracking services like TSheets, Timeclock Plus, Harvest, When I Work, lets you track time on projects so you hit deadlines on time, as well as determine if your team is working efficiently.

Hire Good Employees

Your employees are who stand between your business and the customer. No one wants bad customer service. Train employees on how to deliver exceptional customer service that your business will be recognized for. Think of the last place you received exceptional customer service. As you open or grow your business, take time to hire the right candidate that will fit your company’s culture and help drive your mission.

Hiring right begins with a comprehensive job description that clearly articulates the duties and responsibilities of the position. Then use the description to post on job search sites that will yield the most qualified candidates.

Grow Your Revenue

These small steps can help to enhance profits in your small business. There are numerous tools, technology, and software to choose from to help grow your business. So… what’s the hold-up?

About the author: Autumn Edmiston is the CEO and owner of the Edmiston Group. The Edmiston Group is a multifaceted Pittsburgh based marketing consulting firm providing senior level marketing management services to businesses and non-profit organizations on a short or long-term basis. Core areas of service are business development, marketing, strategic planning and public relations. The Edmiston Group has consistently delivered and implemented real-world, proven business marketing ideas and strategies for business.

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