How Retailers can Choose the Best Business Services Provider

How Retailers can Choose the Best Business Services Provider

 
person holding blue card
 


Opening a new business can be a daunting process for any individual. From selecting the right location to securing the inventory, the process involves layers of intricacy that helps in determining the success. Among different aspects of opening a new account, lays another important aspect, i.e., selecting a business service provider. With numerous best online business services to choose from, people get overwhelmed with the options. It is essential to choose the right service provider to avoid any complexity in the future. 

Though the credit card processing industry is difficult to understand initially, the business owners need to research a lot to find the right credit card processor for your business. Since every company charges a different amount for every transaction, your decision can have significant consequences for the success of a business.

Business Services Provider Facts

As the owner of a business, you need the facts on merchant services. Businesses that accept payment from clients via credit or debit card work with a merchant services provider. So what should you expect from your business service provider, and how do you know you have the payment solution that’s right for your business?

  • They allow you to accept credit and debit cards
  • They help you meet and maintain security standards
 

Meeting Security Guidelines of the Payment Card Industry

The PCI Standard is mandated by the card brands and administered by the payment card industry security standards council. The standard was created to increase controls around cardholder data to reduce credit card fraud. Validation of compliance is performed annually, either by an external Qualified Security Assessor or by a firm-specific Internal Security Assessor that creates a Report on Compliance for organizations handling large volumes of transactions, or by Self-Assessment Questionnaire for companies handling smaller volumes. 

The Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) was then formed and these companies aligned their individual policies to create the PCI DSS. MasterCard, American Express, Visa, JCB International, and Discover Financial Services established the PCI SSC in September 2006 as an administration/governing entity which mandates the evolution and development of PCI DSS. Independent/private organizations can participate in PCI development after proper registration. Each participating organization joins a particular SIG (Special Interest Group) and contributes to the activities which are mandated by the SIG.

The intentions of each were roughly similar: to create an additional level of protection for card issuers by ensuring that business meets minimum levels of security when they store, process, and transmit cardholder data.

person picking blue card

How to Choose the Best Business Service Provider

Choosing a business service provider can be confusing but with the right information, you can make a wise, informed decision.

  1. Find a provider with a proven track record.
  2. Investigate technical support options.
  3. Make sure the rates are reasonable.
  4. Consider the specific needs of your business.
  5. Make sure that your monthly processing volume is not capped.

Understand what will fit best for your retail business

How do you determine what merchandise is right for your store? How do you know if the vendor you’ve chosen will prove to be beneficial in the long run? What standards have you put in place to judge whether the merchandise you buy will be what customers want?

 

Consumers are no longer solely concerned just with the price point. Purchase decisions are now being made with more factors at play, things such as brand differentiation, reputation, and customer-centric return policies. But it’s hard to read a customer’s mind, and it’s also a challenge for retailers to figure out where they fit when compared with their competition. Especially for retailers just starting out, it may feel like a lot of decisions are made on guesswork or instinct. Market research can remove much of that uncertainty, by helping you understand your industry, your target customer, your competition, and your product. And when you understand all that, your chances of success are a lot greater.

Do your due diligence when choosing a merchant services provider

Thinking innovation is a must. Review the ratings and potentials of your business services provider and see what providers are getting the best reviews from their recent clients. Comprehend the service charges and fees upfront. 
 

Last, you need to get all the service charges and fees on the table to make the best decision for your business

If you are a newly established business, the budget may fall short and a secret fee or two could be a budget-buster. Convey with potential business services provider and guarantee you know the fee structure before signing on the dotted line.
 
grey laptop computer displaying 12:00 on table near coffee cup and eyeglasses

Conclusion

Choosing the best business services provider is really important to your retail business, whether you are managing an online e-commerce store, or opening a small business in your community. If you understand what you’re doing and know how to minimize the risks and challenges, the independence, personal satisfaction and financial rewards you can achieve as an entrepreneur mean that starting a small business could be the best decision you’ll ever make.

Guts, Resilience, Initiative, Tenacity (GRIT) VS Intelligence Quotient (IQ)

Why Grit Is More Important Than IQ When You’re Trying To Become Successful

 
 

What’s the best predictor of success? IQ, talent, luck?

Nope. It’s ‘grit,’ more than anything else.

It is the ability to persist in something you feel passionate about and persevere when you face obstacles. This kind of passion is not about intense emotions or infatuation. It’s about having direction and commitment. When you have this kind of passion, you can stay committed to a task that may be difficult or boring.  

Grit is also about perseverance. To persevere means to stick with it; to continue working hard even after experiencing difficulty or failure.  

Research indicates that the ability to be gritty—to stick with things that are important to you and bounce back from failure—is an essential component of success independent of and beyond what talent and intelligence contribute. 

Grit is important because it is a driver of achievement and success, independent of and beyond what talent and intelligence contribute. Being naturally smart and talented are great, but to truly do well and thrive, we need the ability to persevere. Without grit, talent may be nothing more than unmet potential. It is only with effort that talent becomes a skill that leads to success. Without grit, talent may be nothing more than unmet potential. So how can you measure grit? One way was a “deceptively simple” test called a Grit Scale, which asks how much you self-identify with statements such as “I am a hard worker” to “New ideas and projects sometimes distract me from previous ones.”

Beyond IQ, talent, and whatever else has any kind of effect on anything, what most affects your ability to achieve your goals is grit. Grit is a combination of passion and perseverance, a belief that failure can be overcome. It’s a willingness to conquer challenges, instead of avoiding them.

The only person that can really push you a little bit further in life is yourself.

Grit is both a trait and a skill. Grit is that mix of passion, perseverance, and self-discipline that keeps us moving forward in spite of obstacles. Grit says, “I’ve got this.”

You can develop your capacity for grit. Your response to a challenging situation is more important the obstacle you face. Ryan Holiday says “obstacle is the way”. And you need grit to push through the obstacle every time you face a challenge.

Dr. Angela Duckworth, author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseveranceis the best-known researcher of grit, and she defines Grit as: “working strenuously toward challenges, maintaining effort and interest over years despite failures, adversity, and plateaus in progress.”

Tenacity matters so greatly because, as she explains, “effort counts twice.”

The emerging science of grit is teaching us a lot about why some people redouble their efforts when the rest of us are heading for the door. The ability to stick with and pursue a goal over a long period is an important indicator of achieving anything worthwhile in life. Grit is a better indicator of success than talent. No matter how talented you think you are, if you don’t put in the work, it will amount to nothing.

Grit begins with a growth mindset. If you strongly believe in the science of human growth in mindset, you have a greater chance of cultivating your grit over time. That belief alone can give you the perspective you need to stick with something even when the process is difficult. What can you do in small ways every day that would make it easy to take the necessary steps to pursue your life-long goals? Perseverance and resilience have a lot to do with success than you think.

Grit is essential for your success in life, but it is not attractive. Grit requires sacrifice: embrace the challenge! It’s going to get hard, right? It’s going to be difficult and you are going to want to give up. And some people, a lot of people, will. The act of becoming a master at your craft takes a lot of purposeful practice. You will experience messy frustration. Motivation will ebb and flow, but you can only improve when you commit to constant practice. You will make tons and tons of mistakes in the process. Making mistakes and failing is normal — in fact, they’re necessary.

Embrace the long repetitive process to get better. Grit takes time, and many people aren’t giving it. The cost of being the best and pushing towards meaningful work takes a lot of sacrifices. Many people are not ready for that. But the whole point here is that the positive mindset needed to get to the long-term goal can be developed over time. You can maintain the effort and interest need to finish hard. Sometimes you have to let go of something good to grasp something great. The tendency not to abandon tasks in the face of obstacles builds the resilience you need to succeed in life.

So always remember: Be proud of your work. And never quit trying.

Cultivate your grit and push yourself further outside your comfort bubble. And remember what Ryan Holiday said, “The obstacle is the way”.

How to Make Smarter Decisions for your Business

Tips to Make Better Decisions for Your Business

three persons in front of table

Inside your business, there are three levels of decision-making.

The problem is, most entrepreneurs are unaware of this, so they simply make whatever decision they think is best. In the beginning, this is fine, because you build initial success and momentum through trial and error. 

It helps to be the entrepreneur who breaks things and innovates, but as you scale your business from six to seven figures, you need to evolve from an entrepreneur into a CEO. You need to own your business so it no longer owns you, which requires a different level of thinking.

Within your business there are three types:

  • Reactive decision-making- Every entrepreneur begins here. You wake up each morning and feel like a firefighter putting out one flame after another. You have no idea where the next one will spring up, but you know it will at some point. You react to everything around you, meaning you spend little time on the decisions you make. You never feel like you have enough time, and it’s hard to feel like you’re on top. Worse, you use a lot of your energy doing this, which means you have less of it to reserve for the things that matter within your business. So long as you base your decision-making on reactive thinking, you have a hustle, not a business.
  • Proactive decision-making- Depending on your business and initial success, you can move into proactive decision-making rather quickly. This is the stage where you think 90 days in advance. You no longer wake up each day putting out fires; instead, you wake up knowing what to do and when to do it. Entering the proactive decision-making stage is an important period for an entrepreneur because you now have enough time and energy to plan for the future. You begin to understand your cash flow, where you will be 90 days from now, and the general plan and process to get you from A to B. As an entrepreneur it’s vital you get to this level of thinking as soon as possible, because in this stage you can see what’s coming at you before it reaches you. This allows you to proactively deal with obstacles and stop mistakes from spiraling out of control.
  • Strategic decision-making- The truth is, few entrepreneurs get to this stage, and it can take those that do years to think at a strategic level on a daily basis. This is the promised land. Those who base their decision-making around strategic thinking are the ones who own the most impactful businesses, and those who enjoy true happiness, abundance, and freedom. What drives this growth is your mindset, and you can make huge strides today by simply thinking about all this. Be aware of where you are, and commit to this idea of becoming a strategic thinker.

In the beginning, most entrepreneurs base their decision-making on reactive thinking. You move at a fast pace, so it’s near impossible to strategize and come up with a plan.

Your aim is to elevate through these three levels until you base the majority of your decisions on strategic thinking. 

person holding pencil near laptop computer

What is Risk?

A probability or threat of damage, injury, liability, loss, or any other negative occurrence that is caused by external or internal vulnerabilities, and that may be avoided through preemptive action. 

Most decisions require information not only about risk but about other things as well. This additional information can include such things as cost, schedule requirements, and public perception. In risk-based decision making, all of the identifiable factors that affect a decision must be considered. The factors may have different levels of importance in the final decision. Therefore, an orderly decision analysis structure that considers more than just risk is necessary to give decision-makers the information needed to make smart choices. 

To fully understand your business risk, every business needs to focus on three things, which will vary based on your business model and customer base:

1. Measure the risk

2. Monitor the risk so you can react to it

3. Wherever possible, take actions to mitigate the risk

All three of these areas are important because no one of them is sufficient to run your small business. There are several resources available for business owners to help you evaluate and measure your business risk. There are also services to provide information on industry and customer sentiment. What’s more, there are advisors and tools at little or no cost through public agencies and universities to help you better understand and mitigate risk in your business. 

Understanding Short-Term vs. Long-Term Risk Impacts:

Short-term is a concept that refers to holding an asset for a year or less, and accountants use the term “current” to refer to an asset expected to be converted into cash in the next year or a liability coming due in the next year. The accounting profession uses current assets and current liabilities to perform analysis, and in the investing industry, a security with a holding period of one year or less is a short-term security.
Generally, a timeframe for investing in which an asset is held for at least seven to ten years. The measure of a “long-term” time frame can vary depending on the asset held or the investment objective. In business accounting measures, long-term can be a period of time that exceeds 12 months.


Cyclical Businesses

A cyclical industry is a type of industry that is sensitive to the business cycle, such that revenues generally are higher in periods of economic prosperity and expansion and are lower in periods of economic downturn and contraction. Companies in cyclical industries can deal with this type of volatility by implementing employee layoffs and cuts to compensate during bad times and paying bonuses and hiring en masse in good times.


The business cycle is comprised of four discrete phases. During the expansionary phase, productivity grows, unemployment shrinks and stock markets tend to rise. Because more people are employed during this phase and their investment portfolios are growing, they have more discretionary income and are less reticent about spending it. The peak follows the expansionary phase. At this point, the economy has reached the end of an expansion and subsequently begins its contractionary phase.

person using black laptop

Where Can Small Businesses Improve

Making consistent improvements to enhance your business is critical toward its success and sustainability. Things like monitoring cash flow consistently, utilizing social media for marketing and recognizing your strengths while asking for help in areas that are less so, can help you focus on improving areas of your business that offer the biggest gain.

Why Creating a Blog Could Benefit Any Small Business

Why Creating a Blog Could Benefit Any Small Business

person holding white Apple Magic Mouse beside iMac and keyboard

With the constant advancements in technology, it is becoming increasingly important for small businesses to develop an emphasized web presence. While having a highly optimized website is an essential component in the development of a comprehensive online marketing and branding strategy, the competitive nature of the global economy demands that businesses go further. One of the most effective ways to build brand awareness, while providing relevant and useful content to your target audience is through consistent blogging.

Blogging is an inexpensive way for small businesses to drive traffic to their site, enhance inbound marketing efforts and attract more prospective customers.

According to a recent inbound marketing report, nearly 80% of companies that use blogging as a part of their marketing strategy reported acquiring customers through their blogging efforts. Additionally, 82% of businesses admit that blogging is critical to their business.

Boosting SEO

All of the major search engines are enamored for fresh, relevant content and blogging is one of the most straightforward and inexpensive methods for offering this content. When a business creates blog posts consistently, they are constantly providing Google, Bing, Yahoo and the others with fresh content to index. This is also an opportunity for businesses to insert those relevant keywords that consumers will use to search for the types of services or products that the business offers.

flat photography of MacBook and boxes

Developing/Enhancing Relationships

Customer engagement is an immensely important element of online marketing and branding, and blogging provides the opportunity for you to connect with your existing and potential customers. Blogging is a good way to build trust with your target audience through high-quality content that they find relevant. With an active comment section, you will also be able to follow the visitors’ responses to your posts, and you will be able to respond directly to their comments, which is huge in building trust and relationships.
two people handshaking above table with laptop

Establishing The Business

It does not matter how small your business is, blogging is a good way for your business to build trust and establish clout in your industry by providing content that will be viewed as valuable, expert information. In time, posting blogs that are helpful and informative on a regular basis can make you the “go to” resource in your particular niche within the industry, subsequently increasing leads and conversion rates.

Connecting People to The Brand

Brand awareness is an immensely important element of marketing and blog posting will allow you to show your followers a personal side of your business that existing and prospective customers will not readily recognize with outbound marketing mechanisms and techniques. Blogging will give others a lucid sense of the corporate standards, business character, vision and the personality of your company.

person reaching hands on each other

Getting Ahead of Competitors

One of the most powerful benefits of blogging is the opportunity it creates for others to share the link to your blog, creating the potential for viral traffic and exponential market growth. With so many different sharing platforms available, visitors can share the direct link to the blog, tweet it, or email it to a friend. This is the epitome of free marketing.

If you are interested in increasing your online exposure, while establishing yourself as an expert in your industry, then you will definitely want to take advantage of blogging as a marketing strategy. When it comes to small businesses, blogging is virtually a must. If you don’t have the time, resources, or expertise to write blog content you can outsource the posts to a digital marketing agency like CBO who can craft unique, relevant and engaging content for your blog site.

4 Ways Small Business can Stay Competitive

4 Ways Small Business can Stay Competitive

Moving into a new city or job can be daunting, the hassle of finding accommodation, the stress of moving personal items and most especially the people or city accepting someone new might not be pleasing.

The same applies to small businesses that are launching into an industry ridden with bigger competitors.

1. Narrow your focus and look for those willing to pay full price

It seems for many of us that there are too many things that need to get done and there is simply not enough time to complete all of it. The truth of the matter is there truly isn’t enough time to get all of the things on our never-ending list done. So how do we get all of it done? How do we meet all of our obligations? 

What I suggest to you is that you don’t even try to meet all of them. My suggestion is for you to focus on what matters the most. Many of us consider ourselves busy people, and for many of us, that may be true. In our society, there seems to be this culture of multitasking as a way to be more productive. 

A smart businessman in this day and age will narrow their focus to desirable, unique products with high margins, and low overhead costs to store them. 

Five Small Business Marketing Trends To Jump On This Year    2018 is almost over and business is going well. It is imperative to stay up-to-date and respond to the ever-changing market pressures to stay ahead of the competition. The marketing trends that may have worked well a few years ago may not necessarily help a business succeed in the future. The following are some of the upcoming marketing trends to support your business growth in 2018.    1. Enhance the Customer Experience  Businesses exist to cater to the customers. Thus, it is of utmost importance to understand the customer needs as well as to get their feedback to be on top of the marketing trends. ‘Chatbots’ and ‘live customer support’ are great ways to support customer queries and share information regarding new products, features and policies. One of the hottest marketing trends is social media; it is the summation of the know-how of business, including services offered, and live chats.     2. Use Location-Based Marketing  Geolocation or location-based marketing is another recent trend in small business marketing. With GPS technology, customers give away the information about their location via mobiles and laptops. Small business can utilize this information to understand the target customers in specific territories and promote their events, products, sale offers and news.    3. Add Livestream Video  A great way to create excitement about your brand nowadays is live streaming on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram Live. These are the next level interaction strategies—a marketing trend to engage with customers, answering their questions, and creating buzz around new products.    4. Use Micro-Marketing  Here is one cost-effective and time-saving marketing trend. It involves actively targeting customer needs to market products or services; thus, segmenting the customers into appropriate categories. Small business can give a huge shout-out to the right clientele using such a marketing strategy.    5. Collect More Data  While "big data" has been a buzzword, such data can be effectively used to understand, assess and collect information about customers. Small or large businesses both need data to cater to the customers in the right manner. Whether your business is web-based or brick and mortar, there are now more ways than ever to learn all about your customers - who they are, where they live and what they need.    The above mentioned 5 are top-notch marketing trends for small businesses. There are many other strategies out there, but it all depends on how you utilize these strategies and what you need to take your business to the next level in the future. For more information about marketing trends for small business, visit the source content on the Forbes website.     Need more assistance in helping our business grow? Let Health Connexions help you with its unique marketing tools to connect with your consumer base, market and help you manage your business effectively. To learn more about how we can help, contact us today at info(at)healthconnexions.com.

2. Don’t be a scrooge with transaction fees

It’s true, we all feel a little Scrooge-like at times, and that’s ok!

But it’s clear that this less-than-cheery attitude has absolutely no place in the business world. Even when business owners, marketers, and employees start to identify more with Ebenezer than with Buddy the Elf, they must put on a happy face and remember their top priority: The customer.

Sure, this is easier said than done, but businesses must maintain this ever-important perspective.

person holding black tablet computer

3. Be Santa and not a Grinch on shipping fees

It’s really just that simple. Don’t be a Grinch. No one likes a Grinch, not even the Grinch likes a Grinch. If that grouchiness invades your company culture, it can cause a high turnover, which is damaging, not to mention expensive. And when it invades your company culture, it’s only a matter of time until it invades your relationships with your customers. 

Engage Your Customers in Meaningful Conversation

4. Be a more engaging and present human being

The importance of engaging your customers and connecting on a more personal level to build trust and long-term loyalty. Social media and email marketing provide the perfect avenues to engage your customers in meaningful conversation. But engagement is a two-way street. Just sending out an occasional newsletter or social media post isn’t going to cut it. You’ve got to engage customers in real conversation just like you would if you were face to face or on the telephone. But it’s not as hard as you might think.
 

Conclusion

Some small business owners assume that their website needs to be perfect before they’ll benefit from their content marketing efforts. They worry that their site isn’t properly optimized, or isn’t user-friendly enough, or that their writing isn’t good enough. The 4 ways above prove that simply becoming a resource for your audience and spreading awareness of your resources, can get you on the path to stay competitive.

How to apply for a Credit Line from your Suppliers

6 Steps to Getting Credit With Your Suppliers

 
person holding white retractable pen

Most established companies get payment terms from suppliers. This arrangement means they can buy goods or services while paying for them on net-30 terms. Clients usually demand terms from suppliers because it improves their cash flow. They get to use the supplier’s services or products for a few weeks before they have to pay for them. Unfortunately, many small business owners can’t get credit from their suppliers. They are too small or simply don’t qualify for it. Instead, they have to pay when they receive an invoice, or worse, pay in advance. This requirement puts them at a financial disadvantage with their competitors.

Establishing Vendor Credit

If you’ve ever been on the market for a consumer loan, such as a home loan, you’ve probably got a handle on your personal finances. You know where your personal credit score stands month-to-month and how personal credit impacts your ability to qualify for financial products. But as a new business owner, you might not know anything about your startup’s business credit rating—why this is important, what your rating is, or how to establish and build a business credit history.

If you’ll ever need credit for your business in the future—with a small business loan or business credit card, for example—then your business can’t just get by with a strong personal credit score. That definitely will help, but you also need to establish a positive business credit history.

flatlay photography of calculator between stack of banknote and click pen

       Determine your credit rating 

Lenders typically assign interest rates based on what bracket your score falls into. But credit scores aren’t just used by banks. Increasingly, insurance firms, landlords and even employers are using credit scores as a proxy for figuring out how responsible you are.

 

         Improve your Credit Score

As you begin the process of improving your credit score, keep in mind that it’s a marathon and not a sprint, but improving your score is worth the effort. A poor credit score can potentially cost you tens of thousands of dollars over the course of a lifetime. It can also become a source of serious stress, making you feel like you just can’t leave the mistakes of the past behind and move on. Luckily, you’re not alone. Plenty of people struggle to improve their credit scores, and there are numerous ways to build good credit — and reap the rewards that come with having a good credit score.

         Talk to the mid-sized to larger companies you work with.

 Most people you meet and talk will tell you to join a big company, a famous brand.

People believe, a good career is built around big companies. Most of us, at least, while starting a career, dream to be a part of glamorous sounding, fortune 500 company. These big companies have limited high paying jobs and senior roles. These roles are filled by ivy league college grads and experienced professionals, rest of the roles are mid and lower management roles in which most of us fit in.

          Start with smaller amounts of credit.

Many people put off investing because they think you need a lot of money—thousands of dollars!— to start investing. This just isn’t true. You can start investing for as little as $50 per month.

The key to building wealth is developing good habits—like regularly putting money away every month. If you make investing a habit now, you’ll be in a much stronger financial position down the road.

    Pay discriminately.

Pay on time. Pay ahead on time. Pay ahead of time when you can. Be careful about who you pay. 

           Ask for more.

After paying all your credits, you can ask your creditor and request better terms. You can ask for an increase to your credit limit, longer payment time, or both.

man holding stamp

Let the borrower beware

With the national real estate market slowing, fewer people are seeking loans. And with subprime lending standards tightening significantly, fewer people qualify for them

The combination has resulted in less business for lenders and brokers, which in turn means that prospective borrowers should tread carefully. 

People shopping for loans must always exercise vigilance against unscrupulous lenders. But analysts and industry executives say that in the midst of the current shakeout, borrowers should be especially cautious about the loans they are considering. In other words, to make a larger fee, the unscrupulous broker will qualify someone for a loan he or she really shouldn’t get. Doing so is unethical at best and fraudulent at worst.

How can Social Media Marketing Help your Business

Social Media Marketing for Business

woman using MacBook in front of people inside room

Every business needs customers. Without qualified customers, it would be hard for any type of business (big or small) to survive in the long run. What’s the best way to acquire customers? SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING. Social media marketing requires both strategy and creativity.

Social Media Marketing 101: What Is Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing refers to the process of gaining traffic through social media platforms. Social media marketing is becoming more popular for both practitioners and researchers. Most social media platforms have built-in data analytic tools, which enable companies to track the progress, success, and engagement of ad campaigns.

Social Media and Marketing: Start With a Plan/Strategy

First, you need to understand what a strategy is. A strategy should define the main aim of your social media presence and set the parameters for what it will deliver and how it will be delivered. It will be supported by a practical plan that defines how the strategy will be delivered including the channels, resource, and budgets to achieve it.

person holding pen on table with notebook and iPhone

Here are some questions to ask when defining your social media marketing goals:

  • What do you desire to attain through social media marketing?
  • Who are your potential customers? 
  • Where do your potential customers usually hang out?
  • Which social media platforms have the right demographics?
  • How much time can you devote to a social network?
  • What personnel and skills do you have to work with?
  • Do you have the resources to create what’s needed?

1 – Building the strategy 

Below is a summary of key content to include in your strategy document.

1.1 – Strategy statement

A short, concise summary of what the strategy is aiming to achieve, broken down into bullet points. 

1.2 – Context analysis

Set-out where you are in your social journey and where the business needs to be, and the reasons for this. For example, are you a global organization seeking to consolidate a fragmented approach to social media, or a startup looking to build a social presence from the ground up?

1.3 – Goals & Objectives

Use SMART criteria for objectives because they encourage you to think about the practicality of achieving each goal, rather than focusing on things that sound good but might not be feasible.

S = Specific in terms of what needs to be achieved

M = Measurable so that progress can be tracked and evaluated.

A = Achievable so that your team has a realistic chance of success

R = Relevant to your business so it’s aligned with overall business goals

T = Timeframe within which the objective must be satisfied

1.4 – Strategic challenges

Here you set out the business challenges for the social channel that need to be overcome, and the strategic activities that will enable this

1.5 – A Target audience

 For this, you need to understand your core audience (personas, profiles, demographics etc.) and identify any new customer types that you want to attract based on your products/services. 

*LOYAL

Regular customers who are already connected to you via social media. You want to retain them and increase their purchases and engagement with your social profiles.

*EXISTING

Customer who have shopped with you before but aren’t regular shoppers and haven’t connected on social media. You want to nurture them, bringing them closer to you online and therefore increasing purchase rates.

*POTENTIAL

People who have never visited the website or purchased from you but who are regular online shoppers, and users of social media. You want to use social media to bring them into contact with the brand, and ultimately move them to purchase

1.6 – Review

Your strategy shouldn’t be set in stone; it needs to be flexible to respond to changing market conditions.

Include an explanation of the review process:

  • > Who will lead the review (business sponsor)?
  • > How often will the review take place?
  • > What data/insights will be used to inform the review?
  • > What will the outputs be?
  • > How will outputs be measured/monitored?

Some people include social media guidelines in the strategy but we don’t think this is the best approach. Guidelines are part of the tactical execution, providing a set of rules for the business to adhere to. It’s not a strategic activity, so this content sits best within the tactical plan, or as a separate document referenced by the plan.

1.7 – Related documents

Make sure you include links to all other documents that are relevant to your social media strategy so that anyone new joining the business can find them and get the full picture.

2 – Creating your social media plan

2.1 – Deliverables

This provides a summary of all activities that need to take place to support the implementation of the plan. 

2.2 – Channels + activities

Here you will spell out what you’ll be doing for each social network to satisfy the goals of your social strategy. Be sure to include all tactical elements and any related, process, people and tools.

2.3 – Integration with other marketing

Note down how social will align with other marketing channels so that the people doing the work understand the wider picture. 

2.4 – Timelines

This is the ‘T’ in the SMART objectives – ensuring each activity has a time frame stamped on it so you can track progress. Timelines are critical because they give you a yardstick against which to measure your ability to implement the strategy. Activities without deadlines tend to drift and are often seen by others as less important. 

2.5 – Measurement

Start by defining the KPI’s (Key Performance Indicator) for your social strategy, which should break down into macro KPIs and micro KPI’s. You should align your KPI expectations with the metrics that you can track for each social network so that they can easily be measured. Then sense checks that your web analytics tools are configured correctly to capture all relevant data.

How Social Media Marketing Can Help You Meet Your Marketing Goals

Without goals, it’s hard to know exactly how well your social media strategy is performing and where you need to iterate to continue moving forward.

writing person beside glass filled with black liquid on turned off iPhone in front of turned on MacBook Air on table

9 Social Media Marketing Goals 

Social media isn’t only a marketing tool it can affect almost every area of a business. How can we ensure we’re getting as much value as possible from the time and resources we put into social media?

One way is by setting goals. If you want to stay motivated and achieve more results for your company through social media, science recommend setting goals. But which goals should you set?

Below is a list of 9 ultra-effective social media goals to help you maximize your returns from social media:

  1. Increase brand awareness
  2. Drive traffic to your website
  3. Generate new leads
  4. Grow revenue
  5. Boost brand engagement
  6. Build a community around your business
  7. Effective social customer service
  8. Increase mention in the press
  9. Never miss a mention through social listening

Best Social Media Marketing Tips

To help you out, here are a few social media marketing tips to help you use these platforms to grow your business. 

  • Social Media Content Planning –  Want to connect more with your target audience? Wondering how to deliver relevant social media content consistently? Planning your social media content delivery keeps your marketing on-message, making it more likely that you’ll reach your business goals.
  • Great Social Content – a solid content strategy is more complex than that and also includes websites and even offline activities. It doesn’t put the medium but the customer, buying persona or audience at the center, in combination with the marketing goals.
  • A Consistent Brand Image – Consistency is the key to unlock brand success. As you develop your visual voice on social media and across your marketing strategy, creating a style guide for your visual elements and applying them consistently will help you build your brand like a pro.
  • Social Media for Content Promotion – Social media still is a great native distribution channel, and if we can master its complexities, we can generate more attention for our content. We want to maximize the reach of our content through more clickthroughs, likes, and shares. This will help us gain an edge over our competitors.
  • Sharing Curated Links – Even something as simple as a link to a guide in a post for more information could be considered curated content. You’re finding content that you know your readers will be interested in and then connecting them to it. Almost all content marketers curate content in one way or another.
  • Tracking Competitors – Having a clear understanding of competitors’ business operations, such as what they are charging, what clients they have, and what new products and services they are offering, can help a company develop their own successful business models and strategies.
  • Measuring Success with Analytics – You know what they say, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” In Search Engine Optimization measurement is critical to success. Sure, keyword rankings are a great measure of SEO. More keywords ranking higher means more traffic. Going beyond keyword rankings allows marketing teams to showcase what really matters: how organic search brings revenue and profit to the business. Google analytics is one of the best tools for measuring your most prosperous social media marketing strategy.
  • Social Media Crisis Management – A communications crisis can strike at any time. It could be a faulty product, a lousy campaign, or a slip of the tongue from someone higher up. It doesn’t matter the industry you’re in, or how popular you’ve been to this point. Sometimes, it just happens. Whatever the case, you need to be prepared. If you’re going to put out a fire, you need a good hose.

Tips for a Successful Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing can be a dynamic powerhouse that solidifies branding, creates quality leads, and drives sales. With some planning, companies are more likely to reach and exceed the payoff that got them excited about social media marketing in the first place.


Follow these 10 easy tips to rock your social media marketing strategy 

  1. Identify your goals

It’s a smart business practice to start with goal setting before all new plans, and social media marketing’s no different. After all, you can be the best bicycle salesperson in the state, but still fail if you are supposed to be selling ice cream.

Use the SMART goal setting strategy to create the foundation for successful social media marketing.  

    2. Identify your audience

digital marketing strategy customer avatar

Your message won’t be effective unless it’s specifically designed for who you are trying to target. Developing a relevant buyer persona is essential for successful social media marketing.

3. Select the best platforms

person using black iPad

It’s usually a mistake to try to cultivate followers on half a dozen or more social media channels. The person managing the social media efforts gets overwhelmed, off track, and the results end up being puny.

   4. Employ a qualified manager

It takes unique qualities to be a savvy social media manager. One of the mistakes companies frequently make is to choose the person who has the lightest schedule or the cheapest per hour rate with no regard for whether or not they are “built” for the job.

   5. Deliver consistently

An outstanding social media initiative is one that is nurtured constantly. Throwing up a blog here and a picture there won’t build a prosperous marketing strategy.

   6. Woo influencers

Research from Twitter shows 49% of consumers rely on influencers to make purchase decisions. Find out who the experts are about the product or service you sell. The ones with a large following on social media are influencers.

   7. Grow your audience

The more eyes that see your message, the more results you enjoy. The social media manager needs to work on increasing followers across all the social media channels deemed relevant for the product or service.

   8. Engage your audience

For social media marketing to be successful, companies need to find ways to increase engagement in the followers they have and the ones they want.

   9. Measure your results

Close the loop by holding the results up to the goals you set and see how they compare. Otherwise, you won’t have any idea which strategies are paying off and which ones crashed.

10. Lather. Rinse. Repeat

Metrics show you where you have been, and they also map out where you need to go. Companies need to take the metrics they gather and use them to massage their message. Does one type of content create more engagement? Is there a pattern of posts gaining more attention on certain days, or particular times of day? Does the content do better across one platform over another? Use this data to edit and hone the strategy. You will see even greater results from social media marketing efforts.

Successful social media marketing poses a variety of challenges to businesses, and it’s easy to take the wrong turn and end up with less-than-thrilling results. It’s also common to start out excited, and get burned out and lose commitment in the middle of your efforts.

How to Choose the Best Social Media Platforms for Marketing

Three Steps to Choosing the Right Social Media Platform for Your Business

Social media marketing is a must for any business looking to grow. Here are three steps to help you find the right platforms to focus on.

1. Seek Out Your Target Audience

Who is your target audience? On which platforms are they spending most of their time? When they are on these platforms, what are they doing? What are they seeking out? Who are they interacting with? How are they interacting with the platform? Look at the key demographics such as gender and location of the users and gain a general understanding of what each network is used for.

You may also want to check out which platforms your competitors have successfully engaged with their audience on. A simple Google keyword search can help you see which social media network your market is most active on. 

2. Define Your Objective on Social Media

What are your social media marketing goals? Are you trying to grow your audience, spread word of mouth, or engage with your current customers on social media? Perform an audit of your business: start with identifying gaps in your current marketing plans. Do you need to:

-Grow your base?

-Improve your customer service and build customer loyalty?

-Create a channel for customer feedback?

-Update your customers on new products, services, or deals?

–Increase traffic to your website?

-Conduct informal market research?

Initially, rather than defining your goals in terms of the number of fans or followers you want to reach, think about which platforms will help you increase engagement with your audience. The number of followers you have is simply a vanity metric that doesn’t indicate business success. It’s important to keep in mind that with social media, a larger audience doesn’t necessarily convert to real results for your business, while a highly engaged audience will. Align the objectives of your social media marketing plan with the platform that will complement your goals.

3. Identify Your Resources and Skills

What types of resources and skills are needed to execute a successful social media marketing plan for the different types of networks? We already know now that each platform is unique in terms of how you can engage your audience, but each platform also complements different sets of skills and require different resources to execute. It’s not only important to align the needs of your business with the right social network, but it’s also vital that you have the skill set and resources to effectively use it.

There are also a number of free marketing tools online to help you create content that’s optimized for each type of social media network. Think about what your strengths are and research what type resources or skills are involved to be successful on each network.

Choosing the right platforms and adopting a plan for your social media marketing is vital to saving you time and resources in the long run.