Blog

Archive for September 2017

4 Ways For Small Businesses To Grow Through The Slow Season

4 Ways For Small Businesses To Grow Through The Slow Season

Every small business dreads it, but every business sees it: the slow season. As sales slow, sometimes predictably with the changing of the seasons and sometimes not, small business owners face the temptation to sit and worry, every cent carefully calculated. But getting creative during slow sales seasons can help small businesses create new opportunities for growth. Here are four suggestions.

Partner with a charity.

Give customers another reason to come through your doors through giving. Create an event or a sale that centers around a charity, either one that’s somehow related to your business or one that your target customer is likely to support. There are a number of different approaches businesses can take — for example, some will offer a discount for donations to a canned food drive in store, others will choose a day where a percentage of the profit is donated. Yes, you’ll be giving some profit away, but you’ll also be getting people through the doors.

Find a reason to celebrate.

Slow seasons tend to be scattered in between major holidays — so why not create your own when sales are slow? The suggestion, by The Balance, is to create a day celebrating something related to your product that helps get customers into the store. Look for quirky holidays that actually exist — from National Potato Chip Day to National Middle Child’s Day — or create your own centered around your project. Then, create an in-store tie-in, like free potato chips.

Get visual.

Give customers a reason to walk into your store with a creative display. Sometimes, something as simple as a sidewalk sale helps, while other scenarios could mean getting fancy with the window display or even expanding your reach by creating a contest — customers will probably head into the store after checking out the other entries. If your audience includes parents, make it a kids contest. Once you’re finished, expand the visuals even more by taking photos and video to share.

Bulk up on social media.

Social media is a great way to connect with customers without a big advertising budget — and chances are, if you are slow, you have the time to create a few posts anyways. First, create posts for those charity events and made up holidays, because if people don’t know you are running an event, it’s not going to do much good. Look for high-quality images and video to increase engagement, either through stock photography, learning how to take your own or hiring a professional. Then, schedule some posts ahead of time for your busy season while you have the time — followers will notice your desperation if you are only posting during slow seasons.

Part of running a small business is accepting the slow times with the busy ones — but accepting doesn’t mean you have to sit back and twiddle your thumbs. Take advantage of the down time to brainstorm some creative, cost-effective methods for reaching out to new customers and encouraging return customers. Try a charity event, a made-up or obscure holiday, new displays or stepping up the social media campaigning.

4 iPhone Photography Tips For Stunning Mobile Shots

4 iPhone Photography Tips For Stunning Mobile Shots

A camera doesn’t do you any good if you don’t have it with you — with smartphone photography, a camera is almost always easy to access. The iPhone is now one of the most popular cameras because of that easy access, but easy access doesn’t necessarily mean good photos. For good photos, you need more than just a decent pocketable camera — you need a creative eye and a bit of understanding on how photography works. Here are four iPhone photography tips to get you started.

Tap to focus and expose.

The iPhone’s touchscreen interface makes it easy to both focus and adjust he exposure, or how light or dark the photo is. Before shooting that photo, tap where you want the camera to focus. This will also help make sure that area of the photo is well lit, but if it’s too light or too dark, tap the sun icon next to the focus box and drag your finger up or down to adjust.

Look for the light.

You can’t take a picture in a dark room — light is essential to photography. Light is also often what makes the difference between a snapshot and a photograph. So what does it mean to look for light? Start by looking at where the shadows are and how dark they are. Patches of light from windows or sunlight streaming through trees can make some dramatic photographs because of that light. On the opposite end, shade or light coming from a cloudy day is easier to work with for shooting portraits or any scenario where you may want minimal shadows. If the subject is dark or shadowy, try moving them or moving the camera for a better shot.

Flash isn’t just for the dark.

Smartphone flashes in a dark room create some funny shadows and, on people, red eyes. But the best use of the iPhone flash isn’t to light up a dark scene,  it’s to fill out those odd shadows. If you see that the background is overexposed (i.e. too light) or that the person you are photographing has dark shadows under their eyes, turn the flash to on instead of auto by tapping the lighting bolt icon at the top of the screen in camera mode. Flash helps to fill in shadows and give the photo a bit more pop — and that works especially well for shooting on bright days.

Get creative with composition.

The iPhone’s small size may mean that is doesn’t have the resolution of the DSLR, but that small size can be used for more creative shots.  Look for unique angles as you shoot. Don’t automatically shoot from eye level. From a low angle like kneeling or lying on the ground, objects appear larger and more significant. From a higher angle, you can see more of the scene and objects tend to appear smaller. Eye-level and higher angles also tend to be more flattering for portraits.

The iPhone sports one of the best cameras for the compact size, but learning just how to use that camera can take the device’s capabilities even further.

3 Technology Trends To Help Small Businesses Grow in 2017

3 Technology Trends To Help Small Businesses Grow in 2017

Technology. Love it or hate it, the tech industry often impacts businesses, whether that’s a direct relation as a tech-focused company or as s sort of trickle-down as new tech enhances the customer experience in any industry. But with technology often comes hype — and big expenses without much reward. So what emerging tech trends are affordable enough for small businesses and offer big potential for growth through an enhanced customer experience? Here are three technology trends small businesses need to watch.

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality or 360 photos and videos are one of the fastest growing content forms. Unlike a typical photo or video, with this format, the viewer can move around and see in every direction. Virtual reality, where the user can not only look but move in any direction, is still an expensive technology to get into and not everyone has the gear to actually view the content anyways. But 360 photos and video are affordable to shoot and accessible to anyone with a smartphone or an internet browser. 360 video is great for getting customers through the doors by offering a preview of what they’ll find when they get there. Small businesses should consider a few things before jumping into 360:

  • Buy or rent? 360 cameras are becoming more affordable — for businesses that shoot 360 all the time, buying a camera for around $500 is a good idea, like the Ricoh Theta or, for a bit more, the Garmin Virb 360. For just shooting a 360 of the inside of a retail store, renting or hiring a 360 photographer is probably the smartest, most affordable option.
  • Get on Google Street View. Those Google cars with cameras mounted on top have covered a lot of ground — but you can also put the inside of your business location on Google Maps too, encouraging potential customers to check out the location for real.
  • Go social. 360 photos and videos are easy to view and share on social media and often create more engagement.

Voice

Tech is becoming less screen-and-keyboard focused. With personal assistants like Siri and Cortana, many devices are being talked to, not typed to. So how can small businesses respond to this trend?

  • Personal assistants can help small business owners save time, with the right selection of apps.
  • Got an app for your business? Consult with your programmer to see if adding voice control is feasible for your company.

Video

Video is quickly becoming on of the most engaging types of content on the web. While photos are easier to shoot, video can be more engaging and offers more information. Video can also be very affordable, even shot with a smartphone, particularly if you also stabilize the smartphone with a tripod.

  • Consider live. Live video tends to get more engagements. This is a good avenue for announcements and special events.
  • Get creative. Use video to offer a behind-the-scenes look at your business. Or chat in person in the video to make your company feel more approachable. For the biggest projects, consider hiring a professional videographer.

Technology can open up big opportunities for small businesses, from assisting in daily tasks to getting more customers through the doors.

5 Instagram Tips For Small Business Owners

5 Instagram Tips For Small Business Owners

Over 600 million people use Instagram — and half of those users access the platform at least once a day. For small businesses, Instagram means new ways to reach out to potential customers, creating growth with little more than a time investment. But growing a brand on Instagram is about more than just starting an Instagram account — here are five Instagram tips for small businesses.

Take advantage of Hashtags — but don’t overuse them.

Hashtags help to extend a posts’ lifespan. By using a hashtag, users will find your post when they search, not just scrolling through the news feed. Hashtags help profiles gain new followers who are interested in the same topics that they are posting about. When you start typing in a hashtag on Instagram, suggestions will automatically pop up, helping you pick the most popular relevant tag.

Don’t go too crazy with hashtags though, statistics suggest that posts with four to five hashtags got more engagement, but after five, engagement actually drops.

Think social, not marketing.

The best social media marketing is often more social than marketing. Posting a photo on Instagram isn’t like buying a TV ad. Get too promotional, and you won’t get much reaction and could even loose followers. Share colorful photos of your product in use or an everyday workday — but don’t pair that with marketing-speak on current sales.

Interact.

Yes, to gain followers on Instagram, you have to create your own original posts. But only posting your own shots is a very slow way to grow. Boost your reach by interacting with other users — follow other pages, comment and like on other posts. When you do get a comment or a share on your post, be sure to reach out and respond.

Don’t post too often.

There’s a sort of balance to the frequency of Instagram posts, particularly when it comes to marketing. Post too little, and you won’t have any reach. Post too often, and you’ll get unfollows from users that find your posts too much. How often you post depends on your audience and your followers — monitor your posts and take note of when the number of interactions falls off. That means you’re probably posting too much.

Find your own data.

Just like the best number of times to post isn’t the same for every business, a number of different variables like audience and location will affect how far you reach. To find out what’s best for your own unique business, explore Instagram’s tools that offer insight into who is interacting and when. Use a business profile, and not an individual account, and you can have access to all those tools. (Already have a personal account for business? You can switch account types here).

Instagram’s large user base offers ample opportunity for small business. The effort could easily be wasted time however, if businesses don’t focus on sharing fun images without the marketing speak. Using Instagram tips for small business can help get your social media marketing off on the right foot.