Category: Business

December 22, 2015 Content Marketing Tips from Your Receptionist… Bringing Value to Your Brand

You didn’t know your receptionist did that, did you? Well, a receptionist can be a surprisingly good source of content marketing strategies and inspiration.

This is because these front line agents know what your customers are concerned about and they probably have it written on a sticky note somewhere. Customer feedback is extremely valuable. Why wouldn’t you use that information for good?

Receptionists Provide Real – Time Analytics

If your business doesn't have the right online image, you could miss out on money. A virtual receptionist could actually help things run much smoother.
If your business doesn’t have the right online image, you could miss out on money. A virtual receptionist could actually help things run much smoother.
Image Source: Smith.ai

This term is thrown around a lot online. It refers to tools that collect information and delivers it to you as it happens. It’s common in any type of content marketing strategy, and it is an absolute necessity for any effective marketing campaign.

Where does the information come from?

  • It comes from things such as follower counts, comments, and page views. It is the stuff you should care about if you are trying to grow your image online.
  • Your receptionist can collect useful information as well. Especially if it’s a virtual receptionist like the ones at Smith.ai. With individualized service, they can collect custom information from your callers and send you a daily report.
  • Want to know what is on your customer’s minds? Post your phone number online. Don’t worry- you won’t have to talk to them. Your receptionist can take down all of the messages.

Speaking of Business Phone Numbers

If you are planning a content marketing strategy for your business, you probably aren’t thinking about promoting your phone number. You should be. If they can’t find your number, how will they call?

If you have a phone number on your website, that is not enough. What happens while your site is not showing up in a search yet? The result is people who cannot find that number. There’s no reason why you couldn’t promote the number on its own!

In my blog post, 5 Ways to Optimize Your Smith Number, I discuss ways to help you do just that so that people can find you. To do this online, I suggest creating business profiles on Yelp and Google that include your phone number. However, that’s not the only way.

When using a receptionist, you can place your phone number at the bottom of blog posts or articles as well. Talk about not being afraid to connect with your readers!

Your Receptionist Can Bring Value to Your Brand

These are just some of the ways that show how a virtual receptionist service can improve your content marketing strategies. Depending on your creativity, the possibilities can be endless.

See, your receptionist is more valuable than you may have realized! If you don’t have a receptionist or thought you couldn’t afford one, I’d be happy to set you up with a free trial of our service. Let’s discuss more ways a virtual answering service could help your business goals.

Author Bio:

Jenn Marie is a product specialist at Smith.ai, a call answering service based out of California. She writes about virtual receptionist services, online marketing, and productivity for busy professionals. Read more of her articles at the Smith.ai blog.

September 3, 2015 11 Private Grants for Women-Owned Businesses – Part 2

Thanks for joining us for part 2 of this 2-part series. (5 Private Grants for Women-Owned Businesses) Let’s continue with the last 6 private grants for women-owned businesses.

6 More Private Grants for Women-Owned Businesses

  1. Chase Google — Mission Main Street Project: Google has partnered up with Chase to create private grants for women-owned businesses. Together, they award winners with $3 million in small business grants. In 2014, grant winners received $150,000 each to help expand their small businesses. The lucky winners also received:
    • $2,000 coupons to help with Google Consumer Surveys market research studies
    • Google Chromebook laptops
    • Trips to the Google headquarters
  2. Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR): This program, which is award-based, includes a partnership between 11 different federal government agencies. The program helps small businesses owned by women explore the potential of their technological products and services.
  3. Small Business Technology Transfer Program (STTR): This program focuses on federal research. It’s in place to help fund development in order to provide women-owned businesses with funding opportunities specifically for research and development.
  4. Women Veteran Entrepreneur Corp (WVEC) Small Business Competition: This grant is organized by Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence and Capitol One. For this competition, you’ll have to present a 2-minute pitch to judges. You’ll be competing for the chance to take part in a 9-month business accelerator program.
  5. Wal-Mart Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative (WEE): Yes, Wal-Mart offers private grants for women-owned businesses. These grants are for both US-based businesses and international companies. The small business funding opportunities are part of a very big Wal-Mart initiative. Over the next five years, awards will increase to $40 billion.
  6. Zions Bank — Smart Women Smart Money: Is your woman-owned business based within the state of Utah? Then, this may be the small business grant for you. Awards of $3,000 each are given out each year, across six different categories, with business being one of them.
Check out these 6 private small business grants for women-owned businesses.
Check out these 6 private small business grants for women-owned businesses.
Image Source: Edu-Schools

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The EntreMarketing Group will help you build your business brand so that your award money doesn’t go to waste. Contact The EntreMarketing Group about helping you grow your woman-owned business into a brand your target market knows and trusts.

September 2, 2015 11 Private Grants for Women-Owned Businesses – Part 1

Looking for private grants for women-owned businesses to help you launch your start-up or grow your company? Well, The EntreMarketing Group is here to help. In this 2-part series, we’ll explore 11 different small business grants specifically designed for companies with female ownership.

5 Private Grants for Women-Owned Businesses

Here are the first five on this week’s list of 11 private grants for women-owned businesses. Check them out:

Check out these private grants for women-owned businesses in the US.
Check out these private grants for women-owned businesses in the US.
Image Source: Tommy Toy
  1. The Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant Program: Each year, five grants are awarded to businesses that are 100% women-owned. The principles behind the company must include innovation, sustainability and social consciousness.
  2. Huggies Brand — Mom Inspired Grants: Dedicated to the development and advancement of innovative products related to motherhood. Award winners receive grants of up to $15,000 and resources to help them advance product development and small business startups.
  3. FedEx Think Bigger — Small Business Grant Program: Award winners share $75,000 in grants. Applicants share their visions, which are judged by votes from the general public to become finalists. This small business grant allows you to promote your business as you compete for votes.
  4. Idea Café Small Business Grant: This is a freeway online gateway that gives you access to various small business grants all hosted on one website. Currently, it’s promoting the 16th Small Business Cash Grant. The grand prize is $1,000, which will be awarded to the woman-owned business with the most innovative idea.
  5. InnovateHER: 2015 Innovating for Women Business Challenge: This is one of the private grants for women-owned businesses sponsored by the SBA (Small Business Administration) Office of Women’s Ownership. In the end, three awards of $30,000 each in prize money will be given to the three businesses that make major impacts on the lives of women.

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The EntreMarketing Group will help you build your business brand so that your award money doesn’t go to waste. Contact The EntreMarketing Group about helping you grow your woman-owned business into a brand your target market knows and trusts.

Next, We Explore 6 More Private Grants for Women-Owned Businesses

September 1, 2015 Women-Owned Businesses: The Art of Applying for a Grant

There are many funding opportunities for entrepreneurs and small businesses. Many of them have been specially designed to meet the specific needs of women-owned businesses. Whether your business is a new start-up venture or you’re trying to grow your business, there’s probably a funding source just for you. But, you need to be very organized before applying for a grant. That way, you can keep up with the demanding requirements of each one without getting all discombobulated.

Tips to Getting Organized When Applying for a Grant

Once you’ve found a funding source for your small business, now it’s time to go through the tedious, demanding application process. When applying for a grant for your small business, follow these simple tips to keep you organized each step of the way:

Tips to Getting Organized When Applying for a Grant
Tips to Getting Organized When Applying for a Grant
  • Eligibility – Read all of the eligibility requirements and grant guidelines before applying for a grant.
  • Checklist – Create a comprehensive checklist for all of the information, data and documents required to apply for the small business grant.
  • Rules – Make sure you follow the rules and application guidelines down to the t. It would be wise to have someone double-check your work to ensure that all accompanying documents and info is in place.
  • Time – Don’t wait until the last minute to get started on your grant application. Go ahead and get started early, so you’ll have time to make changes before submitting your app.

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Ready to start applying for a grant? Then, continue with this Women-Owned Business Grants series. Tomorrow, we’ll explore some really small business grants designed specifically for women entrepreneurs and small businesses owned by women. Or, go back and read our earlier post “Understanding Small Business Grants for Women-Owned Businesses” and learn five tips to finding grants for women-owned businesses.

Next, we’ll explore a list of Private Grants for Women-Owned Businesses.

August 27, 2015 Small Business Sales Apps: Sales and Marketing Automation CRM Solutions

This week, we discussed apps that help small businesses sell more services and products more efficiently. In other words, these apps help you and your small business make more money. Yesterday, we discussed 3 Sales-Focused Customer Relationship Management Apps. Today, we’re covering Sales and Marketing Automation CRM Solutions that help streamline your business’ sales pipeline.

3 Sales and Marketing Automation CRM Solutions

So, you’ve collected and mined all of your customer data using the apps we discussed earlier this week. Now, it’s time to put the discoveries you’ve made based on that data to good use. But, how do you act on that data in order to close sales, and still not waste any of your precious time?

The key is automation!

The three Sales and Marketing Automation apps below help small business owners automate various portions of the sales process. These automations are based on data you pulled from your customer relationship management (CRM) system. Yes, they are a bit more costly than the small business sales apps we covered this week. But, the more you automate your sales process, the more money you’ll make in the end.

Contactually Sales and Marketing Automation
Contactually Sales and Marketing Automation
Image Source: The Next Web

1. Infusionsoft Sales and Marketing Automation CRM Solutions

Infusionsoft is a all-in-one, robust sales and marketing automation solution. It’s automation tools include e-commerce capabilities and lead management. Here are two of the Infusionsoft features that really stand out:

  • Drag-and-drop intuitive campaign system which automates tasks in response to numerous types of onsite and offsite triggers
  • Ability to score all of your leads (higher scores mean stronger leads) based on the behaviors of the leads themselves

2. HubSpot Sales and Marketing Automation CRM Solutions

HubSpot is yet another all-in-one sales and marketing tool. It focuses on using content for inbound marketing purposes. Through its innovative free HubSpot CRM, lead management is completely automated for you.

What’s the main difference between HubSpot and Infusionsoft? HubSpot has the capabilities needed to actually host your webpages on its platform. This, in turn, allows them to offer some really efficient and effective features, such as alerts triggered by the actions of your leads on your website.

3. Contactually Sales and Marketing Automation CRM Solutions

Contactually is a small business sales app that puts focus on keeping your relationships with all of your sales contacts and leads alive. focuses on keeping the relationships with your contacts alive. These are just some of the cool features of Contactually:

  • Sales process management
  • Numerous types of reports
  • Automation tools and processes

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Interested in Sales and Marketing Automation tools and solutions for your small business? The EntreMarketing Group helps small business owners integrate automation apps with responsive websites. Contact The EntreMarketing Group for more details on to use automation tools to make more money online and off.

3 Sales-Focused Customer Relationship Management Apps

August 26, 2015 Small Business Sales Apps: Social-Focused Customer Relationship Management Systems

This week, we’re going over various ways for you to use customer relationship management or CRM to help your small business sell more and sell better. Yesterday, we discussed 3 Sales-Focused Customer Relationship Management Apps. Today, we’re focusing more on the social side of CRM. Sit back and get ready to improve your company’s sales as we learn more about these two social-focused customer relationship management systems.

2 Social-Focused Customer Relationship Management Apps

These two social CRM apps made it to our list today because of their abilities to help you eliminate data entry tasks. This is due to their automation features, which allow you to gather customer data in a breeze. There are two areas where both of these sales-focused customer relationship management apps shine most:

Able to take customer data from multiple sources, consolidate it and bring it all together in one spot.

For example, both social-oriented CRM apps can take data from your emails, social media networks and calendars, then use all three to capture reminders and notes for every contact. Think about it. Without a way to collect customer data, how in the world can you leverage it?

1. Nimble Social-Focused Customer Relationship Management App

Nimble automatically kicks in gear, collecting each one of your lead’s emails, as well as social network updates from numerous platforms. Then, everything is compiled together in a single spot. And, all of this is done without you have to deal with lots of data entry.

Discovered sales opportunities can be managed in the Nimble Deals Dashboard.
Discovered sales opportunities can be managed in the Nimble Deals Dashboard.
Image Source: Small Biz Trends

Over time, the Nimble rules engine learns exactly what you find important. This helps you get rid of unnecessary noise so you can quickly understand just what solutions your customers and leads need. All of your leads are easily manageable right from the Nimble Deals Dashboard.

2. Batchbook Social-Focused Customer Relationship Management App

Batchbook is an automation tool that collects both tweets and emails from your leads. This allows you to get the big-picture view of just wants on the minds of your potential customers. There’s also a sales-pipeline view in the Batchbook CRM app that’s very effective when it comes to helping small business owners manage potential deals.

Social-Focused Customer Relationship Management App Batchbook organizes tweets and emails, and stores them on the cloud.
Social-Focused Customer Relationship Management App Batchbook organizes tweets and emails, and stores them on the cloud.
Image Source: Small Biz Trends

With Batchbook, there’s no need to worry about data entry. The social-focused CRM tool organizes contact information, so you and your entire team can access it online from the cloud.

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Ready to automate your social media marketing (SMM) efforts to help drive my sales through your online networks? The EntreMarketing Group specializes in SMM and various Social-Focused Customer Relationship Management tools. We even design them! Contact The EntreMarketing Group about improving your small business’ social-based marketing efforts today.

August 25, 2015 Small Business Sales Apps: Sales-Focused Customer Relationship Management Systems

This week, we’re discussing sales apps that help small businesses sell more products and services. In other words, these apps will help your small business make more money. Yesterday, we discussed 2 Social-Focused Customer Relationship Management Apps. Today’s apps are related to sales-focused customer relationship management (CRM) systems that help streamline your sales pipeline.

3 Sales-Focused Customer Relationship Management Apps

Customer relationship management (CRM) solutions help you streamline your online sales pipeline. Using the right CRM apps will allow you to put more focus on your customers and potential customers that are most likely to buy right now.

Today, we profile three sales-focused customer relationship management apps that cane be integrated with various other popular solutions and tools. Each one offers on-the-go mobile sales apps as well:

1. Pipedrive Sales-Focused Customer Relationship Management App

Pipedrive is a sales-focused customer relationship management app that helps streamline the sales process.
Pipedrive is a sales-focused customer relationship management app that helps streamline the sales process.
Image Source: Pipedrive

Pipedrive app was created by sales-pros. So, it’s rooted in the direct sales industry. Each feature of the Pipedrive app was developed to help small business owners keep up with sales processes. Some features include:

  • Viewing the Sales Pipeline
  • Sales Timeline Views
  • Vigorous Sales Reporting
  • Easy Email System Integration

2. PipelineDeals Sales-Focused Customer Relationship Management App

PipelineDeals was created to help you and your team members be more productive. This CRM app uses technological power to help you manage your sales process while learning from your sales data. PipelineDeals is simple to use, and includes such features as:

  • API to collect real-time leads from your website
  • Sales automation process
  • Collaboration system for teams
  • Lots and lots of CRM reporting

3. Pipeliner Sales-Focused Customer Relationship Management App

Pipeliner CRM app puts focus on the end-to-end sales process by adding more predictability and consistency to the way you sell products and services. This is done by providing you with one centralized system that helps you track prospects from the lead phase all the way to the sales and repeat sales phases. What makes Pipeliner so different from the other two CRM apps above?

  • Gives you the option of working offline
  • Allows you to work from your laptop, desktop, cell phone and other mobile devices
  • Your data automatically uploads to the cloud upon reconnection

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Interested in Sales-Focused Customer Relationship Management for your small business? A responsive website is the best way to drive sales to your brand, and can be easily integrated with your favorite CRM app. Contact The EntreMarketing Group for more details on how to drive sales to sale more products and services online.

2 Social-Focused Customer Relationship Management Apps

August 18, 2015 3 Startup Businesses You Can Launch for Under $1,000

Dreaming about starting your own business? Not sure you’ll have enough funds to make it a success once you launch it? Well, we know of three different startup businesses you can launch for under $1,000.

3 Business Ideas to Launch for Under $1,000

1. Buy Into a Franchise

You can easily start your own businesses by simply buying into a franchise. Many of them that fall into the “work from home” category, only require initial investments of just $1,000. That’s because there are very little overhead costs.

Housesitting is one of the business startups you can launch for under $1,000.
Housesitting is one of the business startups you can launch for under $1,000.
Image Source: flickr

Some low-cost franchise start-up ideas include:

  • House Sitting
  • Pet Care/Sitting
  • Clearing Mailboxes
  • Plant Care
  • Furnace Checks
  • Cleaning Services
    • For Homes
    • For Commercial Buildings
    • For Government Buildings
  • Computer Repairs
  • Data Recovery

2.Start a Consultant Business

Are you savvy in industries such as these?

  • Accounting
  • Art Collections
  • Taxes
  • History
  • Start-Up Businesses
  • Computers
    • Programming
    • Hardware
    • Software
    • Troubleshooting
  • Writing
    • Books
    • Memos
    • Reports
    • Proposals
    • Newsletters
    • Articles

3. Money Manager

Do you have a knack for organizing financial paperwork or paying bills. Is dealing with insurance claims and medical bills right up your alley? Then, why not get certified by the The American Association of Daily Money Managers? This will help you start a money management business you can launch for under $1,000.

Some of the tasks you can perform with your own money management business include:

  • Keeping Records
  • Setting Up Budgets
  • Navigating Bills

Start Your Own Business Today for Under $1,000

The bottom line is, there are numerous businesses you can launch for under $1,000. From all of the ones named above, to whatever you’ve been dreaming of in your mind, you too can own your own business with reasonable startup funds.

What’s the key to finding the right startup for you? Simply research the industries and ideas that come to mind. You’d be surprised just how many you can launch for under $1,000 these days.

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August 17, 2015 4 Tips for Launching Your Startup with Just $100

Thinking about launching your startup, but a bit low on cash? Well, traveler, writer and entrepreneur, Chris Guillebeau, is the author of the New York Times bestseller, The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future. Forbes Contributor Dan Schawbel interviewed Chris. When he asked the entrepreneur to share a story from the book about an entrepreneur who used $0 to invest in and create a successful business, Chris responded:

“Most people spent *some* amount of money, even if it was just the cost of a $50 business license or a $10 domain name. But far more important than money was the investment of sweat equity — taking the time to make something meaningful. Brett Kelly wrote Evernote Essentials, a guide to the free Evernote software. His initial goal was that it would make $10,000 over the course of a year. One year later, it had made more than $100,000. Initial startup costs were essentially zero.”

Launching Your Startup: LAUNCH Festival 2015 Startup Pitching Competition
Launching Your Startup
LAUNCH Festival 2015 Startup Pitching Competition
Image Source: flickr

4 Tips from Chris Guillebeau on Launching Your Startup with $100 or Less

Here are four tips for you to follow if you’re interested in launching your startup with very little to no investment funds:

  1. Come up with a specific business idea. What service or product are you offering? Who will buy it? How will you get paid for it?
  2. Get started now. Stop putting off launching your startup. Give yourself a short amount of time to launch it… say about 30 days or less. Do whatever you have to do to meet that deadline. And, be sure to get a free PayPal for payment processing and design a free website through WordPress.com.
  3. Spread the word to everyone you know. For the record, we do not advise that you start spamming people. Instead, contact all of your friends and family members, and let them know that you’re launching a new startup, what it’s all about, and how it can bring value to their lives.
  4. Continue to improve your idea. Pay close attention to the initial feedback you get about your venture. Then, stay committed to making it better and better. Each day, make it a point to identify 1 or 2 things you can do to further your project’s development.

Ready to start launching your startup? Have you already launched it and are now ready take it to the next level? The EntreMarketing Group helps small business owners build successful brands and grow successful businesses online. Contact The EntreMarketing Group about scheduling a free small business branding consultation today.

August 3, 2015 4 Habits of Successful Millionaires Women Entrepreneurs Should Follow

Want to become a millionaire? Then, you have to think like a one. That means surrounding yourself with millionaires, and following their leads. Entrepreneur and Penny Stock Expert Timothy Sykes shares four habits he now follows after watching the leads of successful millionaires.

1. Successful Millionaires Work Hard

How often does the “get rich quick” motto actually come true? In all honesty, most companies that boast of “overnight success” actually worked at it for 5, 10, 20 years.

Millionaires understand that from the beginning, and aren’t afraid to put in all those years of hard work to achieve their goals. Take every small success in stride, then move on to the next. Every little taste of success should push you to work even hard for the next one.

2. Successful Millionaires Set Clear Goals

Doctor-turned-entrepreneur Judy Dlamini shows up on multiple lists of the richest women in South Africa
Doctor-turned-entrepreneur Judy Dlamini shows up on multiple lists of the richest women in South Africa.
Image Source: The African Millionaire

Your goals need to be clear… specific. Instead of a general goal, such as “I want to buy a home”, how about something more specific, like “I want to buy a $500,000 home in Buckhead, GA”?

If you want to truly become a successful entrepreneur, that’s the type of goal you need to set. Are you current goals a boring or uninspiring? Then, it’s time to sit down and rethink them to ensure they’re taking you down the path of becoming a successful millionaire.

3. Successful Millionaires Don’t Worry About Failing

People who have a major fear of failure are much too cautious to actually succeed. This attitude keeps you from taking chances, which leads to missed opportunities.

The opposite is true for successful millionaires. They actually welcome failure because it gives them the chance to learn much needed lessons. These lessons help them figure out how to move forward. Follow this habit, and in time, you’ll become “fearless in the face of the smart risks that’ll make you a millionaire”, says Sykes.

4. Successful Millionaires Follow Successful Mentors

Everyone needs a good teacher. As a woman entrepreneur, a successful mentor will help you learn what it takes to succeed in business much faster. This will save you years of learning time, and loads of money.

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Are you a woman entrepreneur ready to take your brand to the next level? All successful millionaires have brands they put time, energy and love into. You need to do the same.

The EntreMarketing Group helps women entrepreneurs build successful brands online. From a responsive website, to content marketing to social media marketing. We’ll help you build a successful brand. Contact The EntreMarketing Group to customize a brand building package for you today.