Marketing Tip – Small Business Owners Need a System to Keep in Touch With Contacts and Build Sales

Many small business owners know keeping in touch with their contacts is an important part of their marketing plan. However, all too often, keeping in touch is a sporadic effort. Sending birthday cards or an e-mail newsletter is something that can be done “later.” The problem is “later” never comes. 

Small business owners need to build a marketing calendar that includes when and how each person (or group of people) is going to be contacted.  The best way small business owners can keep on top of their contact efforts is to have some type of system in place.  The system should be as easy and as automatic as possible.
  
There are many software tools you can use to organize your contacts.  Microsoft Outlook and Excel are great programs.  With either of these, you can merge with Microsoft Word to create phone lists, mailing labels and personalized letters. More sophisticated contact management programs you can purchase include ACT! and Goldmine.  
 
Marketing Tools for Keeping in Touch
 
There are a variety of different marketing tools small business owners can use to keep in touch. Here are just a few ideas.
 
E-mail newsletters are a great way to communicate with a large group of people. There are a number of great on-line resources available for e-mail newsletter creation and management. Use e-mail newsletters to provide product information, announce sales, and promote special events. 
 
Real greeting cards (the kind that come in an envelope with a stamp) are great marketing tools to use at Christmas, birthdays and other times of the year.  In fact, the best time a small business owner can send a greeting card is when there is no real reason to send a card! A card sent in August will be remembered much more than one sent in December.

Savvy business owners know that phone calls, personal visits and lunches are always appreciated. The key there is to remember the marketing message when scheduling those calls or visits. Yes, having coffee with a long-term client is great. But be sure to let the client know that you have a great new product that can dramatically help him or her. Too often business owners get wrapped up in the social aspect of personal visits and forget to ask for more business!

The most important part of any system is using it regularly.  If you are very busy, or have a hard time working with schedules, you are better off delegating or outsourcing.  If you have an assistant, that person can print letters, write e-mails, even sign Christmas cards for you.  That leaves you free to work on other areas of your business.

If you don’t have any help in your office, outsourcing is the answer. There are a number of local and on-line services that help business owners with their marketing. Or, try using a virtual assistant.  The marketing money you spend to outsource these routine tasks will be repaid many time over with the new business you get.

Remember — the key to a successful system is to have it automated as much as possible. The less work you have to do, the more likely it is to be done on time, and the more likely you are to get referrals!

What Are Some Of The Most Important IT Services For Businesses?

The success of any business depends on maintaining smooth uninterrupted enterprise operations. In this digital age, it is essential that businesses have IT (information technology) services that will keep their network operational and intact with minimal down time. Because business computer systems and networks are always evolving it is imperative to work with the right IT company to maintain and preserve your companies’ data. This involves a number of steps in order to prevent loss of data due to disasters such as floods, fires, theft, power failure, equipment failure, etc. To ensure the success of your company, below you will find a list of some of the most important IT services for businesses.

Network backup systems are vital in order for a business to keep their data safe. Hiring an IT services company (that offers network support) will help ensure data is never lost or corrupted. With a network backup system in place, you can safely upload your client information, financial records and files via the Internet to a secure off site location where data cannot be harmed. By doing so, your data is safe from storms, fire, unauthorized intrusions, floods, viruses, and hardware malfunctions. As well, backups can be monitored 24/7 to ensure data availability in case of an emergency.

Remote monitoring is a very beneficial service for any size business that enables 24/7 monitoring of your computer network. While this is an effective method used to monitor systems for malicious bugs, intrusions, glitches, and emergencies, it’s also very cost effective. Proactively monitoring, managing, and maintaining your computer network remotely means problems are detected immediately and fixed without the need to have a technician physically come to the business location. Having a constant ‘guard’ for the system and network will help ensure uninterrupted network operation thereby reducing worker downtime. Nothing can be as frustrating as having an office full of workers who can’t work!

It is critical for every business to have effective email and spam protection as this step helps protect against potentially disastrous threats. A technician will help establish an email security and archiving system that will actively secure your email by stopping spam, viruses, worms, and other email-borne malware before reaching the inbox. Furthermore it allows you to preserve and access emails more easily and at the same time allows for the archiving of all inbound and outbound emails online for compliance and backup. There is also continual monitoring of email activity to ensure critical emails are being received and delivered.

With an IT company offering offsite back up disaster recovery solutions, businesses will ensure no data is lost should there be a disaster affecting the computing systems. Such a back up system makes data accessible 24/7 thereby ensuring that said data is immediately recoverable if there is an event such as power failure. High tech facilities house servers safely, protecting them from any unauthorized access and physically potential disasters such as humidity, fire, temperature extremes, dust, and floods. These storage facilities help to protect business systems and data, ensuring that your company information is protected.

A quality IT plan ensures complete backup services, daily checks on your backup, security monitoring, and effective disaster recovery solutions. The loss of client records or financial information could very well be the end of many companies. Unfortunately many companies also need to be protected from the malicious activity of competitors and hackers. Compiled with the waste of money on potential downtime, having an effective IT plan is a necessity for the success of any business.

Online Printers for Businesses: Five Great Uses

Businesses have many printing needs. While they used to have to rely on the print shop down the street, online printing companies now offer many of those services quickly and at affordable rates.

Here are five great ways to take advantage of the service of online printers for your business:

1. Stationary printing – Stationary and letterhead is, perhaps, the most prominent representation of your business. Everyone you have correspondence with will see your stationary, so having one that is well designed and printed in a high quality way will make your business appear professional and successful. Choose from text-only designs to those with multi-colored graphics.

2. Envelope printing – When mailing or delivering correspondence, envelopes are the first thing people see. These can also be professionally printed with your company name and, if you like, your logo so that your branding is immediately established to potential customers.

3. Business card printing – Inevitably, nearly everyone who interacts outside your company will need business cards. Online printers have a lot of experience with business card printing. There are hundreds of templates available online that can be used or customized to match your business needs. Plain white cards with text online, multi-colored cards, cards with logos, or those decorated with dramatic all-over graphics on both sides are all available. You can also upload your own graphical design and have it printed on cards of your choice.

4. Flyer printing and Brochure printing – When your business relies on flyers or brochures to highlight different services or products that you offer, having them produced online is quick and affordable option. Create your designs in house and then upload them to be printed. All the same printing choices, including special finishing treatments, are available.

5. Gift certificate printing – If your company offers gift certificates, having them printed professionally can make a much better impression that using stock certificates that do not identify your business. As with other materials, you can create your own design or choose from templates that can be customized to meet your needs.

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