Life moves fast. On any given day, you have a traffic-packed commute to and from your place of employment, bills to pay, and you may even have a family to take care of.
Work – whether perceived from behind a desk or on foot – can be just as hectic. Unfortunately, given the fast pace that life moves at, there is no profession that is 100 percent free of injury potential.
With employees continuously receiving less amounts of sleep each night and caffeinating more in the morning, the cocktail of a heavy workload and a taxed mind can weaken an employee’s attention at unexpected moments throughout the day, thus leaving these individuals more susceptible to making a mistake that may have physical consequences. If one of your employees suffers this fate, this article will help you help them take care of their workers’ compensation claim from start to finish.
What is Workers’ Compensation?
According to the Social Security Administration, “workers’ compensation was the first form of social insurance to develop widely in the United States. It [was] designed to provide cash benefits and medical care when employees suffer work-related injuries or illnesses and survivor benefits to the dependents of workers whose deaths result from a work-related incident. In exchange for receiving benefits, workers who receive workers’ compensation are generally not allowed to bring a tort suit against their employers for damages of any kind.”
Chassaniol & Marty, LLC, Attorneys at Law, state that injured workers in Missouri and Illinois can be compensated for most types of injuries suffered at work, no matter who was at fault for the injury. As a business owner, it is wise to address any and all work-related injury circumstances by following these three steps.
What to do if One of Your Employees is Injured on the Job
1. Help Your Employee File a Workers’ Compensation Claim
The first step is to acknowledge that the incident occurred by helping your employee file a claim. Depending on the state your company resides in, you will need to ensure the claim is filed with the proper government entity: Missouri claims should be filed here while Illinois claims can be filed here. The sooner the claim can be processed, the sooner your employee will receive the assistance he/she needs in order to heal and return to work.
2. Work with the Employee to Resolve the Cause of Injury
Part of being a responsible business owner is taking measures to ensure detrimental mistakes are only made once. If a valuable employee is injured on the job, you are obligated to work with this employee to ensure all issues leading to the injury have been resolved. This may include updating your business’ policies and/or procedures as they pertain to the situation.
3. Stay in Contact with the Injured Employee Until He/She Returns to Work
In many cases, employees who file a workers’ compensation claim will need some brief time off of work to heal. During this time, you should maintain an open line of communication with this employee; encourage the employee to take the time he/she needs in order feel better. Together, you may also want to estimate a date when your employee may be able to return to work.
Time. Chances are you would like to have more at your disposal. Time seems to be the biggest hurdle that every entrepreneur has to face on a daily basis. Especially when it comes to building your personal knowledge base. Business is ever evolving and it can be overwhelming for an entrepreneur to keep up. So how can you balance the need to keep up with the latest in business techniques without sacrificing the time to run your business? One easy option it to turn to the world of podcasts, which can offer meaningful insights in easily digestible chunks. Today we list our top five free podcasts for entrepreneurs.
Five Free Podcasts for Entrepreneurs
PowderKeg: This is a rapidly growing podcast for good reason. It features a solid guest line up and in depth interviews. While its focus is on the tech industry, this podcast highlights entrepreneurs outside Silicon Valley; learning how they found traction and ultimately success. This free podcast for entrepreneurs goes beyond just tech talk, offering valuable insights for any business big or small.
Richard Phu: The tag line of this podcast is “Helping Business Owners to Stay In Their Genius-Zone.” From self actualization to tangible business insights, this podcast helps entrepreneurs to build time and acquire balance into their lives, without sacrificing success. Working with a range of experts, Richard Phu is one part guru one part consultant and all parts helpful.
Hack The Entrepreneur: If you are in need of a kick in the pants, look no further than Hack The Entrepreneur. This podcast offers five main hacks; starting a business, mindset mastery, habits, mindset, and ideas. Its core goal is to offer actionable tips that will move the listener from ideas to execution. If you want a clear road map for success, this podcast is a good place to start.
Success Profiles: Brian K Wright created this weekly podcast to motivate and inspire others to live their dreams. Wright chooses guests that exemplify the mantra, “if I can do it, you can do it too.” His guests run the gamut from restaurant franchisees to medical services companies and offer lessons that every business owner can learn from, in just an hour every week.
Leaders In The Trenches: True leaders are those who roll up their sleeves and get to work. In this podcast, leaders across multiple industries, tell the stories that they have learned while out in the field, interacting with clients and managing employees. Leaders in the trenches covers everything from HR issues, struggling with growth of a company and marketing insights. These are lessons from the trenches that any business owner can relate to. Even more importantly, at an average of 30 minutes a pop, these are lessons that are easily folded into your day.
In order to keep moving forward, every business owner must continue to learn and evolve. Podcasts are an easy way to fold this learning into your day. While on your commute, in between meetings or even in the shower; podcasts can help you make the most of your time. Is there a podcast that you can’t live without? Tell us in the comments!
As December winds down the last weeks of 2016, now is the time to look ahead toward the future; what’s in store for your business in 2017? Follow these four business planning steps to achieve success in the new year.
1. Take an Honest Appraisal of Your Business
To determine your business’ trajectory for the foreseeable future, you must first understand where your business has been. Take a moment to assess your organization from an honest, unbiased angle; ask yourself questions like: Where did we succeed in the last 1-5 years? Where did we fail? What can be done to ensure we don’t repeat our mistakes from 2016?
2. Hold Frequent Planning Meetings
Planning for the future doesn’t take place at any one particular time of the year; you can’t expect to have the entirety of 2017 mapped out before January 1. No, laying out your business’ future is a reoccurring process. Make a point to conduct business planning meetings no less than once a month but no more often than once a week. This way, your teams will stay apprised of any unexpected changes within your business, as well as maintain a working knowledge of current events, strategies, etc.
3. Consider New Ways to Promote
Depending on the size of your business, you may have a marketing team that handles your organization’s promotion strategy from start to finish. There is only so much this team can do for you, however; as a founder, investor or otherwise prominent figure within your company, your presence at conferences, speaking events and on social media is sometimes the most valuable marketing tool your business has. As a result, consider joining online and in-person networking groups that can better expose your organization’s authority to industry influencers and potential customers.
4. Have Courage
Sometimes, the hardest thing the leader of an organization can do is have the courage to make difficult decisions. As a prominent figure, it is your responsibility to see which people and projects are assets to your company and which ones are liabilities. The continued existence of your business relies on knowing when to cut resources that are no longer viable.
Your Company’s Best Year
Business success is rarely instant. It takes time and perseverance to pursue your goals year after year. Through the help of effective business planning, however, the path to growth should become clearer as time goes on. You will understand your industry better, as well as the needs of your clients and/or customers; these, in turn, can only lead to bigger and better results for your company.
Get started today by implementing your own business planning strategy, and make 2017 your company’s best year to date.
It is a basic fact of business, employees will come and go. Employee turnover is one of the hard truths in running any company, and high turnover can be a disruptive force for any organization. High turnover can lower productivity and create customer service snafus. It is how one manages these fluctuations in staffing that can make the difference between a good company and a great one. Understanding employee turnover as it relates to your company can help mitigate the costs and actually help to retain your top people.
Understanding Employee Turnover
The Cost of Turnover
The true cost of employee turnover ranges based on industry and job position, with long terms and/or salaried positions costing a company more to replace than their lower earning counterparts. An article published by Zane Benefits averages the cost to replace a retail employee, earning about $10 per hour at $3,328. That’s an estimated 16% of an annual salary to replace every employee at that pay level, which in a high turnover industry like retail, can really eat into profit margins.
As the experience and pay scale increases the cost to replace an employee also ratchets up. In the same article, it is estimated that it can cost up to 213% of an executive level position. For a 100,000 per year job, replacing a C-level employee can cost $213,000. These numbers are staggering. But what do they mean really? What is the actual cost of losing an employee?
Company’s must consider the real costs associated with losing an employee. This can include:
- The cost associated with hiring someone, including advertising costs for the job postings and the manpower to screen potential employees.
- The cost associated with on-boarding someone new, including the time and personnel required to train someone new.
- The cost associated with lost productivity including customer service lags, errors and questions.
- The cost associated with a downturn in employee morale, which can lead to further employee turnover.
These costs vary from industry to industry, but can be daunting no matter where you work. The best defense, as they say, is a good offense. So how can a company fight high turnover? What are the smartest way to keep your top talent? Read on.
How To Retain Employees
- The first step in retaining employees is to hire the right employees in the first place. While it may be attractive to simply throw bodies at a problem when you are understaffed, taking the time to hire the right person for the position and the company culture will pay off in the long run.
- It may sound counter-intuitive in blog that talks about employee retention, but at times it is better to cut the bad apples from the bunch. From time to time there may be employees that just don’t fit, either with the culture of the company or in the position itself. Those that don’t fit within the culture can be especially toxic to the work place. Despite the cost of losing that particular employee, a business may find their overall retention is better off in the long run.
- Despite what is often portrayed in pop culture, success and a cut-throat attitude don’t often work well together. Businesses that encourage teamwork, generosity and gratitude often find they have happier employees; and happy employees are happy to work hard for their company. A culture of respect from the top down will keep their employees longer.
- Be flexible, when you can. Employees have busy lives outside of work, and a good work/life balance can go far in terms of employee morale. Studies have shown that 80% of employees value flexible work arrangements, which has a positive affect on retention. Not every company has the ability to allow employees to work from home or set their own hours. But even those that have more rigid hourly requirements, like retail businesses, can still offer some flexibility at times. Even offering to help cover a shift or scheduling work around hectic school schedules can go a long way to building positive morale.
- Companies that allow their employees to buy into the vision of the business also see greater employee retention rates. What does this mean? These are the businesses that have clearly defined goals for the company overall, as well as opportunity for growth within the company. Organizations that are on an upward track, business that are headed for success, companies that encourage employees to grow within the organization… those are companies that retain the top employees.
- Competitive salary and benefits will also go a long way in retaining talent, but note that this is last on the list. People like to be rewarded for their hard work, both monetarily and socially within the company. But money alone is not enough to make up for a toxic work environment. Many employees will value a fulfilling and happy workplace over a slight bump in pay in a miserable situation.
So, is your company suffering from high employee turnover? Do any of these thoughts hit home? We would love to hear what you have to say about employee retention in your industry. Join us in the comments below.
Unless you have been living under a rock for the past six months, you may have noticed that there is a presidential election happening in the United States. No matter what side of the aisle you affiliate yourself with, no one can dispute that politics have become big business in the past several decades. The machines in place to garner support for each candidate are complex and well established. The same techniques used by political campaigns to help boost candidates public profile can also be used by small business to help grow their awareness and engagement among potential customers.
Four Tips For Using Political Strategy to Grow Your Business
Fine Tune Your Message: When politicians take the stage, especially on the national level, you can bet that a team of speechwriters helped them to hone their words. Political speeches often use a mix of emotionally driven statements commingled with the fact at hand to drive home their point. Small businesses can do the same thing.
Crafting a compelling message to sell your services or products is key to sticking in your customer’s mind. From “Make America Great Again” to “I’m With Her” these short tag lines send a clear message. So what will yours be? Entrepreneur wrote an excellent article on how to discover your brand’s message. And just like in political campaigns, use your message EVERYWHERE.
Speak To Your Base: For those who are unfamiliar with what it means, it means in order to success a politician must speak to the needs of those who support the party the majority of the time. In addition to wooing new voters, candidates must maintain the support of party loyalists to ensure victory.
For small business, it is important to do the same; reward your loyal customers. Everyone likes to think that their business is valued. Why not show your appreciation for those who have been loyal to your brand? There are many ways to set up loyalty programs, from simple punch cards to complex apps. Which one is best for your business?
Engage Your Community: Former House Speaker Tip O’Neill coined the phrase, “All politics is local.” This is why you see political candidates hitting the road and getting out into the community to shake hands and kiss babies. As they do they often highlight their policies as they relate back to the community that they are visiting. This humanizes the candidate as they strive to showcase their commitment to the local issues and needs.
Small businesses, especially those with a brick and mortar presence, can take a page out of this book. Getting involved in local community events is a great way to garner positive PR for your business. It also offers an opportunity to network in person with others in your area. At the beginning of the year map out a community engagement plan for the year to come to determine the best places and events to spend your time and money. Not only will you have the opportunity to grow your business, you will help to make your local community a better place.
Get Out The Vote: Political campaigns on a national level have a complex system in place to help guarantee that their supporters make it to the polls. Using volunteers they utilize phone banks and free shuttles to get people to their polling places. After all, a supporter is great but their value is magnified when they help get others to vote as well.
In much the same way, your existing clients can ask as your most powerful allies in driving business through your door. As we wrote previously, online reviews can be a powerful way for people to share their experiences and act as compelling online testimonials on your behalf. Happy customers are great, but happy customers that share their experiences with other help to magnify their value as well.
Of course, not everyone is pleased with this political cycle. Many have expressed their frustration with the candidates in general. When all else fails you might want to use the political cycle to grow your business, much like this agent in South Carolina.
His unique approach shows that there is always a diplomatic yet funny way to boost your business. Even in an election year. We are Basics to Business, and we approved this message.
Branding is one of those buzz words that get tossed about on business and marketing blogs fairly often. The concept of branding should be nothing new. It is the act of creating a brand that works and a lasting impression in the minds of consumers that will differentiate your business from the competition. The tools used to create powerful brands are familiar too. They include logos, trademarks, catchphrases, and company mission statements; all designed to help influence your customer’s perception of your business.
It is easy to tell when a brand is on point. These become iconic logos and phrases that seep into pop culture and become part of the everyday lexicon. The most successful brands also become very valuable as noted by this Forbes article. Of course, the opposite is true as well. When a company stumbles onto a branding disaster, it often becomes a very costly mistake, in time and money. An excellent example of a branding fail happened in 2010 when Gap tried to redo its iconic logo and replace it with a new, lackluster alternative.
It is easy to see how branding can affect these massive, consumer giants. But what about your average small business? Is branding nearly as important for them? One could argue that all of these brand behemoths started off small. Perhaps without such a commitment to their branding, they may not have evolved into the giants that they became. One thing is for sure, many of the most successful brands follow the same core guidelines in their branding. These are lessons that any business, regardless of size, can apply for branding success. Let’s take a look at what is needed to create a lasting and iconic brand with real examples.
- Take the time to understand your core products or services truly and develop a brand identity around them. Branding can be great fun when you are creating a brand around something like cupcakes or puppies. It can be much more difficult when building a brand around a specialty product or a unique service. It is all the more important to have a firm understanding of your company and create a brand that will help tell your story when your product is challenging. One such company, Sunnen, sells a piece of machinery called a honing machine. This is a specialty product used by manufacturers but it’s not on the radar of the average consumer. As such, Sunnen had to create a brand that speaks to a select few but does it well. The brand highlights that Sunnen only does one thing, but they do it better than anyone else. Their catch phrase “Above and Beyond Honing” speaks to their core values not only of building honing machinery, but also offering service and equipment for any and all honing machines. This has helped Sunnen maintain their place at the top of the honing industry for close to 100 years.
- Use appealing design and compelling copy to speak to the core desires of your customers. Everything about Whole Foods Market screams healthy, fresh and organic. From its clean and green logo to its web presence, chalk full of enticing pictures of fruits and veggies. The Whole Foods brand speaks to its very discerning customer who wants organic options and clean food. Their use of recipes, lifestyle tips, and customer engagement help to create a digital gathering place that mirrors their stores.In creating such a dynamic brand Whole Foods has built a loyal following of shoppers, who seek the store out. This has allowed Whole Foods to succeed even as other grocery store chains try to move into the organic food marketplace. For their competition, organic food options seem like an afterthought, whereas Whole Foods has made it a core value. This natural value has led to some very green profit margins for the brand.
- Be consistent with your brand across the board. The specialty pet products company, Barkbox, (link here) has created its own niche in the booming subscription box market. The company provides a monthly box of treats and toys to man’s best friend with a price tag ranging between roughly (or ruff-ley, pun intended) $20 and $30 per month.The brand shines with its clean crisp logo and its fun, funky tone. It is a brand that doesn’t take itself too seriously and likes to have fun with its customers. Barkbox also shines when it comes to its absolute undying love of dogs, which it highlights across all of its digital platforms. From Facebook to Instagram and all over its website, the brand identity is absolutely crazy for our canine companions. It is also absolutely consistent in its message everywhere you look. There is no doubt what Barkbox stands for and its consistent message is clear, come join their pack!
- Deliver value! At the end of the day, branding is only as good as the company behind it. As the old PR cliché states; you can’t perfume a skunk so don’t waste your time trying. If your products and services are not at the top of the game no amount of polish or branding will make your company a success. But, if you are looking for an edge to highlight superior services or quality products taking a good hard look at the brand you are conveying can help be the push that takes your company from good to great.
So, if you are ready to take your company to the next level is branding the next step on your journey? Can you use a smart brand to differentiate your company in the market? What do you think of these guidelines for creating a successful brand? We would love to hear your stories. Share them in the comments below. Perhaps we can feature your branding success in a future article.
Being an entrepreneur can be tough. It can take nerves of steel and patient families to help turn a passion into a profitable business. Here at Basics to Business, we thrive on learning all we can about new technologies and techniques to help the average businessperson succeed. Today, we thought we would troll the web and find some of the best advice for small businesses out there. As we looked at some of the best advice from some of the tops on their field we started to notice a common theme. It seems that no matter what industry you choose to work in there are common insights that can help you reach the top of your game. Here are some of our favorite bits of advice, from a range of top professionals.
- Find something you love and turn it into a career.
From Dennis Crowley:”Do what you love, and the rest will come.” After co-founding two businesses, reportedly turning down a $125 million acquisition offer and being named to just about every “40 under 40” list imaginable, Dennis Crowley, CEO of Foursquare, still cites the advice his mother gave him repeatedly as a child: to follow his heart.
- Great ideas are fine but look for bankable great ideas if you want to succeed.
From Rick Alden: “The fastest route to revenue wins. That one product may not be your fantasy, but revenue on a simpler product today always beats running out of money developing a more complicated product that won’t launch for another year.”
- Never stop learning. (Sometimes this means learning from your mistakes.)
From Vanessa Van Edwards: “Every time you think to yourself, ‘I already know this’ or ‘This isn’t for me,’ try turning it around by asking, ‘How can I make this work for me?’ This instantly puts you into a learning mindset and helps you see opportunities everywhere. I learned this from Marie Forleo and it has fundamentally changed how I approach my business life.”
From Chase Jarvis: “The best business advice I’ve ever received was from the legendary Sir Richard Branson (an investor in CreativeLive and mentor/inspiration to me). Put simply – it’s exceedingly rare that greatness comes from a single blind all-in swing or a brash act. Boldness is required but the boldness that sticks around to experiment regularly, to fail small and often, and cultivate a culture of risk taking is what generates the most wins in the end.”
- Surround yourself with the right people.
From Brian Sharples: “It’s critical to spend the time early on to hire the right people. If you are disciplined in finding the best and brightest people who are also team players then management is easy.”
So what is the best advice that you have received as a business person? What insight put you on the right track? Let us know in the comments. Perhaps we can share your advice in a future post.
Starting a company is an incredible journey, but also can be very overwhelming. Before you put that life-changing idea to work, you have to get all your legal ducks in a row. Remember there is a lot of hard work to do, hoops to jump through, and details than cannot be overlooked. One of the first major steps to take when you start a small business is to hire a lawyer. You can run into many legal issues at any time during your business journey. We spoke to Texas patent attorney, Zachary Hiller to gain some insight and his best legal tips for starting a business.
Top 6 Legal Tips for Starting a Business
1. Hire a Lawyer
First and foremost, hire an attorney. The costs of a lawyer are minuscule in comparison to a lawsuit or losing your business. An attorney can help you with everything from your company name to a business plan, trademarks, and more.
2. Have a Budget
Part of your business plan has to include every cost. You must understand all costs, sales, and requirements before moving forward with your company. A valuable business and financial plan will help you set to present and future goals for your business. No successful business survives without a detailed budget.
3. Patent Your Idea
If your business is based on an intellectual idea or product, you should submit a patent. Someone else could have filed a patent on your idea already, which would put your business in jeopardy. Do your patent research before anything else. Patent protection may be the foundation your idea needs to build a stable future for your company. An attorney can help you search and make sure your intellectual property is all yours.
4. Know the Market
Research the competition beyond patents. If you know several companies offering similar products or services, you may need to alter your business plan. You want your business name and product to stick more than a few years down the road without running into a lawsuit.
5. Have Paperwork for New Employees
When you hire your staff, be sure to have them sign non-compete agreements. This means they cannot work against you or give away confidential company information. In the start-up world having an employee share your trade secrets could destroy your business.
We hope you are excited to start a business, and that these legal tips will help youalongg the way. Stay tuned for more upcoming legal tips and advice.
They have been called the entitlement generation, or the “everyone gets a trophy for participating” generation. They are the millennial generation, an estimated 80 million 21 to 35-year-olds, and they are taking over the workforce. It is estimated that by 2020, this demographic will comprise about 50% of the workforce. Is it any wonder that HR departments are feeling the influence; good and bad, of this generation in a very real way?
The millennial generation, in addition to being one of the largest demographic groups, is also the most educated, most connected and most culturally diverse of any generation that came before. They are also the least likely to stay at an unsatisfying job or see the value in “paying their dues.” In fact, millennials are almost notorious for their job-hopping tendencies and their dislike of busy work and red tape. They tend to buckle under bureaucracy. It seems that far too often, this generation is pegged as lazy, entitled or self-absorbed by their older peers. Somewhere in between insolence and innovation, between self-awareness and self-centered lies the heart of what makes millennials both frustratingly different and potentially fantastic for your company. It is simply a matter of perspective.
How To Get The Most Out Of A Millennial Workforce
1. Create A Collaborative Culture. One of the complaints most often leveled at millennials is the “everyone gets a trophy attitude”. It is easy to dismiss this as a naïve and childish outlook since there are winners and losers in life. What you may miss, however, is that there may be value in the “trophy” mindset. It is a mindset in which everyone’s contribution, no matter how small, is valuable. It is an idea that puts teamwork ahead of individual glory, and it is a concept that can encourage an array of perspectives to offer insight.
Millennials thrive when they are included, so why not include them? A workplace that listens to the ideas of its employees, from the top to the bottom, is a work environment that is very rarely blindsided by problems or changes. This generation thrives when their input is actually heard and a boss that creates a genuinely open door policy for criticism and creativity may find that millennials have valid ideas to offer.
2. Instill Meaning And Offer Vision. Millennials have grown up with the world at their fingertips. They matured in tandem with the internet and as such, they have no comprehension of time in which all of the human knowledge wasn’t just a click away. While some might point to an overwhelming obsession with cats and Kardashians as a major downside of the internet; no one can argue that the web hasn’t made a huge impression in business. It actually has created a globally connected perspective for so many. Is it any wonder then, why millennials have grown up with the expectation that they should be included in the company’s bigger picture?
Creating a corporate culture in which employees are not only privy to the big plan but also shown their role in that structure creates a deeper meaning for your employees. Helping millennials understand their role in a bigger picture not only gives them a greater sense of purpose. It also helps boost productivity and morale by making them feel valued as a part of the team.
3. Offer The Three F’s. Faith, Feedback, and Flexibility. Overall Millennials, more than any generation before them, grew up in a world with many freedoms. They grew up in an age in which parents were more connected via phone, email or text message. But they were also more likely to be left home alone as latch-key kids with parents at work. They have grown up as a generation that had more parental trust than their parents typically did and this had led to a group of people that abhor micro-management. One of the greatest complaints about millennials is their tendency to job-hop in search of a job that better fits their ideals. One of the most common complaints leveled by millennials is that they are looking for mentors or leaders instead of just a boss.
This may be one of the best lessons that millennials can offer their employer; how to be a leader rather than a boss. Millennials are looking for organizations that will give them the tools to do their job and trust that they will do it. They are looking for companies that will help them grow in their careers with honest feedback and clear plans for success. Finally, they are looking for the flexibility to do things differently, the flexibility to have a work/life balance and the flexibility to shake up the status quo for the better. In reality, there are very few companies that can thrive without a little shake-up of ideas from time to time.
Some may bemoan millennials in the workplace, for all their flaws and foibles and quirks. But the reality is that millennials are here to stay, and a smart businessperson knows that more often than not it is better to flow with the tide than to try to fight it. After all, having a handle on managing the millennial generation is the first step in understanding what is to come… Generation Z.
Not all social media marketing plans are made the same. Messaging, tone and voice all shift as the demographics change. As a nod to the site’s name, let’s start with the basics. Some companies market themselves to other businesses (B2B) while others focus their efforts on the consumer market (B2C). Find tips for each specialty is a snap and there are countless resources for each. But what happens when you have customers in both realms? How can a company engage all of their target demographics when they seem so different? Where is the best place to post for B2B and B2C customers?
Understanding The Difference In B2B and B2C Social Media Marketing
To understand how to engage with B2B and B2C audiences, we have to look briefly at the best practices for each. What makes each audience so different?
Business to Consumer (B2C)
People are surrounded by advertising every day, and most of it can be considered B2C marketing. From the billboard advertising a local restaurant to a Facebook ad promoting an online sale, all of these messages are directed at the consumer. In general terms, these messages are meant to entice or inform and ultimately lead to greater brand awareness. In digital terms, B2C campaigns are vital to driving online conversions, from hot leads for a service to an actual purchase.
This is the type of marketing that most people are aware of when they are online. There are countless tools for delivering these messages, from Google Ads to blogs and social media marketing.
There are a few things that these digital messages have in common:
• They are quick: The average consumer is bombarded with messaging. Effective campaigns must find a way to capture their audience as quickly as possible.
• They are engaging and entertaining: Consumers turn to social media platforms to entertain. In B2C marketing, think of social media as a cocktail party; light, breezy conversation meant to amuse and distract. Everyone avoids the “hard sell” at a social event. Social media is no different.
• They are enticing: The best social media campaigns become the life of the party, so to speak. These are the ones that inform while entertaining, or spark dialog with their consumers.
Finding where to post for a B2C business is usually relatively easy. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat, and Instagram are all platforms geared toward the consumer.Social media marketers, with a keen eye on their demographic, can utilize online contests, informative blogs, and coupon offers to reach their audiences. They also engage with their audience; responding to comments and retweeting their guests.
An excellent example of this type of fun and entertaining B2C marketing comes from a burger joint in Wisconsin, AJ Bombers. They host #oldschoolTweetups, for online friends to meet in person over a burger or a beer. They post delicious looking pictures of their newest burger innovations, and they even partnered with a local competitor to try to woo a Travel Channel show, Food Wars, to town. All while conversing with their customers across their platforms.
Business To Business (B2B)
In contrast, B2B marketing tends to be far more serious than its B2C counterpart. These messages aren’t always for public consumption and have a much more focused audience in mind. Some may argue that this is the “grown-up” side to social media marketing; more Business Journal and less People Magazine. (Although both are great at reaching their target audience.) Linkedin stands out as the leader in B2B social marketing, but YouTube, Twitter, and even Facebook have their place. Because the audience and its respective tone are so different, the tactics used to reach this audience must also be different.
• They are more detailed: The messaging for B2B customers must be more in-depth showcase expertise in the field.
• They account for a longer buying cycle: Unlike its B2C counterparts, B2B efforts tend to have a much longer pipeline to an actual sale. You don’t see too many impulse purchases in the business world and therefore, those who sell to other businesses must create a marketing plan that leads people down a longer path to a conversion.
• They are exercises in relationship building: Online interactions typically must translate into a deeper relationship, which last longer than their B2C counterparts. A consumer may hop from brand to brand with very little loyalty whereas, given the long buying cycle, B2B customers tend to be more loyal. (Relatively speaking.)
The core strategies for implementing these tactics, like the B2C efforts, focus on audience-driven content. With a more business-centric audience, longer form items tend to be more effective. These include things like white papers, online networking groups, and in-depth, informative articles. Businesses still need to engage with their customers online, but it is not always as easy. Online business forums are an excellent way to promote engagement for these brands, where like-minded individuals gather to discuss relevant issues.
A great example of this comes from a company based in Alabama that provides pre-engineered masonry products to home builders and suppliers, Firerock. This is a B2B company that has mastered social engagement in a B2C world. It did this by understanding its demographic and providing content that its customers can use in their efforts to reach the consumer. Confused? In short, Firerock knows that no one wants to see raw building materials online. Instead, it utilizes Facebook and Pinterest to showcase the potential for its products, effectively creating a glossy, online catalog for consumers and its B2B customers alike. It is positioning itself as a leader in the industry while creating content that its core customers, home builders, and developers, can use to stay on trend. They do this while maintaining a Linkedin presence as a direct line to the brand.
For Customers That Do Both, Where Do the Two Meet?
The short answer is they don’t, not really. Each platform has a unique and distinct audience, and the content must reflect that. The first step in successfully navigating a strategy that involves both B2B and B2C is identifying the best platforms for your brand and who the target audience is for each. Some helpful tips:
• Each platform will have a distinct and possibly different audience: It is important to create compelling content for each, but allowing for crossover. A blog post may be broad enough to play well on Linkedin and Facebook, whereas a long-form white paper may only fit on Linkedin.
• Each platform will have an opportunity to showcase your expertise. Don’t deny either side of your business, but use your experience in each to your advantage. In many cases, this will add more legitimacy and credibility to your overall marketing efforts if you can highlight a range of knowledge.
• Each platform will take time. Know that you may not have cross over on social platforms and as such, you should allocate enough time for each. If you don’t have the time to do each platform well, which will offer the best return on your time investment?
A good example of differentiating marketing messages comes from Signature Electric, an Omaha-based Electrician, which offers commercial and residential services. Their Facebook page offers fun trivia, job opportunities, and company news which both humanizes the brand and engages their residential customers. Meanwhile, their Google + page helps to optimize the brand for local SEO.
So how can you tweak your social efforts to garner the most return? Are you targeting the right audience in the right place? Use these tips to create social content that will promote your brand.