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Writing for Business 

During your college years, you were expecting to write papers, draft letters, and take part in all sorts of writing, right? Who knew that would be such an integral skill once you got to your “real” job later in life. Writing for business is a given nowadays with emails, reports, and presentations given on a daily basis no matter what field you are in. 

Don’t think you write often enough to worry about your writing skills? Think again. According to a study conducted by Carleton University, professionals spend one-third of their time at work reading and answering emails. You might spend more than this, or less, but chances are that a significant portion of your day is spent writing something.

Why Writing is Critical to Your Business 

Solid writing skills can mean the difference between being taken seriously in your position or being seen as less professional. Poor writing skills can lead to miscommunication, lost opportunities, and even a loss of business. Think of the number of times you have read an email or report that did not communicate the central message well. It is frustrating to decipher what the message really says. 

Let’s take a look at a few aspects of your writing that can help improve your reports, emails, or marketing materials. No matter what you are writing, it is a good idea to brush up on these areas as you progress in your career. 

Know Your Audience

As with anything in life, it is good to know who you are dealing with when you present, send an email, or write a report. Knowing who you are talking to can give your writing a sense of purpose and direction. For example, an in-office email could be short and informal, but a customer email or a PowerPoint presentation should follow the guidelines of courtesy, clarity, and conciseness. Your audience should be your compass; keeping in mind what the recipient seeks to learn narrows down the possible directions your writing should take (SkillsYouNeed 2019). Think about what they know already, especially as you determine the terminology to use. If you’re writing to a specific person or group of people, look for ways to personalize the document by considering their interests.

Think First 

Take a few minutes to mentally define the goals of the written piece. Do you know the main content: the who, what, when, where, and why of your writing? Think through it first before you even reach for the pen or keyboard. Thinking in broad terms first will help you to focus your message and make sure that you highlight all the important points you want to make. 

Be Brief 

Workplaces are busy places. Take the fluff out of your writing and get to the point. Be direct and short in your writing, unless the type of writing dictates added details and expansion on the topic. Readers will appreciate not having to sift through extraneous information to find the real message. 

Be Careful with Word Choice 

As just stated, it is important to be clear, concise, and direct in your business writings. It is also important not to use too many buzzwords or jargon that could turn off your reader. Jargon often makes you sound pretentious, and it can further alienate your reader. Instead, write the way you talk. Keep it natural and direct.

Edit, Edit, Edit 

It is always a good idea to have someone else read through your work whenever possible. Small mistakes can be easily missed by the original author. If you have no one to proofread for you, copy and paste your writing into Google Translate and have it read the document back to you. Usually, mistakes are obvious when you hear them aloud. Also, Google can usually catch flagrant typos or spelling errors. 

Need some help with your business writing? Join us at our workshop entitled Writing for Business and Grammar Skills on October 23, 2019. 

Best Practices for your Sales Team 

How does your sales team operate? Are they cooperative and open, or do they like to keep all their strategies secret? Chances are that there is a little bit of both going on in offices across the region. The balance can be hard to maintain, especially when numbers are measured and compensation relies on quantities sold. Here are a few ways you can encourage your sales team to maintain a healthy balance between competition and cooperation. 

Brainstorm Targeting Techniques

Criteria for Success online suggests asking your sales team a few important questions. “Does your company have a set plan for targeting? Is every salesperson on the team executing the targeting plan the same way? Want to mix things up?” Ask yourselves who your best customers are and where they are coming from. Why are they your best customers? Take some time to look at where your targets are found and what other areas can hold similar customers. 

Develop Success Stories 

Whenever someone is considering investing in a product or service, they want to hear from other customers and how they fared under your company. Create a series of success stories that can help you explain how your business has helped others succeed. For example, if your company is an IT support company, have a few short stories that can illustrate how your company has guided or supported other companies that needed IT services. Maybe a business that you have serviced has seen an increase in traffic on their website or and increase in clients of their own due to the work you have done. Stories like those can help sell your business without being a hard sell. 

Ask for Referrals 

We all have those loyal customers whom we adore. When the opportunity arises, ask for a written testimonial for your social media platforms or possibly a write up on an online review site like Yelp or Google Review. Most clients are thrilled to be able to help grow your business. These reviews or testimonials can really help the sales team when it comes time to close a deal. 

Not only can loyal customers help out with testimonials or online reviews, they can verbally refer you to other people in their field of work. It never hurts to ask for a referral or a mention to others. 

Build Relationships 

Finding customers can happen in the most unlikely places. Not all sales are made at networking events, seminars, or workshops. Many times, the sale happens months down the road after someone has gotten to know you during community events, volunteering opportunities, or through valued referrals. Building relationships and talking about your business can be something you do in many venues. You never know when someone may need your services and suddenly your name comes to mind. 

Do you need help with your sales team? Check out our workshop on September 19th titled, “Secrets of Effortless Selling.” 

 

Getting Free Press 

As a small or medium-sized business, you know the power of getting your name out there whether it is on social media, in the news, or by word-of-mouth. Whatever the method, your business’s name being mentioned or your brand being shown can help boost sales and make your brand awareness skyrocket. 

Unfortunately, many small businesses, and even some medium-sized businesses, don’t have a huge advertising budget when they are new. So, how can those companies get free press to give their marketing a kickstart? Finding free press is the answer! 

Getting free press sounds like a dream come true, and it really is. But you have to work at it for it to work for you. Let’s take a look at a couple of strategies that your business can use to get some free press and get your name out there. 

Make Yourself an Expert 

Contact publication in your local area, as well as publications that are known in your field and offer up your services for quotes or articles that they may want for their journals. Sure, you will have to take the time to connect and write but it can be worth it when your name and your company’s name is the news. 

 

Create Your Own Press Releases 

Write your own press releases whenever there’s a newsworthy occasion in your business. Any new products/services, anniversaries, milestones, or special occasions can be a cause for writing up a news release. Send it to the contact pages of your local papers, news outlets, and journals for your specific field. 

 

Engage with Reporters 

As you get more involved with the community and community events, you will also get to know the news reporters at said events. Make personal connections and tell them about your business. This is especially true if you are planning any community events or taking part in any volunteer work in the local area. 

Be a Guest Blogger 

Many online business sites request guest bloggers to add content to their site. Find the sites in your field and ask to be a guest blogger. If the site gets enough traffic, you could get your name and your brand out there for the cost of writing a blog about what your company is up to. 

Need more ideas on ways to get your name out there? Check out our calendar for marketing ideas that can boost your business. 

 

Social Media – Where to Begin 

Yes, everyone is doing it! Social media is a beast and if you haven’t gotten on board yet, then you may not even know where to begin. What channels should you choose? How often should you post? How can you know if your campaign is successful? Let’s take a closer look at how to get started on a social media campaign. 

Determine Your Goals and How to Measure Them

Before you even login or download an app, start brainstorming with your team about what your goals are. Do you just want to increase brand awareness? Or perhaps you want to drive more traffic to your website? Maybe you want a way to connect with your target audience and supply them with deals and savings? Social media may be your way of generating leads. 

Once you set out your goals, you will be able to determine how those goals will be measured. Google Analytics can help as well as the individual page manager section to each social media platform like: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Those stats can tell you how many people are engaging in your social media posts as well as how many likes, shares, and retweets. 

Know the Pros and Cons of Each Platform

Get to know what the basics are for each type of social media and whether they attract your target audience. For example, Instagram tends to attract millennials and is visually based. Facebook, on the other hand, draws in an older crowd that are looking for content sharing. LinkedIn is more business connection-based. Twitter can be a mix but leaves out the longer content. Before you start setting up your profile or business page, make sure the platform you choose is the right one for your demographics and your service/product. Find out how much advertising costs and what the return is. 

 

Make Your Posts Worthwhile 

Viewers on social media have become quite savvy and are mostly against pages that advertise constantly, or sound like a robot. Be human in your posts and give the readers something worthwhile to read. Make it worthwhile by adding content that your followers will be interested in, or by running promotions/discounts for followers who mention a post. Do something to get your followers to engage with you by retweeting, sharing, or commenting on your posts. 

 

Measure Your Success

At regular intervals measure how your campaign is doing. How many more followers do you have? What is your engagement number like? Should you shift your content or offer more things that encourage followers? Your analytics page can help. 

Need help getting started on your social media campaigns? Check out our calendar of events. We often host workshops on social media and how to boost your business with an online campaign. 

 

Upping Your Communication Skills 

Do you make presentations to clients often or meet face-to-face with consumers? How effective do you feel your presentations are? Even if you have worked in your field for years, and know your service/product well, you may still need to sharpen your communication skills. Here are a few ways to can hone those skills while still sounding natural and genuine. 

Learn the Basics of Nonverbal Communication 

Some studies show that communication is only 7% verbal and 93% non-verbal. That means that what you are saying is such a small fraction of what your audience is getting from you. They are, however, paying close attention to your body language and vocal variety. That means that the majority of what you say is communicated not through words, but through physical cues. To garner full attention many body language experts suggest making eye contact as much as possible with your audience, having good posture, not slouching, making your voice larger than normal, not crossing your arms, and moving around the space if you are talking to a large group. 

 

Don’t Go Overboard on Visuals 

Sure, having a visual aid can help you stay on message and focus the audience’s attention. However, do not wholly rely on visual aids, like PowerPoint, to get your message across. There really is nothing worse than having a presenter read from the slides. Not only is that boring but it is degrading to the viewers. Instead integrate storytelling into your presentation. Your audience is more likely to remember the story than the slides. If you really want to hook the group, ask them to be a part of the discussion or to relay their own stories about the topic. Once they have made a personal connection, they will be dialed in to your presentation. 

Master Your Timing 

Understand the attention span and needs of your audience. Not all people who have come to a presentation have an hour to listen to you. Remember that Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was 286 words, about two minutes long. Realize that timing is everything. If you can simplify your message, do so. Short and sweet can sometimes help an audience remember what you said. 

Check out our calendar of speakers every month, we often have workshops on improving your communication skills or honing presentations. 

 

Value of Video on Your Site 

How is the traffic on your website doing? Do you have visitors often? What’s your conversion rate? Looking for ways to draw more people to your site and get more traction with SEO? Maybe you should consider adding some video to your site. 

Video is quickly becoming a fantastic inbound marketing tool for websites. Viewers are consuming video content more than ever before and that trend isn’t slowing down anytime soon. In fact, 90% of consumers access the videos placed online. 

Making your site a top performer means keeping up with this video trend. Less written content and more video seems to be the way this trend is leaning. Although websites should never be lacking content, the video version is catching on. More and more companies are adding video with the intent of sharing their expertise, demonstrating a product or service, and telling a story. 

If you are wondering why you should add video to your site, here are a few reasons to motivate you. 

Videos are the Way Consumers Browse 

Face it, website browsers have an extremely short attention span. When given the option between watching a video about something and reading about it, the viewer will almost always choose the video. Take the stats from YouTube, the second largest search engine in the world. “More than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube each month. Over 6 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube—that’s almost an hour for every person on Earth, and 50% more than last year. According to Nielsen, “YouTube reaches more US adults ages 18-34 than any cable network.”

Video Helps Your SEO 

Using a video on your site means that visitors are on your site longer watching and learning. According to Vital online, one important factor on how well a page ranks in search results is how long a visitor stays on a page, the longer the visit, the more important Google thinks the webpage is.

Video Builds Relationships

As a viewer watches your “How To” or your testimonial online, they become connected to your business. In fact, businesses that use actual employees to do their videos and footage on your warehouses or offices help the public understand who you are as a brand. Those connections can create new customers and solidify the relationship with loyal ones. 

Video Helps Your Company Stand Out from the Competition

The truth is that not many companies have the marketing budget, time or energy to create custom videos for their viewers. Custom video is a great way to differentiate yourself from your competition.  

Video Helps Deliver Your Message 

Whether you are making a story video, how-to, or introducing a new product, your video will easily deliver your message with a personality attached. 

Keep an eye out for our workshops on making videos to driving traffic to your site. 

 

Improving Brand Awareness

How familiar with your product or services are consumers? Do they recognize a tagline, a color palette, or a logo that is associated with your brand? Brand awareness is critically important because it helps your company stand out from the others in your field.

Take for example the products Kleenex or Bandaids. We all know I am referring to tissues and bandages, right? There are plenty of other brands that create tissues and bandages but the brand names are so widely known that they are used interchangeably as the products themselves. That is exceptional brand awareness!

To what extent is your brand recognized by consumers? Do you want to improve that and don’t know where to start? Here are a few suggestions to get your brand out there and carve out a name for your business product or services.

Build Content on Your Website

We have all heard that “content is king,” so start by building content on your website. One of the fastest and easiest ways to do this is to start a blog. Posting even a few times a month can increase the amount of content on your site which increases your SEO, which starts the ball rolling. Make your content interactive and shareable in the form of quizzes, feedback, or calculators and you will boost your awareness in leaps and bounds.

Partnerships and Community Involvement

You have seen the sponsor names on the back of little league hats, or on the signs around town where local businesses take a financial role in community events. Be a part of that in order to get involved in your local community and to promote your brand as well. Partner with other companies to help provide a service or to improve a neighboring event. The networking connections will be priceless and the word of mouth marketing about your company will be excellent.

 

Be Present on Social Media

People who are on social media love to share videos, graphics, quotes, and interesting articles. Make sure your brand is represented with your own unique posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or whatever channel your demographic indicates.

Connect with Industry Publications

Part of getting your brand out there is being known by people in your industry. Contact magazines, news sources, industry blogs, or other publications (online or offline) and see if they’ll publish your content or company news.

Connect with Consumers Via Newsletters and Email

Now we are not saying to overwhelm your client list with emails and newsletters just for the sake of sending them. Instead, send well planned emails or newsletters informing consumers of new products, services, promotions, or even content that is new to the people in your field. Consumers love to feel like they are getting the inside scoop and are gaining valuable information by reading your newsletters or emails. This will help mark you as a leader in your field and promote your brand.

Do you need help finding new and innovative ways to promote your brand. Enterprise Center often has workshops with industry leaders who can help. Check our calendar often as we are adding programs and workshops all the time.

 

Print Marketing To Increase Sales

We live in a digital world, with emails, newsletters, pop up ads, and a constant influx of marketing materials on a daily basis. It stands to figure that businesses would cash in on this method of marketing since it seems like everyone is constantly on their devices checking their inboxes and social media. Shouldn’t print marketing be a thing of the past? Not at all.

Check out some of these startling statistics regarding print media and how it is very much still alive in the world of marketing and sales.

  • 79% of households say they read or scan direct mail ads
  • Direct mail marketing yields a 13-to-1 return on investment ratio
  • 39% of customers report trying a business because of direct mail ads
  • 56% of customers find print marketing to be the most trustworthy

Wondering about the benefits of print marketing vs. digital? Here are several reasons why print marketing is still thriving.

Print is Tangible

Print ads are tangible. They can be held, put on a fridge, and carried until used. A digital ad is only seen and then, many times, completely forgotten. Americans are far too quick to scroll past a digital ad or coupon as compared to a print ad. Many customers say they like the fact that an ad, a postcard, business card, or coupon can be held onto as a reminder until it is used. It is also a great way to keep contact information as well.

Print Marketing and A High Response Rate

According to PrintIsBig.com, advertisers spent $167 per person on direct mail in 2015, and earned $2,095 — that’s a 1,255 percent return! The numbers are actually increasing each year. Deluxe Online reports that studies prove that combining print marketing with digital promotions drives higher response rates and conversions than using digital-only communications. Honestly, who has the time or inclination to remember all of the online ads they see?

Print Conveys a Message of Trust

Print ads are the most trustworthy ads there are. Too many of us are afraid to click on a digital ad for fear that it will lead us down the rabbit hole to inadvertently downloading a virus. A print ad induces no such fear.

Is your company using print advertising? Find out more about how this marketing tool can help boost your sales and create brand awareness for your business. Check out our seminar on, “Creating print Marketing Materials to Attract Customers” with local CEO Mike Sperling of Sperling Interactive. The seminar is on June 6 from 8:30 am – 10:30 am.

 

A Quick Guide to Presenting

Whether you are a first-time speaker or someone who does this regularly, presenting can be nerve-wracking and stress inducing. The old advice of “picture them in their underwear” does little to allay fears and nothing to improve your speaking skills. Instead, we offer a quick review of things to do before and during your next big presentation. Don’t worry, you’ve got this!

Be Prepared

No matter what the topic of your presentation is, be prepared. Have your presentation deck organized, technology all set, and handouts ready to go. Know your content inside and out to the point that you don’t even need to look at your slides. Go deep into your research so if questions are asked you will have the answers.

That takes us to the next way that you should be prepared – know your audience. Take a serious look at who your audience is and why they are coming to your presentation. What are their needs and what do they hope to get out of it? Obviously, a presentation to a group of CEOs will be dramatically different than one to first-time clients.

 

Start Strong

There is nothing worse for an audience member than hearing a speaker drone on from the start to the end of a presentation without showing passion or a love for what they are discussing. For this reason, start your presentation off strong. We live in a world of immediate gratification and constant entertainment. Start your presentation off with a bang and get their attention from the very start. Start by connecting with the audience through a story, an engaging slide, or information that they may not have heard before.

Keep It Simple and Straightforward

Most people in the business world have limited time as it is, so stick to a core message. It may help to tell the audience what the three main things are that you want them to take away from your presentation. Tell them upfront what you plan on talking about and then get to it. Try not to take a detour and chat about irrelevant information.

Be Personable

Smile, make eye contact, and speak naturally. These are three things you can do to relate to the audience and be personable. This can build rapport and actually make you less nervous.

A Word About Slides

Many great orators use slides, while others just talk. If you are going to use slides to complement your presentation, Guy Kawasaki of Apple suggests that slideshows should:

  • Contain no more than 10 slides;
  • Last no more than 20 minutes; and
  • Use a font size of no smaller than 30-point.

Giving a presentation doesn’t need to be unnerving. Following these simple steps can get you on the path to giving professional presentations. Need more information on being confident when presenting? Check out our seminar on “Presenting with Confidence” with Jim Ognibene on May 28 from 6-9pm.

 

Drones for Business Use

Over the past several years businesses have cultivated new and interesting ways to add drone technology to their critical tasks. Amazon Prime Air Service is planning to offer fast delivery turnarounds with a drone prototype. Shell Oil Refinery uses drones to complete safety and compliance inspections. Walmart applied for a patented drone system to carry items around the store. And the British Broadcast Company (BBC) uses drones in order to broadcast events happening in real-time.

These companies are just examples of how business leaders have utilized unmanned aerial vehicles to bolster sales, get a jump on the competition, and be an innovator in the area of drone technology. Is your company considering using drones for transport, surveillance, safety, imaging, or any other reason?

The idea of using unmanned aerial vehicles is not a new one. In fact, the earliest unmanned aerial vehicle in the history of drones was seen in 1839, when Austrian soldiers attacked the city of Venice with unmanned balloons filled with explosives. As you can imagine, some of the balloons hit their targets, while others did not. Even then, drones had dangers associated with them.

Today’s businesses are looking for any means necessary to get ahead, cut costs, and make a name for themselves. Drones may fit the bill in many of those instances. However, there are some caveats to drone flying. Drone flying must meet the requirements put forth by the FAA – Federal Aviation Authority. Some of these requirements include an age requirement of 16, a remote pilot’s certificate, passing the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) vetting process, meeting a weight limit, conducting a pre-flight check, obtaining an operating license depending on the class of drone, and a myriad of flying rules once in the air.

In more recent news, commercial airline pilots have complained about having near misses with drones upon landing or having drones flying in restricted space. Know Before You Fly is a great place to start if you are looking for more requirements and regulations when it comes to drone use for your business. It is a great resource to connect with before you begin your business drone planning.

Are you considering integrating drone use into your business? We suggest checking out our seminar on May 13 entitled “Drones for Municipalities: What You Need to Know in Order to Fly (Hands-on Workshop).” Check out all of Enterprise Center’s seminars on our events page.